THERON II

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FIVE.

Remember, an “R” is the only thing that separates Theron and Theon so it could get confusing if you’re not paying attention. Not gonna lie, it messed me up a little when I read back through it lol Enjoy!

EVIE

The bowing witches raised their heads, humbled and embarrassed by their actions but that is not enough of an apology for me. We lost quite a few coven leaders today and narrowly escaped an inter-species war. I will not stand for such greed.

Such hubris.

I am not my mother.

“Go home. Get out. All of you! You have not only embarrassed yourselves with this despicable behavior, but me as well,” I throw my hands up, a spell blanketing my disgraceful audience, “May the guilt follow you wherever you go. May the shame and regret consume your appearance; your outsides as ugly as your ins. You may ask for repentance over and over again only to be denied until a time that I see fit.”

Boils, warts, and seeping pores explode upon their faces, a physical display of the punishment they will have to advertise to the world. Cries of disbelief and anguish fill the auditorium. My sisters touch their cheeks—patting, petting, and caressing their new disgusting features. Gasping at the audacity of my discipline, they mourn the loss of their once beautiful and youthful appearances but the goal has been achieved. They now know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am not to be trifled with.

“I am sorry that you feel as if the Dravenha treaty has wronged you and I am sorry that you feel your powers are too restrictive but I refuse to simply overlook such disrespect. You’re an embarrassment! From here on out you will handle yourself with more dignity and grace because if you do not, I will strip you of your titles so fast your familiars’ heads will spin. Now, get out of my sight.”

I watch as whimpering witches scatter and scamper about, desperately trying to leave the building before I change my mind and curse them more severely. I don’t plan on that, obviously, but they do not know it. My mother was more unpredictable during her reign and trauma runs deep within our mystical kind, rooting itself and spreading—multiplying—into fear.

I assume I should be more understanding... Some may have just followed my mother being too afraid to question her tactics but by the hungry look I saw in their eyes today, I very much doubt it.

“Evie,” Lina gently grasps my arm, tearing my attention from the audience, “Thank you. I don’t know if I can ever rightfully repay you, but I hope we can mend our relationship and form a deeper alliance with you and your covens.” Theron wraps an arm around her waist, his eyes agreeing with her honesty. Relief fills me to the brim and I release a breath I didn’t know I was confining. I expected them to hold a grudge... to be cross with us for years to come. I saw a turbulent future with the Ancients—the possibility of retaliation just dangling over the precipice.

My apprehension is alleviated by their declaration of peace.

“I would like that, very much,” I replied. And I mean it. I want nothing more than to put the past behind us, moving forward in a mutual understanding that there are worse things out there than the petty squabbles between us.

I send a silent thank you to Kai for allowing me the chance to mature and wise up... even if it took less time than any of us would have expected.

However, when my eyes land on Theon, trepidation returns tenfold.

My heart falters, heat rushing to my face and I pray I am not a gawking, blubbering mess.

I never got the chance to really look at him after my mother changed him. With everything going on, horror overtook me and I immediately left the room when I saw how large he was. Examining him now, my wits seem to have suddenly failed me.

He has stolen the very air I intend to breathe.

Covered by a thin loin cloth only, he is a gorgeous specimen. A little bulkier than his father, his muscles are sculpted expertly, and the ridges of his abs run deep. His face is similar to Theron’s, but different... not as soft and more angular. His eyes still hold the same innocence that is disorienting on such a ferocious creature, the dirty blonde hair that falls in front of them does nothing to dull their appeal. They pull me in, like a magnet—it’s a draw, something I cannot resist and I am falling.

This is nothing like the mere crush I had on Kai... it’s an entirely different monster.

Alluring.

And dangerous.

“Can you turn Theon back?” Theron’s question startles me, quickly shoving me back into reality. I see the hope in his eyes, the pleading that resides in his big, brown irises.

But I have to be truthful, no matter the cost, “I could, but it would be torturous for him.” I shake my head, remorseful and disheartened by what I have to reveal, “My mother didn’t just grow him larger, she hit the fast forward button on his timeline. So, not only is he physically grown but his mind is matured. Currently, he is approximately twenty-two years of age.”

“What are you saying,” Theon’s husky voice sends butterflies up my stomach, their wings tickling every part of my insides.

I hate the coldness in his eyes. The way they harden and narrow, every ounce of sparkle gone when they connect with mine, “Physically, I can transform you back... but mentally, I cannot rewind.”

Theron’s mouth drops, his jaw juts to the right, hope now thoroughly extinguished, “So, he would be a two-year-old with the mental capacity of an adult?”

“Yes. While his muscles are learning to walk and eat solid food, perfecting his motor functions, his mind will not be on the same page. It already knows these things—remembers them. Essentially, he will be stuck.”

I can imagine they want back what was stolen from them. They didn’t get to watch him grow up, teach him the ways of the world, and mold his morality. They didn’t get to witness his personality change and mature. They won’t get the experience of raising a child... it has to be heartbreaking in a way.

Lina and Theron exchange looks with their son, an unspoken conversation only a tight-knit family can have. There’s tenderness in Theon’s eyes that is woefully out of place with the stiff smile he gives them. “It’s okay,” he says, “I’m sure I would have been a huge asshole in my teenage years anyway.”

Lina snickers through tear-filled eyes, “You would have gotten that from your father.” The proud grin on Theron’s face tells me he would not have minded one bit.

With the wave of my hand, I dress Theon, the loin cloth fading into blue jeans. Sadly, I also have to cover his perfectly sculpted chest... I chose a tight-fitting white shirt. I am a chick with needs after all and I want to memorize his figure... though I’m confused as to why.

“I will get you a plane back to the States. The others should wait for your arrival,” as much as I would like to bring them back the same way they came, three bodies are too much for me all at once... and the thought of holding Theon’s hand makes me uncomfortable so I will not take them back one at a time.

“Thank you again, Evie,” Theron smiles.

He fucking smiles.

I glance at the decapitated body of my mother and I cannot help but be reminded of the glee I experienced discovering he was actually alive. I knew he would throw a wrench into her plans... he just had to remember what he was.

“You guys go ahead,” Theon says, “I want to talk to Evie for a sec.” His eyes burn a hole right through my soul and the dread has immediately returned.

I do not trust myself alone with him.

He watches them walk away before those fiery eyes fall on me again. They are steely and calculating and I have to force myself to be steady... my knees feel weak and questionable.

Before I can process what is happening, he is standing right in front of me, towering over my petite frame and I have never been more jealous of Lina’s average height than I am right now.

He bends down, his lips are close—too close to my ear. The warmth of his breath sends a chill down my spine. My stomach twists, nerves set alight with a searing yearning I have never felt before. My breath hitches and my sex clenches, my arousal no longer under my control. “My parents may have absolved you of your sins, but I am less forgiving... I won’t forget, Evie.”

Agonizingly slow, he moves behind me, his fingers running through my long hair, teasing me... taunting my hormones. His voice is nothing but a low whisper, but it stirs my senses, awakening my femininity, “I will always remember the way you sat me on that altar... the pain that consumed my soul with your betrayal. And I will forever remember the way your eyes fell over my new form. The disgust they portrayed...”

And when he finally makes a full revolution around me, his eyes flick to and from my lips.

Close... he is so close and I don’t understand what is transpiring between us.

I don’t understand what this man is doing to me and I wonder if we have flipped roles...

What magic does he have?

What spell has he put me under because I have never experienced this response to a man before and I doubt I ever will again.

“But most importantly, Evie, I will never, ever forget the sight of your retreating back as you abandoned me.” I bite my bottom lip as he rests his forehead against mine. Theon cradles my face, sending electric sparks straight to my heart, scorching my insides. His breath fans my mouth and I have to force myself to be still. I refuse the urge I have to move forward and seize his lips within my own. “And I promise you, witch, I will spend the rest of your life making sure you never forget as well.”

A strong gust of wind leaves me cold, the lack of body heat making it clear he is gone. His threat hangs in the air, his voice replaying in my mind and while my brain recognizes that I will need to watch my back from here on out—his words too cryptic for me to feel completely safe—my body is an entirely different story.

What did he just do to me?

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