THERON II

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ONE.

LINA

I rub my temples, a failed attempt at squashing this growing headache that has been threatening to disable me for almost an hour now.

I hate these meetings.

I hate the angry voices, the tension that hangs thickly in the air like smoke in a seedy bar and I especially hate the way I am underestimated in a room full of outsiders.

The Lonely Female Ancient, they call me--a title given to me after Theron's passing.

I loathe it as well.

I have been with Marius, DeLoren and Kai almost every day now since the happenings at Superlunar. We live together, eat together and work together and not one of them questions my power.

Not one of them would dare disrespect me.

But in these meetings and court proceedings--in this fucked up oligarchy we were forced to adopt after the disbursement of the council--many other beings are allowed inside. Werewolves, lycans and every other supernatural on the planet can voice their opinions, air their grievances and disregard me as if I am nothing but a gnat buzzing around their face.

To them, I am Theron's widow, nothing more and nothing less.

To them, I have inherited this position from my dead mate... nothing more and nothing less.

And I hate that too.

Marius jumps up from his seat, slamming his hands on the table and ripping me from my wandering thoughts. "If you will not pass judgement on this issue then we will, Mavina," he seethes.

Mavina snickers, her dark lips pull back in a polite, yet overly fake smile. She stands at the podium in the middle of this large horseshoe shaped table and flicks her long red hair over her shoulder, "You have no authority over witches, dog."

"Technically," Anthony interjects, with a raised index finger, "The Treaty of Dravenha states that groups of different supernatural origins cannot intervene with the punishments, by-laws and ongoings of any other group but their own, excluding cases where one or more members of any one group bring about harm or wickedness to any other group."

Good ole Anthony... smart in all the wrong times.

Social cues aren't really his forte.

I lay my hand on his thigh and shake my head. Mavina knows the laws, they are as old as the Originals who created them. It is a Treaty meant to keep peace within the differing species of supernaturals and the first thing she would have had to study in order to be given the title she has.

She is not dumb, nor is she unaware.

She is just pissed off.

Rhys crosses his arms over his chest and leans back in his seat beside Marius. His voice is firm as he is done listening to her bullshit, "In other words, it's our right. Nowhere does it state that we have to involve the High Witch in our decision, yet here you are. So maybe you had better consider our position before you disrespect our members."

"Who are these disgusting humans that talk to me as if they hold any power here?" She looks at Marius, ignoring our friends completely.

And now I am the one who is pissed off.

Being on the receiving end of this kind of disrespect every day, I will not allow my friends to be exposed to the same embarrassment as me. "Those humans are our advisors and they carry just as much power as any of us so sit down, and shut the hell up, Mavina." While my tone is steady and matter of fact, inside I am anything but. This dance has gone on too long and it needs to end today.

"Oh," she appears startled, as if she never noticed my presence, which I know is a blatant lie, "the female Ancient finally speaks. Did the men give you permission to open your mouth today?"

Fuck her.

Fuck her daughter.

And fuck this.

"I pass motion to fry the bitch," I glance at the gaping mouths to my left and to my right. I don't understand why they're so shocked. I am not the same Lina I used to be and they shouldn't be as surprised as they apparently are.

DeLoren chokes down a laugh before mindlinking me, "Slow your roll there, Theron, Jr."

And there's another name I cannot stand.

Theron, Jr.

When my anger becomes all consuming and my patience runs thin; when my blood lust is insatiable and my compassion is nonexistant, and when I get fucking annoyed and stop giving a shit, that is what he calls me.

Theron, Jr.

Because I am angry.

Because I am sad.

Because I no longer desire to be part of a world where Theron is not and yet I can never leave because our son needs me. So yes, I am bitter and no, I don't care what anyone else thinks.

I raise a single brow, "Anyone second it?"

"You can't give that order," Mavina wrings her hands nervously and now I know I have her undivided attention at last. "Actually, I can," I replied, coolly. "I've been sitting here for almost two weeks while you make excuses for your daughter's behavior and plead for her life but never once have you offered another alternative to execution. Not once have you apologized for her behavior and not once have you accepted responsibility for her actions. So tell me, Mavina, what would you have us do, exactly?"

"The punishment far outweighs the crime and I--"

Now I am the one shooting up from my seat. She winces at my sudden change in demeanor but like most things in my life at the moment I cannot care less. "She kidnapped, cursed and imprisoned an Ancient without provocation! It is against the Treaty and you know it! If Kai had not been merciful, she would have been slain where she stood the second I laid eyes on her!" Mavina tenses, her jaws tighten and I know she wishes for nothing more than to turn me into a pile of ash and had we been anywhere else she probably would have. Thankfully, this building is a void--void of all supernatural abilities. I couldn't even shift if I wanted to, thus her fucking hocus pocusing my ass into oblivion is out of the question. However, when I leave this sanctuary, anything is game, hence, I should probably stop provoking her but I just can't so fuck you, DeLoren--I will not slow my roll. "Infact, Kai is the only reason Evangeline is still alive and yet you have never once thanked him for his clemency. You need to learn some humility, Mavina and if I am the one to teach it to you then so be it."

"He insulted her--"

"He insulted her by rejecting her advances?" I throw my hands to the sky, thoroughly disgusted with the pettiness that brought this whole situation about in the first place, "This may come as a shock to the whole world but just because they are Ancients with a well known reputation does not mean they fuck everything that struts in on two legs! Have you ever seen a hybrid, Mavina? Have you ever wondered why there are no witchy werewolves or Lycans with fae wings? If they are not lupine or human, they don't feel the need to whore out their groin. Species do not intermingle, it is the way of nature. Dogs do not desire to breed with cats!"

I return to my seat, feeling my aggravation subside slightly, "I am sorry Kai hurt Evangeline's feelings but that gave her no right to bind him to his wolf form and walk him up and down the street on a leash like a common household pet. She will be held accountable. "

The room has grown silent. I can hear her heart beating rapidly--whether that be from anger or anxiety is yet to be seen.

It is Kai who finally speaks, breaking the antipathy in the room. It is Kai, who after two weeks of near silence, decides to open his stupid mouth now, "Mavina, I do not wish harm on Evie. I only want her to learn from this. I motion for a ten year abeyance of all magic. Is there anyone who seconds this?"

DeLoren waves two fingers in the air like the fucking traitor he is, "I will second this." He flashes me a knowing smirk from across the room. Marius nods, before addressing the rest of the table, "All in favor, say Aye."

"Fuck you, D," I silently mouth, not the least bit amused--he knows how badly I wanted to see that strumpet severely punished.

Ten years?!

What a fucking joke.

DeLoren throws his head back in a fit of unbridled laughter as the massive room resounds with "Aye."

Marius continues, "So it has been decided. Evangeline Davina DuBois is forbidden to use magic for a total of ten years. This sentence starts today at 3:22pm. This judgement is binding and may not be lengthened, lessened or altered in any way without prior permission from the ordering court. Bring her from the cells and return her to her coven."

Like she is really not going to use her magic for more than five fucking minutes?!

This is outrageous.

I eye Mavina as she turns to step off the podium. She looks a little too smug for my comfort and while the logical side of me demands (very loudly) I not make anymore waves, the protective female bitch in me can't hold her tongue.

That is my kin she toyed with.

That is my pack member she tormented and tortured for months on end.

That is my brother she fucked with and for no other reason than her own vanity.

I do not forgive so easily.

"Oh, and Mavina?" I did not miss the way her back stiffened before she turned to face me once more, "Do keep your daughter in check. If we happen to find out she has violated the terms of her sentencing, I will personally come fetch her myself and I promise you, you do not want to see me at your doorstep, witch."

***

The Lupine Government building lies in the heart of Sevierville, Tennessee, fourteen miles north of Gatlinburg where the events of two years ago are still being scrutinized by a distrustful human population. Needless to say, it was damn near impossible to find a space that wouldn't be conspicuous or accidently stumbled upon by unsuspecting citizens.

So, we had to improvise.

The sign outside is not flashy by any means. It's small and wooden and announces that this building is the Telemarketing Headquarters of the United States. Obviously, no such thing actually exists but no human cares enough to look into it, better yet casually walk into it.

It's a cold, stone structure with marble floors and a grand granite staircase. The first floor hosts three conference rooms. The largest of the three are specifically for meetings and is set up in a sort of Townhall fashion. The smallest is for more intimate gatherings--lawyers and clients and such. Our courtroom is smack dab in the middle of the two.

Kai and DeLoren are on either side of me as I leave said room, searching for the one and only being that has my frigid, half dead heart still thumping. They are chastising me for my behavior with Mavina but I tune them out. It's over and done with and all I want to do is take my son and go home.

"Ma, ma, ma, ma!" Theon squeals from across the building, pointing at me. He starts thrashing his body against Keeley and making it extremely difficult for her to continue holding him. She mumbles something about never wanting kids and I chuckle. But before I can relieve her of her babysitting duty, Kai swoops in and steals him from me. He lifts him high into the air, "Theo! Your hair got longer!"

Theon giggles.

"His hair is the same length it was yesterday, Kai," I sigh, a little aggravated I wasn't the first to greet my son.

"But I didn't see him yesterday."

"Then you'll have to take my word for it. Now give me my baby before I bite your head off."

Kai rolls his eyes, "Your ma ma ma is me me mean, little man."

And Theon, sweet Theon, babbles incoherently before blowing through closed lips, ultimately sending spit flying into Kai's face. "Ugh! Dude! Gross! Here," he shoves my son in my awaiting hands. I smile down at Theo, "That's what Uncle Kai gets, huh? Talking bad about mommy like that."

"Ma, ma, ma," Theon claps his hands before throwing his head against my chest and sucking on his fist and I send a silent thank you into the air.

When my days are rough and my nights are unbearable; when my heart hurts and I don't want to leave the comfort of my bed; when I question why I am still here and if I need to be, it is this little boy that pulls me through it all. He is the only link I have to Theron now and what a replica Theon makes.

I see Theron in his ornery grin.

I see Theron in his stubborn attitude.

I see Theron in the tantrums he throws when he doesn't get his way, in the brows that turn downward and the lips that purse when he is angry, in the same big, brown, innocent eyes that look at me with every ounce of love he has... I still see Theron.

It's bits and pieces and mere seconds and flashes here and there and in everything this little boy does and yet, Theron is impossibly out of reach. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time.

I kiss his forehead and whisper, "Let's go home, T."

But it is DeLoren who shatters my reverie with a lowly growl. His posture is rigid and his chest vibrates in warning.

My contentment is rattled when my eyes follow his line of sight and land on none other than Mavina.

Mavina, who is staring at my child.

Studying...

Evaluating...

Scheming.

And making me fantasize about a thousand different scenarios where I rip her throat out for even chancing a glance at my son.



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