Choosing Theo: Chapter 34

By the time Theo made his way back to the driveway of his house, he was wracked with guilt. All the anger he’d felt earlier was still present but as he’d run himself to exhaustion, other details from the night had returned to him. When Xoris had reached for her initially, she’d pulled away.

Pacing in front of his door, Theo tried to figure out how he was going to apologize to Jade. His chest felt like it was going to rip apart, but he knew what he had to do.

He swore loudly when a vehicle almost barreled into him. Zikas and Asivva rushed out of the vehicle without noticing him and were on their way to his door when he yelled, “You need to be more careful with those things. You almost hit me!”

As they turned to look at him, their faces lit up and they shared excited glances with one another. “We need to speak with you immediately,” Zikas said.

“Can it wait? I’ve had a rough night,” Theo mumbled glancing at Jade’s illuminated window.

Better go and get this over with. Tonight, he’d gone too far. He’d threatened to lock her away, and in the moment, he’d meant it. Something was happening to him, and Jade didn’t deserve to be a victim of his unexplainable mood swings. He had to leave her. He didn’t know how he’d stay away, but somehow, he would.

“Asivva, look!” Zikas said pointing up at Theo. “They’re changed even now.”

Asivva stepped in front of him, blocking his way. “Theo, she’s your mate!”

He groaned. “Not this again. Asivva I told you—”

“Your eyes are black, Theo! And I saw your mating marks appear and disappear from your hands when you attacked Xoris.”

He glanced to Zikas, who was bouncing with joy. “The first mated pair in hundreds of years! Do you know what this means?”

It couldn’t be true. Theo stormed past them into the house and stared at himself in the hall mirror. Sure enough, his eyes were pitch black. He peered down at his hands but no marks, save for his black scars, covered them.

“It all makes sense, Theo. I told Zikas and we rushed to the library to do some research on it, and all of your symptoms are consistent.”

“What symptoms?”

“Tell us again what happened when you first met her?” Zikas intoned.

“I was angry. I didn’t understand why she picked me.”

Zikas waved him away dismissively. “No, before that. At The Testing.”

Theo thought back.

“I remember finding it odd,” Zikas began. “Jade came out and told me you’d grabbed her and licked her.”

Theo bristled recalling his unusual reaction to her scent.

“But it makes sense now,” Asivva said, lifting an ancient tome. “This says that many mates identify one another through scent at first. Your reaction makes sense, and it’s no wonder no one noticed your eyes changing. You were blindfolded. Jade wouldn’t have understood the significance of it anyway.”

Asivva continued quickly, “Your behavior has been so strange lately, and I’ve suspected for some time that she might be your mate. Tonight, I asked her whether your eyes had ever changed color, and she said they sometimes changed to black. She obviously didn’t understand what that meant.”

Theo stared at them speechless. Could she be his mate? He shook his head. “I may have recognized her as a possible mate, but that doesn’t mean she’s mine. No male would ever treat their mate the way I treated Jade tonight,” he finished gloomily.

Asivva and Zikas’ smiles widened. “Even that makes sense.”

“What do you mean?”

“According to this, recognizing your true mate can be greatly affected by your mental state. You’ve spent the last few weeks questioning her motives. You’ve been in denial.”

Zikas chimed in. “It has happened before. The longer one goes without accepting the bond, the more crazed they’ll become. At this point, even smelling another male near Jade could push you to murder. Once your mating marks appear, you should start to have more control over yourself.”

“Think about it, Theo,” Asivva said softly, touching his arm. “You feel she’s perfect for you, don’t you? You kept unintentionally trying to make her happy. You’ve never hurt her no matter how angry you’ve been. You can’t stand to be away from her for long periods of time.”

Theo tried to digest everything they were saying. It was all true. It made sense. From the first day they’d met, he’d thought of her as his.

A spark of hope lit in his chest. He didn’t have to be parted from her. He didn’t have to steal her away. The only thing standing in Theo’s way was Theo.

“Jade is my mate,” he said under his breath, willing himself to believe his words. He pictured her beautiful, smiling face and with more conviction, repeated, “Jade is my mate.”

Warmth spread through him at the declaration and when he looked down at his hands, he was unsurprised to see thin crystal-blue bands starting to circle his wrists and fingers.

Asivva and Zikas gasped, and a solitary tear fell down Asivva’s cheek.

“I need to tell her. To explain,” Theo said, glancing to her room.

Before waiting for a response, he dashed toward her room, but he was running so fast that he overshot her door.

From the kitchen, Zikas called, “Your body will be altered now. You should be quicker, stronger, better able to protect your mate. Be careful though, Theo. We have no idea how your Traxian half will affect your matehood.”

Theo nodded and shook his head disbelieving his new position in life.

He crossed to her room but when he entered, his heart stopped. A chair was toppled, and Cebo was lying crumpled against a far wall. Rushing to him, he found the dog still breathing but whimpering in pain. Theo’s blood turned to ice in his veins as he realized his mate had been taken.

He stood, a deadly calm overtaking him. Years of working as a hired mercenary had all led up to this. His mate had been stolen from him, and there was no male in the universe more equipped to retrieve her.

This was what he did for a living.

Gather intel. Locate the target. Complete the mission.

No, he thought savagely. Gather intel. Locate the target. Slaughter anyone who stands in my way.

He needed to meet with Rhaego. Now.

Jogging back toward the front door and stalking past Zikas and Asivva, he said, “Jade has been taken.”

Speaking over their gasps, in a booming voice he added, “Asivva I need you to go and heal Cebo. He’s badly injured.”

Theo knew they needed no more explanation at present. He jogged out of the door and jumped in the cruiser Asivva and Zikas had arrived in, setting his course to the safehouse Rhaego had established.

Gather. Locate. Slaughter. Gather. Locate. Slaughter, he silently chanted as the cruiser set off.


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