Chapter One

The students standing in the cafeteria line in front of me chatted happily about their spring break plans and how they wished it was longer. I just wished the lunch line would move faster. My stomach was growling fiercely, announcing its displeasure at not eating yet and if I did not get it food soon it was swearing that I would die.

“Forgot your breakfast again?” asked a chipper female voice from beside me.

I turned and hugged my best friend, Sandy, around her small shoulders. She was the shortest girl in school, only four foot eleven with black hair down to her plump Hawaiian butt. “Yes, I left it on the counter when I heard the bus honk the horn and I have been starving for the past two hours.”


Sandy shook her head at me. “You would forget your foot if you didn’t need it to walk with.”


I laughed and tried to dismiss the visual taking shape in my head. “Are you coming over tonight?” I asked hopefully.

Sandy nodded her head. “I convinced my mom to let me come over since you are going away for the rest of spring break.”


I sighed sadly. “Yeah, two states away.”


“You know you like visiting with your Dad,” she said as we moved forward a centimeter. I never
understood why it took other students so long to choose their food and pay, yet the slow moving line was proof that it took them a ridiculous amount of time.


I nodded my head. “I love visiting with my Dad, I just hate being away from you all break long.”


Sandy shook her head. “I appreciate you trying to make me feel better, but I know you are lying. You love all the attention the people your Dad hangs out with give you and hardly think about me while you are there. You just get embarrassed when your Dad refers to you as a ‘child’ and ruins the fun you were having trying to act tough with them.”


“I really need to stop telling you everything,” I mumbled as we finally entered the food area. She was right though, I loved the playful harassment from dad’s friends, but Dad always embarrassed me at some point by making a comment or making me do something stupid. Things had been different the last two times that I had visited him though. I was not sure if it was a good thing or not. It almost seemed like they were starting to treat me like an adult and not so much like an innocent little girl. I knew I should have been happy about it, but I did not want things to change too much.


I took a tray and loaded it with two cheeseburgers, two fries, a salad and a soda. The cashier, a stocky woman in her late forties with dyed black hair and a few chins too many, shook her head as she totaled my purchases and said, “I’ll never figure out how something as thin as you eats so much.”


I tapped my right thigh. “Hollow leg.”


She laughed and handed me my change before tallying up Sandy’s purchases. I made my way through the crowded cafeteria until I saw Devon with his arm raised on the left side of the cafeteria, near the front entrance. Devon was very distinguishable in the cafeteria since he was the tallest guy in school and the only one with a white, clean shaven head. I constantly teased him that his father was Mr. Clean from the commercials, but he just shrugged it off and said I was just jealous of his height. He was only a little bit right.


I said hi to a few of my fellow cheerleaders and gave a few others the ’sup nod, a lift of the head of about two inches that was a general hello in teenager. After skirting around groups of people sitting at the tables and skipping over ten backpacks which were sitting on the floor in the aisles, I finally made it to the table where he had saved Sandy and I seats. I set my tray down and immediately had to smack his hand away from my fries. “I’m hungry. Do not touch my food.”


Devon was tall, muscular, popular, and totally in love with Sandy. Devon shook his bald head at me and plucked a fry from his own container. “You must do some crazy workouts at home to be able to eat that much and not gain a ton of weight.”


I pushed up the sleeve of my shirt and flexed my bicep which was small compared to most guys’, but moderately large compared to most girls’. “I gain muscle.”


Two of the football players that always hung out with Devon reached across the table to squeeze my bicep. They nodded approvingly and I resumed stuffing my face with food, finishing one of my burgers in three bites.


Sandy sat down beside Devon and kissed his cheek softly. “Hey, baby,” Devon said softly as he ran a hand through her thick hair.


I focused on my food, trying to hide the jealousy I felt towards the couple. I was almost sixteen years old and still had never been on a date nor had I had my first kiss yet. If I didn’t know better I would think my Dad had spies at the school keeping boys away from me. I looked around the cafeteria then shook my head at the ridiculous notion. My Dad was protective, but not that bad. At least, that was what I hoped.


“What are you doing for spring break?” Devon asked me.


I swallowed the piece of burger in my mouth and said, “Going to visit my Dad.”


Devon grimaced. “I’m sorry.”


I shrugged. “Don’t be. I enjoy visiting my Dad and doing all the outdoors stuff that I don’t get to do here.” My mom was definitely a city girl who would rather get a manicure than go play in the mud.


“You go hunting?” asked Taylor, one of the football players who had squeezed my bicep. He was ugly no matter how you looked at it and Devon said the only reason he had girlfriends was because he was on the football team. Personally I did not understand how being part of an athletic team could make up for his unattractiveness, but then again girls were very very strange. Maybe he was really nice and that’s what made him attractive to them.


I shuddered as I remembered the last hunt I had gone on with my Dad and his friends. “No, but I go fishing, horseback riding occasionally, hiking, and ride dirt bikes and other stuff like that.”


“I never would have guessed you were an outdoorswoman,” said Marvin, the other football player who was just as ugly as Taylor, but had no luck with girls even with being on the football team and I was sure it was because he was a total jerk.


I smiled. “Looks are deceiving. Just because I look like a cheerleader, and participate on the squad, does not mean I am a girlie girl. I enjoy the dirt and grime of the outdoors much more than a day of pampering.”


“Blasphemy,” Stacy said with a shake of her head. “Are you and your Dad still fixing up that old car?” She asked as she nibbled on her salad.


I tore open my salad, squeezing the dressing packet onto it and nodded my head. “Yep, we are finishing putting the engine back together this week and then we will start on the cosmetics.”


“What kind of car?” asked Devon as he ate the fries that Stacy bought for him.


“Sixty-five Ford Mustang. It was my Dad’s friend’s but he wrecked the front end last summer so Dad
bought it off of him and it became our project car.”


“Which engine?”


“HiPo v8 4 barrel,” I answered.


“Sweet,” said Devon around his fries.


“What’s sweet?” asked a familiar male voice from behind me.


Sandy stopped eating, setting her fork down to smile at the newcomer. “Hi Sam.”


Sam, the cutest guy in our school, the captain of the football team, and my long time crush was standing right behind me. Normally I didn’t go boy crazy or have trouble not acting like a moron, but Sam was different.


“Victoria has a sixty-five Mustang her Dad and her are rebuilding,” answered Devon for me since I couldn’t think of anything to say.


Sam sat down beside me, straddling the bench so he could face me. “Really?”


He had hair that always looked perfectly tousled and eyes so bright it almost made me think they were not human. His strong jaw and nicely sized biceps only added to the attractiveness and I knew from the football carwash that he also had an amazing set of abs under his shirt.


I nodded my head and prayed not to sound like an idiot. “Yeah, it’s a project car we work on every time I visit him.”


“Where does your Dad live?” he asked as he stared at me, giving me his undivided attention for the first time in the three years that I had known him. If I had known all I had to do was bring up cars I would have done that a long time ago!


“A small town called Canaville,” I said softly as my nerves built, making my hands shake ever so slightly. I really needed to get out more and talk to cute guys more often apparently.


“Is that where you are going for spring break?” he asked. I nodded my head as I shoved my hands under the table to hide the shaking. “When do you come back?” he asked.


Why was he asking? He had never spoken more than two words to me before this.


“I’ll be back the last Saturday of break,” I answered.


Sam frowned a moment as though thinking about something serious and then smiled at me and said, “I was hoping to do it sooner, but would you like to go to a movie with me when you get back?”


Sam Tanner had just asked me out! I did a happy dance in my head and forced a small smile on my face instead of the ear splitting one that wanted to form.


“Yeah, sure,” I said as I reigned in my excitement and tried not to embarrass myself.


He handed me his cell phone. “Can I have your number?”


I typed in my information and then handed him the cell phone back. Sam typed something on his phone and then mine vibrated against my leg. I pulled it out and stared in shock at the text message which had to have come from him. “Now you have my number too.” He stood up and shouldered his back pack.
“Bye Victoria.”


“Bye,” I whispered as I watched him walk away.


As I stared at him with drool threatening to leak out of my mouth and my subconscious doing another happy dance in my head, Sandy flung a piece of lettuce at me, hitting me on the cheek. I tossed it back at her and shouted, “What the hell?!”


She prepared to fling another piece of lettuce from her fork at me and said, “That’s what I want to know! ‘Yeah, sure’ is the best you can come up with when he finally asks you out after three years?!”


I dodged her lettuce and threw a fry at her nose. “I panicked!” I yelled at her.


Devon took Sandy’s fork to prevent her from flinging anymore lettuce. “Leave her alone, Sandy.”


“Yeah, leave me alone,” I said around a mouthful of my lettuce as I resumed eating.


She glared at me. “We are so having a talk tonight.”


My cell phone vibrated and I sighed after reading the message. “Actually we’re not,” I said sadly to her.


Sandy groaned. “Your Dad came early, didn’t he?”


I turned and watched as the cafeteria doors opened. “Yep.”


All eyes turned towards the doors as a six foot three, muscular, tattooed, full bearded man entered the cafeteria. Not a single person made a sound as he stood in the doorway, blocking out any sunlight which should have come in past him. He scanned the crowd, a frown on his face until he found me. He smiled and then he walked over, kids moving out of his path as quickly as they could and others bowing their heads when he neared them. I stood up and wrapped my arms around his thick neck. “Hi, Dad.”


He squeezed me once and then pushed me back to look at me. “You look more like your mom every time I see you.”


I smiled and ruffled his black hair which was streaked with grey now. “You look older every time I see you.”


He laughed and squeezed my shoulders. “Are you ready to go?”


“Hi, Mr. Crown,” said Sandy softly.


Dad smiled at her. “Sandy, you are looking as lovely as ever.”


She blushed and said, “Thank you.”


I grabbed my backpack and shoved three more fries in my mouth. I was sad that I would not be spending the night with Sandy, but getting out of school early was better than anything. I hugged Stacy and said bye to Devon and the others before heading towards the exit. We stepped outside and I stared at the hottest teenage guy I had ever seen standing just outside the cafeteria doors. Sam was a six on the hot scale which went from one to ten, but this guy was an eleven and a half. He had massive arms and a chiseled body, easily detectable through the tight shirt he was wearing. His brown eyes glittered as he talked with Stacy, the captain of the cheer squad. He turned and looked from me to my Dad and then back to me. “Victoria?” he asked.


I nodded my head and shook his hand. “You must be a new friend of Dad’s.”


The hot guy nodded his head. “I’m Brandon.”


“Hey, Vicky,” said Stacy with a bright smile.


I smiled at her and saw my Dad’s mouth lift up in the corner because he knew I hated that nickname. “Hey, Stace. I guess I’ll see you for practice when break is over?” I asked cheerfully, hiding my annoyance.


She nodded her head. “Monday morning the day we come back to school.”


I grabbed my Dad’s arm and pulled him forward. “Okay, bye Stacy.”


She waved. “Bye, Vicky,” and then added with a more sultry voice, “Bye, Brandon.”


Brandon waved to her and then followed behind us. I wanted to say something to Brandon about flirting with Stacy, but knew Dad would only embarrass me somehow so I left it alone. Was I mad that Dad’s friend was flirting? A little, but I knew more than anything I was jealous.


“Is your bag packed?” Dad asked as we walked to his truck in the visitor parking lot at the front of the school.


“Yep,” I said and then waved to Megan and Ashley, two of my cheerleading friends who appeared to be ditching school by sneaking out the front where there were no security guards at the moment.


Dad opened the passenger side door for me and took my backpack from me to toss it in the back. “Are you hungry? Brandon and I haven’t eaten yet.”


I smiled. “I could eat.”


He laughed and walked around to his door. “You are my child. I bet you could eat all day.”


I rubbed my stomach. “I would probably get fat if I did that.”


Brandon slid into the backseat of the SUV and said, “From what your Dad tells me, you are a very active person. I doubt you would gain weight.”


I glared at my Dad as he started the vehicle. “Don’t listen to everything my Dad tells you. He likes to lie.”


Dad pretended to look hurt. “That’s mean.”


“Remember the time you told Dan that I could bench two hundred pounds and he forced me to prove it?”


Dad laughed. “You did it.”


“Yes, and then I couldn’t lift my arms for a week.” My phone vibrated and I stared in shock at the new text from Sam.


"I was going to talk to you after school, but Sandy said your Dad just picked you up. I just wanted you to know that you’re the most beautiful girl in the school& I can’t wait for our date."


Butterflies swirled to life in my stomach and my fingers felt tingly. Sam Tanner thought I was beautiful!!!! I replied to his text.


"Thanks. I’m really looking forward to our date too. I never thought the hottest guy in school would ask me out."


“Who are you messaging?” asked Dad.


“No one,” I replied quickly, hiding my phone in my pocket.


He looked at me a moment. “A boy? Do we need to have the talk again?”


I groaned. “No. I am still a virgin, Dad. So stop worrying.”


He smiled. “Good girl. I would hate to have to tear some guy’s arms off.”


I swallowed at his not quite shallow threat. “It’ll happen someday, Dad.”


“I know I’ll tear off some guy’s arms at some point in the future. I’m actually looking forward to it,” he said with an evil smile on his face.


I groaned. “You cannot treat me like a baby forever. Someday I am going to meet a guy and one thing will lead to another and then you are going to have to just deal with it.”


“I plan on dealing with it,” he said in his serious tone.


“No,” I said angrily. “I’m not going to keep giving in to your threats anymore. If I want to kiss a boy then I am going to. If I want to go on a date…”


“You are too young to date,” he said adamantly, interrupting me.


“I’m almost sixteen!” I protested. “Most girls have already been on dates, had sex and some are already pregnant.”


“You are not like most girls,” he responded.


I sighed and relaxed back into my seat. “No, I am not. I am the daughter of the most stubborn and overprotective Alpha werelion in the world.”


Dad stopped the SUV in front of mom’s house and asked, “Do you want help?”


I slammed the passenger door closed without a verbal response to him and walked up to the front door of my mother’s house. When I was younger I hadn’t minded him being so protective, but now it was annoying. I knew it was natural for him to be overly protective of his offspring, but I was not a child anymore and I did not need his protection. I unlocked the door with my key and grabbed my duffle bag from the floor just inside the door. I knew to always pack my bags a day or two early because dad liked to surprise me and pick me up earlier than he told me that he would. It was like he was trying to catch me off guard or wanted to catch me doing something bad, even though I was a good girl. Okay, mostly a good girl.


“Here, let me carry it,” said Brandon from behind me. I should have known he was there because I had felt the hairs on the nape of my neck stand up, but like my Dad, he moved silently. I jumped backwards and would have fallen if he had not caught my arm and steadied me. “Sorry,” he said softly. I stared into his eyes and found myself lost in their brilliant brown depths. He inhaled loudly and then released my arm, grabbing my bag and turning away. “Is this all you have?” he asked in a deeper voice without looking at me.


“Yes,” I whispered, realizing too late that I had stared into his eyes for far too long.


He walked to the truck and tossed my bag into the back seat beside my backpack. Dad watched me with a weird grin on his face that I could not identify. It was a look he had never given me before and it made me extremely nervous. I locked the front door of the house and climbed into the truck, silent for the first time in my life.


We stopped at my favorite diner on the way out of town and I ordered a cheeseburger, but only picked at the bun and nibbled on the edge of the burger.


“Victoria,” Dad said softly.


I looked up and met his worried gaze. “Yeah?”


“He didn’t mean to scare you.”


I looked at Brandon who was paying our bill at the front counter and then quickly back down at my burger. “I know.”


“Then stop giving us the silent treatment.”


I exhaled. He was right. I needed to get over it. “I’m sorry.”


“Don’t apologize to me,” Dad said softly as Brandon came back.


“The bill is paid. Are we ready?” Brandon asked. He looked down at my burger and asked, “You want me to get a box for that?”


“I’ll get it,” I said , stood up, and walked to our waitress. She handed me a box and I put my fries and uneaten burger inside. I wasn’t sure why, but there was something different about Brandon. I wasn’t frightened of him, but I just felt, different around him.


Brandon was frowning hard and walked silently back to the SUV. I touched his arm as he reached for his door, which startled him, surprisingly. He jerked away and then exhaled loudly. “You should not touch someone without warning.”


I smiled. “Like you shouldn’t sneak up on me without warning?”


He smiled and his shoulders relaxed slightly. “I’m sorry. I really did not intend to frighten you. I’m just not used to being around your kind.”


I flinched at the “your kind” remark. “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it,” I said angrily as I climbed into the front seat, slamming the door closed behind me.


Dad was laughing softly in the driver’s seat and shook his head at Brandon. “You just don’t know when to stop digging that hole, do you?”


“What did I do this time?” he asked from the backseat.


I set my food down and folded my arms across my chest. “Stupid males,” I muttered under my breath.


Dad patted my shoulder. “He wasn’t trying to be rude, darlin’.”


“Well he sucks at not trying to be rude. Or not trying to scare me.”


“How was I rude?!” Brandon demanded.


I ignored him and turned on the radio to my favorite rock station. Dad turned it off and shook his head. “Not in my car.”


I groaned. “Stupid oversensitive hearing.” I grabbed my mp3 player out of my pocket and put my ear buds in. “Wake me up when we’re in Canaville.” I cranked up the volume and closed my eyes as I relaxed on my seat.


I could hear Dad and Brandon whispering to each other, but I ignored them and let the wailing of my favorite band lull me to sleep instead of thinking about what a brat I had been acting like.



Daughter of Lions

Published: June 26, 2015


Being a teenager is hard enough, but when your dad is an Alpha werelion it complicates matters even more. Victoria doesn’t feel like she fully fits in anywhere and things become more unsteady when she meets the new werelion in her dad’s pride, Brandon. Is there a way she can alter her genes to gain the ability to shift, or will she learn to accept who she is?