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The silence of the room weighed heavier on her steady shoulders than her father’s steady glower. She knew he would be angry. He gave a direct order for her to immediately bring her husband and her child to the base and instead of complying, she showed up alone and defiant.

Aine lifted her head. The glower had grown into a thoughtful one but his stern expression didn’t let up. And from her lowered position, her head up and on bended knee, it looked ever harsher. The shadows cast a veil over parts of his face but it wasn’t enough to mask his disappointment in her. Nothing could.

His mouth, still set in a straight tight line, worried her but she couldn’t stop herself. “Father, if you would just-“

“Have I given you permission to speak out against me a second time?”

“No…” I’m not trying to, she added silently. She licked her lips and let her head fall again, “…But I’ve never asked for anything. I know how important this clan is to you and what it means to show mercy or forgiveness to your own blood but I-“

The sudden sound of rushing feet made her tense. Her eyes slid shut as she readied herself for the inevitable that never came. “Father…?”

His hand slid under her chin as he lifted her face to him. She slowly opened her eyes to meet his, and their gaze locked long enough for her to see his disappointment just before he struck her. His fist collided with her jaw, toppling her to the floor. Rubbing her jaw with one hand, she tried to right herself with the free one only to be pressed firmly against the hard floor by the heavy boot of her father. She wanted to cry out from the pain but the angelic face of her son flashing in her mind made her bite her tongue. She wouldn’t give up the family she found for herself. Not after everything Ben had been through, not when she knew exactly what kind of training her father had in mind for her son.

“You’re no better than your sister.” Her father grumbled over her as if to himself, his heel grinding into her spine. “You will bring that boy here where he will receive proper training.”

The pressure left her back and was soon followed by the sounds of retreating steps. Aine stared down at the cement floor, her father’s words echoing in the small room. He hated anything that wasn’t human. Ben barely passed despite his being human with a simple gene mutation that gave him powers no human should have. And then she got married to him. Her father took awhile to get over it but she saw what appealed to him – Ben was tied to her, which meant he was tied to the clan and in the end that meant her father could control the weather by controlling Ben.

Wincing, she rubbed her jaw. Ben was one thing. He agreed to play along and go out on hunts with her but then she got pregnant and their world changed. Levi became their new focus and future. The hunts mattered less and less. She even took safer missions that required data collection or mapping rather than actual involvement. That was her life and it was one she wanted to keep from Levi. But somehow someone saw his ability to control animals and that someone decided to steal any hope she had of keeping it a secret.

Aine pushed herself up. Taking a deep breath, she tilted her head back and closed her eyes. She wouldn’t bend for her father, not if it meant trading her son for approval. Not after she helped fake her sister’s death so her sister could escape the life of a hunter. Not when she knew just how cruel her father could be.

She got to her feet and left behind the shame of disobeying her father for the last time.

The clan wouldn’t have her son.

 

© 2016 Maura D.

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