Zoo Scene - Aiden POV (Pure)

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* wonky formatting alert*

I stood beside Alex, pretending to watch the bobcat when I was really watching Alex. Ever since she'd faced her mom in Gatlinburg, the dark, far-off look in her eyes had become painfully familiar. Seeing her lips curve into the smile that always made me feel like someone reached into my chest and squeezed, and hearing her laugh proved to me that this trip had been worth the risks involved.

She’d already faced way too much—things a weaker person would’ve broken from—and I had a horrible feeling that whatever truly waited for her in the future wouldn’t be any easier than what lay in her past.

If I knew how to prevent her from experiencing any more pain and heartbreak, I would. I would do anything.

“Do you think she knows what we are?” she asked.
I leaned against the guardrail. “I don’t know.”
Her eyes continued to follow the lithe movements of the predator. “Mom believed they

did. She said animals could sense we were different from the mortals, especially cats.”
As I watched a breeze stir the strands of her hair, it suddenly made sense—this whole

fascination with zoos. “Did your mother like cats?”
She shrugged. “I think it had something to do with my father. Whenever we’d come here,

we’d always ended up here right before we left.” Looking over her shoulder, she nodded at the weathered benches. “We’d sit over there and watch the cats.”

I moved closer to her, unsure if it was on purpose or not.

Alex faced the pen again, smiling. “It was the only time Mom would talk about my father. She never really said much about him. Except that he had the warmest brown eyes. I wonder if he had something to do with animals, you know? Anyway, the last time we were here was when she told me he was dead and told me his name. She named me after him, did you know that? I guess that’s why Lucian hated it when Mom called me Alex. After a while, she started calling me Lexie instead. My father’s name was Alexander.”

Several moments passed where neither of us said anything. “That’s why you like the zoo so much.”

“Yeah, you got me.” She laughed and her cheeks flushed.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, to want to be close to something that reminds you of your loved ones.”

“I didn’t even know him, Aiden.”
“Still, he was your father.”
Alex fell quiet as she returned to watching the bobcat prowl the edges of its pen. Within

seconds, my gaze swung back to her. Pink still colored her cheeks and her eyes seemed shades lighter. I glanced back at the pen, thinking that Alex was much like the bobcat. Powerful and graceful, but trapped by the cage of what she would become. Then again, all half-bloods were that way. They were some of the most powerful creatures to walk the mortal realm, but all of them were prisoners to the percentages of their blood.

For a brief, insane second, I considered taking her somewhere far away from Deity Island. Like I imagined some mortals did when they saw wild animals caged, they wanted to see them free. But that was impossible. The Council would find her. Hell, the gods might even find her.

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