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Chapter One: Wake

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ACT I:

A Graced Upbringing

CHAPTER ONE

Wake

Camille peeked up at her mother from behind trembling fingers. "I don't want to look at anyone. I don't want to see the monsters," she whispered before covering her eyes again.

Sabine flicked her gaze over the bandage winding the nine year old's skull and tried to smile, despite that her daughter couldn't see her expression. "Monsters?"

The girl nodded, what little of her long, golden curls weren't removed for the surgery rustling lightly against her small shoulders.

Sabine exchanged a worried look with Luc before glancing toward the doctor. The man only shrugged as he offered a half-nod in response.

Reasoning that such things were probably normal for a child recovering from cranial trauma, she asked, "Did you have a nightmare?"

Camille answered with a shake of her head. Her body jerked and she whipped around to look toward the wall at her back.

Her mother bit her lip, finding the gesture unsettling, as though the girl expected to find someone behind her. Trying to ease her own, growing anxiety over the strange behavior, Sabine ran her gaze over the wall against which the bed was positioned. She hoped perhaps a bug, or shadow had caught the corner of her daughter's eye, yet Sabine saw nothing.

"Wh—what monsters, then?"

"The ones behind people's faces," Camille said, her tiny voice trembling.

The words set off a chill in the pit of Sabine's stomach as she sat back from her daughter and looked to husband once more, tears welling in her eyes.

* * * * *

"She's sick, isn't she? The accident damaged her brain, or something!"

Camille bit her lip as she struggled to keep from crying. Mummy was trying to keep her voice low, but Camille could still hear her through the door of the doctor's office. Her parents had left her in the waiting area—only a few corridors away from the wing of the hospital where she'd stayed for the better part of two weeks—to prevent her from getting upset by whatever the doctor might say.

Clearly they didn't realize how loud they could be.

"Mr. Joubert, Mrs. Joubert, I first want to assure you there's nothing physically wrong with Camille. The surgery went extremely well and she's healing beautifully, ahead of expectation, in fact, but there may be some residual trauma from the accident. These images she sees are likely the result of her mind trying to process—"

"Will it go away?" Daddy sounded tired, and angry. His accent always got so thick when he was upset that his words became garbled. "Will she get better?"

Movement close by caught her attention and Camille shielded her eyes with her hands. She felt the nearness of another person as someone took the seat beside her and she shied away, curling into the opposite side of her chair.

"Why are you hiding your face?" A boy's voice asked.

Well, she didn't have to fear another child, now did she? Slowly straightening up, she smiled, but did not drop her hands. "I'm not hiding my face, I'm hiding my eyes."

"Oh . . . why?"

"Because I see things."

She felt him lean closer and reflexively shied away, again.

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