Prologue*

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"A lion doesn't concern itself with the opinion of sheep." 


Kefira Walsh crawled along the limbs of the tree, her eyes set on her unsuspecting prey. She was a lion, hunting in the Serengeti of Africa. The gray squirrel before her was a gazelle grazing away in the grass. 

She crouched down preparing for her leap....


"Kefira Walsh, you get down from that tree and into this house, right now!"

The young girl flinched at her mother's scolding tone that rang out from the cottage tucked away in the valley of rolling hills.

She turned her head abruptly, debating whether she should leave the sanctuary of the tree to deal with whatever her mother was upset with her for.

The wind blew her orange-tinted curls into her face, giving her the look of a mighty mane. But the mighty lioness sighed in defeat as her mother called her again.

"Aww, Mum!" Kefira groaned before dropping down from the tree and running towards the house.

She walked in to find her mother standing near the doorway, the Irish woman's arms folded over her chest and her expression cross.

"Whatever it is, I didn't do it." 

"Really, so you didn't punch Tyler O'Connor in the face earlier today?" her accent thick with anger.

"Oh, that...yeah I did do that." Kefira smiled in amusement.

"You think this is funny?"

The smile faded from her face as she met her mother's stern gaze.

"Um...no?"

"Kefira," the woman sighed pushing back her curly brown hair from her brow and leaning against the kitchen counter. "What in the world gave you the idea to punch the boy in the face?"

"He deserved Mum, honest."

"Oh really? Why did he deserve it?"

"Because he said I couldn't play earlier."

"What? Why?"

"He said it was because I was a girl and girls couldn't play."

"Oh."

Kefira shrugged. "So I hit him in the face."

"You can't just go hitting people in the face because they make you upset. It doesn't work that way, sweetheart."  Alana Walsh looked down at her daughter.

"Seemed to work pretty good, he let me play afterward."

"Yes, but the bruise you left made his mother very upset."

"Well, she should teach her son some manners," Kefira said.


The kitchen door opened behind the two and Kefira's father, Cardel Walsh walked in removing his jacket.

The tall man stood before the two with a smile, but it quickly faded as his wife gave him a look.

"Whoa, what did I do?" he said raising his hands in surrender.

"You need to talk to your daughter...she hit another boy in the face."

"Again?"

"Again," Alana replied as she left the room leaving the father and daughter alone.

"Kefi..." Cardel looked to his youngest. "Come along."


Kefira sat outside on the porch of the house while her father sat beside her looking out at the green land.

"Why did you hit the boy in the face?" Cardel asked her.

"It's like I told Mum, Tyler told me I couldn't play with them because I was a girl. He said I wasn't tough enough to play with the boys. So, I showed him I was tough."

Her father couldn't help but laugh as he wrapped his arm around his daughter holding her in a gentle headlock.

"Hitting someone in the face does not show how tough you are, Kefi."

"It doesn't?"

"No, and you don't have to prove to anyone how tough you are either. You proved that a long time ago."

"Then how come they won't let me play?" Kefira pouted. "It's not fair."

"If they don't want to play with you, sweetheart, then they are the ones missing out, not you."

"A lot of the kids won't play with me around here. They keep calling me weird."

"You're not weird. You're different. You are my little lion." Cardel said. "And I'll let you in on a little something..."

Kefira leaned in.

"A lion doesn't concern itself with the opinion of sheep."

"What does that mean?"

"It means you are born to stand out and all those people who follow the same tune shouldn't concern you at all. You will go on to do great things, Kefi, those other people probably won't."

He released his hold on her and ruffled her vibrant locks.

"No, that's not fair!" she laughed pushing his hands away. "I can't do it back to you because you're bald!"

"Well, you can always rub the top of my head for good luck," Cardel told her. Kefira grinned as she hopped up onto her feet and placed her hands on her father's head and leaned on him.

Compared to her father's swarthy complexion, Kefira appeared almost olive-skinned making her hair stick out all that much more. Kefira seemed to be a combination of her father's South African genetics and her mother's Irish genetics. Unlike her three older sisters, who had all taken after their mother's side with the paler skin tone and brunette hair.

She stood out like a sore thumb in her family.


"You really think I'm going to do great things, Dad?"

"No, I don't think...I know you will. You just have to believe that yourself."

"I do." Kefira nodded her head before she stood tall and proud. That was until her father poked her in the stomach.

She giggled covering her stomach.

"Alright, little lion, no more hitting people in the face. Got it?"

"Got it....but-"

"No, no more hitting."

"Okay, fine."

"Now, let's go in and help your mother and sisters set the table for dinner, okay?"

"Race you inside!" Kefira yelled running towards the door.

"Oh, no you don't!" Cardel scooped the child up over his shoulder and carrying her inside. "Anyone hungry, I brought home dinner!"


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