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My breath caught in my chest, and I couldn't look away, couldn't move, stranded on the walkway with a Sin at my back—and my father two steps before me.

Luc Gaspard stood with his briefcase and keys in hand, obviously having just returned early from work, his tie loosened and his jacket unbuttoned. He appeared older than I remembered, silver grazing the temples of the black hair he kept cut below his ears, the shallow grooves around his mouth a bit more weathered and creased. Years of working as an accountant, sitting behind a desk, had rounded his shoulders, leaving tall, svelte Luc diminished and weary.

"Sara?" he said again, voice barely above a whisper.

"Ah...." The weight of the hidden gun grew heavier as my father approached. "Hi, Dad."

The aroma of crushed grass rose strongly when Luc's briefcase landed on the lawn, and he encircled me in his arms, holding tight.

His grip caused my injuries to burn, but I bit the inside of my cheek and willed myself to bear it. I returned his embrace after a moment of hesitation.

Luc released and stepped back so he could hold me at arm's length. "It's been so long. What are you doing here? What—what happened to your face?"

His fingers grazed the bruises mottling my skin, and I waved his hand away, forcing a carefree expression onto my face. "Nothing. I was clumsy."

I hadn't seen my dad in a few years, but Luc Gaspard wasn't an idiot. As an accountant, he made a living on the backbone of his keen insights and logical reasoning; my lies had never worked on him as a child and they didn't start working now. His welcoming smile edged into a frown, and the line between his brows creased. "...why are you here?"

Swallowing, I scrambled for something to say, knowing he wouldn't believe I chose the middle of the day to come see him—or Eleanor. "I—I have to go soon, Dad, but I, ah...I wanted to ask you something. Something about Papé."

I saw the change come over him in an instant, a new tension in his tired posture, almost...defensive. "Yes?" Luc shifted his weight, and his gaze snapped to Amoroth. "Would you and your....friend like to come inside?"

Amoroth didn't bother to hide her laugh. I grimaced. "No, thanks. I...I don't really know how else to ask this, but I...was Rene different, Dad?"

"How do you mean?"

"I mean, different." It was inadvisable to be too forward, even with my own father. If I began asking questions about supernatural creatures, my mental state might be called into question—or, worse, some heretofore unknown danger might be heralded down on my own family, more so than it already had been.

Luc stiffened. "Tell me what you mean, Sara. Now."

"Different, Dad. Was he...?" I struggled to find the right words, searching the street for eavesdroppers. "Other?"

He flinched—and I had never seen my father flinch before. With a sinking heart, I realized he knew. He knew, and had never told me, never told Tara. Why the secrecy? What did it all mean?

"Why are you asking this?" he demanded. "Why now? What has—?" Luc's gaze once more drifted to Amoroth, drawn as if by some magnetic force. She was a difficult woman to ignore. "Who is she?"

"No one."


"Oh, why don't you tell him, Gaspard?" Amoroth approached with measured, confident steps. She slid the sunglasses from her face and tilted her head, allowing the sunlight to catch the violet color of her eyes. "It could make this absolute waste of time interesting."

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