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The door opened with a slow creeaak. I spun around to face Jace as he walked out of the room, the girl following him. I ran my hands through my hair before turning to Jace. “What’s up?”

“She wants answers.”

I groaned, knowing this would mean speaking to Joseph. “But-“

“She deserves them, Roman,” he snapped. I sighed, knowing he was right. How was it fair for me to take this beautiful girl away from everything she’d ever known? Guilt flooded through me. 

“Who is she?”

“I’m not sharing Ava’s secrets with you,” he said, shaking his head. I flinched at hearing her name. It reminded me that she wasn’t really my Natalie.

Jace, who seemed to have read my mind, whispered, “Stop acting so weird. She isn’t Natalie, and she never will be.

Stay away from her. You’ve caused Ava enough trouble.” Ava walked out the door just then.

I sighed, knowing that everything would’ve been better if I’d just stayed home, as I’d been instructed.


“And now, here we are,” I said, coming to the end of the long story this had turned into. Joseph turned to Roman, a cigarette in his hand, and exhaled smoke in puffs, while I knew that the particular restaurant in the hotel had strict policies against such. Joseph bribed people for stupid things.

“So, you’re telling me that Roman disobeyed my direct orders, shifted in front of a human, chased away her dog, and took her. Then, he brought her to me?” he mumbled. “And he wants my help?”

Roman’s head fell into a bow from his neck. “I’m sorry. But you can punish me later-“

“I intend on it.”

“-For now, though, we need to focus on Ava. She’s scared, and we can’t send her back home with what she saw. It’s not her fault, so don’t put the blame on her,” Roman said.

“I won’t tell anyone if you’d just let me go home,” Ava whispered beside me. I brushed my arm against hers.

“We can’t do that, silly girl. I’m sorry, but you won’t be making it for prom,” Joseph chuckled. Too bad he was the only one laughing. He was just being a cruel *******.

“Joseph, shut up. She’s worried about supplying for her family, not about ******’ prom,” I snapped.

Her cheeks got red. Aw ****. I told everyone, I thought. Mental facepalm.

“I-I d-d-didn’t… If I-” she stuttered next to me.

“No, it’s fine. That was rude of me, little girl.”

Her head snapped up. “My name is Ava, not ‘Little Girl,”‘ she challenged. Little girl- that’s what Joseph used to call Natalie. The thought appeared in my mind before I could think to push it away.But Natalie… I couldn’t get her off my mind. She was the first, and only, girl I’d ever loved. We were supposed to be married the day we were run out of our village. I’d never have that chance again…

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