Violet stood at the counter in the kitchen, stirring the cake batter that would
eventually become her mother’s birthday cake. Sophia wasn’t particularly
looking forward to this birthday both because of the aging and because she
knew her elfin heritage could cause her family some distress. As Violet poured
the batter into the pan and placed it into the oven, Sophia came into the kitchen.
“Hi dear,” she greeted her daughter. “I see that cake. I hope you are
not planning a party as well.”
“No Mom. No party, but what’s a birthday without cake? You’ve gotta
have cake.” Violet clasped her hands together and excitedly continued,
“you’ll never guess who I met the other day.”
“I don’t know, Violet. Is it someone from town? Someone I know?”
Violet’s enthusiasm was not all that unusual when she had found
something she really wanted or liked. Sophia was used to having to
draw information out of her one tidbit at a time when she was like this.
“A Doran! Right here in Desiderata Valley!” Violet could barely contain herself.
Sophia looked at her daughter thoughtfully. “A Doran? Here? I
don’t believe there have ever been any Dorans in this area. Did you
speak with them?” she asked.
“Only briefly. Her name is Lily. I met her at Copur’s Cookoff. She was
with John Mole, and then I saw her again at Gustav’s. Rick was with
her and left her there all by herself. He’s such a jerk. She invited me
to stop by her place sometime. She seems really, really nice.”
“You didn’t mention anything about the elves, did you?” Sophia was pretty
sure that Violet wouldn’t, but had to make sure anyway. “Their history is
not a good one with the elves. She would likely feel threatened.”
“Nah, I didn’t. I’d like to get to know her a little. I think we’ll be friends,” Violet told her
mother hopefully. “Oh, and I told John to call you so you could bring him up to speed on the
newest developments. I’ve been thinking too, we need to come up with a great acronym for
our group. It’s just too hard to say ‘the faction fighting for acceptance of half breeds’ all the
time. I think we should set up an office too,” she finished, almost out of breath.
“We’ll come up with something. This Doran might be a great ally for
us. You need to feel her out, see where her feelings on the matter lie.
Don’t pressure her though. Come up with an acronym,” she smiled.
“We’ll think about the office idea.”
Sophia left the kitchen smiling to herself at her daughter’s exuberance.
She was looking for Marcel. She wanted one last afternoon alone with
him before becoming an elder and planned on taking him to their
bedroom to have her way.
Violet pulled the cake out of the oven and set it to cool. Sitting down
at the table, she began the somewhat tedious process of coming up
with a good name for their group.
Within an hour she had come up with H.E.A.L., which stood for Half-breed Elf Acceptance
League. The group had been around, secretly, for a few generations, and now they had a
name. It was time they came out in the open and spread the message far and wide.
She frosted the cake and went in search of her parents to present her idea.
Rick was getting used to the schedule that his sister had inadvertently
set up for him. She was awake, crying to get out of her crib at 6:30
His room, being right next to hers, did not allow him to sleep in
much longer than that. He should have moved to his parents’ old
room, but he just couldn’t bring himself to even enter it.
The entire room was still set up the same as it was on that fateful
night. Someone, he wasn’t quite sure who, had come in and
cleaned up the blood and made the bed, but nothing else had
He stayed out of the room as much as possible, but occasionally he
would find Rachel in there, sitting next to the bed.
Life had settled into a routine for him and Rachel. She would wake
them up; he would fix her breakfast then eat something himself.
There would generally be a few minutes for playing or training –
potty, walking or talking – then he would get her and himself
dressed for the day and packed up, ready for daycare and work.
Their evenings were a repeat of the morning except in reverse.
Rarely, he had a night when he could go out socially, and he
cherished them. It was a life he had not imagined for himself, and it
had been very difficult at first.
Rachel was recovering from the trauma slowly. Other than her shouts to be let out of the
crib in the morning, she was quite a quiet child, and enjoyed playing with her toys by herself.
It was taking her longer to learn to talk, walk and use the potty than most children, but
everyone assured Rick that she would come along developmentally just fine. It was difficult
to know how much she had seen and how much it affected her.
“Iiiicccckkkkkyyyyyy!” was the rousing call that woke him from his
dreamless sleep. As hard as he tried to teach her, Rachel couldn’t say
‘Rick’ or ‘Ricky’ and so she called him ‘Icky’.
He padded his way into her room and picked her up out of the crib. She
snuggled his neck and he took her with him to the kitchen for her bottle. “Baba!
Baba!” she cried, reaching for the bottle. Morning conversations were generally
short and one sided until Rick had a little more time to wake up.
Today would be a break from routine. It was Saturday, and Rick had
plans for a play for date for Rachel with the Aspirs. Natasha, who was a
second cousin to them or some such relation, was going to come by
and pick her up and take her over there for him.
Rick was going to use the time to pack up his parents’ things and get rid of them. It was not
a task he was looking forward to, but he hoped he would be busy enough to keep his mind
off what he was doing. New paint and new furniture were on the agenda also.
Lily, John, Alfred and Alistair had been busy all day, finalizing the wedding plans and
rehearsing their roles in the actual ceremony. Alfred and Alistair were to be the only
attendants. The guests had been invited and included John’s friends as well as the many
friends Lily had made. John also had a special surprise arranged for Lily, and the boys --
being in on it -- were excited to see her face when it happened.
It had been a tiring day, filled with fittings, and cleaning, and putting the final
touches on the decorations scattered around the yard where the wedding
would take place. The boys had long since been put to bed and Lily and John
were relaxing on the sofa in the living room.
Lily had dozed off, waking to find that John was nowhere to be found.
Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she got up from the couch and made her
way down the hall to see where he was.
She was quite startled to see him seemingly walking out of the
bookshelf in the hall.
“Uh, uhm, yes dear?” came the stuttered reply.
“What are you doing? How…how are you walking through that wall?”
“I…” he knew he would have to explain. He had hoped to keep his night time activities to
himself for awhile longer. “It’s business,” he stammered.
Lily fought down the fear and tempered it with anger. “Don’t you dare go all
‘Godfather’ with me, John Mole,” she hissed, not wanting to wake up Alfred
and Alistair with what was sure to become an argument. “Do NOT tell me
never to ask about your business, because it’s not going to happen.”
John’s eyes grew wide, “I wasn’t going to. I never had any intention of
keeping my business a secret from you. It’s just that my job is, uh,
sensitive at times. There are times when I will not be able to share what
a particular mission is about.”
“Why all the secrecy? There’s a secret room back there, isn’t there?!
When were you planning on telling me, John? Tomorrow, after we were
married? Next week? Next year? In five years?” She stormed off, letting
her anger get the better of her.
“Lily, wait!” he followed her. She was crying quietly when he caught
up with her, which made him feel even more like an ass than he
“Baby, I’m sorry,” he began. “Can I explain? Please?”
She turned back toward him, “I don’t know. Can you?”
“I work for the SCIA,” he told her. “There are many things that I cannot share, even
with the person dearest to me. I didn’t want to hurt you by keeping secrets, I just
hadn’t figured out the best way to tell you that I couldn’t always talk about my
work. The secret room is full of equipment that I use for my…” he hesitated. He
never liked the term he was about to use. “’Spy’ activities,” he finished.
“The room is secluded for two reasons, mainly involving Alfred and Alistair. First, it is for
their protection. I see and hear some pretty gruesome things on a regular basis. I don’t
want them exposed to that. Second, for the protection of the equipment I use. Most of it is
very sensitive, even though it looks like a video game console, or a movie prop. Could you
imagine those two youngsters getting their hands on it? I would have nothing to work with.”
He reached out his hand toward her in a peace offering, “I can show you,
if you would like. I just can’t share any of the details of the current
mission. Boss’s orders.”
Lily turned, “I suppose that would be okay,” she offered.
“John?” she asked, looking at the floor.
He grabbed her in a hug, “I love you, you know,” he told her.
Settling into his embrace, she answered him, “I know. I love you too. But, there’s
something I need to tell you, and I think it might be why I got so upset about your
“Lily, it doesn’t matter what you have to say. We’re going to be married
tomorrow and I’m going to be the happiest man in the world. You
don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, or if you aren’t ready to.”
“No, I have to. There should be no secrets between us. Ever. I
need to tell you why I came to Desiderata Valley. I need to tell you
about my family, about my past.”
“Let’s go inside and have a cup of tea,” he suggested. “It will soothe
both of us, and you can tell me everything you think I need to know.”
Lily sat down, hands cradling the warm tea cup. She didn’t know
where to begin, so she jumped right in.
“My parents are vampires,” she blurted. Maybe not the best way to
start, she thought to herself.
“I was born and raised in Sim City,” she started over. “My mother had moved
there after tragedy struck her family. She had a hard time of it at first, but
eventually began to get her life back. I won’t go into details, but she met a lot of
people in the City. A lot of different people. A lot of supernatural people.”
John knew of the rumors of supernaturals in the city, but had never had it
confirmed by anyone.
Lily continued. “I’m sure my mother loved my father, but he never lived with
us. He would spend as much time with us as possible, but he had other
obligations. Those obligations, coupled with the fact that he could only see
us after dark, did not make our family dynamic typical. But, we all loved each
other and were very close.”
“I don’t know all the details of what I am about to tell you, but I know what the results
were,” she took a sip of tea and placed her cup back on the table. “There is a council with
representatives from each supernatural group. One night there was a…disturbance…an
imbalance,” Lily struggled for the right word and couldn’t find it, “in power. The fallout from
that imbalance was a battle between the different groups. Unbeknownst to me and my
friends, we had decided to sneak out on the night the battle was at its worst.”
Lily paused, her eyes reflecting a melancholy she hadn’t experienced since the
day in the woods when she had decided to use the ReNuYu Orb. She
continued, “I died that night. Not in a metaphorical way. I actually was
attacked and died.”
They moved to the living room where they were more comfortable. John
pulled her close to him, and she continued, “Mother became a vampire to
save me.” Lily couldn’t contain the sobs at this point. She had never talked
about her ordeal with anyone. To be able to talk to John about it opened the
floodgates of emotion she had held within herself for so long.
John patted her back and whispered, “Oh, baby. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry you had to live
with this by yourself for so long. Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I…I couldn’t. I could never talk about it. Not with Mother, not with any of my siblings. It
used to keep me up nights. I had night terrors; I couldn’t do much without constantly
looking over my shoulder. I was afraid all the time.”
He held her until her sobs stopped. Turning, leaning back into the safety of
his arms, she took a deep breath. “There’s more. After Mother visited the
undead realm to save me, she had control over things she shouldn’t have.”
“She chose to end the war by using the armies of the dead. Her punishment by the council was that
her children were banished from her presence. That in itself wouldn’t have been too bad. We
Dorans harbor a curse. We are travelers, moving on from one place to another, each generation never
able to really know the one before. We are scattered across the Multi-verse, and Grey, Desdemona,
Fortunata and I would have left eventually anyway. What is hard, what is like a death sentence, is that
my siblings and I were forced to never return to Sim City, or our parents, again.”
She sat up and looked him in the eye, just now realizing what she was
about to tell him would also be true. “John, if we have children, they
will have that wanderlust, that curse. They will leave us someday.”
“Then we’ll have to teach them everything we know before they do. We’ll still be
a family, Lily. Family isn’t defined solely by proximity, or even bloodlines. It’s
based on what you feel here,” he told her, laying his hand over his heart. “My
parents, my grandparents, they’ve been gone for a long time now. I don’t get to
speak with them anymore, but they are still family. They’re in my head as
memories; they’re in my heart forever. Our children will be too.”
“I’m going to stay tonight,” Lily answered. “I know it’s against tradition and all, but I just
can’t go back to the cottage. I’m home now. I’m where I belong.” She grabbed his hand and
led the way to their bedroom. “Let’s get started on that family a little early,” she trailed off,
closing the bedroom door.
It was time for Sophia’s transition to elder. Being an elf, she had already
lived a long time. She was actually quite a few years older than Marcel,
but the difference in the rate they aged allowed her to keep her youthful
appearance longer than he would.
There was no party. She and her family gathered around the cake that
Violet had made earlier and she prepared to blow out the candles.
A quick trip to the bathroom confirmed what Sophia knew was going to happen. Her
glamour had worn off and she no longer had a viable way to hide her elf ears. She and her
family were now out in the open and somewhat defenseless against their enemies.
Rick picked up an old photograph of his parents and himself and glanced at it,
lost in thought, when the voice came.
“That witch!” he heard. “She never loved you. What an actress! She loved
him. She ignored you, all for him. Then he ignored you too.”
Rick shook his head in an attempt to get rid of the voice, and was filled
with a frenetic energy to finish the task at hand. Within an hour, he had
packed up everything in the room and was ready to begin painting it.
Removing the molding near the area where his father had been lying crumpled and
bloody, he heard it again. “Perfect Ricky,” it mocked. “Make sure it’s perfect. Perfect,
perfect, perfect. Stop slouching. A ‘B’ is unacceptable. Pfft! You can’t dance. Business
is where it’s at, Ricky. You’ll be a mogul someday. Get to studying! You don’t have
time for that girl. She’ll drag you down Ricky.” The litany continued and something
dark broke through Rick’s consciousness.
“You know what you want,” the voice continued, coercing. “You
know what you have to do.”
With an unexplained energy Ricky found his supplies, seemingly out of nowhere and began
carrying out what the voice had told him needed to be done. Hours later, the room had
been painted and the messes cleaned up. It was ready for the new furniture to be delivered
in the morning. Rick stepped back and grabbed the trash bag, not noticing an empty box for
a door lock lying at the top. It was almost time for Rachel to be home.
The wedding was scheduled to begin in an hour. The guests had all been invited,
the buffet prepared, and the decorations checked. Lily had commandeered
John’s, and her, bedroom to get dressed. He and the boys were in the other
bedroom getting their tuxes on. The knock on the door was so quiet she almost
didn’t hear it.
“Come in,” she called softly.
“Lily?” Alfred asked quietly, inching his way into the room.
“Yes, sweetie?” she turned, swishing the train of her dress around her.
“Could you help me tie this?” he asked, tugging at the bow tied at his throat. “I
cannot get it to lie right.”
She bent down and deftly moved her fingers around, tying a
perfectly snug bow.
“There,” she straightened to her full height, “that should do it.”
“Thank you,” said the serious child. “Oh, and Lily?”
“I’m really glad you’re marrying my Dad,” a rare smile flashed and her
soon to be step-son walked out the door as quietly as he had come in.
Lily held on to the calla lily she had chosen for her bouquet and
looked down the aisle to where her new family was. From the
corner of her eye, she thought she caught a glimpse of familiar green
tinted hair but dismissed it.
The wedding arch had been set up in front of the fruit trees in almost
the exact spot where the picnic proposal had taken place. Lily and
John stepped under it and shared their vows to one another in front
of their friends and family.
As the wedding guests made their way to the buffet, Alfred and Alistair ran
up and grabbed Lily’s hands, pulling her along to a small group of people.
“Mamma Lily, look! Look who we found!” Alistair exclaimed in his usual
The small crowd parted and tears welled up in Lily’s eyes as she gazed at
Desdemona, Grey and Fortunata. Without a word, the four siblings came
together in a group hug and held on for a few minutes. Pulling apart, the
“How? How did you know? How did you get here?” Lily was first.
“John found us,” Desdemona replied. “I’m not sure how, but he
found us and told us that you would be getting married and that he
wanted to surprise you for a wedding gift.”
“How long will you be here?” Lily asked.
“Only for an hour or so,” Grey replied. “We can’t stay together too long. We don’t want to
draw any unwanted attention,” he explained.
Rick was at the wedding and experiencing mixed feelings. He was
having a great time. The ceremony was nice, the food was good, there
were plenty of people there that he knew and visited with. He was
happy for John.
Ricky wanted Lily for himself though. He couldn’t hide it any longer.
The voice was overpowering now and the little part of him that was
left had a basic fear for Rachel, even though he couldn’t define it.
He had been remembering things. Things that he should have known. He remembered his mother
being pregnant. He remembered his father being happy about it. He remembered Rachel being
born. How could he have forgotten that?
He had found empty paint cans for an angry red color that he had no
recollection of using and the door to his old bedroom was locked up
tight. He couldn’t find a key.
He had a recurring image of an alley at night. There was something
at the end of the alley and he couldn’t quite make out what it was.
He remembered a party at his dorm and a fight with Violet and her
friend, but he couldn’t remember the friend’s name.
Lily’s siblings had left the reception after their short visit, leaving
Lily and John mingling amongst their other guests.
Catching Lily’s attention, Violet came over followed by an older
woman and introduced them, “Lily, I’d like you to meet my mother,
Sophia. Mom, this is Lily Doran.”
Sophia shook Lily’s hand. “It’s so nice to finally meet you. John and
Violet have told me so much about you,” she said.
“Very nice to meet you too,” Lily replied.
“Oh, look,” Sophia said, looking off to the right of their little group.
“Here comes my husband Marcel. Let me introduce you.”
Lily didn’t hear her. There was a buzzing in her ears and her heart was
pounding. She could feel sweat dripping down the center of her back and
goose bumps rose on her arms. All she could focus on was what she was
seeing. Sophia was an elf. Here, in the peaceful valley, a friend of her
husband, mother of one of her new friends, was an elf. An enemy. A
Lily did the only thing she could. She ran.
“Lily!” Violet called after her.
“John!” called Sophia.
John ran after Lily, finding her in his secret room.
“Lily? Are you okay?” he asked her quietly.
“She’s an elf?”
“It’s not what you think,” he told her. “She’s not after you or any
other half breed.”
“I know. I know you wouldn’t put me in that kind of danger and
you obviously trust her,” Lily said. “I just…I couldn’t help it. The
old stuff, it just came back and I had to get away.”
“I know,” he told her, pulling her into his arms. “I’m sure she
would like to explain what she’s working on. When you’re ready.
Not today. Today is for us. Do you think you can handle being back
out with our guests now?”
She nodded her head. “Yes. I’m fine. I just needed time to
rationalize the fear. I think I owe Sophia an apology.”
The rest of the reception went without any additional drama and Lily and
John made their way to the limo to enjoy their honeymoon. Nanny
Mallory would be taking care of the boys while they were gone and they
had scheduled a longer, family vacation for their school break.
Upon their return, things around their house settled into a routine. Lily
still worked at the Castle. John still had missions that would take him
away for a few days at a time. Nanny Mallory still came while he was
gone to help with the twins, and the boys continued to go to school.
Lily suspected she was pregnant but hadn’t yet had it confirmed. She
was hoping that John would be there when she popped the first time.
He had already told her that he wouldn’t accept any out of town work
while she was pregnant. He wanted to be there for the entire process.
He had missed the actual pregnancy bits with the twins and his curious
nature begged him to study the entire process.
Sure enough, as they sat down to lunch one day, Lily popped.
John and the boys were excited to welcome a new baby and all three were
known to swarm around Lily, rubbing her belly and talking to it.
It wasn’t much longer before she popped into her final trimester and finally
the day came when the newest Doran made its way into the world.
They decided to name him Christopher*.
*The naming scheme for John and Lily’s children is historical spies. Christopher is named after Christopher
Boyce, an American spy who was arrested and convicted for selling US spy satellite secrets to the Soviet
Union in the 1970s. He is “Falcon” in the book and movie “The Falcon and The Snowman”
Life in the Doran household continued much in the same vein it had over
the last few months. The exceptions were that the twins were accepted
at the Private School, and the new baby occupied time for feedings,
diaper changes, and cuddles.
John still accepted missions, but he left less frequently than he had
before. He and Lily had even discussed his leaving the SCIA entirely and
pursuing a different life time dream. He enjoyed his work, but had really
gotten into it because of his parents and their history.
Lily had taken her maternity leave from Kiddie Care Castle and had decided not
to return. It was an easy decision to make, but a difficult thing to tell her
employers, who she had become close friends with. It was even harder to
leave the children that she had become so fond of.
The madness that was Ricky had nearly taken over Rick’s mind. He
found that more and more there were gaps in his memory of everyday
activities. He had been fired from his job, but couldn’t remember why.
He had been able to get Rachel to the Castle each day, but couldn’t
remember how they had gotten there.
In the middle of the night he would find himself wandering the
neighborhood or standing outside John and Lily’s house.
He knew there must have been a reason he was there, if only he
“Dada, are you sure you won’t miss our birthday?” Alistair asked his
father, waiting for reassurance.
John did not disappoint him. “Of course I will be here at your birthday,”
he told him. “I wouldn't miss it for the world. My boys are growing up.”
“Why don’t you run off and play for a little while before dinner is
ready. You’ve finished your homework, right?”
“Yup! Homework’s all done,” Alistair told him. “Alfred!” he yelled,
skipping off to find his twin and start a game of cops and robbers.
John had one final out of town mission to go on at the end of the week
before his job changed and he wouldn’t ever have to go out of town again.
He was looking forward to the relative security of not being out in the field,
even though he knew that on some level he would miss the excitement of it.
John moved on into the kitchen where Lily was preparing the
customary dinner of grilled cheese for everyone. “What’s on the
menu tonight?” he teased her as he came up from behind and
grabbed her waist.
She turned and greeted him with a kiss and a smile, “same as every
“John?” she asked him.
“Yes, Mrs. Brain?” he replied. He had come to love their
affectionate banter more than words could say.
“What do you think about putting an addition on the house?” she
“I supposed we could sooner or later. We have the money saved for it,” he told her.
“I think it might have to be sooner,” she said, hand on her belly.
John’s eyes lit up. “Another baby?” he asked.
She nodded her head. “I think so. I’ve been having the same symptoms I had with
They told the boys at dinner that night.
“Now, you know I have one more mission, right?” John asked as both Alfred and Alistair
nodded their heads. This was serious business. “I need you both to help out around the
house. Pick up your room, do your homework. You’re going to be men soon. I need you to
look after Mama Lily and Christopher and make sure they’re safe.”
“We shall, Dada,” Alfred replied on behalf of himself and his twin. “You don’t
need to worry.”
Although John gave his sons this responsibility to teach them, he never
expected that any problems would ever arise. He was always reassured to
know that they took the task so seriously though. His boys would become
fine young men.
The day had finally come. Alfred and Alistair would transition to
teens that night. The went off to school, both excited, but both
experiencing it in their own unique way.
Lily and John had thrown together a small party to celebrate the twins’
transition. Some of their friends from the Castle were there as well as
some of Lily and John’s friends.
The boys stepped up to their cakes, shared a look as if sharing an
inside secret, and blew out their candles.
Spins, twirls, sparkles and quick trips to the dressers later, and they
returned to their party and guests.
Alfred took an intellectual approach. He was excited to grow bigger
because he would experience new things and see things from a
different perspective. There was so much out there that he would
be able to learn.
Alistair was excited in a more exuberant manner. There would be all
kinds of places he could go and new people he could meet. And
lately, he had started thinking that maybe, just maybe, kissing wasn’t
as awful as it had used to sound.
While the party could have raged into the night, it didn’t because there
was school the next day and John had to leave for his final mission. The
family pitched in and cleaned up and all headed off to bed.
Lily, who was having some trouble sleeping, was the only one who was
awake in the wee hours of the morning, and was the only one who
heard the knock at the door.
Peering out, she saw a nervous Rick Contrary standing there. She
opened the door.
“Lily, oh, thank Plumbob you’re awake. It’s Rachel. She’s been crying
for hours. I don’t know what to do. Could you come take a look?” he
rambled at her.
“Sure,” Lily told him without a second thought. All she could think of
was poor Rachel. She must have a fever or something and Rick didn’t
know what to do. That poor baby. She walked out the door with him.
Alistair had been padding from the bathroom back to his room when
he heard the door latch click. He went over to the door and peeked
out the window. Seeing Lily rush off with Rick didn’t cause him too
much concern, especially in his sleepy state.
John awoke the next morning, rolled over to grab Lily and his hand met sheets. Cold sheets.
He sat up, instincts raising the hairs on his neck. He made his way through the house and
there was no sign of her. She liked to take nature walks early in the morning, but usually she
told him she was going. Panic set in when he called her cell phone and got no answer.
Lily was terrified and trying not to show it. She was sitting in a chair, hands
tied behind her. She wasn’t in pain although her throat was constricted and
sore from the combination of screaming, abject fear, and the inability to
swallow properly after having been gagged.
“Come on, say it again,” came the frightening voice in her right ear, barely above a whisper.
Her eyes grew wide and she snapped her head away from the voice.
“I’m a perfect devil. Tell me how bad I am,” now he was on the left using the
same whispered tone. He had pulled the gag out of her mouth so he could
hear more of her screams, more of her cursing him, more of her pleading.
He danced a crazy ballet around her and with a deranged laugh, stopped in
front of her. He leaned in close, his nose almost touching hers, the stench of
his breath making her ill, and shouted at her, “It makes me feel so good!”
then abruptly danced away.
At that moment, Lily knew it was over. There was no way out. She would not be able
to convince him to let her go. She stifled a sob and hung her head. He would kill her,
but she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of hearing her utter another word.