The Proposal (part 54)

“Rather ugly words coming from the mouth of such a beautiful young woman.”

Ayn turned at the sound of Father Gheraeld’s deep voice. She watched him walk through the other Counsel members, who made way for him wordlessly, until he was standing in front of she and Lettie.

On the other side of the door, Zoe started howling.

“Zoe, girl,” Ayn said, putting a hand to the door that shook from the beastie’s frantic pawing. “I’m right here. It’s okay Zoe. I’m okay,” she added, knowing the beastie was acting out partly because she was worried about her, partly because she was mad at being locked up.

At her words, Zoe’s pawing slowed.

“Remarkable,” Father Gheraeld said as the beastie’s barking turned to soft whimpers. He rested a hand on Ayn’s shoulder.

Ayn flinched, but Father Gheraeld kept his warm, dry hand where it was. “You are remarkably like your mother,” he said softly, holding Ayn’s gaze with his gold-flecked hazel eyes. “She tamed a few savage beasts in her time.”

“Father Gheraeld,” her dad said, finally joining them from the office. “Thank you for coming.”

“Of course, of course.” Father Gheraeld removed his hand from Ayn’s shoulder to shake her dad’s hand. “Have you had a chance to speak with Ayn about …” his voice trailed off as he looked to Lettie, who in turned looked to her dad.

Her dad nodded, looking less angry than grim.

Ayn watched this interaction, which was like some kind of code—a look, a shift of a shoulder, a slight tilt of the head—wishing she understood what messages were being given. Finally Lettie looked up to her; was that satisfaction Ayn saw on the older woman’s face before the gleam in her eyes was covered by her normal, neutral expression?

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