“Peek-a-boo!” As Emma’s peal of laughter filled the sun-dappled air, her parents, Tracy and Eric, turned from the picnic table towards the sound of their daughter’s voice. Tracy gasped. Their daughter stood before an ancient, sun-kissed tree, slowly covering and uncovering her eyes playing the age-old game with— “What is that?” Eric asked, his voice

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,

The Proposal (part 53)

“So, it’s true? You’re using Terrestrials to harvest minerals?” Ayn’s sense of unreality grew as she watched her dad’s face twist into a grimace. “Ayn,” he said, “that is so far beyond the point of this conversation between you and I right now. This is about survival.” “You’re scaring me,” she said. “You should be

The Proposal (part 46)

“Nev is full of hot air, that’s all,” Ayn continued. “I mean, did you see the vid? It was laughable.” “Ayn—” “I’ll bet she—” “Ayn.” The hard edge in her dad’s voice silenced her. “Nev is not as innocent as you think.” “He didn’t take those photo images,” Ayn said. “I don’t know about that,”

The Proposal (part 43)

Her dad caught her arm as she passed him. “Apologize, Ayn,” he said, not letting go. His voice was quiet but firm. Ayn clenched her jaw and turned enough so she faced the iron-haired woman whose lips curled in the faintest of smiles. A burst of heat rushed through Ayn’s chest. She’d only experienced that

The Proposal (part 39)

Once she felt safe from secruity cameras, she she took out her phone and touched the message icon. “This seems excessive, even for Mearzt,” she mumbled, scrolling through her friend’s messages, which were mostly, “Call me!” Ayn did, without scrolling to the end. Mearzt answered before the first ring finished. “What took you so long?”

The Proposal (part 38)

“Thank you,” her dad said to the Black Suit as the got out of the solar craft. On the front stoop of their apartment, he stretched; several bones cracking as he did. “I’ll be right there,” Ayn said. Her dad nodded as he raised a palm over the security box beside the front door, and

The Proposal (part 34)

A Black Suit—the compound’s security team—showed up forty minutes later to take Ayn to school. “I thought you said I could do whatever I wanted,” she snapped. She hadn’t intended to stay home, but she resented Lettie presuming that she would. She wasn’t stupid, she knew she could fail her dad. Lettie didn’t try to