Chapter 18

When Aveny awoke, her head was resting on Brand’s leg in the darkened living room. The TV screen glowed a pale, blank blue. It cast a calming, otherworldly glow over the space. Brand snored softly, his stomach rising and falling steadily with each breath. The house was silent.

Aveny’s head, however, was anything but.

“Don’t trust her!” the voice urged. “She murdered innocent people!”

“I never stopped anyone from jumping overboard,” the raven-haired woman parried smoothly. “They shouldn’t have fought if they were just going to die.”

“Don’t listen to her,” the voice replied. “She lies. You mustn’t let my sacrifice be in vain.”

“Your sacrifice damned our descendants forever,” the woman intoned. “The time has come to make it right.”

“Don’t give her what she wants,” the voice pressed. “She doesn’t care about you or your children. She’ll take what she wants and leave you to suffer the consequences – just like she did to my father.”

“Your father made his own fate,” the woman spat. “He tried to bind us both. He let fear rule his life. Our descendants need not suffer for his folly.”

“You wanted to leave,” the voice accused. “You were just waiting for the worst possible moment.”

“I wanted to stay,” the woman hissed, daggers in her voice. “But it is not in our nature to remain caged. Patrick feared the unknown and took refuge in control. I came back, but he made sure you had both disappeared first.”

“Liar!” the voice shrieked. “You ran away to destroy even more lives. My father warned me. He told me what you were – an unnatural beast. An abomination. I didn’t believe him. Then I saw for myself.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. Your father couldn’t accept what he couldn’t understand. He sought to contain. To control. To bind. He was a small and terrified man who would rather have seen us both dead and safely buried than wild and free.”

“How dare you?!”

“Enough!” Aveny shrieked. “If you’re going to be in my head, you have to behave. No more hashing out past grievances. No more screaming at each other. No more depriving me of sleep or throwing me into oblivion in the middle of the day. If you want something, just talk to me like a human – or semi-human, as the case may be.

“I will decide what to do with the skin, since I’m the only one alive enough to do it. And when I’m ready for your input, I’ll ask for it. Until then, make like good dead ancestors and shut up!”

“Um … are you ok?” Brand asked, staring at her in confusion.

“Oh,” she stammered. “Did I say that out loud?”

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