"I'm glad you could come," Rayce said to the slender young woman sitting across from him. "I wanted to explain this in person, rather than leaving it for you to find out from my lawyer after I'm gone."
"That won't be for years yet," Hatice reassured him, but Rayce wasn't so sure about that. Nevertheless, he nodded and smiled.
"I've left you some things in my will." He held up a hand to pre-empt her protestations. "Only a few trinkets, mementos really, so don't tell me how you don't need the money. I know you don't, I just wanted to give you something. Now you're going to ask why, I imagine."
Hatice's brow furrowed. Looking at her was like looking into a mirror, thought Rayce, down to the freckles and the facial expressions. His daughter Neima was the living image of Ivona (and how much did that hurt some days) but this, this was his.
"I already know why," she said, surprising him. "Well, I'm not blind."
"Oh," he said, stunned into momentary speechlessness. He had built it up in his mind into such a deep, dark secret, not wanting to interfere with her relationship with her parents or to cause any consternation to anyone.
"I figured it out when I was twelve. It's all right - I still love my father even if he's not... you know." She shrugged, smiling. "I'm not angry at you or my mother or anything, don't worry. I figured if my father wasn't upset, then why should I be? He always treated me just like the others."
"Well, I'm glad," Rayce said, relieved to finally have it out in the open. "Your father's a good man. I have a great deal of respect for him."
"And my mother?"
"Tigranne as well," he agreed. "I introduced them, you know."
Hatice nodded. "You courted her before my father did. I've heard the story."
Not the whole story, I bet, Rayce thought but didn't say.
" I imagine it was an accident," Hatice continued. "A one-time thing, for old times' sake."
"Absolutely," Rayce lied, before realizing Hatice's green eyes (his eyes) were twinkling with mischief. "Never happened again. Was it just... from looking at me, that you figured it out?" he asked, curious.
"Well, that and you always gave me better birthday gifts than my brothers and sister. Don't think I didn't notice that," she said, smiling just like her father.