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1

You will notice her when she arrives only because she is new, and therefore unknown. The rest of her will be unremarkable, in the way that beautiful women will become unremarkable when you have spent the last six years surrounded by an ever-rotating cast of such creatures.

You will attribute her continued presence during your Mate’s business meeting to blind luck.

You will reconsider how lucky she could be, really, when her Designated Mate flees the villa without explanation, leaving her behind.

“Bastard,” you may mutter, surprising even yourself with your sudden compassion when she admits as much.

You will bring her back to the villa, ignoring your Mate’s consternation, and guide her to the bathroom so she may clean herself up.

2

You will not be surprised when your Mate fucks her before she has finished doing so.

3

You will make compromises, as you always have, since the day you decided that you loved him more than you valued your own supposed heroism. 

When he climbs into your bed afterward you will lay your hand on his chest, and be thankful that his arrival has not woken the child sleeping peacefully in her crib. 

4

You may have slept soundly yourself, as a child. You do not sleep soundly now.

The shock of seeing her stepping out of your Mate’s closet may cause you to shout in your first language. You may only register what you have said after the words have passed your lips.

The moment you see her standing in the dark bedroom, you will know that she is neither lucky nor unlucky, but here for a purpose, and that purpose constitutes a threat. To you. To the Mate you chose for yourself. To your now no-longer sleeping child.

Some parts of your training may have faded, dulled by the passage of time, but you will remember that your Mate’s gun is strapped to the underside of the mattress.

Your child will wail and squirm, frightened and confused, and when you pull the trigger you may miss. You may notice the hesitation in her eyes, for the briefest flash of a second.

You will clutch your child tighter to your chest and fire again.

You will not remember aiming the gun, only the thought that a wound to the leg would surely hobble her. A wound to her center of mass would likely kill - perhaps not instantly but very, very slowly. 

Despite the compromises you have made, you decide that you are not a murderer.