"Don't, please. Just let her be. She's already in bed," Mommy cries.
She'll protect me. She has too.
My bedroom light comes on and I squint, my eyes hurt from the brightness. Father stalks into the room, and I pull the covers over my head. He grabs my ankle and pulls me off the bed and my head hits the floor.
"Father, no, please. I didn't mean to I swear!"
He doesn't bother pulling the blanket off. His slaps hurt anyway. I knew better than to try and steal food, but we haven't had any in days. The baby was hungry . . . I was hungry. Even Mommy was complaining she was hungry.
"How stupid can you be, Mihnea? Huh?" he yells, slapping me harder and harder.
I cry, trying to cover my face. I hate walking around with bruises. People in the village look at me funny.
The blanket comes flying off, and I curl into a ball.
"I'm sorry, Father, please," I beg between sobs.
Nothing happens, but I can hear his breathing close to me. I peak from under my arms, and he's staring at me, tears running down his face. He moves quickly, reaching for me and I whimper, trying to shield myself.
I'm lifted off the ground, and he cuddles me to his chest as he sinks to the floor, rocking gently back and forth.
"Why do you make me do this, Mihnea?"
"I'm sorry, Father. I won't do it again, I promise."
"Shhh, it's okay. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have lost my temper. You know I love you."
Father does love me, but that's never stopped him from hurting me. I stay quiet. I try to be good, really I do. But, I make Father angry . . . a lot.
He runs his hands down my back and I cry out. My skin hurts from him hitting me.
"Oh, Mihnea, I'm so sorry."
I shoot up in bed, sweat dripping from my forehead as I gasp for air.
What the fuck? It can't be true . . . it was a dream.
I know it's true though. My dreams have always been the same. They aren't dreams. They're flashbacks.
"Mihnea?" I whisper to myself.
"Who's Mihnea?" Blake says, brushing my hair back.
I look over at him, eyes wide. We'd come to bed a few hours ago, but it feels like longer. I run my hands over my face, the name repeating in my head. Mihnea. My heart starts to race, my breath quickening.
"Me . . . "
I jump out of bed, wearing nothing but boy shorts and a sports bra. Blake is right behind me, yelling my name as I bolt down the stairs into the living room. Thank God, Dr. Saladinya decided to stay the night here.
"Hastin," I scream as I romp through the living room, toward his bedroom. "Hastin!"
He comes running out of his room, stopping just short of colliding with me. "Lily, what is it? What's wrong?"
"Mihnea. It's Mihnea."
"What? What's Mihnea?"