Chapter 1

The soft howls of a wolf’s song pierced the moonlit sky, creating the perfect scenery for a horror movie from my perch in the tree I had called home for the past three days. I could feel the ice cold air on my skin, even through the sleeping bag that was wrapped around my body. The wind carried the wolves’ song that seems so harsh and fierce yet it seemed to calm my nerves and relax my muscles, helping me give myself to sleep. I refused to fall asleep until my counterparts finished. My blood itched with the need to sing with them, to be part of a pack. A year ago that would have seemed strange to me-especially because I was from a town halfway across the state with no knowledge that anything supernatural existed. Of course that all changed on the night my mother told me about my heritage that my father was in fact a Werewolf, to say I didn’t believe her was an understatement, we fought and I stormed out. It was that pain filled night that I had my first change, I was alone and scared. I had never experienced so much pain in my entire life. I didn’t remember that night at first. I woke up in the surrounding forest naked and covered in blood, not knowing if I had been the victim or the predator, if I had killed animal or human I ran home to my mother. She comforted me, like a mother should, knew what I had been through. Months after that we had been fine through her support I tried to control my changes and it worked. She had tried to contact my father, he knew of my existence apparently but didn’t want to acknowledge that he had daughter that wasn’t from his first love. I had only met the guy twice in my life and now I was putting my heart and soul into finding him. That’s how I ended up a tree in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the North of Georgia. After my mother had been killed in an attack that was my fault, social services tried to put me into care when they couldn’t identify my father as a real person. So I did the typical teenage response and ran away, sure I was almost eighteen and I wouldn’t have been in care for long, but I couldn’t risk whoever I was stuck with finding out what I was. So after a long and agitating debate with myself and my mind I followed my mum’s directions to where my father lived. Apparently they had agreed that in any case of emergency I should……I should go to him, even tough I barely knew the man. So I had travelled on estimate 1403 miles

from Colorado to Georgia. I’m not from Colorado or Denver though, I’m from Britain, mum had a Job offer from the American side of the company she worked for, and so she took. On what would be a twenty hour journey by car had taken me four days from bus rides and walking. That was only recently though, I had been prowling the streets of America for well over five months just drifting from town to town, stat to state in what seemed like a haze. I tried not to feel, to keep all emotions locked down tight. That was the worst way to deal with grief or so I had been told, because when you least expect it, it will sneak up on you and bite you on your arse when you least expect it. It was in the middle of the winter in Mountains and snow was falling heavily, I wrapped my sleeping bag around me and looked down. It was a long drop if I fell down, I had decided that it was safer to crash up a tree rather than on the forest floor where any sort of predator could hunt me if I wanted. I had given up on finding the town where my father and family his lived three days ago when I had ran out of all my money and food. Over the past couple of days I had never felt so weak in my entire life. As the temperatures plummeted I was sure I was at risk of hypothermia, I hadn’t been able to have any food since I had arrived in the forest. I had found a river though which had supplied my with a good wash and water to drink from, no matter how cold he water was I was glad to be clean. With my duffle bag on the branch below mine, I listened as the wolf’s howl finished and let sleep drag me into darkness, hoping there wouldn’t be nightmares. ************************************* The sense of someone beside me penetrated my sleep. I thought at first that my senses were just confused from my sleep induced haziness but then I heard voices. Male voices. Oh My God, I commanded my body to be still, not knowing what they would do to me if I was awake. How did they get up the tree, I had chosen this one because it had been so difficult to climb and I had had to use my extra strength from my wolf to get up there. “What state is she in Christian?” someone asked, the voice was deep and sounded far away I presumed whoever had spoken was on the ground. “Not good. I think she is suffering from hypothermia, not severely, but her pulse is slow, I can’t tell how badly. I don’t think she’s eating in a while either.” This voice sounded younger like he was next to me or above me. I wasn’t paying attention to their words though; I was too panicked about my discovery.

When I felt the guy’s hands on me however I opened my eyes and nearly jumped out of my skin, at a quick glance I could tell that he was good looking, but I didn’t have time to ponder on his look I had to get away from him. There was know telling what I would do this close to the full moon and in my panicked state. Christian the boy in front of me put his hands out as if I was a frightened animal. “It’s okay we won’t hurt you.” My mind could get past the attack on me and my mother though; I couldn’t breathe properly through my panic induced haze. My mind told me to calm down but nothing worked, when he came closer I scrambled back forgetting that I was at least 25 feet off the ground and wrapped in a sleeping bag that prevented me moving far. He tried to catch me, like any hero would but it was too late. I was falling from the haven I thought safe, which it had been until it had been invaded.

As I fell I crashed into numerous branches of various sizes and strengths, I could feel parts of my body breaking under the impact. It seemed to go on forever, until finally the ground rushed up to me and I made the stupid mistake of pushing my left hand forward to try and stop my fall. At that velocity I knew that my arm would break from the impact, yet it was one of those knee jerk reactions that you think will help in these types of situations but are actually ten times worse. My head hit the ground a second later; I hadn’t even had time to scream. I rolled over onto my side, pain and nausea coursed through my body, I retched and tried to scream in pain but nothing worked right, finally darkness encroached on my vision. The last thing I felt before darkness took its hold over me was strong arms gently carrying me away. ************************************************ When awareness returned I found myself lying on a bed covered in thick blankets. It had been so long since I slept in a bed that I just focused on the pleasure on softness and warmth. I knew that feeling wouldn’t last though, as my mind and body caught up with each other, the memories of the fall penetrated and I could finally feel my body’s pain. No pain was to light a word, Agony, my bodies agony. But with that thought, came an entirely knew one, Where was I? And how was I on a bed? I tried to open my eyes but they just fluttered open and shut, like they had been glued together. I thought I should panic at my lack of sight but I quickly got my other senses to work. My sense of smell was a bust because all I could smell was antiseptic, blood and warmth. The first thing

that occurred to me was a hospital, but there were other smells too, I couldn’t find the words to describe it only that I had experienced it before. Wherever I was it was someone’s home. Next sounds penetrated my ears, although I was pretty sure there was no one in my room I could here voices coming from nearby. There were animal noises also, not many just a dog barking, a cat and ….horses? “…..is she?” it was a familiar male voice, although my slow mind couldn’t process where I had heard it before. “As far as I can tell, she’ll recover. Her body temperature has increased over the last 24 hours, she has a few broken ribs and I wrapped her arm in cast. I think that was the worst of her injuries but the blow too the head was severe also.” It was a female who answered, she sounded like a doctor or a nurse. At her words I could feel that there was something on my arm, still my eyesight was useless so as I lifted my left arm it felt heavy and pain burned through me, I had broken my arm then, like I thought. “When will she wake up?” “To be honest I don’t know, I gave her some pain meds but they have probably worn off by know. We’ll just have to wait.” “Do you think she knows what we are?” okay this guy was getting weird, how am I supposed to know anything about him when I fell out of tree. “I doubt it. She didn’t see anything did she?” I didn’t hear a reply so I assumed they had walked away or nod. I decided it was time to get my body moving, I knew it would be a difficult painful, task especially if I had been unconscious for twenty four hours. I was still amazed at the fact I hadn’t panicked yet, unless there was still a painkiller in my system that was keeping me calm and docile. Trying to move my body all at once was not a good idea. I had tried to roll on to my side but I still hadn’t opened my eyes, as I finally managed to open them tears ran down my face, from the pain. Burning shot through my arms and ribs, I whimpered from the most excruciating feelings I had ever felt. Lifting my body up from the bed was even worse than waking up. I could feel my broken ribs pressing against my side; I knew what I had to do, know that it would be painful. I twisted my legs to the side preparing to put my full weight on legs that were trembling profusely. I had my broken left arm cradled against my chest, when I attempted to stand everything, everything seemed o crawl sideways. Deep breathe in. Out. In. Out. I wasn’t quite steady on my feet but it was better collapsing in a heap.

Besides for all I knew someone had tried to kidnap me for whatever sick perverse. Sure they may have patched me up but that could just be for their own gain, this is what people were like in this day an age. Looking around the room I spotted the clothes I was wearing when I fell out the tree. I stared down at myself, I in a pair of black sweats and a white vest, they were creased of course, but I was astonished at how comfortable they felt against my skin, how clean. It was strange, I wasn’t distracted or worried by the fact that they had redressed me, No I was more astonished by the fact that I was wearing genuinely clean clothes. It felt wonderful. I paid more attention to my surroundings soundly angry that my wolf was buried so deep. She gave me strength when I needed it, but she was sleeping, content. Of all the times for her to sleep it has to be when I desperately need here. Typical. I couldn’t see my duffel bag anywhere in the room. What the hell, I’m sure I’ll be able to find some clothes from somewhere; I thought all be it a bit sarcastically. Stumbling more than walking towards the window, I knew it would be my only escape. The curtains were closed I just prayed it was night; at least I had a camouflage to cover my tracks. Drawing the curtains, I cursed more than I ever had in my life. Just my luck. It was daylight, but more than that the front yard or back I didn’t know which was occupied by a number of people. This was strange considering it must’ve been freezing out there. The yard wasn’t big but it wasn’t small either, as I said there were numerous people greeting each other, not a bit bothered by the horrendously falling snow. There were teenagers there to, all nestled into a corner by an out building, they look like a defiant group. I don’t know what made me think that but there was a sense of danger about them. There was someone in that group that seemed vaguely familiar and I couldn’t place it. What’s more is it felt like they were watching me? I was so focused on what was happening outside I barely had time to register the fast approaching footsteps. I gathered myself preparing for a fight if need be, even though it was unlikely that I would be beating anyone up, I could barely stand up. I tried to get orientated and made way to the door. Looking around again I couldn’t see anything that would double as a weapon so I would have to use my fist. A rush of nausea overcame me and I had to lean against the wall for support. Closing my eyes I breathed in and out, opened my eyes and brace myself when the door handle turned. He didn’t suspect a thing; he probably just thought I was some dumb little kid who wouldn’t give a fight. Well he was wrong. As soon as the man

entered I punched him in the face with my unbroken arm. I had no idea if he would retaliate, but as I hit him he grunted surprised at the force I had used. I saw his features change as if he wasn’t expecting a human girl to be capable of that, but I also saw anger. That anger over powered him I think, so when I tried to land another blow he blocked it and he threw his own punch back. I was already exhausted by my efforts to escape and the nauseating dizziness struck me again. Making me sway to the side enough that the blow caught my shoulder instead of my head. I still flew through the air from the force though, when I crashed against the wall my head hit a second later after my back. I crumpled into a heap on the floor whimpering like a baby wolf. This was exactly what I was. A pup.

Chapter 2
My eyesight was blurry and I couldn’t hear anything for what seemed like hours. So I just lay there knowing I was making those week whimpering sounds but couldn’t control myself enough to make myself stop. When my senses finally returned I was still on the floor. There were more people hear now, not that I could see, my vision was still blurry but I could identify the scents and here the difference in their voices. One was female, and the other three or four male. “Shit, Derek what were you thinking?” I recognised this voice; it was the one who was at the bottom of the tree when I fell out. “Look it wasn’t my fault okay, she attacked me, it was just a reflex, at first I thought it was someone else because she actually managed to land a hit and stun me. Humans aren’t meant to do that not to us. Then I realised

what I had done and called you guys.” Ugh this must have been the guy I had hit, I felt didn’t feel any remorse I was just trying to survive, but I was conscious enough to tell that he felt incredibly guilty for what he had done. “Well what should we do?” this from someone else a younger male than the previous voices but older than my 17 years. I struggled to sit up and collapsed against the floor with a painful groan. Everyone turned to look at me with something a kin to fear and shock on their faces. Once again I called to my wolf to give me strength but she was silent. So I strained to gather up the last of my reserves and managed to scramble back into the corner of the room, I knew my eyes were wide with fear and I looked scared, no terrified. All there faces changed after an instant, I noticed that they all bore a resemblance to each other, were they brothers and sisters or cousins. I was betting on the former. I was panting out of breath from the quick movement, my eyes drooped and I felt something trickle down the side of my head. I know my face was going slack and even though my fear finally stirred my wolf it wasn’t enough. I was fading into the darkness once again, and I would be defenceless. “Shit, she’s even worse than before, where is Lilia?” that voice again it seemed so concerned. I snapped at myself stay awake damn you, stay awake. I jerked my body and found that last bit of energy. There were two people crouched in front of me, I could only catch snatches of there conversation but it seemed like they were trying to talk to me. One was holding my head up, that was strange I hadn’t seen him move. “……Can’t close your eyes………..understand.” this from the younger male voice. Hmm closing my eyes meant sleep. I was so sleepy; tired of everything, if I sleep it would all just seem like a bad nightmare. “Sleep.” My voice was slurred and harsh against my throat; I think I smiled at the thought. “I don’t think she’ll last much longer, where the hell is Lilia?, we can’t take her to the hospital, it’s too far not only that no one would agree to it anyway that’s way we have ” It was the older voice. “Name?” I asked as I fell forward into someone’s arms.

“Uh….Erik” he was momentarily confused; I think it was because I spoke or because I asked him a personal question, like what his name was. In truth I was sick of associating people by their voices. Gods. My body was so weak, I could hardly feel anything. I was numb, numb from the pain, the terror of death. “Come on now, stay with us” it was Erik again I realised that he must have been speaking to me. “Want to sleep.” I sounded like a petulant child, but I didn’t care I just wanted to sleep. “I know sweet I know, so what is your name?” he was trying to keep my awake; I struggled weakly against him as he pulled me into his chest. “Alaska I think.” At this point I wasn’t actually sure what my name was. I could feel him gently cradling me to his chest as he rose; there was a crash as the door burst open, numerous voices, that may have been shouting, but all I felt was being gently lowered back onto the back on to the bed. I heard someone urging me stay wake but the feat proved impossible. For the second time in less than two days the darkness covered my mind like a soft blanket keeping me safe, as I was pulled into unconsciousness. ************************************************** I dreamt of being chased by a pack of wolves, I was still in my human skin and running for dear life. I was tripping over twigs and logs that were in my path, like I was drunk and couldn’t steady myself. I never gave up though, not even when I heard the anger in the howl from the leading wolf, his outrage at my escape. The other wolves that were at his flank were yapping their joins in excitement. I wasn’t paying attention, I stumbled again but this time I fell down, deeper into the heart of the forest, until my back smacked against the bark of a tree. There was no escape for me now, a pure black wolf stalked towards me, his eyes the deepest colour of amethyst, almost black. As he got closer I knew what was going to happen. His nuzzle touched my check, an almost gentle caress. He looked at me in the eyes, he saw my fear and terror, yet he seemed to feed of my emotions, my reactions made it all the better. Drawing his head back, I screamed as he prepared to strike, it didn’t do much good, his teeth sank it my right shoulder, in the crux of my neck. Marking me as his mate - whether I was agreeable or not - for the rest of my life.

******************************************************

“No!” I awoke, screaming. My heart pounded so furiously, I could hear it beating against my ears. I quickly realised that it wasn’t just the erratic beat of my heart that caused the painful throbbing behind my ears, I had the most painful headache , which must have been the size of America that spread all the way from my temples to the back of my head. I groaned remember the fiasco that I had caused the last time I woke up. Opening my eyes I could see that I was in the same room as the last time I awoke, in the same overly comfortable bed. I sat up and tried to stand all in the same movement, which was stupid considering I’d been hit on the head. Twice. As soon as my weight hit my legs my knees buckled, and the room tried to swim out my ear. Preparing to fall onto the floor wasn’t easy either, everything heart ten times and I’m one of those people who’ll try and do anything as to not appear weak in front of anyone. Fortunately I hadn’t seen that there were other people in the room as me, and a male who was approximately 6 ft 2 inches caught me. So much for trying not to appear weak I thought – which is impossible when you being carried in a man’s arms – as he gently placed me on the bed. When everything stopped spinning, I looked up to find that there were two women and three men in the room. I’m fairly sure they were all here before, apart from one of those women, there was only one last time. “Hi Alaska, how are you feeling?” the guy to my left asked, I think his name was Erik but I wasn’t 100% sure. I also noticed that as well as his height, he was huge, he had broad shoulders, his arms and legs were like tree trunks. His face was breath taking though, his hair was a midnight black that was a complete mess yet it was styled, his eyes were a perfect chocolate brown that complemented his olive skin toned and chiselled cheek bones. I frowned “How do you know my name?” I asked confused, I didn’t remember telling them that. “You told us, after Derek hit you – it wasn’t on purpose you just startled him when he came to check on you – you were pretty out of it though.” “Erm okay, Where am I? And why did you kidnap me.” I asked with all seriousness.

Everyone looked at me as if I was insane, I didn’t appreciate this, so I decide to elaborate. “Well technically, you pushed me out of a tree, which generally makes me think that you want to hurt me, then I wake up in a place I have absolutely know idea where, and then - okay fair enough I hit him first but that was understandable – you hit me and knock me unconscious. Again.” I said delivering my words too fast because I was serious and annoyed. “Oh no, firstly we didn’t push you out of a tree, we went up there to get you down so you didn’t freeze from hypothermia, it was you who made a fuss and fell out of the tree.” This was Derek, I think, it looked like the guy I had hit anyway, and he also sounded really angry. “Well excuse me if I wake up with some random guy standing over me, in my tree where I though I was safe, you could have been a rapist for all I know, what was I meant to do throw myself in your arms and commend you for being my saviour!” I was shouting at this point and I had to put up with the return of that nauseating dizziness. I wasn’t even sure you could get dizzy while lying down. “We were….” He was cut of this time by the middle age woman, who was the definition of beautiful. Jealous much. “Stop Derek, she has had a rough couple of days. She does not need an interrogation.” She had an accent the room, that I couldn’t place Russian? Romanian? “I was not interrogating her I just don’t want Erik and Christian being blamed for something they didn’t even try to do!” Yep he was definitely getting angry now. “Enough leave all of you. Erik You may stay.” Everyone promptly left the room, like she was a general in command. Even Derek left all be it with a scowl on his face. The women whose name I didn’t know made her way over to me. Her hair was a chestnut brown that flowed with graceful waves and rested at her hips. Her face was a perfect oval, her eyes, an invitingly warm brown and olive skin that looked soft and not at all aged, yet even though she looked young, she had a sense of age about her. “Sorry about Derek, he is some what temperamental.” She sat down on the right side of me at the edge of the bed; she had a concerned look about her.

She learned forward, so she was an inch away from my face, at first I though she was crazy, but then I could tell that she was actually checking my pupils. She picked up my right wrist and placed two fingers against it, oh she was checking my pulse. “How many fingers?” she asked clearly only holding two fingers in front of my and moving them from left to right. Instead of a sarcastic reply I decided this was an occasion for seriousness, besides this is probably what happened when you get knocked out. “Two” “Very well, you’ll live, I’m Lilia by the way and if you hadn’t already guessed I’m a doctor.” “Alaska Jordan.” “I’m believe you have already met Erik Daniels.” When I turned to look at Erik he gave me a salute, God could he look any hotter. “Can you tell us why you were up a tree? He said cut through my daydream. I looked at him dubiously, did he really think I was going to tell him my life story, when I had fallen out a tree – I admit it was partly my fault – and after being knocked out by his family. “Look Alaska, I can tell you’re not from here, in fact by the sounds of your accent you are a long way away from home. We aren’t going to hurt you. I promise.” I didn’t no what to say, it had been so long since the last time someone had spoke to me with concern in their voices, in their eyes and on their expression. When I tried to speak I found that there was a lump in my throat, and unknown to me tears had started rolling down my face. Once I started to cry I couldn’t seem to stop, it was like all of the emotion I had bottled up over the past couple of months, just erupted and there was nothing that I could to stop. The next thing I knew I was enveloped in a tender hug, which made me emotions sky rocket even more because the last person to hug me was my mother. Lilia whispered gentle sounding things and sang a Russian song in an attempt to calm myself. When I finally stopped crying, it turned out that Lilia had sent Erik to get me some food, water and some tissues. It was then that I decided that I would tell her why I was here, obviously leaving out the detail that I was in fact a lycanthrope, the general term for when a human being shape shifts into an animal, it mostly applies to werewolves, but apparently there are

other types of weres such as were-tigers, were-lions and so on. Just as I open my mouth Erik walked back into the room carrying a tray of hot vegetable soup, a glass of water and a handful of tissues. “Thank you” I told him as he placed the tray down. Lilia took the tissues and promptly began to wipe my face dry. I smiled sheepishly. “No problem, so have you calmed down now?” “Maybe once I have the soup, I don’t know about you but back in England we have bread with our soup.” I looked up at him with a hopeful, pitiful look on my face. Oh yeah, I knew how to get what I wanted, my mum even told me so when I was four years old. Erik just laughed and went to get me my bread. We waited for Erik to return with my bread, I smiled up at him when he re-entered and began eating my soup. “So do you want to tell us what happened?” Erik encouraged once I had finished my soup in the whole of two minutes. I finally gave in, I told them everything, mine and my mothers attack, everything that transpired with the social services after my mum’s death and trying to find my father because that was what my mother wanted, even though I had only met him twice in my life. And finally how I had manage to track him this far but couldn’t find the small town he lived in and so I decided to live in a tree for a while. When I was finished both Erik and Lilia wore identical serious, astonished and angry expressions. “So, that’s why I was up a tree in below freezing temperatures.” I said to break the silence. When I turned to look at Lilia again so automatically gave me another hug. At first I tensed but then I relaxed and never wanted her to let me go. “What kind of man leaves his child like that, I don’t understand” “You are welcome to stay here for as long as you want, I have been through a similar situation with the social services and they were not particularly helpful or caring.” Lilia said in the most caring and tender hearted voice that reminded me so much of my mother that tears started to role down my cheeks again. “Really, you really mean that” I said it while hiccupping. “Yes sweetheart, yes.” “What I don’t understand is how you managed to get from England to America?”

I laughed and answered Erik “My mum got a promotion with the British side of the company it entailed mover to America that was about two years ago.” “Are you still hungry?” Lilia asked after my stomach rumbled. “Yeah, do mind?” “Of course we don’t, the question is do you want a proper meal or chocolate, and do you want to eat in here or come downstairs?” she laughed as soon as I answered chocolate. “Would you like us to bring it up to you or would you rather come downstairs?” I think she was silently encouraging me to go downstairs to meet the others. “Erm, I’ll try downstairs?” I said sceptically as the last time I had tried to stand up, I had fell right back down again and I could feel my broken ribs through my chest, which wasn’t pain free. After my second attempt at trying to stand up, both had told me it was fine to stay in here, but I was a wolf at heart and anything I wanted to do I would, other people would call it stubbornness, to me it was just my nature. My wolf was prowling behind me eyes saying that if I didn’t do this task she would do it for me. Mean I would have no control over my change and it would hurt like hell because I would fight and because of my injuries, even though they would clear up in less time than an average human. Finally they both gave in and Erik wrapped his arm around my waist supporting the majority of my weight. I was grateful because I really didn’t want to spend all of my time in that room. We eventually made it into the kitchen; I hadn’t been paying much attention to the interior of the house because I was concentrating on moving one foot in front of the other. When we walked into the kitchen though the very little breath that I had left, rushed out of my body when my gaze finally connected to what I was seeing in front of me. For one thing it was huge; the kitchen was the size of the bottom floor of an average size house. It contained one of those ovens that are used in restaurants, a king size fridge and freezer and a breakfast bar that could fit an army. “Wow” I gasped but they just laughed at me while Erik planted me on a bar stool.

It was just us in the kitchen which I was grateful for, I didn’t think that anyone would agree with my being here, especially Derek, the others I had no idea but I had a feeling they would side with him. “So we have chocolate cake or Ben and Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream the choice is yours. “Both?” he just smirked at me while Lilia had gone to make me some tea. It was at that moment when around four people aged around 19 – 25 walked into the kitchen with scowls on their faces. I avoided their shocked gazes when their eyes reached mine. “What’s up guys this is Alaska, Alaska these are my brothers and my sisters.” “Hi” I said in the quietest voice I had. “Prepare yourself Erik dad’s on the way home and Ana snitched on you for bringing home the girl, he isn’t in the best of moods as you can understand why.” Derek said it like what was to come was going to be hilarious. I just looked at Erik confused. “Shit” he said with a heat of passion. “Shit would be correct son.” An older dude said as he walked in from behind the others. Everyone parted to let him through when I got a proper look at him, I realised that he was in his thirties, he looked remarkably like Erik and all the other people in front of my apart from minor differences, like eye colour and hair colour. He had the radiance of an alpha wolf in his aura, and my wolf responded to that, she wanted to him we were worthy of being in his pack. It was a second later that his gaze finally locked with mine, his expression change from anger to absolute and utter shock, and as his changed so did mine to reflect the same astonishment. I stood up and swayed almost falling in to Lilia before she caught me. “I guess it’s fair to say I got my mothers looks” I said breaking the awkward silence as I stared into my fathers face. Everyone looked at me like I was clinically insane. “Hi Dad”