Part 39: At Odds


                                                                         "You won't feel so lonely now," (Beauty and the Beast, Brothers Grimm)




        As soon as the words announcing the return of Prince Charming and the children leave the guard's mouth, Nate stands and races from the room. Luckily, this gives me a most necessary moment to compose myself.

      I'm not sure what transpired in that dreadful moment between Nate and I. It was like a flash of déjà vu when his cold lips pressed against the sensitive skin of my hand. A painful memory threatens to show itself, but I fight it away with everything I have in me. I never want to think about that day again.

       The blood on my wrists goes on my dress with a couple of swipes. My mask, which had become crooked during my struggle with Nate, gets turned right and my cloak gets straightened out.

     I pull myself off of the ground and stand. A quick glance at Eden lets me know that he is still sleeping. I hate to wake him after what he's been through (I'm also in no hurry to be confronted with the question of our friendship) but I go over and shake him anyway.

       His eyelids flicker open, exposing his dull and sleepy eyes. He rubs at them and sits up with his eyes focused straight ahead.

      "Ruta?" he asks for confirmation.

     "No, it's the Boogeyman," I croon. Eden giggles when I tousle his dark hair some. He raises his arms towards me and smiles. He wants me to carry him. The thought of holding him used to disgust me to the point where I thought I might gag. But now, after our revealing discussion from earlier, it's easier to pretend that he's someone of a higher rank.

     I grab him under his arms and draw him to me. He wraps his short arms and legs around me like a cub clinging to it's mother. I keep him balanced by using one hand to hold the back of his head and the other to keep his bottom half up. Even for a child, Eden is unusually light. I carry him from the room with ease.

     "Where are we going, Ruta?" Eden asks while playing with some of the hair trapped inside of my cloak's hood.

     "It's a surprise," I tell the young boy. It feels like we exit a sanctuary upon stepping outside of Father's room. The peasants are in an uproar out here, each one eager to see if their child is amongst the returning. Parents call out their child's name while nearly knocking over one another in order to get to the entrance of the castle. I follow after them, neatly dodging the ones that get too close to either Eden or I.

      Eden squirms in my arms. “Ruta?” he asks. I’m surprised to hear his voice shaking. His small hands have stopped playing in my hair. When I ask him to speak, he doesn’t say a word, not at first.

            When his mouth opens, all he asks is “Are you sure you’re not going to leave me?”

            I stop walking to look down at the boy in my arms. His face stays hidden in my shoulder and he refuses to look up.

Wicked (Book One of The Cursed Chronicles)Read this story for FREE!