Cinderella Dressed in Ashes ( Book #2 in the Grimm Diaries ) (3 page)

BOOK: Cinderella Dressed in Ashes ( Book #2 in the Grimm Diaries )
13.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Before she could wipe the window with her hand, her foggy reflection sneered back at her. She saw herself in her white dress, the red ribbon in her hair, and her fangs drawn out.

It was a defensive reaction to the threat climbing up the stairs, she thought. How was she ever going to learn how to control herself? She felt the thirst for blood, but not enough anger to strike. If someone approached her, could she feed on them? Even if she had the strength to do it, she wouldn’t. She didn’t want to kill anymore. She had finally found Loki, and she planned to live happily ever after with him.

It’s all because of Loki’s kiss
, her darker half whispered.
Love is a terrible thing. It makes people vulnerable. Are you prepared to be vulnerable while the world counts on you to save them from Night Sorrow and Carmilla?

Snow White found herself raising her hands and touching her lips.


If you don’t believe me, ask your lips
,’ Loki had answered her when she questioned if their love had been a dream.

The memory sent an electrical surge through her body, remembering what they had both been through to earn that kiss. Who would have thought that Loki, the dark Huntsman, who had slaughtered more people than he could remember, could be saved?

Where are you Loki? What’s taking you so long?

“Loki!” Fable yelled.

Loki is here? Where? What is going on?

“You don’t know what you’re doing, Loki,” Axel and Fable yelled outside. “You’re not yourself!”

Snow White wiped the fog from the window. She couldn’t see Loki outside, but she saw Axel and Fable running into the Schloss, still yelling at the evil approaching her.

What’s going on?

The evil, protected by the laughing wind, had already reached the hallway. Snow White could feel it. She could hear it taking confident strides toward her room. Whoever, or whatever, Axel and Fable were screaming at was at her door.

“Please, no,” Fable said again, climbing the stairs. “Don’t kill her!”

Is that Loki coming to my room? To kill me? Again?

The evil scent
was
Loki’s. She knew it well.

She wondered how it was even possible: Loki not remembering who he was. Snow White had been afraid to remind him or he surely would have killed her in the Dreamworld.

She turned around.

Loki was standing behind her, wearing Axel’s hood.

Still resisting the idea that he’d come to kill her, her fangs drew back and the muscles on her face relaxed.

“Loki,” she still liked the sound of his name on her lips. Her eyes widened cheerfully. “You came back for me,” she ran across the room and threw herself in his arms. “You came back for a monster,” she muttered, rubbing her cheek against his hollow chest. Her longing for him blinded her from the obvious. Love tends to blind people and urge them to sleep in the arms of the enemy sometimes.

Although Loki hadn’t spoken a word or shown signs of passion, she pressed her head closer to him like a lovely pillow she could confess all her secrets to.

Finally, the truth hit her like a dagger. She noticed he was frigid, cold, and speechless. His heart wasn’t beating, just like the dead. This wasn’t Loki she was hugging anymore. It was the shell of what was left of him. Loki was gone; the boy behind his eyes had disappeared. This was Loki’s shadow, the Huntsman with the three-eyed unicorn.

She turned away, and then looked into his eyes one more time, wishing she would get a glimpse of the boy she loved. His eyes sent rays of horror into her soul. They were slatted and yellow like a snake, the Queen of Sorrow’s eyes.

She took two steps back, gathering all of her energy.

You know what you have to do, Shew.
The voice in her head reminded her.
If you’re really the Chosen One, the first thing you have to do is … kill him.

“No,” she screamed. “What happened to you, Loki?” unaware she was close to tripping over the glass coffin behind her.

Loki didn’t say a word. He just kept staring at her, his eyes turning black as night and appearing endlessly hollow with that glimmer of gold.

Snow White had confronted many demons before, but Loki’s stare bored through her and a headache started pounding in her head.

The whiny, funny, and adventurous Loki she knew was gone. This, standing in front of her, was the Huntsman whom everyone in the Kingdom of Sorrow feared.

“Talk to me, Loki,” she pleaded. Another step back, her stomach hurt as if butterflies where being slaughtered inside it. She felt weaker. “What happened to you?”

He looked so powerful, so cocky and sure of himself. His shirt, ripped open, revealed a six-pack underneath, his body had changed from a boy to a man.

Oh my God, Snow White thought when Loki’s hood fell back. She saw his hair had turned platinum blonde again, the color of the Huntsman’s before he’d been unshadowed by Charmwill. He also had his Alicorn in his hand.

Snow White tripped backwards into the glass coffin, unable to take her eyes off him. It was a hard choice. Death in front of her or the grave behind her.

Back to where you belong, Shew.
Her inner voice taunted her.

“Come on, Loki,” she forced a crooked smile on her lips. “You’ve killed me before. It didn’t work,” she tried to sound playful.

Axel and Fable were nearer now, calling for him again.

“Mircalla did this to you,” Axel said from the hallway. “I don’t know how this happened but Mircalla is Carmilla Karnstein, the Queen of Sorrow.”

“She controls you through the Fleece,” Fable said, reaching the door with her brother.

Slowly, Loki turned back to them. He waved one hand in the air, sending the laughing wind whipping at them. The wind laughed hysterically as it blew them back into the hallway. Snow White heard them thud against a wall then fall into silence.

Loki met Carmilla? In the real world?

A Dreamhunter’s Fleece was like his soul. She had been next to Loki when Carmilla took it in the Dreamory.

Loki turned to face Snow White; he had a cocky smirk on one corner of his mouth. The sweat caused by Snow Whites racing heart stuck to her dress.

“Loki,” Snow tried one last time. “Don’t you remember me? I’m the one you love.”

Her words had no effect on him. He knelt down and pulled her hair violently with one hand, the way ancient people grabbed their sacrifices before they slaughtered them for the Gods.

Her veins fueled with anger. The smell of his blood was so intense and beautiful she could just suck him dry. Her fangs drew out, feebly without grit or strength to use them.

Strength is not what you are lacking, Shew. Don’t fool yourself. You just cannot bite him.

Loki gave her one last demonic look and staked her mercilessly. It was fast, the Alicorn plunging through her chest, blood spattering on both their faces.

No apology followed like in the past, nor did he show the slightest signs of guilt.

Feeling betrayed again, killed by the one she loved, Snow White gave in as the world faded away.

Before she passed out, she wondered why Carmilla made him stake her. All Carmilla needed now was to find the Lost Seven so she could consume her heart, stay beautiful without killing young girls, and never be threatened by her daughter again. Why would Carmilla make Loki stake her?

This is much bigger than you think, Shew. It is not just about you. This is about the whole Fairyworld.

As the world faded to black, Snow White felt the Baby Tears in her eyes—although they seemed a bit different. Loki must have used them so she wouldn’t be able to manipulate the dream.

Now she had to face another Dreamory. She wondered which one it was going to be. She felt Loki place two Obol coins on her eyes then whisper the Incubator into her ears. The date was 1803. 

How was he going to access something she couldn’t even remember?

The incubator presented an even greater challenge, a strange word that meant nothing to her:

 

The Phoenix.

 

2

A World Between Dreams

 

I can control this. The word ‘Phoenix’ has no power over me in my subconscious. I have no idea why Carmilla made him use it. If only I could just control my dream and send Loki to another place. A place where…

Snow White opened her eyes to the bluest morning skies, bespattered with millions of tiny cloudy patches like snowflakes on a blue veil waving over the world. The sun appeared, slowly wiping the sky clean of the imaginary snowflakes. Weaves of the first threads of an upcoming rainbow curved all over the horizon, and the birds welcomed the morning with their songs as the sun kissed her face.

Her closed eyes twitched against the sun's warmth—she’d expected to be sent straight to hellish nightmares. Slowly, her eyelids opened up like a flower trusting the light, and her pupils made peace with the flare. She breathed easier and felt the warmth of the day gently piercing through her and reaching behind her eyes. Snow White felt as if she lay in a bed with a cushiony, slightly bumpy mattress. How was it possible she was in bed and could see the sun and the sky? How could she smell the flowers of endless fields surrounding her, and how were butterflies fluttering over her head as she lay down?

A butterfly with orange wings touched her nose briefly. Snow White propped herself up on her arms and inhaled the image through her eyes as if they were fabulous words from a fascinating poem.

What a beautiful dream. My dream. Or is it that I am dead and went to Heaven?

Finally, she discovered she was actually sleeping in a bed made of willows in the middle of the meadows away form the Schloss. Puckers of purple poppy blossoms were scattered like brocade, lightly tossed in heaps along the green distance leading to a river before a set of hills. Rills of water ran in curvy waves through the field, feeding the river in the distance, with dandelions dancing on both sides. The sun slanted through the gaps between thick trees of the forest to her left and splayed over the field, meeting with the sunrays from above. It made her feel like sitting in a bubble of pure light.

Snow White took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the lovely scenery into her soul. The world was so beautiful around her she wished this wasn’t just a dream because she wanted to stay here forever. Usually, forever wasn’t associated with dreams.

“Shew!” someone waved at her in the distance.

She looked and saw a boy with shoulder-length black hair and a face that somehow lit up from afar. His eyes shone in the distance like an emerald green star falling down in her palms. He moved swiftly like a panther, confident and elegant. The smile on his face was partially welcoming like a long awaited hug, and partially wild like a kid using the world as his playground. He was about fourteen or fifteen years old, wearing a lot of armor and a sword at his side.

Snow White saw she was wearing a 19
th
century white dress. She was in the Kingdom of Sorrow, in a place she didn’t remember. Was this another version of the kingdom her dream made up?

“Look what I got you,” Loki knelt down in front of her. “My princess,” he added with flirty eyes.

Snow White couldn’t take her eyes off him, not really caring about whatever he had for her. If he would just bring himself into her arms she would have no need for anything else.

“If you’re going to stare at me that way, you’re going to have to talk to me,” he said playfully, pulling her hand and ushering her to the field. They landed half-buried in purple poppies. “Or dance with me at the next ball in the castle, maybe,” he laughed, and grabbed a bite from a golden apple. It was if the sunrays followed his laugh, splaying onto his face and dimming the rest of the world.

She found an apple placed into the palms of her hands, too. He must have tossed it while she basked in his charm. Carmilla, her mom, had warned her of beautiful boys—after biting the prince, could she blame her?

“If you aren’t going to finish yours,” Loki pointed at the apple in her hand. “I will.”

Typical boy, she thought. Carmilla told her about boys being selfish and eating their woman’s food all the time. Thinking of it now after knowing that Angel fed on her mother’s blood for so long, it seemed plausible.

Loki reached for her apple.

“Get your hands off it,” Snow White pulled away and slapped him lightly on the back of his hand. “It’s
my
apple.”

“What a princess you are, my
princess
. No manners at all,” he smirked, locking eyes with her, “all feisty.”

Snow White blushed and looked away. Those eyes were hard to resist. Who said
feisty
in this time? There was something wrong with this dream.

Looking at the apple, she felt a little confused, as if trying to remember something that was just out of reach. Her gut instinct told her not to bite into it.

She looked back at Loki with his intense eyes locking with hers again. He stared at her forehead, her brows, then skipped and gazed at her mouth. His lips twitched for a moment, and his steady breathing suddenly felt rushed.

His silence was killing her, the way he slowly stared back at her lips in a triangular gaze that he repeated over and over again. Her eyes started to mirror his, examining his lips. The more she did it the more the world around them disappeared and dimmed. She could merely see his face and hear the deafening silence only interrupted by their breathing.

Snow White shifted her eyes abruptly and took a crunchy bite from the apple, killing the tension. Dangerous apples or not, who cared?

This is a dream, isn’t it? How is it so sweet when Carmilla controls him?

“Poison,” Loki said.

“What?” she glared in a muffled voice. The chunk of the apple almost lodged in her throat. She forced it in.

“Your eyes are like poison, my princess,” Loki said, “beautiful poison that could kill me if you stare at me too long.”

BOOK: Cinderella Dressed in Ashes ( Book #2 in the Grimm Diaries )
13.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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