“Rise, Queen.”

The soft and steady tone whispered into her sunken thoughts, pushing her mind forward, resurrecting Shay’s consciousness from the oblivion it had tumbled into. 

Her lean upper body shot up from the bed.  Soft.  The first tangible thought she was able to grab on to.  Her hazel eyes blink open and take in the scene around her.  The bed is huge, and she is but a tiny sketch amongst an ocean of white linen, buttery soft against her hot skin.  Beyond the bed, peaks and mountains of archaic yet opulent furniture crouched into the dark shadows spread throughout the palatial bedroom. Piles of thick pillows cushion her surrender as Shay’s energy is suddenly wiped clean, forcing her to collapse backward.

Though her body is drained, she refuses to close her eyes, for fear that the dark will pull her down into its depths once more.  Dreams within dreams, within nightmares hoping to be born as dreams. How long had she been unconscious? There had been no rest in those caverns of sleep she had just escaped from.  If she had been out for a single day or even an hour, it had felt like she was under siege from unseen forces, running for her life, for no less than ten thousand times that.

Dark.  

Running.  

Dim light.  

Voices.  

Who had been there with her?  Who had pushed her back up into the surface world?

“You’re not the first.”

A female voice.  Flat, but with a dash of spite just so that the seemingly blunt words would cut the ears of the listener just a little.

Shalise turned her head to the right.  A small, curvy figure wrapped in sheer white linen that hugged her feminine outline stood at a long wooden dresser along the side wall with her back facing Shay.  By the motions of her arms, she was busy preparing something on a porcelain tray. Her arms moved calmly, with smooth motions so that the glass texture made no noise while she worked.

“What?”  Shay’s voice was frail.  She hated how she could not conceal her weakened state.

“You’ll be on the street before the next dawn.  Left to shrivel and die.”

Anger began a slow burn at the center of Shay’s chest.  Had she the strength, she would have jumped from the bed and snatched the girl by the ringlets of dark hair that fell just past the roundness of her dark toffee shoulders.

“Jealous?”  The word materialized from Shay’s lips like a incantation.  A secret place within her spoke, knowing the exact moment to strike and how to lay the best wound, even if it was only a verbal blow.

For the first time since the two began their exchange, the fragile porcelain clanged.  The sound was loud and sharp, as if something, a cup perhaps, had been suddenly dropped on to the delicate surface of the tray.  The moment after the sound hit the air, the girl on the other side of the room froze.

Shay watched cautiously from her position on the bed.  Though she was weak, a girl who had spent so many years on her own, defending her body and mind from this mad world always had one final reserve of energy that could be summoned when needed.

The girl’s shoulders stiffened then pulled back in confidence, she used her thin brown hands to flip hair from her shoulders and then straightened the folds of her tunic, even though they were already perfectly positioned to reveal the sensual frame of her body. Her head cocked slightly to the side, enough for one striking blue eye to cast its cold stare upon Shalise.

“Of you?” Full, glossed lips lifted into a seemingly casual, absolutely dangerous grin.  “Never.”

She turned her attention back to what she was preparing on the tray.

“Liar.”  Shay pushed back; her words filled with defiance.

The girl kept her air of calm.

“He says that you’re different.  But he says that about every gutter baby that he drags home after one of the communal orgies.”  As she spoke, her elbows motioned as though she were stirring something. “Honestly, the only difference I can see is that you came in with clothes on and you also made it to the second floor.  Most of the trash stays downstairs, near the door. For easy disposal.” Shay heard the amusement in the girl’s voice.

“Talking shyt from the other side of the room is easy.”  Shay’s fingers dug into the sheets as she tried to force herself up.  There was a very thin line between anger and fury. And her limits of tolerance had been breached.

The girl turned unexpectedly causing Shay to pause mid-sentence.  Her breath caught in her mouth and nose. Her lips pursed with unfamiliar uneasiness, as she faced her newfound enemy.

Beautiful.  A smooth, round face with deep set almond shaped eyes were outlined with a thick charcoal colored liner, which perfectly enhanced the bedazzling effects of the girl’s sapphire blue eyes.  Rich mocha skin, highlighted at the cheeks with a light dusting of golden glitter, was nearly flawless, except for the long, thread thin scar that traced the outline of the left side of her face, from brow to chin.  Apart from this one imperfection, from body to face to grace of movements, even the most sane person would believe the girl to be a goddess reborn on earth.

“The prince says you will become his wife,” her words were layered in ice, “sovereign royalty of this fortress and the lands beyond.”  She smiled, full, confident, and absolutely regal. “I call you trash, and there aren’t many times when I am incorrect.”  The smile quickly morphed into a knowing smirk, full of secrets and pleasures. “There also even fewer time when I don’t get my way with Ethan.”  She stepped forward. A slender hand lifted and the tips of her fingers beckoned Shay forward, dared her to make the next move. “But at the moment, none of that matters.  Rise, future queen, here’s your chance to prove me wrong.”

Without hesitation, Shalise sprung from the bed.  Arms out, fingers and nails aimed like daggers. Ready to defend her honor.  Ready to tear this witch to shreds. Ready to be defeated before the first strike could make its mark.  

 

Part I : The Beginning

Part I : Last Chapter

Part II : Chapter II

 

Copyright 2018 Lenise Lee Publications.  All Rights Reserved.

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