“Happily ever after is hers for the taking.”
Once upon a time I found myself locked away in Spindle Ridge Asylum, punished for a murder I didn’t commit. It was all part of Maleficent’s evil plan. I didn’t remember who I was then … now I do. My name is Aurora, and I am the rightful queen of this realm. Armed with my memories, I’m ready to take charge of my kingdom once more. Happily ever after evades me, yet I long to claim it with my true love, Sawyer, beside me. That fairy tale ending seems impossible with him locked in the thralls of a sleeping curse. As much as I’d love to sit by his bedside and eagerly await a cure, I must first travel into the terrifying Dark Woods to stop Raven from stripping me of all that is rightfully mine. I am not only a queen, but a warrior who will fight for her kingdom. Some may die. Blood will be shed. But when this ending comes, I will settle for nothing less than a blissful ever after.
I took a breath and let all of my energy go to my fingers.
My body still.
My heart beating a mile a minute.
The next breath would be a release.
The next breath came, and with my fingers, where all of my strength remained, I let go. The arrow flew through the air, the only thing moving. I was still as I watched it slam into the target. It hit very center of the target just like I wanted.
“Yes!” I shouted.
Sawyer would have been so proud of me. And just like that my excitement was gone. My mind now on him as he lay up in a bed, alone.
“Rory, don’t do this to yourself,” Gray said holding my arm. She knew what practicing archery did to me. She knew that I was great at it, but also that every time I did something fantastic, I missed his touch. She knew all of this without me even telling her a word because she knows me best.
“I have to go, Gray. I have to go see him and tell him about this,” I said, fighting the tears.
“No. You don’t have to go, you want to go. You’re running away, and I won’t let you,” she said sternly.
I tried to fight, but she won as she pulled me harder and into her arms.
I cried softly as she assured me we would find a way to wake him.
I pulled away and questioned, “Will we? It’s been two months and Merryweather and Flora have not sent word. They haven’t sent word because they haven’t found anything!”
Gray kept her calm face, even though I was breaking apart inside.
“Merryweather and Flora will find something, Rory. They will. We have to have faith in them. You, above all, should trust that they will not return until they find a cure for him. Look at all they did for you when you were trapped here.” Guilt slammed into me as I thought of Merryweather and how she did protect me when she took my memories away. Flora was always protective and never harsh in any way. Even when the other nurses were awful to me—like Betty or Raven—Flora, Merryweather and Fauna were kind and gentle. Always.
They were the three best fairies I had ever known, besides Gray, and here I was being ungrateful.
“Sorry,” I muttered. “You’re right. I’m just … I’m breaking inside, Gray.”
She smiled kindly and said, “And I break inside for you. But now is not the time to lose it. Now is the time to stand up and fight back, Rory. Do it for him. Because you know if he could he’d tell you to put yourself back together and defeat her.”
A smile formed on my wet lips. I wiped the tears away and picked up my bow.
I looked across the yard to where my arrow had flown. I was growing stronger as each day passed. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that I was going to kill Raven when I had the chance.
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