It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been in the right mindset to work on my campy, fun, over-the-top, kinky, twisted fairytale, but I managed to pound out the next chapter this week. I’ve got to warn you, this is the rough draft! I’ll post a slightly (sorry, I’m not a professional editor) more polished version on Wattpad next Wednesday.
I also want to include a shout out to Alise AliNari, the photographer who took the gorgeous photo I used in the blog cover. You can find more of her work here: https://www.pexels.com/@alise-alinari-1213236
“There’s still time for me to pretend to be sick and send my regrets, Alice whispered into Hat’s ear.
He chuckled. “And waste all the dance lessons I gave you? Besides the feast is in your honor. You have to meet the Red Kingdom’s great lords.”
“Don’t wanna.” She poked her lips out as she locked arms with him while they strolled toward the big shindig where she’d have to make nice with a bunch of arrogant men who wouldn’t even allow her to open her mouth in their presence or make eye contact with them if she wasn’t a so-called queen.
“Did we not learn our lesson upstairs? Will both sides of your bottom need to be bright red before you realize being queen isn’t really about you?”
She huffed, frowning as she tugged at the sleeves of her uncomfortable gown. “I’m going to make a fool of myself anyway. I can’t dance in a dress that drags the ground.”
“Your hem merely kisses the floor, and I’m proud of you for compromising. The sight of your lovely neck and collarbone will cause enough of an uproar. If the whole of the Red Kingdom’s aristocracy saw your ankles, a riot might ensue.”
“Thank God for Wit’s sewing skills.”
A servant opened two thick, ornately carved wooden doors before announcing them to the rest of the room. The harpist continued to play, but most of the room stilled as all eyes turned their gaze on the couple. Alice held her head high, blatantly looking any man she passed right in the face, a coy smile curving her lips. A jumble of whispers resonated, nearly drowning out the harp.
King Reginald stood and clapped as she made her way into the center of the room. “The guest of honor has arrived. Come…sit…eat, my dear.”
I got something you can eat, mother fucker. She glanced around the room. After finding Wit seated with a group of women on a bench on the far side of the room without a table, she frowned. She tugged at Hat’s sleeve and tilted her head in the direction of their lover.
Hat placed his lips by her ear. “Don’t make a scene. We need access to the portal. Just keep thinking of your people living in the shantytown we rode past—they need you.”
Alice swallowed down her anger and indignation and greeted the king with a smile. “Thank you so much for your hospitality, Your Highness.” Greta rushed over and pulled out a chair between the King and Prince Buck.
Gerda rushed up next to her. She curtsied. “Please allow me to show you to your seats.”
Alice thanked her as she followed the timid young lady over to the main table. Once she was seated, Gerda directed Hat a few seats down with the King’s brother and his son, a boy who looked to be in his early teens. She tried her best to remember all the complicated etiquette rules for feasting, but her efforts weren’t paying off. Halfway through the first course, she realized, she’d been holding her magerods—utensils which were something similar to chopsticks but harder to use—completely incorrectly. She struggled to lift a morsel of food, nearly dropping a piece of meat back into her plate, which would have been quite the faux pas.
Buck touched her hand. “Like this, my love.” He curved her finger slightly, placing the tip of her index finger a touch lower on one of her magerods. She nearly gagged at his choice of words, but was grateful for his help, especially when his suggestions worked.
“Thanks.” But I’m not your love. You want to use me. She tensed her stomach. Maybe everyone does. For the first time since she’d fallen through the rabbit hole, she felt the way she had back home when a bunch when she’d wake up with a bunch of hungover leeches sleeping off the previous evening’s stupor all over her house.
“No thanks required provided you save your first dance for me.” His voice was low and husky. His cheeks pinkened as he flashed a flirty smile.
Alice looked away as she sipped wine from her goblet. “I’m afraid, I already promised my first dance to another, and you should be glad. I’m unaccustomed to the steps and would likely make a mockery of us both.
“Prince H’atanian would surely understand if you danced with your host’s heir.”
Alice sat her glass down, her gaze on her plate as the corners of her lips turned upward. “I’m afraid I made no such promise to a prince.”
She glanced his way, and for a split second his mask of chivalry fell, his nostrils flaring and his lips pursed. Catching his mistake, he chuckled, his expression softening. “What lucky young lord caught your eye?”
“A lord? With respect, despite my newly acquired title, I’m unaccustomed to choosing my company based on ranks and house sigils. A butcher, baker, candlestick maker—it’s all the same to me.”
Eyes wide and mouth agape, Prince Buck stared at Alice in disbelief and perhaps a bit of horror. She hadn’t realized how much she was enjoying his reaction, but she must have been smiling, because he laughed. “A jest…you are a most interesting woman. Come…let us dance.”
I was so dead serious. Since he seemed unlikely to stop pestering her until his father saw her embarrass his son with her missteps, Alice placed her hand in his. This is going to suck dick. Where the hell is that caterpillar with the water pipe when he’s really needed!
When the music began anew, Alice tried to remember the steps to the dance the courtiers performed, but she was fairly confident she looked like a lumbering jackass. As she looked to the platform where Hat was stationed, meeting his gaze for a split second in hopes he’d save her, her suspicions were confirmed based on the smirk he wore. Prince Buck her around, but when she faced the correct direction again, she glared at Hat. He grinned in response. She wanted to flip him the bird, but instead, to comfort her frayed nerves, she took the opportunity to accidentally step on Prince Buck’s foot…twice.
She was suffering through a second dance when her gaze synced with Wit’s. He looked as miserable as she did, balancing his plate on his lap and his goblet in one hand, leaving him only one hand to feed himself with. Alice could pull off such a feat with regular utensils, but he was managing with the Red Kingdom’s version. She used her eyes to beseech him to abandon his meal and come to her, but her usually confident white rabbit looked away. She couldn’t tolerate much more. “Your Highness?”
“Buck, my dear.” He was light on his feet, never missing a step even as they conversed. He didn’t even say a word when she clomped all over his feet.
“Buck…why don’t you like Wit?” She nearly smacked into him as stopped mid-step.
“Who?” His expression told her he knew exactly who she meant.
“The silver-tipped buck—Witt Konijn.”
He shuddered. “Whoa, how harsh on the ears—what a common name. Of course, you’re speaking of Hat’s little rabbit, but I assure you, I am the silver-tipped buck.” He twirled her to the edge of the dance floor before stepping out of formation and pulling her body close to his, one hand on the small of her back while he entwined his fingers with hers with the other. “I pledge you my sword, and I’ll win your kingdom back for you to prove it. Then I’ll bend my knee and await your favor while you ascend your throne and claim your birthright.”
Her muscles tensed as she placed a palm on his chest and pushed his heat and warmth away from her breasts. “You’re royalty. Why would you ever kneel to me?”
He grinned. “When you make me your husband, and I’ll go on my knees for you as often as you like.” His confidence and steely resolve shook her. She’d expected sexism and manipulation, and he’d offered her chivalry, courage, and sexual servitude.
She pried her hand from his grip. “You’ve given me a lot to think about. I’ll take some air now.” He offered her his arm, and she shook her head. “Alone.”
She spied Hat finally making his trek across the dance floor, but he was far too late for her liking. Turning on her heel, she hurried out of the grand ballroom, rushing toward the bailey only to be confronted by King Reginald.
“I hope you’re not leaving so soon, your Majesty.” He was dressed in all his finery. His crown displayed proudly on his head. Two men from his personal guard stood a few steps behind him.
“I was going to take some air.”
“Did my son not offer to chaperon you? I’ll have words with him. A beautiful, young woman should not be left out on her own.”
I’m a grown-ass woman…I don’t need your bitch-boy son to babysit me. She plastered a smile on her face. “Oh, I’m afraid, I needed but a moment to collect my thoughts.” She lifted the hem of her skirt and removed the gun from her boot holster. “And I’m not exactly helpless.”
His gaze glided over her weapon, and his guards drew their swords. The king lifted his hand. “No, she doesn’t understand. Step back from her and sheath your weapons.
Alice released the safety and pointed the weapon at the guard closest to her. “Back off!”
Reginald motioned for her to put the gun away, his hand on the barrel. “It’s treason to produce a weapon in the presence of the king.”
Alice reengaged the safety before she lifted her skirt and holstered her gun. “Sorry.”
“You’re quite ill-prepared for diplomacy…for the role of queen.”
“And yet that’s I am rather I like it or not. The Jabberwocky and prophecy don’t even allow me the option of walking away without leaving a lot of people without a home.”
He offered his arm, and she didn’t see a way to refuse. He led her out through a corridor she’d not seen yet. Paintings of staunch, regal men lined wall along with a few depicting nature scenes.
He pointed out who some of the men in the pictures whereas they strolled along. Alice pretended to be interested in order to be polite, but in truth, her head was spinning. She wanted to find Davidson. She wanted to leave.
“I had hoped my stewardship of your people for so long would draw our people closer together, pave the way for a union between you and my son.”
“Too bad I’ve no father for you to negotiate such a betrothal with. After all, coming to the table with a woman would shame you.”
He laughed loudly from deep in his belly, his cheeks pushed upward as he howled. “You do not disappoint.” He held his stomach. “And you’re every inch a Queen, a royal—a completely different animal from an ordinary woman.”
She snickered, recalling her first shift and the horn that had formed on the crown of her equine-like skull. “You have no idea.”
You just need some help working your way into your roll—my son could help you.” A long paused passed between them. “I know you see our ways as antiquated, but the rules and norms are meant to protect.”
“From the outside, those same traditions appear to oppress and even abuse in some cases.”
The King clenched his jaw, his shoulders stiff. Being question by a woman was clearly not within his comfort zone no matter how much bullshit he tried to peddle. He motioned for his guards to leave us alone, and they moved out of earshot. “Dearest Queen Alice, we are not a nation of rabbits and horses. In the midst of our many lovely does, there are wolves, large cats, and bears. Some might seek to devour—”
“And here I’d been told your great-grandsire had expelled all those undesirable types through the portal to the White Kingdom.”
“Not all…and even those who were sent away, have returned or their children or grandchildren have.”
“So, you make the daughters of your nation responsible for the behavior of men who might be prone to violence or predatory behavior by forcing them to cover from head to toe. Surely, if something happens to one of the girls, they must have been exposing their wrists, neck or ankles. For shame!”
“I will not be mocked.” He spoke through gritted teeth as he grabbed her arm.
Alice’s pulse raced. Shooting the king would be a big mistake, and punching him would have about the same result. She couldn’t kowtow to him either. Time to bluff.
She stretched her neck, holding her head high. “Is this where you would place your sword across your lap during a negotiation? Don’t forget. I grew up in a hell world, and if anything were to happen to me, the man who raised me, a man who has seen death and war the likes of which you could not even imagine, wouldn’t hesitate to rally those refugees camped in your land. He’d arm them with weapons that harness lightning, and he’d turn the portal between the Red and White inside out.” She glanced at the King’s hand still clutching a few inches above her elbow as she continued. “I don’t want to see those types of weapons enter this world. I want to put an end to the terror of the Jabberwocky, restore my people’s homes and usher forth an era of peace and prosperity for both of our kingdoms. Together, we can make this happen.”
He loosened his grip before trailing a calloused thumb along her skin. His eyes dilated as his lips turned upward. “If only I were a widow than I could take you in hand myself.”
“Lucky me, but from what I understand, you have many mistresses already.”
“Yes, they are necessary to protect my queen now that she is no longer young.” He nodded.
Alice scoffed. “Wow, I’ve never heard infidelity explained away like that.”
“My queen has done her duty producing two strapping male heirs and two daughters who I can marry to the leaders of allies. There is no need to jeopardize my wife’s health with further risk of childbearing.”
Alice’s eyes bulged and she huffed, nearly hyperventilating. “Bruh…Say what? What about using birth control and keeping to your marital bed?”
“Abortives?” His face reddened and his eyes widened.
Alice placed her hands out in front of her as her jaw dropped. “Oh, hell no…that is some Handmaid’s Tale shit right there. I need to leave here tonight. No, no, no, nope, naw, hell no!” Once she’d finished her tirade, Alice noticed the King was watching her with fascination, a smug smile, curing his lips. “What?”
“It’s just you certainly have plenty of prejudices about the ways of my nation and a lot to say to me about how I conduct my marriage for a woman who consorts with two men from a kingdom that is run by a psychotic megalomaniac and where there is no concept of monogamy.
Alice lifted a finger and opened her mouth to protest but soon found herself looking off to the side with her tongue drying out while she tried to find a counterpoint. “touché.”
He chuckled offering his arm again. She rolled her eyes as she accepted. “Indulge me for a moment.” He stopped in front of a large statue of a monstrous woman carved from marvel. Though she towered above them, he back curved as if she were bending forward. Her long limbs seemed out of proportion with her thin frame and short torso as she lifted her arms, hands and fingers curved under as if she were about to conjure some dark spell. Her head was oblong, her mouth depicted as wide open in a shriek with long, fang-like teeth. Her hair had been carved as if the strands stood on end in every direction such as the cartoons where someone sticks a spoon into an electrical socket. Most chilling was her huge, bulging eyes and the thin, elongated irises chiseled down the middle. “Exquisite, isn’t it?”
Not the adjective I’d have chosen. Slowly turned her head toward him, met the King’s gaze. “The artist was talented.”
“Are you familiar with the subject?” He eyed her as he wanted for her to answer.
“She looks like a Gorgon.”
“She has a few different names, but the most universal is Araenae. See the round polished stones around her feet?”
Alice looked down, noting six almost gem-like, rounded marvel. The monster was depicted as completely white, but the stones were a brilliant, almost emerald green. “Interesting.”
“Indeed, they’re meant to depict the large, naturally occurring mineral deposits found around the swamplands of the White Kingdom.” Only those raised near those marshy lands can safely extract the treasure because of a toxin in the soil—over the centuries, many of your citizen’s have become immune.”
“Yes, I’ve been briefed on the medicinal value of the staranium.”
“Medicine…yes, and much more. Have you been briefed on your people’s belief in this entity? Many of the Whites not only believe this so-called deity or demon, depending on who you ask, actually exists; many of them openly worship the beast.” He pointed at the statue as he lifted an eyebrow and smirked.
“How luck your citizens are to have such a wise a king, capable of not only deciding which God they are to worship, but so confident in his choice he can declare himself God’s emissary within the Kingdom.” She grinned, calmly speaking her venom in a sweet tone.
“I felt it was my duty to welcome your citizens here, protect them from danger.”
“And yet they still live in shanty towns and tent cities near the portal or in the woods. Few of them have been able to secure employment in their trained professions. Even those who were doctors or skilled craftsmen find themselves toiling in the dirt, scrubbing floors or worse, having to rely on crossing through the portal to cultivate resources from the White Kingdom in order to survive.”
Reginald’s eyebrows knotted and his nostrils flared even as he smiled. “What would you know of them?”
“Quite a bit. Some of my men had occasion to break bread with a group of my people today. In fact, my top dog believes some of them would make a good security force, and a few have already been chosen to serve as guides for when we cross, and we will cross the portal. Our equipment and crew await us there—including an armored vehicle…like a wagon, so strong the driver and passenger can travel without worry of threat. Arrows cannot penetrate; swords will break against it’s hard, metal plating. A weapon mounted on top can be controlled from within, capable of disposing of all who attempt to stop the advance.”
The King’s face purple with rage, he sneered, “You will find your large toy useless against the Jabberwocky. All inside of it will perish against its claw’s and poisons unless the trio of prophecy are together. After a warm breakfast prepared by my servants, my son, the silver-tipped buck, and a retinue of his personal guard will accompany you, and in exchange for the destruction of the beast and the savior of your Nation, you will be his wife and have his children.” He nearly spat his words through gritted teeth.
“And if I refuse?”
He laughed. “You can’t. The prophecy has already decided your fate and his.” He flipped his cape, offering a courtly bow before turning on his heel and storming away.
Furious yet fearful, Alice doubled down, holding her balled-up fist by her side and yelled out to him. “I’m not marrying your son, but fine, he can come with us, but only if Gerda comes too!”
Without missing a step, he laughed heartily before calling out. “As you wish.”
Shit! Alice back up against the wall as she caught her breath, her face flaming. That son-of-a-bitch doesn’t give a damn about his daughter. She turned in the other direction from the way King Reginald had retreated and began to walk back toward the party. She’d find Hat and punch him in the head for leaving her on the dance floor for so long. The corridor had become dimmer as the hour had grown later. She brushed her fingertips against the wall as she strolled at a leisurely pace. The velvety fabric of a large hanging tapestry pushed inward against the opening it held as she ambled along until her fingers touched the chair railing again.
She took two more steps before the wall-hanging flapped outward like a curtain in the wind. A strong hand covered her mouth while another wrapped around her body, yanking her into the hidden space behind the tapestry. Struggling, she kicked her feet as they lifted off the floor, he back pushed against the hard torso of her assailant.
Her screams muffled into his palm as he pulled her farther down the narrow, pitch dark corridor. Her breasts flattened against the wall as he pushed her forward with his body weight, a hardness pressing against her ass as he hitched up her skirt with one hand.
Reaching upward, Alice grabbed a handful of his hair and began to tug. His hot breath covered her ear as he whispered, “You naughty, bitch, tempting me…showing your neck.”
She immediately recognized the voice and relaxed her grip on his soft, silvery locks while widening her stance for him. She moved her hips back and forth, brushing her rear against his throbbing cock.
“Scream and I’ll strangle you.” He removed the hand across her mouth, pulling into over her chin and down to clutch her neck.
“Please, don’t hurt me.” She held back a snicker, playing into the fantasy as Wit slipped his hand down her underwear.
“Hurt you? I’m going to humiliate you for showing yourself, you little slut.” His fingertips glided over her clit, strumming with precision. Alice’s body temperature rose, as he coaxed forth her desire. She moaned, resting her forehead against the wall.
Wet and ready, she arched her back as he forked his fingers, tickling and tweaking all her best spots before pinching her clit. “Oh, fuck, I’m going to come.”
He cupped his palm, rubbing the entire area. “Come in my hand.” As if on command, her muscles tightened and she clenched her pussy, a spray of orgasmic juices coating Wit’s fingers. Without warming, he smacked his other hand over her mouth again, before cramming his fingers between her lips, pressing her tongue down with his fingers while simultaneously shoving all four sopping wet fingers of his other hand inside her channel.
“Uhhhh,” She squealed nearly inaudibly beneath his palm as he worked his thumb in with his fingers. She turned her head to the side. “Hurts.”
“How do think I felt seeing you with that asshole?”
Her eyes widened when she realized they weren’t just playing. Alice lifted her arm and brought her elbow back into Hat’s ribs. He grunted, his hand pulling out of her as he stepping back. She turned to face him. Before he could speak her palm connected with his cheek. “How dare you!”
She adjusted her clothing and turned to storm away. He grabbed her around the waist, lifting her feet off the floor. His lips beside her ear, he panted. “I’m sorry. I was too rough. I didn’t mean for it to go that way…I don’t know what I’m doing…or thinking…I’ve never…My head’s spinning, and there’s like this aching in my chest and this deep gnawing in my gut. I’m accustomed to Hat fucking anyone and everyone. It doesn’t bother me, never has. I liked sharing him with you. I didn’t mind you having fun with the cook either but seeing you dance with that piece-of-shit deer-shifter while I sat on the bench with the bed-warmers and mothers of high-born bastards, my stomach was so sick. He’s not worthy of you. He shouldn’t have you. He can’t touch you. I can’t allow it.”
“Alice’s heart pounded, and she panted as she felt a wet droplet on her neck and another on her shoulder. She pointed her toes, attempting to touch the floor. “Wit, you’re jealous.”
“What does it mean?”
The corners of her lips turned upward. “A lot. Put me down.” He set her on her feet. She turned her head and brushed her lips against his.
After she pulled her lips away, he nuzzled his nose into the side of her head. “Your hair smells good.”
She laughed. “I need you to get some rest. Tomorrow we leave for the portal and the White Kingdom. It’s going to be difficult, and I’ve agreed to allow Prince Buck to join us. I need to know if you’re with me no matter what.”
He tightened his hold around her waist. “Until my last breath.”
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