There are four massive towers skinny, round towers surround an ivory palace. They reach twice the height of the walls and are connected by reinforced, thin walls made of yellow stone. The entrance to the castle was a waterfall. A brilliant waterfall at the edge of a bridge.
"This is it..." I whisper.
Most people who grew up like me would never see the Seasonal Courts. They'd never see this vast palace where the few ran the many.
Huge statues decorate the bridge outside, memories of glories of the past.
"Welcome to the Seasonal Courts," Paris tells me with a broken eagerness as we walk through the gates.
"How terrible..." I state.
"Terrible?" Paris raises his perfectly groomed eyebrow, "I wasn't expecting that."
"You were expecting me to call it beautiful. You were expecting me to gasp at how amazing and awe-inspiring this place was. It's not that to me. This is a prison. A beautiful prison but a prison...none-the-less," I tell him.
Paris gets quiet. I thought he was going to be offended and maybe argue. Take up for his grand palace but surprisingly he doesn't do that.
Almost upon making it past the waterfall and somehow not getting wet even with open windows, I saw it looming before me, my future prison: beautiful, serene, majestic, and yet forbidding enough to make my heart sink into my boots. It towered above us, dominating the entire city---dominating the entire world. A magnificent horror built on the edge of a cliff. To the poor idiot humans nestling beneath its shadow it may have signified protection and home, but to me, this castle struck the note of doom and was a sight to make the bravest shake with fear.
Four towers about two hundred and fifty feet above the river-level. The van pulls over to a private entrance to one of the four towers. Guards were everywhere as though this place was about to be raided. In the middle of the four towers was a courtyard and a grand palace surrounded by gardens of water.
"Why four towers?" I ask.
"2 towers for the Seelie courts and two for the Unseelie courts," he explains. "That how it was in the beginning, at least. No one lives in the Unseelie towers after the civil war."
The Castle rooms in which we were to live were about another sixty feet above the courtyard ...the Seasonal Courts were situated in the heart of the Solitude.
The little voice is so recognizable but when I turn I can hardly tell who's speaking to me. My little nephew is there with women who I don't know. He's wearing all these baubles and jewels. He has on this heavy coat. They all seem to weigh him down. He tries to run to me and I know he would almost trip if he didn't have these strangers carefully correcting his footsteps as though he just learned to walk.
I hug him. My heart echoes. It was all worth it for this moment. Coming to this horrible, beautiful place was all worth it to see him.
Dino's hug is gripping.
"I missed you----"
"Are you OK? Did they hurt you?"
He didn't look hurt. Good. He looked covered in gold from head to toe. Better. When I stole him from here we could sell this shit and live at least a year comfortably. I turn and see Paris watching overhead as though my bad intentions were peaking through my pores.
"Dino we talked about this. No one can know your Uncle is your uncle. It will put him in a lot of danger," Paris states.
He pulls him away which seems like a task within itself, even for an overpowered Seelie.
"Yes Uncle Paris," Dino states, "Can I see him later?"
Uncle Paris? My heart sinks hearing Dino call anyone else Uncle. He hadn't even called Mist that. Regardless of what he calls Paris, I know by how he comes back seconds after being pulled away and clings to me. I am where his heart is. He's afraid to let me go. I can see his little hand shaking holding onto me like his favorite toy.
"Yes. He'll be at the ceremony."
Paris looks irritated, "I said----"
I interrupt Paris this time, "Dino. I'll see you later OK? I'm never going to be too far away from you. I promise."
This is enough for Dino. The shaking has stopped. It's a replacement for a smile. He knows that I've never lied to him before. Every promise I'd ever given him was something that he could hold his life on. And the smile lets me know that little Dino believes me. He releases his hug and gives me a quick smile. That's when I see his escort. Fairies. Golden fairies with golden wings. Fairies of the summer court.
The tower rooms in which we were to live were about another sixty feet above the courtyard. He shows me my room.
"This is Aaliyah," Paris tells me, "Aaliyah will help you get situated in your...position. And bring you to the Dust Ceremony tonight."
"The Dust Ceremony?"
"Never heard of Dust?" Aaliyah asks with a weird look.
"I just like to play dumb sometimes it builds character."
Paris sighs, "Ignore him, Aaliyah. He is here as a favor. A dust ceremony uses a bit of magic we fairies use called dust. Dust will give Dino his wings."
With that Paris leaves. The idea that Dino was going to get wings tonight somehow makes me nervous. It would make it complete. Dino would be one of THEM once he got wings. He'd be an official Seelie. The worst part about it was there's nothing I could do about it.
"You look a little upset," Aaliyah states.
All I can think about was Dino. It was written all over my face. I want to tell her. She's a stranger. I want to confide but then I think about Paris's warning. No one could know about my relationship to Dino. I also think about my Aunt Willow's warning. Trust no one.
So I fake a smile, "Tears of joy."
"I don't believe that. I get you are worried. But the fairies treat us well. Everything is magical here. Come on...I'll show you around."
She sounds rehearsed. Almost like someone told her to say what she said. Someone told her to smile the way she's smiling. Someone told her to wear her hair up even though her face is round and would look a lot slimmer if she wore it down. Immediately I know something is off about her personality. She wasn't just a servant. She was a slave to this system.
We marched slowly up the steep and narrow cobbled streets from the station towards the Castle. She's a basic looking girl, clearly a human. Nothing as grand as the fairies.
"Over there are the kitchens. If one of the Summer fairies asks you to get something. You go to the kitchens. You put in their order and you take it up to their room. Don't let Grumpkins make your food though----he always messes up."
"Which one is Grumpkins?"
The halls are full of people. Staff.
"The troll looking one with the bad attitude," she tells me, "She's a...bitch."
She whispers the word bitch to me. I guess this Aaliyah wasn't that nice after all.
"Today seems busy."
"It's always busy. The Summer Fairies don't like us sitting around. You have to find something to do always. Brush the stones. Decorate. Get them something to eat. If you make them happy you get extra money. Have you met Marsha in payroll, yet?"
"I'll introduce you later. You want to make sure you make them happy----no matter what it takes. Especially Paris."
It seems more like a warning than advice.
"Actually I'm assigned to King Dino."
She laughs at the thought, "Actually Dino is under the protection of Master Paris until the young king comes of age. So you have to do what Master Paris says when he says it until Dino comes of age."
I pause. Great. The asshole was in charge of me. By now she was showing me the Great Hall of Summer Court. It's right past the bedchambers. Aaliyah was pretty good at showing me everything——she's done this before I think—— and it was pretty overwhelming. The dozens of bathrooms, lavatories, kitchens, pantries, guardrooms, cabinets. Which guard was the nicest? Which floors to avoid. How to greet a fairy. What not to say to a fairy. The elevators which had all of this tech that we were allowed to use----she was most excited about that----and even the sitting rooms where the fairies went to socialize.
"What do you think of Master Paris?" I ask.
She takes a deep breath.
"That bad?" I ask.
"Bad? No. He's amazing. I can look at him all day. One time he had me run his bath and I got to see him----oh shit, I probably shouldn't be telling you this..."
She had a crush. Poor girl. She was an idiot. Friendly, and passionate about her job but an idiot. She didn't see what Paris and the rest of these Seelies really were. It was clear as day. I can see how she was blushing the way that she was. I smile at the idea. I mean it was easy to have a crush on someone like Paris. He was literally flawless with those ice eyes.
"It's OK. I bet all the girls go crazy over him."
"He's not married either. One of the most eligible fairies. Of course, fairies never would be interested in humans and he has them to choose from?"
We stumble into the sitting room. This was where there were the most fairies. I see girls. Pretty goddam girls. They were all creatures of beauty. Most of them had the dark warm tone that Paris had. They were all completely flawless. I doubt they used face makeup or products humans would use. That really wasn't the fairy m.o. What they lacked in cosmetics they made up with in gaudy clothing. They had the most elaborate garment, excellent tailor, white starched jacket, shapeless pants, dressing gowns, tiaras bigger than most crowns and shoes made of glass.
"Who are they?"
Her response is quick and to the point, "The best. We call them the I-As. All their names end in I-A. The same way the Spring fairies use blue colors the Summer fairies tend to love names that end in that, at least for the girls. Titania, Sania, Lamia, Sia, Oriya---"
"I get the point."
"The Summer Fairies have always had more power than the Spring Fairies. There aren't as many Summer fairies as Spring fairies. With Dynamis gone they are afraid the Spring Fairies are making a powerplay."
We are interrupted by one of the IAs, "MORE WINE!"
Aaliyah gives me a nod. It's to the decanter. I quickly shuffle to the wine. I guess this is my initiation as a servant. I make my way over to the fairy who asks for it and struggle to pour the wine.
Just at that moment as I'm staring at these ladies I see Paris storm into the sitting room. He's naked. Completely naked. I'm talking carved perfect body that makes me blush. He's struggling to change underwear and I get the glimpse of his dick. It was quite extraordinarily long and thick falling a good length down his muscular thighs.
"WHAT THE FUCK!" a voice screams.
I notice I've spilled the wine on one of the fairies.
"Sorry ma'am," I struggle to clean it up.
"You fucking idiot----"
"Leave him alone, Titania," Paris states finally getting the underwear on, "He's new."
I was so distracted by him. He had a shirt on but he rips it off violently and throws it across the room. There are these servants chasing behind him handing him new things to try on and picking it up when he tosses it back down to the floor.
"This is all bad..."
His voice is loud and booming. By this time I have retreated back to the other side of the room as I notice him making a scene. I'm happy he does because it distracts from my little slip up of pouring wine on one of the fairies.
"What's wrong?" I whisper to Aaliyah.
"He can't figure out what to wear," Aaliyah whispers back almost drowned out by the loud anger of Paris, "Those people behind him are the most famous designers in the country. He had them come out specifically to dress him for this event."
"Is it that serious?"
"What you wear is a big part of the battle here at court," she warns me, "Too many frills you seem like you're making up for something you lack. Too plain and you are seen as a pushover. The Spring fairies smell weakness, they will try a takeover of court. Thousands die."
"Why are you smiling when you say that?"
Political bullshit. I look over at Paris. He was a political animal of this strange beautiful zoo. At least he cares. Honestly, it's hard not to look at those abs and the perfect face. It's hard not to be intimidated by any of that.
You would think someone had attacked his firstborn child by how Paris is reacting. I notice these people behind him were humans.
"You still aren't ready Paris?" the woman who I spilled wine on says walking up, "You'll look good in anything sweetie. Honestly, I can hardly recognize you with your clothes on."
Girlish giggles follow. She does this on purpose. I remember him calling this one Titania. When she says it the other IAs seem to echo the same response as though they were following her lead. It lets me know she's a big player here at court. She gets up. She has beautiful peach colored hair that falls all the way past her legs. She has to be the most elegant person I've seen. As she approaches she puts a hand on his back. I'm quite surprised when he shrugs her off quickly.
"Titania this is no joke. We need to make a statement. Someone killed my brother. If we wear the wrong thing —-we send the wrong message."
"Satin, master," one of the stylists' busts in, "You can never go wrong with satin."
He tries on the satin shirt, "What do you think?"
"Perfect," Titania says, "Like I said---you'd look good in anything."
He looks unsure.
I roll my eyes. It's not hard to tell that these girls probably were saying whatever it took to get to be in Paris's good graces. When I'm done rolling my eyes I look back over and notice that Paris has his eyes set on me.
"You don't like it."
I hated it. He looked like some sort of gay vampire who was having a mid-life crisis.
"I never said that."
"Well say something. What do you think?" he asks.
For a moment everyone looks over at me. My heart is racing. I think about what Aaliyah would suggest I do in a situation like this. She would want me to nod and go with it. I don't understand why he's asking me anyway. What the fuck did I have to do with it? I'm taking a long time to answer. I swear I'm taking forever.
The eyes. So many fucking eyes.
"Yeah, you----" Paris states, "I want your opinion."
Here goes nothing.
"It looks a bit----corny," I respond.
There is an audible gasp. One of the IAs. I don't know which. It doesn't matter. I've offended him. I look around the room. Why was everyone looking at me right now like I was going to get my head chopped off for being honest? I look at Aaliyah. Her mouth hangs open. She has this look on her face. This look that tells me something like "It's nice to have known you."
"Who do you think you are?" Titania says walking up to me, "You fucking worm. Corny? Paris is more man than you would ever be. Do you even have a dick? You fucking worm? Pull your pants down and show it to us."
I laugh at the idea, "Are you joking? Is she---joking---"
No one's laughing. I look over at Aaliyah. I needed help. I needed serious help. Aaliyah isn't helping though. She takes a step back with a few of the other servants who are waiting at the edges of the room for barking orders from their masters. I am abandoned. I knew to look at this peach haired fairy that she hadn't forgiven me for spilling the wine. She was wearing a dark burnt orange color and the wine didn't even show up but it wasn't about that. It was about her pride.
It was about making sure that the new boy knew his place. And she wanted to make sure that I knew my place was at the very bottom.
"Did...you...hear...me?" she asks.
"It's unnecessary," Paris states, "He's right. The shirt was ugly. Do you think gold, Raine?"
"White," I tell Paris, "All white. It will match your eyes."
"White," Paris grunts, "I like that. Get me something white."
I look over at Titania who seems annoyed by how all of this is playing out. Surprisingly she looks embarrassed. I didn't think these beautiful fairies could get embarrassed, "I told him to do something Paris."
"With all due respect, Titania----stop acting like a bitch," Paris responds.
There is a pause. It's more than I would have thought Paris was willing to do in a situation like this. I'm not sure why he says what he says to her. I can see how other people in the room look offended for Titania. I wonder if this is going to hurt him. Matter of fact when I see her facial expression I'm sure it's going to hurt him in some way.
"All servants out," a booming voice states.
A man walks in. An older Seelie. A Seelie who at least looks like he gets some respect. Whoever he is---it's enough to make even Titania sit back down amongst the other IAs even if she gives me one last horrible look.
"Except you----" Paris states looking at me, "I need your help."
"Can we trust him?"
"Yes Solaris," Paris tells the older man, "I hired him myself."
Paris thought he could trust me? Interesting. I look over and see this Solaris. The old man walks into the room and he seems to have a bit on his mind. Paris's designers have left me a stack full of clothing and I pull out a white blazer. I hand Paris the white blazer. I watch as he looks at my eyes as he tries on the white blazer. It's almost as though he's trying to see my reaction to him when he does it. I don't understand why the hell it matters what I say.
"We have a problem," Solaris states, "The Spring fairies have refused Queen Cerulean's marriage to King Dino."
This stops everything in the room. This was a big deal. I can see by how Paris stops fiddling with his clothing and turns to Solaris. The IAs all stopped their small talk and are looking over at Solaris as well.
"The truce," one of the IAs blurt out, "What about the truce?"
Paris looks upset, "A marriage between the Summer Court and the Spring Court is what has kept the balance this entire time. This could lead to an end to the alliance with the Seelie Court."
An end to the alliance? My heart is racing over and over.
"Queen Cerulean says Dino is----too young."
One of the IAs laughs at the idea, "That old bitch wants to be picky. She's lucky anyone would want to marry her."
"I'm glad you all think this is funny," Paris interrupts, "This is an issue. This could lead to civil war."
"So be it," Titania states, "The Spring Court killed your father. We should be eliminating all of them."
"We don't know a member of the Spring Court was responsible."
"They have the most to gain from the King's death," Titania states, "There's something you all don't know. Something I've discovered."
They all look at her. My heart is racing seeing how an evil little smile spreads across Titania's face. The fact that she didn't care about going to war shook me to the core. Had they not seen what a civil war could do. There were just a couple of them in their little towers sending the entire nation to fight a war on their behalf. I'd seen the death. I'd seen the destruction first hand.
"Cerulean, the Spring Queen is pregnant," Titania states, "When she gives birth...she can say that her son is the true heir to the Summer Court. Dino is the old Summer king's bastard after all."
I take a step towards Titania, "He's no fucking bastard!"
The room turns to me. I couldn't help myself. The words just come blurting out. I can't believe I just screamed at Titania. When it happens I am shaking.
"Who is this?" Solaris asks.
There is a pause.
Paris responds rather quickly, "No one."
When he says no one it hurts. I guess he's telling the truth. I'm no one. He looks like he is about to say something else. Something to distract. A nothing to see here a moment. The man who seems to have the most clout in this court, Solaris gives Paris a look.
"Maybe you should punish your servant---before I do..."
Paris grabs me and pulls me away from the others. He takes me into the hallway. He's rough when he does it squeezing onto my wrist. When we get into the hallway he gives me a harsh look. One of those looks that tells me I don't know what I'm doing.
"Have you lost your mind?" he asks.
He is angry. It's visible.
"I shouldn't have spoken..."
"Solaris is a monster. He's the one who my father sent to do his dirty work. I've seen him rip people's eyes right out of their skull for less than you speaking out in a Summer Court meeting. You're a human. Humans aren't allowed to have an opinion on these things."
"There were less than 20 of you in that room. Your decisions may cause a civil war. Have you seen thousands of dead bodies littered in the streets because one of you idiots don't want to marry another one?"
"I grew up with that. How is it fair?"
"I don't make the rules. I just follow them. And so do you---if you want to live," he explains.
"I don't want to live in a world like this."
"Too bad. You can't die yet. Dino needs you."
I pause. Dino.
"What happens to him if Cerulean has a baby?" I ask, "What happens to Dino?"
"A civil war over whether Dino will rule the Summer Court or Cerulean's child to Dynamis," he explains, "She will want Dino removed..."
I can see the look in his eyes. He told me that he didn't know what came with war but I think he had an idea. There is no other reason that he would be as nervous as he was right now. Paris definitely seemed concerned about an upcoming civil war. I can see it all in his eyes. It makes him nervous.
"We can't let that happen."
"We don't have a choice."
"I'll figure something out."
Paris looks over at me with a strange look, "Figure something out? Raine---what the hell are you thinking?"
"Don't worry about it."
"Raine, you don't know what you're doing. Stay out of this..."
Dino was in trouble. It was easy for him to say stay out of it. He's been an uncle for about two days. If Cerulean wanted to replace Dino with her unborn child. If she thought for a moment that was going to happen well she had another thught coming.
"You do what you have to do and I'll do what I have to do. What you have to do is simple. You have to punish me..."
"Don't be ridiculous. Just walk away. I'm not going to hurt Dino's uncle. Stay in for the ceremony tonight and I'll tell them you're too sore to go out."
"Punish me. Do it!" I pressure Paris, "We need to keep up appearances remember. People can't know you're playing favorites because we share a nephew. I'm going to that ceremony. Punish me or I'll walk in there and tell that bitch Titania to go fuck herself again."
"You have a death wish?"
"We'll just have to see," I respond, "We'll just have to see."
"You look like shit," Aaliyah states.
She was right. I had a busted lip. I had a black eye. I had bruises all over my body. Paris had done a number on me. It took me a while to muster up enough anger in him for him to call his guy Striker in to do it but no one would accuse him of having gone easily for me. If I hadn't known better Striker enjoyed hitting me. I didn't care. It was good...even when I arrive at the party and I notice Titania smile my way. She didn't suspect that Paris had a reason to go soft on me now.
"Got punished----it was great," I state.
Aaliyah looks at me like I have two heads, "You're a weird one, Raine. You know that?"
I shrug, "I guess so. So tell me what's going on."
The garden lights are bright in the sky. The fairies have come out. I have to admit they knew how to throw a glamorous party. Everything is perfect. Me and the rest of the servants wear all black. You need to tell the servants from the glamorous upper scales of this society.
Aaliyah points, "Dust ceremony. Dust is fairy magic. Limited supply. It gives fairies their wings."
"Don't ask me anything else about it. The fairies are beyond secretive with the stuff."
I look at the front and see Dino. He looks over at me. His smile is amazing when he sees me. I know if it was up to him he'd run over there and stay in my shadow all night. It's not up to him though. Paris is sitting right next to him and grabs his shoulder a little bit so Dino won't look at me so hard. Paris is pissed at me still. I can tell. Even when he makes Dino not look at me, his own eyes turn towards me. He's suspicious of what I'm about to do. I can see it.
He doesn't trust me.
I notice he's wearing all white after all.
"Looks like the Spring fairies are joining," I state, "Finally something I'm a bit familiar with."
The Spring fairies make their entrance. They are a small army. They definitely outnumber the Summer Fairies 5 to one. Within a matter of minutes, this place has become crowded. Music is in the air. Festivities. I am a little proud when I look and notice everyone walking up to Dino's table paying respects to him. My little nephew had become a big deal, it looked like.
Before long I see him. Indigo. He walks in and sees me. He stops moving.
"You know him?" Aaliyah asks me.
I look over at Indigo. He has on one of the headscarves that he usually wears. He is one of the tallest fairies at the party. His suit is fit perfectly making him seem like a fuckin stud. He was being clearly obvious that he was interested in me. He literally went from socializing with the other fairies to just staring. He was just looking at me with this empty look.
"No," I respond.
Stop it. Indigo. Stop it goddamnit. Stop looking at me.
Aaliyah smiles, "Looks like you got you a little crush. I can see that look anywhere. He's attracted..."
Aaliyah giggles like a little school girl. Indigo was embarrassing me. I notice a few of the other servants notice him staring as hard as he does. It's irritating. It's almost like he sees a ghost. I know he wants to come over here and talk to me. I can see it.
I turn away from him.
No matter how much it was nice to see someone familiar in a place that was so ridden with plots and deception, I knew that it didn't matter in the long run. His eyes were warm. His face gentle. He was a sweet man and he was someone who I knew I'd love to be with in another lifetime. Maybe if we were both humans or maybe if we were both fairies. Maybe if this world wasn't as fucked up as I knew it was. Maybe then I'd smile back at him. Maybe then we'd go have a drink and flirt. Maybe I'd let him take me home tonight. But in this world---maybe didn't exist.
In this world, it was what it was.
"I'm not here for that," I state, "Let me know when the Spring Queen arrives."
"You want to see what she's wearing too?"
"Yeah. That's it. I want to see what she's wearing," I roll my eyes.
20 minutes pass. I ignore Indigo but keep my eyes on Dino who keeps looking over at me for a sense of confidence. I nod to my nephew letting him know he's doing great until I hear Aaliyah.
"Look. There she is. Queen Cerulean. The leader of the Spring Court."
The bitch. I watch her ladies in waiting. She makes quite the entrance with a ball gown that just so happens to have a 10-foot train behind her. Her crown is pretty with all sorts of colorful studs that bring out the multi-colored dress she has on. I watch how she goes and sits at the same table with Paris, Solaris, Titania and all the `who's who' in the Fairy world. I can tell the elite table from a mile away. But all of these people were elites. They were all grand. They all had a ladder they wanted to climb. And this bitch thought she was going to fuck up my nephew's ladder to get to her own. Hell no.
I watch her the whole night. I watch her like a hawk.
I watch her when she gets up. I watch her when she heads to the bathroom it looks like. The one place others won't follow her. There are guards around the palace but with so many important people, not even the Queen would get followed to the bathroom.
So I sneak in after her.
Her face is shocked when she sees me in there.
"Wait until I'm done to clean," she spits, "Idiot."
"Actually this idiot will just be a moment..." I state, "It looks like you're showing a little bit. Congratulations. Do you want a boy or a girl?"
She looks down at her stomach. If she was embarrassed with me in here then my statement distracts her.
"Is it out already?" she asks, "A shame. I wanted to wait a little bit before I announce that a new king is being born."
"No king, just a little prince," I correct her.
Queen Cerulean looks up at me. It's the first time I really see her. She's an attractive older woman. Surprisingly old to be having children but maybe the fairy body was able to produce later than humans. When she looks at me I can see her not really quite understanding where I was getting at.
"Is there a reason you're talking to me slave?"
"There it is. Whenever you fairies are in private, you always show your true colors. Right now that delightful, regal smile fades away and instead of a queen is a bitter old woman willing to do anything for power...including robbing it from an innocent kid."
"I can have you taken out back and shot."
"But you won't."
There is a smile.
"Oh you think so, slave?" she asks confidently.
I respond to her confidence with the confidence of my own, "I know so. You are going to make an announcement tonight that you are pregnant. Not a speech. That's too suggestive. You are going to make a detailed announcement. Something that people will remember in case you decide to turn your back on it later. You are going to tell everyone that this child WILL NOT be named the heir of Dynamis. You're going to say Dino is still the only rightful Summer King."
"Have you lost your mind?"
"Oh yes. I may be in a place like this. But unless you do what I say I won't be the only one. Imagine the controversy when they found out the truth. Imagine how people will lose their minds. If you don't do what I say---everyone's going to find out. Everyone's going to know that you were having an affair with Indigo. They'll know that the baby is really his."
Her mouth shuts. She's shocked. It's almost immediate. She hangs her eyes on me for a minute probably thinking about challenging me but for some reason deciding not to.
"How'd you know the baby was Indigo's?"
"You just confirmed it."
Just at that moment, women come into the bathroom. Colorful women. Colorful Spring Fairies. They see the Spring Queen in the women's bathroom and they see me in there with her. All of a sudden they seem to be alert.
"Is everything OK here, Queen Cerulean?" one of the fairies ask, "Should we call for the guards?"
Queen Cerulean pauses. The shocked look on her face fades.
"No. No, I'm fine," she states, "Tell the courts to gather. I have a speech."
"A speech?" I ask.
Queen Cerulean corrects herself like a good girl, "More like an announcement."
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com