This is from the unedited version of Court of Lies & Cinder. Please do not repost without author's consent. Court of Lies & Cinder is a dark Cinderella retelling, coming October 6th!


“With love's light wings did I o'erperch these walls, for stony limits cannot hold love out, And what love can do, that dares love attempt.” -Romeo & Juliet

 

Prologue

 

"Mi’lady, this came for you,” the messenger said as he handed her the envelope. Dimly illuminated by the torches in the hallway, his silhouette was the only thing the woman could make out. Anxiety and eagerness both filled her. Would this be the news she’d longed for?

“Thank you,” she said as she closed the door.

With a trembling hand, she ripped open the envelope. A sigh of relief escaped her after reading the message.

 

It’s done. You and your family will be safe now.

-L

 

Her daughter watched as she raced across the room. She pried the loose floorboard away and removed a knapsack before turning to the young girls.

“This is the day I warned you about. Gather your things quickly. We must leave at once.”

“Yes, Mother,” the oldest responded, grabbing her sister’s hand as they went to their room.

The youngest watched as she collected both of their bags and handed her. She then collected a few books and toys to add in before they left.

“Where are we going?”

“Mother said she is taking us somewhere we’ll be safe. She told us that when she made us pack. Remember?”

“But why—”

“She is waiting for us.”

They returned to their mother, who held a small, swaddled toddler in her arms. She slept soundly.

“We have to be quiet and move quickly,” their mother instructed. “Do you understand?”

The girls nodded in response.

“Momma, can I help?” the older asked.

“Yes, take this,” she answered, handing her one of her bags. “Carry this, and not another word until we leave the kingdom. No matter what.”

Opening the door, she peered into the empty hallway before gesturing them to follow. The clock chimed, and she knew dawn was less than a half an hour away. There was no time to waste.

Their footfalls were silent. Every shadow seemed to jump out, every door shutting was a guard alerted to their presence. Her heart thudded so loudly in her ears, the sound consumed her until they reached the exit.

Thought only a few minutes had passed, the seconds stretched on as her fears raced through her mind. They left the palace and went straight to the dirt path.

The iron gate came into view, and her pace quickened, anxious to reach the freedom awaiting them on the other side. The girls struggled to keep up with her long strides.

“Halt!” a guard yelled at the sight of them.

Her daughters clung to her gown, and she encouraged them to move faster. The wall came into view. They were so close.

“Close the gate!” The words shot past her as swift as an arrow.

The family made it through as the wrought metal iron slammed shut behind them, effectively cutting off their pursuers. The woman laughed.

Running through the woods, the river came into view. The mother stopped and paced for a moment before finding the shallow section she had previously discovered. They crossed safely and rested on the other side, where she assured her daughters everything would be all right.

“Mommy, won’t the king come looking for her?” the oldest asked, staring at the bundle held tightly in her mother’s arms.

“He can search all he wants, but he won’t find us.”

“I want dada,” the youngest pouted. “Where is—”

“Why can’t we stay?” the oldest interrupted.

“It isn’t safe here, not anymore,” their mother explained as her patience wore thin.

“But why?”

“Hush, child. We need to rest for a moment before we continue our journey to the colony.”

The road ahead would be long and held potential for peril, but the risk was worth it. For the sake of her daughters and herself, she knew sacrifices had to be made. The thought of no longer living in luxury hurt her heart, but she knew it was necessary.

They would still have nice things, she ensured as much with the bag of valuables she took from the palace. Still, it wouldn’t hold a candle to the life they lived there.

“Come, let’s continue.”

They made their way towards their new home.


Each book box includes:

Signed Hardcover

Character art

bookmark

& other bookish goodies!