Copyright © Isabelle Santiago, 2012

All Rights Reserved.

We first held hands in the singing gardens on a bright, cloudless afternoon. The sunlight piercing through the forest reflected off of the melting snow, bathing the world in brilliant white. I closed my eyes and breathed in the crisp, cold air. The flowers slept, as they were prone to doing during the frost, leaving us on our own to fill the infinite silence.

Thankfully, Maddox was never at a loss for words. “’Twas undoubtedly the ugliest contraption I’ve ever seen,” he said excitedly, “in that most gaudy crimson that she so prefers.”

I bent my head to hide my smile. “I doubt it was as awful as all that. Your father made it, after all. And I have yet to see him make something less than astounding.”

“For you, maybe. Yours is a quiet elegance. But Edana requires a certain level of pomp to satisfy her vanity. Her hat bent in angles and curled to the sky as though it would sprout legs and jump right off her head.”

I snickered then, unable to contain it any longer. “How is it, do you think, that my sister and I can be so different?”

“It is a mystery I myself have often pondered. Surely, you are an exception. Much more your mother’s child than your father’s.”

“Surely,” I repeated, deep in thought, keeping step alongside him. “How different our world would be then, had they never married. Had the truce never been struck.”

He kept his gaze fixed upon the ground, tightened the clasp of his hands behind his back. “But then I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the pleasure of your company.”

“And the world would be spared the pleasure of Edana’s.”

“One learns to take the good with the bad. Without the truce, we would still be fighting the Great War, locked in a stalemate. ’Tis truly best that it is over. We could not have afforded any more bloodshed.”

“Edana says that blood is the price necessary for greatness. She often reminds me that the willingness to spill it is what separates the weak from the mighty.” I brought our leisurely gait to a sudden halt. “What I am about to tell you, I tell you in confidence. You must never repeat it to anyone.”

He nodded, ever so slightly. “You have my word.”

“Mother and Father do not know, but late at night I hear Edana escape. She searches for the Jabberwocky, following its howls into the darkened forest. I fear what she will become if she ever finds it.”

He shuddered beside me. “A fearsome thing, no doubt.”


Available in E-Book for NOOK and KINDLE


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