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       Forever, p.1

           Chanda Hahn
 
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Forever


  Forever

  An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 5

  Copyright © 2015 by Chanda Hahn

  ASIN: B00VGTNK24

  www.chandahahn.com

  Cover design by Steve Hahn

  Cover model Erica Cornelison

  Photographer Tiana Meckel

  Makeup Artist J.J. Hines

  Kindle Edition, License Notes

  1st Edition

  All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form is forbidden without written permission of the author.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Thank you for downloading this ebook.

  Find out more about free autographed book giveaways, exclusive contents and weekly sweepstakes & prizes by following me on Facebook. Get updates on my new releases and more when you sign up for my mailing list.

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  About the author

  For my super fans

  Bethany A Bachman

  Jamie Deann and Evalyn

  Paola Loader

  Kerry Marriott

  Marsha (Critchfield) McGregor

  Doris Orman

  Aliseea Patricia

  Sherry Ralph-Lyle

  Izabela Wardzińska

  Chrissy White

  Will Beauty have to destroy the Beast she created?

  Chapter 1

  A trail of smoke still sailed into the sky like the colorful tail of a kite. It could be traced back down to the decimated remains of the Green Mill Recycling Center.

  Mina sat on the hill across the river and stared down at the dark, burned wreckage that had been the Godmothers’ Guild. Only a single fire rescue worker remained, and he walked among the rubble, scattering ashes with a large rod to keep flare ups from sprouting. Yellow caution tape roped off the whole area.

  “Come on,” she mumbled under her breath.

  She tapped her closed fist against her bent knees. She’d been sitting, watching, and guarding the building—waiting to see if any of the rescue team would discover what really lay only a few stories below them. She could only hope that the Fae had covered their tracks well.

  The news had called the fire a rare accident, saying the explosion was caused by a ruptured gas line, but the Fae knew otherwise. And Mina knew otherwise, but she suspected there was some Fae persuasion being used to cover up what really happened.

  The cause of this tragedy was the dark prince himself. He’d sent his army to attack the Godmother’s Guild like he had done over twenty years ago. Last time, the Guild had been able to fight off the attack, even trapping one of the trolls in stone. But the prince, the Story, wasn’t as strong then.

  Now, Teague was nearly invincible. Joined with the other half of his soul, Jared, he had fully come into his power, and he wanted vengeance—against the Guild, against the humans, against her.

  She let out a long sigh and dug her fingernails into her palms as she stared past the rubble along the river to an area that the Godmothers had warded and protected from the rescue team. Even she wouldn’t have known what to look for if she hadn’t been there when it happened.

  The river rock was slightly darker along the embankment, where Fae flame had devoured the bodies of the dead. Of those who had died in the battle and from the fire. One of them had been Mei Wong, her faithful brownie Godmother.

  “Why?” Mina whispered, her voice hoarse from crying. “Why you? You were nothing but gentle and kind. You didn’t deserve this. He did. It’s his fault.”

  Tears burned in her eyes, but she refused to blink. She let the pain well up inside of her. Because although she tried to place the blame on Teague, Mina knew deep down, he wasn’t the one who started it. She was.

  She was the one who had gone back into the past and set all of this in motion. It was her. It had always been her. She was the one who created the Grimoire. She was the one who had given it to the Grimm brothers. She was the one who betrayed Teague by saving Ferah, who, in turn, stabbed the prince with an evil dagger, the tip of which remained inside him and poisoned his heart. Of course he blamed her. When she tried to dig out the tip, he saw her only as another assassin and blasted her through the tower window.

  Trying to save herself, she had inadvertently opened up a gate between her world and his, and he’d been chasing her ever since. He had to wait over a century for the timelines to catch up.

  But now they were on the same playing field. There were no more secrets. She knew who he was, and he knew she knew. She created the beast, and now she’d have to destroy him. She knew that now.

  Jared was Teague, at least a part of him. When she’d met Teague back in time, she saw bits of Jared in him—the smile, the smirk, the cocky grin. Even the way he looked at her when he didn’t think anyone was watching. It had been Jared’s look, his jokes, his smile.

  But that was then, before he was poisoned. Now? Now she didn’t know what to make of him, of the prince, of the Story.

  Who he had been and who he was now would no longer matter. Innocents were at stake. Too many had paid the price for Mina’s folly. Too many had been injured; too many had died. She could only see this concluding one way. It would end with death—hers or Teague’s.

  He had said she might be more agreeable in the morning. Well, it was morning. Where the heck was he? Brody and Nan had forced her to go home last night to get some sleep. But that was a joke. She couldn’t.

  She’d taken off the lavender dress and thrown it onto the bed, feeling the weight of the dagger hidden inside the pocket. She’d changed into jeans and boots, and layered a plaid top over a shirt. Grabbing mittens, hat, and scarf, she snuck back outside at first light and rode her bike all the way to the Recycling Center.

  Seven hours later, her rear was numb, and her legs were stiff from sitting, Most of the damage had been contained and fires put out. She had watched and counted as each of the City Gas vehicles, the police cars, and the fire trucks had pulled away one by one.

  Her stomach growled from hunger. She knew this was where he’d want to meet her. So he could gloat over his handiwork, his accomplishments. He wanted to see her cower, but she knew she couldn’t. She wouldn’t.

  Her skin prickled with the familiar sensation that she felt whenever he was near. Mina jumped up and turned around just as he stepped out from behind a large evergreen.

  His dark, angry, blue eyes crinkled up in the corners with mirth, mirroring the smirk on his face. His perfectly styled dark hair accentuated his cheekbones. He wore a long patchwork jacket, made of different leathers and black textures, like a cape off of his shoulders. Both the cape and his tall, black boots gave him an anima
listic ruler vibe. The only light thing about him was his stark white shirt.

  “I think I prefer these clothes to your fancy dresses,” he said, his voice like velvet as he stepped closer to her.

  “I think I prefer your other clothes. Are you auditioning for an episode of What Not to Wear?”

  Teague frowned and shook his head. “Again with the insults that mean nothing to me.”

  “How about this? You look like an animal.”

  His handsome head fell back, and his eyes closed in laughter. “Now that is funny.”

  He came up and reached out to touch her cheek, but she slapped his hand away. “Don’t touch me.”

  His nostrils flared in anger, but he held back his biting remark. Instead, he turned away from her and placed one boot on a rock, gazing down over the smoking building in the valley. Here come the insults.

  “Do you have it?” His voice had lost its teasing tone. He was asking for the dagger.

  “Yes.”

  “Then give it to me, Mina.” He cast a forlorn look over his shoulder at her.

  “I didn’t bring it.”

  She could see his jaw working as he clenched it. He straightened, cracking his neck as he faced her full on. “Did you not get my warning?” He pointed down below at the very spot of the burned river rock. “I’m done playing games.”

  “Well, the game now has new rules. It’s an expanded edition.”

  He raised one eyebrow. “You think to outplay me?”

  “Did you bring my mirror?” she shot back. “I may exchange one for the other.” She wanted the mirror. With that mirror, he could always watch her. Always.

  This time it was Teague who looked surprised. “May exchange?”

  “How about: You bring me the dagger, and I’ll let your friends live.”

  “Without my mirror, I won’t even think about giving you the dagger.”

  He sighed and sat on the large rock, extending his legs in front of him. He crossed them at the ankles. “I think I’ll hold onto my mirror a little longer. I’ve learned that women can’t be trusted, and I like the idea that you know I’m watching you. It makes it harder for you to plot against me when I can watch your…” He stood up and slowly walked around her. “… every… single… move.” He leaned in on the last word and inhaled the scent of her hair.

  “I hate you,” she seethed.

  “Wrong.” He grabbed her shoulders and turned her to face him. “I know how you feel about me.” The corner of his mouth crooked up. “Or at least a part of me. You were in love with me.”

  He tapped his head. “I have his memories.”

  “Then you know how he felt about me?” Her voice rose in hope.

  “Pity.” Teague said, sending her moment of hope crashing to the ground. “He pitied you.”

  It was a jab in the heart. She couldn’t deny that his words hurt, but Teague was a liar, and she couldn’t trust anything he said.

  “Mina.”

  She lifted her head up to look at him.

  “It seems you need a lesson in obedience.” Something suddenly drew his attention past her, across the river, to the woods. Mina heard a thin, eerie whistle, and she looked at Teague.

  His face took on an expression of contempt. “It seems you have company. I warned you I would take away your friends one by one. You like games? Well, so do I. But I’ll wait my turn. Someone has a message for you.”

  He turned to glance back and pointed his finger across the river to the distant woods, far behind the wreckage. “I’d get moving if I were you. And fast.”

  “What did you do?” She turned to watch Teague disappear into the woods. Then she looked back in worry at the forest and the remains below.

  There was still a single safety worker down there. She watched in trepidation, but nothing happened. The man was satisfied with his work and threw his tools into the back of the white city truck. A few minutes later, he was gone, driving away.

  The wind changed course and blew in her direction, sending the smell of burnt wood, oil, and fumes over her. She ducked to avoid the onslaught of the aroma and caught a glimpse of something moving in the woods. Across the river, on the south side, there appeared to be a large black dog the size of a German shepherd, but with huge ears and paws.

  The dog followed a scent trail. It came into the open, stared at the debris, and spent a bit of time nosing around the burned lumber and scrap metal. It walked through the large puddles left by the fire hoses. Back and forth the beast went, even stopping to scratch at something in the dirt.

  After a few minutes, nothing significant had happened. Mina figured she was probably making too big a deal out of the dog’s presence. Teague must’ve been warning her about something else. Either way, there was no point in lingering. She stood and stretched.

  At least she’d been able to take the time for one last goodbye. The wind whipped her hair into her face as it shifted back toward the wreckage.

  The dog’s hackles rose as soon as he caught her scent. Even across the river, she saw the beast change its posture from curious to killer.

  The forest around the dog blurred and shifted as a large being took his place. The thick man wore a long cloak of grayish-black wool covering black leather armor. Across his chest hung a row of throwing blades. He fingered the hilt of a knife just before he turned death-like eyes, orbs of white, her way.

  Could he see her? If she didn’t move, maybe he wouldn’t notice her.

  He reached for a knife, and she knew. No matter the color of his eyes or the distance, he could see her.

  Run, she commanded her legs. But they were frozen in fear. Run! Mina spun toward the nearby woods but slipped and fell to the ground.

  Thud.

  A black knife had embedded itself into the tree right in front of her. If she hadn’t fallen, the knife would have impaled her, not the tree. She looked back and saw only the dog. Hackles up, abnormally large black ears flat against his head, and lips pulled back, exposing sharp canines. The hulking head flicked toward her, its death-white eyes locking onto her seconds before it let out a terrifying howl.

  A shape-shifting Reaper? Mina kept low and crawled along the ground, trying to make herself a smaller target. What had she been thinking coming here by herself? Why hadn’t she brought backup?

  She hadn’t expected to run into a Reaper here—that’s why. She’d expected to see Teague. He still wanted the dagger, and he wouldn’t stop until he got it. So he hadn’t sent a Reaper to kill her, had he? If she died, that didn’t put the knife in his hand.

  As soon as she got into a denser copse of trees, she pushed herself to her feet and took off down the hill, away from the dog, as fast as she could. Sliding along the rocks, kicking up dust, she didn’t stop until someone stepped in front of her. Unable to stop in time, she plowed into him.

  The man grunted as he took the full force of her blow, and they both fell to the ground rolling a few feet. Brody groaned and looked up at her. But the smile fell from his face when he saw the terror on hers. “What’s wrong?”

  “Run,” she hissed and jumped to her feet, pulling him alongside her. But she had to stop, looking around in confusion. “Where’s your car?”

  “This way.” He ran to the left, making sure to keep pace with her. “What’s wrong, Mina?”

  “Reaper,” she huffed.

  Her heart thudded loudly in relief when she saw the car. She ran to the passenger side and lifted the handle, but the door was still locked. Come on.

  She held on until she heard the automatic click and then jumped into the seat. Brody pulled out his keys and fumbled with the ignition. “Go, go, go! Start it up.”

  “I’m trying,” he said between clenched teeth.

  The keys fell on the floor, and Brody bent down, feeling for them on the floor mat.

  Another howl filled the air.

  He stilled. “What in the world is that?”

  He slowly straightened to look over the dashboard. “That dog is huge! But where
s the Reaper?”

  Mina glanced back. Nothing. “I think the dog is the Reaper. Can you still see it?”

  Her hand snaked forward along the arm rest until her fingers found the switch. A soft click sounded in the car as the doors locked. Childish, but she was out of options.

  Crash!

  “Whoa!” Brody shouted.

  Mina heard claws scraping and digging at the glass. But she couldn’t see anything out there. “Is it heavy enough to break through the windshield?”

  Brody shifted the car into reverse and sped backwards, spinning the wheel and executing a turnaround worthy of a stunt driver. The black beast’s claws clicked and screeched across the hood as it tried to stay on, but Brody’s driving threw him off. They heard a thud as it slammed against the side of the car. Brody hit the gas, flying up the road.

  Thirty, forty, fifty, on up to eighty miles per hour Brody sped. Mina couldn’t make herself open her eyes until about thirty seconds had passed. She tried to look at her passenger mirror, but all she saw were trees whizzing by.

  Brody slowed only enough to turn onto the on ramp. When they were safely speeding down the highway among other cars, he looked over to her. “That’s a Reaper… as in death?”

  “I think so,” Mina craned her head to look between the seats. “They’re the hunters and assassins, but they’ve been known to go rogue.”

  “And that beast dog is one?” Brody continued driving and cast a quick look over to her. “I’ve never seen anything that big.”

  Mina studied his profile. He didn’t look scared at the prospect of being hunted—he looked angry. His sun-kissed blond hair accented the deep blue of his eyes, and his strong hands gripped the steering wheel with determination.

  “I’m not sure what that was.” She shrugged, turning in her seat to face him. “What were you doing there? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you showed up when you did, because I couldn’t have outridden that thing on my bike.”

  “Following you.” He glanced at her quickly.

  “What?”

  Now it was Brody’s turn to shrug. “Well, Ever, Nan, and I kind of promised to never let you be without a guard. And since Ever left to try and track Teague, it was between Nan and me, and I drew the short straw for today.” He sighed, trying to make it sound like a huge inconvenience.

 
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