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       Fairest, p.1

           Chanda Hahn
 
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Fairest


  Fairest

  An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 2

  Copyright © 2012 by Chanda Hahn

  www.chandahahn.com

  Cover model Laurel Seawell

  Cover design by Steve Hahn

  Smashwords Edition, License Notes

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  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

  About the Author

  “Mirror Mirror on the wall

  Who’s the Fairest of them all?”

  Chapter 1

  Being ripped to pieces by Fae wasn’t how she’d envisioned dying. Her lungs burned with the lack of oxygen and a painful stitch stabbed her side. Mina gasped, gritted her teeth and pumped her legs harder, trying to put even more distance between her and her pursuers. She turned a corner, and took a chance to glance over her shoulder at the three very large Fae bearing down on her. They were quicker than she thought and they were closing the distance fast. She was in serious trouble.

  She knew this area of town, and saw that they were almost to the Tulleyway Bridge. Within seconds, she reached the steel fence with its glaring metal sign that read “No Trespassing.” Sliding to her knees, Mina squeezed through a gap in the fence, scraping her arms in the process. Looking over her shoulder, she saw her pursuers reach the fence and choose to scale it, instead of squeezing through the impossibly small opening.

  “Oh, crud,” Mina blurted out, sprinting down the stairs leading to the underpass. The whole area was littered with trash, broken-down boxes and old oil barrels that vagrants used on bitterly cold nights. The underpass was deserted. She wasn’t sure what possessed her to run here, maybe it was fate.

  A few days ago, Mina had felt something akin to a giant metaphysical shove that literally pushed her to the front door of The End Zone, sports bar and grill, and not even close to one of her normal venues. She’d heard about the famous eatery because it was co-owned by three former Chicago Bears’ football players. She fought the urge to enter the restaurant, but after three days of intense headaches, tingling feelings and all of the shoves she kept getting in its direction, she finally gave in to the prompting. Mina knew that within the four walls of the restaurant, she would come face to face with her next quest.

  She sat at a small side table, ordered a Coke and a basket of fries and abruptly sent them back because they were still frozen in the middle and the pop was flat. After ten minutes in a very annoying wobbly chair, Mina got up and switched seats, twice. All three of the retired players witnessed Mina’s actions, each from a different place in the room. Their reactions ranged from mild disgust to intense hatred.

  When the last customer left, one of the men went to the door and flipped the sign to closed, restricting the occupancy down to four; Mina and the three Chicago Bears. The men barely tolerated looking at her. It wasn’t until Mina, in an attempt to make small talk, made a comment about the Bears current win-loss status, that she realized they weren’t in the mood for a discussion and never would be.

  Brown, the largest Bears player, leaned across Mina’s table to sniff her hair. Her muscles tensed up and she swallowed the last bite of her fry. She was petrified.

  Brown exhaled loudly, stormed over to his colleagues and growled out one word:

  “Grimm.”

  Six hate-filled eyes looked her way.

  Not needing any prodding, she jumped from her seat and ran out the door, barely beating the smallest bear by seconds. She looked over her shoulder and could see that he had transformed part way when he started to chase after her. He slammed into the closed glass door, shattering it into a thousand shimmering pieces. It slowed him down just enough for her to escape. It also confirmed her suspicion. They were Fae.

  The bears regrouped and decided whether or not to chase her down, which gave her a thirty-second head start. She prayed that they would decide to let her live and not follow her, but it was obvious that her prayer wasn’t about to be answered today.

  She jumped around the garbage that littered the underpass, while trying to pull the Grimoire out of her denim jacket. She would have to think on her feet, if she wanted to outsmart three actual Chicago Fae Bears. In a random and wild thought, she briefly wondered if they helped or hindered the team during their professional careers.

  Armed with only a magical notebook, that could morph its shapes and imprison Fae within its pages; she took in her surroundings and her enemy and devised a somewhat ludicrous, though foolproof plan.

  In the last month, Mina had bonded more with the Grimoire, gaining confidence in its abilities, and trusting it to aid her. Even to the point of completing three minor quests. It, in no way, made her as talented as her father, but it gave her self-confidence. However, tackling small fiendish ravens and troubling foxes was nothing compared to entrapping larger-than-life bears, strong enough to rip off her head.

  A roar behind her made her turn in surprise. Two of them were no longer hiding their Fae forms, and had shifted fully. Their leader was older, with tufts of grey sprouted along his shoulder blades, giving him an otherworldly appearance. Their football jerseys ripped as they could no longer contain the bulk of their true Fae form.

  Unprepared for the quick change, she bumped into an overturned barrel and fell down skinning her knee. She shouldn’t have looked back. Jumping to her feet, she saw the third bear coming down the spillway from the other direction. They had surrounded her. She hadn’t counted on that.

  “So, um, how do you like my trap?” Mina announced innocently, feeling skittish and nervous.

  “Trap? I think it is you who are trapped, little Grimm,” the smallest bear growled at her, while stepping closer. His golden brown fur was littered with the broken glass of the shattered restaurant door.

  “Who sent you after us?” the leader called out from behind her as he caught up to them. He was older, bigger, and slower. “Did the Fates tell you where we were? We were getting too powerful for their liking, weren’t we? They don’t like how we run our business over here. Well, that’s just it; it’s our business, not theirs.”

  “What does it matter if we eat a few humans every once in a while? We still pay our tithe to the courts; we still obey and appear when summoned. Who did we tick off to get you knocking at our door?” the largest one, Brown, demanded.

  She felt disgusted, sick to her stomach at what she’d just heard. Did they just confess to eating humans? Mina looked around under the bridge at the empty boxes and sleeping bags and realized where they found their food. This whole time, she thought she was leading them on a chase, but instead they were herding her… to their hunting grounds. She swallowed and felt her stomach drop.

  “The Story,” Mina answered unsure of what else to say. “The Story sent me after you, or should I say, sent
you to me.”

  “Story? We don’t want any part of that.” Brown walked closer to Mina. He flexed his shoulders and opened his hands to show her his large black claws. “We just want to conduct our business our way. What say we let you live, and you take that cursed book and never come back.”

  “Sorry guys,” Mina answered trying to sound brave while her hands shook with fear. “That’s just not gonna cut it. I can’t let you continue on with what you’re doing. Story or no Story, you have to be stopped.”

  The smallest bear leaned forward, saliva dripping from his teeth in anticipation as he sauntered toward her. His voice came out muffled and slurred, his bear mouth unable to form clear precise words, which was proof that the youngest spent more time in human form. “Then we will just have to take care of you ourselves.”

  She looked up and all three of them began to charge her. She grabbed the notebook and flung it open, concentrating as three giant, gold bear traps sprouted from the ground. Each of the bears stopped in their tracks and began screaming in pain as, one by one, they were caught in a magical golden trap. The traps surrounded their ankles and anchored them to the ground, immobile.

  Mina smiled in relief when it worked, but only for a moment as the closest bear could still reach her with his long powerful paw. She looked up in time to see him swipe for her head. She screamed and opened up the Grimoire. A pure bright light shot out of the book, making the bears shrink back in fear. She held onto the Grimoire in desperation as the book grew hot and the Fae bears continued to fight against the magical traps, while trying to dodge the light pouring from the book. Just like before, a powerful wind picked up, lifting them into the air and pulling them into its pages.

  They came closer, and Mina dropped the book to the ground and moved away, scared of getting pulled into the book as well. She hid her eyes from the light and waited until the rushing wind stopped. When all was quiet, she looked around and saw that once again the book was closed. Slowly, she stood, dusted off her dirty and ripped jeans, and picked up the book to check on its contents.

  What once was a blank page was now filled with a beautiful illustration--a perfect likeness of her attackers, in their true Fae forms. To the side of the three bears was the silhouette of a young girl that looked like Mina. She flipped to the beginning and saw words scrawled across the index. She had finished another quest and this one without help!

  Chapter 2

  “Earth to Mina! Yoo-hoo!”

  “Hmm?” Mina lifted her head from its perch on the stack of books splayed across her school desk to gape at Nan.

  She hadn’t heard a word her best friend had spoken in the last few minutes because she’d been staring out the school window toward the aquatics building. Any minute now he would be walking out of that particular grey building with the rest of his water polo team. She was wishing, -hoping-no praying for a chance to catch a glimpse of him. Every day it was the same: she would wait here, stare out the window, watch him walk by and hope he would turn in her direction and smile at her the way he used to. Well, not every day, just each day she had detention. And because of the narrow-minded, unforgiving Mrs. Porter, she had detention again today.

  Nan spoke again.

  “I’m sorry. What did you say?” Mina asked lamely, resting her head on her hand. She’d been too exhausted with her Grimm tasks and her hopeless crush on Brody to be an attentive friend lately.

  “I don’t understand what has come over you these last few weeks? You’re mentally preoccupied; you’re never home; and you’ve been really secretive. If I didn’t know better, I would think you’re seeing someone. Hey, now that I think about it, you have been avoiding that new kid, Jared, like the plague.” Nan squealed in delight, her golden hair bouncing with each head bob. “It’s him isn’t it?”

  Nan looked striking today in her cute skinny jeans, trendy boat shoes, sparkly blue nails, light blue band t-shirt and fedora hat. She was simply the loveliest girl in school and only had detention because of her insane habit of constantly using her phone in class. She slid onto the desk opposite Mina and leaned over, cutting off Mina’s view of outside.

  Mina frowned and leaned farther out of her chair. Nan mimicked her movement and leaned with her. When Mina didn’t respond, Nan reached over and playfully tugged on Mina’s brown hair.

  “Ouch, Nan!” Mina grumbled and swatted at her friend’s hand.

  “Nan, what? Tell me what’s going through that square noggin of yours?”

  “My head is not square.”

  “No, but you sure are becoming one. You used to be a lot more fun. Tell me, is it Charlie?” Nan crossed her legs and arms trying to hide her worry. Her foot wiggled back and forth nervously.

  “No, it’s not Charlie. He’s fine.”

  Nan sighed in relief but then quickly asked, “Is it Sara?”

  “No, Nan, it’s not my mom!” Mina leaned back into her chair in a moment of frustration.

  “Well then, what is it? I give up. I will give you my favorite CD. No wait, my favorite pair of shoes if you tell me. No, wait. I’ll let you borrow my favorite pair of shoes.” Nan gave her an unconvincing smile.

  Mina didn’t hear the rest of Nan’s attempt at bartering because the person she’d been waiting for appeared. Brody Carmichael rounded the corner with his gym bag slung over his shoulder. Mina’s breath caught in her throat and she forgot everything, even where she was.

  There he was: perfection. Tan skin, square jaw, blue twinkling eyes, and blonde hair that curled slightly since it was still wet from the pool. Brody threw his head back and laughed at something his friend T.J. said.

  Mina’s heart began to break all over again. Someone called out to the boys, and they turned expectantly and waited.

  A girl of equal perfection, in a cheerleader uniform, ran up to greet them. Her naturally curled ponytail swaying side to side, and Mina had the distinct urge to take scissors to the offending blonde plait. Mina had no choice but to watch the exchange between them with narrowed eyes. It was obvious by the way Brody’s mouth turned down that he was beginning to lose patience with the girl. Mina wanted to scream encouragement through the glass and across the courtyard toward Brody. Apparently, the conversation was over because Savannah White flounced away smiling like a Cheshire cat. Brody’s shoulders were tense when he spoke to T.J.

  Mina didn’t know it but sometime during Brody and Savannah’s discussion, she had left her seat to stand with her hands pressed against the window’s glass, trying to reach through to be as close to Brody as possible. The pain of knowing love and losing it was almost too much for her to bear. She breathed his name under her breath and was startled when Brody looked across the courtyard right at her.

  There was no way he could have heard her whisper his name, was there? Brody’s frown turned farther down and his brows furrowed in confusion. Mina froze and then realized how silly she must look half pushed against the glass, staring at him like some kind of lovesick puppy. She let out a squeak and dropped her hands to her sides.

  Brody looked at Mina and then at the back of Savannah’s retreating form and shook his head. He turned, opened the door to the aquatics building and stormed back inside. T.J. jumped in surprise at Brody’s sudden change in mood and followed quickly behind.

  Mina’s cheeks burned with embarrassment and she looked back at the door that Brody had just entered. He looked at her! He actually stopped and met eyes with her. His reaction was not what she expected. A painful imaginary orb lodged in her throat making it hard to swallow, and her heart broke a little more for her once-upon-a-time boyfriend.

  It wasn’t that long ago that she found out that her name was not Mina Grime but Mina Grimm and she was descended from the Brothers Grimm. Her mother had changed their name and moved constantly, trying to hide from the Story. But it didn’t matter; it had still found them. Mina was now tasked with completing hundreds of fairy tale quests was in order to end a generational curse on her family.

  Her first fairy tale ques
ts had been the most challenging. She had imprisoned an ageless Fae named Claire, defeated a wolf pack and saved her best friend’s life. All while secretly dating the hottest and most popular guy in school. But their whole relationship, the whole experience was gone. Completely forgotten, this was a horrible side effect of her curse. Apparently, the Story, to protect itself and the Fae from humans, could erase memories and alter events. And it did, to Mina’s horror, and she lost her boyfriend and the few blissful weeks they had been together.

  Her mother, Sara had tried to explain it to her. “Well, honey, it’s similar to walking somewhere and being lost in thought and all of a sudden you arrive at your destination with no recollection of the journey. Your mind fills in the blanks, and it will fill it in with what is the most plausible scenario.”

  “What does he think happened?” Mina asked in desperation.

  “He thinks whatever the Story pushes him toward thinking. If he normally would have gone home after school each day, then that is what he did. Honey, at your age, hundreds of your days are so similar and repetitive that it is easy for the Story to make us believe we lived the same pattern over and over again.”

 
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