Twice Upon A Time (Unfinished Fairy Tales #2)(6)

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The shower did a world of good, washing away the stiffness in my joints and the discomfort I’ve had wearing mud-splattered, coffee-stained clothes all day. Excitement races through me as I slip into the smooth, silken babydoll slip. The front is a deep, sexy V that shows plenty of cleavage, and the back is almost bare except for two crisscrossing straps.

I hope Jason didn’t drink too much or he might rip the slip apart. But then if he does . . . I find myself not too averse to the idea. He can always pay for a new one.

Just when I’m ready to call him, there’s a strange humming noise in the air. I shake my head and tuck my hair behind my ears, but the noise grows louder. Then there’s a popping noise, rather like a bottle uncorked, and a ball of light appears in the air, several feet above the bed.

“What the . . .”

I stare at the light, and I gradually discern that in the center is a book. It revolves gently in the yellow-green glow, and when the front cover is shown to me, I gasp.

The Ugly Stepsister.

One of the few paperbacks that I still own. How did it get here? It’s supposed to be at our home in Oakleigh. I am absolutely certain that Jason doesn't have a copy, and even if he did, the book can’t be revolving in the air, defying gravity.

Then, if things can’t get more bizarre, the pages start flipping, right to the very last page.

This can’t be happening.

I stare in horror, wondering if my eyes are playing tricks on me. I blink once, twice, pinch my cheeks, and rub my eyes.

The book is still there.

A black vortex appears in the middle of the book. The air around me starts to swirl, as though I’m in the center of a tornado, making my hair whip about my face.

What is happening?

I back away, trying to put more distance between myself and the book, but suddenly, my body is lifted in the air and I plunge straight into that black hole. A thick mist surrounds me, and I can’t see anything—I’m in complete darkness. Terrified, I start to scream, but no sound escapes my throat.

Then a strange dizziness overcomes me and I lose consciousness.


This isn’t Jason’s room.

I’m lying on a cot that resembles the kind you see in a hospital, only much smaller and harder. A flimsy white blanket covers my body. Apart from a wooden stool next to the cot, there isn’t any furniture in the room.

I sit up. There’s a nauseous feeling in my stomach, and my head feels dizzy, like I’ve just gotten off a ride on a drop tower. I put both hands on my temples and try to concentrate, thinking frantically, how the heck did I end up in this room? Before I woke up, I’m sure I was still in Jason’s bedroom. Maybe I passed out somehow and was brought to the hospital?

The door opens. Instead of a white-uniformed nurse, an incredibly good-looking young man dressed in some medieval prince outfit enters, carrying a tin cup and a paper bag, from which the tip of a baguette pokes out.

“Katriona, here is some . . .” his voice dies away. He stares at me, his mouth slightly open, like I’m an alien with several arms and legs.

I realize that I’m half-naked in my Victoria’s Secret babydoll slip. Blushing furiously, I pull the blanket up to my chin. “Excuse me, but you must have come to the wrong ward.”

He doesn’t move. He just continues to stare at me in disbelief. “But . . .” he starts, then shakes his head. “It doesn’t make sense.”

I could have said the same thing. Am I really in a hospital? The clothes or costume the man is wearing simply aren’t normal, unless it’s Halloween, which is still several months off. Or maybe I’m in a children’s ward? Maybe the guy is hired to do a Shakespearean play for child patients here?

“Can I . . .” I look around wildly, but there’s nothing, not even a cellphone lying around. “Can you tell me where I am?”

The blush remains on his cheeks. You’d think he is a teenage boy barely entering puberty, but I’d put him around twenty. Well over six feet, a body built like an athlete, and a face to die for. This is getting really weird. I pinch my arm until my fingernails leave marks, but nope, I am not dreaming.

He stares at me for a long moment, like I just spoke to him in a foreign language.

“One question,” he finally says. “What is your sister’s name?”


“Your sister’s name. I need to ascertain your identity.”

“I don’t understand what you—”

“Answer me.” His tone is firm, commanding, like he’s used to giving orders and expects to be obeyed. And there’s a desperate look in his eyes, like if I don’t give him the correct reply, he’ll be forced to do something drastic.

“Paige. But why do you—” I don’t get any further, because he takes a huge stride forward and envelopes me in his arms.

For a second, pure shock turns me into a statue.

“Thank heavens it’s still you,” he whispers.

I have no idea what he’s talking about. But I do know that he shouldn’t be embracing me. I have a boyfriend, for Gods’ sake! I try to shove him away, but the movement causes my blanket to slip off my shoulders.

“Get off!” I hiss, frantically trying to accomplish the impossible task of pushing him away and keeping the blanket wrapped around me.

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