A dark, shadowed hand reached for it. It grabbed the flower and yanked it from the ground.
“Someone took my flower.”
“The one that gave your hair its powers?”
“I decided to take this flower because I learned that you had nurtured a second one and I wanted it to myself. We need to introduce ourselves. What is your name?”
“Fernando was one of my training men. He would be mean and angry some days then almost pleasantly happy.”
“Then why are you going through with it? Why do you want me to help you out? Jacob’s feud is with Eugene, not with Rapunzel. He doesn’t care about what happens to her, and if anything, he wants her hurt.”
“She’s just like me in every way.”
“No,” he said softly, “she’s not. She kept your mother from you!”
“She didn’t know about me-”
Jacob looked up at him. “Dwayne?”
“Thank you for helping me do this. You have only a tiny idea of what this means to me.”
“I’m not the one who agreed to be Rapunzel.”
Azalea realized that Jacob was right. She was a monster.
She could see a tall figure standing up. He was staring at them through the gloom. “The name is Alexander Ruffin. I’m the warden here, so just call me Warden.” He went on, “I don’t expect you guys to be happy here, but you’ve must have broken a law, so I incline that you try to enjoy your stay.”
“Guy wants them executed.”
“This is the proper sentencing, Minister Peter.”
Nathan finally stood up, and then he swept her feet from under her. He walked onto the lake, taking each step carefully to test his weight.
“Nathan!” Azalea squeaked. “Put me down!”
“No!” Nathan whined again.
“Nathan!” He set her down, smiling.
“Michael, she’s bleeding so much . . .”
“You guys are acting like I died!”
“She’s lost so much blood. Should we try moving her?” Eugene was there too? “We need to get her out of the rain. I don’t like the color she’s turning.”
He knocked him down. “You bastard!” He got on top of his twin, punching him. “You killed her!”
Jacob was grinning. “You’re free from her, Dwayne.” His voice hardened.
“As am I.”
He couldn’t get her out of his head. First he had wanted to kill her, but now he wanted to. . . Make love to her.
It was all so wrong.
“What will you do, Michael?” Jacob prodded him. He yanked on Michael’s left shoulder so he could stand up. “What did I tell you to do?”
“Kill Eugene.” Michael’s voice was cold. Michael was pinned in his own mind.
Michael threw the sword straight at Eugene.
Nathan yelled, “No!” He and Adam rushed at Eugene.
Adam jumped in front of Eugene, his hand reaching for the sword. Azalea and Rapunzel screamed when the sword went through Adam’s stomach. Eugene caught Adam by the shoulders and fell down. Nathan tackled Michael, who began to groan.
Rapunzel and Olivia began screaming and Fernidia started crying. Nathan and Michael began to throw punches while wrestling, much like how he and Dwayne had been in Azalea’s former home. Dwayne and Liam rushed to Adam’s side while David was stunned. Alex shook David into motion and they ran to pull Michael away from Nathan.
Azalea screamed in horror, trapped in immobility, when Michael pulled a large glass shard from under his shirt. He thrust the shard into the air and a piercing yell of agony from Nathan made the world rock under her feet.
Liam yanked Michael by the shoulders, but a swinging fist to his face made Liam fall on his back to the ground, unconscious. Eugene began to shake Adam fiercely while blood dripped from Adam’s mouth.
Dwayne punched Michael in the side of the jaw. Michael abandoned kicking Nathan in the stomach, and began to throw vicious punches to Dwayne’s body. Anna-Beth shrieked in fright when Dwayne’s eyes began to roll back in his head at the force of the blows. Dwayne’s knees buckled, and then he fell to the ground on his knees. Michael aimed a kick to Dwayne’s chest and Dwayne hit the ground face down.
“Where am I?” She stammered.
“Some place familiar. I’ve always like blondes. Some did get away from me though,” the voice mused.
He had just lost another way to clean his slate a little. Now the chance to get even with Rapunzel was gone. He wouldn’t ever harm her children, so now, his slate –with her at least- was clean.
He had tried to kill Azalea, and was no longer determined to give it another go. He wanted to leave them alone. He wanted to disappear.
“Is it bad that I’m really glad you stole my crown?” My right hand reached for his cheek.
“No,” Eugene smiled and pecked my lips. “Not bad at all.”
The stream was hanging onto life, the bank was desert dry and she dimly realized that the drought that had plagued Ladron for months wasn’t going away.
“He’s neglecting the kingdom that he’s supposed to rule!” Caroline’s eyes boiled. “The kingdom is only happy that he’s marrying me because they think I’ll change him!”
“Carol, even so, we have no choice.” Rosemary admitted. Her younger sister glared at her.
“There’s always a choice!” Caroline hissed. “And I choose not to marry a man who won’t even feed his land. He’s letting us all die!”
“Nathan, there might be a chance that she’s still alive.”
“They’re just walks to remember now.”
“Welcome to starting over.”
“I’m going to kill him! Mark my words.”
“Rocks falling. . .”
“We live in the tower.”
“To Nathan and Azalea.”
“And to Happy Lives, of course.”
His sky was dark.