This week I have a new release, Beauty’s Dark Dream, which is a fairytale retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It was originally published in the Lunora Chronicles. It’s available on Amazon and I really 0.99.
An elusive murderer is on the loose…
Rose is living her worst nightmare. Alone in a forest, she awakens with blood on her hands and no memory of how and why she’s there.
The kingdom is paralyzed with fear. A murderer lives among them.
As accusations fly, more lives are taken, and panic sets in. The identity and species of the killer baffles them. Suspicion grows and Rose’s culpability is called into question.
Desperate to prove her innocence and find who’s responsible for these heinous crimes, Rose enlists help from a childhood friend turned werewolf hunter and a local witch for help, which has become increasingly necessary as she continues to wake up in strange places.
Could what she’s experiencing mean she’s cursed, or is there something far more sinister at play?
Bright sunlight blinded Rose as she opened her eyes, so strongly she wondered if she shut her curtains last night before she went to bed. She groaned. Her back and neck throbbed. Coldness seeped into every fibre of her being.
Why am I so cold? Rose blinked, stunned to find trees all around her. How had she got here? She should be at home in her bed. Not in the middle of the forest. Dirt covered her entire body and her thin nightdress.
Groaning, she rubbed some of the dirt off her face. She noticed her hands were covered in blood. She couldn’t believe this had happened. Whenever she went to bed, Rose always locked her bedroom door. Her home was practically falling apart, and it wasn’t uncommon for debt collectors to come looking for her father. How had she ended up here?
This had to be a nightmare. One that she wanted to wake up from. So she pinched her arm. Maybe the pain would jolt her awake and she’d wake up in bed. No such luck. Other than a stab of pain, nothing changed.
Her feet were bare and had cuts all over them. Rose didn’t know how she’d explain this to her father, maybe she could get back before he noticed she was gone. He probably wouldn’t have noticed, anyway. He’d be too busy sleeping off the booze he consumed last night.
All she knew was she had to get home. If anyone saw her, she’d be the laughing stock of Lonora. How had she got blood on her hands? Had she hurt herself?
Something flapped from one of the trees. Long and dark.
A coat. What luck!
Rose hurried over to the tree and yanked it down. Odd. Why would anyone leave a perfectly good coat out here?
She decided it didn’t matter.
If she could cover up, maybe she wouldn’t be the talk of the entire kingdom. People thought her strange enough already. Rose was the daughter of a gambler and she had to work several odd jobs just to keep a roof over their heads.
Wrapping the coat around herself, she felt a little warmer. Her long blond hair still looked like a tangle of rat tails. So she yanked the hood over her face. With luck, no one would recognise her. The worst part was she had to head through town to reach home.
The sound of voices stopped her dead in her tracks. Oh no. Who else would be out here? The sun had barely risen. Maybe it was hunters. With luck, she might be able to stay out of view and avoid them.
Rose hoped no one had come looking for the coat. The voices grew louder as two men came into view. Their horses grazed nearby.
Goodness, the princes. What were they doing out here?
“I can’t believe you tried to kill me, Sebastian!” August snapped. “Three days I was unconscious. How could you do that to me? Your own brother?”
“Calm down, would you?” Sebastian demanded. “That was years ago. Why bring it up now?”
She decided to make herself scarce. Their problems weren’t her business and she didn’t want to get in any more trouble if they spotted her.
Rose hurried through the dense woods. Branches and rocks cut into her bare feet. She knew they would be even more ripped up by the time she got home.
Waking up in a strange place with no memory of how she’d got there had never happened to her before. Rose didn’t know why or how it happened. She always locked her door and window at night. She didn’t want to risk the debt collectors coming and harassing her again. They had already taken almost everything her family owned – everything of value, at least – her father would have to deal with them at some point. Unless she somehow walked through walls in her sleep. Maybe she used magic somehow. There was no other explanation for it. How else could she get out of a locked room?
Their servants left months ago after Father gambled away their family fortune. Father spent almost every night at the tavern. He claimed he’d win their fortune back. That he’d just had a string of bad luck. He’d always been a lousy gambler, but Rose knew he’d never change.
Her feet ached by the time she reached the outskirts of the town. People were already out in full force as they opened their market stalls to sell their wares.
The smell of fresh, baked bread hit her as she passed through the town square.
Her stomach rumbled. Too bad she couldn’t stop to buy anything, but she had no money and she needed to find work again, or they wouldn’t have a house, or anything left. They would be out on the streets begging for scraps. Father didn’t seem to care and refused to do any work himself. Whatever money he won, he soon spent on more drink to make himself merry.
Sometimes Rose wondered if she should just let him drown in a sea of debt and booze. But she didn’t want to lose her home. It might not be much, but it was still the only home she’d ever known.