Snow's Lament

Snow's Lament by S.E. Babin

Book: Snow's Lament by S.E. Babin Read Free Book Online
Authors: S.E. Babin
breath and gasping. “Max,” she said and bent over to catch her breath.
    “I know.”
    She peered up at me, the glasses slipping down her nose. “How could you possibly know?” She stood up and frowned as she realized her shirt was ripped.
    “Rumple paid me a visit.” I motioned for her to walk with me. We started on our way back to the house.
    I could feel Belle’s curious stare and I knew she wanted to ask me a million questions. “Rumple?”
    “Is annoyed, but didn’t try to kill me.” I ran a hand through my hair and sighed. “Cyndi managed to get out of her contract with Rumple.”
    Belle laughed with no surprise. “I knew she could do it.”
    “I wasn’t so sure,” I said as we came atop a small hill and Maleficent’s home came into view.
    “That’s because you’re a pessimist.”
    I sighed. “Perhaps you’re right.” I stepped forward, but Belle grabbed me by the arm and turned me so we were face to face.
    “Okay, Eeyore. What’s up?” Belle’s concerned brown eyes searched my face.
    I lowered my head and heaved a deep sigh, trying my best not to cry. “He’s gone,” I whispered. “Taken from me before we could ever make this work.”
    Belle tilted my head up, her lips thin with disapproval. “He was gone before you even knew he loved you. But it didn’t stop you. Why is this now an insurmountable issue?”
    A flicker of annoyance nagged at me. “Because, Belle, I have a choice. Save my kingdom or save Max. I can’t do both.” I knew I was snapping at her, but I didn’t want to talk about it. There was no way she could possibly understand the heaviness of my heart.
    She shook her head. “Why can’t you do both?”
    “Max will not stop. As long as Naomi is in control, he will do whatever she says, whenever she says it. I can’t compete with him. I’m only human. He’s something…else. Naomi’s magic augments him. Now that she’s fully in control, I don’t even know if he’s going to be the same person.”
    Belle linked her arm through mine and pulled me toward the house. “You really are Eeyore,” she sighed. “This is unlike you. Come on. Maleficent has a secret stash of chocolate inside the kitchen. Plus, there’s someone waiting for you.”
    “Oh boy,” I muttered. “Is it the Grim Reaper?”
    “No, but if you don’t shut up, I might call and invite him over for tea.”
    Belle left us as we walked into the kitchen, making a lame excuse about changing her shirt. I suspected she might be off to find Robin. Cyndi sat at the table, her tinkling laughter seemingly out of place in Maleficent’s kitchen. She looked no worse for wear from being with Rumple over the past couple days. Her eyes lit up when she saw me and she stood to wrap her thin arms around me. A sense of comfort stole over me and I sighed.
    She ruffled my hair. “Good to see you.”
    I squeezed her a little tighter. “I have lots of questions for you.”
    She sighed and let go of me. “I bet you do. Sit and have tea with me.”
    Maleficent looked amused. I bet it wasn’t every day Cinderella took over your kitchen and started ordering you around. I did as Cyndi asked and she poured me a cup of something fragrant from the small, chipped pot sitting on the table. She added a little honey and pushed the tea cup over to me. I wasn’t a tea drinker, but I could make an exception considering my friend had all but been kidnapped.
    I took a sip and found myself pleasantly surprised. I paused and my eyes met Maleficent’s. If she drugged this, I was going to be pissed. She gave me a short shake of the head and I relaxed.
    “So,” I drawled.
    Cyndi leaned forward, her eyes sparkling. “Did you hear?”
    I nodded. “He underestimated you.”
    She tapped perfectly manicured nails on the scarred wood table. “Everyone does,” she said, but didn’t sound upset about it. “It always works in my favor.”
    This was true. Cyndi could get away with murder if she really wanted to. “Rumple came for a

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