Twisted Kingdom Page 1

Author: Rina Kent

Series: Royal Elite #3

Genres: Romance , Young Adult

1

 

 

Aiden

 

 

Past

We will always be together. You’re the reason I’m alive, Aiden.

My mother’s voice drifts in my head like warmth in the middle of the cold.

The shackle rattles and protests as I pull my legs to my chest. The freezing floor sends icy bursts through my entire body, but I don’t have the energy to stand up.

My toes are numb. The welts on my back burn. The red marks left by my ankle cuff have deepened to purple.

I think that’s bad.

What seems like hours pass, and I still don’t have the energy to stand up, let alone take a closer look at my wound. My upper body slumps to the cold floor. The ground smells like the stables at my father’s friend’s house.

My teeth chatter and I bite my lip several times, trying to stop it.

“Mum…” I whisper in the pitch-black room.

She said we have a special mother-son bond, and she can feel my pain. My mother knows the day I’ll fall sick before I even wake up. She must be feeling my pain now. She must be crying.

I don’t like it when Mum cries, but I want her to find me.

This place isn’t like any I’ve been in before. This place hurts.

My stomach growls like an animal.

I press my hand to it, but that doesn’t quiet the sound. If anything, it turns louder and higher as if taunting me.

I lick my dry, cracked lips and stare at the empty bottle of water at my feet. It’s the only thing I’ve had since being separated from Xander and Cole.

Are they hungry as well? Were they also hurt by the red woman?

I don’t know how much time I’ve spent in this dark, dirty place, but it’s been long enough that my stomach has been growling non-stop for what feels like hours.

If I don’t eat soon, I won't have the strength to open my eyes, let alone stand up and search for a way out.

Mum is waiting for me.

She becomes sad when I'm not with her, and I hate it when Mum is sad.

The door squeaks as it cracks open. I jerk up and flinch when the hard stone wall cuts into my bruised back, but that’s the least of my worries.

The red woman is back.

The chain lies all around me. I grasp the cuff and pull with the little energy I have left. I know it won’t come off. I know I’m just scraping my skin, but it’s all I can do.

If I don’t get out of this, the red woman will hurt me again.

She’ll beat me.

She’ll make my skin burn.

Soft light appears in the otherwise dark room, blinding me. I squint as the echo of footsteps comes closer.

There’s no clicking of the red woman's high heels.

My breathing slows down a notch and my grip loosens from around the cuff.

With the light between us, a peaceful face comes into view. A white halo surrounds her, complete with her white cotton dress and bunny shoes.

An angel.

She’s like the angel statue Mum has in our garden.

She’s the same girl from the other time. I think it was yesterday.

Since she’s wearing sleeping clothes, it must be night time again.

She drops the light on the floor and crouches in front of me. Her little hands are dragging a heavy bag behind her, but I don’t focus on the sound or her bag.

I focus on her.

The girl who looks exactly like one of Silver and Kimberly’s dolls. The girl with golden blonde hair and sparkly blue eyes watching me with a frown.

The girl with milky white skin and flushed red cheeks.

Do they make Silver and Kimberly’s dolls into real people who can move and drag things?

She waves a hand in front of my face, the two lines between her brows deepening. “Can you hear me?”

“Are you real?” My voice sounds far away as if I’m speaking from another room.

I touched her yesterday. I grabbed her hand and asked her to help me, but maybe I’m seeing ghosts.

Maybe I’m becoming like my mother when she can’t sleep at night.

Maybe the red woman is trying to torture me again.

“Of course I’m real, silly.” She grins, showcasing a missing tooth.

Okay, Silver and Kimberly’s dolls don’t have missing teeth.

She retrieves a smaller bag and unveils a napkin. The scent of bread and Marmite hits me straight in the stomach. The growling sound can be heard from another continent.

“I brought you —”

I snatch the piece of bread from between her fingers before she has the chance to finish the sentence.

If my father saw me eating right now, he’d yell at me for my lacking manners. I don’t even chew, I don’t wait for the first bite to go down before snatching the next one.

“I’m sorry. These were the only things I could find in the kitchen this late.”

The girl approaches me carefully. I turn away from her like a starving dog protecting his food.

She rises and wraps something fluffy and warm around my shoulders. “It’s freezing in here.”

I stare at her while munching on a piece of bread. I cough and choke on the bite.

She reaches into her wonder bag and brings out a bottle of water. I grab it from her and drink half of it in one go.

The cold liquid soothes my scratchy throat like honey. I miss the honey sandwiches Margo used to make for me.

I go back to devouring my bread. I start to taste the Marmite near the end.

Something warm connects with my skin and I pause chewing to stare at the girl again.

She’s wiping my face with a wet cotton cloth, but the more she wipes the more her expression falls.

Her fingers comb through my tangled hair then she glides the cloth over my arm, forcing me to eat with one hand.

A fat tear slides down her cheek. I swallow the last bite of bread and remain completely still.

Why is she crying? Did I do something wrong? Is it because I told her that she’s not real?

“I know you’re real.” My voice is less scratchy than before. “Don’t cry.”

“I’m sorry them monsters did this to you. They took Eli, but don't worry.” Her palm flattens on my cheek, determination shining in her sparkling blue eyes. “I won’t allow them to take you, too.”

 

 

2

 

 

Aiden

 

 

Present

This is the worst fucking scenario that could’ve happened. The disaster part is, I didn’t see it coming — and I always see things coming.

The most catastrophic mistake any general can make is to feel comfortable and ignore the outside world.

Today I was blinded by Elsa and her closeness, I was over my head with irrational feelings and thoughts and I didn’t try to control them.

Elsa has that effect on me; she has the power to fuck up the best-laid plans ever set.

After last night, I wanted her to have a peaceful birthday without allowing the outside world to ruin it.

Result: I’ve been caught off guard.

Ethan Steel is alive and he’s standing in the middle of the Meet Up’s lounge area — a place my mother considered a sanctuary.

Elsa hasn’t taken her gaze off him since the moment he walked in. Her blue eyes have widened and her jaw has nearly hit the floor. I don’t think she even notices it, but her limbs slightly tremble as if she can’t control her reaction.

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