Her life isn't a fairy tale like her sister's. Far from it. Rose Red is literally married to a bear of a man who just doesn't get her. Will an evil dwarf be enough to bring the two of them to marital bliss or end the relationship once and for all?
LR Cafe Best of 2012 Award Nominee: Best BDSM Book
Forever Wicked: Rose Red
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Copyright ©2012 Michelle Hasker
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The sensation of a dozen spiders crawling up her back returned once more. Rose sucked in a deep breath and froze in place. Gripping the hood of her cape so tight she could feel her nails press against her palms, she scanned to the left and right before turning around. Whatever was causing the sensation was really good at hiding, or it was all her imagination.
Maybe it was her guilt. She was a bad girl and she always had been. Mother didn't even know the half of it. Never would she be even half as good as Snow, and she'd long since given up trying. Besides, being good wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Look at her poor sister married to that boring prince. As if that wasn't bad enough, Rose had to watch Snow being treated like a precious doll and shown off like a prized possession.
After years of caring for their mother, Snow was more than content to let her husband take care of her, and that made Rose feel guilty. She knew she should have helped Snow more, but it was hard to sit at home when there was so much to experience. This stupid marriage was suffocating her and taking away all her independence. Snow might be content, but Rose needed more than this.
Ensnared by her inner turmoil, Rose almost walked past a beggar sleeping at the side of the road. She leaned close and gasped, shocked to see that it was actually a young woman. The girl looked to be about sixteen years old. She'd probably run away from home and ended up on the streets. There were much worse ways to end up.
Rose tugged off her cape and draped it over the child. The girl looked up at her with frightened brown eyes, lost and confused like a little rabbit.
"Shh, darling." Rose stroked the girl's thick brown hair away from her forehead. "Here is some money. Go find a decent place to eat and sleep. Tomorrow will be a better day."
"Thank y-you," the girl stuttered, tears in her eyes.
"I was in your place once. Things will improve."
"Thanks." The girl pulled up the hood, accepted the handful of money and hurried the way Rose had come.
It broke her heart to walk away from the girl, but Rose knew it was the best thing. She couldn't bring home every stray she found. Her judgment wasn't always the best, and she didn't want to endanger her family by bringing home another stranger.
Rose continued to the Fairy Godmother. Her pockets were a little lighter, and she a little colder, but her heart had never felt more warm and full.
A sharp scream pierced the night air. Rose shivered, the dreaded apprehension tugging on her spine again. She spun around so fast she rocked back on her heels and lost her balance, falling on the cold, hard stones beneath her.
The scream turned into a gurgle and then a moan before ending in silence. Rose stared at the slumped body of the homeless girl and the short, bearded man hovering over her with a dagger dripping blood. Another echoing scream ripped through the night, and didn't stop until she realized it was her. The evil man who'd killed the young girl looked up at her, his face twisted in a horrible mask of hatred.
"Shit." He kicked the girl and ran toward her, dagger raised in a menacing position. Even though she was twice as tall as him, there was no way in hell she was taking her chances with the madman.
Rose yelped and scrambled to her feet. As if the hounds of hell were on her heels, she ran as fast as her legs could take her. Muscles burned and her lungs screamed for air as she raced toward the club.
Merging with a group of women, she slowed and looked behind her. The man stared at her, his evil eyes piercing her to the core. Even when she tried to do a good deed, someone suffered for it. Stifling a sob, Rose followed the ladies into the club and made a beeline for the bar. She didn't stop until she hit the counter. Meeting Rafe's concerned expression was nearly her undoing.
"What's the matter, Red darling? You look as if you've seen a ghost."
"Not a ghost." She braced her hands on the mahogany. "A murder."