Chapter no 29 – Evangeline

A Curse for True Love

Evangeline hoped Ye Olde Brick Inn would be warm. Impossibly warm. She hoped that the rooms were small and cozy, the fires were blazing, and there were quilts—piles of quilts. She pictured patchwork quilts on the benches, quilts lining the floors, and quilts covering the staircases.

She realized then that she perhaps was a little delirious. And it wasn’t from Jacks this time. She’d grown used to the feeling of his wrist tied to hers. Although as they neared the inn, she felt his pulse begin to spike.

“Whatever you do, do not remove your hood.”

It continued to pour as Jacks reached for her cloak and tugged its hood down so that it practically covered her eyes.

“I can barely see.” Evangeline lifted her hood so that it wasn’t a complete blindfold. “What about you? You don’t even have a cloak.”

“I don’t need a cloak.”

“You’re just as recognizable as I am. And you have a woman tied to you.” “I’m very aware of that,” Jacks grumbled. “Just follow my lead and go

along with whatever I say.”

Before Evangeline could ask another question, he opened the door.

The inn was not covered in the quilts Evangeline had imagined, but it was quaint and inviting from what she could see.

Wooden beams crisscrossed a ceiling covered in mismatched glass lanterns that looked like little lost stars as they illuminated stairs to right and to left, and then a hallway down the center that led to a quiet tavern full of grainy lantern light. It must have been quite late, for the tavern’s only patrons were a couple talking quietly over half-empty mugs of ale and a fluffy white cat drinking milk from a saucer on one end of the bar.

“How can I help you two?” said the barkeeper.

“We need a room for the night.” Jacks lifted their tied wrists, covering Evangeline’s face. “I believe you’ve been expecting us. I wrote earlier this week to reserve a room for myself and my new bride.”


The word conjured a host of feelings, a fluttering of her chest, and a spinning of her head. She liked hearing him say the word bride more than she probably should have, but he’d also said that he’d written earlier this week.

Jacks had planned this—and Jacks’s plans never ended well.

Evangeline couldn’t remember why she felt this way. She tried to remember some things that Jacks had planned in the past. But all she could remember was how Jacks’s pulse had raced just outside and how he’d told her before that she shouldn’t stare at him. And she now had a sudden and terrible feeling about this plan.

“Ready, love? Or would you like me to carry you?” he said.

Now all Evangeline could hear was the word love. She told herself Jacks was only acting, playing a role for whatever scheme he’d put together. But Evangeline was a little breathless as he sliced the rope binding their wrists and then effortlessly lifted her into his arms.

Her heart thudded as he climbed the stairs. She loved the feel of his arms, but she couldn’t shake off the feeling that something else she did not love was going on.

“Jacks, what are you planning?” she whispered. “Why did you bring me here? Why are we pretending to be married?”

“You ask a lot of questions.”

“Only because you do a lot of questionable things.”

He ignored her as they reached the second floor of the inn. Halfway down the hall, a door was cracked. Grainy candlelight spilled through into the hall. When Jacks stepped through, the other side looked anything but sinister.

The room was a cottage dream. Everything was green and gold and pink.

Flickering glass lanterns with emerald-green glass hung on either side of a bed with a headboard carved to look like a flowering tree. The coverlet on it was a soft shade of forest green and covered in pale pink petals. The petals were strewn on the wooden floor as well, and the mantel of a fireplace where a few logs quietly burned filled the room with a gentle glow.

Evangeline felt Jacks’s chest move as he took a deep breath. His heart was racing again, and now so was hers. But she feared it was for a different reason than his.

Time seemed to slow as he carried her toward the bed. The air was warm from the fire and sweet from all the flower petals, and everything looked perfectly dreamlike.

Except for Jacks.

He wasn’t looking at her. In fact, he seemed to be looking anywhere but at her as he carefully laid her down on the bed.

Then he was reaching toward the straps on his legs where he secured his knives.

“What are you doing?” Evangeline scrambled to her knees as Jacks

retrieved a small pewter vial that she hadn’t noticed before. “What is that?” she asked nervously.

He slowly worked his jaw. “I lied,” he said. “I do wish that we could have had a different ending.” He uncorked the vial. “Goodbye, Evangeline.”

“Why are you saying goodbye?” She panicked as Jacks started to tilt the vial toward her.

She had no idea what was in it. She still didn’t believe he would hurt her.

But she had no doubts he would leave her.

Was he planning to put her to sleep? Did he have some sort of sleeping potion inside the ampule?

She surged off the bed and knocked the vial out of his hand. It went flying.

“No!” Jacks tried to move, but for once he wasn’t fast enough. Shimmering gold dust from the vial fell like a spell over the entire room.

Evangeline could feel it dusting her cheeks, her lashes, her lips.

She told herself not to taste it. But whatever it was, it must have affected her upon contact. The bedroom was spinning enough to make the world seem pleasantly buzzy as all the gold dust shimmered around them. Jacks seemed to shine the most of all. In fact, he looked as if he was made to shine.

His hair, his cheekbones, his sulky mouth were all beautifully golden and glowing.

It looked as if the powder might have been affecting him, too.

Evangeline watched as he tried to shake the shimmer from his hair, but his locks were still damp and the gold dust was stubborn. After a second, he gave up on shaking his hair and tried to scowl, but it just came across as petulant. Everything about Jacks that was usually sharp looked suddenly soft and just a touch bewildered.

“You are a menace,” he grumbled as the gold swirled around him. “That could have been poison!”

“You would have poisoned me?”

“I’ve been tempted on more than one occasion . . .” His eyes darkened as they lowered to her lips and stayed there.

Evangeline’s skin heated and she started to think that she and Jacks had very different definitions of poison.

Something prickled at the back of her mind. Jacks’s cruel mouth. Her

lips. Death and kisses, and pairs of doomed stars.

The thoughts felt like fractured pieces of a memory. She tried to grab on, tried to remember. If she could just remember, maybe she could make him stay. But everything was so hazy in her head from the golden dust.

The room was growing warmer, and for a second, all she wanted to do was close her eyes and lie down on the bed until everything stopped swirling. But she feared that if she closed her eyes, when she opened them again, Jacks would be gone. For good this time.

He’d just told her goodbye. He’d said he wished their story could have had a different ending, as if they’d already reached the final page.

But Evangeline wanted more pages.

When Jacks averted his gaze and turned to go, she grabbed his wrist with both her hands. “I’m not letting you leave. You said you were my monster. If you’re mine, why bring me here just to leave me? None of this makes sense.”

He gritted his teeth. “Being yours does not make you mine.”

If the shimmering gold powder was still affecting him, Evangeline couldn’t tell. All of his sharp corners were back as he stood there with his damp hair and his burning eyes. They were unearthly bright, almost fevered.

I can’t stay with you. You and I aren’t meant to be.

He pulled away—

But Evangeline held tight. She fought against the sleep overtaking her as she said, “I don’t believe you, Jacks. I might not remember everything about you. But I know you. I know that I know you, and I don’t believe there is anything you can’t do.”

“I can’t do this,” he said roughly.

This close she could see his eyes were glossy red around their edges. It almost looked like . . . blood?

He closed his eyes, as if he didn’t want her to see, but doing so only made him look more lost. Close and far away all at once.

She heard a drop of water fall. She thought it might be a tear, but it was rain from his doublet, dripping onto the floor.

The fire and gold dust had removed most of the chill, but their clothes

were still soaked all the way through.

Tentatively, she reached for the top button of his doublet. Jacks’s eyes flashed open. “What are you doing?”

“Your clothes are wet,” she whispered as she slowly undid the first button with a soft click. It was a small sound, but somehow it filled the room.

Outside, the rain lashed hard against the thin window, shaking the glass,

but Evangeline could still hear the sound of every button as she undid one after another.

“This is a very bad idea,” Jacks murmured. “I would have thought you liked bad ideas.” “Only when they’re mine.”

He stood very still as her fingers reached for the bottom button and carefully slid it through the hole. For a second, there was no rain, there was no breathing. There was just the two of them.

Carefully Evangeline parted the fabric of his doublet. Then she felt Jacks’s hand braceleting her wrist.

“My turn,” he said hoarsely. And she swore she could feel his voice on her skin as he reached for the ties of her cloak.

His bare hands were hot from the gold dust. Evangeline could feel the burning tips of his fingers as he carefully undid the knot at her neck. He barely grazed her skin, but she was suddenly on fire as he pushed the cloak off her shoulders.

She wore a dress underneath, but it could have been nothing for the tortured way he looked at her. She didn’t want to breathe. Didn’t want to

move, for fear that his hands would stop there, that he would leave her in the damp dress, that he wouldn’t reach for the ties at her breasts.

He took a deep, ragged breath and then his hands were on her waist,

gently guiding her onto the bed, pressing until she was lying on top of the quilt. She could feel the flower petals clinging to her damp skin as Jacks hovered over her, his knees on either side of her legs.

His eyes lowered.

Her stomach dipped as he reached for the straps of her gown and slowly slid them over her shoulders. She felt even more light-headed as his hand moved to the velvet bodice of her gown. He carefully undid the hidden clasps that held it together, and eased it down over her hips, leaving her in nothing but a silky chemise. It should have made it easier to breathe, but instead she forgot how.

What was breathing? What were words? The only thing Evangeline knew was Jacks’s hands were on her, hot and curious as they slid up her hips to her waist. She might have sighed when they grazed her breasts. His hands were so hot, she could feel them through her slip. Then she could feel them on her skin as he slid one hand under her chemise and rested it on her heart.

The room spun faster, and this time it had nothing to do with golden dust. The only magic in the room was that of touch and heartbeats and Jacks.

And for a moment it was perfect. He felt like hers and she felt as if she was


Evangeline didn’t want to move. She didn’t want to speak for fear of breaking whatever enchantment was on them now. But she also wanted to touch him, she wanted to be closer. If this was all the time she was going to have with him, if in the morning he said goodbye again, she wanted more.

She reached up for his shoulders. “My turn again.”

She pressed her hands against him, guiding him to lie down, to let her be the one to touch him as she started with his doublet, which he still hadn’t taken off.

She slid her hand under the damp fabric, ready to take it off of him. And that’s when she felt it. Her fingers brushed against a slip of paper.

Jacks murmured something that sounded like don’t.

Or maybe she only heard the word in her head.

His eyes were shut, dusted in a perfect layer of gold. And he was suddenly still, save for the rise and fall of his chest.

He’d finally fallen under the sleeping spell of the gold dust.

Her hand was still inside his doublet touching the edge of the paper. Was this why he’d stopped her before?

She felt a little guilty as she tugged the edge of the page, but not nearly

enough to stop her from pulling it out of the doublet. It was miraculously dry, although it looked rather worn, like something he’d folded and unfolded in order to read over and over. And immediately she recognized the faded handwriting.

It was hers.



She quickly reread the words, hoping she might have a memory of writing them. But there was nothing. She opened the note, careful not to tear it, as the paper was so worn and thin.

It must have been important if it was something Jacks carried with him and reread again and again.

The page was covered in more of her handwriting—but it wasn’t a letter to Jacks, it was a letter to her. A note she’d written to herself.

Why would Jacks be carrying this around?

Like the outside of the note, the writing was so faded, she almost couldn’t make it all out.





It might have been the magic of the letter, of past Evangeline telling herself to remember over and over, as if she’d known that someday she’d


Or it might have been another type of magic that arose inside Evangeline as she wondered why Jacks would have carried around this letter. It wasn’t a letter of love. In fact, it was quite the opposite. And yet he’d read it again and again. He’d carried it with him, close to his heart. Her words—or rather, the words of the girl she’d been. And she wanted to be that girl again. She wanted to remember!

And at long last . . . she did. She remembered.

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