Chapter no 3 – Evangeline

A Curse for True Love

Evangeline was only vaguely aware of the setting sun and the slow darkening of her rooms as she paced across the carpets, fighting desperately to remember anything at all. She hoped that when Apollo returned, he’d be able to give her more answers. But when the door to her rooms finally opened, instead of the prince, she was greeted by an aged physician and a couple of his younger apprentices.

“My name is Dr. Irvis Stillgrass,” said the senior physician, a bearded man with spectacles perched on the tip of his pointed nose. “Telma and Yrell are my apprentices.” He motioned to the others. “His Highness wanted us to ask you a few questions to see just how many of your memories were taken.”

“Do you have any way to bring them back?” Evangeline asked.

Dr. Stillgrass, Telma, and Yrell all pursed their lips at once. A response that Evangeline took to mean no. She wasn’t surprised, which was almost as disturbing. Evangeline almost always felt hopeful, yet she couldn’t summon that hope today. Again, she wondered what had happened to her.

“Why don’t you take a seat, Princess.” Dr. Stillgrass motioned toward a tufted chair near the fire, which Evangeline dutifully took.

The physicians remained standing, towering over her as Dr. Stillgrass asked his questions.

“How old are you?”

“I’m . . .” Evangeline had to pause to think about it. One of her last clear memories was from when she was sixteen. Her father was still alive, and she could faintly remember him smiling as he opened up a new crate of curiosities. But that was all she could recall.

The rest of the memory was blurry around the edges, like a dirty pane of glass that gave the impression of an image without actually showing what it was. Evangeline was sure her father had died some months after this weak memory, but she couldn’t recall any of the particulars. She just knew in her heart that he was gone and more time had passed since then. “I believe I’m seventeen.”

Telma and Yrell appeared to jot down notes about her answer, while Dr. Stillgrass asked another question. “When is your first memory of meeting Prince Apollo?”

“Today.” Evangeline paused. “Do you know when we actually met?”

“I am here to ask, not to answer,” Dr. Stillgrass said briskly before continuing with his questions: Did she recall her engagement to Apollo, her wedding, the night he died?




It was the only answer Evangeline had, and whenever she tried to turn the questions around, Dr. Stillgrass refused to answer.

At some point during the interview, a new gentleman entered the room. Evangeline hadn’t even seen him slip inside, but suddenly he was there, standing just behind Telma and Yrell. He was dressed much like them, in a long brown leather tunic worn atop fitted black pants and belted with two straps of leather that secured a series of knives and vials to one hip and a harness for a book to the other. The book appeared to be in his hands now, but something about the way he jotted things down in his notebook was different from the other apprentices.

This young man wrote with a flourish, swishing his feathered pen in a way that kept drawing Evangeline’s eyes. When he caught her staring, he winked and brought a finger to his lips, gesturing for her not to tell.

And for some reason, she didn’t.

Evangeline had a feeling this man wasn’t supposed to be here, despite his similar manner of dress. But he was the only one of this group who

seemed to feel anything for her as she struggled for answers. He nodded encouragingly, smiled at her sympathetically, and whenever Dr. Stillgrass said something particularly unkind, he rolled his eyes.

“I can confirm that your memories of the last year are entirely gone,” Dr. Stillgrass said self-importantly and quite callously. “We’ll report this to His Highness, and one of us will return each day to see if any memories come back.”

The trio of physicians turned to leave. Dr. Stillgrass swept past the young man without a glance, but Yrell and Telma finally noticed him then.

“Doctor—” Telma started.

But Yrell, who looked slightly dazzled by the interloper, yanked the sleeve of her robe, stopping her from saying more as the trio exited.

Only the nameless young man lingered.

He sauntered toward Evangeline and pulled a rectangular red card from his pocket.

“I would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes,” he said softly. “I am sorry for the loss of your memories. If you’d ever like to talk and perhaps answer some questions, I might be able to fill in a few blanks for you.”

He handed her the card.

Kristof Knightlinger

Southern Morningwatch Tower The Spires

“What kind of questions . . . ?” Evangeline started to ask as she finished reading the curious card.

But the gentleman was already gone.

The fire crackled.

Evangeline felt herself startle awake, although she hadn’t meant to fall asleep. She was curled up in the fireside chair where she’d puzzled over the little red card from Kristof Knightlinger. She could still feel it in her hand.

She could also feel something else. A man’s arms sliding under her, carefully picking her up and holding her close to a chest that smelled of balsam and something woodsy.


Her stomach dipped.

She couldn’t be entirely sure it was Apollo picking her up. Her eyes were still closed and she was tempted to keep it that way. She didn’t know why she had this urge to pretend or why her heart beat faster as he carried her. Apollo had to have answers to at least some of her questions. Yet she felt unexpectedly afraid to ask them.

She wasn’t sure if it was because he was a prince or because he was still a stranger.

His arms tightened around her. Evangeline tensed. But then suddenly she felt as if she was starting to remember something. There wasn’t much there, just a vague recollection of being held and carried, followed by a thought.

He would carry her through more than just freezing waters. He would pull her through fire if he had to, haul her from the clutches of war, from falling cities and breaking worlds . . .

The thought made something unclench inside her and, for a second, Evangeline felt safe. More than safe, actually. But she didn’t quite have words for the exact feeling. She only knew it wasn’t something she’d experienced before—this deep level of protectiveness.

Slowly, she cracked open her eyes. Outside it was now full night, and inside there was only firelight, leaving most of the room cloaked in shadows, save for the prince who held her. The light clung to him, gilding the edges of his dark hair and his strong jaw as he carried her toward the bed.

“I’m sorry,” Apollo murmured. “I didn’t want to wake you, but you looked uncomfortable on the chair.”

Gently he laid Evangeline on a downy quilt. Then he brushed a quick kiss to her cheek. It was so soft she might not have felt it if she weren’t so acutely aware of his every move, of the slow slide of his warm hands releasing her body. “Sweet dreams, Evangeline.”

“Wait.” She grabbed his hand.

Surprise briefly colored his features. “Did you want me to stay?”

Yes probably should have been her answer. They were married.

He was a prince.

A commanding prince. A very attractive prince.

A prince she might have sacrificed quite a lot to be with.

He stroked her hand with this thumb, waiting patiently for her reply. “I’m sorry that I don’t remember you—I’m trying,” she whispered. “Evangeline.” Apollo lightly squeezed her hand. “The last thing I want is

for you to be in pain, and I can see how much it hurts you to have forgotten so much. But if you never remember, it will be all right. We’ll make new memories together.”

“But I want to remember.” And more than that, she felt as if she needed to remember. She could still feel the pressing need to tell someone something critically important, but she couldn’t remember what this crucial something was or who she needed to tell it to. “What if there’s a way to get my memories back?” she asked. “Maybe we can make some sort of bargain with the man who took them.”

“No.” Apollo shook his head vehemently. “Even if that were possible, it wouldn’t be worth the risk. Lord Jacks is a monster,” he added roughly. “He poisoned me on our wedding night and framed you for the murder. While I was dead, you were almost executed. Jacks has no conscience, no remorse. If I thought for a second that he could help you, I’d do whatever necessary to bring him to you. But if he ever finds you, I fear I’ll never see you again


Apollo took a deep breath, and when he spoke once more, his voice was softer. “I can only imagine how hard it is to let this go, but it really might be for the best, Evangeline. Jacks has done atrocious, unforgivable things to you, and I truly believe you might be happier if those things stay forgotten.”

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