Chapter no 43 – Evangeline

A Curse for True Love

All the heartbreak and the pain and the fear and the terror almost felt worth it, just to see the way Jacks looked at Evangeline when their first kiss ended.

She thought she knew all his looks. She’d seen his taunting, his teasing, his anger, his fear. But she’d never seen him with so much wonder in his blue eyes. They glittered as the leaves of the phoenix tree rustled with a sound that made her think of a slow exhale.

At some point, they’d moved closer to the tree. Now Jacks’s back was resting against the trunk as she rested against him. The sky had turned to dusk, but there was illumination from the tree’s glowing golden leaves. She didn’t remember the leaves glowing before, but there was enough light to see a wave of golden hair fall across Jacks’s forehead as his mouth twisted darkly and he held her a little tighter on his lap.

“You look as if you’re contemplating something I’m not going to like,” she said.

Jacks idly stroked her jaw with his fingers. “I love you,” he said simply. Then his face went abruptly serious. “I’m never going to let you out of my sight.”

“You say that as if it should be a threat.”

He continued to look at her solemnly. “This isn’t just for now, it’s for always, Little Fox.”

“I like the sound of always.” She smiled against his fingers, and then she reached up to touch his cheek, because now he was smiling, too.

And he loved her. He loved her.

He loved her. He loved her.

He loved her so much he’d rewritten history. He’d given up what he had believed was his only chance at love. And now he had finally broken the spell that he never thought he’d escape.

Evangeline wanted to spin in circles around the clearing and sing it all out loud for the whole world to hear, but she wasn’t ready to leave his arms. Not yet. Maybe never.

She traced one of his dimples with his fingers. “You know,” she confessed, “I’ve always loved your dimples.”

“I know.” He smirked. “You were so obvious with your love at first sight.”

“It was not love at first sight.” She huffed. “I only said I liked your dimples at the start.” She dropped her hand from his cheek. “I didn’t even like you. I thought you were terrible.”

“And yet.” He grabbed her hand again and wrapped it around his neck. “You kept staring.”

“Well . . .” She wrapped her other hand around his neck before sliding her fingers back into his hair. She really loved his hair. “I might not have liked you, but you were always ridiculously handsome.”

She gently tugged on his neck until he lowered his head and brought his lips down to hers.

For a moment, everything was perfect again.

Jacks had his heart. She had Jacks. They were in love. This was everything she wanted. This was happily ever after.

But the problem with happily ever after is that it’s more of an idea than a reality. A dream that lives on after a storyteller is finished. But real stories never finish. And it seemed that Evangeline and Jacks’s story wasn’t over yet.

The green and gold leaves on the phoenix tree had started rustling again. Moving frantically, louder than when Evangeline had first stepped into the

clearing, as if the entire tree was quaking. Shaking. Frightened.

Then she heard the applause.

Three loud slaps, followed by a bitter voice. “That was a rousing show!”

Evangeline pulled away from Jacks’s lips to see Apollo standing just a few feet away, his stance wide, his head tipped high.

He smiled broadly as he finished clapping. “You two know how to put on quite a performance. That was romantic and self-destructive. The only thing it’s missing is the grand finale.” Apollo’s grin widened. It was a smile that would forever make Evangeline dread princely smiles. “But I think I can help with that.”

He reached up toward the phoenix tree and plucked a golden leaf. There was a crackle.

A spark.

“Evangeline, run!” Jacks pushed her from his lap just as the tree burst into flames. It was blinding light. White and bright. It consumed the beautiful tree in seconds. The trunk, the branches, the leaves, all of them were burning.

Evangeline ran hard and fast.

She told herself not to turn around.

But where was Jacks? Why wasn’t he following her?

The smoke was growing thicker, the flames were burning hotter. She paused just for a second. She turned to look.

“Jacks!” There was so much smoke. “Jacks!” She started to run back. “Oh no you don’t!” Apollo’s arms wrapped around her from behind,

quick and far too strong.

“No!” Evangeline cried. She tried to break free, but Apollo was so much bigger than she was. “Jacks—”

“Stop trying to fight me.” Apollo picked her up roughly and tossed her over his shoulder, pinning her legs in place with one large arm as her head and arms hung upside down. “I’m trying to save you, Evangeline!”

“No! You did this!” She beat Apollo’s back with her fists, she kicked his chest with her legs.

“Jacks!” she screamed again.

Briefly she paused her fighting to lift her head, to see if he’d come through the fire, if he’d come for her.

But all she saw was smoke and flames.

You'll Also Like