“I heard that Charlie Spade is taking you to the Queen’s ball tomorrow night,” my mother says with her arms crossed as I stiffly walk through the door.
“I guess news travels fast around here,” I say softly as I turn and start walking toward my room.
“This boy doesn’t fit in with our plans, Megan.”
“He doesn’t fit in with your plans, but he doesn’t really mess up mine.”
“And what exactly are your plans?” she asks as she follows me down the corridor.
“To not follow through with yours and overthrow the Red Queen. She may be a tyrant, but I’m not going to be the one suffering at her hands when your plan fails.”
“You cannot turn away so easily, Megan,” my mother says menacingly.
I slowly turn around and face her. “And why not?”
“Because your life now depends on her goodwill, and ours. The Red Queen said she wants to keep a closer eye on you, she said you remind her of someone from a long time ago,” she replies with a proud sneer.
“I remind her of Alice because, unfortunately, I am just like Alice. But if the Queen wants to keep a closer eye on me, then all the more reason to be nothing more than the next Lady of Clubs.”
My mother reaches out and grabs my arm in a tight grip. “You will use this as an opportunity to overthrow the Queen. This is your destiny, this is why you were born, this is why you were in the Crystal Pool last night. You will be Queen of Wonderland.”
I jerk my arm away from her and gently rub the area where her fingers had dug into my skin. “I was in the Crystal Pool yesterday because you tried to kill me.”
“Megan, that’s not what I tried to do at all, I was helping you become closer to the Queen that you will be soon.”
“If you were trying to make me a Queen last night, then you were trying to make a dead one,” I hiss between clenched teeth. “How well do you think a corpse can rule Wonderland?”
She opens her mouth to answer, but before she can, two creatures the size of a robin fly lazily in through the window.
The two creatures fly closer to my face, allowing me to catch a glimpse of their bodies inside their soft glow, revealing two small faerie-like beings, both with long brown hair that fades to soft silvery-pink between their wings.
“Flairayns,” I say in a breathless whisper. Flairayns are the rarest creatures in all of Wonderland. Only a handful of people can say that they’ve ever seen one, and only a handful of those can say that they received a Flairayn blessing.
The smaller Flairayn, with soft pink pooling around her form like ink escaping from a wet paper, flies closer to me and takes one of my chocolate waves in her hand, her gossamer touch brushing against my face in a barely discernable touch. Future Queen. Her voice rolls across my mind like the soft touch of a sun-warmed rose.
Her companion flies closer with a soft laugh, like tiny bells tolling. A better Queen than the Queen of Hearts.
The Queen of Clubs, they both say in unison, their voices blending together in a harmony that made me temporarily forget all of my troubles at hand.
The two Flairayns flew in a circle around my head, then gently kissed the birthmark around my eye before disappearing out the window, leaving behind a greater sense of security and wonder than I have ever known before.
“What did they say?” my mother asks greedily.
“Queen of Clubs,” I say softly, still in a daze as I turn and drift back down the hallway toward my chambers, leaving my mother with a half-triumphant smile on her face.