The Sleeping Beauty remained my favorite cartoon until, well, a couple of days ago? So yeah, I love this antology.
Fractured Sleep Anthology (Fairy Tale Ink, #4) releases today in the Adult, Fairy Tales, Fantasy genre.
Fairy Tale Ink is proud to present these four retold stories of the classic, Sleeping Beauty. A story for every reader from best-selling and award-winning authors!
Aurora’s Fight, by Angela Brimhall Five years ago, Aurora was forced to live at Thornhurst Manor, the city insane asylum. Every night she dreads sunset when sleep becomes a wicked game of survival. When Aurora is kidnapped and imprisoned in The Briar, a vision reveals the desperate man in the next cell is her only hope in stopping the plague of her nightmares. Will she find a way to rescue this mysterious man before The Dragon’s death countdown reaches zero?
Aurora pressed her back against the clock tower wall, clutching the stolen scroll to her chest. The whine of clicking machinery from the surrounding buildings tapped like a metronome in her head, beating out the rhythmic heartbeat of The Briar. She squeezed her eyes shut listening for the signal she’d been detected. But nothing came. Aurora’s chest fluttered when she peeked around the corner to Main Street.
Steam hissed from arterial pipes and veiny downspouts protruding from faceless citadels. Aurora searched through shadows for yellow-orange eyes. Mist clouded the alleyways wedged between the buildings, cloaking any Huntsman hiding from view, but she couldn’t see any patrolling the street.
Aurora didn’t hesitate. She bounded away from behind the wall and ran, not looking back. Alarms blared as she passed the city limits and met the lip of Spindlewood Forest.
Her thighs burned. Puffs of strained breath came in uncontrolled spurts, but the dissonant sound drove Aurora harder. She crashed through the threshold of trees and fought her way up the steep hill into the woodland’s heart.
Aurora pulled herself over the summit and crawled to the nearest bush, wheezing through pursed lips, clutching the stitch in her side. A twig snapped. The sound rode on a whisper of dank smoky air from the grove of trees two feet away.
Something was close.
The hair on Aurora’s neck rose, and she narrowed her eyes, peeking around the shrub. She gripped her piecemeal knife in one shaking hand, the scroll in the other, waiting for the metal minion to show himself.
Where are you?
Several cracks echoed in different directions around her. Blood rushed from Aurora’s face into her stomach. She whipped around, her head darting every which way, ears perked. Aurora crouched, knife out, ready to jab anything that came close.
I’m surrounded. A skeletal metal face peered at Aurora from behind a large tree trunk five feet in front of her. It’s lifeless eyes twisted and whirred, yellow pupils fixating on her location. Aurora froze. The Huntsman stepped out from behind the tree and brandished a long bronze pistol.
The Lonely Princess, by Jo Schneider: Everything changed in the 500 years Aurora slept. Now teenagers go to the Academy, where humans and fey live side-by-side and everyone pretends to get along. In her attempts to find her place in this new world, she meets Saru—a mysterious boy who delights in irritating her. Their attraction is instant, but his forgotten past might be their undoing.
Sunlight streamed through the windows of the classroom and kissed the side of each student’s face. The warmth of the autumn day, combined with Master Aloon’s droning voice, had sucked every ounce of joy from the subject of ancient stories. Right now there were six students nodding, three passing notes, two drooling, and one snoring softly.
Movement from the middle of the room drew Aurora’s attention. Princess Catherine, one of the note passers, folded a paper and slipped it to the boy ahead of her. As if Catherine could feel Aurora’s stare, the little blonde princess turned and met Aurora’s gaze. She gave Aurora a viper’s smile before she swiveled her head forward. A couple of Catherine’s minions smirked at Aurora’s glare before following their master’s example.
It was bad enough that each time Aurora saw the little princess, she wanted to punch her in the face for what her kingdom had done to Aurora’s. But to sit in class and endure the endless snickering and sideways glances as Catherine’s supporters openly shunned or ridiculed Aurora was about all she could take.
“Learn the minds of those you rule.”
Her father’s words floated through her mind as if he were sitting next to her. He’d said them to her often enough that they came without bidding, and she pressed her lips together.
Catherine had been the ranking member of the court at the Academy, and she’d used the position to get whatever she wanted. Then Aurora had come, outranking the little blonde princess and ruining her perfect life.
Aurora had tried to get to know Catherine, but had given up quickly. To learn that girl’s mind she would have to throw out common decency, and Aurora wasn’t willing to do that.
Master Aloon’s words broke through her brooding. “Tomorrow we will split up into groups of four. Together you will choose a story and make a production of it.”
A production? Aurora, along with most of the boys in the class, groaned. Catherine and her crew looked positively giddy.
Master Aloon continued. “You will have two weeks before you perform your play. The group that has the best production will have the privilege to present at the annual Peach Ball.”
Peach Ball? Hadn’t they just had a ball? Aurora rubbed her face. This place was beginning to drive her crazy. Her people were barely surviving, and she had to attend another stupid ball? Princess Catherine nudged the boy in front of her, Saru.
Aurora could probably predict how the groups would shake out. Catherine and two of her favorite mean-girl friends would take Saru. Krabbs—a goblin prince—would include a satyr and a couple of pixies. The rest of the girls wouldn’t be brave enough to ask the boys before the boys had already made alliances. Unless the boys needed a better grade—then there would be shameless flirting followed by horrible heartbreak at or after the ball.
“Go to the Academy,” her father said. “It will be fun,” he said.
More like torture.
Aurora glanced up at the clock, and relief filled her. She quietly packed her bag, gave master Aloon a little wave, and slipped out of the classroom. Warm, fresh air filled Aurora’s lungs as she moved outdoors. The rectangular academic buildings stretched out behind her. A cobblestone path led her toward the huge, round fountain in the center of a large square. Water cascaded down from the bowl held up by larger-than-life statues of a human, a dwarf, a merman, and a First Fey. The cool mist settled on her skin, raising goose bumps. The scent of grass and leaves filled the air.
A vast field of green grass stretched from the fountain toward the front gates of the Academy. Beyond sat the dean’s tower and other administrative buildings. Aurora circled the fountain and made her way to the cafeteria.
Long tables filled the large room. The scents of cooked meat and fresh bread hung in the air, and Aurora’s mouth began to water. She never ate breakfast. It was silly, but she felt like skipping one meal a day honored those in her kingdom who still struggled to get enough food. Her mother would scold her, but Aurora had to do something. A section of the serving line counter had been swiveled up, and she went through and into a supply room beyond. Benches lined three of the four walls, and evenly-spaced iron hooks hung above.
“Hey,” a cheery voice said.
Aurora jumped and reached for a sword that wasn’t there.
Dragon’s Curse, by Adrienne Monson: When her nana is in a near-fatal car accident, Dawn is forced to reconcile her beliefs about magic. Her long-buried powers could save Nana’s life, but at a high price. Accepting magic means that the man Dawn dreamt about her whole life is real and that she’s the only one who can save him from a cursed sleep. To do that, she’ll have to face the terrifying dragon who put him there.
I was going to explode. A restless energy had been building inside me for months now. There were times when it felt like my skin was the only thing keeping me from flying apart. There was no good reason for it. Frustration continued to grow and everything I’d done to ignore it and tamp it down seemed to only feed the impotent ire simmering beneath the surface.
When my coworker, Ben, had asked me out for the third time tonight, I’d lost it. I mean, yelled and came pretty close to slapping him. While he may have been annoying, he hadn’t deserved my freak out.
My phone played Sound of Silence to let me know it was ringing. All I wanted was to take a shower and wash the smell of coffee and baked goods off, but when I saw it was Nana, I answered. “Hey.” I put the speaker on so I could grab some water while I spoke. I tossed my keys on the counter and placed my phone next to them.
“What’s wrong?” Her confident voice flitted through my tiny apartment as if she were in the room.
My shoulders tensed and my defenses kicked in. “Why does something have to be wrong?”
“It’s in your tone. I can tell. What are you so mad about?”
That was the question I’d been asking myself for weeks. I glared at the phone as I drank. The cold water felt nice on my throat, but it was not enough to calm me.
“Dawn?” Nana called, her voice louder. “Don’t you give me that look.”
Rolling my eyes, I huffed. “You can’t see my face. You have no idea what look I may or may not be giving you.”
“I know you. You’re glaring a hot laser at the phone right now.”
It was all too easy to imagine her grey eyes meeting mine in challenge, never backing down. I’d bet anything she was folding her arms across her chest and that her lips were pulled into a stubborn line. “It’s a boy, isn’t it?” she asked.
Grinding my teeth, I picked the phone up from the counter and headed to the bathroom. “I don’t date, Nana. Why would you think it’s a boy?”
“What happened?” Her tone had softened and the concern I heard broke through the barrier I’d had up all evening.
My shoulders slumped and I put the phone down again to pull my long, blonde hair out of its ponytail. Nana didn’t say anything. She always knew when to wait. “Ben asked me out again,” I finally admitted.
“Why do you say that like it’s a horrible thing?”
I was positive that her brows were drawn together and that her thin lips were pulled down into a frown that showcased little wrinkles. It’s how she always looked when we approached this topic. An image of a man with brown hair and brown skin entered my mind. He wasn’t real – just a man from my dreams that no one knew about. I couldn’t tell Nana he was the reason.
Restless, by Quinn Coleridge: Rory Kingston doesn’t want much. Just a good night’s sleep and a normal life free of magic. Yet Rory’s own royal pedigree keeps getting in the way of achieving these goals, not to mention her preoccupation with a new neighbor. Where the darkly handsome history professor goes, danger and mayhem follow. Has Phillip come to drag Rory back to the magical kingdom she left behind years ago or are his motives even more nefarious?
Rory Kingston stood on the stoop of her apartment building and glanced down at her digital watch as it flashed midnight. A gibbous moon hung in the sky, partially concealed by a bank of wispy clouds, and rap music played through the open window of an old Lincoln. She blew an ash-blonde curl out of her eyes and jogged down some stairs to the sidewalk. While the neighborhood was fairly quiet after dark, it never completely slept. Even at this hour, people drove along Montrose or walked to the bars or indie music clubs nearby. Rory’s surroundings were typical of Williamsburg, Brooklyn: lots of concrete, graffiti, buildings, and hipsters.
Typical, except that magic shimmered in the air. It bounced and danced as if it were a living thing, leaving starry points of gold and silver behind. She cursed silently, grateful that regular humans were oblivious to the spectacle.
How did the magic find me? I’ve covered my tracks, haven’t I?
If she’d left a trail it wasn’t intentional. After traveling the world for over a decade, trying to get lost among regular people, Rory had been certain her past was dead and buried. Certain enough that she’d finally stopped running, stopped being scared that some magical bounty hunter would suddenly appear and drag her back to the paranormal world.
And yet this enchantment sparkled like a beacon on her doorstep.
“Go away,” Rory whispered in an ancient, magical tongue. “Leave me alone.”
But the enchantment continued to glow. Rory opened her senses and listened . . . All she heard were the last drops of a soft August rain. The shower had lasted only a minute or two, but it managed to rinse off the sidewalks and free the air of pollutants, temporarily replacing the usual smell of diesel exhaust and fried food with that of wet gutter trash.
Waves of invisible power rippled across her skin like the caress of a velvety hand. Her muscles tensed as she scanned the near-empty sidewalks. No bounty hunters yet but that didn’t mean they weren’t on the way.
The magic burned suddenly brighter and then faded into the night. Almost weak with relief, Rory wondered if she should bolt back to her apartment to hide. She was so sick of those same four walls, having worked there on her laptop for days, writing and erasing until her fingers cramped. And there was nothing in her refrigerator but some wilted beets and an old slice of liverwurst. Hell no, magic or no magic, she wasn’t going back without proper sustenance.
Wiping the grit from her tired eyes, Rory turned right on Montrose Avenue and headed toward an all-night market, a woman on a mission to find decent junk food and over-the-counter sleeping aids. She rolled her shoulders to loosen the tightness in her arms and back and wondered what the flare of magic meant. It seemed to suggest that something important was coming. Whether that ‘something’ was big or small, good or bad, only Fate knew for sure, and apparently, Lady F. wasn’t sharing any details about the future.
As she crossed at a traffic light, Rory noticed a scuff on her oxblood Doc Martens. They were the high point of the outfit she had thrown together before leaving the apartment. The rest of her clothes—pajama bottoms covered with dancing sheep and an ancient hoodie—made her look like a homeless person.
What would my family say if they saw me now?
There was little chance of that happening. She wasn’t going back, and her parents never set foot across the East River. Like another Berlin Wall, the murky water kept them right where they were. In their eyes, if you lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan you were a have. Once you moved beyond, or stepped across a bridge, you were a have not. Without question, the magic world’s royal family ruled at the top of the have food chain.
And it galled that her own parents were the ones who posted the bounty, increasing the sum each year until it hit just shy of a million dollars. Rory lifted her chin like the rebel princess she was, proud that she had escaped every hunter who had come after her in the past. Which wasn’t easy since people recognized Rory in both the human and magical worlds. When your Dad was not only the king of conjuring but also a former American president, it was hard to fly under the radar. C’est la vie. Such was life. Or at least Rory’s life.
GIVEAWAYBlitz-wide giveaway (INT)
- $30 Amazon gift card