Forever - Chanda Hahn

Chapter 1

A trail of smoke still sailed into the sky like the colorful tail of a kite. It could be traced back down to the decimated remains of the Green Mill Recycling Center.

Mina sat on the hill across the river and stared down at the dark, burned wreckage that had been the Godmothers’ Guild. Only a single fire rescue worker remained, and he walked among the rubble, scattering ashes with a large rod to keep flare ups from sprouting. Yellow caution tape roped off the whole area.

“Come on,” she mumbled under her breath.

She tapped her closed fist against her bent knees. She’d been sitting, watching, and guarding the building—waiting to see if any of the rescue team would discover what really lay only a few stories below them. She could only hope that the Fae had covered their tracks well.

The news had called the fire a rare accident, saying the explosion was caused by a ruptured gas line, but the Fae knew otherwise. And Mina knew otherwise, but she suspected there was some Fae persuasion being used to cover up what really happened.

The cause of this tragedy was the dark prince himself. He’d sent his army to attack the Godmother’s Guild like he had done over twenty years ago. Last time, the Guild had been able to fight off the attack, even trapping one of the trolls in stone. But the prince, the Story, wasn’t as strong then.

Now, Teague was nearly invincible. Joined with the other half of his soul, Jared, he had fully come into his power, and he wanted vengeance—against the Guild, against the humans, against her.

She let out a long sigh and dug her fingernails into her palms as she stared past the rubble along the river to an area that the Godmothers had warded and protected from the rescue team. Even she wouldn’t have known what to look for if she hadn’t been there when it happened.

The river rock was slightly darker along the embankment, where Fae flame had devoured the bodies of the dead. Of those who had died in the battle and from the fire. One of them had been Mei Wong, her faithful brownie Godmother.

“Why?” Mina whispered, her voice hoarse from crying. “Why you? You were nothing but gentle and kind. You didn’t deserve this. He did. It’s his fault.”

Tears burned in her eyes, but she refused to blink. She let the pain well up inside of her. Because although she tried to place the blame on Teague, Mina knew deep down, he wasn’t the one who started it. She was.

She was the one who had gone back into the past and set all of this in motion. It was her. It had always been her. She was the one who created the Grimoire. She was the one who had given it to the Grimm brothers. She was the one who betrayed Teague by saving Ferah, who, in turn, stabbed the prince with an evil dagger, the tip of which remained inside him and poisoned his heart. Of course he blamed her. When she tried to dig out the tip, he saw her only as another assassin and blasted her through the tower window.

Trying to save herself, she had inadvertently opened up a gate between her world and his, and he’d been chasing her ever since. He had to wait over a century for the timelines to catch up.

But now they were on the same playing field. There were no more secrets. She knew who he was, and he knew she knew. She created the beast, and now she’d have to destroy him. She knew that now.

Jared was Teague, at least a part of him. When she’d met Teague back in time, she saw bits of Jared in him—the smile, the smirk, the cocky grin. Even the way he looked at her when he didn’t think anyone was watching. It had been Jared’s look, his jokes, his smile.

But that was then, before he was poisoned. Now? Now she didn’t know what to make of him, of the prince, of the Story.

Who he had been and who he was now would no longer matter. Innocents were at stake. Too many had paid the price for Mina’s folly. Too many had been injured; too many had died. She could only see this concluding one way. It would end with death—hers or Teague’s.

He had said she might be more agreeable in the morning. Well, it was morning. Where the heck was he? Brody and Nan had forced