Mina nodded absently and slipped off her borrowed shoes. She slid the cool glass slippers back on her feet. “What do I do now?”

“You know what you must do.” He looked up at the tower, and Mina shook her head.

“No. It can’t be. This is not how it’s supposed to happen. It’s not me. It can’t be me,” she pleaded.

“Mina, it’s always been you. It started with you and will end with you. Everything we’ve done—the curse, everything—started because of the events that happened this day.”

“No, we can change it. I don’t have to go up there. It doesn’t have to be like this. We can live without ever having the curse over our head. I can sit here and wait for Ever to wake up and then she can enter the tower and everything will be put to right.”

“Sweetie, listen to yourself.” His voice was firm, commanding her to heed his warning. “Everything has already been put in motion by your decisions. You have to finish what you’ve started.”

“I can’t! I know what happens. The one who goes up there betrays him, causing him to lose his heart and turn evil. He’ll destroy everything. He’ll eventually destroy you because of the stupid curse. I can’t let you die again, not when I have a choice. If I don’t go up there, you’ll live. We can be a family again.”

Her heart broke further with every word, because her father continued to shake his head.

“Oh, honey, there’s so much you don’t know. Things we could never tell you. If you don’t go up there, we’re already dead. All of the Grimms. You are our one chance of survival.”

“It can’t be. I can’t be the one to betray him, to betray Teague.”

His eyes softened for a split second, and she thought he would concede and let her off the hook. Instead, he turned his back on her and walked away.


“No wait! I’m sorry. Come back.” She chased after him, but he kept walking. She crumpled to the ground and cried out, “Dad!”

He turned back, clearly weakening. Whatever was holding him in this time was losing its power. His eyes filled with hurt and anger. “If you don’t go up there, Ever will die! We will die! Do you hear me, Mina?”

Mina blinked in surprise, taken aback by his fury.

“Go up there and face your destiny like a Grimm.”

“Dad, what’s happening?” He was fading and she was losing him. A misty cloud surrounded him.

“Mina, I love you. I’m proud of you. Tell your mom and brother I—”

As fast as he’d reappeared in her life, he disappeared.

Chapter 28

There was no more time for tears. Every fiber of her being wanted to mourn the loss of her father…again. But Mina had to turn to the problem at hand.

Ever was dying.

She ran back to the girl and felt for her pulse. And she couldn’t find it.

Ever’s skin was cold to the touch, and Mina realized she might already be too late. She ran for the tower, made a full circle around it, and could find no way to enter the pillar. There wasn’t a door or hidden ladder. Nothing.

The suns were setting, and it was becoming dark. Every minute she wasted was a minute that Ever slipped closer to death, that her shoes could send her forward in time, that Annalora could wake and attack her again.

Mina pressed her hands along the stone base and felt along the wall. Every single brick was real and solid, until she suddenly fell forward into the darkness. It was another glamour.

She followed a stone staircase heading to the top, and her dress kept snagging along the steps. She picked up the silk flounces and continued upward. She could feel it in her bones, the urgency. She was running out of time. For every step she took, ten more steps magically appeared, as if she were running up the wrong escalator. The further she ran, the more lightheaded she began to feel.

Captain Plaith’s warning came to her about the maze changing people, but as quickly as it came the memory was lost.

She stopped ascending, and she was standing in a large room surrounded by glass. Night had fallen, and the stars lit the sky. She needed to do something, but what? Something clouded her thoughts.

Someone else was in the room, sitting in a large chair. The darkness and a hooded cloak hid his face.

“You came?” the voice said in disbelief. “I didn’t think you’d come.”

“Of course I came,” her voice answered the shadow. “I need you…” but she couldn’t, for the life of her, remember why.

The shadow moved and Mina saw a hand extend toward her. She placed her own in it and let the person move her to stand at his side, gazing out at the darkness visible through the glass.

“This could be yours.” He gestured to the vast empty space. “If you wanted it, I would give it to you. If you would just promise to stay with me forever.”

“I’ve no interest in kingdoms,” her voice was raspy, but she didn’t know why. All of a sudden, time seemed to slow.

“You don’t know how long I’ve waited to hear those words.” He sighed and removed his hood so she could see his face. Jared’s glorious gray eyes stared back at her and her heart swelled with love.

She missed him so much! She tried to speak, but her voice caught.

He reached for her and pulled her into his arms. “You’re unlike anyone I’ve ever met.” His hands moved up and down her face as if he were trying to commit her to memory. He brushed the tears on her face. “Are you crying? Have I done something to upset you?”

“No, you’ve done nothing wrong.” She couldn’t help it. She reached up for him, standing on her toes. He responded by leaning down.

Their lips met in a kiss. It started out soft and gentle, but progressed into so much more. She could feel his desire to deepen the kiss, so she ran her hands up the base of his neck. He stooped down and lifted her into the air, spinning her and pulling her close into his arms.

She squealed as he spun her.

As soon as her feet touched the floor, he lifted her chin to give her a few more pecks across her lips. “I’ve waited centuries for you to come. Will you stay? Will you stay with me?”

Everything felt so real. He was here, in her dream again. She could feel his physical breath on her face.

Guilt flooded her, because she was the reason he was gone. If she could change it, she would. She decided right then, that at least here, if she couldn’t have Jared in her world, she would have part of him here in his. It may be the only way she could ever see him again.

“Yes, Jared, I will.”

“Jared? Again with this Jared?” His grip moved to her arms and tightened painfully. “You betray me already?” Teague shoved her away.

“I do everything for you. I kept the others at bay with the hedge maze so you could get here first. But you couldn’t get past a simple hedge glamour. I even ignored the fact that you stole from me, ran away, and killed one of my Reapers. The mercy I’ve shown you has been astounding. I thought perhaps we were destined for each other because of the dreams. I could even have believed we had a chance at love.”

“Wait, I didn’t mean to say his name,” Mina called out, but Teague shrugged her off, hurt.

“There’ve been so many questions you’ve avoided since the beginning. Everyone warned me from you. But you are unlike anyone I’ve ever met. Your attitude, the way you talk. It was all so refreshing, so different.”

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