Excerpt for Sleepless by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Published by Evernight Teen ® at Smashwords


www.evernightteen.com




Copyright© 2018 Melissa Frost



ISBN: 978-1-77339-770-2


Cover Artist: Jay Aheer


Editor: Audrey Bobak



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.


This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.






DEDICATION


I’d like to dedicate this to my mother-in-law, Barb. Even though she’s not a reader, she’s been following along with this series and giving me praise. Thank you for the support! And if I know her at all, she’ll cry after reading this. She’s such a softie.



SLEEPLESS


Tales from Esteria, 3


Melissa Frost


Copyright © 2018


Prologue


You know that story about the girl who pricks her finger on a spinning wheel—who the heck actually has one of those anymore—and falls into a deep, deep sleep? Well, I’m that girl. Only the events in that tale have been grossly under-exaggerated. It wasn’t a spinning wheel. It was a freaking sword. And it didn’t prick my finger. It stabbed directly into my side.

See what I mean about it being under-exaggerated? Though I must admit the added part about the evil witch who cast a curse on me was amusing. There was no evil witch. Or curse. Just an idiot with a sword.

My name is Talia, and I am the cousin of the Prince of Esteria. I’m a “proper lady” who lives inside the castle. I spend my days curtsying and learning which fork is proper to use in a salad. As if anyone cares about such things.

While other kids of Esteria attended school like regular teenagers, I was stuck in private lessons with a personal tutor in the same stuffy room, year after year, one floor down from my chambers. It was boring and monotonous. I was like a hermit, hidden away from the world.

All of that changed with one fateful thrust of a sword … and a stolen kiss.

Well, I don’t want to go and give everything away. You’ll just have to read on to hear the rest of the story—the true story of Sleeping Beauty.


Chapter One


I was trying so hard to listen to Sir Wilas Conlan as he enthusiastically spoke of the Great Goblin Civil War, but it had happened nearly two hundred years ago and I was losing my battle to stay conscious. Propping my chin up with my fist, I blinked rapidly in an attempt to fight back sleep. Had I even one other student in here with me to instill me with a sense of comradery, I might have survived. But alas, I was a member of the royal family. Things were done differently for us. I couldn’t attend school with the rest of the youths of Esteria. I had special things to learn that went hand-in-hand with ruling. Not that I would ever rule Esteria. That honor would go to my cousin Edward when his father so chose. And if something were to happen to Edward, the crown would pass to our cousin Leonce. And then to his younger brother. I was so far down the list, I wasn’t sure if I even counted as royalty anymore.

Suddenly, my hand shot into the air. “Can I be excused?” At Wilas’s shocked expression and raised brows, I quickly added, “Just for a moment. I need to use the washroom.”

Wilas let out a put-upon sigh I’d grown more than used to over the years and waved a dismissive hand in the air. “Yes. Yes. But I want you to think about the goblin rulers while you’re there. Upon your return, I expect an oral report on their clashing views and the incident that sent the Great War into motion.”

Scurrying to my feet, I gave a little curtsy before darting out of the room. With irritation, I thought about how I couldn’t even tinkle without getting an assignment. It truly wasn’t fair.

I ducked into the hallway, feeling the tension ease out of my shoulders more and more with each step I got farther away from my classroom. Instead of heading into the washroom, I padded in my flats down to the end of the hall. There, tucked away, was a set of French doors that opened up onto a wide, stone balcony that ran the length of the outside of the castle. I could get to nearly anywhere from here. It was like a tiny bit of freedom dangled in front of my nose.

I rushed to the front of the balcony and pressed my palms flat to the stone railing, staring out over the kingdom. A fresh breeze lifted my hair, giving me a moment of liberty. What I wouldn’t give to spread a pair of wings and soar off of the side of this castle, to escape from it all. “Oh, if only I could get away for a little while.”

“And why would you want that, Princess?”

I gasped and spun toward the voice, my heart pounding in my throat, but upon seeing the owner, my shoulders relaxed. “Court, I didn’t see you there.”

Court Abrams worked in the castle. His mother was a cook, and he’d taken up a job after school, helping her in the kitchens following his graduation last year. He was a chubby boy, but I had always found him kind of cute.

He shifted his weight as he peered at me through watery blue eyes. “I will never be able to understand your need to be out there,” he said with a disgusted wave of his hand to the kingdom below, “when you could be here, with your private tutors and fancy lunches.”

I laughed lightly at this and rolled my eyes good-naturedly. “I’d give up all the gourmet hot cocoa in the world to attend school like a regular teenager. It’s boring here.”

He shook his head at this. “High school is hell, princess. Plain and simple. You don’t appreciate the nice setup you’ve got going on here. Though it’s just like the royal family to take their privileges for granted.”

Something about the way he said princess struck a nerve in me even before he’d gotten to the more insulting parts of his retort. He was usually polite, sometimes submissive and quiet. The attitude I’d just received was very unlike him. “What’s gotten into you?”

“Frustration?” he asked, taking a step toward me. “Or perhaps it’s ambition.”

Feeling the tension in the atmosphere, I took a retreating step, my back hitting the railing behind me. “I’m sorry to hear that.” I glanced nervously over my shoulder at the significant drop that ended in a watery moat below. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to be heading back to lessons.”

Straightening my shoulders, I went to push around him, but Court grabbed hold of my upper arm as I tried to pass.

“I don’t think so.”

My eyes widened in disbelief. “Get your hands off me,” I said, my tone giving away my anger. “You could find yourself in a cell for such a transgression.”

“Not if I’m not caught, I won’t.” His hand moved to his belt and he whipped something out of a hilt. A flash of silver told me it was a sword.

I barely had time to open my mouth before the steel was thrust into my side. There was no time to holler for help, no time to even scream.

Court leaned forward, a nasty smile on his lips. “Ogress sends her love.” Yanking his sword back, he brought a foot up and planted it in my chest. With one quick shove, he kicked me backward over the railing.

A scream finally did burst past my lips as blue sky filled my vision. I tumbled through the air, hurtling toward the moat below. Then my back hit the surface, and I was enveloped by the murky water. Court’s face smiling down at me from the balcony above as the water closed over me was the last thing I saw before I blacked out.


Chapter Two


“Come on! Come on!”

Consciousness slowly returned to me as I was lowered to a firm surface. The prickly feeling against my palms told me it was grass, but I was so weak I couldn’t open my eyes to see exactly where. I could feel my hair clinging wetly to my face like slimy tentacles of some oceanic beast, further obscuring my senses.

The owner of the voice pressed two fingers to my neck and leaned over me. I could feel his breath hot on my face. After a moment, with a sound of relief, he said, “She’s breathing.” He shifted back, gently shaking my shoulder. “Are you all right?”

All I could manage was a weak groan.

“Yeah, you’re all right,” he said with amusement in his voice. A moment passed, and he let out a troubled breath. “You’ve put me in a tight predicament, Princess.” With gentle fingers, he clawed my hair away from my face, pulling it out of my eyes. “Here comes the Royal Guard. I believe one of the cleaning staff saw you fall past her window. They weren’t quick enough to pull you out of that disgusting moat,” he said darkly, “but they were quick enough to swoop in and play the heroes who returned you to the castle.”

I groaned again, trying to flutter my eyes open to look at him. My eyelids were so dreadfully heavy, though.

I heard him give a sound of obvious uncertainty. Then he said, “Screw it.” I felt his fingers slip under my neck, and he lifted my chin up. An instant later, his lips pressed to mine.

I gasped, feeling suddenly very awake. His stolen kiss sped my heart more than falling off of a two-story balcony—and I would know. There was such passion, such feeling in his kiss. Unable to resist, I lifted my arms up and curved them around his neck, returning the heated kiss.

It was cut far too short as he was pulled away from me.

“We’ve got it from here,” came the unmistakable growl of one of the guards. They all sounded the same to me, sullen and serious.

My arm fell limply back to the earth, but I attempted to make a protest. “W-wait…”

I was scooped up into the arms of a guard. I could tell because of the hard metal plating of his uniform.

“We’ve got to get you back to the castle, Princess.”


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