The White Rose

By: Amy Ewing

One


THE ARCANA IS SILENT.

I stare at the small silver tuning fork, nestled among the jewels scattered across my vanity. Garnet’s words echo in my ears.

We’re going to get you out.

I force my mind to work, push down my terror, and try to fit the pieces together. I’m trapped in my bedroom in the palace of the Lake. How does Garnet, the Duchess of the Lake’s own son, have an arcana? Is he working with Lucien, the Electress’s lady-in-waiting and my secret friend and savior? But why wouldn’t Lucien tell me?

Lucien didn’t tell you that childbirth kills surrogates, either. He doesn’t tell you any more than he thinks you need to know.

Panic grips me as I picture Ash, trapped and bleeding in the dungeons. Ash, a companion to royal daughters, who endangered his very life by loving me. Ash, the only other person in this palace who understands what it feels like to be treated like a piece of property.

I shake my head. How much time have I spent staring at the arcana—ten minutes? Twenty?

Something needs to happen. After the Duchess caught us in his room together, he was beaten and thrown in the dungeon, and no one has been sent to save him. If Ash stays there, he’ll die.

The terror resurfaces, rising in my throat like bile. I squeeze my eyes shut and all I can see are the Regimentals bursting through the door to his bedroom. Ripping him from the bed. His blood spattering across the comforter as a Regimental slammed a pistol into Ash’s face again and again while the Duchess looked on.

And Carnelian. The Duchess’s wicked, horrible niece. She was there, too. She betrayed us.

I bite my lip and wince. I look at myself in the mirror—hair disheveled, eyes red and puffy. My lower lip is split at the corner and the beginning of a bruise darkens my cheekbone. I probe the tender spot, remembering the feel of the Duchess’s hand as she struck me.

I shake my head again. So much has happened since the Auction. Secrecy, alliances, death. I was bought to bear the Duchess’s child. I can still see the fury in her eyes as she saw Ash and me in the same room, in the same bed. Whore, she called me, after her guard of Regimentals dragged Ash away. I don’t care about her insults. I only care about what happens now.

We were supposed to escape—Ash and I. I had it all planned. Lucien gave me a serum that I was supposed to take tonight. It would make me appear dead, and he could get me out of the Jewel, to somewhere safe where my body wouldn’t be used for royal purposes. But I didn’t take it. I gave it away—to Raven.

Somewhere, in the neighboring palace of the Stone, is my best friend, Raven. Her mistress is using her for a darker purpose. Not only is Raven pregnant with the Countess of the Stone’s child, but she is being tortured in ways I can’t imagine. She is the shell of the girl I once knew.

And I couldn’t leave her there. I couldn’t let her die like that.

So I gave her the serum.

Lucien will be upset when he finds out, but I had no choice. He’ll have to understand.

With trembling fingers, I pick up the arcana and sit on the edge of my bed.

“Garnet?” I whisper to it. “Lucien?”

No one answers me.

“Garnet?” I say again. “If you can hear me . . . please. Talk to me.”

Nothing.

How can I be rescued with Regimentals guarding the door? How can Ash be rescued?

My head throbs—it hurts to think. I curl up on my bed with the silver tuning fork clutched tight between my fingers, trying to will it to buzz, to make someone speak to me.

“Please,” I whisper to it. “Don’t let him die.”

I, at least, might have something the Duchess wants. My body might be enough to keep me alive. But Ash doesn’t have that.

I wonder what it would feel like, to die. The wild girl appears in my mind, the surrogate who tried to escape the royalty and went into hiding. The one I saw executed in front of the walls of Southgate, my holding facility. I remember her strangely peaceful expression as the end came. Her courage. Would I be able to be as strong as she was, if they put my head on the chopping block? Tell Cobalt I love him, she’d said. That, at least, I can understand. Ash’s name would be one of the last words on my lips. I wonder who Cobalt was to her. She must have loved him very much.

▶ Also By Amy Ewing

▶ Hot Read

▶ Last Updated

▶ Recommend

Top Books