I didn’t share anything last week. I’m kind of between editing projects right now, or at least in a limbo of waiting. But, I decided to work on some of the side projects I need to edit while waiting to get other stuff back. So today I have part of one of those. I started this twist on Snow White last year and had hoped to submit it to the World Unknown Review then, but I didn’t have it finished in time. Now, I’m down to the final polishing of it, so I’ll be able to submit it this year.
She had filled the second bucket of water from the well when the clopping of hooves approached. Eira set the bucket to the side before looking up. A white horse, with long graceful lines and majestic carriage, headed toward her. A man, no, a boy not much older than her, rode on the horse’s back. He appeared about as graceful and majestic as his horse.
Her breath caught in her throat as he came closer. Beautiful. Both of them were absolutely beautiful. She couldn’t look away. As he came closer, his eyes seemed to come right to her. As if he was looking for her. His teeth flashed, so white and perfect, when his gaze fell on her. He urged his horse closer.
She couldn’t take her eyes off him. Almost like she was under some kind of spell. That was foolish. Magic wasn’t real. If it was, her wish should have come true after the amulet disappeared from the well. That happened because she’d come back as soon as she’d gotten free from the guards. It had already been gone. Two days had passed and still nothing happened.
Maybe this was him, the fulfillment of her wish. He wasn’t anything like what she pictured. She hadn’t asked for someone royal, and from what she saw of him, he appeared to be from the court. Maybe not hers, but certainly from one. He was dark-haired, a lot like her, his skin pale in contrast. Not a fighter who would help rule her kingdom.
Now he was right in front of her. “Milady.” He swept his body down along his horse’s neck in a bow. Even the horse lowered to one knee, as if it had been orchestrated. This was all too much. She could barely believe it.
He slid his leg over and dropped right to the ground. “May I help you with your burden? I could carry the buckets to the palace for you.”
“No, you couldn’t,” she told him, not lowering her eyes. A lot of the other ladies of the court did just that. She wasn’t lower than this man, even if he was as much as a duke As soon as her next birthday passed, they’d be planning her coronation as Queen. “This water isn’t going to the palace.”
Some sort of shadow passed over his eyes. It was gone a moment later, and he smiled at her again. She shivered a little, as if that shadow had gone through her as well. He bent down to lift one of the buckets. “Tell me where to carry it to, Milady.”
She still didn’t know who he was or where he’d come from, so she wasn’t so sure about this. The guards watching her hardly noticed him. They must not view him as a threat. Therefore, she wouldn’t either.
“I’ll lead the way,” she said. Although having him at her back didn’t make her feel any more comfortable. There was no reason for that. He was helping her.
When they reached her day maid’s house, she said, “Set it down by the door.”
Once both buckets were there, she knocked briskly then walked away. Rhiain had to know she was the one leaving the water for their little girl, but she didn’t need to be thanked for it. She did what anyone should.
Even if her stepmother didn’t agree with that sentiment.
She didn’t realize until she’d reached the main road back to the palace that the handsome stranger no longer followed her. She looked around, but there was no sign of him. No sign he’d ever even been there.
He must have taken another path back to his horse. Yes, that had to be it.