A Heart in Disguise

Chapter 17

The first thing you see when you wake up in the morning can make your heart leap out of your chest. Sometimes you're looking into the eyes of the most gorgeous woman as you share words that only a gaze can say. Other times you find yourself watching in amazement at how peaceful someone can look when they sleep.

The first thing you see when you wake up in the morning isn't supposed to be an arrowhead pointed directly at your face.

"Snow—?"

I was only able to choke out those words before I met those hazel eyes. I no longer saw that warming color that made me feel safe. No, instead there was hatred and fear, and it didn't make any sense.

"You," she nearly hissed, "Where is Wilma?"

"Snow, what are you—?"

I didn't have to see my reflection to know what had happened. Raising my hand, my fingers brushed against a familiar scar on my lip that I had almost forgotten about. My only reaction was to pull the blanket up around my bare chest and try to look the brunette in the eyes.

How…?

I tucked the blanket under my arm and held up a hand, but as I did she drew back on the string of her bow further as if she were terrified of me. I had magic. My current predicament shouldn't have alarmed me as it did, but I couldn't remember how to conjure anything up. It was there, I could feel it flowing through my veins, but it felt like a ghost, foreign to me in every way.

"Snow, I'm not going to hurt you."

"You expect me to believe that? Regina, where is she?"

If I hadn't been the one on the other end of an arrow, her protectiveness would have been endearing, but she didn't know. How could she?

Closing my eyes, I tried to calm down my racing heart, but she was still there. The images, the sounds, were seared into my brain and I was sure I could feel my eyes filling with salty water. My skin was still burning from her touch, and I couldn't even imagine what was going on in her head.

She doesn't know. She thinks I've done something with Wilma.

My mouth was dry as dirt. How was I to tell her? This wasn't how it was supposed to happen…

But then I saw the way she looked at me. I watched as it dawned on her, traveling into her core, and I swear I could hear her world shattering.

"…No…"

Her eyes closed as she shook her head. Turning her back to me, she walked out into the cold morning leaving me to the tomblike silence. I had to do something. Surely there was a way to fix this after everything we had been through.

I didn't even have my dignity to find my clothes, so I grabbed my coat and pulled it around me. When I pushed back the flap of the tent I saw her leaning against a tree, her bow thrown down beside her.

Only a few feet away sat crackling fire and an arrangement of food that had been prepared for breakfast. She must have not been looking where she was going since there were two mugs, one tipped over with its contents staining the pure white snow.

I brought a hand up to my face, squeezing my eyes shut to keep myself together. I wanted to reach out and wrap my arms around her, pull her close to me, tell her that I was sorry. For everything.

"Snow, let me explain. I was going to tell you."

"When?" she spat as she looked over at me with eyes full of betrayal, "after you had your way with me? After you were satisfied with this little screwed up game of yours?"

"No. This wasn't meant to happen this way. Last night—"

"Last night means nothing! What we did," her face contorted with disgust and my heart cracked even more. Her eyes were glistening with threatening tears, but she wasn't about the let them shed, "it means nothing."

"I—"

"You deceived to me. You led me to believe that—."

"If you would just let me explain…"

"Let you explain? Explain how you how you thought it was okay to lie to me and let me believe I had a friend that actually wanted to be in my life? Were you going to wait until we made it off the mountain only to bring me back to your palace and claim yourself victor?"

"Snow—"

"I mean hell, Regina! What was the point? Out of all the things you have put me through…this…this definitely tops it all. I…" Her voice cracked and I took a step forward. "Don't touch me."

"I'm sorry. Snow, you have to believe me. You told me everyone deserves a second chance no matter what. You said you would forgive me."

"Forgive you? That was before you deceived me. This, Regina, this can't be forgiven."

Everything I had gone through in these past few months had been in vain. The trust I had built with this woman was shattered into pieces far too tiny to put back together. They were cutting into our hearts and spilling out red onto white.

"…Snow," I whispered again, unwilling to trust myself to say anything else without hurting her even more.

"Leave."

My brow rose at her order. Her eyes were burning with a mixture of fury and pain I had only seen in my own.

"What? I'm not going to—"

"Leave!" she reached down for her bow and in a single motion she was pointing another arrow my way, "Go before I end you right here and now like I should."

I could see her looking over me, searching for any sign of recognition that would render these words useless, but her stance didn't waver. Her face was tight, eyebrows drawn together, and if she were to let go I'm not sure I would have responded fast enough to dodge the arrow. I didn't want to.

I pursed my lips before I felt an old, recognizable power run through me. Instead of intoxicating me it made my stomach churn. My eyes flashed purple and within seconds I was enveloped by a cloud of smoke.

It was a wonder I even remembered how to move myself from one place to another. It was an even big shocker that I ended up in my bed chambers. When I did, however, I suddenly felt so weak that I collapsed onto the plush rug. My fingers curled into a fist as the darkness of the atmosphere fell upon me. It made me sick and I couldn't breathe.

The warm air of the room suffocated me. The sole comfort I found was the scent of the forest that clung to the fur jacket. It was the only thing that kept me from hurling my guts onto the floor.

There was only one explanation for this madness.

The brunette fell to her knees with tears cascading down her cheeks. There was no possible way she could process what happened. The only thing she felt was the overwhelming feeling of emptiness she hadn't felt since Wilma walked into her life.

She had felt betrayal many times in her life. She had lost everyone that meant anything to her and for it to happen again? To find out that these last few months had been nothing but a lie? She couldn't cope with that.

How could someone she had grown to adore just disappear one morning without even a goodbye?

The more she thought about it the more it made her head pound. She had tended to this woman's wounds, shared her deepest thoughts, slept within her arms for comfort and warmth. To make things even more nauseating, they had done more than just sleep. This had to be some sick joke.

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