A Heart in Disguise

Chapter 20

"The thief awakens."

She had heard the voice before she was saw him; it was vaguely familiar like the man she had—no, no that was ridiculous. He wouldn't have come all this way because of a stupid ring.

Once her eyes adjusted to the brightness of the day, they focused on a blonde haired man, the same Prince she had stolen the ring from two months prior. He wore a soft smirk that was just cocky enough receive a groan.

"What's going on?" Snow demanded, her voice lower than liked. What in the gods' names had they knocked her out with? She tried to push herself up only to find that her hands had been bounded in the front with stiff rope which was particularly itchy.

The blond chuckled.

"Do you always so easily forget the ones you steal from?"

"I know who you are and that's not what I asked. I don't have your precious ring."

"I'm well aware," he retorted and cross his arms. "Thankfully I was able to track down the man who you sold it to."

"Charming. That still doesn't answer my question. If you got what you wanted then why are you kidnapping me?"

The young man threw his head back in laughter, one that may have been heart-warming if she wasn't so pissed off right now.

"Kidnapping? You do realize that you stole from royalty? But never mind that. I would have turned a blind eye after acquiring what was rightfully mine if this hadn't of caught my eye."

A piece of parchment was pulled from his coat which displayed a portrait of a woman greatly resembling herself . "SNOW WHITE – WANTED" it read in bold letters. Her breath caught in her throat and she opened her mouth to speak, but the words hung themselves.

"I would have never thought a princess to turn to thievery even after all she's been through.

"I would have never thought a Prince to do the dirty work himself. Why do you care so much about some useless ring. Isn't that the woman's job? You could have passed the information to the Dark Guard? You must really have nothing else better to do."

"I prefer to do things myself. My father will be pleased to know that we're on the good side of the Evil Queen."

The light flickered as they passed under a canopy of trees and Snow shivered. Was this really happening?

"So that's our destination?" she asked, "The Dark Palace?"

He nodded and stretched out his arm across the seat getting comfortable for the trip, but unlike him, Snow fidgeted as anxiety overtook her. The already small confinement of the carriage shrank even more and the air thickened. She needed fresh air.

"I may not agree with what the Queen has done to her people, but perhaps turning you in will change that."

Was fate really this cruel? It allowed her a brief wisp of bliss only to be swept into the soulless darkness. She could attempt to run, devise a plan to escape when they stopped to allow the horses to rest, but that would be futile. The amount of energy she had was adequate to get her a few feet before she fell flat on her face, and she didn't even have her bow and arrow to make up for that. Without them, she felt exposed and vulnerable.

"What happened to your friend?" he inquired with a tilt to his head, but she remained silent.

The cruel reminder of Wilma made her head ache even worse and she clenched her fists. The well had run dry days ago; she couldn't even cry if she wanted to. If she could conjure up the power to release herself from her bondage she would beat down this man who thought he had the right to intervene in a situation he knew nothing about. To him, she was just a girl who had been corrupted by the thought of power to the point of murdering her own father. She was a selfish, snotty girl who had taken to stealing as a way to survive during the reign of a tyrant. As far as he knew he was doing the Kingdom good by carrying this woman to her demise.

It was arrogant bastards like him that she hated. He wasn't even doing it for the money; he had far more than the townspeople would ever see. No, he was doing it for the ability to gloat, for him to say that he was the one to appease the Evil Queen once and for all.

After realizing the woman wasn't going to talk, he averted his attention to the window.

The fading sun was able to cast enough light upon the ring that it made the diamond glimmer. The Prince had it between his two fingers and had been fixated upon it for the last half hour. There was a bittersweet shadow hovering over his face and she was curious to know why.

That ring got her in this situation, but that ring had also gotten her enough gold to make it up the mountain. Hence the ring had only offered her more time.

"Why is that so important to you?" she voiced aloud.

It had been silent for so long that her voice startled him. Even her own voice sounded foreign. His hand lifted to rub the nape of his neck.

"It was my mother's. I am to be married at the end of this month."

Snow scrunched her eyebrows together.

"You don't seem happy about that."

"I don't love her."

The snort she made caused him to jump.

"Love? What do you know about love?"

"No more than you do, thief."

It was a straight hit to the heart and she shut her eyes with a half-irritated sigh, the rest of her emotions had died during the passing of the sun across the sky. One could say she felt numb.

She heard the sound of him moving and she cracked and eye open so see a canteen extended out to her.

"It's just water," he remarked when he saw the look she gave it.

She would have crossed her arms if she could.

"Could be poisoned."

"Why would I want to poison you?"

She shrugged and made no move to take the water.

"Let me guess," she said softly, switching the subject, "It is an arranged marriage. To unite two kingdoms together."

"How did you—?"

"I was once a Princess, remember? I know how politics work. Marriage is just a transaction between kingdoms."

He was the one to grow quiet this time. Pulling out a small pouch, he slid the ring inside and slipped it into his jacket.

"We'll be there soon," was the only thing he replied.

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