What's coming up after The Jilted Bride? In Eirwen's Dream readers will find a new, magic-free twist on Snow White in which the young princess is poisoned by her envious, recently-widowed stepmother the evening before her coronation. Below is the scene in which Nerys decides to take fate into her hands and end her fair stepdaughter's life. For more updates (including the on sale date), follow me on Amazon or like me on Facebook! Also, make sure you check out my Cinderella sequel The Jilted Bride if you need a fairy tale fix before this summer. It's already received three five star editorial reviews and "Hot New Release" status on Amazon.
“Well, let me give you a little advice. No man makes a habit of showing his bad side when he’s courting a woman he wants to marry. Your father was a tragically flawed man, but I didn’t realize the depths of his weaknesses as a king and as a man until after we were husband and wife. You’d do well to go into your marriage with your eyes wide open so you can avoid making the same mistakes that I did.”
“My father was not weak,” Eirwen shot back, her voice trembling as her blue eyes darkened with anger. “He had his faults just like anyone else, but I won’t have you speaking ill of him when he is still fresh in his grave.”
“My, my, my… Aren’t you quick to exercise your new authority,” Nerys taunted. “I didn’t realize you had such a fierce bark, Snow White.”
Eirwen winced at the way her stepmother practically snarled her childhood nickname. Having been born on the day of the first snowfall of the winter with a fair complexion that was striking rather than sickly, the late Queen Gwenyth and King Rhys had affectionately nicknamed her Snow White. Even as she grew older, they joked that she could disappear into the snow if not for her dark locks and rosebud pink lips. That endearing moniker always brought a smile to her face, especially when Roderick learned of the name and took to using it on occasion, but having it sneered as a curse by Nerys’ venomous tongue cut her to the bone. Fighting back unshed tears, Eirwen placed her napkin back on the table and took a deep breath as she rose to her feet.
“I’m going to lie down until Roderick and Drystan return for supper. I hope you enjoy your tea, Stepmother,” she whispered.
“Sleep well, Snow White,” Nerys grinned victoriously.
The princess balled her hands into fists as she glided out of the parlor, hoping the pain of her fingernails digging into her palms would keep the tears at bay long enough for her to escape to the privacy of her room. Once Eirwen was gone, Nerys relished in her solitude. Whenever the naïve princess was away since Rhys’ passing, Nerys had been able to rest peacefully and exert more influence in the palace, but power always reverted to the late king’s pasty heir upon her return.
If the young princess were permanently absent, all of Nerys’ problems would disappear. She would remain in power until Ifan came of age to take on the role of king and her position would be secure. All she would have to do is make sure the little twit died of seemingly natural causes. Considering her husband’s recent passing, Nerys had no doubt that she could put on a convincing show to mourn Eirwen before the kingdom. She would earn the people’s pity and allegiance, which would turn into love and respect in time as she proved worthy of her crown.
But could she actually do it?
Even as Nerys contemplated the dark plan that swirled in her mind, she realized that it wasn’t a matter of ability but one of will. The widow had the steely determination necessary to do the deed and could easily procure the means of her salvation, but one question still remained. Was she willing to take an innocent young woman’s life to ensure that she and Ifan had the life they deserved?
Nerys vacated her chair with a sigh and inspected her reflection in the gilded mirror on the wall. As she counted the offensive silver hairs that had invaded her blonde mane and lamented the ever-present dark circles under her weary brown eyes, Nerys remembered her youth. Ten years ago, as a young, vivacious woman, she had been the object of countless men’s affections and every woman’s awe or envy. No one had come close to her in beauty, wit, or even accomplishment. Men of all ranks had written songs about her mysterious dark eyes and poems about her flaxen locks. Rhys himself even said on multiple occasions that she had the most enchanting voice in the kingdom. No one had compared to her… until her stepdaughter came of age.
“Mirror, mirror, upon the wall,” she sighed, “why bring me so high then let me fall?”
Of course, the looking glass didn’t respond to her silly rhyme, but Nerys caught a glimpse of Eirwen’s new portrait hanging on the wall behind her as she eyed the mirror. While she glared at the depiction of the regal, radiant royal, the widow’s blood boiled with bitterness. When the king of Talfryn had claimed her as his wife, she’d found rest in knowing that her future was secure thanks to her powerful husband and eventually a beautiful son. Then, Rhys’ heart had shuddered to a stop one day and everything was ripped from her hands because he left everything to his more beloved first wife’s daughter.
Just as her animosity reached its zenith, a seductive voice as soft as an ermine surcoat whispered in her ear and all of the tension fled her body.