Okay, so we've finally come to the penultimate stage of publishing Twice! It's in the hands of my proofreader, and once I get it back it'll be formatted and uploaded. Still not certain of the exact publication date, but I'm sure you can get it before Christmas. The next time you hear from me will be Twice's release : )
A few things you might like to know about Twice:
Edward settles on one of the plush covered chairs. “Tell me what you remember.”
“Do you always talk like this?”
I imitate his imperious tone, cross my legs, and look at him like he is beneath my nose.
To my surprise, he laughs. There really should be a law that forbids a guy this good-looking to laugh like that. It easily melts my defenses.
“If I needed the last bit of proof that you are the Kat I know, this is it. My Kat wouldn’t tolerate any arrogance.”
“My Kat? Since when did I become your property?”
“I apologize,” he says, though he doesn’t really sound sincere. In fact, he looks kind of pleased, even relieved. I wonder for the hundredth time what is going on, and who is this other Kat he is referring to? “Let us start again, shall we? Please tell me what you can remember thus far.”
I glance outside. The townhouses have become increasingly sparse, replaced by cottages dotted in farmlands. It confirms my suspicions. I really am in a different world. There is no way a movie set could be this big. With a sinking heart, I wonder how I am ever going to get home. I wonder if I’m dreaming. I wonder if I’ve lost my mind.
A sweet, rich aroma tantalizes my nose. Surprised, I find a cup of hot tea pressed into my hands, the steam still rising from the caramel-colored liquid.
“Here,” Edward says in a soothing tone. There’s no trace of the haughty manner as might behoove a prince. All I can sense is a compassionate, concerned look in his eyes. “Perhaps some tea will be more conducive to conversation.”
He pours himself a cup as well. I raise the cup to my lips and take a sip. Strong, bold, without any bitter aftertaste. It contains the precise amount of sugar to make the taste sweet but not cloying. The addition of cream enhances the flavor, warming my insides. It’s almost as if he knew what I preferred.
Edward catches me staring at him, and he smiles. “When we were engaged, I taught you to appreciate a good cup of tea. Before that, you told me you preferred coffee.”
I do remember developing a taste for tea several years earlier, when Gabriel and I started dating. But this guy--prince--doesn’t look like Gabriel. Well, they’re both tall and gorgeous and friendly, but the similarities stop there. Gabriel is your ordinary, down-to-earth guy, whereas Edward gives off a polished, refined, debonair air that speaks of a man whose upbringing is anything but ordinary. I could imagine going to the movies and getting popcorn with Gabriel, but never with Edward. A candlelit dinner in a Michelin restaurant with flowers and champagne seems more like the latter’s style.
“You said you are a prince,” I say slowly. “And you said I’m a princess. How the heck did I become princess of a country I don’t even know exists?”
He pulls out a pocket watch and consults it. “It is a long story, but we have a few hours’ journey.” He gives me a twisted smile, but there is a sad, lonely look in his eyes. “Is there truly nothing you can remember about me, Kat?”
For some reason, I feel sorry for him. I must look exactly like that girl he confuses me with. I wonder what kind of amazing girl she is to catch the attention of this prince, who seems totally devoted to her. “Tell me your story. Perhaps after hearing it, I can give you a better answer?”
He looks around, like he’s trying to make sure that he’s not overheard, and then leans back in his chair. “Shall we start with the day we first met?”
And he tells me the most ridiculous story I have ever heard. Apparently, I was transported to his old-fashioned country when I ripped apart an old Cinderella book. The only way I could get back to America was to complete the story, which basically means that Cinderella has to get married to the prince. But in the end, he fell in love with me instead.
I don’t remember that I had ever met him, much less campaigning for child labor. But why do I feel like I’ve already heard of this story?
He mentioned a book.
A book that started it all.
The Ugly Stepsister.
Most of the stuff he told me had happened in the book, I realize with startling clarity. Except that there was no background on the ugly stepsister being from another world. But everything that happened between her and the prince is exactly the same as the story he told me. And the prince . . . and the prince . . .
Both are named Edward.
It can’t be true. According to what he said, I am now Katriona Bradshaw, the other stepsister in the Cinderella retelling. The same retelling that I owned. But I don’t remember anything of ripping up the book. It might be a bit worn after numerous re-readings, but all the pages are intact. Speaking of the book, an image of the book spinning in the air, right above Jason’s bed, flashes in my mind.
Impossible. There is no way that the book could be at Jason’s. As much as I loved the book, I couldn’t take it along with all my luggage to Oregon. Yet . . . I reach into my mind, desperately trying to remember what the book looked like, but somehow, the more I try, the hazier it becomes. One moment, I recall the book rotating slowly, and the next moment it’s gone . . . gone where?
Pain explodes in my head.
I let out a cry and put both hands on my head. The dizziness returns in full force and I massage my temples, trying to compose myself. In a second, the prince is by my side.
“Kat? Kat, where are you hurting?”
“I’ll be . . . I’m fine.” I try to wave him away. “Just let me lie down for a second.”
He suddenly gets up and leaves, but soon, he is back with a middle-aged man in a black suit. “Dr. Jensen, it seems that my wife has a severe headache.”
The doctor checks my pulse and asks a few questions, which I’m able to answer clearly. The pain has subsided, but my head is still throbbing.
“Her Highness seems to be all right, apart from the sudden attack that I cannot find the reason for. I would suggest that she have some nourishment and take a good rest. She seems healthy enough, so hopefully it was simply over-exertion.”
Edward says a few things to him in a low voice. The doctor looks at me, shakes his head, and tells him in an equally low voice that I can’t discern. “Memory . . . temporary loss . . .” seems to be what they are talking about.
But I am in no mood to listen. My conversation with Edward was so shocking, so ridiculous that I refuse to believe it. I can’t have traveled to a storybook and later returned home. I can’t have met him, gotten engaged, and not remember anything about him. The most plausible explanation is that I happen to look like the princess, who has somehow disappeared. When the train stops, I must try to find where the real princess is and try to get home.
I pretty much sleep through the rest of the journey. Edward converts one of the chairs into a makeshift bed so I can lie down, using one of the cushions as a pillow. Once or twice in my sleep, I am dimly aware of the brush of his fingers on my forehead, smoothing back the hair from my face, but I’m too exhausted to care. My last conscious thought is to get away from this strange but fascinating world. I am not, and cannot be, this princess of Athelia.