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Allison and the Torrid Tea Party: Chapter 8

Looking-Glass House Of Hell

Edith darts past me and grabs the metal poker from next to the fireplace. I’d be proud of her for defending herself is she hadn’t started beating me with it.

‘Fuck!’ she screams randomly, hitting me in the legs with the weapon. I roll onto my back between swings and use my lessons with North to bring the Vorpal Blade up, connecting with her next blow. Our eyes meet and everything goes still—even Dinah stops hissing.

‘Son … Sonny?’ Edith whispers, her eyes widening as I lower the blade and wait for her to put her own weapon down. Instead, she just stands there with it hanging in the air above my head.

I’m too busy shaking and lying there in a pool of silver goo to do much but freak the fuck out inside.

I’ve been fighting to get home for weeks and now that I am home … I want to go back.

This isn’t right, I think, sitting up suddenly and leaning my head over my bloodied skirts. I feel like I might throw up. I just had sex with the King, and now I’m sitting in Dad’s living room?

The mundane normalcy of my old life crashes into me with the force of a freight train, and I find myself gagging. Mostly on the mirror goo, but also … I’m suddenly desperate for the wicked depravity of Underland and the crazy men that I said I hated but maybe actually liked.

‘This can’t be happening,’ I whisper as Edith drops the poker onto the floor and stumbles back, falling onto the smaller sofa like her bones have just turned to Jell-O. ‘This can’t be happening,’ I say again, pushing up to my feet and stumbling into the fireplace. There’s a roaring flame burning, and it singes the edges of my skirts, but I don’t care. I’m too busy putting my palms on the surface of the mirror and choking on my own doubts and fears.

Did I imagine all of that? Surely not, right? I mean, I am still wearing a bloody ballgown and holding a knife.

The Rabbit-Hole. If I have to, I can just go back to that house we were at the night of the party …

‘Allison, is that you?’ Edy whispers from behind me. I look at myself in the mirror, my ice-blue eyes so vibrant that even I have to wonder if I’m wearing contacts. The rainbow streaks in my hair have spread, their color twice … no, three times as bright as it was the day I put it into my white-blonde hair. My lips are full and swollen from Red’s kisses, and there is most definitely a hickey on the side of my pale throat.

Plus, there’s blood everywhere.

I didn’t imagine a damn thing.

‘Edy,’ I start, turning to look at her just before my fingers slip into the warm, liquid softness of the mirror. My head whips around just in time to see Dee tumble from the glass and straight into me, knocking me on my back on the floor. He ends up straddling me which is kinda nice, but then Edith picks up her poker and whaps him in the back with it.

‘Aren’t you a lovely sight?’ Dee grumbles, grabbing the poker and yanking it from my sister’s hands before he looks back down at me with his beautiful sapphire eyes, three shades darker than mine and twice as pretty. If I were liable to cry, I’d weep until the whole house was flooded with tears. ‘Are you okay, Allison-who-isn’t-Alice?’ he asks me, and I just barely manage a nod. ‘Good,’ Dee says, rolling off of me and taking me with him.

We move out of the way about three seconds before Tee slides through the Looking-Glass, landing on his boots like a boss, military jacket billowing out behind him. He steps aside and looks straight into my face.

‘I’m so sorry Allison,’ he repeats, but my emotions are too twisted for me to process his words. I’m excited to see him, but now that he’s here and my fears of Underland being a dream or a fit of madness are banished, I’m freaking out about the people we left behind.

‘What’s going to happen to the castle?’ I ask, panting and holding the Vorpal Blade so tight that my fingers start to cramp. What I’m really asking is what’s going to happen to the ones we left?

The Mad Hatter hops from the portal while Edith gapes at us like she’s about to burst a blood vessel in her brain. Seeing her sitting there with her blonde hair in a braid, her pink Under Armour shirt with Break the Ceiling scribbled across it, I feel like she is the weird one in this room.

How twisted is that?

Once March arrives—also gracefully, so I guess Dee and I are the clumsy ones—he takes the mirror off the mantle, wraps it up in his velvet trench coat, and tucks it under his arm. His ears twitch as he glances down at my sister.

‘Rob Evans?’ she chokes which would be pretty funny if the circumstances were any different.

‘Put that back!’ I say, pushing past the twins to stand next to March. I’m still panting and sweating, and I wish I had time to lie back on a bed and daydream of my time with the King. Buuuut, I don’t. ‘The others might be on their way soon.’

If they come through,’ he says, handing the Mad Hatter back his revolver, ‘then surely a coat won’t be enough to stop them?’ He shakes out his free hand, spattering the ground with goo. Not that it matters: we’re all covered in it. ‘Do you happen to have a shower available in this hovel?’

‘This is a nice five bed, three bath in a good neighborhood,’ I growl out at him, lifting up my skirts and tucking the Vorpal Blade away in my thigh sheath. I hold out my arms like I expect him to give me the Looking-Glass … and he does, plops it right down. I almost fucking drop it.

‘If you break that, there’s no other way through,’ March says, locking his brown eyes on mine. ‘Do you understand what I’m saying, Allison? If the Looking-Glass breaks’—he points at it for emphasis—’then Underland and Topside are parted forever.’

‘What about the Rabbit-Hole?’ I ask. It only goes one way, but at least I could get back … well, not home but …

‘The Rabbit-Hole is like a stream off a river,’ the Mad Hatter says, adjusting his top hat and glancing down at my sister like he’s just seen her. She’s shaking now, her eyes so wide they look liable to roll right out of her face. ‘This is the river,’ Raiden says, caressing the edge of the mirror suggestively.

He turns and looks around the living room like it’s been a while. He’s from Topside, right? Did you just think of home as Topside? I think, and I almost roll my eyes. If the situation were any less dire …

The mirror in my arms suddenly seems to weigh a ton, and I feel sick to my stomach.

If I drop this, it’s all over.

‘Here,’ Tee says, and when he offers to take the Looking-Glass, I pass it over. I trust him not to break it a hundred times more than I trust myself. ‘And don’t worry about the others: they’re all capable men, I promise.’

‘What about Lory and The Long Tale crew?’ I ask, wringing my hands in the fluffy folds of my dress. I should probably address Edith, but … she feels like a stranger, sitting there on Dad’s white couch. I don’t even know what to say to her.

‘They’re pirates, remember,’ Tee says with a small smile, and I have to blink several times to adjust to the idea of him standing in my living room. It’s surreal as fuck. ‘They’ll be okay. Once the castle’s secured, the King will send for us.’

I nod, but I can’t tell if Tee’s just trying to humor me, or if he really means what he says.

‘Who’s this?’ Dee asks, looking down at my little sister with his hands on his hips. ‘Mini-Allison-who-isn’t-Alice?’

‘This is Edith,’ I say as I move over to the couch and sit down next to her in a puff of skirts. I’m probably getting blood everywhere, but it hardly matters now, does it? I’m also coated in mirror goo, just like everyone else.

‘There is a shower, thank my paws and fucking whiskers,’ March growls, slamming the door to the downstairs bathroom closed. The sound of the water running in the guest bath blurs into the normal background noises of my childhood home: the running of the refrigerator, the clink of fresh ice from the ice maker, the bubbling of a coffee pot.

‘Edith,’ I start, reaching out a hand to touch her knee. She jerks back from me and swallows hard, sitting like a deranged crab on the back corner of the couch. ‘Calm down for a sec and talk to me,’ I coo, doing my best to stay calm. I did just hate-fuck a king, fight an undead girl, and run from a dragon, so that’s a wee bit difficult at the moment, but I’m trying. Fuck, I’m trying. But now my teenager-senses are kicking off and I’m thinking about the mess of silver goo on the floor, the spatters of blood on the couch, and … me.

Back home after two weeks.

With four strange men.

Two have wings. One has rabbit ears. And the other has orange eyes and vampire teeth.

Oh I’m sure Dad is going to love this. Aaaaaaand, I doubt he’s going to believe my story of a White Rabbit leading me down a magic hole. Oh no. I bet Brandon’s murder was all over the news, connected with my disappearance. How am I going to explain any of this?!

‘You … you … you,’ she chokes out, slipping her phone from her pocket and frantically hitting the emergency call button on the bottom. I snatch it from her hand and hold it out of reach. ‘You … you … you,’ she repeats, starting to shake.

Hey, I get it: her missing sister just fell out of the living room mirror followed by four incredibly hot but really weird guys. That, and this weird ass silver shit is on everything. It’s like that shiny silver oil paint I used on my dresser last year. I dribbled a little on my carpet and ended up having to cut the fibers off. That shit would not come out.

I hope this isn’t like that since it’s on everything, including Mom’s favorite rug.

Not that she’ll ever get to see it again. She’s in prison for life, remember?

‘Where is Dad?’ I ask, looking into her face. I need her to snap out of it and talk to me.

‘You … where … I didn’t drop any acid,’ she chokes out, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a blunt and a lighter. ‘I swear, I didn’t.’

‘Edy, this isn’t an acid trip,’ I growl, reaching out to snatch the pot paraphernalia from her hands. This time, she manages to dance out of my way, and then Tee grabs it from over her shoulder for me, making my sister scream.

‘This isn’t happening,’ she whispers, curling up into a ball and starting to sob.

Scratch what I thought before. Now that I’m sitting here and looking at her, I know for a fact that she could not have been the Alice.

‘This is happening,’ I say, getting on the floor in front of her and taking her hands in mine, just like I did the night Fred died. I held her hands and I told her through the thickest of tears that it wasn’t a dream or a nightmare—it was real. This is … surprisingly, much less stressful. ‘But I’m here, and I’m safe.’

‘Brandon’s dead,’ she sobs, letting me hold her hands. ‘I found his body.’ Gritting my teeth, I squeeze her hands and curse Rab out in my head, while simultaneously wishing with every molecule in my body that he’s still alive. ‘And you were … I saved your book.’ She sniffles and lifts her head up to look at me. Tears drag her eyeliner down her face in two dark stripes, and my heart stutters a little. If I stay in Underland, I’ll be leaving Edith behind. Can I really do that?

‘Hey,’ Dee says, kneeling down next to me. When I look at him, I get a different sort of stutter in my chest, like my heart is doing happy somersaults in the hot, hot sun. Warm, wild, a little messy … ‘Are there cleaning supplies around? Tee and I will work on fixing this place up.’

‘I … uh, next to the fridge,’ I start and they both cock their heads in unison.

Ooookay.

Right.

They have cell phones and revolvers in Underland, but not refrigerators. Gotcha.

‘In the kitchen,’ I say, pointing in that general direction and refocusing my attention on Edy. The Mad Hatter walks in a slow, lazy circle, pausing next to the front window to peep out the curtains. ‘How long have I been gone?’ I ask, because although I’m pretty damn sure time works the same in both worlds, I have to check.

‘Thirteen days, four hours, and eleven minutes from the last time I saw you,’ Edith whispers, looking at me with fresh tears dripping from her blue eyes. The fact that she’s been counting down the literal minutes makes me feel like a shit sister. ‘Where …’ she starts and then pushes her blonde braid over one shoulder, lifting her fake eyelashes to peer up at the Mad Hatter.

He’s standing behind me now, arms crossed over his chest.

‘Where the fuck were you?’ she chokes out, swallowing hard and running her tongue over too-red lips. Edith looks like she’s about to go out to a bar. She’s sixteen fucking years old.

‘I was …’ Jesus, how do I respond to this? ‘I’ll explain later. You need to tell me where Dad is.’

‘Search party in the woods behind Brandon’s house,’ she says, and I get goose bumps all over my skin. What if someone stumbles across the Rabbit-Hole? What then? ‘He’ll be home in a few hours.’ She pauses and blinks stupidly at me. ‘Do you want me to call him?’

‘No!’ I snap, harsher and louder than I mean to. I’m just wound all the fuck up right now, rising to my feet and glancing back at Raiden. He meets my eyes with his orange ones, and smirks at me. ‘No, not yet. Are there police here?’

‘There were for the first week. But … not anymore.’ Edith stands up and I realize she’s wearing my leather jacket on her small shoulders. ‘Everyone thinks you were raped and killed, Allison. They’ve been trolling me on every social media platform known to man …’ She trails off, and I wonder if she’s just realized she’s making this about herself—as usual. But then, I’m just happy to see that she’s okay. ‘Sonny, what the fuck is going on?’

‘It doesn’t matter,’ I say as I stand up and look at the mess in the living room. There’s silver goo all over the damn place. Plus, the broken bits of the coffee table I smashed into when I landed. That, and I’ve smeared blood on the edge of the couch. ‘Let’s get everything cleaned up and—’

‘It doesn’t matter?!’ Edith asks, standing up and breathing hard. ‘You’ve been missing for weeks! I thought you were dead, Sonny. So did Dad. And Mom … How could you do this to us?’ she screams, like I had any choice in the matter.

I just look at her, and I’m at a complete loss for words. There’s too much turmoil inside of me. I can’t stop thinking about North, Chesh, Lar, Rab … the King. And then Lory and her men, the White Knight, all the innocent bystanders at the ball … I need to get back to Underland, but to do that, I have to smooth things over here first.

‘You have the Liddell blood as well, do you?’ the Mad Hatter asks, cocking his head to one side as he studies my sister. She jumps when she notices that it’s her he’s talking to, and then her cheeks get red. ‘Share some with me, would you? Your sister is such a tease.’ He moves up beside me as I curl my lip in a little snarl. ‘Did I mention she’s my fiancée?’

‘Wha … what?’ Edith asks as I mentally stab the Mad Hatter with the Vorpal Blade.

Tee and Dee come back into the room with a mop and a broom and not much else. I don’t blame them; cleaning supplies in Underland probably look a hell of a lot different than they do here.

‘You were kidnapped … and then engaged … Or were you kidnapped?’ Edith asks, trailing after me into the kitchen. I’m tempted to wrap her in a hug and tell her everything’s going to be okay, but we’ve always had intimacy issues in our family, issues that only got worse after Fred passed away. ‘Some people said it was you who killed Brandon.’

‘Me?!’ I choke as I grab paper towels, Windex, and garbage bags from under the sink. I stand up and turn around to look at Edith to see if she’s fucking joking. There’s no way any idiot in their right mind could think I shot Brandon. With what weapon? With what motive?! ‘Please tell me you don’t believe that.’

‘I …’ Edith steps toward me, lowering her voice to a husky whisper. ‘You just fell out of a mirror followed by four weird-ass looking dudes. What should I believe, Sonny? Hmm?’ She trails along behind me as I dump the cleaning supplies on the floor and Dee lifts up the paper towel roll to his eyes like a telescope. It’d be cute and funny under different circumstances.

‘We have to clean all of this up before my dad gets home.’ I shove rainbow and blonde strands of hair from my face as I use the dust pan to scoop up some of the silver goo. It’s glittery and extremely viscous, like molasses or something. Or blood. Yeah, maybe it’s more like blood, warm and sticky. ‘Our brother Fred was a big guy. And my parents haven’t touched his room since he … passed. Go in there and change into some of his shit.’ I yank a huge clump of paper towels from the roll and go at the carpet with some fucking OxiClean. Of course, the stupid things flake all over the place and get caught in the fibers.

‘You can’t give them Fred’s clothes!’ Edy yells, standing way to close to me, her shoes stuck to the carpet. The twins both have their wings out, and I’m not quite sure what to do about that. Edith hasn’t really said anything, but maybe she thinks they’re fake? I have no clue. I just figure she’s probably in as much shock as I was when I fell down the Rabbit-Hole. Maybe more. ‘Who the hell are these guys anyway? And what are—’ She reaches out to grab Tee’s wing, and his hand flies up, slapping my sister away.

‘Please don’t touch my wings,’ he says, folding them tightly against his back as my sister gapes in horror.

‘They’re not real though,’ she chokes out, stumbling back and sitting down hard on the edge of the couch at the same moment the bathroom door opens and March steps out in my father’s black robe. ‘They’re not real, they’re not real, they’re not real.’

I ignore Edith for a moment and focus on March instead.

‘It’s doubtful you have any servants, in a house this small,’ he says, and I swear to God, I would punch him in the junk if I were close enough. Rab has servants and his house is about the same size. So what’s that about? Being a dick for dick’s sake. ‘So who does the washing?’

‘A machine,’ I snap as I gesture with my chin toward the bathroom. ‘Raiden, you’re next. I’ll bring some clothes down in a minute.’ I scrub the carpet harder, almost furiously, my hands shaking.

I’m all shook up; I’m freaking out; I’m home and I feel like I’m on Mars.

‘Why don’t you go shower and get us all fresh clothes,’ Tee says, reaching out and taking my wrist. He rubs his thumb along the sensitive flesh, tracing a purple vein underneath. I can feel our pulses thumping against one another. ‘We’ll get this cleaned up and then take our turns washing.’

We look at each other over the shredded lump of paper towels, and I realize I just want to throw myself into his arms and have a hug. Maybe these weird dudes are helping with my intimacy issues just a little?

‘Okay,’ I say, because I’m too tired to argue, and I just need a minute.

‘Can I come, too?’ Edith asks, and when I look over at her, her eyes are just a little too big and weepy for me to say no.

‘You can sit on the toilet,’ I tell her as I stand up and look around at the mess in my living room.

I’m finally home.

And ironically enough, it’s the last place in the world I want to be.


The stupid fish-patterned shower curtain is see-through, so I just know Edith is staring at me as I uncoil what’s left of my fancy hairdo, and squeeze some of her hibiscus-bamboo shampoo into my hands.

I’d like to clean my whole body, if you catch my drift, but I can’t very well wash off evidence of my tryst with the King while my little sister’s eyes are on me.

‘Could you stare at the wall or something?’ I ask as I lather up and rinse, feeling all the bumps and bruises on my body. Suddenly, I’m just tired, and I can’t think of anything better than a nap. It’s doubtful I’ll be getting one anytime soon.

‘I just can’t believe you’re here,’ Edith says, wrapping her arms around herself and staring at the red and black heap of my dress and jacket on the floor. ‘Mom, Dad, and me … we all thought you were dead.’

My throat tightens up and I turn away, staring at a drip of water as it runs down the white plastic shower surround.

‘You’re not going to believe where I’ve been, but I hope you at least believe that I didn’t run away by choice. And I came back as soon as I could.’ I grab the conditioner next, soaking my hair in it and rubbing a few colored strands between my fingers.

‘Who are all those guys?’ she asks me quietly, the bathroom fan almost drowning out the sound of her words. But I’m on hyper-alert right now. I feel like I could hear my sister from a thousand miles away if she screamed for me.

‘Friends,’ I say, because I am not addressing that fiancée comment right now. Raiden Walker, that prick. ‘From … where I was staying.’

‘They’re all cosplayers?’ Edith asks, and I mean, that’s as good a guess as any. ‘Those wings look so real. They must’ve cost a fortune.’ Swiping soap from my eyes, I glance over at her through the wavy plastic of the shower curtain and see her picking at the hole on the knee of her jeans. ‘Where did you guys come from? It … looked like you fell through the mirror.’

‘We … there’s a secret door in the fireplace mantle,’ I say, which is so fucking stupid and lame that I can’t believe I even said it aloud. But Edith’s in shock, and she’s never really been into fantasy—unless you count Vampire Diaries—so her mind isn’t quite as open as my own.

She believes it as soon as I say it because it’s the safe thing to believe, that somehow there’s a useless door secretly hidden in the fireplace.

‘We had some paint for our, uh, costumes,’ I continue, hating myself for lying and knowing I don’t have a lot of other good options. If I were to tell her what really happened, she wouldn’t believe me anyway. ‘I spilled it everywhere when I came in the door.’

‘How do you get in the door anyway?’ she asks, her voice sounding tinny and far away. Yep, she’s definitely in shock.

‘The attic,’ I say, because she’s never been up there in her life. Too scared of spiders.

‘You were in the attic?’ Edith continues, and I realize I’m about to get these questions and more from my dad, mom, and probably the police. I need to come up with a story about Brandon’s murder and quick.

‘I climbed the trellis in the back, snuck in my room, and went to the attic.’ I bite my tongue and shake my head. Such a stupid lie, but if she buys it, fine. ‘Just don’t tell Dad about that. Let me tell my own story, okay?’

‘Why were you cosplaying when you knew we’d be worried about you?’ she whispers, and I feel my entire stupid story fall to pieces. I don’t know what to do or say; there is no rule book for this shit. For the first time since I fell down the Rabbit-Hole, I feel my age. Eighteen-years young and shaking under the hot water blasting from the shower head.

‘Edith, just … believe what I’m saying and let it go, okay? I don’t ask a lot out of you. But, just this once, please.’

There’s a long period of silence as I finish washing and then turn off the water, wrapping the fluffy pink towel around myself.

There’s a knock on the door before it bursts inward, and I see Tee and Dee waiting in the hallway.

‘We have a problem,’ he says, just before I hear my name shouted from downstairs.

It’s my dad.

‘Allison!’ he screams, his voice so raw and shattered that I feel like I’ve just been dipped in a vat of broken glass.

I rush out of the bathroom, slamming the door in Edith’s face. I don’t mean to be rude, but I need a minute to get a handle on this situation. Grabbing the twins by their hands, I drag them to my room and lock us in.

‘Is there a way to put your wings back?’ I ask, looking between the two of them. ‘Reactivate the curse? Just for a little while,’ I correct when I see dual expressions of disappointment on both their faces.

‘If you can control your magic, you can do anything,’ Tee says, and then before I can even ask, adds, ‘even here in Topside.’ He looks at me with such a genuine expression on his face that I feel weak in the knees again. The King brought about that emotion with passion, and Tee … brings it out in affection. Without further explanation, he reaches out and cups the side of my face, bringing my lips to his for a kiss.

We belong to you. There’s nothing you can’t see if you don’t want to.” Dee’s words sound loudly inside my tired skull, and I put a palm up to Tee’s chest the way I did to his brother’s the first night we made love. Closing my eyes, I let myself flow into him, catching on the edge of a memory and pushing it away. If I get sucked down that Rabbit-Hole—pun intended—I won’t have enough time to get the twins into proper shape to meet my dad.

Oh God.

It finally hits me.

The Mad Hatter is in the living room with my father.

I’m sure this’ll turn out great.

Dad, meet my vampire boyfriend. He has a pet bat that’s bigger than your SUV.

I shove those emotions aside, putting my hands on Tee’s shoulders and kissing him with this theatrical reverence, rising up onto my toes. My towel falls off and he curls his arms around my naked body. We’ve been here, done this before. I’m more than happy to let him hold me, even if I get silver goo on my freshly washed skin.

With our tongues dancing together, I reach into Tee with my power and find the curse, that ugly black heart stamped onto his soul, sizzling and burning him with every thump of his pulse. One day, I’ll crush it completely, dragging it kicking and screaming out of him and toss it right back at the witch-bitch who cast it in the first place. For now, I nudge it with my magic and feel it tugging on Tee’s soul.

His lips break from mine, and with a groan, he collapses to his knees, taking me with him. His wings fold inward with a burst of black light and the sound of metal on metal.

‘Allison!’ I can hear my dad screaming from the top of the stairs now.

Fuck.

‘Dee,’ I whisper as he squats next to me, his lips twisted in a soft smile.

‘You’ve got this, Allison-who-isn’t-Alice.’ When he leans in to kiss me, I realize that he tastes different than his brother. Tee tastes like rainwater and sunshine breaking through storm clouds. Dee tastes like blackberry honey and mint. I tangle my fingers in his hair and do the same to him as I did to his brother, feeling like a traitor all the while. But there’s no way in fuck I can convince my dad these wings are fake the same way I did my sister, especially not if the cops get involved.

Dee’s wings light up with that same eerie black light before collapsing inward like a telescope.

It’s at that moment that my father kicks in my door, tearing off the locks, and finds me kneeling, naked, and kissing a boy covered in silver goo.

How the fuck am I going to explain this one?


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