The Wicked Will Rise Page 34

I rolled over, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and then remembered: I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. I was in a plush bed in a magical tent in the Land of Oz. I blinked away the sleep and pushed away the sudden, raw feeling in my chest from believing for half a second that my mom might have cooked me breakfast. That’s when I saw that the table that had welcomed me and Ozma the night before delicious food and champagne was now overflowing with a truly sumptuous breakfast feast. Bacon, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, glass carafes of juice and sparkling water—I’d barely had a decent meal the entire time I’d been in Oz, and now I was looking at a World Series-winning grand slam breakfast.

I had seen a lot of incredible things in Oz, but this took the coffee cake. My mouth dropped open.

Just as I was about to jump from the bed to pig out, I saw a small movement out of the corner of my eye, in the tent’s sitting area. I turned, expecting to see Ozma already awake and wandering around the way she always did.

It wasn’t Ozma.

Instead, sitting in the armchair was none other than Dorothy’s coconspirator and right-hand woman, Glinda the Good.


“Well, someone’s a sleepyhead,” Glinda said brightly. For a split second, I wondered if it could be Glamora, Glinda’s twin sister. But no: I’d spent enough time with Glamora when I’d been training with the Order to know that this wasn’t her. The differences were subtle and obvious at the same time. The tightness of her chignon, the shade of her lipstick, the way her eyebrows were overplucked until they were barely there. The hardness in her gaze and the muscles twitching in her clenched jaw.

But it was also the fact that she had a thick, jagged scar stretching from her chin to the bridge of her nose—the chunk that Mombi had talked about taking out of her face had been stitched up, but the evidence was there to stay.

I jolted straight up, and felt my knife materialize in my hand, which was under the covers and out of sight.

My head was spinning, still numb and heavy from sleep. Was it too much to ask to wait until after I’d had my first cup of coffee in ages to tangle with a psychotic sorceress? I inched backward in bed as I tried to size up the situation.

“Oh, darling, relax,” she said. “I come in peace. Really.” She raised her perfectly manicured hands in the air as if to say See?

In a pale pink linen pantsuit with a large diamond pendant dangling at her just-this-side-of-tasteful décolletage, she looked fresh, perky, and utterly nonchalant, the perfect picture of kindness, poise, and sophistication. Other than the scar. I hoped she was embarrassed about it.

Even now, after everything I knew about her, I had to remind myself that this Glinda was nothing like the kind, generous sorceress I’d grown up reading about. This Glinda was a cold, calculating psychopath who probably ate babies for dinner. The only thing the one had in common with the other was a true passion for all things pink.

It was tempting to try to rush her right there—to jump up and take her out once and for all. But I had to play this carefully. With someone like the Lion, you could stab first and ask questions later. Glinda was too smart for that. She wouldn’t just waltz in here and expect me not to attack her, and as casual and vulnerable as she appeared, she had to be ready for a fight.

Oh, she would get a fight all right. But I wasn’t going to play straight into her hands. I had to be sneaky. I decided to bide my time until I had a real plan.

Unless she attacked first. Then I would fight her with everything I had.

“I hope I didn’t wake you,” she said airily. “You looked so peaceful sleeping. The beds are glorious, aren’t they? I had them special ordered from a group of Nomes in Ev who’ve been making them for centuries. Best sleep you’ll ever get outside of the Emerald City. Even Dorothy’s jealous. I daresay you must have been tired, though—you slept all morning, afternoon, and then clear past the night again. Not that I blame you after all you’ve been through.”

I looked her straight in her luminous blue eyes. “What do you want?” I asked coldly.

“Oh, I just wanted to check in and see how you were doing. Maybe clear a few things up. You and I got off on the wrong foot, and I’ve been hoping you, Her Royal Highness, and I could all try a do-over. There’s really no point in fighting, is there?”

Shit, I thought. Ozma. I’d been so startled at the sorceress’s sudden, unexpected appearance that I’d forgotten all about the princess. I glanced over to her bed, hoping she was safe, and saw that it was empty. Double-shit.

Glinda shook her head with a smile, reading my mind. I mean, maybe she really was reading my mind. If Gert could do it, why not Glinda?

“Don’t worry about her, she’s been up for hours,” Glinda said, gesturing to the far corner, where Ozma was standing with her back pressed to the wall, half hidden by a large potted fern. She was white-faced and silent, watching us. “We had a nice long chat. Of course, I was doing most of the talking. She is a quiet one, isn’t she? A shame, really—she used to have such spirit! All Dorothy’s fault, of course.” She sighed. “I don’t know what I was thinking, bringing that spoiled little brat back here from Kansas. What can I say?” She shrugged. “It seemed like a good idea at the time. Who knew that a simple farm girl could go and make such a hash of things?”

I barely heard what she was saying—I was too busy calculating my options. I couldn’t help being annoyed that I had been put in charge of protecting a fairy princess who probably had more raw magical power in her pinkie finger than I would ever be able to wield, even with years of practice, but didn’t know how to use it. Ozma should have been a valuable ally, but she was really no use in her current state. Even Pete—who couldn’t use magic at all—would have been of some help.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies