Happily Never After (The Grimm Chronicles Book 2)

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Some of us sew clothes, too, and the mistresses sell the clothes for money to keep buying more coal. Some of us have to keep the furnaces going. The boy shrugged. The sound of heavy shoes pounding on the stairs caused us both to flinch. I dropped the coal. The boy quickly used his hand to wipe away the words, putting the lump of coal back in his pocket. A look of relief spread across his little face.

A pair of long, slender hands reached over and grabbed him by his overalls, pulling him over the couch. I tried to follow and felt my feet lift off the ground. But I was floating now, unable to control myself. Marleen laughed. Why, two extra hours shoveling coal will be a walk in the park! And if you collapse, all the better!

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You remind me too much of my dear brother. It was all my fault, you know. I killed him.

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From that moment on, it was only a matter of time before Death returned to claim him. The guilt tears at me so. I planted my invisible feet on the carpet and stepped quickly, losing my footing again and again. By the time I reached the door to the basement, it was already shut.

When I opened them again, I found myself in a dark staircase leading down. I willed my feet to touch the steps and take them two at a time, down one landing and then another, where the wooden steps gave way to stones and the wooden walls of the staircase turned to rock. There was no basement, only another winding staircase leading deeper. The air cooled. The noxious scent of burning coal entered my nostrils.

Alex screamed again. I fought to catch up, tripping on the stone steps in the near-darkness.

The Grimm Chronicles Series

The only sources of light were three small lanterns hanging from the stone walls, and as I passed the last one I found myself surrounded by darkness, carefully plotting my footsteps on the wet stone floor as my invisible fingers followed the rocky wall. I turned right and suddenly, there was light at the end of the tunnel. I gasped. It was a cavern. A massive cavern with massive iron furnaces on either side with long exhaust pipes crawling up the walls and disappearing into the rocky ceiling. Children lurched from massive piles of black stuff over to the furnaces with heavy shovels full of coal.

With every fresh load of coal, the fires inside each furnace belched in satisfaction. The wet rock walls glistened in the firelight.

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More kids sat at tables spread out near the entrance to the tunnel, hunched over stacks of jeans, sewing as furiously as their little fingers would allow. Boys, girls, all of them incredibly young, all of them dirty and disheveled and tired-looking. Their eyes blinked furiously in the hot, dry air. She was walking between the rows of tables.

And money means coal. But for what? I thought. Was it to build the furnaces? How long had it taken to build each one? Why were there so few farther down the cavern? Five of the boys farther down the cavern, tossing another load of coal into the hot furnaces, and the entire cavern brightened. There, on the other end of the cavern: a lizard. A massive lizard the size of a truck, clawing madly at the walls, tearing away chunks of rock.

The Pied Piper of Hameln

The lizard turned, causing the kids to drop their shovels and run back toward the tables. The lizard had bright brown and black spots, like someone had splattered it with paint. It had a fat tail and a wide, spade-shaped head. Its long red tongue jutted out, tasting the air. One of its black eyelids blinked. A terrible realization crept over me. The Grimm Chronicles is intended for Young Adults aged 13 and up.

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