“I am the Hatter… We are to be very close, you and I.”
There is nothing more delicious to devour than innocence.
The Dark Forest Anthology goes live sometime today! Woot! The wait is at an end and all that’s left for you to do is take that last step toward delicious deviance. Follow Addison Cain down the rabbit hole for a preview of her contribution to our newest dark-erotic fairytale release.
When darkness falls, Alice hears the tick-tock of the grandfather clock, and the hosts of Wonderland come out to play: the Red Queen soaked in blood, the laughing Madman of Cheshire, and a nasty pair of little boys who itch to bite and scratch. Of all who haunt Alice, one devil’s false friendship is far more insidious. The Hatter has all the power, loves to twist and taunt, and is eager to draw sweet Alice into a never-ending nightmare of degradation and fun. Tea anyone?
Author of the bestselling Alpha’s Claim series, Addison Cain has a penchant for dark themes and unrepentant lust. Heroes are villains, wrong is right, and concepts of obsession color her tales beyond simple black and white.
“Poor, sweet, Alice.” A song bearing my name came from the shadowed corner where my little table was set with my precious tiny tea set. “Did that red woman scare you?” In the dim light, I could barely make out what waited. It was a man, far too tall to be seated at my play table. His knees bent up, spread apart so he might fit. He seemed ridiculously tall, though all adults looked large to children.
His trousers were striped in alternating black and white from his hips, over his knobby knees, down to scuffed shoes. On his shoulders and around his waist was a green velvet coat. His shirt and cravat were yellowed, crinkled, and not at all pretty no matter how big the bow he had tied. Atop his head was a hat like my father wore when he went out in the evenings with Mama.
It was black beaver, hinting at a dint if one looked close enough and greyed by dust.
He reached for the teapot and poured, holding out the cup he had filled for me, as if I might creep from the bed to play with him.
This one was new, and I knew better than to trust. I would not move.
Voice dropping impossibly low, he growled, “You don’t need to be afraid of her, you know. She can’t even speak.” Lifting his chin, the man drew his finger across his throat. “Her head was cut clean off. All shhheeee can do is garble. Cracking fun to watch.” He poured more imaginary tea into my cup and held it even farther towards me. “Don’t ever let her touch you though.”
Blinking, feeling the sleepy crust in my eyes, I whispered, “Why?”
“Madder than a march hare, that one. The Red Queen, she’s something special. A true psychopath. Do you know that word, sweet Alice?”
I shook my head no.
“Your skin… she’ll take yours, tie it in knots, and wear it on her head like a hat.” He’d said it in a way that his yellow eyes bugged, his singsong almost silly as he pointed to his head.
Giddy as I was, I giggled.
Looking back now, I see that I should not have done it. All it did was invite more from the monster. “And the boys… they are naughty, naughty boys, aren’t they?”
I nodded frantic, clutching at my bedsheets. My arms were marked with healing reminders of their claws. Under the covers, I had teeth marks on my ankles.
“Don’t whimper, good little girl. Come here and have your tea. I’ll keep the rest away tonight.”
I’d seen a puppet show on the street once on a rare occasion when I’d been allowed to accompany Mama on a special trip outside. The marionettes had been controlled by strings. That was how I felt when my covers peeled back and I dared step a stocking foot out of my bed.
I went to that table and I sat across from the tall, grey-skinned man.
His arm holding out my tiny cup was motionless, abnormally unmoving. Reaching forward, I gingerly took the saucer, the edges of my pinky brushing his grip on the plate.
The man with long sideburns, grinned, he stared, and I cowered.
“What is wrong with your fingers?”
There was a bruise across my knuckles, my palms were blistered. Fat tears collected in my eyes, and my pouted lip began to shake. It had been such a terrible day. When I’d dozed during my lessons, the hag who taught me harp had cracked my hands with her cane again.
I wanted to please my parents. I wanted to be good. But I could not help but fall asleep at my lessons.
Where I held the tea cup, the man in the dirty hat reached forward. His finger caught the end of my pinky and drew it up in mimicry of how fine ladies held their cups. “Your tea will get cold.”
“I don’t like the boys. They get me in so much trouble!”
“They are easy to tame. When they poke at you,” his grin, the edges of his mouth shifted enough to take all mirth from the expression. Instead, he looked utterly scary, “give them each a hard smack in the face.”
They were bigger than me, and so much stronger. When I kicked, they bit. When I clawed, they squeezed.
Before I might complain on the topic, the man poured himself a measure of the invisible tea and held up his cup. I sipped in mirror to his movements. He’d made slurping noises and smacked his lips, declaring the flavor suburb. My frown grew less severe.
At my shy smile, those yellow eyes became alive in a way the rest of him was decidedly not. “Alice, be a good girl and drink all your tea.”
“It’s good tea, sir.”
“I’m the Hatter. No need to call me sir. We are to be very close, you and I.” The curls at his temples as messy as the blunt ends of his hair at the nape of his neck, my latest visitor posed so I might take him in. Again, he grinned, almost handsome. “As I was saying, little dear, the Red Queen that makes you cry and wet the bed. Do not, under any circumstances, let her touch you. She wants you for herself.”
I took another sip, unexpectedly warm and about ready to nod off right before the lanky, strange man. “The man who laughs? Does he want to wear me like a hat?”
“No. That is not what he wants.”
My visitor smirked. “Want to play.”
The whine in my voice made the complaint pathetic. “Sir, I don’t want to play. I am so tired… I want to sleep”
He reached over the little table and traced my pinky again, following the line of bone from knuckle to nail. “I can give you that.”
“Really? You’ll let me sleep. No laughing? You won’t take my covers, or walk around the bed hissing at me?”
Unfolding like a cricket ready to spring, the man grew tall. “I’ll just stand here and watch.”
I scrambled out of the chair so quickly it fell over. I was up in the bed, the covers tugged to my chin when the grinning monstrosity leaned over me. Yellow eyes unblinking, he looked over the shape of my body under the quilt. “Shall I pat your head, child?”
“Mama gets vexed when I muss my hair.”
The man did not seem at all pleased with my answer. “Are you sure?” He held his hand up, the long fingers hovering over the top of my head. “All little girls like to be tucked in.”
Shrinking into the mattress, I shook my head.
To my ultimate relief he withdrew his hand and did exactly what he’d said he’d do. He stood at the side of my bed and stared down. My eyelids slipped closed, my breath changed, and for the first night in ages, I found sleep.
Addison L. Cain was born in sunny California, but found herself drawn to dwell in older, history-rich places. Japan, Ireland, Qatar, and now Washington DC, Addison is always on the move, always eager to immerse herself in new cultures and people. Her stories reflect the antiquities she loves: deep and sometimes very dark. Driven to push her characters beyond the pale, Addison’s books are not for the faint of heart.
An alumni of California State University Fullerton, she earned a degree in Japanese and spent years in Asia studying indigenous Japanese religion. Primeval forests and worn pathways have led to her obsession with gardening. Her Great Dane approves, loping around the yard and getting into mischief. Unfortunately the cat has to watch from a window, and because Addison is a total sucker for his sad golden eyes, he gets hours of belly rubs and too many treats.
Other titles by Addison Cain:
The Alpha’s Claim Series:
Born to be Bound: Book One
Born To Be Broken: Book Two
Reborn: Book Three
The Irdesi Empire Series:
Sigil: Book One
Sovereign: Book Two
A Trick of the Light
Available Summer 2017:
Alpha’s Control Book One
Social Media Links:
Website – http://addisonlcain.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AddisonlCain/
* * * * *
Click here to get your copy of The Dark Forest now!