PIN PORTALS

An alternate point-of-view from The Immortal Grimm Brothers' Guide to Sociopathic Princesses. Melody was a blip in the series, a blink-and-you-miss-her character. She was the one that reminded the royals of what they were fighting for--a kingdom full of people cursed just like they were. But she was never just a blip for me. She had a story, and I'm sharing it with you all here!


© 2019

Melissa Padgett (M. J. Padgett)


All Rights Reserved.


No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. This work may not be translated except by permission of the author.


This is a work of fiction. The names, occupations, events, incidents, and businesses are products of the author’s imagination.


 

Melody hummed quietly to herself, a trait she picked up from her late mother. Once upon a time, the tune would force a flurry of painful memories to the surface of her consciousness and send her into a downward spiral that started with sniffles and ended in full-on ugly crying. Now, her mother’s favorite song helped her focus. She needed focus today, the day.


The seamstress adored weddings. Her deft fingers worked the silk with confidence as she placed a few whipstitches to hold the voluptuous ballgown out of the mud. She tightened her lips into a thin line as she focused on the delicate garment. Why did it have to rain today?


The quiet click of the door distracted her momentarily, but Melody soon put her eyes back on her work. The matron-of-honor paced in front of the window—light, shadow, light, shadow. Melody did wish she would sit or pace elsewhere, preferably somewhere she wouldn’t interfere with Melody’s important work.


“I have a problem,” the woman said, her blonde hair pulled into an intricate assembly of curls and twists that gave Melody a headache just looking at it. But it wasn’t her wedding, and the bridesmaid’s haggard appearance was not her problem. Keeping the dress clean, now that was. Still, the woman expected a reply from Melody.


“What is that?” Melody asked but only partially listened to her response.


“I’m in love with the groom, and I think I should tell him.”


Melody gasped, then dropped her sewing needle on the carpeted floor. Drat! She would never find it in the thick pile. She was quite sure she hadn’t heard the woman correctly, so she played off her shocked reaction as best she could.


“I’m so sorry. I dropped my needle and nearly pricked my finger. Just a moment while I—”


“I said, I’m in love with the groom. You see, we had a thing before he met my best friend, but it fizzled and, well, I think the spark is back.”


Melody stared into the face of the woman, Bethany, as her periwinkle sash declared. Maid-of-Honor, indeed! There was noting maidlike or honorable about Bethany, but it was hardly Melody’s place to tell her so. Instead, she excused herself.


“I’m sorry to hear you… Uh, I’ll be right back.” Melody escaped the workroom as quickly as possible, her small feet carrying her across the grand hotel lobby, then toward the manager’s office. Along the way, Melody passed the bride. She beamed with delight and gave Melody a small wave. Instantly, Melody’s stomach filled with heavy dread. Something would go wrong; she just knew it.


Melody knocked on the manager’s office door. She heard shuffling inside, then the door clicked open.


“Miss Cromwell, how may I be of service?” the hunched elderly man asked. He looked a bit disheveled, worn down by who knew what, but that wasn’t Melody’s problem either. Fix the dress, she thought. Just fix the dress, Melody.


“What was that?” the manager asked, removing his glasses and squinting at her through beady little eyes.


“I need to fix a dress. Do you have a sewing kit? I’ve lost my last needle.” Melody thought all hotels boasted sewing kits as one of the extra amenities offered to impress clients, but it appeared the high-dollar hotel had no interest in such things.


“Afraid not, but I do recall a sewing box in the lost and found. Been there a while; maybe you could borrow it?”


“That might do,” Melody said, then followed the man to the front desk where the lost and found basket was hidden in a secret cabinet. He tried the lock several times, kicked the cabinet, and fussed a few indecipherable words, then resorted to handing Melody the key.


“Confounded thing. I can never get it open.”


Melody took the key and slipped it into the lock. She turned the handle and saw a dusty old book resting on top of the sewing box. It was as beautiful as any she’d ever seen with expensive leather binding and an intricate pattern embossed on the front. It seemed to call out to her. Touch me! Melody ignored her instinct and carefully slid the box from under the book.


“Weird book, that is. Has all sorts of crazy stories about time travel and portals and angry princesses. A guest left it behind. Had a rabid dog attack, and… Well, I suppose you don’t want to hear the story. Feel free to read the book if you wish.”


The old man turned and hobbled back to his office. Melody ignored the fantasy book and lifted the sewing box. She moved back to the prep room with hurried steps, her time running short. What if that dreadful woman is still there?


Melody was still young, a mere thirty-year-old, but she had an old soul. Her moral compass pointed strongly north, and she had no desire to take the last-minute confession of a selfish, man-stealing, traitorous best friend. All she wanted to do was whipstitch a dress and get back to her shop.


Melody quietly pushed open the door. Drat again! The woman was still there staring out the window as if the answer to life’s most significant questions might be on the other side of the glass. They were not. Melody could attest to that, but if she stared long enough, perhaps Bethany would fall into a trance and forget about the groom. On the other hand, maybe the groom wasn’t worth the lovely bride’s time.


The seamstress sighed. There she went again, getting involved. Just fix the dress! Melody pushed the door all the way open, alerting Bethany she had returned. Before the woman could begin her confession again, Melody let out a long, low breath.


“Goodness, look at the time. My, oh my, I sure have a lot of work to do.” Melody flipped open the top of the sewing box and pulled a few straight pins from a little plastic box labeled “Portal Pins.” Melody had never heard the term before, but she chalked it up to the box owner’s own personal slang.


“So, anyway, what I was saying was—”


Melody grumbled and stabbed the dress with the first pin, pricking her finger in the process. “Darn it!” she cried as a scarlet drop of blood trickled down her finger and landed on the delicate silk. Then the world spun.


Swirling lights surrounded her in a myriad of colors—pink, blue, yellow, green—the whole rainbow fluttered and flashed around and around like a dizzying carousel. Melody thought she’d passed out or perhaps suffered a brain-splitting migraine induced by Bethany’s incessant yammering. She wasn’t falling, but she was moving. Left then right, up then down, all the while the lights circled her—or was she spinning?


She clutched the dress tightly, the only thing she recognized in a sea of light and motion. Finally, mercifully, the swirling stopped, and Melody landed on her butt in the middle of a large kitchen. Her rear end smashed painfully onto a wooden stool, splitting its legs. It dropped her to the floor, which Melody noted was crafted of beautiful stone.


She glanced around the room, unsure what had happened or where she was. A small movement to her right caught the attention, she turned to face it. A man—tall, dark hair and eyes, thin yet muscular holding a jar of peanut butter. A spoon dangled from his mouth, and his eyes were wide and curious. He blinked a few times, then opened his mouth. The spoon clattered to the floor.


“Wha… wh-where did you come from?” he asked Melody.


Melody tried to stand, but her legs ached. Her whole body ached. Where did she come from? The man placed his jar of peanut butter on the counter and slowly approached Melody. She felt a bit like a stray dog the way he tentatively reached for her, but she accepted his hand nonetheless. He helped her to a standing position, then put the ruined wedding dress on the counter.


“Thank you, um…?”


“Jack. My name is Jack. You?”


“Melody… I think. Where am I?” Melody asked cautiously, still unclear of the circumstances surrounding her travel.


“You’re in a kingdom called Schwarzwald in The Black Forest of Germany. I just dropped in for a quick visit, and, well, then you dropped in… literally.”


“I’m in Germany! That can’t be. Thirty seconds ago, I was in New York City repairing that wedding dress!” Melody cried, pointing to the shredded remains of a once-gorgeous gown.


“Technically, you were falling from the sky thirty seconds ago,” Jack said.


Melody didn’t think it was all that funny, but instead of being rude, she asked the obvious question. “How do I get back home?”


“You’re only in Germany. You can take a plane. Or a train and a boat. Or a plane and a train and a boat. Or you could drive and take a boat. Even drive and ride and…” He shook his head, then asked, “I’m sorry, but how did you get here again?”


The eccentric man seemed nice enough, oddly putting Melody more at ease than she had been in a long time. Even so, popping from New York to Germany in a few seconds was like slipping through a… holy cow.