The condensed version of my story is this:
The girl with the long golden hair, or Goldilocks, as they would eventually call me, was awakened by one of the three bears. She had no memory of how she got there. She sat on their furniture, ate their food and slept in their home. They found her, talked to her, and ultimately chased her away. That is the story they tell.
But there are things they didn’t tell you. The stories never mention that I had been intentionally sent there to find the Baer family’s weaknesses and use them to then destroy their group. No one ever said that I would fall for the youngest. Nobody talked about how he would try to save me, even when I couldn’t be save. And they never said my entire world would come crashing down around me as I tried to save him and betray the only family I had left.
I am Auluria, and this is my real story.
The first thing I smelled was sweet spices. A wave of warmth washed over me, coaxing me out of my sleep.
Someone was breathing on me.
When I opened my eyes, all I saw was blue. Blue so deep and so intense I had to blink to bring it into focus. Dark fringe fell over the blue color as it sparked and flashed, awakening me fully. Those were eyes. The most brilliant blue eyes I’d ever seen.
Then it hit me…and I panicked.
“Who are you?” I snapped, sitting up so quickly I nearly collided with the boy next to me. No, not a boy; a man.
I clutched at my collar and backed away from the figure next to me. His face fell as I scrambled away. He reached for me, but not in time to save me from falling off the far side of the small bed and landing squarely on the ground. My flailing hand slammed into a small table near the cot and sent its contents crashing to the floor beside me.
“Auluria, stop,” Blue Eyes said.
“How do you know my name?” I sputtered.
“You don’t remember?” he asked, concerned. He stepped quickly around the bed and stood at the foot of it, unsure if I’d accept his help. He reached out his hand but pulled it back looking disappointed as I recoiled.
“Are you alright?” he asked gently. He knelt to the floor submissively, trying to soothe my terror.
I looked around. I had made a mess, but I hadn’t broken anything. Still, I was confused…I had no idea what was going on.
“Who are you?” I asked again, softer this time.
“I’m Dov,” He placed his hand over his heart as he spoke. “You know me.”
Breathing heavily, I tried to calm my gasping.
“Why am I here?”
“You came here. You came with me. You don’t remember?”
“No,” I didn’t remember anything about him.
“We only just met yesterday. You’ve had quite an experience,” he spoke softly to me, as if trying to calm a child. “It’s okay that you don’t remember. You will.”
He couldn’t have been much older than me, maybe a year or two. The man was tall when he was standing, I could tell even from down on the floor. He had long, strong arms. Something about the way he brushed the hair back out of his eyes set me at ease.
I started to stand and he rose with me. He never took his eyes off me.
“And just how did we meet, Dov?”
“Come. Sit down and I’ll tell you. Would you like something to drink? Water perhaps?”
I slowly made my way to the table at the far end of the room. I started to sink into one of the mismatched chairs.
“Actually, maybe not that one,” Dov said, skirting around me and pulling out another chair. “This one is much more comfortable.”
I obliged, though I didn’t know why.
“Here,” He said handing me a glass of cool water. “Are you hungry? I can make you something.”
Without waiting for me to respond he walked over and started the stove. He reached for a pan and busied himself making food.
“So, why am I here?” I prompted after a few minutes of watching him cook. Once I was convinced he wasn’t going to hurt me, I relaxed back into the seat and watched him work. It calmed my nerves to see him methodically creating breakfast.
“You are here, Auluria, for a great many reasons,” he said dramatically, his grin making his eyes sparkle again, “One of which happens to be…”
The door flew open, interrupting him. I jumped as it crashed against the wall. Turning to look at the noise, I sent my hair cascading over the back of the chair and around to my shoulder where it hit me in the face before falling into my lap.
“Well, look who’s up,” a woman said, scoffing, “Sleeping Beauty.”
“I can’t believe you brought her back here, Dov. She’s nothing but trouble,” the man said. He was an older, darker version of Dov. He seemed to be plagued by something heavy. Even his steps were weighted as he moved about the room, as if dragged down by some invisible chain.
“Are you hungry?” Dov asked ignoring their comments.
I watched as the woman glanced around the room. Her eyes fell on the bed. Its sheets were tangled from my fall. The man followed her gaze. They both cast Dov looks, raising their eyebrows at him. No one said anything. Suddenly, I was extremely self-conscious.
“Well, well, baby brother. Looks like you have a story to tell,” the man howled with laughter. My cheeks burned and I ducked my head.
“Enough, Berwyn.” The woman said quietly. She looked aside as he cast her a disparaging glance.
“Auluria doesn’t remember us,” Dov sounded annoyed.
“Oh, but we remember her.” Berwyn said, making it sound like a bad thing.
I couldn’t figure out what I had done to these people to make them so vicious toward me. Well, not all of them, but it was clear the man and woman were not pleased to find me there.
“I thought we told you to get rid of her,” he said seriously, making my stomach jump into my throat. He slammed his fist against a table, Dov ducked as though he had been hit.
“I won’t and you know why. She won’t hurt us; she’s more likely to help us than anything else.”
“Let her stay, Berwyn. I think it would be nice to have another girl around, and besides Dove’s been alone for so long, it’s nice he has someone,” I couldn’t tell if she was being helpful or mocking.
“It is kind of a pain that he’s always a third wheel I guess.” The big man relented.
“See? I knew it would work out.” The girl said, her mid-length blond curls bouncing as she strode toward
I opened my mouth to speak, but Dov caught my attention and signaled me to stay quiet with a quick shake of his head.
“Come on,” the man finally said, leading the woman away.
I looked back to the stove where Dov was, but he was already at my side setting down a plate.
“That’s my brother, Berwyn, and his wife, Eden,” he said as a matter of fact.
“They’re married?” I said shocked. “He can’t be more than twenty-five.”
“How old is she?”
“Eden’s twenty-three,” he replied. “Do you want more water?”
“Dov, why am I here?” I asked again, trying to get him to focus. I needed answers.
“Do you remember being in the forest yesterday?” he asked me.
I shook my head.
“Well, I don’t know why you were in the woods, but that’s where I met you. You were running through the forest and you jumped over a small stream.
“I saw you flying through the air and thought ‘what must this crazy girl be doing to be running so quickly through such a dense part of the forest?’ When you landed, you took three whole steps before you came face to face with me.
“I’d never seen a more panicked look in all my life. You clutched your skirts in your hand and whipped your head from side to side. I’d never seen such long hair on a girl; when it finally settled, it ran past your waist,” he said as if I didn’t know how long my hair was.
“And when you looked back to me, you whispered ‘help.’ I could see in your eyes that you were in trouble.” He said with grandeur, illustrating his story with his hands, “So I took you by the waist and spun you into the trees. We ducked behind some large rocks and hid among the vines. You were breathing so loudly I thought you were going to give us away.
I wondered how the story would sound if he dropped his dramatic tone. I assumed he was using it to try to keep me engaged.
“What was I running from?” I interrupted.
“Men. There were men chasing you. You refused to tell me why,” he grinned as if it were all a game. I was in no mood for games.
“Once the first group of men chasing you were gone you started off again, barely throwing a ‘thank you’ over your shoulder. But I couldn’t let you go alone, not after what I had seen, so I walked with you.”
I hoped he would get to the point, but he had more to describe in detail.
“You only tolerated me for so long until you started throwing things at me. An apple. A tree branch. Some small pebbles. I admit, it hurt my feelings a bit.”
He frowned playfully, but his eyes sparked to life from under his dark hair.
“But… persist I did, and I followed you for the better part of an hour, talking at you the whole time. That is, until I was attacked. In my blind disregard for my own safety,” he waved his hand to the side, as if I should be impressed, “I hadn’t realized where we had wandered. I was taken completely by surprise when those guys jumped out of the trees and landed on top of me.”
He laughed, his eyes lighting up. “But you, for as surprised as you were, ran right at us and tackled Jake to the ground. He hit the dirt so hard that it knocked the wind right out of him. I’m sure he couldn’t ever believe a girl would ever consider dating him, much less throwing herself at him like you did.”
I felt my eyes grow wide at his teasing words. He was only joking, a play on words, but still, I would never throw myself at a man in that context. It vexed me that he would insinuate that I might.
“Once I took out Marty, we found ourselves in the clear. That didn’t stop us from trying to make a fast getaway though. We almost made it too, but somehow Jake struggled to his feet and he went after you. Just as I subdued Marty and placed him on the ground, I lifted my head and saw Jake barreling toward you.
“I couldn’t make it to you in time. The sound it made when he hit you…it was almost as if I could feel it from as far away as I was,” He offered me a sad look, his eyes clouding.
“If it’s any consolation, I slammed his face into a tree and messed him up pretty bad. You insisted that you were fine, but you could barely stand. I scooped you up and carried you.
“We talked all the way back here. Well, mostly I did,” I refrained from rolling my eyes. Of course, he had been the talkative one. “You told me your name and then you asked a few questions before deciding to stay quiet. So as of right now, all I know is that your name is Auluria. You have long hair. You’re running from something and you are being chased. And you’re looking for a place to belong-though I added that last part on my own.”
He counted his points off on his fingers for me as he summarized what had occurred yesterday.
“And what did you tell me about yourself?”
“Well, as you know, my name is Dov. Baer is my last name. You’ve met my brother and his wife yesterday briefly, and again today. As you can see, my brother doesn’t trust you, but don’t take offense, he doesn’t trust anyone.
“You can’t really blame him with all that’s going on,” he continued, “it’s hard to trust anyone these days.”
I looked down to my dress, covered with dirt and mud at the bottom. There were a few small holes that I assumed occurred during my fall. That’s when I remembered.
I had been running. I just couldn’t remember why.
I remembered meeting him though. As the men gained on me, I leapt over a river, almost directly into Dov’s arms. He hid me until the men passed. I never told him of the danger I must have surely been in and he was in for being with me.
“You remember,” Dov voice changed, snapping back to the conversation.
“I remember,” I nodded. “Thank you for your help yesterday.”
“Anything for a pretty lady,” he half bowed to me from his seat next to mine.
“Now, tell me Auluria, why were you running from those men yesterday?” he grew serious again, wanting more information from me.
“They were chasing me,” I said simply.
He chuckled. “But why?”
I swallowed hard. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t remember?”
“It picks up from where I ran into you,” his eyes narrowed intently, but soft enough to know he was concerned, not angry.
“Where do you belong, Auluria? We have to get you back to where it’s safe.” He took my hand in his own hands, the gesture so sudden that it shocked me into stillness. I let him hold my hand in his while his eyes searched me for answers.
“I…I don’t belong anywhere.” That was the truth. I never belonged there. “And do you really think going back is safe, since that’s where I was coming from in the first place?”
Little flashes of memory floated through my mind. Not enough to blend together and form a picture, but pieces all the same.
“You will tell me eventually, Auluria,” he said withdrawing his hand. He looked genuinely hurt that I wouldn’t divulge any new information.
I didn’t like that he thought I knew more than I was saying.
“You can stay here until you’re ready,” he added quietly, almost to himself.
I looked at him and it was as if he read my mind.
“You’ll be safe here. They won’t find you and Berwyn won’t hurt you. I’ll make sure of it.”
That thought scared me. If this man was telling me I’d be safe from his brother, then what was so bad about his brother that made it potentially unsafe?
“Finished?” he interrupted my thoughts. Lifting my plate, he turned to the sink.
I watched as he washed the dishes, his shoulder rising and falling as he worked. His muscles looked stiff at times, seizing with pain. My gaze lingered on them as he worked. I watched his chest expand and shrink as he breathed.
When he turned, it startled me. Dov only raised an eyebrow and smirked. He nodded his head for me to join him in the makeshift living room, walking away from the kitchen.
Just as we started to sit, I blurted out, “What did you mean? ‘Protect me from Berwyn’?”
“Oh. I see you don’t remember all of yesterday after your rescue.” He added apologetically, “Berwyn, is just a lot to handle at times. Sometimes he gets a little too upset. At times, he says or does things without thinking. It’s nothing to worry about, he won’t hurt you, he’s just… loud sometimes.”
As if emphasizing his brother’s point, at that very moment Berwyn crashed into the room and slammed the door behind him. He glared at us before stomping through the kitchen and marching out the door.
Eden appeared, rolling her eyes. She looked over to her young brother-in-law and gestured around the room.
“Baby, you need to get this taken care of,” she turned on her heels and retreated the way she came.
I looked to Dov. “Baby?” I giggled.
“Oh, be quiet,” he said, throwing a pillow at me as he stood, careful to avoid my face.
“Let me help you,” I responded, rising to follow him, knowing that I owed him for his help the day before.
We started cleaning up the mess around the room. Bottles lay strewn about the floor. Unfolded laundry sat in a pile on a chair. It looked like there had been a celebration that someone forgot to clean up after.
“How’s your head feeling?” he asked as we worked.
“It’s okay,” I said, feeling more secure about being alone with him. “What happened in here anyway?”
“Berwyn and Eden had a fight yesterday. It’s best to get out of the house when that happens.” He stooped to sweep up pieces of broken glass. “They never hurt each other, but they sure do know how to make it sound good.”
“Was it about me?” I asked.
“It started out about you, but most of this is from after.”
I helped him straighten the room. His eyes flitted over to me every so often, making sure I wasn’t going to pass out from my injury the previous day.
The quiet that stretched between us was almost comforting. I’ve always liked the silence. It means that you are comfortable enough with a person that you don’t feel the need to fill up the space with words. You can just exist together.
Berwyn and Eden didn’t make another appearance until that evening. Dov had suggested I take a nap to help regain my strength, so after lunch I lay on the couch under a light blanket. It really was too warm for a blanket, but I liked the protection it offered me.
I never truly drifted off to sleep. While I felt safe in that house, I knew I didn’t really know these people very well and I didn’t want to trust them too quickly.
“She’s still here.” Berwyn grumbled.
“I told you, we’re not sending her back out there. She’s being hunted and she can’t remember by whom or why. We have to protect her.”
“Stop it, Berwyn.” Eden interrupted before he could say anything. “I don’t like it either, but he’s right. We’re not sending her back out there until we have some answers. Your father started this whole thing to help people, so you need to help people. And start with her.” I heard the edge in her voice when she talked about me. Maybe she hadn’t been sincere about letting me stay.
“Fine,” He huffed. “For now.”
I kept my eyes closed, feigning sleep, and waited for them to leave. I heard their steps creak across the floorboards as they walked out of the room. A moment later I felt the couch arm dip slightly as someone leaned on it.
“You heard that, didn’t you?” his gentle voice asked.
I opened my eyes. “Yeah.” I acknowledged.
He took a deep breath and sighed. “At least he’s letting you stay.”
“For now,” I added.
“For now,” He said, worry slightly edging into his voice.
That probably wasn’t their best choice.
Check out a longer excerpt here