First Night: Four Fairy Tales Retold
Click on image to enlarge.
by Caroline Aubrey
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica
Description: Ever wonder what really went on between Beauty and the Beast during those long winter nights? Why did Cinderella's stepmother hate her so much? Who was Sleeping Beauty seeing the night before she pricked her finger on a spindle? Just what was the mysterious appeal of the Robber Bridegroom that made so many women marry him? Caroline Aubrey imagines what was left out of those familiar tales when they sanitized for children.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: June 2008
9 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [141 KB]
Reading time: 90-126 min.
"This is definitely a story you tuck yourself into bed reading after you have read the innocent and watered down version to your children!"--Simply Romance Reviews
"First Night: Four Fairy Tales Retold offers a delicious perspective to fairy tales never intended for children. Ms. Aubrey serves up a lusty helping of
courageous women and fascinating men who understand intimacy, love and loyalty. It was a nice opportunity to revisit stories sparkling with Ms.
Aubrey's fresh characters and steamy visuals."
Patrice F, Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed
LA BELLE ROSE by Caroline Aubrey
There once was a wealthy, widowed merchant who lived in splendor on an island kingdom with his six children. A doting father since the death of his wife, the merchant plied gifts upon his children. For his sons he brought sailing ships and magnificent cloaks, swords from far-off lands, and golden rings for each finger. For his daughters he brought golden drinking goblets and jewels of every size imaginable, dresses of the finest fabric and every color, and hair combs made of seashells. He loved his children immensely, and they him, showering him with kisses and embraces, conversation and merriment at every turn. The merchant's glorious house by the sea, with its marble floors and gold and gilded velvet walls, was a happy place to be. His children lovingly tended the house and the gardens with their exquisite roses in their father's absences, and they entertained musicians and poets and kings and queens in the hallowed halls of their grand home. Merriment and laughter, music and art filled their home. The scent of the merchant's prize winning rose garden drifted through the manor, the blooms blessing all who passed through there with their most beautiful fragrance.
While his three sons laughed and cavorted with kings and two of his daughters recited poetry and sang ballads to queens, the merchant's youngest daughter spent her days in the rose gardens, tending her father's petals with loving care and gentle urging. For days upon days the youngest daughter, Rose by name, passed her time on her hands and knees, digging in the wet earth of her father's gardens, sowing the seeds of beauty and grace into her father's rich-soiled ground.
This youngest daughter was the favorite of her father, and her beauty was renowned throughout the seaside kingdom her family called home. So beautiful was she that her brothers and sisters took to calling her La Belle Rose, or Beautiful Rose, and in endearment they shortened her name to Beauty, for the youngest daughter was not only as beautiful as a spring day in her father's rose gardens, but her heart was kind and true and she had a soft word and a compassionate thought for all who came into her domain.
One day, during a particularly harsh storm that brought destruction to both land and sea, the merchant's ships sank into the ocean, and with them, his fortunes. Tearfully, his daughters gave up their lavender pearls and fiery rubies, their satin dresses of every color, so that their father would save his empire--but to no avail. Gallantly, his sons gave up their horses and bejeweled swords, their velvet cloaks and golden rings, but the merchant's riches were not to be saved. So the merchant and his sons and daughters left their fine home, took what few belongings they had left and moved to a tiny cottage at the edge of a deep, dark forest, where musicians and poets, kings and queens rarely traveled.
The merchant and his family suffered their fate sadly, almost silently, but it was his youngest daughter, Beauty, who kept their spirits up. She cheerfully cleaned the little cottage, sent her brothers to collect water and catch deer, her sisters to knit and weave new finery, while the only garden she tended was the one with the sheep and the pigs and the water wheel of the cottage mill. At night, as her father and brothers and sisters sat quietly eating their porridge, drinking their ale, dreaming of the days they ate fresh fish and drank fine wine, Beauty sang ballads of far-off heroes and heroines; of women warriors and immortal men whose vices and sorrows always made the merchant and his children appreciate what they still had--each other.
But every night, after she kissed her father and her brothers and her sisters goodnight, Beauty lay in her bed and thought of her beautiful roses, how much she missed them, their tender fragrance upon her lips, their beckoning necks leaning to her, touching her with their velvet tips, caressing her flesh with their very souls--and silent tears fell from her eyes as she drifted off to sleep.
One day, the merchant received word that one of his ships had survived the grand tempest and was docked in a secluded bay on the far side of the island. The merchant was overjoyed at the news, and packed some bread and cheese in a knapsack for his journey. That night, before he left, he asked his children what gifts he could bring them.
"Father," cried his sons, "bring us swords of gold and gilded rubies! Bring us fine stallions the color of the deepest night! Bring us cloaks of wine velvet to keep us warm in the night wind!"
"Dearest Father," cried two of his daughters, "bring us jewels for each finger! Bring us dresses of spun gold and silk! Bring us gloves of the finest doeskin to keep the chill from our roughened fingers!"
The merchant smiled and kissed his sons and two of his daughters. He then turned to Beauty. "And you, ma belle rose, what would you have me bring you?"
Beauty turned her soft, clear brown eyes, shimmering with tears, to her father's face. "Oh, dearest Father, bring me a single red rose, with petals so red they're nearly black, with a fragrance so sweet it will remind me of our happy days by the sea!"
The merchant kissed Beauty's forehead, and pressed his feet to the horse's flanks, waving his goodbyes as his children clung to each other in sadness over their father's parting. * * * *
The merchant rode frantically for days to reach the far-off harbor. He passed through the dark forest, with trees so dense they swallowed the light of the moon. He endured fierce winds and heavy rains so cold he couldn't feel his fingers. His horse carried him across rough, unpolished, snow-blanketed boulders, the chill seeping into every joint, every muscle until he thought he would surely die. But the thought of his children waiting for him, warmed by the fire of their tiny hearth, kept him going until at last he reached the small harbor on the other side of the island.
When he arrived at the port, a ghost of a ship awaited him. Sails tattered and torn, wood cracked and splintered, brass dull and bent, his once glorious ship was now nothing but a vestige of her previous glory. All of her precious cargo had been lost, and all save two of the crew.
Bitterly disappointed, the merchant gave the two what little bread and cheese he had left in his sack, and forced his horse back up the craggy mountainside and into the dense forest.
Three days garlanded with ominous black storm clouds went by before the merchant stopped. His horse was haggard, and the snow had begun to fall, settling in his aching bones. The merchant rode on gallantly, forcing his way past granite slabs and thick trees. The pain in his joints became so severe the merchant thought he would collapse, became lost in his mind and saw only waking dreams of his six children alone in their tiny cottage. He dreamt of his sons' jokes and laughter, his daughters' gentle touches, and especially of his Beauty singing into the night wind, her voice as lovely as a night bird sending its song through the darkness.
The forest was dark and cold, and through the merchant's delirium he began to hear the sounds of wild animals as their cries echoed off the tall trees and heavy brambles. He knew he had to be alert, and forced the weariness from his mind. Slowly coming back to his senses, the merchant opened his eyes. He gasped at what he saw. A wide gate of deepest jet-black iron greeted him. The gate was so high and the merchant so frozen he couldn't tilt his head back far enough to see just how high the spirals went.
The sound of a wolf pack in the near distance sent a stab of cold fear into his heart. He was too weak to fight off a pack of hungry wolves in the dead cold of winter. His hands shook as he brought them to the spires of the gate. "P-p-please..." He could barely form a whisper. "P-please ... ".
The merchant was sure he could hear the footfalls of the pack crunching into the snow. He imagined the beasts--long, lean, and ravenous, a chorus of hunt songs charged upon the wind.
The merchant's horse was growing restless, for the animal knew the sounds of wolves closing in on their prey.
"I pray to the heavens," the merchant whispered, tears frozen in his eyes, "do not let me die here, alone in the forest, without the love of my children beside me..."
A grating noise forced the merchant's eyes wide. The gate had swung open, and the snow began to fall harder. The merchant didn't have to do much prodding for his horse to move along, and once they were a safe distance from the gate, the great iron barricade swung shut, the sound of its movement drowning out the sounds of the nearing wolf pack.
The merchant rode further along the snow-covered path. In front of him, deep, thick briars covered what he surmised to have been a beautiful garden. Once glorious statues were now covered by dark vines and dusted by the heavy snow. Magically, as the merchant moved along, the path seemed to clear for him, brambles and untended hedges seeming to fall away at his approach, until he came upon a great castle in the center of the gardens.
The merchant gasped at the sight. Great stone spires loomed skyward and out of view, and from dark-spired recesses ugly stone gargoyles leered contemptuously at him. Here and there, the merchant saw vast glass windows the colors of every jewel imaginable, yet oddly darkened and foreboding. His horse stopped at a stone archway, then abruptly collapsed in a heap at the steps of the castle. The merchant was dropped to the ground. Painfully, he looked up and saw light shining through a window in shades of scarlet, amethyst, emerald, and amber.
The archway door opened slowly, and the merchant disentangled himself from his horse. "What enchantment is this?" he muttered. The joints and bones in his arms and legs ached, his fingers were stiff as they clenched at the collar of his thin cloak. The merchant walked inside, the snapping sound of a roaring fire calling to him. He strode down a marble walkway toward the promise of the blaze. A huge banquet hall greeted him, fire crackling and hot just beyond a long table. Upon the table sat steaming meats, what had to be mulled wine, and silvery soup. The merchant sat, and began to eat.
Exquisite! My host must be a descendant of kings!
After he'd eaten, the merchant sat close to the fire. Warmth from the hearth and from the wine filled him, and he drifted to sleep, dreaming ahead to the days when his children and their children would gather around him, listening to the story of how he came upon an enchanted castle in the middle of a dense forest.