Tangled Tales Series
Sir Stefan de Bar has been cursed by the old witch, Hecuba, and now must find a woman to love and be loved in return before the last petal falls from the rose or he will be consumed by the beast within.
(Also available in paperback and audio)
Excerpt from Beast Lord
Stefan stood in front of the large looking glass in the east tower chamber, surveying his reflection. He’d had Trumble remove his stitches. While the boy was clumsy and all thumbs, sticking him more than once with the tip of his knife, the sutures Bonnibel had used were dainty and small and his wounds were healing better than he’d hoped.
He’d called for her to apply ointments to his wounds, but really he wanted to test her and see if she acted less repulsed by him now that his stitches had been removed. He ran his hands over his chest, having found a few tunics in the bottom of a trunk pushed away in the corner. He’d donned the larger of the two, and though it was tight, it wasn’t ripped and shredded like his other clothes.
He didn’t like what was happening to him, and if he wanted to beat the witch’s curse, he was going to have to beat her at her own game. Hadn’t she said in order to break the curse, all he needed to do was love a woman and she had to love him in return? He’d never been in love before, but he’d seen most of his brothers fawn over a girl or two in the past, and was sure it wasn’t that hard to woo a lady.
He’d also been reading Bonnibel’s book, The Romance of the Rose. He figured he’d try some poetry on her, or perhaps do something they talked about in the book. Of course, the book wasn’t easy to understand, as it was full of symbolism and more or less open to interpretation. Honestly, he had no idea what the author had been trying to say, and quickly dismissed the idea of quoting anything at all. He felt like the character in the book, trying to get to the rosebud that was locked away behind walls in a secret garden. Bonnibel was his rosebud and he could use advice from the characters in the book named Reason and Fair Welcome right now in order to know what to do.
He gave up trying to decipher the coded messages in the book and figured he’d just make Bonnibel fall in love with him. Simple as that. And when she did, the curse would be lifted, and he wouldn’t be consumed and turn into a beast forever – or die.
The door to the room opened and in walked Bonnibel followed by his squire. She stopped in her tracks when she saw him, and the air deadened between them. He usually hated when Trumble’s mouth ran like a river, but right now he would settle for just a trickle of a creek.
“My lord, here is the girl as you requested,” said Trumble with a slight bow.
“Thank you, Squire. You may leave now.”
“Leave?” he asked. “What for?”
“Yes, what for?” asked the girl, seeming suddenly nervous. “I’d like Trumble to stay.”
“I said leave!” His voice must have come out louder and more forceful than he’d intended, because the girl jumped, and Trumble scooted out the door. Then the sickening silence between them was back and he instantly regretted dismissing his squire.
“Why did you call for me?” she finally asked. “Did you want to perhaps tell me that from now on I’d be locked away in the dungeon instead?”
“Nay,” he said, feeling very tongue-tied. He looked back to his reflection in the standing mirror. “I – I thought – I mean . . . do you see anything different about me?”
She raised her chin in the air, crossed her arms over her chest, and walked a full circle around him as she perused him. He’d never felt like a prized cow being inspected for slaughter until now.
“Aye, I do see something different, and I don’t like it.”
“You don’t?” His hand went to his scar and he glanced back to the looking glass. Mayhap it was a mistake to bring her here.
“You are wearing my father’s tunic,” she stated. “It’ doesn’t even fit you properly and you’re going to rip it like the rest of your clothes.”