Hey everyone. Here is an excerpt from Chapter Three of my fairy tale novella, "The Girl Prince and Her Princess." It should be out in e-book in a week (the print version will be out a bit later). I'll put the blurb for the story below the excerpt.
Vexa threw a longing glance at the mirror and opened the door for her handmaiden. “Yes, Clara?”
Clara leaned in and whispered: “Prince Alexandre is here.”
Vexa froze. “W-what?”
“Yes, ma’am. At this very moment, he’s haggling with your father, trying to move the wedding up. Alexandre says he can’t wait to make you his wife. He’s a dream, he is.”
Thud clang thud clang went Vexa’s heart, and she tugged Clara into the room. “Tell me everything.”
“He’s a handsome fellow. Beautiful hair like the sun. He’s a bit on the short side, but that’s okay, right?”
“I’d say Alexandre is exactly your height.”
Vexa grabbed Clara’s hand. “I want to see him. Where is he?”
“Come with me.”
Vexa and Clara crept from the bedroom to the top of the long, winding staircase that led into the grand ballroom. Vexa got on her knees, hoping the railings concealed her large body enough. The reed-thin Clara crouched next to her.
Magnatus wore his red kingly robe. The years had not been kind to his looks, but his mustache, big, black and brash, loomed as large as ever. It had not aged at all. With Magnatus was the most beautiful being Vexa had laid eyes on.
“That’s not Alexandre,” Vexa whispered. “It can’t be.”
“It is Alexandre,” Clara affirmed. “Like an angel, isn’t he?”
Prince Alexandre spoke passionately, waving his arms about as if his life depended on it: “I must marry your daughter as soon as possible, Majesty. I’m so excited. Why wait?”
Magnatus guffawed. “Why wait? Foolish young man. This wedding must happen exactly as planned. Do not barge in as if you know what is going on. Respect me. Respect my daughter. Respect your future wife.”
“Yes, sir. But—”
Magnatus held a hand up. “Do you think weddings are planned in a day? In a week? No. Wedding flowers bloom certain times of the year. People plan their journeys and their harvests around certain times and certain events.” His face darkened. “Certain events such as my daughter’s wedding! Think of all the game, fruit, vegetables and ale that must be prepared for the feast.”
Alexandre sighed and held his palms out. “Very well, Majesty. Your point is made. But may I meet your daughter? Please, I’ve journeyed three days. I’d like to see my future wife.”
Magnatus scowled. “No.”
“I will not defile the princess. Have as many chaperones as you like.”
Magnatus’s scowl deepened. “No.”
“Why?” Alexandre persisted.
“It is custom.”
“Your Majesty, permit me to observe her from afar. We do not have to meet.”
“What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” Magnatus roared. “You haven’t seen my daughter since you were four years old, and you’re not about to start!”
Vexa felt her father’s confusion. Surely Alexandre knew Vexa was hideous. Why would Alexandre want to meet her, much less marry her early?
Magnatus breathed deeply, gathering his wits back up. “Young prince, I love my daughter. This pains me to say, but many others do not love her. You are aware that she is not known for her, ahem, looks. Nor her personality nor her temper. Notice that nary a painting of her hangs on these walls. People think she is no beauty, but she is my child. I refuse to place her on display earlier than necessary just so you can ridicule her.”
Alexandre ran a hand through the short gold locks of his hair. “I would never laugh at your daughter,” he said earnestly. “Everybody is beautiful. Even the most stout pig is lovely.”
Vexa bit her lip as she studied this prince with radiant hair and eyes. This prince making a fool of himself over her, the dreadful, ill-tempered Vexa. Alexandre’s build and a certain effeminate quality about him indicated that he, indeed, was still a girl. Vexa’s heart could not help but leap. And leap. She would marry a girl. The thought filled her with secret delight.
“Almost ten months from now, you are to become my son-in-law,” Magnatus said. “You shall meet my daughter then. No sooner. You have much growing up to do, all these ideas in your head.”
Alexandre took a step back. “You really believe she’s so deformed that she’ll drive me away? Your own daughter!”
“To me, she is beautiful,” Magnatus snapped. “To other people, she is not.” He strode to a cabinet and drew out a painting the size of his hand.
Vexa felt faint. Oh no. Alexandre will leave for sure.
“This is a painting of my daughter commissioned for her eighteenth birthday. She looks much the same now. Study it carefully, Prince Alexandre, and tell me you truly can’t wait to marry Vexa.”
Alexandre took the portrait with eager hands, and Vexa resigned herself to the usual flinch. It never came. Alexandre’s gaze was keen, and his lips curved upward. He traced his fingers over part of the painting.
“I love her smile,” Alexandre said. He met Magnatus’s surprised gaze. “Majesty, I desire to marry your daughter more than anything in the world.”
Magnatus grabbed back the portrait, and fear shone in his eyes. “The wedding will go on as planned. We won’t scrape together some secret hidden wedding. Understand?”
BLURB: This fairy tale is set in the kingdoms of Athena and Qax. It’s a magical brew of a big ol’ juicy problem, generous dollops of secrets, castles, kings and queens, princesses and villains.
The king and queen of Athena have a problem. They desperately need a son to marry off to Princess Vexa. She is the unsightly daughter of their neighbor, King Magnatus of Qax. If no prince is born, Magnatus will take over the peaceful Athena and what the heck, kill all the people of the kingdom.
When Athena’s rulers finally produce an offspring, the queen dies in childbirth. The king finds himself faced with the greatest challenge of all—a girl! Boys are scarce, and no one is willing to give up their son to replace the infant girl.
The ruse is on. The sweet baby girl is named Alexandre and is raised to take on the manly duties of being a prince. Eighteen years later, it’s wedding time. Can the deception continue?