December 21st 2012, Dragonwell Publishing
STEP INTO THE WORLD OF MYTH AND MAGIC…
Fair maidens, handsome princes, witches, and fairy godmothers all show their dark and dangerous side in this anthology inspired by myths and fairy tales, retold by some of the best authors in this generation and by some upcoming new talents. Each beautifully crafted story brings an unusual twist to the traditional tale, from Cinderella’s story told from the not-so-kind fairy godmother’s point of view, to the Bluebeard tale showing the lure of this dark and dangerous man that drives young girls to rush willingly to their fate.
Beautifully presented with cover art by Howard David Johnson, this collection brings together a unique set of authors that will take the readers on a wild ride through magical realms of Ancient Greece, old Russia, medieval Europe, and modern day America.
Previously published January 2008 by Drollerie Press
young adult fantasy
(contains some violence)
Candy is living a fairy tale dream. She has a rich husband who will buy her anything. She has a maid. She gets to have cocktail parties and trade banter with witty, rich, important people. Except… their friends are really his friends and, crazy or not, she sometimes feels like they watch her. It’s a problem because she keeps losing her shoes and her husband thinks bare feet are trashy.
She knows she should just tell him that she likes going barefoot and expect that he’d learn to love her just as she is, only he’s older and more sophisticated than she is, he takes such good care of her, and he loves her so much. Mostly, though, she’s afraid of what he’d do.
The first time it happened was almost a year after he’d married her. They were giving a drinks party, and the spacious top-floor apartment was filled with sleek, beautiful people in immaculately cut trousers, or little black dresses and the discreet glint of gold jewellery.
Candy had been busy since the first guests arrived. Clym liked her to keep the canapés coming and make sure he was supplied with ice for the drinks. With that, as well as welcoming new guests and trying to make sure she remembered everybody’s names, she’d scarcely sipped her own glass of wine.
So, afterwards, although she tried to blame the alcohol, she knew she couldn’t.
She was in the kitchen, cutting up more lemons for the gin and tonics. She had a gleaming steel bowl of them, glossy polished yellow next to the duller green globes of limes, and a neat little serrated knife to slice them into perfect rounds. But then, of course, she had everything. She’d seen it reflected in her guests’ eyes. Her, this nineteen-year-old, already with a beautiful apartment, a handsome, adoring, powerful husband…
The knife slipped. It shouldn’t have—she was holding it carefully; its edge had already bitten into the yellow rind, sending the sharp fragrance up to her nose. But it did: slipped downward sharply and sliced into the side of her left thumb.
The pain was instant and shocking. She gasped, dropping the knife, and clamped her right hand over her left. Such a small cut—it shouldn’t hurt so much. But after a second she realised the pain came from the lemon juice seeping, acidic, into the wound.
“Oh, you stupid…” With her uninjured hand, she twisted the tap on the sink next to her. It stuck a moment and, the pain unendurable; she put her thumb in her mouth to soothe it.
Water poured into the sink so hard it splashed up against the matt black tiles above the taps, spattering the worktop. She thrust her thumb under the water, swallowing against the tears coming to her eyes.
And it happened. All at once her hand was submerged in a rush of water so cold it instantly numbed the pain. Her other hand was grasping not the tap but the rough bark of a twisted, moss-covered tree branch. Her bare toes clung to damp, gritty stone and cold air struck her skin, raising goose bumps on her bare arms.
And it was familiar. She knew where she was, knew if she turned away from the waterfall she’d see the cliff rising to the sky, and knew the tree was an oak, ancient and craggy, home to thousands of tiny creatures. She’d stood here before, feet cold on the stone, stood here with—
“Candy? Are you in the kitchen?”
She jumped, lost her grip on the branch, grabbed for another handhold, feet slipping on the wet— On the wet kitchen floor.
“Candy!” Arms came around her. For a moment she didn’t recognise them, didn’t know who was holding her. “What are you doing?”
Clym’s voice. Oh, of course—Clym’s hands. She stood in his arms, her thumb streaking watery blood all over his shirt, the front of her dress drenched.
He reached past her and turned off the tap. “What happened? What did you do?” His voice roughened with bewilderment and exasperation. “You’ve got the tap on so that it’s splashing all over the floor—no wonder you slipped.” Then his voice went cold and suddenly his hands seemed cold too, sending ice into her bones. “Where are your shoes?”
She looked down, her breath already coming short at that tone in his voice. “I don’t—I was wearing them.” But sure enough, there were her feet, bare and brown against the white tiles, their toenails neat and straight, shiny with pale gold nail polish.
He moved her backwards and she sat on one of the kitchen stools. From the sitting room behind him came the jumble of conversation, laughter, the click of high heels as someone stepped out onto the balcony, the ripple of the low music she’d spent an hour selecting. Clym reached over her head and pulled the first aid box off its shelf. “Give me your hand.” He wiped the cut with a disinfectant wipe, not roughly, but not bothering to be gentle either, and then stretched a plaster over it.
She sat motionless, still feeling that bite of cold in his fingers as he touched her. He always had cold hands. Sometimes she teased him about it—but only in bed. She’d learned early on not to seem to make fun of him anywhere else—and never, ever in front of other people.
He pressed the plaster down to seal it firmly over the cut. Pain jabbed through her thumb. “You know I don’t like you not wearing shoes. Especially on this floor. If you’d been wearing them you wouldn’t have slipped.”
Well, that was ridiculous. The shoes she’d put on for the party were dainty strappy things with smooth soles—plenty more slippery than bare feet. And where were they, anyway? If she’d taken them off in the kitchen wouldn’t they be around here somewhere?
Her attention jerked back to him. He was looking down at her, his eyes very dark. “Go and dry your dress and put some shoes on. No—not that way.” This as she got off the stool and took a step towards the sitting room. “Do you think I want our guests to see you like that?”
This time the anger came clear through his voice. She turned and went through the little corridor at the other end of the kitchen—narrow and lined with shelves, it was normally only used as a store cupboard—then into the entrance hall, and from there into their bedroom.
She rubbed her dress and feet with a towel, found some other shoes. Grit and a dusting of earth came off on the towel. She shook it into the bath, rinsed it away, and stuffed the towel into the laundry bag. Hopefully he wouldn’t ask her to find the missing shoes. The grit on her feet had only confirmed what she already, really, knew. Wherever she’d left her shoes, it wasn’t in the apartment.