Read Part 1 – Calla
Read Part 2 – Tower
The dress was cutting off her circulation. The bodice dug into her ribs, the aged fabric irritating her skin. She’d done her best to make herself appealing. To be pleasing. The image of his blurred fist barreling toward her played over and over in her head, making her chest tighten. She’d dusted her copper skin with shimmery powder, painted her lips and eyelids. Fluffed her dark curls. Covered the dark blue bruise on her temple with concealer. She looked like a stranger when she saw herself in the mirror. A character out of a movie. She had a feeling that’s what he wanted.
When he’d returned to the bedroom, demanding that she accompany him to dinner, he’d explained that his mother was visiting, that she had certain expectations and he expected her cooperation. But he offered no further details.
The dining room was dark, the walls painted an unpleasant shade of green that reminded Calla of baby vomit, lined with dusty oil paintings of stern-looking men and women she assumed were his ancestors. A huge candelabra sitting on the table was the only illumination. There was a woman already seated. She was older, refined, hair grayed at the temples and swept up into a bun, diamonds hanging from her ears and sparkling from her neck.
“Oh Edgar, she’s just perfect!” The woman rushed to her, brushing a cold hand against Calla’s cheek. “Welcome to the family, my dear.”
Calla choked on her next breath and Edgar’s grip on her arm tightened. She suppressed a cry of pain as the strange woman placed a dry kiss on her cheek. As they sat at the elegantly set table in the center of the room, the woman exclaimed, “This is all I wanted to see! You married, settled, building a family. I refused to allow you access to your share of the family fortune before only for you to squander it on frivolous pursuits…”
“Like what, Mother?”
As they argued, all Calla could hear, repeating over and over, was the word married. This man, this Edgar, along with his mother, were truly deluded.
“…now we just need an heir…”
The sound of Edgar’s fist pounding the table stopped his mother in mid-sentence. “That wasn’t what we agreed to. You always said when I was married you would turn over the funds to me.”
“Things change,” she said with a sigh, unimpressed by Edgar’s outburst. “So many young couples divorce these days with hardly a thought. A baby. That’s what makes a family. An heir. Another generation of Henry’s.” She looked wistful for a moment, before regaining her composure. “Of course, I’m willing to release a portion of your inheritance now. Consider it a wedding gift. Despite the fact that you eloped. How dreadful…”
A servant bustled out of the kitchen carrying an armful of dishes, her head down, back hunched. They were silent as she quickly served them, then exited the room. Calla wondered if she lived on the property or elsewhere. If there was some way to get a signal to her, to let her know she needed help.
“And Edgar,” his mother admonished as soon as the servant had left the room. “Take that awful mask off. I want to see your face.”
Edgar looked at Calla, his eyes questioning. Calla had no idea what was expected of her in response.
“If she truly loves you, she’ll love you as you are.”
Edgar relented, slowly slipping the mask over his head and dropping it to the floor. He turned to Calla, who held in a gasp.
My favorite prompt during Story A Day in May was Rewrite a Fairy Tale, so I decided to tackle it again, this time with Beauty and the Beast in a serial form.
Read Part 4 – Rose