Once Upon A Time, the faery princess Keely tried to match . . .
. . . a misguided faery maiden and a surly but handsome knight, the pirate Devlin Angell and the ever-hopeful Myra, a faery under the ruse of Lord Kembell and a lady of noble birth, a blacksmith and a duchess, a flapper and a barnstormer pilot . . .
But can Keely keep her own heart?
With faery magic, anything can happen!
This enchanted carpet-ride features ten romantic faery tales, ten happy couples, and a journey through history with Keely, who grows from a kindergartner to a beautiful young faery woman.
Royalties go to Children's Tumor Foundation, ending neurofibromatosis through research. http://www.ctf.org
“Look at him, Shaylah,” Yana, Queen of Faeries, snapped.
I was in trouble. Again. I peered through the waters of the river separating the Faery World from Earth.
“Oh, my. He does look a bit surly.” A scowl marred the knight’s handsome face. Still, I could tell his rugged, broad-shouldered body impressed human women by the way they accidentally brushed against him as he strode through the marketplace.
“Very, very surly,” answered the queen. “Sir Darian hasn’t smiled in over a month, nor has he even so much as looked at a female human, let alone dallied with the serving wenches. Not since his cousin had the nerve to die and leave his eight children to Darian has he opened his heart to Earth’s joy.”
“A bachelor raising eight little orphans. Must have really clipped his wings.” He had such a dour look, I couldn’t see him falling in love anytime soon—and that is exactly what Queen Yana insisted I bring about just because of one itsy-bitsy blunder I’d made. Let’s just say my magic went awry, but I hadn’t planned it that way! My nervous wings fluttered in time with my racing heart, leaving sprinkles of green faery dust on the queen’s brand new carpet. “I don’t think my minor indiscretion warrants a quest of this magnitude, Your Highness.”
“Oh, you don’t? Just as you didn’t mean to turn yourself into a frog? As you didn’t mean to scare the living daylights out of the milkmaid when you popped out of her milk bucket?”
I hung my head.
“Perhaps that in itself wasn’t a punishable offense,” the queen continued, “but considering your previous ‘minor indiscretions’ in total, I believe the punishment is quite appropriate. You will complete your Queen’s Quest—help him find his true love. If you fail to do so within one moon-cycle, you will be denied the privilege of marriage and children.”
“Now, go.” Her Highness closed the watery portal and dismissed me with a flick of her scepter.
* * * *
“’Tis a blue moon, Sir Darian.” The squire unbuckled the knight’s cuirass and removed it from his chest. “What be your wish? For it will come true.”
A pinch of faery dust rendered me invisible. I took care to fold my wings compactly and not make the teensiest bit of noise as I passed through the tent wall. But as soon as the squire removed the knight’s hauberk and bared Sir Darian’s chest, I nearly swooned. My heart raced and my face warmed at the very sight of such a muscled mass of masculine flesh, lightly sprinkled with dark hair, especially around his dusky nipples. While I contemplated how wonderful it would be to rest my cheek upon his chest, my wings unfolded and knocked over the knight’s mug of ale.
“What was that?” the squire asked.
“Must have been the wind, son.” Darian groaned as he sank into the tub of steaming water. “Get me another. Bring the whole bloody keg. My bones need prodigious amounts of ale this eve.”
“I will, but first you must make your wish on a blue moon.”
“Bah! What tripe. Wishes don’t come true and you know it. Elsewise we’d be making merry with a dozen buxom wenches instead of living in this ratty tent, soaking my bones in a tub, preparing for the next tournament.”
“It doesn’t hurt to wish, though.”
Sir Darian splashed water toward the boy. “What does it take to shut you up and get me my ale? All right, Aedwin, I wish for a beautiful, big-busted wench who smells good. I’ll have a blonde, if you please, with a nicely rounded arse and long legs made to wrap around me. A playful one who’s willing to lift her skirts and skelp at a moment’s notice.” The knight shook his fist at the squire, although I could see he didn’t really mean to harm the boy. “Now go get my ale!”
As the squire hastened from the tent, I could barely contain my glee. Sir Darian had done the hardest part of my work for me. Now I just needed to find a tall, blonde human female, preferably one of breeding or he’d not look at her as marriageable material. Too bad he didn’t want a faery woman—all of us in the green clan are tall and blonde. Ah, well, a Norse descendent couldn’t be that hard to conjure up.
Then again, conjuring (at least the faery variety) is what got me into a cauldron of hot water in the first place. I should never have skipped Faery Dust Regulations in school. Or maybe it was Charms and Enchantments 101 that did me in. I floated closer to Sir Darian’s mail, still warm from his body. It drew me, as if enchanting me. I wanted to touch his armor—put my fingertips where his flesh had warmed it—but of course I’d never invade a human’s privacy in such manner. Well, at least not until I finished my Queen’s Quest.
The mail crumpled to the ground with a clatter. With a start, I jumped back and bumped the tent wall.
“Who’s there?” Sir Darian roared as he sat up in the tub, sloshing water onto the ground. “I’ll split you from gizzard to bung hole. Now, get out!”
I daren’t say a word, but froze in place and held my breath until I was nigh to toppling over. Finally, he sank back down. “Damnable wind,” he muttered.
I vowed to take more care as I continued to survey his things in order to get to know him better. His squire had kept the mail fastidiously clean, except for its current home in the dirt, that is. He’d polished the plates of armor and oiled the leather thoroughly. And while Sir Darian roared his orders like a hungry lion, he never struck the poor lad. I’d seen other knights ill-treat their squires for far lesser offenses.
The squire ducked through the tent flap, bearing a jug of ale and a bag. “I brought roast beef, bread, and cheese, sir.”
“About time. My innards were starting to grind my backbone.”
“The Blue Moon is out.” The squire placed the meat and cheese on a trencher. “After you eat, you should gaze upon it.”
The knight stood, water shedding from his body. I gasped, never having seen a fully naked human male before. And this male was magnificent.
“Will gazing upon the moon bring my buxom blonde any quicker? Because after I eat, I’ll be ready for her.”
This was too obvious. I couldn’t stop looking at him and wondered how it would feel to touch him. Ah, but I needed to find a Norse woman for him—and quickly.
“I saw a woman today. She’d make a fine mother to the urchins.”
“Very good, sir.”
“Her name is Lady Cassandra. Were I married to her, she could stay at the manor and tend the animals, er, children, while I compete at the tournaments.”
“Lady Cassandra? But sir, she’s five and ten years older than you—past childbearing years.”
“God’s nostrils, boy. We’ve enough urchins running around now. We don’t need more children; we need someone to raise the ones we already have.”
Oh, dear, this was very bad news. I couldn’t let him marry a woman only to acquire a nurse for his children. He had to find his true love or I would spend the rest of my life childless!
* * * *
I spent the night sneaking into every tent, then every room at the castle, in search of a curvy, blonde woman with long limbs. All for naught. One idea kept popping into my mind—an idea that had considerable merit, but also carried considerable risk.
My magic has not been . . . shall we say, consistent—or maybe a more accurate term would be reliable. The unpredictability of my charms is what got me in trouble with Queen Yana in the first place. A good example was my last scrape, when I changed myself into a frog.
I wasn’t supposed to land in the milkmaid’s bucket. I still don’t know how that happened. She most certainly did overreact when I jumped out of the bucket onto the shoulder yoke and then her neck. I’d meant to land on the other side of her, not on her person. Simple mistake, similar to the time I wanted to play a little trick on the armorer.
I just wanted to make pretty designs in the smoke from his fire. Who knew buildings could burn so well? I did put the fire out by pleading with the River Spirit to depart from his path for a short time. Did you know burning buildings float? Oddest thing I ever saw, unless you count the woman chasing geese in water up to her middle. Note: geese float better than a woman with child.
Of course I had to help her. A pinch of faery dust was all it took to pluck the geese and the woman out of the water and into a tree. I even dried her hair and styled a little curl into it. Her long face needed a little more fullness to show to its best advantage, I thought.
Wouldn’t you know, her husband nearly collapsed from fright. He seemed a bit in a muddle because his ladder had floated downstream and he didn’t know how to get his wife down from the tree limb. Since I’d gotten her up there, I kenned I should fetch her down, so I enchanted the geese to all grab a part of her frock and fly her down gently. But . . . she ended up higher in the tree than before.
Ah, well, back to my idea for the tall, blonde woman. I am tall, blonde, and have quite a nice bosom if I do say so myself. I am also playful, although not experienced in skelping, whatever that is. If a woman has to toss up her skirts to do it, though, I have a reasonably good idea.
The charm would be simple. Once I let Sir Darian see me and get me into his mind, just a pinch of faery dust would make the woman of my choice look just like me. That way, I wouldn’t have to search far and wide for the right bride. Many suitable young women lived in the immediate area, and though they didn’t match his specifications, he should be able to fall in love with the image he saw.
* * * *
The next day brought great prosperity and good cheer to the tournament champion, Sir Darian. Aedwin and the two younger squires jumped and hollered their joy. As Sir Darian received his prize, I retracted my wings and donned a gauzy green dress trimmed in gold, a frock befitting a lady of high rank. A light faery dusting to ensure he would, indeed, find me irresistibly attractive completed my preparations.
As he knelt before the tournament’s host to accept his prize, I glided behind the host making myself visible only to the victorious champion. To my delight, his gaze followed me, and when I turned invisible even to him, Sir Darian’s distraction nearly made him fumble his golden trophy.
There’s nothing quite like turning a handsome man’s head that gives a girl such an air of giddiness. I celebrated my own victory and plotted my victorious return to the Faery World. First, I wanted to see if he’d search for me, then I’d give him another little glimpse just to whet his appetite.
Skelping. I couldn’t help but giggle. If he wanted to skelp a woman, let it be his true love.
“I yearn for your touch,” I whispered into his ear. “And I want feel your loins against mine—hot and ready for me.” No one could see me and only my knight could hear me.
He couldn’t move, still in attendance to the host and the ceremony, but his clenched fists and quick breath told me I had his attention. I licked the edge of his earlobe. “I’ll be waiting in your tent.”
The very air around him tensed and I knew he wanted me. I blew him an air kiss, then backed away.
“Naked,” I promised.