Once Upon a Time

A sword-wielding Cinderella, an enchanting Beauty, and a villain who might not be so bad after all… Once upon a time, before the Brothers Grimm, when fairytales were romantic fantasies for entertaining adults and frightening children… Three twisted tales inspired by the classic fairytales…for adults who still love reading fairytales, though they're a little darker now, making that happily ever after so much sweeter.

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Zuleika landed painfully on her knees, tearing one of the lovely silk stockings Inga had insisted she wear. Now, the blue silk was stained purple with her blood. Strong hands seized her, lifting her to her feet.

“Are you all right?” Vardan asked, not taking his arms from around her.

The townsfolk stopped to stare. At their prince, with a strange woman in his arms. Realisation dawned on their faces, as men began to bow and women dropped curtseys.

“I am fine,” Zuleika tried to say, turning her head so that she might see his face, but the words died in her throat. The beastly face – Vardan's face – that she expected to see was not there.

Instead, she saw the face of King Thorn, an unspeakable monster she would never allow to touch her again. She closed her eyes and released her hold on the spell, which dispersed its magic in a cloud of tiny stars only she could see.

Zuleika dared to open her eyes, and breathed a sigh of relief as she saw Vardan's hideous visage once more. Unable to help herself, she lifted a hand to his cheek. It felt…smooth, like the skin of a man, and not a beast. The curse on him was merely illusion, she realised. Underneath it, he looked like…a beast.