Genre: Short Stories, Fantasy, Fairy Tales
Author: Cindy Lynn Speer
Publisher: Dragonwell Publishing
Purchase link: http://publishing.dragonwell.org/
For every wish there is a sorrow…
Wishes are born from sorrows, blessings are sometimes curses, and even fairy godmothers cannot always get what they want. In this original collection, Cindy Lynn Speer, the author of “The Chocolatier’s Wife”, brings to life creatures of myths and tales, mixing them into a vibrant tapestry of stories, happy and sad, magical and real, each lovingly crafted and sure to touch the reader’s soul.
Step into the world where magic is real, and every mundane bit of reality is as magical as a true fairy tale.
Excerpt from “Every Word I Speak”
My husband is gone. I can be silent today, tomorrow, and until his return. There’s freedom in that, knowing that I can go and sew by the lake, perhaps, or take meals in my room by myself.
In my dressing table there is a secret compartment. In it I have hidden slips of paper, even though paper and ink are forbidden. They are one of my rare rebellions, a way to make my wishes known in silence.
“Please bring my dinner.”
“Please fetch my maid.”
“Please prepare a coach.”
Please. A habit, from my destitute youth when I believed sweet words were more precious than pearls.
I’ll do anything not to speak, these days. In my youth I could not speak enough.
“Your majesty?” I turn, slips ready in my hands, fingers light without jewels. I nod for her to speak.
Deirdre, my lady in waiting, gives me a sad look.
“A diplomat from Andovia is here to see you.”
I nod again, put aside my papers. Together we go to meet him.
“Queen Sarah,” the diplomat murmurs over my hand. I recognize him, though to my knowledge we have never been formally introduced. He is Amon, the Grand Duke of Andovia.
I look at him, his dark hair tied smoothly back, his carefully fitted clothes expensive. He smiles charmingly, and I remember what I have heard about the way he uses his handsome looks to good advantage.
“Amon,” I say, and with that one word, a pearl, perfect and creamy, iridescent, rolls from my mouth, falling from the curve of my lower lip, and into the bosom of my gown. I blush, but he is watching with such avid interest that he does not seem to notice.
“So it is true,” he whispers, amazed. “You have been enchanted by the fairies.”
“Every word I speak,” I reply, and one rose, pink as a blush, another pearl, and two diamonds cascade from my mouth.
A page hurries forward, a basket in his hand. He ignores the flower, going straight for the treasure. The diamond lands next to Amon’s feet. Before the page can pick it up, it is in his hands, being rolled thoughtfully, tested for reality. He pinches it between thumb and forefinger and peers at me through its fractured light. He laughs a little, a man playing at a boy’s mischief, and hands the jewel to the page. He smiles at me, inviting me to share in his silliness, but I do not smile back. I do not trust handsome men.
I find myself thinking in the ensuing silence of the old woman at the well. She looked so weary (as weary as I now feel, staring at this man) that I fetched a drink of the coolest, cleanest water I could find for her. In return, she confessed to be one of the Fair Folk, and granted me this gift.
This gift. I say it over and over, to remind myself, to convince myself. This is the gift that gave me my husband, who in turn saved me from my family, who has professed to love me deeply. Love me, I fear, only as long as I continue talking.
The duke knows the story well. I can see in his eyes that he has speculated long upon it, and I realize that the timing of his arrival is no coincidence.
“Your husband, I hear, is fond of Andovian cherry wine. It has come to my attention that he might wish to own some of our orchards for himself.”
My heart sinks. The negotiation for land and the rights to sell the produce from it will make for a long and tricky process. Talking makes me so hungry and my mouth so dry, and my lips cannot always form words properly, even though I have had plenty of time to learn how to talk around the jewels. I am tempted to send him away, but my husband would be ill pleased to lose such an opportunity.
“Is this of interest to you, milady?” He mocks me, I think.
“I shall be honored to discuss terms with you, sir, but perhaps you would be better pleased to speak with my husband? He will return in a few days.”
He kneels to pick up an orchid, which he tucks behind my ear. I allow my eyes to tell him how I feel about this familiarity. My skirts rustle as the page goes through them, looking for lost jewels, anxious not to miss one pearl.
He smiles a little. “You’ll do, my lady queen.”
A gentle rejoinder forms in my mind, but I smother it, the first word sounding in my throat. Something else forms, a diamond from the feel of it. I tuck it behind my teeth and smile.
“If you can’t say something nice,” my mother told me once when I was very little, “say nothing at all.” She’d told me this with a gentle slap. My sister received no such advice, nor treatment. She did not believe in the magic of kind words.
He turns and leaves without asking my permission. As I signal a guard to lead him to his chambers, I wonder if he is really so confident of his charms.
I spit the diamond at the wall.