Deceit:A Beauty and the Beast Novel(4)By: M.J. Haag
Worried for the nymph, I rushed to the window and tossed it open. Both nymphs froze at the noise.
“He comes,” I quickly whispered in warning. Both solidified at the sound of my voice.
As the dark mists roiled into view from the left, I noticed where the pair remained joined and blushed deeply. Apparently, the baker wasn’t the only one who liked to taste.
Leaning further out the window, I called to the beast, concerned about his temper should he find his nymph solidified.
“Sir, do all the trees on the estate grow so peculiarly?”
He slowed at the sound of my voice and growled menacingly but did not approach the trees. Instead, he came to the window, bringing me close to his height as he stood on two legs. Through the mist, I saw one of his ears flick in agitation.
“Why did you open the window?”
“To get a better view of the beauty outside,” I said calmly. “I didn’t mean to disturb your time away from me. I will look at the trees later. They bear studying.” I kept the insincerity from my voice.
With a last look at the trees, I closed the window and moved back to the sofa.
Another tray waited for me. Anxiously, I nibbled at the food, only tasting it when the beast returned. On the pretext of writing a letter, I passed the window and saw, to my joy, the pair unmarred.
The beast rejected my first few attempts at a letter to my father. The version he finally accepted included very little detail, only that I had enjoyed a day reading about farming and my findings on the subject. In closing, I wished Father well and promised to see him soon. Similarly, I penned a letter to Mr. Kinlyn to ask what treatments he gave his fields at the end of each season.
The crow I’d noticed in Konrall came to the window when the beast called and took the letters in his beak before flying off again.
The afternoon faded to evening, and bored with the atmosphere of the library, I ambled through the house, the beast not far behind me. When I came to my room by chance, I decided to go to bed early and bade him good night. He growled and grumped but left me alone.
That night, the sound of my door opening roused me from my sleep enough that I lifted my head.
“Sleep, Benella,” the beast whispered.
The bed dipped as he lay next to me and threaded his fingers in my hair. I slept.
* * * *
A hot bath waited in my room when I woke. Naturally hesitant after my last experience bathing in the beast’s lair, I stared at it before stripping. I couldn’t avoid bathing forever and bathing once a week when I left this place didn’t appeal to me, either.
Sinking into the warm water, I sighed but didn’t waste time relaxing. After washing with an overly sweet smelling soap, I stepped from the water and wrapped a large towel around myself before opening the wardrobe. A lone garment waited within, a single panel of fabric which would leave nothing to the imagination. Turning to look for my nightgown, I noted that too had disappeared. I wrinkled my nose in frustration, until the garish pink curtains on the windows caught my eye.
When I stepped out into the hall, I wasn’t surprised to see the beast waited. Ripped patches of pink discreetly hid my important parts, one long rectangle over my breasts and another uniquely shaped piece I’d tied at my sides to cover my backside and front.
The beast growled at the sight of me. I walked up to him, pressing through his mist until I saw his eyes inches from mine. He stood on all fours.
“Do you want me to fear you?” I asked, my breath moving his fur as I spoke.
He blinked at me.
“Then why do you keep growling at me? A growl in the animal world is meant as a warning and to inspire caution if not fear.”
“I’m not an animal,” he said with a growl still in his throat.
“Then stop acting like one,” I said with a soft calm.
He blinked at me again then narrowed his eyes.
“I don’t like your dress,” he said.
“Much better,” I said with a smile and reached out to pat his head. I knew I took a risk to treat him so; but if he insisted on playing games with me, I would play them back.
His eyes rounded at my touch, and I wondered if he’d growl again. Instead, he just watched me closely as I gave his head a final pat and turned away, not responding to his comment.