I love the word “wonder.” The second I read it I see me, with my eyes wide-open radiating awe, my mouth rounded in an O of surprise, my mind bright with amazement. Songs like “God of Wonders” and “Wonderful Wonderful” make my heart sing. So imagine my delight when I started the research for this post on my favorite fairytale and learned that another description for fairytale is “wonder tale.”
The term “fairytale” is derived from the French conte de fées, i.e., short stories that contain all manner of nonhuman characters, not just fairies, and wonderment. I date my love for fairy/wonder tales back to my NYC public school days. In September during the first week of class, you received your subject books, one of which was a reader. You wrote your name and class on a bookplate then dug in for a year’s worth of reading. These books were broken up into three or four sections. I can’t remember what they were, but the final section always contained illustrated fairy tales. It is from those school readers that I first read about Rumpelstiltskin, the Shoemaker and the Elves, Puss in Boots, and the Three Billy Goats Gruff. I particularly loved the ones with talking animals. My favorite of all is The Bremen Town Musicians, a story that appeared in Grimms’ Fairy Tales in 1819.
Briefly, it’s about a donkey, dog, cat, and rooster, all who have become old and of no use to their different owners. They set out to find the freedom they deserve as musicians in Bremen. They come upon a cottage in which thieves are counting their booty. The animals scare them off and enjoy the food left behind. When the robbers send one of their band to retake the cottage, the animals vanquish him. He hurries back with tales of a monster from which he barely escaped with his life. No longer troubled by humans, the animals settle down in the cottage to the life of freedom and plenty they deserve. Although the animals never made it to Bremen, the town has a famous statue erected in their honor. Take a look at the statue here: https://www.bremen.eu/tourism/attractions/bremen-town-musicians.
I think about the little girl I was, who enjoyed reading over and over about these animals’ exploits. As an adult, I can see how each animal determining their own destiny and supporting one another would appeal to an urban kid growing up in the turbulent and heady days of the Civil Rights movement. How could the spunk of the Bremen Town Musicians not inspire me when I was seeing on television or overhearing adults talking about African-American people working together and not allowing others to determine their worth? I even see the Kwanzaa principles of kujichagulia (self-determination) and ujimaa (collective work and responsibility) at work in the story which adds another level of enjoyment to my favorite “wonder tale.”
So how about you? Do you have a favorite fairy/wonder tale? Share its title in the comments for a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card.
Better To Marry Than To Burn
Freed Man seeking woman to partner in marriage for at least two years in the black township of Douglass, Texas. Must be willing and able to help establish a legacy. Marital relations as necessary. Love neither required nor sought.
Excerpt from Better to Marry than to Burn…
She sidled up to him, cupped his erection and fondled his balls.
“Ready for bed or ready to bed me?”
He moaned, placed his hand atop hers and increased the pressure. Already hard, he hadn’t imagined he could get any harder.
“Is that beautiful brass bed new?”
He gulped. “Ye—yes. Bought it—bought it for the honeymoon.”
“I’m ready to be bedded now,” she whispered. “Or is that something we must negotiate?”
All thoughts of dinner vanished.
“No,” he rasped, leaning forward, as hungry for her lips as he was to be inside her.
“Good.” She stepped back, out of reach. “But, let’s be clear…” She bent over, so her butt protruded toward him. She massaged each buttock so her crack parted invitingly. “Tonight it’s the Greek way or no way.”
He blinked, stunned by this demand to be taken anally. His master had had books filled with drawings, depicting naked Greeks wrestling. Those pen and ink depictions flashed before him now. Arms constrained by arms, legs entwined with legs, butts and groins enmeshed in snug contortions. He’d love to take Queen that way, experience first-hand the erotic intimacy etched in the men’s struggle-laden features.
He took one step toward her then stopped. No. One day, he would…but not tonight. Not their first time. Their first time would be the nose-to-nose, chest-to-breast, cock-to-vagina coupling he’d hungered five years for.
I’m Sierra Brave, author of the Horse Mountain Shifters series. I’m excited to be back on Delilah Devlin’s blog today to share an excerpt from my newly released paranormal romance. Scarlett and the Big Bad is a fantasy Red Riding Hood retelling but also the first in a three-book series filled with magic, romance, danger, and angst.
Most everyone knows the original story of Little Red Riding Hood, but Scarlett Capuche, the heroine in my book, is a young woman, who in some ways is as naïve as the original. Imagine being raised away from society and only being taught what your captors want you to know?
I imagine everyone remembers the old lines of “What big eyes you have, Grandmother!” The only elderly matriarch in Scarlett and The Big Bad isn’t exactly on her side, but the (were)wolf is much more open with his intentions. He does reveal something huge to her though…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here’s a fun little compare and contrast:
Scarlett and the Big Bad
Fated Fairytales 1
Release Date: March 9, 2021
Promised power and position, Scarlett Capuche left her tiny village to join the prestigious Order of the Phoenix.
Monty Blackwolf never wanted a mate, especially not a human raised on a hidden farm for blood-ritual sacrifice. But his werewolf’s heightened sense of smell drew him to Scarlett’s sweet fragrance from miles away.
Duty-bound to protect her, he will break her of her religious devotion to the magical terrorist group responsible for the murders of his parents and older brother, even if he has to put her over his knee and turn her bottom as red as her hair.
She belongs to him now, and he will claim all of her despite his affliction with a unique, third shifter-form he doesn’t fully understand and isn’t able to control.
Will Monty save Scarlett, or will he prove more dangerous to her than anyone else?
Author’s Note: If you’re offended by steamy fairytale retellings with graphic language, explicit put-you-in-the-moment love scenes, elements of power exchange, and domestic discipline, you might want to look for a different book.
As she relaxed against him, his heart drummed against her back, the beat syncing with hers. The lump in her throat dissolved as her chest rose and fell with his.
She stared at the ceiling. The lights appeared to blur as she mewed and groaned. His hands, big and rough, worshiped her skin, every inch touched, washed, tenderly explored but never exploited. After a while, Scarlett blinked and stretched, realizing the naked girl staring at her was her reflection. Monty patted her dry as she sat on the edge of the tub.
“What happened?” Her heart pounded as confusion nipped at her brain.
Standing with only a towel wrapped around his hips, his six firm abdominals close to her eye level, he shrugged. “We had a bath. I think you might have dozed off a little. It’s been a long day.”
She tapped her finger against her lip as he hung up the wet towels before grabbing a fresh one. She most certainly had not been asleep. Now back in her right mind, she remembered every slight movement of his hand, every turn of his fingertips, the coiling in her stomach as the tantalizing sensations coaxed forth primal feelings she’d never imagined she’d possessed. She recalled breathing in his scent so deeply she could taste it even as they laved the fragrance away, and she had fantasized about him manhandling her, forcing her legs open and entering her even though he had not.
Sierra Brave is a multi-published author of heart-pounding, blush-inducing romance with put-you-in-the-moment love scenes. She enjoys writing about a variety of gorgeous alpha males who can’t resist head-strong heroines. Curvy girls have a special place in her heart and often grace the pages of her books. Tales of shifters, cowboys, twisted fairy tales, space pirates, Amazon warriors, and vampires capture her imagination as do tempting spanking and ménage scenarios, but she also engages in more down-to-earth themes such as office romance. You’ll find lots of unique characters and humor in all of her stories.
A girl goes into the forest in search of a cannibal witch and comes out with a skull lantern full of magic coals.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
If you haven’t, don’t feel bad about it. Popular culture has been so thoroughly saturated with Disney-goggled fairytales, that anything outside the scope of televised fables naturally flies under the radar. Naomi Novik and Katherine Arden, among other fantasy writers, have been doing magnificent work bringing forth Slavic and Russian-influenced tales to the mainstream book market, but so much remains unexplored.
Especially within the realms of Romance and Erotica genres. Nobody likes a raunchy adaptation of Beauty and the Beast better than I do. But Little Red Riding Hood has been ridden by the Big Bad Wolf so many times, no wonder the poor dear can’t find her way to her Grandmother’s house. I’m not saying these trusty, good old fairytales should be forsaken, gods forbid. But while Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel continue to fuel fine taboo tales, why not take a peek at another pantheon of fairytale characters?
There are damsels, there is distress, and sometimes they are coupled, but often in unexpected ways that make you raise your brow, thoroughly intrigued. (I’m looking at you, Marya Morevna! Who has the most powerful warlock in Russian folklore locked up and chained in one of their rooms? And why? I have so many questions!)
There are Bird-Princes, and Grey Wolves, and Baba Yagas, and clever, tough heroines that deserve a chance to shine.
I hope I’m doing my (small) part in the short story, “Vasilisa and the Tale of Tales,” published in the collaborative project Perfect Potions: An Anthology.
Interested in a sneak peek of “Vasilia and the Tale of Tales”? I’ve got you covered:
Suddenly, Lisa felt a chill run down her spine. Leaves rustled above their heads and she slapped a hand over John’s mouth to keep him quiet. But she could feel him tense as well, his body preparing for a fight, his heartbeat receding into a quiet drum. It’s been three years, but she was still attuned to the slightest shift of his body.
She tried not to think about his body.
The air was full of a new smell – feral fur, sweat, the scent of death, and endings. Softly, a rumble rolled through the treetops. Thunder, Lisa thought at first, but something was off. It was alive.
And the sound of chafing chains.
“Carrion-eater,” John hissed.
“Skoromokh,” she whispered, her eyes trying to pierce the dark foliage above her.
She had never met one in person. Supposedly, one — or many — have visited her mother when Lisa and her sister were born. But mother never spoke of that.
All Lisa knew was common knowledge — they took many shapes, had sharp teeth and a silver tongue, and an uncanny tendency to appear when tales were about to start or end. They fed off tributes offered by hopeful or fearful parents, or, if no tribute was offered, on the dead bodies left in the wake of the Tale. They were the Order of Skoromokh, the Tale-tellers, the Witnesses. They took no sides but carried the Tales to the end.
The air hummed with static electricity, raising the small hairs on the back of her neck on end.
“I prefer Scholar Cat,” said a dark voice.
The voice was followed by the appearance of two rows of sharp glistening teeth stretched into an impossibly wide grin. Then, out of the darkness slowly emerged an enormous striped body of a feline. It sprawled along a branch high up in the tree, a golden chain looping from its neck all the way around the tree trunk.
“What are you doing here?” John asked.
The Cat smiled unpleasantly but said nothing.
Lisa felt her heart tighten in her chest. There were no tributes to feed it here. But soon, there will be dead bodies aplenty. “Our tale is coming to an end,” she said softly.
The Cat’s smile widened further, and she grew nauseated. She looked at John, finding him watching her, his face pale but his eyes steady. He tore his eyes from hers and looked up at the creature.
“It’s not over yet,” he stated.
The Cat cackled, standing up and stretching sluggishly, its body rippling with grace. Finally, with a flick of its tail, it slipped along the branch further into the darkness.
Lisa swallowed hard, apprehension creeping into her heart. She tried to shove it down, looking at John in hopes of reclaiming the anger that’s been driving her for the past years. Instead, she saw something dark in his own eyes, familiar and unnerving. She looked away, squeezing her eyes shut. Not now.
“Was this what we were supposed to find? The Carrion-eater?”
She shook her head, looking down at the stalling app on the screen. “I don’t know.” She looked up at the tree, but there was no trace of the sinister feline. His chains, however, were still in place, spiraled around the trunk and from hanging from the higher branches. Lisa frowned.
“Yeah,” John murmured. “Weird.” He took a step forward, as if he would go around the enormous tree, to follow the Skoromokh.
Lisa instinctively jerked on the chain, pulling him back. “Where do you think you’re going?”
He stumbled for the umpteenth time and then righted himself. When he turned to her, it was obvious he had had enough. She saw him plant his feet apart, and when he pulled on the chain, she realized she’d made a mistake. She tried to pull back, to keep her footing, but he was stronger than her, and no magic chains undid that. He pulled her slowly, methodically, watching her.
Something dark coiled in the pit of her stomach, dissolving into a burst of butterflies. She was already too close, but he gave one final yank on the chain and caught her deftly, pressing her body to his with an arm around her waist. His blue eyes were midnight black, full of promises made, full of purpose, and the intoxicating nightshade of desire.
When he spoke, his voice was rough and low and reached out into the dormant nooks of her heart with practiced ease. “Where can I run from you, Lisa?”
Together with 14 other writers, we explore potions in all their glory, and I dive headfirst into the world of Russian folktales. The anthology may not be erotic, but it’s chock full of romance of the finest kind, guaranteed to make your heart flutter. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your new favorite author among the line-up?
Happily Ever After… Who doesn’t love a good old fashion boy gets the girl fairy tale? There’s a reason fairy tales have been around for ages, telling stories, teaching moral lessons, and preserving history. Even in this fast-paced, techno world where magic has faded and innocence is devalued, we still gravitate to stories that end happily ever after. I love a happy ending as much as the next person, but I think even better than the ending is the main character’s journey.
When I was a kid, I dreamt about being swept off my feet by Prince Charming or magic fixing all my troubles. As I got older, I realized that all the Fairy Godmothers in the world wouldn’t have been able to help Cinderella if she wasn’t ready, willing, and able to help herself. Somewhere along the line, it penetrated my thick skull—happily ever after is there for people who are willing to create it. Since then, I’ve been chasing my happily ever after. A big part of that dream is my writing career.
When I saw a chance to write for a twisted fairy tale anthology, I jumped at the chance. It was so much fun to use a familiar backdrop to send the characters on a whole new adventure. I chose Robin Hood and twisted the story from Robin the knight coming home from the crusades to save Nottingham to Robyn being the wife of a knight who followed the Lion Heart to the Holy Land.
Left behind to fend for herself in an increasingly desperate situation, Lady Robyn Ashby fights to survive and protect her people after losing her home and land to the greedy and corrupt King John. Robyn, Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, and the rest of the fabled bandits find a haven in Sherwood Forrest and, true to legend, help and protect the downtrodden citizens of Nottingham. When her husband returns from the dead, can Robyn set aside her bitter resentment and strike a blow for the people?
“The Lady of Sherwood” is my installment in Ravenous Fables! Full of reinvented fairy tales, this anthology is bursting with adventure, romance with a liberal dose of heat, and of course, happily ever after! They’re not your mama’s fairy tales! The paperback is live now, and you can preorder the ebook for just 99 cents! Worth every penny!!
An excerpt from “The Lady of Sherwood”…
With a sigh, Robyn pulled off her boots. The grass felt like a carpet under her feet, and she wiggled her toes.
“You can’t trust him, Robyn,” Will Scarlet said, materializing out of the forest.
Robyn closed her eyes and let the sunshine hit her face. So much for her moment of peace. “I have no reason not to trust him, Will.” She opened her eyes and looked at the young man. “I know we don’t want to remember this, but he didn’t know how it would turn out when he left. They all believed they were on a mission for God and King. He’s not the same man who left us.”
The realization slowly dawned on Robyn, though she hadn’t wanted to admit it. Her anger and resentment of Simon had kept her warm on cold nights when her belly was empty and her heart broken.
Will scoffed, “I can’t believe how quickly, you of all people, forget. He’s a king’s man through and through. People don’t change. This fallen lord ruse is meant to toy with your heart. It seems to be working, judging by the way you stare at him. Why don’t you open your legs for him and have done with it?”
Robyn’s cheeks flamed with anger and embarrassment. Before her reprimand could leave her lips, Simon hurtled out of the trees, tackling Will. They scuffled in the grass while Robyn watched with bemused irritation. Larger and stronger, Simon had Will by the back of his shirt and shook him like a mother dog with an irascible pup.
“You’ll apologize to my wife, boy,” Simon snarled.
“She doesn’t need you to defend her.”
With a sudden movement, Will dropped and twisted out of Simon’s hold. Simon might be bigger and stronger, but Will was faster. Simon lunged after him, and they tumbled to the ground. Will managed to pull away, and the two men separated, glaring at each other. Robyn’s bowstring sang twice in quick succession as she planted an arrow at their feet. They froze and looked at her. She walked to Will and plucked the arrow from the ground.
“Get out of my sight,” Robyn said with icy finality.
Will’s wide-eyed expression crumpled, and his shoulders slumped. He spared one final glare at Simon before slinking away.
Robyn turned to Simon and pulled the other arrow from the earth, wiping the tip clean with her shirt before putting it in her quiver. She turned to leave, uncertain what to say and in desperate need of space.
“When did you learn to shoot a bow?”
Simon’s question stopped her in her tracks. “When I had to hunt or starve. Hunger is a powerful motivator and an unforgiving tutor.” Robyn’s anger surged forward, reminding her that this man had caused years of hardship. She spun on her heel, confused by her own seesawing emotions.
Simon’s hand closed around her elbow and turned her back to him. She stiffened in his hold.
“I’m sorry, Robyn.” He pulled her into his arms and crushed her against his chest, which was as warm and solid as she remembered. Her anger snuffed like a candle. Tears pricked in her eyes as she rested her cheek against his chest. Over the years, Robyn had dreamt of him holding her like this, even when she burned with hatred for him.
“I’m proud of you. I always knew you were strong. I hope one day, you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me,” he whispered against her hair. Simon let her go and brushed a tender kiss across her lips. He looked at her for a heartbeat before stepping away.
Robyn swallowed and sat in the soft grass. Unbidden, a memory floated to the surface. Simon sat beside her on the grass next to the lake at Ashby Manor. Hot summer sun filtered through the leaves of the trees. She had worn her hair down at his request, though it was incredibly uncomfortable in the heat. He swept it up in his hand and blew cool air across her neck, making her shiver and her stomach clench with desire. Lazily, he laid her back on the thick grass and, one by one, worked the buttons of her bodice loose. The image dissolved in her mind, but she could still feel the kiss of sunlight on her bare chest, the cool grass in her fists as she clutched them in pleasure, and his mouth. Oh, she remembered his clever, wicked mouth and how he seared her skin with teasing kisses until she writhed beneath him in need.
Robyn pulled in a shaky breath. The memory left her aroused. She wasn’t that woman anymore, and the days of sunlight were lost to the shadow of hunger, hatred, and death. Robyn swiped an impatient hand across her face to erase the tears, wondering if they were for the woman she used to be or the one she had become.
“Robyn?” Little John called from within the camp behind her.
Grateful for the interruption, Robyn pushed to her feet and slung her bow over her shoulder. “I’m here, John,” she answered as she banished her melancholy thoughts and strode out of the meadow.
About the Author
A.C. Dawn is an active and enthusiastic author and reader of short stories, novellas, and novels. She enjoys bringing her characters to life and strives to stir the imagination of her readers. She believes the best writing touches the reader in ways they hadn’t expected and will never forget!
So, that’s the official bio…
Really, I’m a lover of chocolate, a strong jawline with a 5 o’clock shadow, and romances that make your heart pound and your middle get all squishy. I love quiet country living on my north Georgia farm with my family and fur babies of all shapes and sizes. I think the scariest thing in life is how fast my daughter is growing and an empty coffee pot. I can’t stand slow drivers in the fast lane and wimpy handshakes.
I have endless stories rumbling around among the rocks in my head. I can’t wait to share them with you!
I like to write and read about strong women. Probably all of us do, from time to time, but even if I start out trying to write a more submissive character, by the end she’ll be as strong-willed as any hero. In my very first long ago erotic short story (eventually published in Dream Lover, an anthology edited by Kristina Wright for Cleis Press,) the central character is a prostitute dominated and brutalized by her pimp, a woman who has given up on herself and drifts through life. By the end, though, she has saved a demon imprisoned in a huge gargoyle outside her penthouse window, and become a powerful demonic angel herself. Yes, I also love fantasy stories.
I love to write historical fiction, too, but I don’t even bother any more to try giving my heroines a softer edge. In “Flight of the Falcon” (in Delilah’s anthology Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors) the Armenian Lady of Aragatsotn is every bit a match for the Mongol General from Ghengis Khan’s Golden Horde. In the other relatively few straight erotica stories I’ve written, I have heroines like a hot-air balloon pilot in 1800s San Francisco, a WWII Russian bomber pilot in the factual all-women Night Witches squad, and a semi-witch who saves the supposed “ogre” in the Puss in Boots tale. All strong women letting you share in their fun, and their sex.
With my preference for strong women, it’s not surprising that most of my work in recent years has been centered on lesbian characters, where I can have two (or more) strong women to play with. When I was invited several months ago to write a lesbian superhero novella, I wavered for a while—I’ve never actually been into superheroes, and I’ve never written anything longer than a short story. But I had a hint of an idea, and it seemed like a good time to take the plunge into a somewhat longer form than a short story, so I signed a contract, did great amounts of research, and actually got my piece done by the deadline. Whew. But—let me rephrase that. BUT! I was then told that I’d squeezed so much plot into the novella that I had to expand it into novel length. Which I’m trying to do, but there’s more difference between short stories and novels than just the word count. The pacing is different, and so is the way the characters are developed, and my editorial inclination to say the most in as few words as possible (I edit short stories for anthologies) makes it hard to adjust to the novel form. In short, this project is really kicking my butt. I love my characters, and I’ll finish the book, but it may well not be any good. It certainly won’t be what superhero fans expect, but it WILL be about very strong women. The title, probably, will be TheShadow Hand, from Ylva Books in 2018
I am now officially in awe of people who can write novels.
Back on the short story anthology front, I’ve been trying for years to get my main publisher to let me take on a fairy tale theme that would center on strong women and tweak the traditional expectations. Finally, success! My newest anthology, Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales, is written for those who have had to settle for envisioning “he” as “she” when they’re reading fairy tales. I know similar books like this have been done every now and then, but I got such great stories from excellent writers that the stories themselves are worth reading as stories, regardless of the orientation of the characters—or of the readers.
Most of you probably don’t do this private re-gendering of characters in stories you read, and you may not like to read fairytales at all. Or if you do reimagine the characters, more likely you try now and then to envision “she” as a second “he”, which is fine. I’ve dabbled in m/m fantasy myself. Any variety is good exercise for the imagination (and the senses.) All else being equal, though, I take a story where it needs to go, with the characters who can best get it there. More often than not, these characters turn out to be lesbians, and this new anthology is a prime example. I know there are many readers who have longed for flights of imagination that could sweep them up into worlds of magic and sensual delights—if only all those heroes winning the day (and, of course, the girl) didn’t get in the way. Why can’t we have heroines who win each other?
As it turns out, we can. I asked writers for erotic romance, magic, and wild adventure, with women who use their wits, special powers, and/or weapons, and come together in a blaze of passion. The writers didn’t fail me. Some adapted traditional tales, and some updated old stories to contemporary times, in every case not merely changing the gender of a character but making the female aspect essential. Some created original plots with a fairy tale sensibility, while some wrote with merely a subtle aura of fantasy.
Their heroines are witches, princesses, brave, resourceful women of all walks of life, and even a troll and a dryad. There is laughter, sly wit, and an occasional tear; curses and spells, battles and intrigue, elements of magic and explorations of universal themes; and, yes, sex, sensuality and true love, all bound together into complex and many-layered stories. Whether a character is royalty or a miller’s daughter, a woman warrior passing as a man, a sorceress in flowing robes, or even a window inspector dangling in harness on a modern high-rise building—who better to rescue a long-haired captive in a tower?—all the relationships are passionate, intense, sometimes quick to ignite, sometimes all the hotter for restraint that flares at last into a fierce blaze.
If this just isn’t your thing, though, that’s okay. Maybe you could imagine that one of the “shes” is a “he”, although the fact of the characters being female is essential to most of the plots. But you might well discover that these stories of strong women in fantasy settings are well worth reading just as they are.
The Library Journal Review says of the book, “There is one creative hit after another…An excellent series of Sapphic fantasies. Highly recommended.”
Here’s a very non-representative excerpt from my own story in the book, but really, the stories are so varied that it would be hard to cite one as being representative. I went for humor in this one, but with more than humor at its core.
Trollwise bySacchi Green
Trip, trop, trip, trop. Hjørdis stood back in disgust as Princess Tutti pranced across the bridge, hips swaying, the false tail strapped to the seat of her gown twitching. A coy toss of Tutti’s head knocked the goat horns on her headdress slightly askew. “Oh, Mr. Troll,” she piped in a falsetto voice, “are you there today? Don’t you want to eat us up? Look, this time there is a meatier prey than just we little goats!” She cast a mocking glance back toward Hjørdis. “A buxom brood mare!”
Hjørdis would have swatted the silly girl’s rump if there had been enough of it to be worth the trouble. Or, more truthfully, if she herself had not been bound by oath to abide peaceably among these puny southerners. For now. As it was, she took a threatening stride onto the wooden planks. Tutti ran off giggling toward the meadow, from which sounds of pipes and laughter and occasional playful shrieks rose above the lazy burbling of the stream.
Princess Vesla, also adorned with horns and tail, came up timidly beside Hjørdis. “There truly was a troll under the bridge a week ago,” she said in a tremulous voice. “When Tutti called out, I heard its voice, like the rumbling of stones. She thinks it was Werther, the dancing master, trying to frighten us, but I’m sure it wasn’t!”
“Oh? What did he say?” Hjørdis made some small effort to tolerate Vesla, who was not so spiteful as her sister Tutti. She felt also a slight sympathy for the girl, who had formed a hopeless passion for Hordis’s captive brother Harald. At least accompanying them on their outing, however nasty it promised to be, was an excuse to leave the castle.
“It said, ‘Scrawny bones not fit to pick my teeth! Get you gone!’” Vesla shivered. “But we haven’t heard anything since.”
Hjørdis knew a great deal more about trolls than these little twits ever could. More than anyone could who had not known Styggri. That sounded all too much like what Styggri would say, in a humorous mood. But Styggri had crossed into another world from which there was no return.
Hjørdis looked more closely at the bridge. Its sides and the pillars beneath were stone, with wooden planking wide enough for two carriages to pass side by side over its double arch. And wide enough for a troll to lurk beneath, although why one should wish to, or venture this far south at all, was beyond her. Still… She gazed far upstream to where water surged out from a cleft in a rocky hillside. Nothing to compare with the jagged mountains and plummeting rivers of her home, but still part of a long arm of hills and ridges reaching out from those same mountains.
“You go on to your frolicking.” She gave Vesla as gentle a shove as she could manage. Gods, these pampered southern girls were brittle, twiggy things! And their brother the prince—her husband under duress—was no better. “I’ll sit a while here in the shade of the birches. This heat annoys me.”
“Oh! Are you, then…already…”
“No! And if I were, it would be too soon to know. Go along now!”
Vesla went, trying to keep the gilded wooden heels of her shoes from making as much noise on the bridge as Tutti’s had done. Once safely across she looked back over her shoulder. “Give Werther a few stomps from me,” Hjordis called. The foolish dancing master deserved whatever he got, with his tales of ancient times in foreign lands where satyrs danced on goat hooves and bands of women ran wild under the spell of a wine god.
Comment about strong women, fairy tales, or short stories versus novels, and be entered for a drawing to win a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms.
About the Author
Sacchi Green is an award-winning writer and editor of erotica and other stimulating genres. Her stories have appeared in scores of publications, including eight volumes of Best Lesbian Erotica, four of Best Women’s Erotica, and three of Best Lesbian Romance. In recent years she’s taken to wielding the editorial whip, editing thirteen lesbian erotica anthologies, including Lesbian Cowboys (winner of a Lambda Literary Award,) Girl Crazy, Lesbian Lust, Women with Handcuffs, Girl Fever, Wild Girls, Wild Nights (also a Lambda Award Winner,) Me and My Boi, and Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year 20th Anniversary Edition, all from Cleis Press, as well as Through the Hourglass: Lesbian Historical Romance and Thunder of War, Lightning of Desire (Lethe Press.) Sacchi lives in the Five College area of western Massachusetts, gets away to her NH mountain retreat as often as possible, and makes the occasional foray into the real world to do readings in New York and other exotic locales. She can be found online at www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com and on Facebook..