Authors: Nancy Holder
After Elise fell asleep, Rose crept to the garden.
Ombrine had ordered her to stay out of it—
especially at night—and promised severe
punishment if she disobeyed
ut it was in this garden she had last seen her mother, and had heard the joyous news that her father was coming home.
You are loved,”
the roses whispered.
loved: she said brokenly. “But now they’re gone:’ She began to cry again.
Moonlight gleamed around Rose like her mother’s sheltering arms, and after a time, she fell into a deep, heavy sleep.
And in that sleep, a glowing hand cupped a shimmering white mouth pressed against her ear.
A voice whispered,
‘Alas, daughter of she who made the wish, you still must walk through the shadows until you see the light. Once you learn the lesson, two broken hearts shall mend.”
Rose slumbered and didn’t hear the voice.
But her heart heard it.
NCE UPON A
IS TIMELESS WITH THESE RETOLD TALES:
Beauty Sleep: A Retelling of “Sleeping Beauty”
By Cameron Dokey
Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of “The Little Mermaid”
By Debbie Viguié
Snow: A Retelling of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
By Tracy Lynn
Retelling of “The Frog Prince”
By Suzanne Weyn
Retelling of “Cinderella”
By Cameron Dokey
The Storyteller’s Daughter:
“The Arabian Nights”
By Cameron Dokey
Golden: A Retelling of “Rapunzel”
By Cameron Dokey
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Copyright © 2007 by Nancy Holder
All rights reserved, including the right of
reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
SIMON PULSE and colophon are registered trademarks
of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
The text of this book was set in Adobe Jenson.
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Simon Pulse edition June 2007
2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3
Library of Congress Control Number 2007923285
To “Chipmunk” Belle, child of light,
and her fairy rings:
Haley “Elvis” Schricker, Jesse “Otter” Greenfield, Emily
“BobThing” Hogan, Steffi “Staff” Sontgerath, and
Julia Jules” and Mandy “Mandy-Candy” Escobedo
The Ones Who Were There Before the Beginning:
Grace Beck, Sarah Wilcox, Melody and Mallory
Muehlbauer, and Alexandra and Anna Rose Morel
And with gratitude, love, and deep respect to:
and my mother, Marion Elise Smith
Love is much like a wild rose, beautiful and calm,
but willing to draw blood in its own defense
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind
In the Land Beyond
. . .
Crown Prince Jean-Marc, son of His Royal Majesty Henri III, Heir to the Throne of the Land Beyond, Beloved of Zeus, caught his breath as Lucienne, Princess of the Silver Hills, walked with her ladies and her priestesses into the airy, domed temple of his god. Sunshine poured in from the cloudless sky, tinting her magnificent silver gown with golden light. Over her braided silvery-blonde hair, she wore a tiara of glittering diamonds and enameled crescent moons, signifying her devotion to the goddess Artemis.
Her starry midnight-blue eyes gleamed as she caught sight of Jean-Marc waiting for her at the altar. He was dressed in ermine robes lined with gold, a black-and-gold doublet and black hose, and a heavy gold crown. Jean-Marc’s black hair curled around his ears, revealing the sharp planes and angles of his face, softened by his smile. His brows were dark, and his deep-set eyes darker, and filled with rapture as he gazed at Lucienne, his bride of four months.
The prince had been a solitary youth, left to his own devices by a father who married a succession of wives. Each queen had died—Jean-Marc’s mother,
Marie, had been King Henri’s second wife—and the temple of Zeus had consecrated seven royal stepmothers since Jean-Marc’s birth. To think that at last the lonely prince had found a boon companion to share his life! Who would have dreamed that the prince and princess, joined together for political reasons, would fall so madly in love? It was enchanting. Miraculous. Surely a gift from the gods.
So it must be that Zeus, presiding in the form of a great marble statue, bearded and broad-chested, looked down on them with favor. Aglow with sunshine and torchlight, was he not smiling?
The chief priest of Zeus stretched forth his arms in greeting. His two assistants flanked him. All three wore white togas bordered with gold, and crowns of laurel pushed low over their foreheads. The head priest was the oldest. On his right stood his associate, a priest in the fullness of his manhood; on the left, a boy acolyte, to signify the youngest age of man.
King Henri, Jean-Marc’s father, was not there. The recent widower had been called away on matters of State, but he had toasted his son and daughter-in-law the night before, wishing them both the answer to all their prayers as the three tossed their golden goblets into the flames.
They were about to hear if this month, that prayer would be answered.
The altar was covered with roses of scarlet and creamy ivory—red for the House of the Land Beyond, white for the Silver Hills. Also, vapors of
burning incense and towers of gleaming gold coins, payment for the gift of prophecy bestowed upon the three holy men. There were hundreds of coins, all graced with the likeness of Henri, and they would be given to the poor in the name of the king. The Land Beyond was the center of a vast realm and the treasury bulged with taxes and tribute.
Lucienne’s three priestesses, dressed in white robes caught at the shoulders with silver stars, wore diadems of the moon in her phases over long white gossamer veils that covered their braids. They carried diamond-studded silver arrows, symbols of their patroness, Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt and of the Moon. The priestess who led the procession was a crone, revered as a wisewoman and midwife. The priestess of childbearing age walked on Lucienne’s right. The third priestess, a newly consecrated maiden, held Lucienne’s left hand—the one nearer the princess’s heart—to give weight to Lucienne’s wish to bear the crown prince’s son.