Girl in The Woods (Serial Novel, Part 13)

Serial Novel Girl in the Woods, Part 13

Girl in the Woods is loosely based on the old princess and the pea story, but it goes beyond a simple fairy tale. It is a story about a quest for perfection, or more the rejection of perfection the reality sets in. Because we all know there is no perfections, especially when it comes to love.

It is mostly about a circle of friends. As adults living their own lives, they are still connected.

What you’re getting is the rough story I wrote years ago when I had a small infant who kept me up at all kinds of weird hours.

Girl in The Woods is a regular Friday feature on Vampire Maman. I strongly suggest you start from the beginning as you would with any novel – especially an epic adventure like this one. CLICK here for previous chapters.


Before The Trip


Alexander was had a law degree, a minor in poetry and a masters degree in History. The history he really wanted to know was from the Crystal Mountain Republic. The country was hidden away from the rest of the world by mountains as high as thirty thousand feet. The people never left. They never let anyone into their country either.

The culture of the Crystal Mountains was built upon an obsession with both traditional mythology and traditions, mixed with an obsession with technology. Whether they stole it from the Starlings or built it themselves, the technology rarely left the country. He’d used the communications technology and seen the amazing medical technology. He’d also seen the almost magical toys and even heard that they could fly without creating noise or pollution.

At the same time the people of the Crystal Mountains were incredibly superstitious and socially backwards. Most of all they were violent in almost every aspect of their lives. They mated for life and only parted with death. There were no marriages, only personal of vows of love that lasted forever. Violence against woman was common even after the revolution that had dethroned the Wizard Lord Robin Nightlander.

Alexander had founds bits and pieces of his mother’s Crystal Mountain past from Logan, Simon and Alaric Shadowford.

Shadowford was a new comer to Alexander’s life. The Ambassador from the Crystal Mountain Republic, War Hero and 4th cousin.

His mother’s maiden name was Shadowford.

The son of intelligence officers in the rebellion army, had almost single handedly ended the war. At he age of 17 he’d killed Doran Nightlander, master wizard and the youngest son of the Nightlanders. Doran was thought to be the end of the Nightlander line. It was over.

Alaric never basked in the status of hero as would so many young men. He refused to speak of it, saying it was an effort of a people in which he played a small role.

Alaric’s life was blanketed by secrets like most people from the CMR. It was know he’d partnered with a woman who was critically ill and died a few years later. That had been ten years before he taken the ambissordship.

Doran Nightlander was known for his cruelty, which was in contrast to his almost angelic face and gentle public persona. He “dismantle” people, bury them alive, any sort of torture and spell was used to get his was. He’d started to take an interest in long forbidden weapons technology. He was a master at mind control and could read minds. He had long thought that his magic could kill, but it was an art he’d never mastered. Only the Nightlander women could do that and there hadn’t been a Nightlander woman for over 100 years.

Simon’s business partner Olivia Snowhawk had been there when Alaric killed Doran Nightlander, but she wouldn’t speak of it to Simon. Rumor was that she and Alaric were an item. There had been a few pictures in the social sections but nothing he’d been concerned about. Alexander had never met the woman. Simon never spoke of it. Then again, Simon always kept his business and personal life separate.

As children Aleric and Logan had spent a lot of time together. Alaric met with the Queen often behind closed doors.

Alexander spoke the language but truly understood the culture.

He’d invited Alaric to the party, but as with a lot of social invitations he never accepted.

“I’m sorry Alexander, I cannot attend your party.” There was no explanation. That drove Alexander crazy.

“I’m sorry as well. I was looking forward to seeing you there. You know, Olivia Snowhawk was going to attend, but had to bow out at the last minute. I was looking forward to meeting her. She’s an old friend of yours isn’t she?”

“We’ve been friends since childhood. “ Replied Alaric. And not another word. There was another pause.

“You dated her for a while didn’t you?” Alexander asked. “I hear you were pretty serious.”

Alaric gave him a smile. “Do you know her?”

“No, I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting her. Funny considering she’s Simon’s business partner.”

Alaric gave Alexander a slight and rare smile “I’d love to talk all day about all of the beautiful women we’ve known but my business today is much more serious.”

“What’s up?”

“I’m finished with my assignment here. My business here is over.

Alexander was shocked. Alaric was doing such a great job. “You’re kidding, what about the refugees and everyone you’ve been helping.”

“There are others who will take care of that.” Said Alaric flatly.

Again no explanation thought Alexander. “What others? Come on Alaric, nobody could have the connections and expertise you have.”

“Consulate staff, Universal Technologies connections. Your mother. They’ll all fill the void I’ll leave.”

“I’ll be sorry to see you go. Could you talk Justin Snowhawk into taking your position?” Alexander asked. Justin Snowhawk was the brother of Simon’s business partner Olivia Snowhawk and one of the owners of Universal Technologies, the largest technology company in the entire world. Alexander had met Justin a year before and they’d hit it off like old friends. Unlike Alaric, and most Crystal Mountain natives, Justin was warm and open. He actually had a sense of humor and a worldview.

Alaric’s answer was unexpected. “Justin Snowhawk thinks you’re all barbarians.” Alaric smiled breaking the ice. “He doesn’t trust the people of the country who stole away his twin sister.”

Alexander decided to just get to the point. “Alaric, tell me what’s going on. Why are you leaving all of the sudden?”

“I’ve accepted a position with Justin. He’s in line to be the next president of the Crystal Mountain Republic. He wants me head up his International Relations staff. I’m also leaving on moral grounds. Alexander, I can no longer live here and live with myself.”

Alexander was in shock over that announcement. “On moral grounds. For the love of God, what moral grounds could you be leaving on here? We’re positively bland compared to the Crystal Mountain Republic.”

“Betrayal is a way of life here.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Love between humans is a strong and binding force not to be taken lightly.”

“Is this about Candi? You sound like Simon.”

“No, this is about your mother who would betray all that she is and all that she has ever believed in to force her son to marry a woman he doesn’t love.”

Alexander raked his hair back with his right hand and looked at Alaric in shock. “Nobody is forcing me to do anything least of all my mother. I’m courting Candi of my own free will.”

Alaric gave him a sarcastic mean sort of smile. “Don’t fool yourself cousin. For you the marriage is a legal contract. For those of us from the Crystal Mountains it is fire and passion that does not need jurisdiction of any government. It is a solemn oath between a man and a woman. A vow of love that is never broken. We don’t divorce. Once a vow is made it is forever.”

“Marriage is based on love,” said Alexander in defense.

“Cousin, listen to yourself and look at your own life. Do you love the silly princess?”

Alexander smiled “Give me time. I’m sure will, eventually.”

Alaric looked at him sadly. “Will it be a love of endless passion like that of Dare Crow bound to an enchanted woman who belongs to another? Or the love of two old souls who grew as children but grew apart in their passion only to come together again explode in a flame of need and desire. It can’t be as with your parents, a love a first sight that has never stopped even after 40 years. What will it be with you and your Real Princess?” Alaric’s green eyes sparkled. His face was serious.

“I’ll be right back. Alexander said and went to his bedroom to retrieve the poetry book.”

When he returned Alaric was looking none too pleased. He spoke again before allowing Alexander to say anything. “Unless you can give your soul to this Candi woman you will never find the true love you seek.

Alexander held out the paper he’d found at the fern chapel to Alaric.

“What do you know about this?” he asked Alaric.

Alaric looked at Alexander, he was calm but Alexander saw a hint of recognition in his eyes.

“The woman who wrote this is enchanted isn’t she?” Alexander continued.

Alaric turned the paper over in his hands, and then spoke in his native language. “Aye, she is indeed. The pictures are beautiful. She has a mind that can’t keep still.”

“Who is she?” demanded Alexander switching to the old language of the Crystal Mountains.

Alaric didn’t answer. He looked the paper over and over, gently touching his hands over it as if was a personal love letter.

Alexander pulled out the earring and put it on the table. “I found this too.”

Alaric picked up the earring and studied it. “The earrings belong to someone of great wealth. She could also be the lover of a man who values her beyond all measure. A man who would think nothing of taking her away by force to have her as his own. A man who’s passion she could never comprehend or appreciate. A man who can control her and keep her from her foolish ways. It has a fern pattern, like something you’d pick out. What is it about ferns that you like so much?”

“You know her. You gave her the earrings.” He was going to say they belonged to Olivia Snowhawk but Alaric spoke first.

“No, the object of your desire didn’t get them from me.” Said Alaric.

“The owner of the earrings is not my object of desire. I don’t even know who she is.”

“You’re intrigued, I can see it in your face. You’ve thought of since you first picked up the note.”

“Like you, I’m curious. That is all. Where did you get these things?”

“ I found the earring and paper at the fern chapel a few weeks ago.”

Alaric handed the paper back to Alexander. “Your mother is the only other one I know who has jewelry of that stone, jewelry she brought with her from the Crystal Mountains. The jewels from her castle.” He put the earring down on the table. “Ten years ago, before my diplomatic career I had a partner. A woman I’d vowed my love to. She died of an illness of the heart. There was nothing any wizard or physician could do to stop it. She owned a pair of earrings with stones like that. It’s fairly rare, from the mines of the wastes of the Northern Boundaries. The green stones are favored by the Starlings. I gave them to her the night we vowed our love. She wore them the day she died.”

“I didn’t know. I’m sorry. I never knew you had a partner.” Now Alexander, who usually knew everything about everyone felt like a fool.

“Our life together was quiet. Much different than my life now. Surprised aren’t you.”

“Yes, I am. You never mentioned her.”

“We were together for only 3 years. I don’t speak of her, but she is always in my thoughts and my heart. Some day maybe there will be another. Until then I keep my grief private.

I with to you as your kinsman and as your friend that you shall find the same happiness that I have found.”

They spoke; Alexander got the story of Alaric’s woman, a green eyed, raven haired beauty. She was a quiet loving woman, the daughter of a religious leader. Not the type one would think of with Alaric.

They discussed the new ambassador from the Crystal Mountain Republic and Justin Snowhawk’s political prospects.

In a country where just 24 years earlier nearly half of the population had died from the violence of war, starvation or disease the country had come back as a powerhouse of industry and technology. Alaric was indeed needed at home.

“Alaric have to ask you about your experiences during the war. I know you don’t like to discuss them, but you are credited into killing Doran Nightlander, who at the time was one of the most powerful and evil wizards in the Crystal Mountains.”

“You’ve been looking at old history.”

“Of course I have. Come on Alaric, you were only 17 and killed a man who might have been the most powerful wizard in the world.”

“It was nothing really. We were caught in a storm. Olivia Snowhawk was with me.”

“Were you childhood sweethearts?” Alexander asked.

“Not then. We were close. Friends. Olivia was serious, even for Crystal Mountain standards. She hated the way we lived. There was always a wild part of her ready to bolt and run away. Her father never left her alone in fear she’d run and fall into the hands of the Nightlanders.

We took shelter in the old tower, not knowing what it was. It was a sweet moment, the first time I kissed her. She was so pure and lovely, as beautiful as any princess. Such a pure and innocent moment was taken away by the arrival of Doran’s men. Doran took Olivia to the top of the tower. I fought off the attackers and was able to rescue Olivia, but it almost cost me my life. Unfortunately I don’t remember much of it.”

“Tell me about Doran Nightlander?” asked Alexander, knowing that Doran Nightlander was a wizard of almost mythical reputation.

“Doran was imposing like the wind personified. Powerful and beautiful. He lit up the room, literally. He owned the world around him and everyone in it.” Alaric went to the fire and warmed his hands then he crossed his arms as if protecting himself from an unseen enemy or trying to find comfort. “After it was over all I remember is Olivia holding me and keeping alive. She wouldn’t tell anyone what actually happened, no matter how they tried to pry it out of her.”

“Never?” Asked Alexander, who never took never for an answer. “ Couldn’t you have had a wizard read her memories?”

Alaric shrugged. “Most of our wizards were dead. Those who were alive wouldn’t go near her not knowing what Doran Nightlander might have done to her. Doran Nightlander’s magic is strong, even after his death. Disturbing the memories of his death could have hurt Olivia more than it would have helped anyone.”

Alaric pulled his collar aside, showing Alexander a scar on his neck. “It’s the only time in my life I lost memories. She saved my life. For that reason I will not ask her to bring back the nightmare.”

“Sounds like you saved her from Doran in more than one way.”

“Maybe. Maybe not, but she survived without any physical marks from him. He tried to tempt her with the promise of sex and luxury to go over to his side. When she refused him he punished her by trying to kill me. That cost him his life. “

“You were only 17. I’m not sure what I would have done at that age.” Alexander remembered he was spending his time with Ellie, without a care in the world.

Alaric smiled warmly, changing the mood drastically. “Come to the Crystal Mountains with me and you can see the country for yourself and meet the people. You’ll understand the history of our family, but more see what we’d done to build a better place. Understand our culture.”

“I’d like that.” Said Alexander.

“You won’t be able to open your eyes wide enough to see the beauty of the mountains, or the beauty of the women.”

With that comment Alexander laughed and for a rare moment thought Alaric was laughing along with him.


Family History

Alexander is getting ready to leave on his trip. He is looking forward to going out of town. He’d gone to the jeweler but ended up ordering something for his cousin Rachael as an engagement present. He never mentioned rings.

He looked at a portrait of Alexander and Starfire in the small sitting room off of the north tower. It was a place that was hardly used, a small library of old fiction and family archives.

He was tall and blonde like almost all of Alexander’s ancestors. He had the same build as Alexander. About the time he’d started college his father had the painting moved to this out of the way room.

Starfire was the glowing image of a woman in love but a woman of power. One of the greatest wizards who ever lived, she ruled her country with an iron hand. She also captured the heart of Alexander and he turned her heart of stone into flesh again.

She wasn’t tall. A woman with curves in the right place, shown off by the elaborate traditional clothing of her country. She was lovely, her beauty in a different way than Candi or any other woman he had known. Her hair was a reddish brown, not as dark as his.

Alexander sometimes felt as though she looked through the image at him, her eyes alive. He found himself drawn to her.

His father came into the room.

“Why didn’t you give Starfire’s diamond to my mother?”

“She wouldn’t take it. According to her the Nightlanders would get wind and come back for it. We’ll never hear from any of the Nightlanders again, thank God. Were you thinking of giving the ring to Candi?”

“No.” Absolutely no way in hell would he give something of so much value to someone who would never appreciate it’s history.

Florien didn’t comment but looked at his son as if contemplating his future.

“Dad, are there any heirs left of Starfire’s, any Nightlanders?”

“A few in the Crystal Mountains. I know what you’re thinking. Don’t try to find them.”

“I wasn’t, but now that you bring it up…”

“They’re reclusive and dangerous. They want to forget their past.”

“Robbie Nightlander’s children. They’re alive aren’t they?”

“Officially nobody knows. Unoffically, yes they are alive. “

“Where are they?”

“Robbie’s children are of no consequence.”

Do you think Justin Snowhawk would know anything about them.

“Don’t ask him. It will only bring up bad blood. His father killed Nightlanders for a living. I understand Justin Snowhawk is uncomfortable with anything to do with wizards or magic. It’s best not to bring anything along those lines up unless he does first. It will cause suspicion. If he does bring it up be skeptical about anything he says. He’ll speak like a puzzle, only giving you tiny bits and pieces but never the whole. It will drive you crazy.”

“I can handle people from the Crystal Mountains.”

“I know you Alexander, you always want the entire story. Spending time with someone from the Crystal Mountains will drive you crazy if you let it. Believe me, I’m married to one of them.”

“Do you think Justin would lie to me about it?”

“They never lie. They just don’t tell you the entire story. It’s just the way they are. It’s part of their culture.”

“I didn’t hesitate when Logan told me about traveling with Justin Snowhawk, but are you sure it is necessary for you to spend so much time with him.”

“He runs one of the largest companies in the world, and he’s the obvious choice to be the next president of their country. This is a prime opportunity for us to forge a strong and lasting relationship. We’re the same age, we have many of the same interests. I’m also sure that Justin will appreciate the fact than I’m not going to be out trolling for women every night. He’s a devoted family man. There’s almost a sweetness to him, sort of an innocence that you don’t see with many guys his age. He’s safe Dad.”

“Have you met his sister?”

“Olivia Snowhawk? No, I haven’t. God knows I’ve tried over the years, but the woman is a mystery to me. I asked Simon and Ellie to bring her to the party last week. She didn’t make it.”

“You shouldn’t have invited her.”

“I said she didn’t make it. What’s the deal?”

“Alexander, you need to take your duties to Candi more seriously.”

“Candi is a darling girl, but I’m not all together sold on the idea being married to her.”

“By the time I was your age I’d been married 17 years and had sired four children.”

“You were lucky to have found someone you felt so passionate about.”

“I know you haven’t slept with Candi. That isn’t like you.”

Alexander’s temper flared at the question. “I haven’t slept with Candi out of respect for the delicate and formal arrangement you’ve made with her mother. If she was someone like Misty or any of my other former and more mature former girlfriends I would have fucked her silly weeks ago. Are we done here?”

“I’ve set a wedding date. Six months from tomorrow.”

“Than you’d better unset it. I told Candi she’d be better off with Blake.”


“The wizard. The man she’s been in love with for the past 10 years.”

“The man is nothing but a fashionable fool completely unsuitable for her.”

“He’ll be a rich and powerful wizard in a few years. Blakes’s perfect for Candi. God knows he’s as pretty and air headed as she is. A marriage between Candi and me would be a disaster. We have nothing in common. We have nothing to talk about. It’s a one way road to failure.”

“You will make it work”.

“What kind of life outside of the public pageantry could I possibly have with her?”

“Do you think your mother and I had anything to talk about? She could barely speak the language. She came from a culture so foreign that it was like living with a child.”

Alexander’s stomach sank. He’d never heard his father speak of his mother like that. “Than why did you marry her.”

“Because she was the most beautiful woman on the planet. She was wild and passionate and she twisted my heart with desire unlike any women I’d ever met. “

“Candi is beautiful and sexy but I need more. I need a lot more.”

“You will marry Candi. The date has already been set.”

Alexander began to speak but his father cut him off “There is no getting out of this one Alexander.”

“What if I meet someone else? Do I keep her as a mistress like Graham would or just be myseriable for the rest of my life?” Alexander put his hand in his pocket and fingered the earrings. He felt numb.

“You’ve already proved that you can’t pick a suitable bride. From here on out the decision is not yours. Accept your fate. You will marry Candi in six months. That is an order from your king.”


Conversation With Candi

Simon spent the rest of the afternoon filling his friend in on business details for the trip.

Alexander rushed back to the palace to meet with Candi. He hadn’t told her he was to take Logan’s place yet.

He met Princess Candi at his house. She was already settled in the library when he arrived, late. Dora was reading a book by the fire in the downstairs parlor. At least somebody in Candi’s entourage read. He asked her about her book, a recent best seller about fashion. She seemed pleased that he noticed. He felt sorry for such a sweet girl like Dora to have to have spent most of her life being kicked around by Princess Kitti. At least if he married Candi, it would be good for Dora.

Candi ran to greet him when he arrived at the library. “Just like a puppy.” He thought. He gave her a light kiss on her perfect pink mouth. She smiled and led him by the hand to the window. The sunset was a brilliant glow of pink and blue on the large clouds.

“What a beautiful sunset. It makes me think of kisses and true love. I guess I’m just a romantic” exclaimed Candi

“What do you consider romantic sweet Candi?” Alexander asked wistfully, looking into what he had to admit were two of the most beautiful blue eyes he had ever seen.

“Being showered with flowers and jewels just because I’m pretty. Dancing at the ball with a prince, knowing he thinks I’m the most beautiful woman there. Having you treat me like everyday is my birthday. But do you want to know what I think is the most romantic thing of all?”

“What’s that?”

She gave him a pretty smile and batted her eyes. “Secret names”

Alexander leaned back on the window seat. Her idea of romance was a bit childish and self-centered , but he had to admit she was awfully cute. “Tell me, dear princess, what are secret names?”

“You know, special names. I think you should have a special name for me.”

“You mean pet names?” He asked attempting to hide his sudden disgust. This couldn’t be happening. He was trying to make it work with her, but this went too far.

She put her hands around his neck and leaned into him, almost in his lap. “Yes. Let’s have pet names for each other. I could call you Cuddles or Princely.”

“Candi, I don’t think we’re quite ready for special pet names yet.” His tone changed from light to serious. This is where he had to draw the line on too much cuteness.

“No?” she said with a childish frown.

“No, darling, I don’t think so. I’m not really a pet name kind of guy.”

Her arms dropped to her sides. Her bottom lip went out in a seductive pout. She mocked a little cry. He glanced at the sunset again and thought of the perfect pet name for Candi “idiot girl”.

Candi continued to pout at him. A flock of sparrows could land on that bottom lip. “Listen, Candi, sit down, right here next to me.” He patted the seat next to him “I have to talk to you, seriously.”

She sat close to him, their hips and shoulder touching, a little too close for his current comfort. “About our soon to be engagement?” she asked poised for a kiss.

He shifted to face her, adding a few inches between them. “Candi, I’ll be traveling for a few months on business. I’m leaving in three days.”

“To the River Conference? May I come with you? Please, please, please take me with you.”

“No, the River Conference isn’t for another few months. Remember when we talked about Logan’s trip.”

“At your party. He’ll travel with one of those odd Universal Crystal Mountain people.”

“The Crystal Mountain person you mentioned is Justin Snowhawk, one of the owners of Universal Technologies. Candi, darling, Logan won’t be well enough to travel, so I’m taking his place.”

“Can’t you send somebody else?”

“Candi this is a very, very important diplomatic and business venture. I need to be there.”

Candi threw her arms around his neck. “I’ll miss you so much. I want to go with you. Please, please, pretty please.”

Gently taking her hand, he looked into her beautiful blue eyes. “I’m sorry I can’t. It’s a guy’s trip. It will be all business, and when we’re not engaged in business we’ll be out fishing or hiking around forests and ruins. It will be far too rough and tumble for a pretty princess like you.”

“Announce our engagement before you go and I want a ring. A big ring.” She tightened her arms around him, in excitement, like a child on her birthday.

“Candi, I can’t do that.” He unlatched her arms and held her hands. He saw the hurt in her eyes.

“Why not? Don’t you love me?” she said in almost a whisper, her voice starting to crack as her blue eyes watered over.

Alexander shook his head. “Love isn’t easy for me Candi. I can’t rush my heart. I’m sorry”

She threw herself into his arms again and started to cry. He rubbed her back and stroked her hair like he would a crying child. He wanted to yell, “No, I doubt I’ll never love you. I’ve can’t wait to as far away from you as I can,” but kept his thoughts to himself and told her “I’ll be back in no time. You’ll be so busy you won’t even miss me.”

After a romantic candlelit dinner for two in the flower filled formal dining room, Candi was back to her charming and happy self. Over dessert he presented her with a diamond and pearl bracelet that seemed to make her happy.

After dinner he went to the wine cellar for something stronger. She was gone when he returned. He found a trail of flowers from the vase on the table leading up to his bedroom. This wasn’t what he’d planned on.

She lay on her back on the bed, legs spread, arms over her head. Her hair fanned out around her, the diamond bracelet on her arm. She wore nothing but her sheer lace stockings held up with jeweled garters. She reminded him of a high priced whore, or at least what he imagined a high priced whore looked like. It was sad.

“Put this on.” He said tossing her his robe.

“Don’t you want me?”

“I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t want to have sex with you this very second, but you expect me to love you in return and I can’t give you right now.” he told her, knowing if she had stayed, and if he’d made love to her that there would be no turning back.

“But ….”

“You’re absolutely beautiful. Please get dressed and meet me downstairs.”

He waited with a glass of wine and a headache. He wanted her so badly but it would have been wrong. If she had been another woman it would have been so easy to drop his clothes and join her in bed. And then what? Would they talk? What would they talk about? Another endless conversation about parties and social gossip.

It had been over a month since she had arrived. It had been an exhausting blur of parties and nights out on the town. Time with Candi always lead to conversations on redecorating in colors that only belonged in a whorehouse. After decorating conversation, Candi always wanted to talk about clothes and parties and gossip. It was like having a 14 year old girl around.

He handed her a box containing a necklace and earrings to go with the bracelet he had given her at the dinner table. She squeeled with delight. The damn things cost as much as the college education, but it was worth the bribe to get her leave on her own accord.

After she’d left, with her strange twins, escorted by members of his staff, Alexander felt drained and relieved.

He took out the earring he’d found in the Fern Chapel. It was nothing like Candi would have worn. He carefully unfolded the note and ran his fingers across the water stains.

“Two by love, two by faith. I will find you.” He said aloud.

He imagined the girl with the earring. She was a woman of unmatched beauty. Tall and elegant. She was calm and serene, never making demands, always giving support and comfort. She was intelligent and witty with a smile that would melt a man away. She would be Princess Candi with a brain. Upon their meeting he would release her from the enchantment that bound her. In return she would gladly become his wife. It would be clean and simple. They would live happily ever after.

He thought of past girlfriends. Starting with Ellie and moving on to Viola, all had been strong willed, enormously fun and exceptionally smart and beautiful. There was his college girlfriend, the exquisite Misty Barnes who was now the mayor of Ravenswood, and engaged to be married. There were more he had been involved with briefly. The joke was that he couldn’t last more than two weeks with a woman before he became bored with her. It was true. He had many female friends, but all were too smart to become romantically involved with him.

He’d been involved with three other Real Princesses, Ellie, Viola and Misty. Misty was carnal unlike any woman he’d ever known, but he only truly loved two – Ellie and Viola. Ellie was his first love. He had thought Viola was his true love, his soul mate, but it had been a lie. She had never loved him. Just like he would never love Candi.

He remembered Viola’s words. “I was never in love with you. I was in love with the idea of you.”

Candi didn’t think about ideas. In fact, most of the time it seemed like she didn’t think at all. Everything was clear cut and simple for her.

He picked up the book of poetry he’d found in the Fern Chapel and opened it to a random page.

“My wild unexpected love. You ambushed me, you attacked my senses, you took me by surprise, body, heart and soul.”

His grandfather had written that to his grandmother. That is what he wanted. What they had. He wanted what his parents had. He wanted what Simon and Ellie had.

Again he said aloud to himself “Two by love, two by faith, I will find you.”


~ To be continued. Next week: The Journey Begins.






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