The Charming Fairy Tales, Book 3

Book Cover: Ending The Curse
Part of the The Charming Fairy Tales series:

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The Charming Fairy Tales, Book 3

 

Will this shy Charming Noble find a way to end his curses--the one on his person, and the one burning in his heart.

 

Charming Noble, Marquis Bryan von Auerbach has a very difficult problem.

He has upset a witch.

While saving lady Kathryn von Stroebel—otherwise known as Rapunzel—and his best friend, Nick von Hohburg from the witch, Vevika Gothel, he burned her most prized possession, the magical hair she’d grown from Rapunzel’s head.

Bryan never expected the witch’s retribution would be so fierce, and powerful even after her death.

Nor did he expect to find his only ally to be his best friend’s sister, Enrika “Kiki” von Hohburg. The one person who witnessed this witch’s revenge.

But who else can he trust? He certainly cannot tell Nick or Penn about this, they would tease him mercilessly. Kiki truly is his only hope.

She must take him on an adventure, all across the White Mountains, in hopes to save him from Gothel’s curse. Gothel has woven a powerful magic that not many have ever seen, as her final revenge against Bryan and the Charming Nobles.

With Kiki’s help, he must find a way to end the witch’s curse. Especially since every moment he spends with Kiki begins meaning dangerously more than it should.

And Kiki is determined to never let Bryan go again.

Excerpt:

Some people say I have a rather unfocused mind. My brother Nick says it is incredibly wooly, that I flitter about from place to place. He is forever telling me to find a purpose in my life, for I could not continue to go through life, wandering around like a ninny, like the rest of my friends.

Silly boy.

He does not begin to understand the workings of a female mind. I felt sorry for my brother’s fiancé, Rapunzel--correction, Lady Katherina von Strobel--because my brother was more of an unfocused dolt than any man ever. Though he had gotten worse upon meeting Rapunzel, I think he confused focus with love.

I was not so confused. I had focus. And I knew what love was. I had for most of my life.

In fact, my mind’s sole focus was the Marquis Bryan von Auerbach, formerly Count von Thalunburg, a title he’d been given by his father to bestow something upon him, as the second, and unimportant heir, Bryan was always overlooked.

By his family, anyway.

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This new title, however, was a step up, and Bryan had earned it from his actions that helped bring about the very event I was in the middle of.

The hanging of Orbert Gruenewald and the witch Vevika Gothel. Bryan had been instrumental in saving my brother, Nick von Hohburg, from death after Orbert and Gothel attacked him in the Black Forest.

Bryan also had helped rescue Rapunzel from the tower she’d been prisoner in all her life. It was quite kind of the Grand Duke to reward Bryan with his own title. Though a Dukedom would have been more fitting, since Bryan was so heroic.

But my opinion could be biased.

I noticed a few women angling toward him, and found myself irritated at how fast the rumors could fly. After all, word of his new title only arrived yesterday morning, and already women were trying to get near him.

The packed courtyard, awaiting the hanging of the criminals, was warming in the early morning sunshine. Surprisingly, several of the ladies visiting me were in attendance, in all their day finery.

Normally most didn’t rise before ten, but today, everyone wanted to witness the hanging. The servants and upstairs maids had been in a frenzy, making sure all the ladies were dressed in their finery for the event.

Needless to say, the house had been a roaring ruckus from before dawn, normally the quietest hours in the castle.

There hadn’t been a hanging on Hohburg lands in many years, and no one wanted to miss it. I noticed that several of the young ladies had positioned themselves near men of means.

I sighed.

They were likely preparing in case they fainted.

Lady Eve had been speaking about a well-timed fainting over tea the other day before she had been sent home for being rather wicked to Rapunzel.

Did I agree with her departure? Certainly, she was quite the climber. But I also knew a bit more about her family than most, and I knew that they were on the verge of losing everything, and they’d put all their expectations on Lady Eve, demanding she marry well.

Hence her visit.

I hoped she wouldn’t snare my brother, but there were plenty of other men with titles in the area for her to sink her claws into. She could have anyone else.

Except the Charming Nobles.

They were mine.

My cheeks warmed at the thought. They weren’t mine, per say. They were like my brothers, I mean. Nick was, of course. But Penn and Bryan I had grown up around, and since they were my brother’s closest friends, they felt like brothers.

I glanced at Penn as the sentencing was read aloud. He still looked grim and grumpy. But that tended to happen when one was about to have his entire world turned upside down.

Getting his own province would do that, I suspect.

So, my gaze returned to Bryan. I always seemed to find Bryan in a crowd. Confident. Lean. Blond. A lovely, statuesque man that made most women stare in wonder.

The man exuded confidence, for he could split any arrow on any archery field. Yet he couldn’t seem to find it within himself to speak to women.

With the exception of me, anyway. He could torment me, and say whatever he thought. Just the other day, I had to dump my breakfast on him because he called me a tart.

He considered me a sister—he practically screamed it the other day—and I knew, in my heart of hearts, that no matter how he did so, I would never be more than Kiki, Nick’s sister to him.

Still didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy gazing at him on occasion. Bryan was far more handsome than either of the criminals about to be hanged.

A quick glance reminded me that hangings seemed to take an eternity while charges were read and everyone waited anxiously.

Perhaps I was the only one who felt the tension in the courtyard. It seemed to get stronger and stronger as the moments passed.

When I would tear my gaze away from Bryan for a moment, I would see the witch, who was positioned almost straight away from Bryan, and I felt the most horrific knot in my stomach.

The same thing happened in the dungeon when I’d gone down there with Tressey, but I had kept it to myself.

It had been after a meal, and I thought perhaps the food had not agreed with me.

But I had yet to eat, and here I was, feeling outright sick, just glancing at the weathered, white-haired witch. The horrible feeling would return, full strength.

Something felt strange, as well, like there was a darkness in the air… A…

I couldn’t come up with a name for it, but it was so strong, I thought perhaps it was tangible.

Feelings weren’t tangible. I knew better than this, of course, I was educated, but I could not help the stirring in my gut that this would not be a pleasant moment.

I considered going back to the castle, away from everyone, and the idea had merit, soothing my nerves almost immediately, but I didn’t leave.

How was I to know what happened if I was hiding in the castle?

My curiosity was always stronger than my fear.

The charges against Gruenewald were finished, and the former duke groveled, begging for leniency.

I heard the sounds of the anticipation the hanging brought. The drumming beats, the whispers and murmurs. Even Gruenewald’s pleading for his life. It all was a murmur in the back of my mind, a blur as I looked at Bryan again, finding a strange sort of calm as I glanced at him.

I noticed that Nick and Tressey were holding hands just to my left, a little in front of me, and I looked back to Bryan, wondering what he would do if I took a couple of steps toward him, and took his hand.

Would he hold my hand back?

Would he pull away?

I knew not…

As the charges against the witch were read, I felt that horrid feeling, and risked a glance, just long enough to see her mouth moving, her gaze locked on someone.

The dread got worse.

For I knew exactly who she was looking at.

Not Tressey.

Not Nick.

Not Tressey’s parents.

But Bryan…

I started to take a step forward, but it was too late. Focused on Bryan, and not the execution, like everyone else in the crowd, I saw the event that would change my life forever.

The witch cast a spell, releasing this horrific smoke over the crowd just as she was hung. Certainly, everyone else had their eyes on the hanging, of course, how could they take their eyes off it?

I, however, watched the boy I’d loved since I was a child turn into a frog, right before my eyes.

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Ending The Curse