The Rose

Ever since her mother died and her father disappeared, Belle has been waiting for this moment. Her daggers at the ready, her heart steeled with confidence, she faced him.

The beast.

Veangeace is a mocking thing.

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8. Chapter VII

   The beast was slouched on a red cushioned armchair when I entered the living room. The fire was roaring, but the room was cold. I looked around, searching for a source of the chill. A window was open on the right wall.

   I entered the room, not bothering to knock on the heavy wooden door. The beast grunted. The armchair across from him was empty, so I plonked myself down upon it, my nails tapping on the arm. ‘So.’ I began, hoping for some acknowledgment, hoping this wouldn’t be as hard as I anticipated. ‘Have you eaten?’

   ‘Yes. But I don’t see why you would care.’ The beast grumbled. He was acting like a moody teenager.

   I cleared my throat. ‘Well, since we are going to be together for…’ I paused. ‘quite some time, we should at least make sure we’re both at our best.’ My reasoning was lame, but regardless, the beast glanced at me, his frown becoming a bit less deep.

   ‘Is this your way of saying you won’t be trying to escape for at least another while?’ He sounded almost hopeful.

   ‘Yes. But I must say, if you continue to keep secrets from me, that might be an issue.’

   ‘I could say the same to you.’ He smiled, less menacing than usual.

   ‘I have been nothing but honest since I arrived here. You, on the other hand, have refused to tell me anything of importance.’ I smirked. I knew pretty much everything about him by now, but it would be nice to hear his on account on his life.

   ‘Fine.’ He spat, his smile fading. ‘What is it you wish to know?’

   ‘Who cursed you?’ I sat straight as a ruler in my chair. If he wouldn’t answer me now, he probably would never answer me.

   ‘A witch. Next question.’

   ‘What kind of witch? Do you know her name?’

   ‘I don’t know, and I don’t care to know. I killed her when she turned me.’ If looks could kill, I’d be six feet under. He was staring at me with such intensity. I found it difficult to not look away.

   ‘Why did she curse you?’ I pressed.

   ‘To teach me a lesson.’

   ‘What kind of lesson?’

   ‘I can’t tell you that.’

   ‘What did I say about secrets?’ I sighed. ‘You must be honest with me, or else I’ll escape. Simple as that.’

   ‘I can’t tell you.’ He said, his voice hard. ‘I would be breaking the rules of the curse, and I would stay a beast forever if I told you.’ The beast’s eyes turned sad.

   ‘I understand.’ I hesitated. ‘Could we continue with the questions?’

   ‘I suppose.’

   ‘Right. Is there any way to break the curse? I could try and help you.’ I knew I had to say this, but I still cringed inwardly. I was trying to escape one minute, and helping the beast the next? If he had any brains, he would question my authenticity.

   And he did. ‘Why would you want to help me?’

   I had prepared an answer, thankfully. ‘If you break the curse and turn back into the prince with my help, you can let me go, and I can go home.’

   ‘Okay.’ He replied, smiling again.

   I hadn’t expected such an easy acceptance of my terms. ‘So you agree? If I help you, you’ll let me go?’

   ‘Yes.’ The beast practically beamed. ‘But…’ His grin disappeared, a deep frown returning. ‘You don’t know the curse. You don’t know how to help me, because I can’t tell you.’ He let out a heavy sigh. ‘Forget it. It’s a pointless exercise, getting our hopes up.’

   I frowned, imitating his sigh. ‘I suppose we’re both stuck.’

‘I suppose we are.’

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