Taylor remained on what was her new bed, even while a powerful snow storm brewed just outside the castle. While the pounding of the snowflakes against the windows or walls and the cold air finding a way to escape inside would be nearly enough to bother anyone, Taylor didn't seem the least bit distracted by it. It's didn't faze her as much as being locked in a castle with some monster, never being able to see her brother again. Surely that would be enough to stress anyone. Right now she just wanted to remain in her room. Forget about any plans the so-called master had for her or whatever his servants said she should do. Taylor was going to make it her mission to stay in her room. It it weren't for a knock on her door, she wouldn't have even removed herself from the bed. She picked her head up from her knees and glanced over at the wooden doors. Taylor honestly didn't want to talk to anyone right now, but still it would be impolite not to answer. And prisoner or not, she was still technically a guest in the castle.
"Who is it?" she managed to reply, though her response came much quieter than she had anticipated. Hiding her emotions was not going to be as easy as she thought.
"Tea time, hon," a much more calm almost chipper female's voice appeared from the other side of the door.
Taylor moved some strands of hair out of her face, trying to appear not as upset as she had felt for she didn't even know how long now. Getting to her feet, the young woman walked over to the door and slowly opened it. She only opened it a crack for starters, but at least then that way it would be much harder for anyone to get into the room. What baffled her, however, was the fact that when she looked out into the corridor, no one was there. She quirked an eyebrow at the sight, knowing for sure she had heard a knock and a voice. And yet, she still heard footsteps. Taylor took a step back to try and get a better look outside, only to continue hearing the footsteps and a voice coming from beneath her. Bringing her eyes down towards the tiled floor, she saw a tea pot actually come in on its own with a small tea cup. What made it more surprising was the fact that not only was the tea pot talking, but it was with the same voice Taylor heard seconds ago.
"Thought you might like a little bit of tea."
Taken aback by this, Taylor took a few steps backwards across the room and towards the wall adjacent to her bed. "But you're...how did you?" Of course she was naturally caught off guard, as this was not supposed to be happening. If anything it had to be a dream. Tea pots were inanimate objects and were incapable of speech. Unless someone was pulling a ventriloquist act and make it sound like the object was talking, of course. But that could not have been the case. How else would it be walking - or hopping - into her room on its own? The next thing Taylor knew, she backed into the wardrobe that had been beside her bed. As an involuntary reaction, she jumped away and looked at the wardrobe. The lining around the edges and drawers were a light pink, perhaps something of a salmon shade, and most of the coating appeared to be a pale yellow. It was almost outlines like a woman's body, from the head of the wardrobe down to the bottom. A more closer look revealed that it was more in the shape of the upper half of a woman's body, with a few small curls at the top of it that almost resembled hair. As if that weren't freaky enough, a giggle actually escaped the wardrobe. It was one thing for such an object to have such a similarity to a human form, but to sound like one as well had to be absurd!
"Careful." the wardrobe giggled.
Taylor placed her hand to her head, trying to convince herself that she was hallucinating. Perhaps she had gotten a fever at some point. Or at least a headache. She made sure to see if her forehead was feeling warm yet surely enough, it felt at just perfect room temperature. So she wasn't running a temperature. Her head also had an incredible lack of throbbing so it couldn't have been a headache. And aside from her heart, no other part of her body was aching. There had to be a logical explanation for this.
"This can't be real," she shook her head, letting herself fall to sit on her bed once more.
"That's probably what anyone else would say," the wardrobe replied leaning up against the bed, almost making Taylor jump at the sudden weight put against it. "But, here we are."
The tea cup smiled and looked over at the tea pot. "See Gabby? I told you she was pretty."
Gabriella smiled warmly and nodded. "Yes you did, Donny. Let's put that aside for now." She leaned forward and poured some hot tea from her nozzle into Donny, and the tea cup happily hopped over towards Taylor, who was now getting off the bed to pick him up. She took his handle gently and brought the edge of the tea cup to her lips, taking a small sip of the tea. Yet Donny couldn't suppress any form of laughter for long. "That tickles."
Taylor quickly held Donny away from her. "I'm sorry," she apologized.
But Donny saw that as his perfect opportunity. "Hey wanna see me do a trick?" he asked eagerly. Holding in his breath, numerous bubbles escalated towards the rims of the tea cup, making numerous pops upon reaching contact with air. To Donny, being the seemingly pre-teen that he was, he thought the trick was very entertaining and especially funny.
"Donny..." Gabriella sighed, trying to hold in a few giggles of her own. She just didn't have the heart to get angry at her little brother.
Taking notice of how rude he might have sounded, Donny took a deep breath and the last of the bubbles that had appeared in the tea disappeared. "Ooops...sorry."
Gabriella shook her head at him and turned her attention to Taylor. After all, the girl could use a few friendly faces around the castle. "It was very brave what you did there earlier."
The wardrobe nodded in agreement. "We all think so."
Taylor appreciated their generosity and what they were trying to do to make her feel better, but it didn't make up for what did happen. "But I lost my brother. I can't leave here. I can't see him anymore or go back home."
"Try and stay positive," Gabriella suggested. "Things always have a way of turning around. You'll see. It will work out in no time." She then giggled and made her way towards the door. "There I go blabbing again. I'm here trying to make the sun come out when I should be helping out with dinner. Come on Donny, let's go."
"Coming," Donny replied as he jumped out of Taylor's hand and followed his sister out of the room. "Catch ya later!" he called to Taylor as the doors closed behind him.
"Looks like now that means it's time for you to pick out something nice for dinner," the wardrobe stated as Taylor stood up and leaned against one of the pillars on the bed. The wardrobe thought for a minute and then grinned widely. "Let's see what I have inside of me!" she said eagerly as she opened both of her drawers. The second she opened them, numerous old records came tumbling out and onto the floor. A faint shade of red appearing on her yellow cheeks, she giggled and quickly closed the drawers. "So sorry, how embarrassing." She cleared her throat and then only opened one side of the drawers and used the other side as an arm to pull out a dress. "Let's see, what do we have here...? Oh, here we go. You'll look amazing in this one. And it's really something you can easily dance around in." She offered it to Taylor, but she held her hand up to politely decline.
"That's nice of you to offer..." she started, and then realized she had no idea what to call the wardrobe. So if the tea cup's name was Donny, and the tea pot's was Gabby - most likely short for Gabriella, that was Taylor's first guess - then what was the wardrobe's name?
"Oh, that's so impolite of me not to introduce myself," the wardrobe giggled. "Call me Martha."
Taylor nodded and continued. "Well that's very nice of you to offer, Martha, but I'm not going to dinner tonight."
Martha gasped and closed her doors. "But you really should."
Before she could even continue, both females turned their heads as Taylor's door opened just a crack. It was barely enough for Jason to step in. He cleared his throat and gestured towards the corridor. "Dinner's ready."
Downstairs by the fireplace, the Beast constantly paced back and forth on all four's. while his face already expressed plenty of anger as it was, he was looking even more annoyed now. His large shadow reflected against the floor, only making him appear more fierce, and Zeke sat on the shelf just above the fireplace. He watched as his master walked back and forth. And being the peacemaker - and matchmaker, he hoped - that he was, Zeke would have to make sure to sort everything out. Gabriella, on the other hand, had arrived only moments before and stood beside Zeke. With Donny off in the kitchen Gabriella would be assisting Zeke in helping the Beast calm down. After all, who better to give advice about a girl than a girl? Yet before either of them could open their mouths and speak two words, the Beast let his deep, hateful voice take over.
"She isn't here yet. Why didn't she come down for dinner? I told her it wasn't a request," he demanded. So, like any other angry person the Beast did the easiest thing he could think of: blame it on his servants. "Why isn't she here yet? What did you do?"
Gabriella took the master's anger much easier than Zeke did. The Beast would have to try and to understand. "You really should be a bit more patient with her. The poor thing lost her brother and her freedom back to back."
"Master," Zeke added as he made his way closer to the edge of the shelf, "have you ever thought that maybe this young girl is the one that can break the spell?"
"Of course I knew that!" the Beast yelled, looking at the candelabra straight in the eye. Then he rolled his eyes and muttered as he returned to his pacing, "Who are you, Dr. Phil?"
"I almost wish," Zeke chuckled, hearing what the Beast had said to himself.
Gabriella quietly cleared her throat and nudged Zeke, trying to protect him from an angry master once more. Luckily Zeke caught onto the message. He lit one of his candles and then the other one, sounding much more happy now.
"Sweet. It's perfect, then. You fall in love with her, she falls in love with you..." he then blew out the tiny flames on his candles before they lit back up on their own. "...and ding, the spell's broken. We'll be human again in no time!"
"I'm sorry to disappoint you Zeke, but it's not going to be that simple. Falling for someone and even bringing one's self to admitting it takes time," Gabriella said with an apologetic look. "And after everything that happened today it's not going to happen overnight. We can't completely meddle into this."
"Ah meddle, shmeddle," Zeke chuckled. "Besides, there's not enough time to consider all that. The rose already started wilting away."
The Beast overheard everything they said and shook his head. He stopped facing and stood in front of the fire. "It's no use," he said mostly to himself shaking his head. "Have you even looked at the girl?"
"But of course. Quite a lovely one, too," Zeke replied.
"Very charming and polite as well., Gabriella added.
"Yes, I think you two would get along rather nicely," Zeke told her.
"Oh, you really think so?" she inquired.
"Definitely. I could see you two becoming fast friends in no time," Zeke nodded.
"That's exactly my point," the Beast interrupted. He was on the verge of even seeing her face in the fire as he watched it burn away at the wood and the remaining smoke escaped up through the chimney. "She's just so hot and I'm..." he ran his paw through the mess of curls that covered his body and then took a look at how big his paw even was. He growled and glared at the two of them. "And well, look at me!"
Zeke and Gabriella exchanged glances. Being a guy it should have been much easier for Zeke to say something encouraging to their master. Maybe something like, 'looks aren't all that important', 'it's the look of the girl that matters', or even something like, 'try winning her over with some of your talents or a fresh creme brulee from the oven'. But Zeke only shrugged his shoulders at Gabriella. The way he saw it, it would be much easier for a girl to explain this. After all, sometimes the females weren't as shallow as the males could be. And Gabriella was the furthest thing from shallow in the room. Gabriella bit her tongue as she looked at the clueless Zeke. She spent a moment trying to come up with the calmest and sincerest response. It had to be something that would lift the master's spirits and give him the rare boost of confidence that he needed.
"The important thing is that you help her see past all that," she finally replied.
The Beast shook his head, being as stubborn as ever. That, and most likely shallow because he was merely thinking about his guest's looks, but right now his stubbornness was in control. "I don't know how," he said right away, not bothering to look at either of them.
It was talk like that, that made Gabriella determined. She hated seeing anyone looking so down or depressed so she would do whatever it took to get them back on their feet. She jumped down from the shelf and made her way over to a nearby table. "Well then the first thing is first. If you're going to pay attention to her looks then she should pay attention to yours. Try and make yourself a little more decent. Straighten up a little, don't slouch when you stand or sit." Right on command, the beast sat on all fours with his chest puffed out and his back straight with his tail resting around his hind legs and on the rug. "And don't forget to try and act like a gentleman. It really impresses girls," she added.
Zeke nodded in agreement and jumped down, starting to add in to Gabriella's advice. "Yes, exactly. When she walks in through the door you need to give her that charming, dashing smile." Zeke even gave his best smile to back up how well it worked. At least, Zeke always thought he had such a nice smile. If it worked like a charm for him it should do the trick for the Beast. "Come on, show us what you've got."
The Beast paused for a minute, then tried to give his best smile. He attempted to mimic Zeke's but it only came out as more of a crooked smile - and a very toothy one, at that.
"Just make sure you don't scare her either," Gabriella said, making his face fall.
"Impress her. Show her a good time," Zeke added.
"But be gentle."
"Always shower her with confidence. It will make her feel better about herself."
"But be sincere. Honesty is always the most important factor in a relationship."
"And the most important thing is..."
The Beast was getting more than frustrated. Even when his giant paws covered his tiny disproportionate ears he could still hear them with their constant advice-giving and nagging. When would they shut up? Wasn't he just fine with girls the way he was? A few tips, sure everyone could use them. But this was going overboard. Even just looking back and forth between them so quickly as they yakked on and on gave him a headache. The Beast just couldn't take it anymore. What more was there to tell him?
But as soon as that question entered his mind, Gabriella and Zeke spoke so insistently at the same time. "You have to control your temper!" And before the Beast could even respond to that, the three turned to the doors and saw the handle turning. The Beast's jaw dropped. He wasn't ready for this. She couldn't be here already. What were all those tips he was supposed to have, again? He couldn't remember a thing!
Zeke gasped, amazed at how quickly time went by just by all that talking. "She's here, she's here!"
But when the door opened, no one entered. Assuming it was another servant, the three brought their heads down and saw it was Jason sheepishly entering the room. Jason chuckled faintly and gave his best smile. "Um...hello everyone."
The Beast groaned. All that worrying he just did in his head for nothing. Last he checked, Jason was not his date for the evening. As if the clock would even make an attractive woman. "So, where is she?" the Beast questioned, trying to keep his voice low just in case Taylor was outside the doorway and would be able to hear everything they were saying.
Jason was now standing straight in front of the cracked open door. "Who?"
"The girl," the Beast replied.
"What girl?" he asked innocently.
"The one I invited to dinner."
"You invited a girl to dinner?"
"You were supposed to get her in her room."
"The room where she's staying."
"Where who's staying?"
This was going absolutely nowhere. And the master was on the verge of losing his temper once again. Was Jason just being clueless or was he trying to stall for time? Zeke sighed and jumped down, making his way over to his companion. He knew the easiest way to get through to Jason sometimes, especially after long exchanges such as that when Jason would lose the point and definitely become confused. Zeke cleared his throat and placed his arm on Jason's shoulder. He spoke as simply as he could.
"Pretty person upstairs who can fix us."
Jason blinked, still a bit confused at first. "Hm?" Then he laughed, able to remember as soon as he spoke. "Oh, her. Why didn't you say so? You see, it's really a funny story actually. See I went to her room...and then all of a sudden, giant birds flew into the window. And...and they stole all of the clothes in her room. Then they flew back out and a monkey dropped a lion through the roof and it fell into her room..."
Still, the Beast was not thrilled. He stood there with his furry arms folded and tapping one of his sharp clawed fingers against the fur. His front fangs were showing and he was glaring at Jason, trying to convince him to get to the point and skip the unbelievable wild stories. Besides, who would even believe a monkey holding a lion anyway? Jason noticed this and his face fell instantly. Better get on with it...fast. So he just came out and bluntly said it.
"She's not coming."
There was complete silence for a minute. Not a single sound echoed through the castle. If anyone walked in there that very second they would most likely say the place was deserted. However, the silence didn't even last long. Just seconds later, a furious, deep scream bounced off the walls and even made the pigeons outside sitting on the fence in front of the castle fly off in fear.
That was when the Beast burst through the doors and ran on all fours upstairs, his paws pounding against the carpet. He was angrier than he had been all day. There was no other way to describe his face, his anger, or his actions. It was all over so fast. Because less than three seconds later, he nearly skidded across the floor before jumping to his feet and pounding on Taylor's bedroom door.
"I thought I told you to come down for dinner!"
Zeke sighed and shook his head as he, Gabriella, and Jason arrived moments later, having tried to catch up with their master in his rush from their previous room to their current location. Gabriella's face fell and Jason twiddled his thumbs. They looked almost everywhere except directly at their master, yet they could still hear his voice as well as Taylor's voice replying to his behind the closed doors.
"I'm not hungry."
That made the Beast only angrier. He hadn't met a single stubborn person since...well, himself. No wonder everyone seemed so irritated sometimes. It was downright ridiculous. And not to mention the fact that she was actually speaking to him out of all people that way? What was the stupid world coming to? The Beast raised his voice, and if possible, sounding more annoyed and furious than he already was.
"You come out or...or...OR I'LL BREAK THE DOOR DOWN!"
This was not working out well at all. If anything, he was scaring her - or perhaps angering her - more. Being the loyal servants that they all were, they had to step in. It was what was best for them and their master.
"Um, sir..?" Zeke asked a bit cautiously, causing the Beast to look down at him. "...I could be wrong, but...well the truth is that this may not be the easiest way to win her over."
Jason nodded in agreement and gave his usual smartest and perhaps obvious comment for the day. "Please at least attempt to be gentleman-like."
The Beast put on a forced smile and lowers his voice, pointing to the door. "But she's being so difficult!" He emphasized 'difficult' and glared at the door, hoping that Taylor would hear him and get the message.
"Softly. Gently," Gabriella advised quietly and as calmly as she could.
The Beast had a doubtful look on his face, but he decided he might as well give it a try. With a bored and still doubtful face, he looked at the door slightly. He muttered, but just loud enough for Taylor to hear. "Will you come down to eat dinner with me?"
Unfortunately for him, Taylor's response was as quick and insistent as the previous one. "No."
While the Beast shouldn't be surprised, his eyes still widened from her response. He glared at Gabriella and pointed at the door. Now had he been right, or had he been right?
Jason laughed nervously, trying to help Gabriella out. "Softly and gently..." he replied in a low whisper.
Still with a forced smile, the Beast bowed down to the door and tried to sound as nice as he could, despite the fact that there was still some annoyance present in his voice. "I would be most honored if you would come down and join me for dinner."
"Um...manners?" Jason suggested, which would probably lead to the last straw.
With the same doubtful look, the Beast looked back at the door. "Please."
But Taylor's reply was even louder and more icy than before. She refused to give into him. "No thank you."
The eyes of the supposed inanimate objects widened. They couldn't believe what they just heard. They had tried everything they could think of to prepare for tonight. They gave advice to their master, they tried to help him, they helped prepare food...what more could they do?
"You can't stay in there forever!" the Beast yelled.
"Yes I can. It's not that hard," she argued.
"Fine!" he fought. "THEN GO AHEAD AND STARVE!" Still burning with anger, the Beast turned to his servants and kept his voice range the same. "If she doesn't eat with me, then she doesn't eat AT ALL." With a mighty roar, he got back down on all fours and sped down the hallway, out of sight before anyone could make any comments, protest, or do anything of the sort. The last they saw of him, was him running through some doors and slamming them quite loudly behind him.
Gabriella sighed and looked at the boys, being the first one to speak. "I'm afraid that didn't go as well as we hoped."
Jason was not going to let this all go to waste. For once he was going to take charge. He was going to speak his mind, and he wasn't going to let this happen again. "Zeke, stay here and guard the door. Inform us at once if she's about to come out. So then we can..." Wait, what was his next line? "So then we can... So then we can..." Remaining lost, he turned to Gabriella for assistance. "Wait, what am I supposed to say now?"
"Make sure it doesn't happen again," she replied, putting it in the simplest of terms for him.
"Yes, yes that's it exactly!" Jason exclaimed happily. He turned to Zeke and pointed at him. "So we can make sure it doesn't happen again." he finished.
Zeke could have stood there and pointed out how that shouldn't have happened and how maybe he should be the one telling Jason to stand guard and tell him if anything changed, but Zeke decided against it. Besides there was no time left to lose. "You can count on me, my friend. I am not leaving these doors until I know that she comes out of there." With that, he started pacing seriously around the door so he would know right away if anything were to happen.
Jason sighed and slouched as he and Gabriella made their way back downstairs. "Well...we'd better get started on the meal. Who's hungry?"
"Not me," Gabriella replied. The previous scene had really turned off her appetite.
"I am." Jason replied.
The doors burst open in what appeared to be a destroyed and worn-out room. Curtains were ripped and dragged across the floor. Old furniture was now the home to numerous dust particles and cobwebs. Barely any light made its way into the room, causing it to be even more dim than it already was. Almost nothing in the room appeared to be in once piece. If an area of the curtains weren't ripped then a small portion of the floor had to be torn off. If none of the floor was torn off then wood desks were broken in half. If those weren't broken in half...well you get the idea. It was a destroyed, dark, and messed up room. And yet somehow the Beast found it a perfect home. As he stormed through the now opened doors, he slammed one of them so it was opened all the way and it would slam against the wall, almost making it sound like something was breaking. Walking past the doors, that particular door moved a crack away from the wall and revealed a dent it made in their material and the paint, also emphasizing the Beast's incredible strength and hatred.
"I ask her nicely and she still says no. I try to be a gentleman and she goes and talks back to me. What else am I supposed to do to her? Beg?"
Even though he was talking to himself, he still spoke as though he were yelling at someone. He stormed past a glowing red rose that almost appeared to be floating under a glass case. With a closer look, it was really a clear glass vase that was over it. The glow from the rose almost gave off the feel of enchantment, like a magical vibe was escaping from it. While it still looked quite full, if one's eyes followed the rose from its bright red pedals and down its bright lime green thorn-less stem, to the table top, a few dead petals rested underneath the flower. The petals were just a plain red; they weren't glowing and they weren't as bright as the flower from which they came. As stated by Zeke, the rose was clearly wilting. It would only be a matter of time before the lack of petals would cause the stem to bend and the light escaping from it would surely vanish. It wouldn't be too long after that before the rose would have wilted completely, along with the last chance of escaping the curse. But how much time would it be until then, no one would know.
Beside the rose under its confinement rested a silver mirror. It was small, yet as enchanted as the rose. Swirling stems seemed to circle the silver frame and a few sparkles surrounded the glass, only to exist as living proof of the mirror's power. The Beast's eyes fell onto the mirror and he picked it up, his touch easily able to crush the handle if he desired to do so.
"Show me the girl," he demanded.
In no time at all, the mirror began to glow a bright green. The stem pattern on the frame began to surround the glass and then slowly fade away into it. By the time they were fully implanted into the mirror, the Beast could get a clear vision of where Taylor was. She was on her bed in her room, the same place she had been since he last left her. Martha in her wardrobe form was standing beside her and being her usual perky self, trying to be logical while looking on the bright side of things. The Beast could hear Martha's voice first, which started off as an echo, a mere side effect of the mirror's power.
"The master's not really so bad once you get to know him. He looks harsh on the outside but he's really not that bad of a guy," Martha was saying.
Taylor folded her arms and looked away from Martha. "I don't want to get to know him. I'm not giving him any chances." It was easy to tell Taylor was quite angry by this as well. She turned to face Martha and raised her voice only slightly to prove her point, to show the pain that the Beast had caused her. "I never want anything to do with him."
That was harsh even to the Beast. He arched his back so his head was pulled away from the mirror for a moment. He shook his head and looked away from the mirror. The glass faced the floor and away from him, so he wouldn't have to hear anything else from them or see anything else. His voice became much lower and quieter, yet somehow there wasn't just an angry or irritated tone in his voice. No, there was something else. A hint of anger, most likely. But the annoyance was replaced by something else. It almost seemed as though he seemed, well, saddened by the statement.
"Who am I kidding? She's not gonna see me as a person or past my looks." He pushed the mirror away from him so it was laying face-down on the table again beside the rose. "She'll never see me as anything but a monster."
And as those words escaped him, the rose continued to wilt and another petal fell off and floated down to the ground.