Once Upon a Time
Lisette’s father was a knight from the family of Sleeping Beauty named Sir Andrew and her mother, Malinda, was the granddaughter of the evil Maleficent. She was the youngest of four girls and the favorite cousin to Sleeping Beauty’s great-grandson, King Steven Beauty. Lisette’s mother was the jealous type and hated how everyone loved Lisette. In her rage, Malinda locked Lisette away in a small cottage where she spent over a year completely alone.
Lisette’s father, Andrew, was the complete opposite of his wife, probably because Maleficent’s offspring were self-centered while those in Aurora’s family were caring. It was a miracle they were even together in the first place. Andrew didn’t know that Malinda was responsible for Lisette’s disappearance and he mourned when his daughter vanished. Secretly ecstatic to have Lisette out of the way, Malinda feigned sadness in an attempt to grow closer to Andrew. King Steven dispatched search parties to find the girl, knights searched all of the Enchanted Kingdoms, but Lisette was just gone.
But jealousy wasn’t the only motive Malinda had for locking up Lisette. In the confusion that followed, Malinda took advantage to persuade the trolls in the canyons to the west to help take over Sleeping Beauty’s kingdom. Unfortunately for her, trolls were incredible stupid creatures. To compensate, she hired a wolf by the name of Cale.
Cale was a lone wolf, which was a little unusual. Since the days of the Big Bad Wolf, there had never been a big pack, but wolves rarely went out alone. Malinda had Cale guard Lisette’s prison to make sure that Steven’s men were distracted and that they didn’t get to close.
“My cousin is going to find me, and when he does, you’re dead,” Lisette threatened. She leaned out of the window to talk to him. The gruff man didn’t go inside very often and was currently chopping wood right outside the door. Lisette liked the company, even if she wouldn’t admit it.
“Thanks for the concern, but I think I can handle myself. Your mother made this area a labyrinth so I doubt anyone’s coming.”
She stuck her tongue out at him. In the last several weeks, he’d been her only companion. At first, she was wary of him, hated him for keeping her trapped. But they’d grown progressively closer during their time together. Cale wasn’t one to initiate conversation, but she found him interesting when he did speak. In different circumstances, and if he wasn’t a wolf, Lisette could probably come to befriend him.
He wiped the sweat from his forehead and looked back up at Lisette in the window. He figured she was pretty enough and obviously had a good heart, but she was the most hard-headed person he’d ever met, and he knew a lot of wolves. “It’s getting dark and it’s probably going to be cold tonight. Help me with these logs so you’ll have wood for a fire later.”
Her brown eyes narrowed a little. Lisette wasn’t a princess or anything, but she wasn’t used to having people order her around like Cale did. His candidness was refreshing, even though she acted as if it annoyed her. “Fine,” she sighed dramatically.
Leaving the window, she met him outside in the yard and stacked up her arms with the freshly cut logs. Cale was right about the weather. As soon as the sun set beyond on the other side of the trees, the temperature dropped to freezing. He lit the fire for her and they sat at the hearth talking about random things until it got late. After a while, Cale stood, stretched, and doubled checked that the wood pile was well stacked before turning toward the door. Lisette jumped to her feet at that point. “Um, wait. Uh, thank you. I know that you didn’t have to cut firewood for me and I know that I’m not the easiest person to live around.” He turned and gave her a smile at that and she blushed, trying to find the courage to continue. “You, uh, don’t have to sleep outside if you don’t want to. Wolves are still half human, right? I wouldn’t want you to freeze.”
Cale nodded, accepting her invitation. He watched as she went down the hall to her bedroom, bumping against the wall because of her nerves. When he’d taken the job, he didn’t know what to expect, but the interesting girl he’d spent time with wasn’t it. She was eighteen, seven years younger than he was and didn’t have much life experience, but she was still wiser than many people over 100-years-old. He had to be careful not to get too close to her.
Cale didn’t sleep at all that night. His orders had been to watch over Lisette until Malinda was successful in taking over the kingdom, at which time the trolls would get her to do whatever they wanted. He wouldn’t like it, but Cale was resolved to let things play out the way they were supposed to.
Several days passed during which Cale kept his distance. He still slept in the living room instead of out in the cold and neither would acknowledge that they liked new sleeping arrangement. Despite Cale’s aloofness, Lisette still made him breakfast and dinner when she prepared her own meals and kept up a continuous stream of conversation. He answered direct questions stoically but every so often Lisette was able to weasel out a smile from him. His nearly black eyes lit up at those times and she could see a flash of gold.
She was enjoying a nice evening with him where his eyes did that color-change she liked when he suddenly went stiff Cale’s nose turned up and he took a big sniff of the air. The gold in his eyes became more prominent, but it wasn’t the amused glint she was used to. Lisette’s heart started pounding and her lips parted to ask the question she was afraid to know the answer to, but stopped when he brought his hand up to silence her. Lisette swallowed back a lump of fear.
“The trolls are here,” Cale explained in a whisper. “The king’s twin sons have come for you, to take you as payment from your mother.”
Lisette whimpered. “My mother really hates me, doesn’t she? If she could bargain her own daughter into slavery to the trolls, imagine what she’ll do to the kingdom. Why are you helping her?”
“I have no love for a kingdom that has no love for me.” He sounded more like a wolf than ever with his voice coming out in a growl.
Lisette couldn’t explain her next actions, let alone stop them. Her hand reached out and cracked across his face. “Then I guess your job is done,” she hissed. “You’re free to go and watch our kingdom burn. She won’t stop there though, you know. My mother won’t give up until she controls all of the Enchanted. But you go while I face my fate.”
Cale’s jaw clenched. Anger and shock competed as the dominant emotion, but there was also an inkling of respect for the small girl. Not many would be brave enough to attack a wolf. As he wrestled with his own thoughts, one thing was for sure: he wasn’t going to let the trolls have her and torture her. He growled deep in his throat before scooping her up and running out of the cottage and through the forest that surrounded it. Lisette let out a yelp which he silenced with a big, rough hand over her mouth. He could smell her fear, but also her resolve and… trust? Yes, she trusted the wolf.
Lisette felt like she was holding her breath the entire time Cale carried her through the thick wood. The sun was low in the sky when they finally stopped and she sucked in a gasp. “What?”
He looked down at her from his considerable height. He huffed. “I couldn’t let them take you. I’ll help keep you safe on your crusade to stop Malinda, but that’s it.”
Lisette’s mouth curved up into a smile. “There’s good in you yet, Mr. Wolf.”
They were on the road for two days just to get out of the forest. Lisette knew that there was no way she would have been able to navigate the maze without Cale’s keen wolf senses. He tensed every once in a while and they hid when Cale sensed the trolls close by and soon they didn’t even have to say anything to know what the other was thinking.
They arrived at the gates of King Steven’s castle at the end of the third day. By that point, Cale was so in sync with Lisette that when she hesitated at the wall he knew that the reason was because she didn’t want him to leave. He’d grown attached and didn’t want that, either. Lisette bit at her bottom lip. “I-”
The sound of horses and squeak of the gate cut her off. They both turned to watch as King Steven and Andrew rushed toward Lisette. Andrew pulled his daughter close to his chest as Duke Edwin, a handsome enough, if not scrawny, noble in the royal court marched right up to Cale with his sword drawn. “Back you monster. Keep away from my betrothed.”
Cale arched one thick brow. That was something new. “Some fiancée you are. One would think you of all people would have rescued your love.”
Lisette stepped away from her father and put a gentle hand on the wolf’s arm. “Thank you for saving my life.”
He turned away from the haughty duke. There was a look in Lisette’s brown eyes he didn’t know but it curbed his anger and calmed the beast. The full moon that elicited the change from man to beast was coming soon and he was always quick to temper at this time of the month. When the full moon hit, he had no control. However, she sent the animal back to its slumber, at least for a little while. Something had changed between them over the last few days together. He wanted to respond, to maybe test their new relationship when the boisterous sound of the trolls and their scent reached him. They were close, too close to get Lisette to safety.
“Haha. There she is. There’s our prize,” the taller of the two brothers laughed. Trolls were ugly creatures with big, hairy bodies covered in leathery skin. They had beady red eyes and wide jaws to hold their big teeth that looked like boar’s tusks.
The other laughed. “She is pretty. I get to have her first.”
Cale’s blood boiled and he took a step in front of Lisette. That earned the attention of the two brothers who laughed. The short one pulled out a blunt sword while the other waved his hand in their direction. He heard a faint pop behind him before Lisette suddenly appeared in the troll’s grasp. Trolls didn’t excel at magic, but they were adept enough that three humans and a wolf were no trouble against them.
The tall troll prince pushed Lisette to her knees and pulled out his own sword. “You all seem to care greatly for the girl. You wouldn’t want to be the reason we hurt her, do you?”
While Cale fought to keep the wolf at bay, Andrew’s many years as a knight kicked in. He sent an arrow sailing at the troll that dared to threaten his daughter before anyone else could even blink. Taking her opportunity to escape, Lisette rolled away from the ugly, smelly monsters and Cale ran with only one thought in his head. He had to get to the girl he loved. And yes, he did love her. She was his one and only and he’d give his life to protect hers. And while the humans tried to get rid of the troll that used his limited magic as a weapon, Cale battled the one who dared think he could have her. Cale bit into the prince’s shoulder and he let out a howl of pain. Realizing that they were, in fact, outnumbered, the trolls retreated promising that they would have their revenge. When it comes to revenge, trolls never broke a promise.
Lisette was breathing hard and her eyes hungrily drank in the wolf. He seemed mostly unharmed except for the large gash on his chest that showed through his drab homespun shirt. She sighed in relief and cradled his head in her small hands. His eyes had that gold color and a smile tugged at the corners of his lips. “You’re okay! I was so worried.”
He tucked a loose strand of light brown hair behind her ear. “I can relate.”
“No!” Andrew cried. “No, you can’t be in love with a wolf!”
Lisette started and looked at her father sheepishly. She couldn’t have placed the emotion until her father said it aloud. But yes, love was what she’d been feeling for the wolf. No one would understand the way she felt, not even her father. After everything she and Cale had been through in the last month, she wouldn’t let anyone keep them apart. Lisette had heard of a place not part of the Enchanted, a place where no one could keep her from her love. She and Cale received help from the Beauty family’s fairy godmother who opened a magic mirror that took them to a completely different realm.
Lisette and Cale returned to visit the Enchanted, once for Malinda’s funeral after her failed coup and several times as their children grew, but their new home was a world where science made things happen and there was no magic.