IN THE BEGINNING, nearly two decades ago……
Thick dark gray smoke continued to billow from deep within the castle walls. Joy had quickly turned to despair for inhabitants of the magical kingdom. Just hours before, during Beltane—a liminal time when active spirits and fairies can more easily come into our world—celebration and jubilation had been the order of the day, for their divine queen had birthed newborn twins, Princess Tianna and Prince Tristan.
The queen and her new vampire husband, whom some had considered an unlikely and extremely uncommon choice for her, had shared a love that was strong and true; now both lay dead on the nursery floor. The kingdom’s alluring, golden-haired fairy queen was no more; and to make matters worse, the royal twins had vanished along with the scroll that contained the queen’s will, complete with the inked revisions she made immediately after the birth, as mandated by royal protocol. Neither servant nor royal was any match for the unexpected violent attack carried out by the truly malicious Dagda, his evil Unseelie Court, and their loyal supporters.
In the mayhem, no one noticed the queen’s personal servant, a loyal gnome named Bob, scoop up the little princess and the royal scroll. He hurriedly exited their world, choosing to enter this world instead, in a gallant effort to keep the little princess safe until her nineteenth birthday, when her secret powers would be ignited, and she would be eligible to take over her late mother’s throne. It seemed only fitting that she be abandoned on the doorstep of one of Bar Harbor’s respected, influential, and wealthy families where Bob trusted that, in her innocence, she would remain safe and go on to live a life deserving of a princess until he would, ultimately, one day return for her.
And now that day has come.
My nineteenth birthday was going great until the gnome showed up.
Imagine my surprise when I got into my taxi after a wicked party with all of my friends, only to find a dwarf (no, I’m not being mean here, he really was a dwarf), complete with pointy hat and long white beard looking back at me from the rear view mirror.
“Hi, Tianna.” Except it sounded like Tee-ah-na. A British dwarf, who would’ve guessed?
“I’m sorry, I think you have the wrong person.” I rolled my eyes and wished he would put the pedal to the metal, so to speak. The numerous strawberry daiquiris were going straight through me.
“I believe that in this world you are addressed as Melanie?”
Okay, now he was getting creepy.
“Look buddy, I’m not sure how you know my name or how you think you know me but could you please just get this thing moving now?”
As requested, the taxi lurched forward. So did my stomach. Ugh. I noticed the driver was sitting on not one, but three thick, yellow phone books.
“My lady, you will require my assistance in adjusting to your new life now that you are nineteen years of age.”
Wait, how did this guy know I was nineteen? I eyed the door and calculated the estimated time it would take for another cab to pick me up.
“You have much to learn and I’m afraid I’m the only one who is aware of your secret. Your body will be going through many changes in the next short while—“
“Hold on now buddy, enough talk of my body. Just get me home or I’ll report you to the police and get a restraining order or something.”
He turned around and I got a full view of his small, bearded face. It wasn’t pretty.
“As you desire my lady (mah lady), but I shall leave you with my contact information.”
I took his business card and glanced at the writing.
“Bob? Your name is Bob? You’re a British dwarf named Bob?”
“Gnome, my lady. Dwarves are an entirely different race, as you will soon learn.”
That was when I passed out.
I don’t remember getting home, but I woke up in my apartment the next morning with a brutal headache. I was convinced the whole event had been a dream until I found the business card on my kitchen table. I promptly threw it in the garbage. That was three days ago.
A lot of unusual stuff has happened since that night. At first, I thought I was just having really bad PMS. I mean, usually I crave chocolate or salty french fries, but craving raw meat? That was just weird. Let me explain.
I was at work, applying a fresh coat of lipgloss while admiring my new eyeshadow color in the mirror in the hallway, when I caught a whiff of something delicious coming from the kitchen. I should mention I am a waitress at a seafood and steakhouse restaurant here in Bar Harbor (might as well earn money for looking good and being popular). Anyways, I followed the scent into the kitchen and hovered over the fresh cut steaks. Not the cooked steaks, or even the marinating ones. Nope, the raw ones.
As soon as I saw the pool of juice and blood under the meat, I started to drool.
And then I licked it.
Yep, I bent over the counter and licked the uncooked steak. That was when the first red flag went off.
Then there was the paranoia. I could’ve sworn I was being followed everywhere I went. And I don’t just mean that guys were watching me as I walked past them. That I was used to.
This was a creepy, deep in your stomach, gut feeling that made me look over my shoulder every ten seconds.
But the thing that really made me question my sanity was my appearance this morning when I woke up. Being a brunette all my life (and proud of it, thank you!), you can imagine my shock when I looked in the mirror and discovered that my long, luscious locks were blonde. Not just “I got a little bit of sun” blonde highlights, but BLONDE. Just slap a dress on me and call me Barbie!
Which was why I was now digging through a dumpster in my pajamas, looking for a business card that a British dwarf—sorry, gnome—gave me. Talk about a bad Monday morning!
I caught a glimpse of myself in the hallway mirror when I swung my apartment door open. The blonde hair disgusted me even more than the twenty minutes I spent in the dumpster.
Business card in hand, and with a used baby wipe on the bottom of my shoe (gross!), I made my way over to my cell phone. I briefly wiped my hands on my pajama bottoms, making a mental note to burn them instead of washing them, and then dialed the number on the card.
I waited. No dial tone, no ringing. I glanced at the display, then shook the phone.
“You called mah lady?”
I spun around so fast my phone went flying across the room.
“Jesus! What the hell?” A hint of a smirk appeared on Bob’s face before he composed himself and bowed down in front of me. “Why, exactly, are you bowing? I am not the fucking queen. Oh, and you owe me a new cell phone. And how on earth did you get in here? And why is my hair blonde??”
Bob raised a single eyebrow. “Charming. Actually, mah lady, you are the queen. I got inside your residence with simple retrieval magic. I’m not sure why this world is so attached to these cell phones, but I will be sure to locate a new one for you immediately.”
“You’re on crack Bob. Anyone ever tell you that?”
“No, mah lady.”
I could tell I was going to need every ounce of patience with this little dude.
“So, Bob, back to this queen business. If you think I’m the queen then you’re not as British as you think you are. In case you haven’t noticed, this is not a palace, I do not wear stuffy pastel-colored suits, and if you look outside you will not find any men in furry hats guarding me.”
“Would your majesty like men in furry hats guarding you? It can be arranged.”
“Would I like men in furry hats?” I paused for a second, distracted by the temptation of men in uniform…no, don’t go there Mel.
I was seriously doubting my decision to contact this bearded weirdo.
“Okay Bobby, my patience is wearing out. Tell me what the hell is going on or your midget-sized ass is going to be tossed out my window.”
“I suppose it is time to inform you about your situation.” He dramatically cleared his throat before continuing. “You, mah lady, are our queen. Your mother was our queen until her untimely death, and now that you are of the age of maturity, you will return to our world and take your rightful place on the throne.”
“There is, unfortunately, a bit of a glitch in this plan. Your mother bore another child, your twin brother, who was taken by Dagda and raised in our world. He is…not a nice person. Our only hope for a happy future rides with you.”
“To everyone in our world, you are only a legend—a myth that our people want to believe in. Only I have been privileged with the truth, the knowledge that you exist and that you would come back to save us when you reached your age of maturity. Your parents entrusted you to me when your brother was stolen. I brought you to this world and left you on the doorstep of a very wealthy family who would provide a home and upbringing worthy of a queen.”
“Given that your brother is unaware of your existence, I suggest that we keep him in the dark until you have fully changed and come up with a brilliant plan to banish him, but I urge you to plan quickly mah lady, as our world is suffering under his reign.”
“Truly mah lady, I expected more of an elaborate response from you.”
“How’s this for an elaborate response, jackass,” I made my way over to the front door, opened it, and pointed outwards with my finger.
A sigh and another arched eyebrow were the only reactions from Bob as he made his way towards the door.
His bow was interrupted by with a swift kick from my foot.
“Don’t forget to replace my cellphone Bobby. Pronto.”