Participate in the 3rd Season of STORYMIRROR SCHOOLS WRITING COMPETITION - the BIGGEST Writing Competition in India for School Students & Teachers and win a 2N/3D holiday trip from Club Mahindra
Participate in the 3rd Season of STORYMIRROR SCHOOLS WRITING COMPETITION - the BIGGEST Writing Competition in India for School Students & Teachers and win a 2N/3D holiday trip from Club Mahindra

Buvana S

Abstract Romance Classics


4  

Buvana S

Abstract Romance Classics


Beauty and the Beast(A Modernized Version)

Beauty and the Beast(A Modernized Version)

50 mins 162 50 mins 162


It was dark. I sat on the window stool of my room and admired the stars in the sky. Ours was a cramped three-bedroom flat. Mine was the most diminutive of all. I had a confined bed, a small wardrobe besides a tiny desk, and a bookshelf. Books were scattered all over. Despite new technologies developing day by day, I prefer hardcover books over e-ones. Being a bibliophile, I spend most of my leisure time reading and printing. At present, I'm writing my first novel in my spare time. I'm usually bold, eccentric and I don't brood over the past. But now, my mind is pondering over the decision I took this morning. A teardrop left my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. I felt an icicle through my heart as a chill went down my spine when I thought about the commitment. All I asked for was just a rose, and that led me to this jumble. My cloud of thoughts was disturbed as I caught the door creak. My father stood at the doorway with a depressed look. Iza and Leza, my twin sisters, stood behind. I can witness a hint of guilt on his face. Undoubtedly, I grasped that was because of the decision I took this morning. "Belle, are you certain you want to do this?" my father put up his query. I wiped off my cheeks and replied with a dull smile. And there goes the Flashback.


*****


We were one of the most affluent people in the city a few moons ago. My father was a well-to-do businessman and owned an enormous corporation that traded AR, VR techs, and sci-fi machinery to other continents. A mansion in the heart of a metropolis with a high-fi environment loaded with tremendous technologies was where we lived. Numerous virtual assistants and tech bots made life effortless. I also owned a pet-bot, Bell, that assists me with my works. Indeed we had a home-assistant, Zoe, named after my mom. I had an immense cozy personal library with aesthetic seatings and beautiful windows. My sisters hated that lounge and often criticized that it was the most outmoded vacancy in our estate. I knew it was outdated, but that was my mom's favorite spot. She passed away when I was 1. My father and I have a personal connection to that spot. My sisters had large walk-in closets loaded with expensive clothing, accessories, and shoes. They possessed a deluxe home theatre and an overpriced game room packed with PlayStation. They often criticized me for my aspects and commented that no one would fancy me as their partner. Of course, they were elegant with blue eyes, blonde hair, and olive skin tone, which they had acquired from our mother. I had unattractive hazel eyes, long brown hair with a fair complexion. They dressed in delicate garments and wore expensive accessories. I, on the other hand, preferred simple classic dresses. While they attended concerts and parties, I habitually rest on the bed, scanning through books and scrawling. My living was quite a pleasant fairy tale. I gained knowledge through books over the years while my sisters spent their time in malls, shopping complexes, spas, and parlors. I loved my sisters and adorned their relationship, yet they treated me as an inferior one. But my dad was quite generous and treated everyone fairly. Life was pretty smooth until misfortune knocked on our doors.


My father ran a firm that exports technologies. He is a science enthusiast and encourages ingenious inventions. Our firm was extremely successful, and many organizations envied my dad's business. His last project was a Virtual-Reality-based home-aid bot. The project inspired everyone, and we received huge orders. The production was in full fledge, and we exported bots in containers overseas. My dad was quite delighted and even threw a success-party to his associates. But he least expected the mishap that was about to hit. Privateers looted our containers, and our firm suffered a tremendous loss. My father was very depressed, and his health went down miserably. We had to sell our mansion and other assets to clear our debts. Our financial status went very feeble after paying off our mortgages still left with few. We relocated to a cramped apartment for rent. Life flipped from rich to rags in the blink of an eye. My ailing father wasn't able to work, so we had to work for our living. My old friend contacted me one day after hearing the news. She took pity on us and recommended me to a firm where her father worked as Technical Director. I attended an interview the following week and got the Lead Editor job as the interviewer was quite impressed with my English proficiency and knowledge of books. My sisters couldn't find a job, so I ought to struggle for the entire family. Groceries, electricity bills, rent, medical bills, and much more; We couldn't manage with my meager paycheck. So I took extra literature classes for university students in the dusk once I reach home. My sisters were beauty conscious and didn't help in running household errands. Consequently, I had to accomplish all the chores. Those days were seriously very tiring. I wanted to quit any one of the jobs. But couldn't due to financial restraints. I toiled day and night for the sake of my family. There were times I didn't rest at all. I appeared more feeble than usual. My dad was extremely concerned about me. He felt guilty at times. I assured him that it was my responsibility to take care of my family. He felt bad regarding his youngest offspring taking charge when elder daughters didn't. I couldn't help it. Life was driving me around and I shunned it. It was tough.


*****


One fine day, I decided to walk to the office. For me, books and strolling by the downtown helped to relieve my stress. Since I was overpressurized that week with lots of paperwork, I craved to relax. It was a nice summer morning. I noticed a teenage girl sitting on a bench, holding a book. It reminded me of those golden days when I used to relax on the window stool, holding my coffee with my book. I was lost in a train of thoughts when I caught a loud horn. I jumped in fright. When I turned, there stood a huge expensive red car. The door opened and a tall handsome guy stepped out. He was nearly 6'3'' with a well-built body. Anyone could surely say that he was a gym freak. His baby blue eyes shone as he came near me. Ok, to be honest, I felt like a little rat in front of a lion. "Hey, shortie?? Would you like to have a date with me?" he questioned. I didn't expect that. To be precise, I was startled, bewildered, and annoyed. How could someone randomly come and ask you to hangout? Is this how people ask someone for a date? And how did he supposedly assume that I would accept his proposal? No one can walk over me like that. Confidence gushed through my veins. "I'm no shortie, okay?" I snarled. First, he was astounded when I snapped. He didn't anticipate that from me. Then, a hint of anger popped up in his look. Still, he managed to gulp down the rage and smirked. "Ok! Ok! Can I know your sweet name honey?" he asked. He asked me out even before knowing my name. Such a brute! "Mabel, Mabel Maurice" I spoke and turned to leave. He seized my arm and yanked me closer. "What the hell?" I growled attempting to release my hand from his grip. "Why so urgent Belle?" he demanded. My temper shot up as he addressed me as Belle. No one except my family and intimate buddies is obliged to call me Belle. How dare he? I wanted to punch him in his face. "Leave me. Or you will face the consequences," I warned him. "Oh come on Mabel! Why are you acting like nuts? Can't you see that I'm interested in you? I'm certain you can't avoid me. Why would someone even dodge a guy like me? I'm rich, sexy, just perfect that every girl would dream of. Then why don't you accept my offer?" he spoke off boastfully. I hated that confidence in his eyes. "Shut up. You are the one who is acting like nuts. Not me. Indeed I don't even know who you are. You asked me out even before knowing my name. And don't brag about yourself. I don't fancy a guy like you as you mentioned. You don't know how to behave to a girl. How did you imagine that I would prefer you? Now leave my hand!" I snarled. The smirk on his face vanished. I could sense that he was furious from being scorned in public. His grip stiffened. It hurt a lot. But I didn't give him the satisfaction of seeing me hurt and swigged down my pain. "Mr.Gaston LeGume? Is there any problem?" a short, slightly obese man called out. So this brute's name is Gaston, I recollected. "Let's leave. LeFou" Gaston commanded and left recklessly. Ugh. A lot of drama. I felt stupid at my choice of walking to the office.


*****


       It was one exceptional day. As usual, I went to the office early since I was a morning person. I habitually go to my office early so the seats are empty and I can experience some time alone. I poured coffee into my mug and stood near the windowpane watching the city come to life. "Morning Mabel!" I heard a familiar voice call out. Dylan, my colleague, stood there beaming with his stack of files. "Morning Dylan. Why so early?" I questioned with a smile. "Fate. Our new CEO is about to visit us today. We will have a welcome gathering and our Technical Director has planned to keep the sales report of the past 3 years ready so he could go through it." he responded with a bland smile. "Our new CEO? Oh gosh! I completely forgot about the gathering. Is our former CEO retiring?" I asked sipping my coffee. "Yeah. It seems that he wants to assign the firm to his heir before he passes away," he replied. "Ok, fine. You want me to assist you with the records?" I volunteered after I drained my mug. "Of course. I would be obliged if you did so." he winked. I chuckled and supported him to order all the files. "Finally over," I stated with a smile. "Yup. Thank you so much, Mabel. It would have been tough without you." he squeezed me into his arms. "Fine! Fine! The gathering is about to begin. Let's take this to the conference hall." I replied with a giggle. All the executives were assembled in the conference hall. Being the Lead editor in my firm, I was invited to meet our new CEO. I sat next to Dylan and everyone was anticipating our CEO to arrive. Suddenly the door slammed open and caught everyone's attention. A short, slightly obese man was holding the door for someone to enter. I recollected that fellow was LeFou, Gaston's associate. I was wondering why he was here. Abruptly, someone stepped in and everyone stood up and applauded. I was stuck in horror. Gaston stood there wearing a black suit, his chin up, and grinned boastfully. He glanced around and his eyes locked in mine. His baby blue eyes shone as daylight poured through the windowpane. His eyes darkened as he approached closer. He passed by me and sat on the CEO's chair, crossed his legs, and again pinned his eyes on me. Everyone congratulated him and our Director handed him a bouquet. He received the bouquet sniffed it and tossed it on LeFou's hands. Our Director was taken back instantly by his attitude but still managed to put a smile on his face. Throughout this entire process, his eyes were pinned on me. He stood up abruptly and strolled over in my direction. My heart pace shot up as everyone's attention shifted to me. He halted right before my seat and smirked. His brutish smirk sent shivers down my spine. "So shortie is working in my company?" he grinned. I clenched my fists as if ready to punch him in his face. This brute called me shortie in front of everyone. Shit! "Williams?" he summoned our Director without giving respect for the sake of his age. Our Director hurried and stood beside him. "Tell me, sir," he asked with due respect. "What is her post in this firm?" he demanded without taking his eyes off me. "She is our Lead Editor, Sir" he replied. "Ok, fine. Meeting dismissed. I would like to have a private conversation with our Lead Editor in my cabin" he grinned and walked off. LeFou followed him and they left the hall. Everyone was puzzled about what had happened and stood up to leave. Dylan grabbed my hand and took me to a corner so no one could overhear us. "Is everything Ok?" he asked with a worried look. "Yeah, I hope it is" I replied with a sad smile. I thought the day couldn't get worse. No, I was wrong. I stepped into Gaston's cabin and almost gawked in horror. He leaned on the desk, his coat was on the ground with his shirt buttons undone. When his gaze met mine, he smirked and took off his shirt. I turned instantly and rushed out of his cabin. I heard him laugh rudely at my fleeing figure. I hoped days would get better. But times were worsening. I couldn't restrain myself from growing annoyed with Gaston's behavior. Still, I didn't lose hope in life.


*****


Ultimately, one day a piece of good news arrived. My father's associate rang and told him that two of our containers were secured and has arrived at the harbor in our neighboring country. My father was about to leave for the port to clear the customs matters. Before he left, he desired to rejoice this while he returned. "What would you want me to buy when I returned, my darlings?" he asked. "A fully equipped VR gaming set. I would love them, dad." Leza said. "I would relish a Fire Edition gaming bot that was launched last month," Iza told. "And what would you like my lovely pet?" my father asked me. "I would be the most fortunate if you returned safe, papa," I replied as I squeezed him into a warm embrace. "No, my dear. You have taken care of me and our family when I was sick. You don't recognize how much I feel proud of you. I would like to gift you something you would adore. " he insisted. "Ok, papa. I would be glad if you returned with a pretty rose." I chuckled. "Just a rose?". I acknowledged that he was not convinced yet. "Yes, papa. I love you. Have a safe journey," I hugged him. He greeted warmly and left to the harbor. It took 3 days to reach that country and clear the customs and return. I anticipated every day anxiously, praying to God that he was alright. It rained the previous night and that bothered me. My father returned after three days with our presents. I was glad that he was fine. He had cleared the customs, traded off the bots, and paid the debts. But something in me said he was in trouble. But I chose to be silent and not bother him until he settled down. I prepared waffles and crepes as brunch because my father enjoyed them. After our brunch, my father seemed relaxed but still, I could sense a diminutive hint of distress that he attempted to hide from us. "Papa?" I called with a concerned look.


"Yes, my dear. Do you like your present?" he inquired. 

"Of course papa. But, there is something else I wanted to ask."

"Tell me, dear" 

"Is everything ok?" 

"Uhm... Yes, dear. Why do you ask so?"

"You seem concerned about something. What is it?"

"Ugh, nothing pet. Just tired of a long journey."

"No, papa. There is something else that is troubling you. Tell me what bothers you?"

"Uhm... Pet... "

"Shoot it, Papa."


Suddenly my father collapsed into my arms and started sobbing. I didn't understand what was happening. He was such a strong person. I have never seen him cry. I couldn't hold back my tears as I saw a strong man breaking down in my arms. "Papa..." tears choked my throat. "Papa, tell me what is it?" I claimed. He got up with his eyes as red as the rose he brought, he covered his eyes and wailed harder. I wiped his tears and cupped his face with my arms. "What happened, Papa? Tell me. I will manage it." I assured. He squeezed me into a warm embrace. "I was returning home, last night. It was about to pour massively. The vehicle in which I came broke down in the middle so the driver insisted me to take another car as it was pouring already. I resolved to ask someone for help as the frost was bone-chilling but I couldn't find another car. I paced few kilometers but still couldn't spot anyone. I saw a villa nearby and proceeded to request help. I knocked on the door, no one opened but the gate was not secured. So I entered and called out for aid. No one responded. The place was quite elegant and looked extremely posh. I called out another time and a man arrived. He provided me clothes to dress and served me hot meals. I thanked him for his aid but he didn't utter anything. Later he bestowed a room for me to rest. I slept there and got set to move. He served me breakfast. After that, I thanked him and was about to start. That was when I remembered your present. There was an enormous garden in the front. I plucked one rose from the garden because I believed one rose wouldn't hurt. But I was wrong. I heard someone growl and my heart skipped a beat. A tall guy with an attractive silhouette was standing in the doorway. He was wrapping himself with a hoodie and his face was not noticeable. He sprinted towards me and tossed me to the ground. His ocean blue eyes shone as he glared at me. He snarled at me for plucking the flower from his garden and told me that he was going to kill me for what I did. I pleaded and told him that it was for my young daughter. Then he questioned me regarding you. I narrated everything that had happened. He took sympathy and assured me that he will leave me on one condition. I asked what the condition was. And..." my father started lamenting again. Rage sped through my veins as I learned that the person had hurt my dad. He must be a beast to harm an old chap like him. A wave of guilt washed me as I realized that my father was wounded just because he attempted to bring what I requested him. "Papa, what was it?" I inquired as tears rolled down my cheeks. I observed him as he swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. "He dictated that I must surrender you to him or I must return after 2 days to die in his hands," he wailed hard. A frost went down my spine as I allowed everything to sink in. No, I could not let my father die for me. Never! "I will leave y'all tomorrow. This is my ultimate day my pets. I desire to be with y'all before I die." he stated as he embraced me. "No! What are you even uttering, Papa!" I gaped in terror. "Pet, we don't have another choice. I can't abandon you to him. He is a brute." my father said his voice loaded with concern. Yes, what he said was true. My brain comprehended it. But I won't allow my beloved father to sacrifice himself for me. Never! I gulped down the lump that had developed in my throat. I gathered courage, rose from the couch with a determined look. I'm not going to let my father fall for a rose I asked him. "Papa... I... I will surrender myself to him." I spoke as tears choked my throat. My father gaped in fright and my sisters gawked at the decision I had taken. "Belle! No! I won't let you do this. Never. I would-" I cut him off in the middle with an embrace. "No, Papa. I won't let my family suffer for what I'm responsible for. I don't mind who it is. Whoever it may be. I won't let him hurt my father." I replied with a stubborn look. My sisters left the place and there was a prolonged silence until my father chose to break it. "Belle, he is not like anyone you would have met. You have a generous heart. He is nothing like you. He is the richest fellow you would have ever met in your life." I was astonished by his words. I let everything sink in and was literally dumbfounded. He continued. "He holds the topmost 4 megacorporations in our realm that influences everyone including the Government. You recognize who I'm addressing about right?" my father questioned. What? I couldn't gather what I was listening to. I wasn't able to believe my ears. Adam. Prince Adam Carrington. Heir of the royal dynasty. The most affluent guy in our realm. But why does he want me as his prisoner?



*****



Back to the present. A fleeting picture of the last few moons as I perched on the window stool. Tears poked the back of my head. "Belle, are you certain you want to do this?" my father put up his query. "Mabel is very generous. She will do this for you, dad." Leza smirked. "I would rather be devoured by that monster than die of the grief that your loss could cause me," I said with concern. I love my father very much, and I am inclined to take anything for the sake of him. Of course, the monster I mentioned was Adam Carrington. No one has ever seen him, except for his closest associates and now my father too. I dismissed my thoughts and helped my father to his room. As he laid in his bed, I sat beside him and gave him his medicines. He looked apologetic. I could sense the heavy air of concern lingering in the room. I kissed my father's temple and retreated to my room. I stepped into the bath and lasted in the shower for one hour. Tears fell as lukewarm water seeped through my skin. After slipping into my nightdress, I sprawled on the worn-out mattress staring at the wall. I fought the tears as my head throbbed in pain. Leaving my family and surrendering to a stranger who happens to be a freak; I just wanted to laugh at my decision. I couldn't precisely explain what emotion I was experiencing. Fear, anger, anxiety, despair; A stray drop escaped my eyes and rolled down my cheek. Even though I knew I don't have a choice, a minute part of me wondered if there was any chance I could escape this. I shut my eyes tightly and prayed that this was an immoral dream that my freaking brain has come up with. But I know it wasn't. I had to accept the actuality. Determination flitted through my veins as I stood up. I shoved books and jottings of my half-done novel into a duffel bag that I had. Merely fifty books fit into it. I thought of binding my clothes. But suddenly something flashed in my consciousness. If he wants me as his captive, he must grant me my requirements. I owned the right to claim and he can't refuse. So I didn't pack anything more. Just books. Then I collapsed on my bed hoping sleep would help me forget the world that I was stuck in momentarily. I was fortunate enough as sleep took over me ignoring the thoughts, the life, the world I dwelled in, and everything that bothered me.


I forced myself awake as a brilliant ray of sunlight seeped through the curtains. My eyes ached at the abrupt transition in brightness. The cool morning breeze ruffled through the extended windows. But the comforter and bedspread guarded me against the frost. I shoved the pillow into my chest as I curled in. The bunk on my cramped apartment was nothing when compared to the cozy mattress that I rolled on. Realization struck me as waves of panic rippled through my skin. I rose and found myself in a fully furnished, deluxe suite with cream and purple walls. Cream-colored handcrafted furniture with details painted in gold. Thick purple and white curtains decored the spacious enchanting windows. Where the hell was I? I couldn't recognize the place. It is visibly not a hotel suite that I could afford from my meager paycheck. The door slammed open and a person, binding himself in a white hoodie that shielded his face from my view, marched in. The hoodie emphasized his towering build and muscular abs. He was approximately 6'3''. Long legs, broad shoulders, he was freaking hot. But fear crept through my veins as I noticed him approaching. He paused near the couch and glowered at me. But his electric blue eyes were calm as the ocean. Brilliant, oddly mesmerizing, peculiar yet alluring; It was one of the sparkling blues I have ever witnessed. Suddenly I felt a grip around my arm and caught my attention. He yanked me out of the bed and dragged me. "Stop it!" I squealed as I attempted to defend myself. But he didn't even flinch. Flipping from his grasp felt like something close to impossible. He tossed me into a cell and bolted the gate. Darkness. I perched on the couch, panting for breath. I glanced around, a wave of relief passed through as I noticed myself in my confined quarters. Nightmare. Shit! Tears flooded my eyes, and everything went blur for a moment. I shoved them off and approached the bath. I stood before the mirror, still gasping like an asthmatic dog. Let's get this straight first. Don't panic. Everything will be fine. I convinced my mind and went for a shower. Without giving another thought, I stepped into the living room. My sisters were sitting in the lounge, with the Game-bot my father presented to Iza. I spotted my father in the kitchen baking something. "Father! What are you doing here?" I demanded as I grabbed the tweezers from him and handled the waffles delicately. "I baked your favorite chocolate cake" my father gave me a bitter smile. Tears poked the rear of my head but I choked them down. "Father, you don't have to do this." I put on a fake smile. We settled down for breakfast. I devoured the cake and waffles in a flash of seconds as I was very hungry. My father chuckled at me as I licked off the leftover chocolate ganache from the plate. I giggled back. Someone knocked on the door and there was dead silence. My heart thumped faster as I comprehended who it was. Time to leave. My father's eyes flood with tears. I smiled at him and went to answer the knock. There stood 3 fellows clothed professionally in perfectly tailored suits. The one in the middle came forward. "Ms. Mabel Maurice?" he inquired. I gulped down the lump in my throat. "Yes, that's me..." I answered with a shaky voice. "James, Prince Adam Carrington's Secretary" he held his hand out for a handshake. I responded with a small shake.

"Mam, are you ready to leave?" he asked.

"Uhm... Yeah... Spare me some seconds. I will fetch my bag."

"No mam. Sorry to interrupt. But you are not permitted to carry any bags."

"Uh... What? But my belongings..."

"No mam. You will be provided with whatever you want in our place."

"Uh... Ok..."

"Not even books?"

"No mam..."

"Fine," I spoke and turned to see my father who stood there with an apologetic look. I approached and squeezed him into a passionate embrace. "Dad, everything will be fine," I assured him with a wide smirk. "Pet, this is the last chance you have got. Let's drop this idea. I will go with him" he moaned. "It's ok. Everything will be fine." I repeated and hugged him. I gleamed at my sisters and stepped towards the door. James directed me towards the enormous black sedan that stood massively on the entrance. My sisters squeaked looking at the car. The sedan itself was ten times more expensive than our whole cramped apartment. A guy held the door for me to move in. I stumbled, sank into the massive sedan, and gave a last glance to my house. My father's wet eyes glared at the sedan and my sisters had their glances fixed at James as he spoke over the phone. I waved to my family as my vision blurred due to tears. James seated himself in the front seat and the car started. I noticed two black cars in the front and two in the back following our sedan. So here I am, I have no way to run away from what was befalling. I watched the trees crawl backward as we passed by.


*****


I forced my heavy eyelids to open while the daylight blinded my eyes. I am habitually a morning person, but the warmth and comfort of the cot hindered my awakening. It has been a long interval since I had a fabulous slumber on comfy furniture comparable to this. The comforter warmed me as I hugged it closer to my bosom. The cushion swallowed me completely. My pleasant doze was interrupted by a wide knock on the door. I let out an irritated sigh and sprang to answer the knock. Suddenly, I started realizing my surrounding. I found myself in a newfangled environment. Reality banged me. Shit! I had slept in the sedan that had taken me away from my family. I felt my heart roar against my ribs as my abdomen did flips. Another harsh knock grabbed my attention as I sensed the person on the other side would whack the door if I didn't open it. I unbolted the clasps and abruptly felt a sharp blow which sent me tumbling on the floor. The person on the opposite side had banged the door that hit my head so hard that I thought of birds circling my head. "What the-" I was about to scream at the person for his ruthless action but his electric blue eyes seized my attention. My lips were parted but words didn't come out. His intense blue eyes bore into mine as I gasped at the sight. Standing before me was the most handsome guy, I have ever met in my life. Towering build, alluring silhouette, perfect muscles, broad shoulders, electric blue eyes, shoulder-length auburn hair; God! How can a guy be this perfect? The breeze grazed his messy hair that added to his sexiness. He held out his hand as my eyes lingered at his flawless physique. He yanked my arm and constrained me to rise. I noticed him eyeing my temple. "Ben! Come here!" he roared. His voice sent shivers down my spine. Deep, scary yet alluring voice; "Yes Master" a robotic voice rattled me. "Get an Ice Bag!" he commanded. "Ice bag?" I was puzzled. A 3-foot tall bot arrived with an ice bag clutched in its metal arms and handed it to him. I stared at him as he proceeded near me and gently dabbed it on my temple. A sting of pain rippled through me as he pressed the frozen bag. I felt the coldness of the bag on the numb area of my forehead. Wait! Did I say numb? Why did I feel numb? From the corner of my eyes, I observed my reflection in the mirror. Oh Shit! The side of my forehead was bruised and purple. I felt a pair of eyes burn on me. I shifted my glance and lost myself in his intense electric blue eyes. It was gentle, pleasant, calm as the ocean with colors. I could see mermaids and dolphins playing hide and seek delightfully in that tranquil sea. In the blink of an eye, the vivid sea was gone and his eyes seemed lifeless with a dull shade of blue. Before I could react, he retreated from the chamber and slammed the door behind. I attempted to unlock the door but it was sealed from outside. With a heavy sigh, I reverted my attention to the bedroom. I was awestruck! Chocolatey brown queen-size poster couch lay in the heart of the room with silky brown cushions and lush, cozy coffee-colored comforters. Neutral beige-colored walls vibrant in texture superimposed richness to the bedroom. From the fashionable chandelier that dangled over the bed to the plush pieces of silky copper-colored furniture that sat in the niche, the chamber was modernized heaven. It was not even close to what I envisioned. So the Prince had an extraordinary sense of taste. Vivid electric eyes darted up in my mind. Compared to his delicate handsomeness, the chamber's excellence was nothing. I bit my lower lip as I slowly touched the bruise on my forehead. My heart thundered and rambled against my ribs when I recalled the incident. Great! I appeared to be a clumsy girl on our first meet. I caught someone unbolting the door. "Ms. Mabel Maurice, this is Ben. Can I come in?" a robotic voice questioned. "Yes, come in Ben," I responded. The door opened gently and the aroma of oven toasts and poached eggs lingered in the air. Ben handed me a delicious plate of warm food. Breakfast puffs, french toast, poached eggs, and spring salad. My stomach rumbled at the smell of food and I started devouring the meal. Within minutes, I finished the whole meal and Ben furnished a robotic chuckle as I licked the plate. I was shocked. How could a bot chuckle? Ben recognized my perplexed grimace and answered, "I'm a high-level Artificial Intelligence bot, Ms. Mabel. I'm programmed to recognize people's expressions and respond consequently. If you are hungry, I shall return with more food." "No, I'm full Ben. Thank you" I replied with a chuckle. "Ms. Mabel, your bath is ready. You can take a shower and your outfits are in the wardrobe. It is completely automated and you can pick anything you fancy." Ben explained as he grabbed the plate from my hands. "Thank you, Ben," I mentioned and he took a leave. I opened the door, which I possibly assumed was the closet Ben mentioned. A screen popped up from the wardrobe. "Hello. I'm Grande, your personalized wardrobe stylist. Select the style you would like to wear Ms. Mabel Maurice" a voice echoed from the closet which freaked me. "Oh... Hi Grande, I would like to have classic wear... " I sounded awkward. "Ok, Ms. Mabel. Here is the list of personalized collections approved by Master Adam. Select the one would you like to wear today." Grande stated. Approved by Master Adam? So he preferred to have control over everything I assumed. I dismissed my thoughts and glanced at the list displayed on the screen. Everything looked classy. Suddenly, my eyes fell on an outfit. A pretty porcelain blazer, white crop top, and black suit pants. Perfect! "4th one, Grande." I announced. "Nice selection Ms. Mabel. Here you go. I have paired some accessories matching your outfit. Have a pleasant day!" I stepped into the bath. And as anticipated, the bath was majestic. A huge corner bathtub nestled in the niche, leaving plenty of space for dressing and relaxing, making it perfect for a person who fancied showering often like me. Light chevron curtains and the simple neutral scheme made it feel like a modernized haven. After a nice long shower, I slipped into the clothes that Grande provided. To my astonishment, they were flawless as if tailored to suit me. I stood in front of the mirror, fascinated by the fact that the outfit looked exceptional on me. I was remarkably immersed in my thoughts when the door flung open and my gaze met a pair of intense blue orbs. 


He was standing at the entrance with his intense gaze at me taking every detail of my face as if there was no tomorrow. I could not presume what he was thinking. His face bore a blank expression while the vivid blue ocean in his eye socket came to life. His lips twitched that was when I noticed how sumptuous they were. Plush, pink lips with a strong cupid's bow. "Mabel Maurice," the way he called my name sent shivers down my spine. Shit! I was staring at his lips like a madwoman. "Yeah..." I was astounded at how ridiculous I sounded. As he marched near, a light scent of cinnamon and mint citrus notes entwined with a masculine scent filled my nose. The smell was so intoxicating as he came near that I just wanted to pass out on the spot. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach making me weak. I flinched back and held the dresser for support. He raised his eyebrow as he gazed at me. The vivid color died off and a grayish shade of blue haunted his eyes. "Why are you here?" I managed to force words out of my mouth. A hint of surprise sneaked on his face, but soon he returned to the stoic look. "Where do you think you are?" he snapped with his dull blue eyes locked into mine. "Weird. Your father was a thief. And you are questioning me right when you are standing in my place?" he grunted with a smirk. What? Did he mention my father as a thief? How dare he? "My father is no thief." I snarled. He was startled that I snapped back at him but managed the stoic look on his face. All those butterflies that fluttered in my stomach were completely submerged by the rage rippling through my veins. Goddammit, Belle. You were fancying a brute who hurt your father and seized you from your family.

"He is a thief!" he emphasized the word 'thief'.

"You are lying!" I yelled.

"He attempted to steal a rose from my garden without my permission."

"And you hurt an old chap just for a rose?"

"I showed mercy on him by letting him alive"

"With the most obnoxious condition? You snatched me from my family for a ridiculous reason."

"The decision was yours."

"Do you think I will let my father die in your hands, you brute?"

"Enough!" the sound reverberated through the chamber. I could not control the chill that went down my spine as his voice dominated me. He stormed out of the room and slammed the door hard behind. I gasped at the force at which banged the door. I plopped on the chair and let everything that happened to sink in. God! From where did I get this much guts? I sighed and collapsed on the bed hoping sleep would embrace and stop me from going nuts. But fate had other plans. Sleeping is hard when your mind is full of thoughts. And when your absurd mind ponders over a pair of vivid electric eyes, sleeping is somewhere near impossible. Shit! Why am I admiring that man? After all, he is my captivator. I must hate him, right? When I was pondering over those vivid eyes, Ben called out. "Ms. Mabel, it's me, Ben. I brought your lunch. Can I come in?" I opened the door as freshly cooked chicken's aroma hit me. Ben moved the trolly loaded with food. "Have your meal, Ms. Mabel. I will return once you are finished." Ben said and took a leave. A week passed. I didn't have the guts to leave my room and sneak out to explore. I was bored to the core. God! This was testing my patience.


*****


Winter; December morning, hot coffee, bone-chilling breeze, warm breakfast muffins; It was a perfect day. I wrapped my sweater close and glimpsed at the snow-covered woods, draining my mug of coffee. The forest covered with a white blanket shone like pearls as beams of sunlight bounced on them. When I was serenely enjoying the moment, the door flung open and my heart leaped out of my chest. I turned to see a pair of brilliant blue orbs with a piercing gaze. Masculine scent entwined with cinnamon and mint citrus notes. God! This cologne is so intoxicating. He paused before me and his gaze became intense. I shifted uncomfortably as he proceeded to stare at me. "Come, have breakfast with me," he ordered and turned to leave. Did he order me? "I won't" I shouted at his retreating figure. He stopped and my heart began to ramble against my ribs. His deadly glare made me shiver but I suppressed it. His blue orbs were dull as rage took over him completely. He stormed towards me, I stepped back out of fright and slipped. Shit! I was about to tumble when a pair of firm arms seized my waist and yanked me. I pushed him and he was startled by my action. "You will join me for the meal" his stern voice echoed through the chamber. "You held me as a prisoner and now you want to have a meal with me?" I responded rudely trying to contain the fear inside me. "If you don't join me then you will never have a meal," he roared at the top of his voice. What? This brute! "Fine! I won't" I bit back. "Ben, If she doesn't eat with me, she doesn't eat at all!" he ordered with his eyes pinned on me and retreated. "You beast!" I yelled at his back and he slammed the door. I could hear Ben arguing with his master about his declaration and voices faded. "Brute!" I murmured under my breath and plopped into my chair. Thus he ruined my perfect morning. A stray teardrop left my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. "Papa! I miss you!" I muttered. Escaping from this palace was impossible. Even if I manage to sneak out without getting caught by the security system and cameras, I won't survive from the wild woods that surrounded the place. "Ms. Mabel?" Ben's robotic voice caught my attention. "Yes, Ben" I responded. He opened the door and handed me a plate of meal. "Your brunch, Ms. Mabel. I'm sorry for what happened this morning. Master Adam is not what he looks like. He has a kind soul hidden deep inside his rough appearance." Ben explained. "But-" But what? I didn't have anything to say. He continued. "He has a strong reason for his behavior which I can't reveal. Please consider my statement, Ms. Mabel," he told and turned to leave. "He told me I will never have a meal. Won't he punish you for giving me this?" I pointed to the plate. "No, Ms. Mabel. He won't. He was the one who directed me to do so. He cares about you so much." Ben chuckled and left. I was baffled. Adam cared about me? Was that even possible? I plopped on the couch and sighed at the plate. My stomach rumbled, so I stabbed the salad with a fork and stuffed it into my mouth. Good! 'He has a kind soul hidden deep inside his rough appearance.' Ben's words resounded in my ears. I couldn't sleep that night. My mind pondered over Ben's statement. What was the reason Ben mentioned? He told he can't reveal it. Should I ask Adam about this? With determination to ask Adam regarding the matter, I shut my eyes and hugged my comforter tightly. 


I woke up full of enthusiasm. I sensed a gush of adrenaline pump through my veins. I hopped out of my bunk and hurried into the bath. After a quick shower, I wore a simple outfit that Grande provided me. A white long tank top, blue denim jacket, and black leggings. I glanced at the mirror before departing the room. Perfect! I opened the door confidently and commenced strolling in a random direction. The corridor was quite spacious. Then consciousness boomed in me. I had never stepped out of my niche. It was the first time I was observing the mansion. I paused near the entrance of a large hall and I flung the door open. The perfection of the lounge left me startled near the doorway. The lounge was filled with soft and soothing grays and silvers to create a sparkling, luxurious feel. The sparkling silver chandelier that hangs from the ceiling, elegant grayish-white couches, unique art pieces that were screaming for attention made the lounge a marvel of architecture. "What are you doing here?" I was so immersed in the excellence of the chamber when a deep voice quivered me. A familiar scent of cologne hit my nose. I turned to meet a pair of shining blue orbs staring at me. Mermaids and dolphins! He raised his eyebrow and I recognized I had not responded to his question. "Uhm... Nothing... I..." What was I doing here? I couldn't recollect anything as I shifted uncomfortably under his intense gaze. He tilted his head as if to study my expression.

"Nothing, I just wanted to explore. I feel quite lonely there." I stammered.

"Explore?"

"Yeah... That's not a crime, is it?"

"No. Ok, come with me."

"Where?" He gave me a pointed look. "Ok." I shrugged. We walked down the stairs to the living room. Wow! A spectacular room with roughly 25 foot high ceilings, lofty arched windows, and towering cylindrical columns. Off-white walls and rich tonal neutrals extend the look of an already enormous luxurious living room. He glanced at my amazed expression and chuckled. The rich soft chuckle sent tingles down my body. "I relish architecture and sketching rooms," he replied. "You designed this place?" my eyes were saucer-wide. "Yeah..." he smiled at my expression. God! That smile! He resembled an angel who fell from the clouds. "Can we have breakfast together?" he inquired. I nodded and he led me to the dining hall. It was another awe. He sat at the head of the table. I looked around and took the seat at the other end. He was first startled at my action as he expected me to take a seat near him but said nothing. Tiny flying bots served breakfast. Again bots? I know he is not very social. But does that mean not even servants? There was something odd about him but I chose not to ask. After breakfast, he left for his room and I returned to my chamber. Days went by and we had meals together daily. One day we were sitting in the living lounge sipping tea. Out of curiosity, I gathered the confidence to ask him about what Ben told me.  

"If you don't mind, can I ask you something?" I questioned.

"Yes?"

"I wanted to ask it for a long time. You remember the day we fought about..."

"About having breakfast together," he chuckled.

"Yeah... That day Ben told me something..."

"Okay?"

"He told me that there is a strong reason for your behavior that he can't reveal..." His jaws clenched and I bit my lower lip. "I'm sorry if I had asked anything wrong..." I continued.

"Come with me." I followed him to his bedroom. It was the first time I was escorted to his room. He paused near the wall hanged with photos. Pointing to a huge photo in the center, he continued. "My father and mother. I was a pampered kid from childhood. My mom died when I was 10." his voice lowered. I squeezed his shoulders to comfort him. His voice choked. Then Ben continued. "True colors of Master's father came to light. He treated our Master very brutally. He was attempting to turn his son into a brute just like him. Eventually, he died because of his cruelness in a riot against him. People repudiated our Master despite his innocence. He had nothing to do with his father's attitude. Still, no one trusted the fact. He isolated himself in his room and detached from the outside world. Sequentially, he developed a social anxiety disorder. He couldn't get along with outsiders. So he controlled everything from this area. Some took advantage of his disorder and used our sources to influence the Government that left a poor impression on him. But now, James takes care of our megacorporations." James, I recollected the man who drove me here. "But... That's not his fault. How can they..." my words choked. He has suffered his whole life for something he was not responsible for. "It's not your fault, Adam." He nodded. Yes, Ben was right. He was not who he looked like. I returned to my room. He would need some time alone. In the middle of the night, there was a wide knock on my door. I let an irritated sigh and forced myself out of the bed. It was Ben. "Ms. Mabel, Master is sick. Please come fast." Ben stated. I rushed to his room. He was lying on the bed, sweating. "Adam? Adam, look at me." I called out, shaking him gently. His body had a soaring temperature. "God! Adam, you have a very high fever." He slightly opened his eyes, his blue orbs looked lifeless. "Mabel..." he answered, his voice barely came out of his lips. "Ben, get me a clean towel, a small napkin, and a tub with cold water. Fast!" I ordered. Ben rushed with a towel and placed the tub near me. I soaked the napkin in water, squeezed the excess water, and placed it gently over his forehead. Then with the wet towel, I wiped his arms and legs. I spent the entire night beside him trying my best to nurse him. I didn't know when I fell asleep, but when I woke up I found myself lying on his cot and he was in the bath. I stood up to leave to my chamber and he called me. "Belle, thanks" he mentioned. I smiled and then suddenly I recognized he had called me Belle. Shouldn't I be outraged about this? But to my surprise, I wasn't. Looking at my perplexed grimace, he inquired. "Nothing. I usually get outraged if anyone other than my family calls me Belle." I giggled. "Oh... Ok... Fine... I won't do it again." he stammered. I shook my head as I laughed at his expression. "No problem. I'm fine with you calling me Belle. I don't feel it awkward." He was startled and the grin on his face widened. I chuckled at his expression and retreated to my bedroom. I bathed and slipped into the robe placed on the dresser. Black off sleeve dress that fell just above my knees and a pair of black flats. I hurried to the kitchen, Ben stood there supervising the bots that cooked. "Ben, I would like to cook today," I announced. "But, Ms. Mabel, Master won't like the idea," he stated. "Ok, at least let me help. I would decide what will be cooked today," I affirmed. Ben nodded. "Vegetable crepes, Classic onion soup, Brioche french toast, and orange juice." I declared. "No meat?" Ben questioned. "No. Don't add meat. No bacon." I told. "But, Ms. Mabel. Master won't appreciate this." Ben mentioned. "No, Ben. Don't add bacon. He had a high fever last night. His body needs nourishment that will be easily digested. If he questions state that I ordered to do so." I answered and turned to leave. His blue orbs sparkled as sunlight glistened on them and smiled. We had breakfast together. I could tell he was having a hard time eating vegetables. And I giggled at the faces he made. He grinned sheepishly. After our meal, I directed him to his room and forced him to rest. He resisted at first, whining and grumbling, but finally accepted. "But on one condition," he announced. "Again?" I raised my eyebrows and he chuckled. He didn't smile often, but when he did so, I felt butterflies in my stomach. "Stay with me here," he stated. I giggled and took a seat in the chair near the bed. I was surprised when I noticed a book on the table. "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" I read out loud. I turned to a random page and started reading. "Through Athens I am thought as fair as she. But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so.He will not know what all but he do know. And as he errs, doting on Hermia’s eyes, So I, admiring of his qualities.Things base and vile, holding no quantity,-" I paused and he proceeded. "Love can transpose to form and dignity. Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” I was startled. "You like Shakespeare?" I questioned with excitement. "I was given a high-class education," he answered. "I love books. I habitually spent most of my time reading. And I love Shakespeare." I spoke my voice full of glee. "Oh. Ok then. I want to show you something." he stated and raised from the bed. He led me to a large door in the corner. I have never seen this place before. "Close your eyes. This is my present for you, Belle," he stated. He pushed the door open to reveal the interior. "Can I open my eyes?" I questioned. "No. Not yet." he denied. "Now can I open them?" I was very restless. "Alright... Now!" he chuckled. I opened it and was in awe! A double-height penthouse library, opulent yet inviting with brilliant antics. It was huge heaven for bibliophiles. He chuckled at my astonished expression. "I can't believe it. I have never seen so many books in all my life." I was amazed. "You... You like it?" he asked. "It's wonderful." "Then it's yours" he smiled. "Really? Thank you so much." I was thrilled. "You have read all the books in here, didn't you?" I questioned. "No, not all of them. Some are in Greek. I can't understand them" he stated. I chuckled.


*****


I observed another side of Adam that I had never known. A delicate side that I never thought existed when I arrived. He was mean at the first. And now he's dear and so unsure, I wonder why I didn't see it there before. Who'd have ever thought that this could be? But there's something in him that I simply didn't see. We spent days together. Reading, roaming through the garden, chattering, giggling and we got to know about each other. One day we settled for dinner. As usual, I sat at the other head of the table. I was startled when Adam left his seat and came near me and sat next to me. I laughed and he smiled. I didn't know what relationship it was. I perceived he didn't know either. But it was a bond that I would cherish for the rest of my life. I requested him to play snow fight with me which he refused at first but agreed ultimately. We played on the grounds for an hour and then relaxed on the bench enjoying the twilight. The sky was flamed with streaks of purple, pink, orange, and red. "I feel like I have never witnessed this before, this warmth of affection, I have never perceived since my mom's death," he spoke as his eyes held emotions that I couldn't explain. I smiled unsure of what to do. "The people think I’m odd. So, I know how it feels to be… different. And I know how lonely that can be. I used to wander with my books not getting tangled with people," I replied glancing at the sky as birds chirped and flew away. "If so... Can we go to someplace?" he asked, a hint of excitement shone in his blue orbs. "Where?" I frowned. "Think of the one place that you’ve always wanted to see. Now find it in your mind’s eye and feel it in your heart," he affirmed. I closed my eyes and imagined. "PARIS!" I shouted. He smirked and dragged me to the terrace, there stood a black chopper. "I own a pilot's license" he grinned at me. I smiled and we departed to Paris. We landed in his private mansion and took a taxi. "Where are you taking me?" he was puzzled and I smiled. The car pulled into the driveway of a poor abandoned house. I flung the door open carefully. One living room with a kitchen and bedroom was all it had. "It is smaller than I thought." I declared looking around the disordered chamber. "What place is this?" he questioned looking around carefully trying to observe details. "This is where I lost my mother," I told as tears choked. He returned a concerned gaze and glanced at something he held in his hands. "Your mom died of the plague." he forced words out of his lips. My vision blurred as tears welled in my eyes. I grabbed the bracelet that was lying on the rumpled dresser and we drove back.


*****


I stood gawking at the huge mirror in front of me. Golden yellow ball gown with gorgeous frills and intricate details of ruffles. I wore light makeup and my hair was tucked into a waterfall braid style as my brown cascades descended my back. Few strands of hair were pulled out and I looked impressive. I put on my golden sandals and reached to glance at the mirror one last time. I smiled to myself. While returning from Paris, Adam asked me to dance with him and I gratefully accepted. If I had not seen the bittersweet and almost strange side of Adam, I wouldn't have accepted. But now I knew, he is something more than anyone could see. He had left a splendid ball dress in my room and arranged the hall for the ball. And now, I'm here beaming at my reflection examining how perfect the gown was. I flung the door confidently and walked towards the ballroom. My heels clanked against the floor and made a clattering sound announcing my entry. I strode down the stairs as I noticed Adam watching me in awe. He wore a navy-blue coat perfectly tailored to suit him. My cheeks burned as he smiled and I bowed my head. He bowed in return, he looked nervous. I held out my arms, patiently anticipating his. He placed his hands in mine and we both moved gracefully, I had to admit the fact he played charmingly.

"Tale as old as time

True as it can be

Barely even friends

Then somebody bends

Unexpectedly

Just a little change

Small to say the least

Both a little scared

Neither one prepared

Beauty and the Beast"

The song continues. Beauty and the Beast. Every single line registered in my mind effortlessly. The way his blue orbs shone, I could relate the lines were true and he admitted the truth. After the dance, we strolled to the deck with clasped hands.

"It's foolish I suppose..." he started. I tilted my head as he continued. "For a brute like me to hope that one day he might earn your affection..." his dull blue eyes filled with concern.

"I don't know"

"You think you could be happy here?" a glint of hope rose in his eyes.

"Can Anyone be happy if they aren't free?" I glanced at the night sky and continued. "My father taught me to dance. I used to step on his toes a lot."

"You must miss him."

"Very much."

"Would you like to see him?" I gave him a questionable look. He ran towards his room and took a small mirror-like pad. "Show me where Maurice is," he ordered and a screen popped out which seemed to be camera footage. I was frozen with terror. Gaston and his associates were attempting to kill my father. "Papa! What are they doing to him? He is in trouble" I panicked. "Then you must go," he replied. "What did you say?" "No time to waste. You must go to him" I returned his tab and he refused. "No... Keep it with you. Then you will always have a way to look back at me" he furnished a sad smile. "Thank you" I greeted and ran towards the entrance, there stood the same sedan that took me from my home. I glanced back at him and he nodded. James and I rushed to the address that the tab displayed. As soon as I entered, everyone was stared at me. "Papa!" I ran towards him. "Why are you hurting my father, Gaston?" I shouted at him. "Your father reported that you were taken by a brute and even lied that I tried to kill him" Gaston roared. "Papa? What happened?" "He tried to confine me and force you to marry him, Belle. Since I found his wicked plot, he tried to kill me!" my father pointed to Gaston. I glared at Gaston and he shrugged. "There is no evidence that I'm lying Mabel. You can ask anyone over here. He lied that Adam, the heir of the royal dynasty confined you. We arrived to save you, but there was no such proof for what he said. He is a liar!" he smirked. "Show me where Adam is." The footage popped out and I revealed it to everyone. They were astounded and fear crept in their faces. "And now you have the proof." I declared and Gaston glared at me. "This brute is still alive. We must kill him." Gaston shouted to the mob that was gathered. "He is no monster, Gaston. You are!" I screamed and he slammed me against the cage which held my father. "You are supporting him? You are supporting the brute whose father tried to kill half of the city?" he accused me and I scoffed. "His mansion will be slaughtered and he will be hanged to death!" he yelled. "NO! You can't!" "We can! Let us do this!" he roared to the crowd and everyone cheered him. He shoved me into a dungeon along with my father and the whole city rallied to kill Adam. "Papa! Help me! I have to save him!"

"Are you trying to save that monster?"

"No Papa. I know he looks vicious, but he’s kind and gentle. We have to protect him." I showed the bracelet that I brought from Paris.

"How did you get this?"

"He took me there! I knew what happened to Mom"

"I'm sorry, Belle. I had to protect you and your sisters!"

"I know Papa! Now unlock these codes. I know you can."

My father furnished a smile and cracked to codes. I raced towards the sedan and commanded James to head back to the mansion. When we drove back, people started retreating from the mansion as Adam's bots started firing back. Gunshots! I heard gunshots from his room and my heart fell. I rushed to his floor and heard someone shouting. "Did you honestly think she’d want someone like you when she had someone like me?" I heard Gaston's voice. Again gunshots! I flung the door open and looked around for Adam. He wasn't there! "Where is he?" I scoffed at Gaston. "When we return to our place, you will marry me." Gaston shot back. "Never!" I shouted and Adam called me, his voice filled with happiness.

"Belle!" he roared and Gaston attempted to knock him. He ducked and reached for his neck trying to strangle him. "No!" he heard me scream and glanced back at Gaston. "Don't kill me, monster!" he scoffed. "I'm not a beast" Adam replied and let him go. When he darted towards me, I saw Gaston trying to shoot him from behind. "NO!!!" and a gunshot went. Adam fell to the ground, I scrambled to him and wrapped my arms around him.

"You... You came back!" he choked his tears.

"Of course I came back. I couldn't let them.. oh, this is all my fault if only I'd gotten here sooner."

"Maybe... it's better - it's better this way."

"Don't talk like that. You'll be all right. We're together now. Everything's going to be fine, you'll see."

"At-at least... I got to see you... one last time. Ben asked me why I let you go. I let you go... Because I love you."

"You have to help me. You have to stand." I heard another gunshot and Gaston dropped to the ground. It was James. Adam rested in my lap, his eyes shut. My heart was heavy and tears choked my throat. "Please... Don't leave me! I love you!" I moaned. Cough! "Belle..." his voice barely left his lips. "Adam!" we locked our lips and he smiled against mine. James had summoned for a doctor and there was surgery to remove his bullet. I entered the room and observed him resting on the bed, grinning at me. "And here I was thinking you were an utterly uneducated beast," I teased him. "I am a Prince" he responded with hauteur and I chuckled. "As time passed I fell into despair, for who will learn to love a beast?" he stated. I shook my head and chuckled as I sat beside him. "You are not a beast, Adam" "What about the people who attempted to kill me?" "There always will be a time when the world is filled with peace and love." I smiled. "Every beauty needs her beast to protect her from everything but him." he glanced away from me. I pecked his cheeks and responded, "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind."


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