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Experience six of the world’s most beloved stories in a whole new light! From historical to futuristic, these retellings will take you to an enchanted forest, a cursed castle, and far beyond. Uncover secrets of a forbidden basement, a hypnotic gift, and a mysterious doll. Fall in love with a lifelong friend or brand-new crush. Venture to unknown lands on a quest to save a prince, a kingdom, or maybe even a planet. With moments of humor, suspense, romance, and adventure, Encircled has something to offer every fan of fairy tales, both classic and reimagined.

Featuring my short story, “A Heart’s Desire.” A retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.

Blurb

Content with her village life, Desiree Lowell’s quiet existence falls apart when she’s kidnapped. Whisked away, she’s now captive to a beast in an enchanted castle. When it’s revealed that she’s an innocent, she’s unable to leave until the real witch arrives.

Prince Lyndon’s engagement announcement turned from a grand event to a cursed evening. Time is running out, desperate to break the curse, he sends his henchman to the village to bring back the witch.

Cast:
Desiree
Beast
Finn
Reyna
Sawyer
Jarrett
Isa

EXCERPT:

Townsfolk chattered all around as I strolled down the snow-covered cobblestone street cozied in my scarf. Wooden framed stack homes stood on both sides of the street. Sellers of blankets and bread advertised their items in front of their shops. I spotted a familiar moss-colored cloak whip out of an archway alley. Reyna. Goodness.

Reyna! I waved frantically at her. Nearly a month had passed since I’ve seen my only friend. When I tried to find Reyna at her home, her brothers always said she was unavailable.

Head dipped and covered by her hood, she trudged toward me, her cloak dragging behind. “Desiree?” she blurted, as if surprised.

“Reyna! Where did you disappear to?” I planted a kiss on her cheek. The dark circles under her brown eyes were unusual, and she kept her head low.

“Oh, it’s so good to see you.” She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed.

“Why your long absence?”

She pulled away, her hood casting shadows down her face. “I’ve been going through…changes.” Her tone wavered.

“Were you ill? Is there anything I can do to help?”

She smiled. “Thank you, Des. But it’s something I need to handle on my own. That’s all I wish to say on the matter.”

A coldness gripped my throat. She always told me everything. I bit my lip before I could violate her wish for privacy. “Understood…” An awkward silence hung between us. “What about the ball? Can you at least tell me that? Did you ever attend?”

Her lips pressed into a thin line. We walked our way through a tent pitched market. Her head still hidden. “A bit dull for my taste. You were right not to go.”

I raised a brow. “It couldn’t have been that awful.”

Reyna pulled her hood back. I rested my eyes on her naturally rosy cheeks blending into dark skin that complimented her wavy, brown hair. Her full lips and oval-shaped face were something people often couldn’t stop gawking at. In the eyes of my father, we could almost be twins. But the townies of Old Lerhurst often proclaimed in gossip that Reyna was the prettier one of us two. I didn’t mind. With similar complexions and hair, we were close enough to look like sisters, so it could be a compliment.

Her chin lowered. “Honestly, I grew bored and left the ball early with my brothers.”

“What? I recall you blustering about the party for months, and you suddenly left?”

She chuckled. “Not what I had hoped for, I guess.”

At least she was smiling and the awkwardness was put to an end. “How disappointing. I was looking forward to a glamorous story about you sharing a dance with the most handsome gentleman there.”

She pulled her hood back on and giggled. Her head dipped lower. “Tell your father I said hello.”

“Tell him yourself. You’re free to join us for dinner. Maybe we can catch up?”

“Yum! But my father will be out of town for a few days, and Mother always wants us there when he’s gone. Next time?”

I nodded, trying to shove away the gnawing at my stomach that hinted she was avoiding me. “Of course. I just—”

Out of nowhere, a minstrel with a wool hat and spiffy trousers belted a note that could put a professional to shame. The gray and black-haired man offered me his hand. “Care to join me, my lady? We shall sing our joys to the sky.”

Reyna must have scuttled away into the crowd because she was already across the street, disappearing into the alleyway. What in Old Lerhurst had gotten into her? I should show up at her home once more and demand an explanation.

I shook my head and addressed the minstrel. “I’m a pianist, yes. Singer, no.”

His singing stopped. I brushed past him, but he tugged on my sleeve, studying me. Then he reached up and tried to place a wreath of brass bells around my neck. What the—

I pulled away, slipping my head free. “Sir! Good. Day.”

The minstrel winced as if I’d clawed him. If he did that bell move one more time, I just might. What was I, livestock? Who put brass bells around a lady? Old fool.

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