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Tale As Old As Time

Updated: Oct 8, 2021

(Beauty And The Beast 4)

Content and cover photo © Rosalie Thorne

Editor: Kathryn Maurer


Dear Readers,

Tale As Old As Time is a continuation of and takes place after the events in the novel Enchanted Christmas.

Tale As Old As Time, Enchanted Christmas, and Be Our Guest are the continuation of the story presented to you in Something There.

Please look to these earlier works so you are not lost in this story!


Tale As Old As Time

By Rosalie Thorne


“There’s something there

that wasn’t there before.”

- Beauty And The Beast (1991)


TALE AS OLD AS TIME

A 3 Day Novella


The Question


Her fingers brushing the crystal rose that is the centerpiece of the mantle of the corner electric fireplace of their tiny apartment, Isabelle is in awe of how much has happened in so little time. Two years ago, to the day, she and Adam had their first date.

Or, really, what they like to refer to as their first date, when they went to Café Andromeda after school and ended the night at Bookends. The first night they really connected, the first night they recognized this as something special. The first night he had called her Belle, the first night they kissed.

Truthfully, though, so much had changed since they were first partnered together in British Lit. to Christmas of Senior year, that much more had changed since graduating High School. As a shared graduation gift, for example, Nan and Pops offered them a week trip to anywhere they wanted to go – a congratulations and a thank you for all they had done for their family. Adam and Belle had jumped at the chance to head to London, taking a day to use the ferry over to Ireland and another day to drive up to Scotland. By the flight home they realized they were destined to live there, England would soon be their home-away-from-home. As Belle prepped to get a student visa and finish her BA at an English university, so did Adam.

That fall, they moved to South Carolina. At first, Adam and Belle were under the impression that Nan and Pops were offering up their address so in-state tuition was possible. That way, they could go to school, work if they wanted, but also be only a short drive away from Bitty. What really ended up happening, however, is that Nan and Pops had gotten them into the state’s top university (where they were both alums) and paid for their AA tuition in full.

And! On top of it all, the first weekend after class started, Tony showed up to surprise Belle and tell her his news - that if it was alright with her, he’d like to sell the farm and move to South Carolina. He could get a smaller place, take the job Rosalie had pulled some strings for him to have, and slow down to ‘smell the roses.’ (He already feels like a second granddad to Bitty and everyone was happy to have him close by again.)

Then there’s now… where Bell and Adam are already half-way through their second to last semester for their AA, finishing out the requirements to follow-through with their international goal. In a few short months they would make making the biggest move of their lives.

The funny thing, though, is that Belle is far from anxious. As she finishes packing her bag for her evening class, she simply feels courageous and full of wonder; she can’t wait for the next step of her life. She even has a reminder in her phone once a month of how much longer she has to wait. Today makes eight more months.


*


The sun just below the horizon, this Autumn twilight displays the most beautifully vivid array of colors. Maybe because of the warmer air, (the southern skies heavy with humidity), or maybe because the eastern beach is so close, there’s something vastly different about the dusk in front of Adam’s eyes. Sure, he’s been back for about fourteen months, but every night feels like he’s seeing a sunset for the first time. A perfect melding of colors, with the shapeless clouds on the wind, there’s something about how long it takes for the night to turn black that is inherently wonderful.

This night, though, is particularly wonderful for a whole other reason. Peeling his eyes away from the sky, Adam quickens his pace down the sidewalk to meet Belle after her last class of the day. Yes, it’s a Monday, which usually means they don’t do anything but order take-out and study and watch Netflix. But! Today is a very special Monday, two years in the making.

Everything is set for the night ahead of them; Adam pulled some strings and sweet-talked the right people. But, then again, who wouldn’t want to help him with what he has planned?

A big ball of emotion, mostly good, though with a lot of different types of anxiety, he lifts from the wall as soon as Belle walks out of the lecture hall. “Hey you!”

A little surprised, she smiles up at him and gives a one armed hug (her other arm holding books). “Well hey! Everything okay?”

Her hazel eyes look at him carefully and he brushes a wave of brown hair over her shoulder. “Oh, everything’s just wonderful. I just thought I might surprise you.”

Dropping her arm to his waist, she walks hip-to-hip with him out of the building. “I do like surprises.”

He chuckles softly and gestures widely, “Well! Then you’re in for it tonight, I’ve got this whole thing planned.”

She cocks a brow. “‘Whole thing’?” she repeats. “I know it’s our anniversary but I didn’t think that changed much.”

He jokingly scoffs at her, “Belle! ‘Didn’t think that changed much’? It’s like you don’t even know us.”

She laughs and shoves her arm against his torso. “I just hope you didn’t go overboard, that’s all.”

Adam knows that she’s worried about money. Yes, they are actually pretty comfortable compared to most other students, but that doesn’t mean she supports extravagant gifts or nights out at expensive restaurants. It’s something he’s been fighting her about their whole relationship and something he’s prepared to fight with her about their whole lives.

“It’s simple, I swear.”

Her head is shaking but then she notices them taking a different path rather than going back home. “Where are we going?”

“To the surprise.”

Looking around, she can’t think what they could possibly be heading towards as they move farther into the campus. “We’re not going home first?”

“Nope!” She looks up at Adam, noticing the significant smile on his face; a rare smile of pure confidence and excitement. His aqua blue eyes shine with passion as he looks down at her, pushing his sandy bangs away from his face. “You’re going to love it.”

Wishing that she had dressed up a little, rather than wearing her normal Monday clothes, she thinks of the few dresses hanging in her closet. But no, instead she’s in comfortable light-wash jeans and a soft cream turtle-neck and all her hair is pulled out of face with a headband. Not exactly the most romantic look. Though she notices that they’re at the language arts college now and what could possibly be romantic about that part of the campus?

Inside the building, it only takes one hallway for Belle to understand they’re headed towards the campus library. It's one of her favorite features of the university and one of the few places Belle and Adam have spent a lot of time. Given their frequency of visits, she looks at him skeptically, “It’ll be closed by now.”

He smirks and keeps on walking “Oh, I know.”

Adam may have an affinity for toeing certain lines – doing not the smartest nor most virtuous of things with his friends and still smokes on a daily basis – but Belle knows he would never break in to anywhere after hours. Belle also knew though that Adam made a point of being super friendly with the librarians. “What did you do?” she asks in a giggled whisper.

He moves in front of her, pulling her free hand softly, while walking backwards towards the library doors. “You’ll see.”

At the double doors of thick carved wood and stained-glass, he stops her. He pulls the key out of his back pocket and opens the door slowly, then waves her to enter first. She does, only making it a few steps inside because she doesn’t quite understand what she’s seeing. The entire hall is dark except for a warm glow in the section dedicated to the school’s private collection. The source hidden from view, the light that does escape the rows of antique books and first editions flickers softly outward.

“Adam?” Belle whispers, looking at his shadowed face as he guides her by the hand through the empty library.

“Belle?” he asks with a tone of deviousness.

When they’re at the edge of the section, they slow. Adam stops her, takes her books and slides them on a nearby table. He then curls behind her to cover her eyes with his hands. “Are you ready?” he murmurs in her ear.

Heart beat fast, her shallow breaths make her chest flutter. “All right….”

One step, two, and even through the shield of his hands, Belle can see a wall of light before her eyes. When Adam lowers his palms to her shoulders, he kisses her above her ear. “Surprise!”

In the widest isle of the section, between two armchairs lays a miniature coffee table draped in a blanket with a picnic basket ready and waiting. Low candles in tall jars run periodically down the length of the bookcases, making the whole little area glow.

Fingertips touching her smiling lips, Belle takes a slow step forever. A private candle-lit picnic in a library is far from simple. “I can’t believe you did all this!”

He passes her and heads straight for the back chair. Leaning forward with a triumphant smile, he opens the basket and starts explaining “I packed all your favorite things, too! Sliced apples, baby carrots with that dip you like, turkey bacon bravo sandwiches, and oh! I went to that little bakery you found on your birthday and picked up a pack of macarons.”

“Oh Adam!” her fingers curl around her necklace as she slips into her chair. “This is so…” but words escape her.

Her eyes drift from the woven picnic basket, to their flannel blanket. Then, to all the candles so carefully placed and secure. Last, she gazes at the countless books on the shelves that surround them – the most perfect of walls to keep this private. If there ever was a setting to claim her heart, this would be it.

Adam knows this and that is exactly what he plans to do. While her eyes are wandering around her, he’s slipped off his chair and down on one knee. Ring box open and ready, he finds himself surprisingly sturdy, surprisingly calm.

Hazel eyes so full of light and love come back to him. An expression of pure adoration and bliss and then there’s a sharp, “Oh!” when she looks a little lower.

Blinking away the light and warm tears of love, Adam clears his throat a little. “We are so close to being finished with our degrees which means we’re so close to making that great leap over the pond. A new country, a new adventure, a new chapter of our lives… all of this I’d really love to do with you as my wife.”

Looking now to where she is kneeling on the floor in front of him, his voice is the kindest of whispers. “Isabelle Linda O’Hara, will you marry me and make me the happiest man alive?”


The Answer


April showers bring May flowers and those May flowers are in full bloom this June the first. Summer roses are everywhere they look, petals so wide you almost can’t see their leaves. From the bushes, to the trellises along the brick garden walls, to the bridal party’s bouquets and boutonnieres, any type of rose in any color is here.

The ceremony begins in the garden, the long aisle leading down to an arch at lake's edge. The shimmering blue water is where Isabelle and Adam will say ‘I do’ and vow to love each other in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, till death do them part. With serenity on one side and beauty on the other, this is where husband and wife will share their first kiss.

And looking out her window at the spectacle below, Belle can’t wait for the day to start. Though she and her bridesmaids have been up for hours and though in all that time their hair and makeup have been done, Belle feels like nothing has been accomplished. A bundle of energy, itching and ready to get her dress on and go, there’s not a spec of nervousness or anxiety in her.

With a glass of champagne in her hand, she turns back to her ladies. Looking to Angie, Rosalie, and Nan in particular, Belle comments, “I’m just so happy!”

Giggling a little, she twists a pearl earring with her free hand. “My life turned out to be much more of an adventure than I imagined. And now everyone’s here to be a part of this!”

Closest to Angie now, she looks at her best friend and takes her hand quickly. “I can’t wait to share this all with my family. This whole thing is just a showcase of how loved we are by all of you. It really is just a true celebration of togetherness.”

Raising her flute, she looks through the crowded room. “Thank you all so much for what you’ve done.”


*


Across the long hallway of the historic hotel, Adam and his groomsmen get ready for the day. Not needing as long as the women to get ready, they had the opportunity to get some fun and funky pictures in the refurbished speakeasy downstairs. Back in their room now, it’s time to get serious.

As his granddad fixes the cuff-links, Adam looks out to all the men of his life. Pops, Tony, Jerry, and David all surround him on this most important day. Looking down at the cuff-links that have been engraved with his initials, he starts speaking slowly, a bit overwhelmed. “I know I’m not the most open person, but,” he looks to everyone, “I didn’t think happiness like this was possible.”

Standing tall, he tugs at his suit jacket. “I am perhaps the happiest man in the whole universe. But even with this personal moment of grandeur, one thing holds true. I want Isabelle to be happier than I’ve ever felt, happier than she’s ever felt – I will strive to make her the happiest woman to have ever existed.”

A little choked up now, he feels Tony’s hand on his shoulder and can see is father-in-law’s face in the mirror. “I swear, I will do everything I can to give her the life she’s always dreamed.”


*


Hazel eyes of the bride meet the icy blue eyes of the groom, only a sort aisle of grass between them, and the rest of the world fades away.

Belle does not think of her arm wrapped around her Papa, she does not thing of her hand tight around her bouquet. Belle does not think of the classical music playing, she doesn’t think of the birds tweeting nearby. Belle does not think of the smell of her perfume or the smell of the garden around her. Belle does not think of the taste of champagne still on her tongue, nor of the saltiness of tears slowly rolling down her cheeks. Belle does think about, however, how handsome and perfect is the man waiting for her.

Adam looks at his bride and such an indescribable feeling spreads from his heart. As she takes her final step to him, he is in awe of her effervescent beauty. He can’t pull his eyes away from her, noticing all the details he loves so much. Like the softness of her skin as her hands slip into his. Like the sound of her quickened breath as she tries to steady herself. He can even smell her shampoo when the wind catches her halo of long brown curls just so. His eyes linger on the freckle near the corner of her eyes, something he only noticed the night of their first kiss.

And then comes time for them to read their vows. Having decided long ago to each read a piece from King Arthur, they go on to describe how their life together has been and will be one of adventure, inner strength, and love. It is their passion for literature that brought them together in the first place, but it is their passion for life and the hope they share that keeps them ready to face the world together; to never want for anything, to never be forgotten, but most importantly to never be alone.


*


Having already been announced as husband and wife, as Mister and Misses Benson, Adam and Isabelle finish up with the receiving line of their reception. The guests of distant relations went first, the line slowly making its way from furthest to closest relation to the Bride and Groom. Then came Rosalie and Jim, Jerry and David and Angie, and Tony with Nan and Pops and Bitty. Bitty, having been the most precious of flower girls, wanted to her hug her older brother and sister with all the might of a six and a half year old.

Finally allowed to wander to the head table and get some water they both desperately needed, Adam curls himself around Belle, blocking everything from her view. “So, Misses Benson.”

She giggles and smooths out his tie. “Yes, my dear husband?”

“I have a special gift for you.”

She squints and tilts her head up ever so slightly, “And what might that be?”

Tucking his free arm behind them, he reaches the edge of the head table where he had her surprise placed ahead of time. Pulling it towards them and twisting it around, he holds a leather journal in his hand - a sturdy little thing with a cover of weathered brown leather and thick cream pages that are completely empty. When she looks across the blank interior, she looks at him questioningly.

“There’s plenty of space for you to fill the pages with the story of our lives; with all our greatest moments, memories, and adventures.”

One hand tucking the journal to her chest, the other reaches for his face, “I am so very much in love with you.”

He smiles and takes in a deep, long breath. “And I you, my dear.”

Too quickly after their private moment does the party continue. All the events they had planned for months unfolding before them like a flash of lightning. Suddenly, it is time for the toasts, their best friends, her Papa, and his grandparents all ready for what they rehearsed.

It’s after all the stories and hopes are shared, Belle takes the moment to stand before they’re supposed to start their first dance. One hand in Adam’s, in the other, she holds her glass high. “Of course, I want to give a special thanks to everyone who helped make this happen. But first I’d like use this moment to express something very near and dear to my heart.

“As the bride it’s rather simple – I am here because I am in love and because I wanted to make a life-long promise to this man. That said, however, I want to explain that I am not the only one here to share in the love for him.” She gestures out to their guests. “Everyone here came tonight because they love you, Adam, and just as I have promised for as long as we both shall live, your family is here to love and support you no matter what.

“I promise,” she smiles. “We all promise.”

A passionate kiss, a tight hug, a murmured “Thank you,” in her ear, and then the groom guides his bride on to the dance floor.

Only the rows of string-lights are lit now, each little bulb twinkling in the dark. Soft music plays as they sway side to side. And just as he leads her into her first twirl, (her big ball gown skirt fanning out like a princesses), their family and friends who stand along the edge of the dance floor shower Adam and Isabelle with rose petals. After their first dance as husband and wife, they share another kiss to mark the beginning of the rest of their lives.


The Surprise


Simply exhausted from another weekend in Paris, Adam and Isabelle are slow moving from their taxi to their flat just outside of London. Newlywed life had been treating them something special, bringing so many new things in just four months. New country, new home, new school, new friends! Yet one very important thing still remains, how much they love each other.

At their front door, Belle lets out a big yawn and stretches while Adam digs in his pocket for the keys. With the key firm in his palm though, he turns and gives her a big smile. “So….”

Belle knows that look too well now, after three years of a relationship and shakes her head. Laughing, she feels a bit more awake than before. “We’ve already celebrated! All weekend in fact. Please, don’t tell me you have yet another thing planned?”

But of course he does, this is her husband after all. Adam unlocks the door but holds the knob behind his back. “Close your eyes!”

She gives him a look but then does so. Her hand is carefully picked up by his and she is pulled slowly forward. Standing just inside their tiny apartment with eyes closed she hears him bring in their bags and shut the door. Still with her eyes closed, she feels Adam move behind her, pressing her to him, his hands tight on her hips. “All right… open!”

Their strings lights above the window are already glowing, showing her a braid of pink and red streamers. A collection of candles on the coffee table are lit next to a package wrapped in gold paper. There’s even a bouquet of a few dozen red roses perfectly arranged ahead of them on the breakfast bar waiting for her.

He comes around her now, holding her left hand in his. “I also had Charlotte and Daniel stock the fridge so I can cook for you tonight.”

“And let me guess,” she taps her right index finger to her lips, “those macarons we had last night were not our last?”

Bursting with laughter, she leaps at him for a hug. Wrapping her hands around his neck, her fingers play with the back of his dirty blonde hair. “Well, my love, for the first time I think I’m one step ahead of you! I knew you were going to have something up your sleeve, so I left a special something in our bedroom.”

His warm hands reach under the hem of shirt, messaging her lower back. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

After a kiss, he asks “How about dinner and then gifts?”

Knowing how hungry they both are, she nods, “Sure!” and, as he moves into the kitchen, she slips into the stool at the bar.

While she’s admiring the roses, Adam goes to work. With such a tight budget, they’ve both had to learn to cook a wide range of things, using their money to get quantity rather than quality. But on special occasions such as this, they spend a little bit more on groceries to make something really special.

Level headed with steady hands, she sits on the edge of the tub. There’s something that’s been in the back of her mind, something she’s been wondering. If her gut is right… well, that makes Belle’s heart feel overwhelmed. But even if the test comes back negative, that’s okay too – there’s a time for everything, maybe that’s just not now.

Waiting for the seven minutes to be up, she has her legs spread across the bathroom floor, her head against the cool outer wall. The little room is surprisingly quiet, even though she can hear Adam in the kitchen; the sound of sizzling, the sound of utensils, the sound of him singing softly. She recognizes the tune of their wedding song and starts to cry with happiness. Regardless of what the little stick says, she can’t imagine her life any other way.

Her phone suddenly vibrates, the timer finished. Three deep breaths and she reaches for the test where it lays on the edge of the sink. She can’t bring herself to look at it before standing, holding the plastic in her palm. Glancing in the mirror, she sees the face she’s so used to, but also a face that looks so much like her mother's. Tears in her eyes, she shakes her hair out of her face.

Fearless, it’s time to be fearless.

She closes her eyes and nods her head, opening her palm for the result. When she’s finally able to look down, all her breath is knocked out of her chest. Before she knows it, she’s through the bathroom door, bounding through the living room to the edge of the kitchen.

Adam looks at her alarmed, not sure what to make of her urgency. “Belle?”

Tears rolling down her face, she is so overwhelmed that all she can manage is laughter. Soft and beautiful laughter; light-hearted and light-souled laughter; laughter leaving her with shaking breath.

Their hands meet in the air between them, their fingers laced together. Adam looks at her amused and confused, but feels a rare sensation in his chest. Like the first night they kissed, like the first night they loved each other, like when he asked her to be his wife, like when she said, ‘I do.’

“Belle?” he asks again through the widest of smiles. He reaches his free hand up to her neck, his thumb on her jaw bone. “What is it?”

The hands they have grasped, she squeezes. “I’m,” she breathes, “I’m pregnant!”

Adam’s other hand comes to Isabelle’s neck; his lips come to her smile. Then his hug turns into lifting her above his chest. Her legs wrapped around his and she grips tightly onto his shoulders. Never have two people shared in so much excitement, never have two people felt so much love in their hearts.

Three years in the making and their fairytale came true. The adventure they didn’t know they wanted, the family they always dreamed… now and forever.

And they lived happily ever after.


THE END


Something There is available on Amazon.com as a hardcover, paperback, or eBook, or if you've enjoyed it here, please feel free to support the author and make a donation.


Be Our Guest is available on Amazon.com as an eBook, or if you've enjoyed it here, please feel free to support the author and make a donation.

Enchanted Christmas is available on Amazon.com as a hardcover, paperback, or eBook, or if you've enjoyed it here, please feel free to support the author and make a donation.

Tale As Old As Time is available on Amazon.com as an eBook, or if you've enjoyed it here, please feel free to support the author and make a donation.



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