Debra Parmley & Robert Arrow
Ensorcelled and enslaved by her evil uncle, Carolennea has lost her sweet voice and sews the impossibly beautiful clothing he sells in his tailor shop. But this yuletide season will bring a new customer: a handsome knight for whom she will brave her uncle’s wrath—and who in return will help break the spell. Sir Ardin will set free her fingers, her voice…and her heart.
A handsome knight and true love are the recipe for breaking the evil spell that enslaves Carolennea, all in time for Christmas.
Carolennea’s uncle gained custody of her after her mother died. Her father had gone off to war years before and never returned. The disgruntled man who now was responsible for her was doing something strange in the clearing. The results of which didn’t entirely please him.
As a result when he discovers the hiding Carolennea, he forces the potion down her throat. The entity who provided it on seeing the event, sends another spell weaving around the girl.
It’s years later, and Carolennea is sixteen when a knight in need of a repair of his cloak comes to her uncle’s shop.
This is a favorite scene.
He’d reached the tailor’s shop just as the shopkeepers in the village were closing up for the night. Tying the palomino to the tree in the front yard, he hurried to the door. Giving a short two raps and hearing no answer, he pushed on the door, opening it. “Hello?”
Dim light inside from flickering candles showed him a girl. A slim, blonde girl in a white nightgown bent down to the ground picking something up.
Long blonde hair covered her face until she raised her head to look straight into his eyes, her green eyes gazing at him though the strands of her long, silky hair. Like some skittish forest creature, she froze.
Their gazes locked onto each other and held.
A girl with green eyes. A beautiful girl. He leaned toward her, excitement and interest filling him as a large smile spread across his face.
Her eyes lit in return. He glimpsed a matching flash of excitement and interest, before she blushed and glanced back down, once again hidden behind her hair.
“Wench, who told you to open the door? I told you never to go out.” A broad-shouldered man with a large belly hurried down the back stairs, bellowing. Seeing Ardin, his expression quickly changed. “Milord, beg pardon. Please come in.” He hurried over to Ardin. “How may we serve you?”
To the girl, Trad pointed a silent, angry arm, telling her to get back. He stepped in front of her as she skittered backward.
Ardin tried to see the girl past the tailor’s shoulders, but the portly man’s body blocked her from view.
“Don’t mind her, she is simple minded. Crawling about on her knees. Searching the floor for what?” He shook his head. “Tsk.” Then he beamed a large smile. “Now what can I interest you in today? A new cloak?”
“Nay, simply the repair of this one.”
“We have many mighty fine cloaks here and we can custom fit one to you, unique among all others.”
Ardin removed his cloak and handed it to the man. “Just repair this one. When can it be ready?”
“On the morrow, good sir. We work fast.”
Carolennea, listening from behind her blankets, had a moment of anger, the first she’d had in many years.
Uncle Trad doesn’t work fast. I do. He hasn’t sewn a thing since the day he made me drink the green poison. He’s lying. Uncle’s good at lying. Everyone always believes him.
A deep yearning for the handsome knight to know who really did the sewing for the shop, who really would be mending his cloak, filled her. Pressing her hands to her lips a tear slipped out and down her cheek as she thought of her ruined throat. She could never tell him. Never even attempt to, for then he would hear her noises and turn away.
She longed so deeply for him to stay and not turn away. Never in her life had she had a longing like this one. Wanting to speak to him, yearning for something she knew not what; she was drawn to the handsome knight like moth to a flame.
His eyes had searched hers, as if he wanted to know more.
He did want to know more. She felt it within her bones.
She would have spoken to him if she could, but she mustn’t, mustn’t even try.
No one would listen to her, repelled by the goosey sounds coming from her throat when she tried to speak. There was no one she could tell. Her story stayed locked inside these six years. It would stay locked for another six. She dared not hope any more.
The light in his eyes, which had searched hers, wanting to know more, that light would fade and he would turn away. Like all the others. None would ask about her, let alone ask her. It had been so long since any in the village had seen her and none even knew her name.
She curled into a ball as she always did before going to sleep and would hide there in her comfort spot until the man left.
Uncle will be angry. The biggest rule, to stay out of sight, had been broken.
She stayed very still, knowing she would soon be punished.
The men finished speaking and she heard the handsome knight leave.
“Get to work,” her uncle said. “Only eleven days ’til Christmas.”
The handsome knight would be here on the morrow. She would finish his cloak tonight. Never had the thought of sewing filled her with more pleasure. Each stitch, though driven by the magic, would carry her heartfelt blessings upon it.
If I must be cursed then I shall bless as well.
Debra Parmley; Robert Arrow. The Twelve Stitches of Christmas (Kindle Locations 160-196). Belo Dia Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Ah the rules of magic, there is a difference now that Carolennea is no longer a child and Ardin is just the knight to complete that change.
A lovely Christmas fairy tale, with a perfect Happily Ever After.
5 Contented Purrs for Debra!
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Fascinated by fairy tales and folktales ever since she was young, Debra Parmley has always ended her stories with a happy ever after. Every story she writes has an element of romance. She started out writing gritty western historical romance and damsel in distress stories. Her first book, A Desperate Journey, was traditionally published in 2008, after competing in the American Title II contest. A hybrid author, she went on to write for five publishers before branching out with her own Indie press, Belo Dia Publishing Inc. Belo Dia is Portuguese for Beautiful Day.
Debra writes historical romance, contemporary romance and romantic suspense. An Air Force veteran’s wife, she writes military heroes in the present and in the future. Debra’s work as a travel consultant gave her the opportunity to visit many countries. Her luggage often carried home folk tales from the countries visited.
Her three favorite things are dark chocolate, visiting the beach and ocean, and hearing from her readers. Each card, letter and email is a treasured gift, like finding a perfect shell upon the beach. For more information about Debra, please visit her website, links below.