Waking Rose: A Fairy Tale RetoldRegina Doman
C HESTERTON P RESS
F RONT R OYAL, VA
Books by Regina Doman
The Fairy Tale Novels
The Shadow of the Bear: A Fairy Tale Retold
Black as Night: A Fairy Tale Retold
Waking Rose: A Fairy Tale Retold
The Midnight Dancers: A Fairy Tale Retold
Angel in the Waters
Edited by Regina Doman:
Catholic, Reluctantly: John Paul 2 High Book One
Trespasses Against Us: John Paul 2 High Book Two
Summer of My Dissent: John Paul 2 High Book Three
Text copyright 2007 by Regina Doman
Interior artwork copyright 2007 by Joan Coppa Drennen
2007 cover design by Regina Doman
All rights reserved.
First hardcover edition 2007 by Chesterton Press.
Song You Can't Hurry Love, words and music by Edward Holland,
Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland
(c) 1965, 1966 (Renewed 1993, 1994) Jobete Music Co., Inc.
All Rights Controlled and Administered by EMI Blackwood Music
Inc. on behalf of Stone Agate Music (A Division of Jobete Music Co., Inc.)
All Rights Reserved International Copyright Secured Used by Permission
P.O. Box 949
Front Royal, Virginia
Summary: Nineteen-year-old Rose Brier is in love with Fish Denniston: but Fish, struggling with abuse issues in his past, holds her at arms’ length until an old danger and a tragic accident threatens Rose’s life. A modern retelling of the story of “Sleeping Beauty,” and the third novel in the Fairy Tale Novel series.
Printed in the United States of America
…Once upon a time...
I love him more than poetry. I love him more than song.
It sounded promising, like the beginning of a ballad that would soar up into the crazy blue sky. Rose sighed, opening her eyes and running her fingers through her red hair, letting it float back down onto the pillow. It did sound terribly romantic.
“The only problem,” she said to herself as she rolled over in bed, “is that the man I love is the most unromantic creature who ever opened a book.”
She couldn’t picture anyone falling madly in love with such a person as Fish. What a name, Fish. His real name was Benedict Denniston. Fish: think cold, slippery, detached. Benedict: think dry scholarly monk from the Dark Ages. Denniston: think English preparatory school, stolid country squire. Nothing about his name sounded the least bit romantic.
And he wasn’t really handsome, not in any conventional sense of the term. He was of average height and build, with unruly brown hair. His typical expression suggested petulance. There was nothing readily apparent about him that should attract her.
“This is why mathematics alone doesn’t explain the world,” Rose said aloud. Because when she added up all these negative characteristics, somehow the sum was a person who was irresistibly attractive to Rose Brier.
She would see him today, she thought to herself. Today was her sister’s wedding and he was coming, to be the best man.
The mere thought was enough to impel her out of bed with a bounce and over to the closet, humming a passionate love song.
But she heaved a sigh as she opened the rickety closet door and surveyed the clothes inside. The problem was, she wasn’t his love. At least, not yet.
“What is wrong with me?” she moaned, pulling a shirt off of a hanger. “There are billions of men in the world, at least millions who are near my age. Maybe hundreds who are compatible with me. Maybe at least a dozen who would want to date me. There’s got to be at least five on the continent whom I could probably marry. So why in the world am I so hung up about this one guy? And he doesn’t even like you, Rose Brier.”
The lecture had as little effect on her as it usually did. She stared at the ceiling of her bedroom. One of the rafters had a cobweb on it.
Well, at least she and Mom and Blanche were back in the country in Warwick, at the old farmhouse that used to be their home, before Dad died of cancer years ago. And Blanche was getting married. And she, Rose, would be the maid of honor.
The wedding! There was so much to do today! She was out of the room like a shot.
He woke up in the unfamiliar bed, blinking in the bright sunlight. The relative silence around him reminded him that he was in the country, in the home of the Brier’s friends, the Wykas. Yawning, he got out of bed and found the bathroom to start getting ready.
Shaving for Fish was a meticulous process. As he carefully moved the razor over the slightly raised scar on his cheek, he thought again of his dad’s insistence that he have plastic surgery done to erase the effects of his various run-ins with criminals. But Bear always said, “Scars are cool.” Fish admitted that substantial parts of his history were now written on his flesh—one cut on his cheek running down to his chin was from a fight in prison. That one had actually healed the worst—it hadn’t been properly treated at the time. Because of it, he noticed, his smile was slightly crooked. There were one or two faint scars from a few other fights he had encountered on the streets. One from a man who had been more heavy-handed than effective. Another from a slap on the side of the face with a pistol.
And one mark that ran down from between his eyebrows to under his right eye—barely noticeable, but he could make it out. That lovely jag had been courtesy of a Mr. Freet, from a blow with the butt end of a whip. Fish felt it lightly with his fingertips, amazed at how something that had hurt so much at the time was now hardly noticeable. He wondered idly if plastic surgery would have erased that one. But most of the scars from that unpleasant episode were not visible.
He sighed, gave himself one more quick glance, then splashed water on his face quickly and combed gel into his light brown hair, which tended to get out of hand without some help. Then he set about getting dressed.
Once presentable, he walked down the steps to the kitchen. “Good morning, Mrs. Wyka,” he said courteously.
“Good morning to you, Fish,” the woman beamed. “Do you like omelets? I just made your brother one.”
“Sounds great,” Fish said amiably. He had to smile. Most of the time he and his brother introduced themselves to strangers by their Christian names—Benedict and Arthur. But to the Brier family, they had always been Fish and Bear, right from the start, so naturally that’s how the Briers had introduced them to all their friends, including the Wykas.
They probably think our parents were hippies, Fish speculated. Few knew or recalled that “Fish” and “Bear” were handles from when the brothers had been in juvenile prison. Blanche Brier—now Bear’s fiancé—had always liked the name Bear, and even when she found out Bear’s real name, she and her mother, Jean, and sister, Rose, had continued to use it. It certainly fit Bear, who was tall and burly, with thick dark hair that was inclined to be shaggy.
Fish actually preferred to be known by his real name, Benedict, or Ben, but the Briers had never asked him what he preferred, and so to them, he remained Fish. He had acquired that name because, according to his former inmates, he was so good at getting out of tight places, which was true, and partly because of his aloof, detached demeanor. It was correct that Fish was a fairly calm, analytical person. But he didn’t know exactly why others seemed to think he had no feelings. He supposed he must be better at hiding his responses than most people, and wondered if that were truly an asset, outside of dealing with policemen and criminals.
r /> He was eating his omelet with the careful table manners his mother had drilled into him when Steven came in, stretching and yawning.
“Morning, Steve,” Fish said.
“Hey, Ben, good morning,” Steve clasped his former high school buddy’s hand. “So where’s the groom?”
“Probably out for a morning walk,” Fish said.
“Hope he’s back before we have to leave for the church,” the tall black guy smiled.
“Oh, I’m sure he will be,” Fish took the last bite. “You know Bear.”
“Yeah, I guessed he was pretty much gone for Blanche ever since he snagged my tux to take her to the prom. And ruined it in a fistfight,” Steven laughed. “So how do I get an omelet?”
Fish indicated the other room with a finger. “Mrs. Wyka makes them. Why don’t you go say good morning to her? I bet she’ll make you one as tasty as this.”
“Hey, I’ll be Prince Charming to anyone for an omelet. It’s sure nice of these people to put us strangers up for the wedding.”
“The Briers have some good friends around here,” Fish agreed. “Bear’s trying to buy a house in this town so he and Blanche can live near her mom.”
“I can see why,” Steven nodded. He stepped into the other room and smiled broadly. “Good morning, Mrs. Wyka!”
Fish chuckled to himself as he overheard the friendly conversation that ensued in the next room. Setting his plate on the counter by the sink, he went back upstairs to change into his wedding clothes. Once dressed, he dialed the Brier’s number on his cell.
The phone rang several times before someone answered, and the line opened onto chaos.
“Hello?” shouted the female voice over a background of chattering and calls for assistance.
“Hello, this is Ben Denniston,” Fish said. “Is Jean available?”
“Fish!” the voice exclaimed and Fish realized it was Rose. “You sounded so suave I didn’t recognize you.”
“Good morning,” he said blandly. “It’s the voice I use for speaking to ladies of more mature years.”
“You mean Mom? I’ll get her. Mom!” Rose sang out without moving the phone from her lips, and Fish winced.
“I think she’s talking with a delivery man,” Rose informed him.
“Can she use any help?”
“Oh definitely. All sorts of friends-and-relations are over here helping, but they’re all women. There are a few things I know she needs a guy to do. Could you and Steven come over and take things to the hall?”
“Of course,” Fish said good-humoredly. “Tell your mom we’ll be right over.”
As he and Steven were walking out the door, they spotted Bear coming over a far hillside. He waved at them and bounded down the hill to meet them.
“Great morning!” he shouted as he came closer.
“So is the bridegroom ready then?” Fish asked, noting his brother’s exuberance.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Bear’s grin was contagious. “I’d better get to the church.”
“You want us to come with you?” Steven asked, checking his watch.
“Nah—Blanche and I agreed to make sure we both had some alone time today before everything gets in motion. Want to make sure we’re prepared.”
“Father Raymond would approve,” Fish said.
Bear nodded. “Probably gave us the idea himself from heaven.”
When Fish arrived at the Brier’s house, he and Steven met a flurry of girls, women, and babies, all dressed in various kinds of wedding finery, and all bustling about with distinct and sometimes contradictory purposes. Most of the wedding children—and there were quite a few flower girls and pages—were dressed or half-dressed and were running around outside on the lawn of the old farmhouse, or jumping off the porch steps, or swinging from the branches of the apple tree. Their mothers and older sisters were chasing them, reprimanding them, and trying to keep them somewhat polished. Fish noticed that most of the children and quite a few of the adults were of Asian descent. He recalled that the Briers were good friends with a large family whose mother was Vietnamese and supposed these were some relations of those.
He and Steven edged their way into the house and found Rose in jeans and an apron tying wildflowers into nosegays for the children to carry. Steven paused to greet his mother, who was poring over a list of guests. Jean Brier in her best cream dress, was talking on the phone to a relative who appeared to be hard of hearing. There was no sign of the bride.
“Where’s Blanche?” Fish asked Rose over the tumult after waving hello to Mrs. Foster.
“Upstairs in her room.”
“She was ready,” Rose informed him, “at seven this morning. But she told me she wasn’t doing anything today except getting dressed and marrying Bear. She said to me, ‘That’s it. If there’s any crisis about the flowers or the catering or the place settings, I don’t want to know about it, so don’t tell me. It will all work out.’”
“She’s probably right,” Fish observed, watching the minor hysterics of one twelve-year-old and her younger brother on the porch. The boy had gotten a streak of mud down the front of his page-boy outfit.
Rose finished tying the ribbons with a flourish and indicated the table, stacked with table settings, flower arrangements, and covered dishes. “Mother wants everything on the table brought over to the hall before we go to church. Can you princes spirit them over there and still make it to the church on time?”
“On my flying carpet,” Steven assured her, hefting up a large box of napkins and vases of flowers.
“Wonderful. I have to get dressed,” Rose sighed, pushing back a strand of her tangled hair.
“Oh? You’re not wearing that flannel shirt?” Fish sounded disappointed.
Rose made a face at him. “You look very handsome this morning, Fish.”
He bowed again. “No doubt I’ll be able to return the compliment later.”
“Yes, later. I’m just Cinderella now. At least the bride is stunning.”
As Steven and Fish packed the boxes in the car, Steve surprised Fish by asking him, “So what’s going on between you and Rose?”
Fish was slightly annoyed. “Nothing.”
“Really? That’s a surprise. I thought for sure she liked you.”
“You asked if there was anything between us. I thought you meant reciprocal affection,” Fish answered dryly, starting the engine.
“Eh. So she likes you but you don’t like her? She’s a cute kid.”
“Exactly,” said Fish, inching the car down the driveway in reverse, watching the rear window carefully. Having so many children running around made him cautious.
“So what’s keeping you from dating her?”
Fish glanced at Steven, amused. “Why don’t you date her yourself if you’re so interested?”
“Oh, I don’t want to intrude on the family,” Steven said lightly. “After all, your brother is marrying her sister. It seems too perfect a scenario. I just can’t figure out what’s stopping you from pursuing her.”
Fish wasn’t inclined to go into the matter, even with an old high school friend. “You said it yourself,” Fish said. “She’s a cute kid.”
It was a beautiful day. Rose, whose many duties as maid of honor had included praying for good weather on May 25, gave thanks to God that she could check one more thing off her list, as she looked out the bedroom window. The sky was a pale robin’s egg blue, with only a few tufts of cloud in the sky.
The wedding children and bridesmaids were piling into family cars and driving over to the church. Only she and Mom and Blanche had yet to leave.
Blanche was uncertain, as usual, about how she came off as a bride, but Rose had taken one look at her in the white linen-and-silk gown and pronounced that she had turned into a princess for real. Blanche had flushed pink and checked the mirror again.
Her gown was beautiful—simple yet sumptuous, as a proper wedding gown should be, Rose thought. It wa
s pure white, with a textured sheen to the material—a simple bodice, a curved neckline that showed off Blanche’s lithe neck, simple elbow-length sleeves, a full skirt embroidered in a few places with the delicate shapes of flowers and leaves. No heavy beaded lace, no exaggerated flounces, no plunging necklines, no drippy pearls. Just a lovely, simple dress that didn’t compete with the bride’s natural grace.
Blanche's black hair was pulled up into a soft chignon, not one black strand out of place. It glistened softly in the morning light, and her fair skin had a radiant glow. Silver filigree earrings and a silver cross were her only jewelry. Her veil cascaded down her back in translucent white folds.
“You are perfect,” Rose declared. “There's nothing you can do to make yourself look prettier—most of it you're not responsible for anyhow.”
Blanche smiled self-consciously. “Do you think I should wear any lipstick?”
“No. But it probably wouldn't hurt if you feel you want some on. Do you need anything else?”
“I’m good,” Blanche picked through an open cosmetic case. “Go ahead downstairs. I’ll come soon.”
“As you wish.” Rose tucked her silk pouch of a purse and her bridesmaid’s bouquet of wildflowers into a basket, and stole out to the porch for a few quiet moments to just sit and feel utterly beautiful.
Partly it was because of her dress. It was long, sweeping, and palest pink, lightly trimmed with silk roses and trailing ribbons. Sitting on the steps of the battered wooden porch, feeling the spring breeze play over her long red hair, she closed her eyes and felt as though she were part of a large, gorgeous painting.
As she sat, she wondered if Bear was already at the church. Probably. He was a little anxious about whether or not he would be a good husband and father. Rose felt he shouldn’t be worried. He and Blanche had been dating for two years, and it was obvious to everyone that they were perfect for each other. Still Bear was concerned: his parents hadn’t had a good marriage. “But at least he knows his handicaps and can deal with them,” Rose assured herself. Her gut instinct was that Bear would be a terrific husband and father. She knew Blanche thought so too—obviously.