Tuesday, November 13, 2012

ABG Reads: "Maven Fairy Godmother: by Charlotte Henry Babb Excerpt

Title: Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil
Series Title: Maven Fairy Godmother (book 1)
Author: Charlotte Henley Babb
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Humor
Publisher: Muse It Up Publishing
Pages approx. 279 /  Words:  101k
formats Available: E Book only (Mobi, Epub & Pdf)

Maven’s new dream job–fairy godmother–presents more problems than she expects when she learns that Faery is on the verge of collapse, and the person who is training her isn’t giving her the facts–and may be out to kill her. Will she be able to make all the fractured fairy tales fit together into a happy ending, or will she be eaten by a troll?

Once in her pod, Maven found she could listen to Vivienne easily. The images were much clearer; either better reception or she was in the same time frame. Maven began listening to a tale as though she remembered it. A girl unfortunate enough to be born princess in a poor kingdom, orphaned and then swapped by her guardian for a treaty. Annexed—Maven wouldn't call that arrangement a marriage—to a man she had never met, one who cared nothing for her. 
    What would Vivienne wish for?


                                                               * * * *
    Vivienne was elegant in a plain white gown, her dark hair drawn back from her face with a simple silver comb. Lady Dee surveyed her handiwork with a critical eye.
    Maven wondered what part Lady Dee might play in the story. Even a minor character might have the influence to make things happen. There was the Cook to consider as well, both older women, and neither evil as far as Maven could tell. It was harder to listen to a person who hadn't made a wish, if a wisher were nearby. 
    “It's not as though you need to impress him,” Lady Dee said, straightening here, patting there. “Don't show him your true resources until you need something from him. He is not used to the best, and would likely not know the difference.” 
    “True enough,” said Cook as she brought in a tray of tea and sandwiches. “But we manage to get by.”
    Lady Dee frowned. “We usually knock before entering Her Highness's rooms.”
    “Well, you might, but we generally don't.” Cook's respect obviously did not extend to the Princess's companion. Her tone changed as she addressed Vivienne. “I thought your Highness might wish some refreshment before the banquet tonight. They'll likely eat late, and you may find the food coarse and not to your liking.”
    “Thank you, Cook. I am hungry.”
    Lady Dee frowned, and Cook beamed. 
    The princess took a bite of a dainty sandwich of brown bread and cheese, careful not to drop crumbs on her dress. “Do take a bite,” she said to Lady Dee. “It won't kill you. You haven’t made any enemies yet.”
    “You are too trusting, Vivienne,” Lady Dee replied. “But you are right. At worst we could die immediately.”
    Cook cleared her throat as she poured the tea. “If I might speak my mind, your Highness?”
    Vivienne nodded. “Prince H.R. is not a bad sort, but he doesn't know much about women. I could put a spot of sleeping potion in his drink tonight. It might give you a bit more time to…get to know him.”
    “You mean I might actually get married before I get 'consummated'?” Vivienne was not quite as innocent as she was young. Trained from birth that her virginity was her main asset for protecting her kingdom from ravage, she knew it had limited warranty—one use, valid only with marriage.
    Cook nodded. “I will bring you some rose tea, and you drink only that.” She turned to face Lady Dee. “We'll bring you some too. We don't want to carry you out in a wheelbarrow.” 
    Vivienne moved between the women, reaching for Lady Dee's hand and Cook's hand. She needed both of them as her allies if she were to have any kind of life at all here. “We are women together in a man's land. Let us be friends and help each other.”
    Lady Dee and Cook eyed each other, each finding the other wanting. Vivienne took a deep breath, stood more erectly, and spoke, this time as the Princess. 
    “Lady Dee, this is Cook. She will give you all the information you need to be my assistant. Cook, this is Lady Dee. She is my friend as well as my companion. Treat her as you would treat me. Tomorrow we will learn from Cook how things are done here, and we will make our new life together.”
    “Yes, your Highness,” they said in unison, exchanging knife-blade looks.
    Vivienne hoped the prince was not as strong as they were. 
                                                               * * * *
    Maven liked the princess, and both her companions. Maven hadn't seen any older women in any story, except for Cook and Lady Dee, who probably younger than Maven. Maybe women didn't live long enough in Faery to get old, or like Fiona, they were much older than they appeared.
    Or maybe, as in Mundane, older women just disappeared from sight and mind unless they became powerful enough to be evil. She tuned back into Vivienne's story.
                                                               * * * *
    Vivienne waited in an alcove with Lady Dee to be admitted into H.R.'s presence. She was not nervous, just a bit edgy in case her true feelings might show. Lady Dee merely stood. She was capable of standing all day at court, appearing to be awake when asleep, and always listening. Vivienne sighed briefly.
    Lady Dee spoke quietly, “Don't go to him. Let him come to you.”
    “Why? What if he doesn't come?”
    “He will. He has to establish his ownership of you. Wait for him.”
    The great doors opened onto a long, stonework hall with a rough wooden table in the center. The benches to either side held men, some as rough as Rocky and Stoner, others quite polished. None of their manners were exemplary, they all talked at once, loudly disputing points of no-doubt-subtle philosophy with fists banging tables and the occasional knife for exclamation point. Stoner blatted a ram's horn.
    Rocky announced them. “The Princess Vivienne and Lady Dee of Pantopia.”
    Vivienne stepped forward and stopped, surveying her new realm. A hush fell across the mob. 
    The prince stood, smiled, held out his hand to her. “Welcome, Princess.” 
    Vivienne made a slight nod with only her head. She studied the prince. He stood for a second, before he walked toward her. He held out his arm and led her to a seat by his side. Lady Dee stood beside Vivienne, behind the men on the benches at H.R.'s right. Log immediately brought out a tray with tea and tiny sandwiches and cakes.
    “Ahhh, see what a fine lady I am to have,” The Prince crowed. He seemed very pleased to have annexed so lovely a kingdom to his own. Vivienne bowed slightly to the men with a simple smile. The hush was broken by hoots and roars of approval, with sly winks and bawdy comments. 
    “A toast,” cried one burly man. “To the Princess.”
    The prince praised the beauty of his princess, remarking on her modesty. She only drank the rose tea and ate from the small tray brought to her. The princess saw the shrewd calculating look on his face. Good, let him think she was a biddable innocent without a thought in her head.
    “Now, my lovely princess, I will grant you a wish unto the half of my kingdom for an engagement present. What shall it be? A fine pony for you to ride. A garden? New dresses?”
    Vivienne's practice at keeping her face separate from her feelings came in handy now. Half of his kingdom indeed. Her kingdom was more than half of his, but it was not the time for a political deal. “I want the services of a girl in the village, one Daisy of the house of Lord Rapine.”
    “No more than that? Done.” H.R. flipped a golden coin to the Lord who sat only a few seats down on the left of the table. The lord caught the coin in midair, but he did not look pleased to give up the girl. Lord Rapine bowed, however slightly.
    The prince took Vivienne's hand and kissed it. “Another toast to our new Lady. To her health and long life.” Again, the pitchers were brought out, and the men quaffed and stained the tablecloths, an act they believed made permanent the sentiments of the toast. In the moment of silence as they swallowed and allowed the brew to soak in, each one closed his eyes and sagged into a heap of greasy face and dirty laundry. The servants brought wheelbarrows to transport the rapidly succumbing men to sleeping quarters. Cook came for Vivienne and Lady Dee herself, and led them to chambers in the corner of the Castle overlooking a cliff, far from the prince and his men.

Author Bio: 
Charlotte Henley Babb is the author of Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil, available from  Muse It Up Publishing (http://bit.ly/MavenFGM), Smashwords, Amazon and B&N. Her websites are http://charlottehenleybabb.com and http://mavenfairygodmother.com

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