Out of the Tower
Out of the Tower
It was his duty to save her. But rescuing this girl will cost Sir Nicholas everything he holds dear.
The Charming Fairy Tales, Book 1
Sir Nicholas von Hohburg stumbles on a girl singing high in a tower. A prisoner, trapped not only by her cruel mother, but by the long golden hair she has to braid and care for. Her beauty astounds him; her fresh mind intrigues him. But he also sees her prison, and he wants her free.
While Rapunzel would love to feel the grass between her toes and touch the bark of a tree, she knows she will never be able to. Her magical locks and fear of the world below keep her trapped in the tower, regardless of how convincing her handsome new friend is.
Nick only has a small window of time to persuade Rapunzel to come down. He finds himself in an unusual position--needing to convince a woman to trust him.
But certainly, Nick, a Charming Noble, could woo a peasant girl without falling for her. After all, he was betrothed to another, a political arrangement created when he was a child. And dukes don’t marry for love.
Even if he loses his heart to Rapunzel, he cannot have her.
And Rapunzel isn’t sure she wants him, either. Not after what he does.
Charming Fairy Tales:
The birds flew through the air and I sang of their path--the way they ebbed and flowed in flight. My voice carried, the tune mimicking the birds’ motion. I leaned outside, smiling at the way they moved as one dipped, twisted, then flew right next to my window.
I ducked inside and giggled as it flew by me.
The bird warbled as it landed just out of reach, the sound entirely too much like my name.
I giggled again as it flew off.
The music of nature always put a smile on my face.
The seasons were finally starting to crest. Flowers bloomed in the forest, the color illustrating the twist of the season as it moved toward the long-awaited brightness of spring.
The birds and the lightning bugs zipped through the dark blue expanse of sky.
“How amazing it must be to be so free, to fly wherever one wants,” I said to the bird.
As the evening began to fall, the colors outside shined in the setting sun and I envied the animals living in the woods.
I hummed as I watched everything, my fingers itching to touch, to feel the world outside my tower.
I was ever-envious of the animals and the birds—how they walked among the flowers, felt the grass under their feet, not realizing how lucky they were. I could not imagine what grass must feel like--would it be cool? Or hot after a day in the sun? Would I sink into it? Would it be prickly?
I knew not, for I had never felt it and never would. I had not even touched the ground of the gardens at the base of my tower.
Mother harvested the food.
I remained safe in my tower, protected from the world and free from all the darkness.
Though I did not feel freedom.
I sang to myself as my gaze darted over the pops of color from the few flowers I could see on the other side of the wall, though as the dark started to descend, even those colorful spots faded into the shadows.
My song started to slow and lower as my thoughts fell into my deepest desires.
I did not know what flowers smelled like, how their petals felt against the skin--moist and soft, or rough to the touch? The ones Mother brought home were always starting to dry and only fit to be used in her potions.
Such beauty existed outside the tower walls! The aroma of the flowers, if the wind blew right, would reach me, but that was all.
My wish remained—as it had most my life—only to explore the world, just once. Then I would know true joy.
To walk among the trees, to feel the bark on their sturdy trunks.
To sit upon a branch like a bird. Oh, what a pleasure that would be.
To be able to touch the leaves I have only watched for so long, and feel their green texture.
How I longed for the freedom.
More birds soared through the sky, inspiring me to sing higher notes. Their energy fueled my song, and as they darted down, my song lowered with them.
A blue jay dove to swipe at a berry on a tree far below. I leaned out the window, singing as I watched the bird, and I saw a flash of royal blue near the wall, just below the bird’s branch of berries.
My breath caught in my throat.
The blue billowed in the breeze, and it took me a moment to realize what I saw popping out of the shadows of the forest.
It was fabric. Brilliant blue fabric. Where did it come from? Was it stuck on the branch?
I grinned. I’d never seen such a bright piece of cloth. It truly was beautiful but as it flapped in the breeze, I realized it was not just stuck on a branch.
It was attached to a boy!
He stood atop the wall surrounding my tower, staring at me. His black hair glistened in the setting sun, shiny and almost blue in the light.
He took a few steps along the wall so he stood directly in front of my window.
Oh no! Oh my! I gasped as I ducked below the windowsill. Moving so fast, I slammed my head against the wooden framework around the sill. The cracking sound amplified the pain suddenly throbbing in my head.
My heart hammered, and I pressed my hand against my chest to try and calm it, though it did me no good. Everything felt so hot and sticky.
I brushed my hand against my forehead.
My head felt even more woozy at the sight. There seemed to be an awful lot of it.
I needed to bandage it.
But if I stood, it would reveal my location to the boy on the wall…
Did I stay? Hope the wound healed?
Or did I try to get to my bandages in Mother’s workroom on the other side of the tower? Surely the young man would see me if I tried to walk over there. My window was large and open, part of the reason Mother used it to get in and out.
Even though my head felt weak, I knew I had very little option, without revealing my position to the young man.
I scooted toward my nearby bed, where I kept a pair of scissors underneath for mending my clothing.
I glanced about at my hair.
The ends were not far, the braids looped around the room, covering a good portion of the floor where I walked to and from the fireplace, my bed, and my seating area. I started tugging the plait toward me, where my tattered ends were.
I wanted to lay down and take a nap, but I was certain I should not do so. Mother once said… I cannot remember, just that I should not lie down.
I tugged my hair closer and snagged the ends. I winced, even before I lifted the ends to cut because I knew the pain.
It would not be pleasant. Even cutting a few tattered ends of my hair would leave me in tears.
But I would cut a few… If only to make sure my wound healed quickly. Mother would be quite cross if she found me injured or worse while she had been gone.
I ran my hand over my brow, and felt the loose tresses around my hairline.
I started tugging all the strands together in a single spot and balled them on themselves. With my other hand, I tugged a piece of scrap fabric from the box where I kept my scissors, and bundled it all together.
It was just enough to wrap around a makeshift bandage.
Almost immediately, my head stopped throbbing, and I was thankful for my hair’s ability to heal.
A bead of sweat ran down the back of my neck as I leaned back against the cool stone of my tower wall, tucking myself back under the window sill.
My blonde locks pooled around me like a blanket. Absentmindedly, I stroked them, then pulled the braids over me to conceal myself just in case the stranger decided to… well, I wasn’t sure what he might do.
Their heavy weight hid me and kept me safe and warm.
Inside my cocoon, I stroked the weave of the braids.
Who stood on my wall. I both marveled and feared him—a strange sensation to be certain.
Why did he stare at me so? Why look this way at all? What could he do from there? Did he have a rope? Could he climb the tower wall?
I had nothing here worth stealing. As I stroked the plaits that had fallen on my lap, I realized there was one thing of value in the tower.
I felt nauseated.
I knew of the greed and horrors of the world. That outsiders might come and wish to steal my hair—to cut off the locks and take the strands. Hair like mine would be a very sought after commodity.
Cutting it off would likely kill me.
I pulled it tighter around my body, hoping he would leave, disappear into the night and never return.
For I knew that a maiden alone in a tower could be tempting to someone with evil on his mind.
If only Mother were here.
With my heart pounding, the heat in the pile of hair felt suffocating. I pulled the braids open to allow me to take in a few cool breaths of air. I forced myself to slow down, to breathe, because I needed to know if he tried to climb.
A chirp made me jump, and I paused. Was it a bird fleeing in fear, warning the others, or was it merely flying and enjoying the night? I strained to be certain. The chirp I heard did not sound like the terrified warble made when panicked.
Inhaling a breath, I slowly let it out to calm myself, yet it did not help.
I closed my eyes, on the brink of tears. I stayed huddled, terrified of what this boy could do, yet too scared to peek to see if he had departed.
Where was Mother? It had been almost a full moon cycle since she had left on her last mission…any coming hour could bring her return.
In my mind’s eye, I could see the boy standing there, his blue cape swirling around him.
Was he still there? The need to know clawed at me, but I could not risk another glance out the window. Even now he could be drawing back an arrow poised for my reappearance. He could have climbed the tower…
No. That was impossible. Mother had sworn no one could scale my sanctuary without assistance.
And yet, Mother had also promised the surrounding wall was too high to ascend and he had certainly managed that.
How long would he stay? Would he remain?
What if Mother returned? Would he attack her?
What would I do?
What could I do?
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