As Old As Time: A Twisted Tale (Twisted Tale, A)

Free As Old As Time: A Twisted Tale (Twisted Tale, A) by Liz Braswell

Book: As Old As Time: A Twisted Tale (Twisted Tale, A) by Liz Braswell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Liz Braswell
sconces, and statues years ago. And no doubt British tourists would be thronging through on a weekly basis, begging to be taken to the romantic abandoned castle to paint pictures, smoke opium, and write terrible poetry about their experience.
    No, this castle had camouflaged itself well. She wondered how her father and Phillipe had managed to find it the first time. Clever old Phillipe…
    Belle bit her lip, feeling another surge of loneliness. What was so important that the teapot couldn’t have stayed another moment to talk with her? And just how
did
a teapot cook dinner? She had introduced herself as the housekeeper, so maybe she merely ordered other servants around. Were
they
real? Or other
living
objects? Or beasts? Or…
    The wardrobe cleared her throat.
    “Well, now, what shall we dress you in for dinner?”
    I’m dreaming,
Belle told herself again, a little hopefully.
    The wardrobe threw open her doors. Inside were a few interesting things—one of the largest, clearest mirrors Belle had ever seen, some moths, and an extremely pretty collection of gowns that would have made the blond triplets, Paulette, Claudette, and Laurette, swoon.
    Belle examined the dresses skeptically. Of course, if things went the way they did in fairy tales, they would all fit her perfectly. The question was, was this a “Bluebeard’s Wives” situation? Or something else?
    The tired girl turned and walked over to the bed. So far
it,
at least, seemed to be inanimate.
    “I’m not going to dinner.”
    “Oh!” the wardrobe said, shocked. “But you must!”
    “No. I’m a prisoner, that’s fine. But he can’t make me do something I don’t want to.”
    Well, maybe he could. Belle really had no idea. She would find out just what the limits of his powers—and anger—were. More clues to help her escape.
    “But…you can’t decline a royal invitation!” the wardrobe sputtered.
    “Royal?”
Belle asked quickly, sitting up. “That…
beast
…is a member of
royalty
?”
    The wardrobe somehow managed to look guilty.
    “I-I mean…” she stuttered. “We can’t really talk about these things.”
    “Is it forbidden? Like, by a curse or a spell?” Belle pressed, eager for any information.
    “No, it’s…déclassé.”
    Belle raised an eyebrow.
    The wardrobe shrugged.
    “Help is supposed to be seen, not heard,” she said apologetically. “Anything the master wants you to know, he will tell you himself.”
    “Who
is
he? Really?”
    “Anything,” the wardrobe repeated patiently, “the master wants you to know, he will tell you himself.”
    “Well, what
can
you talk about?
Yourself,
maybe? What kind of wood are you made from?”
    “Honey, if I knew about wood, I’d be an enchanted ax,” the wardrobe said with a sigh. “I know from corsets and ribbons and hand-spandable waists and what shoes to wear to what sort of occasion and how to tie a thousand different girdle knots and which hat to wear to what sort of outdoor entertainment.”
    Belle’s quick mind reviewed what she had just heard.
    “You know, I’ve never known much about fashion, living in the country and all,” she said innocently. “What sort of hat would a lady like myself wear to an afternoon tea outside, in the garden, with other ladies? Assuming I’m ever invited, of course.”
    “Oh, that’s easy…a lovely straw number, with a wide brim,
en grecque
curls if you’re dining amongst the ruins, or piles of flowers and feathers, and tipped, just so…”
    Belle allowed herself a little smile.
    “No one has worn hats like that, even in this remote part of the world, for at least ten years. Not even Madame Bussard has pulled one out of her own wardrobe recently. And she is very thrifty with her accessories. So
whatever
happened here must have happened at least a decade ago.”
    The wardrobe shifted nervously.
    “You’re a clever girl,” she said with some grudging admiration. “I like that. But I think…maybe…I’d better hold my drawers with you

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