Belle woke with a start. Her eyes fluttered open and she lay for a moment, very still and very quiet until the haze of sleep had passed, listening to the ticking of the wall clock in her room and the howling winter wind outside the castle. Judging by the darkness it was still the middle of the night. She sat up in bed, slowly, and peered around the room, unsure of what had awoken her. It was then that she noticed that her chamber was unbearably cold; a sudden shiver shot down her spine and she instinctively looked to the window. It was wide open, and the curtains whipped around the frame as if they were trying to escape this prison. Belle's heart ached for them; she knew their struggle.
Steadily, she rose from bed, and cautiously tiptoed to the window. She glanced around and stuck her head outside to gather her surroundings. Had she left the window open? When had she opened the window in the first place? Belle's head swarmed with nervous, half-coherent thoughts as she grabbed either windowpane and pushed them together, closing them, sliding the lock into place with a penetrating click.Blue eyes…
She awoke again sometime later when her room was still shrouded in the mysterious black cloak of nighttime, penetrated only by a sliver of moonlight that lay across the floor. But this time, she awoke with the knowledge that something was not right; Belle knew she had been visited. And the visitor was still in her room. She could feel their presence.
Sitting up with a jolt, her wide doe eyes immediately fell upon a dark figure standing in her doorway. A lump formed in her throat and she had to cover her mouth with her hand to stifle a gasp.
"Who's there? W-who are you?" she bravely asked, eyes frozen on the figure, which did not move nor respond.
Her worst fear crept into her heart.
Had he come for her?
No; Gaston was stockier. She had the fleeting thought that it was her master, the master of the castle, but this was a man, not a…
Belle gulped and addressed the stranger with what remaining courage she could muster.
"Come into the light."
The man did not speak. Silently, he moved toward the bed, stepping around and avoiding the silver stream of light so that Belle could not catch a glimpse of his face. However, with each step, she became more and more at ease.
As her eyes adjusted to looking into the dark, Belle squinted and tried to recognize the man. In the darkness, she could've sworn he was the man from the painting in the West Wing, but she couldn't be sure. She needed a light. The oil lamp she had been using earlier to read was still on her bedside table, and she reached for it, but the man had approached her by now and gently grasped her wrist to stop her.
Belle looked from him to the lamp and back again, then dropped her head.
"You have my word."
She inhaled sharply as he released her hand and stood before her, the broad plane of his muscled chest close enough for her to reach out and touch. But she didn't dare.
"Belle," he spoke at last, his voice pouring like warm honey, low and smooth and wonderful. He tentatively put a hand to her face and cupped her cheek. She looked up to his face despite not being able to make out his features. "It's me."
Unsure of herself, Belle hesitantly brought her shaking fingertips to the man's face, tracing his jaw line and feeling his hair. She brushed the pads of her fingers across his lips and felt them purse at the touch. And although she couldn't see, she knew this was him. She felt butterflies where her heart should be, and fire in her stomach.
"It is you," she breathed. As if this were all the confirmation he needed, he leaned down and placed a chaste kiss on Belle's lips. When they parted, she curiously wet her lips with her tongue to taste him and gulped quietly before kissing him again. She closed her eyes as the kisses became more feverish; his hands ran up and down her back and her neck and she slowly and deliberately moved her lips to his chin, his cheekbone, his eyelids, his brow bone, and his forehead, before he moved his lips back to hers again.
Moments later Belle was on her back on the pillows and the man was hovering over her, kissing her passionately as she ran her fingers through his silky hair. Her hands wandered, palms flat, down his back, up his back, down his cheeks, neck, shoulders, and arms, entwining her fingers with his as his free hand lay hot and heavy on her abdomen.
Her took her so lovingly that Belle could not help but weep when they became one at last, and she gasped and moaned and bucked to meet his movements as he filled her and moved with her. They rocked together and her voice was airy and light as she released and his breath was hot on her neck as he embraced her tightly and reached his peak inside her.
She looked into his face as he held her close, and drifted off into the void.Blue eyes…
Belle awoke with a start. She was immediately aware of the form rising and falling with breath next to her, sleeping in her bed. Carefully, so as not to rouse him, Belle leaned over and took hold of her oil lamp, reaching back over to look down at the man, lighting the lamp to cast a golden illumination on his shape. She had to know.
She had to know that this was truly the handsome man from the painting. This night, he had become her husband. They had consummated. This was not the horrible beast she feared in this castle in the night.
Stunned by his beauty and filled with love, Belle mechanically uttered a single, startled, "Oh."
At the same moment she was taken aback, her wrist went slack and a single drop of hot oil leapt from the brass nozzle of the lamp and landed on his bare shoulder. He turned over suddenly and Belle was pushed back on the bed by a surprising force. When she looked at him again, he was no longer the handsome Prince; he was a hideous beast.
And he was absolutely furious.
She knew he had broken her promise and now would pay the ultimate price. Her legs itched beneath her to flee from the room, but she was frozen to the spot where she sat on the bed, feebly shielding her nude body with a quilt. Belle tried to catch the words to explain herself before it was too late but they failed her. Beast let forth a single, horrendous growl, followed by a feral roar, and, in his rage, he threw Belle backward as a scream bubbled in her throat. Frantic and losing her balance, she grasped at the curtains and pulled them down with her as she fell to the floor. The lamp clattered nearby, extinguishing the light, and the mixed sounds of shattering glass, clanking metal-on-marble, and the Beast's animalistic grunts had Belle cowering in terror beneath the heaps of fabric she now found herself tangled in. He was going to finish her; drag her to the wintry dungeon with nothing but her body and the drapes wrapped around her lithe mortal frame. He would lock her up, starve her, leave her to die- this was the end.
Her breathing was labored and warmed her face inside of the velvet. She waited for him to grab her by the neck and take her away, or grip her arm menacingly and haul her off. Instead, Belle heard him stalk out of the room, and his weighty padded steps faded down the hallway and into the abyss of the castle. Belle waited a few minutes before she let out a breath of relief. Silence passed. Warily, she peeled the blanket away from her face and looked up at the ceiling. It was morning, and golden sunlight illuminated the room, casting passive shadows on the walls and furniture. Her breathing returned to normal and as her regular sensory perceptions returned to her, she became aware of something sharp poking into her side.
Belle untangled herself from the blankets to discover that the corner of the book she had been reading before she fell asleep now left a red dented impression in her alabaster flesh. The gold-leaf title of the cover, The Tale of Cupid and Psyche, glinted in the sunlight.