Fifty Shades of Sleeping Beauty

Fifty Shades of Sleeping Beauty by Lotte Harding Read Free Book Online

Book: Fifty Shades of Sleeping Beauty by Lotte Harding Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lotte Harding
kept it locked away from prying eyes. It was still as beautiful as ever, with its tragic motto still glowing in the sunlight. Seeing it made her sigh and most times she had no care to look at it: as much as anything, she knew that Isis deserved it more than she, but now the younger sister had no desire to touch it. "Perhaps I'll make a gift of it to her daughter when she comes of age. I'm sure she'll be as beautiful as Isis, if not more so."
    The birth of that daughter took place not a month later, and the private quarters of the palace echoed with the cries of Isis for many hours until they were joined by the squalling of a baby girl. Whatever woes lay behind that birth, they were immediately forgotten by Magnus and Isis when they saw their daughter.
    In accordance with the customs of Nysa, the young child was not to be named until her ceremony a week later, which was always the opportunity for a party even among the most humble subjects of the kingdom. That it would be so much grander, being dedicated to the descendant of the king, was never in question, and the court was in a bustle for days as preparations were made for the event.
    A cornucopia of food was brought in from the countryside in an abundance that had never been seen before. There were chickens and sides of beef and whole hogs, cakes and trifles, quince jellies and jellies in quinces. There was taffeta for the tables and silk for the seats, barrels of beer, kegs of wine and enough drink it seemed to float the castle. The servants ran back and forth day and night, carrying gifts of immense value to the great hall where the ceremony was to be held.
    At last the time came, and Serena was one of the first to enter the hall, gasping in astonishment at the results of that preparation. A high dais was raised with a table for the king, queen, prince and princess and another seat, which the witch supposed was for some visiting notable - perhaps an emissary from Osiman who had made his peace with the King of Nysa. Beneath this table, large trestles filled the hall, laden with a wealth of foods and gifts for all the guests who would attend.
    As the hall began to fill with guests, Serena hid herself away in one corner and watched them with pleasure when they gasped in astonishment at the riches laid out. At last the royal family entered, Isis carrying their daughter with Magnus at her side, the king and queen in procession behind. They came to the high table and took their seats, at which point the rest of the guests also sat down, Serena among them. The new princess, however, seemed troubled and looked around the hall before whispering something to Magnus. He nodded and stood up.
    "Where is the sister of my beautiful wife, the lovely and most blessed Lady Serena?"
    Serena blushed as a hundred pairs of eyes turned in her direction. "Oh, don't mind me," she mumbled. "Just here for the first course. You lot enjoy yourselves."
    She attempted to duck away from the servants who were sent to fetch her, but when Magnus himself descended to find her she could not resist, and accompanied him to the high table where he beckoned the empty seat. "This was for you. You don't think we would ever forget you."
    "Certainly not!" added King Roland. "With Princess Isis, you are the person we are most grateful to for saving our kingdom."
    As she sat down, Serena saw that she had not been forgotten. Although the gifts of the emperor had made her richer than she cared for, she could not help but admire the elaborate presents that had been prepared for her. When she was among them, the ceremony could begin properly and King Roland stood, welcoming all of those in the hall to this feast in celebration of his granddaughter's naming day.
    "And the newest addition to our house is to be called..." He frowned for a moment, clearly unable to remember her name.
    "Talia!" hissed the queen.
    "Ah, yes, Talia! And as we, the royal family make these abundant gifts to each and every one of you here today, then

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