Welcome to Beauty’s Beast, book 3 in the Black Trans Fairy Tales series. This novel­la is releas­ing one chapter/week on the blog ahead of publication. 

This chap­ter will only be up for one week. If you miss a chap­ter or would like to sup­port projects like this, join my Patreon.


Unfortunately, this chap­ter was only up for one week and you’ve missed the win­dow! If you’d like to catch up or sup­port oth­er projects like this, please join my Patreon.

Belle lost con­trol of her life the sec­ond she took Gaston’s bet and agreed to mar­ry him. She’d been guid­ed away from the town square last night to a room at the inn where she’d be kept for the next sev­er­al days to pre­pare. A small room with a sin­gle bed and none of the cas­tle com­forts or even a book to pass the time.

The dawn bloomed gray and wet, with threats of rain, the kind of day Belle would have loved to spend indoors by a roar­ing fire with a mug of tea and sev­er­al good books. Instead three women Belle only knew casu­al­ly assigned them­selves her ladies in wait­ing and barged into the room at a grog­gy hour.

She was bathed, scoured real­ly, every curve shaved and lotioned. They tried to tutt over her hair but she drew the line there, tak­ing the time to tight­en her coils and bun­dle the braids in a satin bon­net with some mois­tur­iz­er while the ladies fret­ted over her first dress of the day.

Sif, the cobbler’s daugh­ter and appren­tice, argued the Belle should dress in white to sig­nal her puri­ty and free­dom from the evil beast at the cas­tle. She stood tallest of the three, with dark, gen­tle eyes and light curly hair. She’d worn an over­coat this morn­ing to keep the driz­zle off her dark green dress.

Amanda, a seam­stress, and Petrea, cap­tain of a fish­ing boat docked at the bay, both dis­agreed, argu­ing the white should be reserved for the wed­ding day. Amanda stood at a per­fect­ly aver­age height that she boost­ed with a lit­tle heel in her shoe and had tied up her straight black hair with a blue clip that dan­gled with beads. Amanda had also worn an over­coat to pro­tect her light blue dress, one she’d sewn her­self and dec­o­rat­ed with care­ful stitch­es by hand. It was a love­ly piece of work.

Petrea was short­est and stock­i­est of the three, strongest by far thanks to her very phys­i­cal boat work. She hadn’t come with an over­coat or a dress, but an oil-slicked men’s jack­et to pro­tect from the rain, and some straight-stitched pants over her black boots. Her wavy hair was still damp from the driz­zle out­side and her dark skin almost matched Belle’s in depth.

Sif had visions of lace and glit­ter and ball­rooms while Petrea was far more prac­ti­cal. She rec­om­mend­ed boots for the wet day. Amanda want­ed to cus­tomize every­thing she laid her hands on—just a lit­tle more embroi­dery it’ll only take a few hours.

Belle let them argue over col­ors and cut and seams. None of it mat­tered to her. She only need­ed to keep Gaston busy long enough to fig­ure out a more per­ma­nent solu­tion. She wished there was a way to com­mu­ni­cate with Quinn and the staff.

In the mid­dle of dress­ing debates a run­ner came to the door, a child, and passed a sealed let­ter to Sif. She swooned at the wax seal on the front and flapped the enve­lope at Belle.

It’s from your betrothed,” she breathed. “Open it, open it!”

Belle took the let­ter and glanced at the wax with sud­den inspiration.

She was expect­ed to send a let­ter back to Gaston. Could she send anoth­er to the castle?

Belle cracked the seal and unfold­ed the letter—only to hold it at arm’s length as a gust of cologne made her blink and cough. She scanned the inel­e­gant scrawl but she didn’t see the words. How could she get a let­ter to the cas­tle? Someone would have to deliv­er it and none of the ladies would go. If only her father had come back with her. He would do it.

You have to reply,” Sif insist­ed, pulling the small chair out from the writ­ing desk and set­ting up a paper and quill for Belle.

Belle hand­ed Amanda the let­ter so they could read through it and sat down at the desk with­out protest.
She began writ­ing to Quinn, her father, and all the staff. She told them about her mar­riage to Gaston and how it would pro­tect them. The bones of a plan came togeth­er as she described the expect­ed courtship steps she and Gaston would need to per­form in the next sev­er­al days. If she could find some help here in town, she could escape the night before the wed­ding and they could all start a life some­where new.

As she fold­ed the let­ter and sealed it, still won­der­ing how to get it to the cas­tle, she had a brief moment of grief over the loss of the cas­tle library. She hadn’t been there long enough to explore it. Or show Lukas.
Belle smeared the seal­ing wax as she sat bolt upright. Lukas could run the let­ter over to the castle!

Amanda tut­ted at the mess she made across the paper. “That won’t do for your return letter.”

Belle pushed the let­ter up out of the way and grabbed a new sheet. “Don’t wor­ry, that’s just a note for some­one else. Sif—” Belle turned to con­firm she still held Gaston’s let­ter, “can you help me dic­tate a let­ter back to Gaston?”

Sif clutched the let­ter in her hands to her chest and gushed, “Yes, of course.”

Belle hap­pi­ly wrote what­ev­er Sif told her to, she doubt­ed Gaston was wait­ing with bait­ed breath for her reply.

The ladies were inter­rupt­ed again by a knock on the door. Lukas, bear­ing a tray of brunch and tea.
Belle snatched her fin­ished note off the table and crowd­ed Lukas back out the door so the oth­ers wouldn’t see. They cooed over the baked treats and tea while Belle hand­ed Lukas the let­ter and spoke soft­ly. “I’m engaged to the love of my life, Gaston,” she said with a very seri­ous tone and sig­nif­i­cant eye contact.

Lukas nod­ded, pick­ing up her mean­ing imme­di­ate­ly. “I heard.” He took the let­ter she hand­ed him and put a hand on her shoul­der. “Is there any­thing I can do for you?”

Belle nod­ded at the let­ter. “This is a list of a few things I need from the cot­tage. Could you please take a cart and pack my trunk at home?”

Of course.”

The list will tell you everything.”

I’ll take care of it,” he promised.

Belle signed, “Thank you.” Thinking noth­ing of the ges­ture after so long with Quinn.

Lukas signed, “You’re wel­come,” as he turned away.

Belle gasped in the door­way, but in anoth­er heart­beat Lukas was gone and now cer­tain­ly wasn’t the time to ask. But Belle closed the door with her mind churn­ing. How could Lukas know the sign lan­guage of the cas­tle if he’d nev­er been there?

We need to fin­ish this let­ter, Belle!” Sif said from the bed where the ladies had gath­ered around brunch. “And we’ve final­ly picked out the dress you should wear today for the for­mal proposal.”

Belle let Sif guide the rest of the morn­ing as she puz­zled over the secrets Lukas held. She dressed as she was told and fin­ished the let­ter with care­ful script, cer­tain that Gaston would need one of his men to read it to him.

She’d done what she could for now. She had to trust in Lukas and Lumière to do their part next.