Chapter 5: Black Rose

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  • Scent Notes
    A vase full of blooming wild roses amid an impressive array of decadence: dark chocolate, vanilla bean, creamsicles, whisky and bourbon, and thickly cut, smoky bacon, all arranged in an old library in a dusty castle with wisps of patchouli in the air.
  • Description

      New to the story? Start with Chapter 1, Briar Rose, here.

      Catching up? Make sure you read Chapter 4, Blood Rose, here.

      Scent Notes: A vase full of blooming wild roses amid an impressive array of decadence: dark chocolate, vanilla bean, creamsicles, whisky and bourbon, and thickly cut, smoky bacon, all arranged in an old library in a dusty castle with wisps of patchouli in the air.

      Once upon a time, Snow White had reigned as queen for many years. She’d never been married, although she’d had a string of lovers, none had ever committed. What’s a queen without a king though? Historically speaking, more powerful and awesome, which is exactly what happened to Snow White. She had, though, successfully found seven brides for her seven brothers, and had a near-army of nieces and nephews who had grown up in the castle and she’d doted on as if they were her own.

      Everyone loved her as a queen. She was kind, patient, and a very good ruler. After all, she’d had to start running a house full of seven men from a very young age; running a country was not that different, after all. Make smart choices, be as just as you can, don’t take shit from anyone, and enjoy your life as much as you can. And a string of hot lovers; that helps a lot, she highly recommended that aspect of her life.

      She had always been a fan of good food, even when she had to cook it all herself. She longed to be back in the kitchen and to cook a meal from scratch; she did so occasionally. If she hadn’t been queen, she would have wanted to become a chef. The chopping of vegetables, the sourcing of ingredients, the complexity of salt with fat and acid cooked over heat was just intoxicating to her. Food is so delicious! Occasionally she did sneak down into the kitchen to prepare herself a scrumptious meal and feel like she accomplished something. Sure, running a successful country is an accomplishment, but it’s not something tangible, on a plate, that you made yourself and can then enjoy however you like.

      The one less-than-bright spot in her life was one of her guards. He’d been fostered in the castle, and was a son of a nearby powerful king. The young man had become a pawn in a particularly sticky trade negotiation, or she would have sent him home long ago. She’s not sure how he kept being assigned to her, as she specifically began requesting anyone but him, and yet, there he was almost every single day. He was probably a fine enough person, but he was nosy and invasive and always trying to ask her questions about food and her weight, as if that was any of his business.

      This morning, there he was, yet again, tasked with taking her breakfast order.

      “My queen, what would you like to eat this morning?”

      “Definitely coffee, please, and a very scrumptious breakfast sandwich: runny egg, thick bacon, caramelized onions, sharp cheddar cheese, and some arugula on whatever bread the baker has made freshest. And a side of potatoes, please. I had a long night.” She smiled and yawned, turning her face towards her bed, which until recently had been occupied by her and a few others. It was good to be queen.

      “That sounds like a heavy breakfast. Are you sure?”
      She arched an eyebrow. “Oh, I am absolutely certain.”

      “No oatmeal? No fruit cup? A healthy acai berry smoothie topped with granola and chia seeds?”

      “No, thank you. I know what I would like to eat, and I shall eat it if I want to.” He had been making these comments for weeks now, and the queen was starting to lose her cool. She knew she had to maintain her calm, or he would get a weird satisfaction out of seeing her aggravated by his words.

      He turned away to head to the kitchen. She could hear him muttering under his breath. She called for him to return.

      “You know, I have changed my mind. I’d also love a piece of rich, dark chocolate cake. There’s just something about having your cake and eating it too, isn’t there?” She smiled at him. He grimaced, and turned it into a strained smile. “Of course, your majesty.”

      While waiting for her breakfast, the queen did her morning yogalates workout. Say what you will about the gimmicky name, that shit was intense, and left her feeling rejuvenated and flexible. Once her workout was over, she sat at her table and awaited her glorious breakfast sandwich. It would taste so good after all the various types of working out she’d been doing. Not that she made exercise a Thing; she just always felt better when she did.

      Finally, the guard returned. She could almost smell the bacon … except, when he set the tray down in front of her, there was no bacon in sight. Instead there was a bowl filled with grey, unseasoned oatmeal, an acid-green colored smoothie, and an obnoxiously large bowl of fruit.

      Snow White stared at the tray. “What the hell is this?” she asked, looking pointedly at the guard.

      “Well, my queen, I’m just worried about your health, and I want to make sure you can continue to fit into your gowns. I’m just very concerned about your well-being; you are the queen! You need to live as long as possible,” he stuttered, getting less and less confident as he continued speaking.

      Snow White was pissed. No, she was more than pissed; she was absolutely livid.

      “My good guard, what did you eat for breakfast today?”

      “Me? What did *I* eat?”

      “Why, yes! If you are so concerned about my health, I’d love to know about your diet. Clearly it must be incredibly nutritious and delicious. Please tell me what you ate for breakfast.”

      “I, uh, I had a double sausage patty sandwich with extra cheddar cheese from McFarmer’s that I grabbed on my way into the castle this morning.”

      “Oh. So you are clearly very health-conscious. My goodness. I’m so sorry to have doubted your commitment to fitness. Please, you need this oatmeal far more than I do. Go ahead; sit and eat.” She got up from her chair and beckoned for him to sit down.

      “My queen, oh, no, I couldn’t!”

      “No, sir, I insist! Please. You are adamant about the benefits of a healthy breakfast; please, eat it.”

      The other guard by the chamber door began to snicker. The queen smiled at him. The other guard kept on stammering about how there’s no way he could eat that himself, he was just concerned, he was trying to help her….

      “Well, dear guard, as your queen, I’m afraid I must order you to eat this food.”

      “Please, no, I can’t. It’s so … boring.”

      A question popped into the queen’s head. “Sir guard, do you have a wife? Any daughters?”

      “Yes, I love my wife and three beautiful daughters. I am very lucky,” he stammered.

      “And tell me, do you make them eat this kind of food while you grab meals on the go from McFarmer’s?”

      “... Only for their health! I know they’d rather I bring home the bacon, but turkey bacon is just as good, right? Isn’t it? I’ve never actually eaten it but it’s probably the same!”

      Snow White smiled; a real, genuine smile. “Okay, you don’t have to eat this.”

      His face relaxed. She understood! Oh, how wrong he was.

      She looked at the guard at the door and nodded. He nodded in return, came over, and grabbed his coworker. “It’s time.”

      “Time? Time for what?!”

      Snow White laughed. “Well, I am a bit concerned that you won’t fit inside the stocks, but, that’s not gonna stop me from putting you there!”

      And she did. The guard was placed in the stocks for three days, being fed nothing but gruel, often directly by the queen herself, who liked to employ the classic airplane technique, perfected after years of feeding young nieces and nephews. The whole town gathered to pelt him with fresh berries and pour green juice on his head, including his own wife and daughters, who felt it was only fair after all the crap he’d given them for years about their weights and diets. The queen invited them to stay at the castle while he was in the stocks, and each night, she herself prepared glorious feasts for them all to enjoy. Yes, indeed, it was good to be the queen.

      Keep the story going with Chapter 6, Steel Rose, here.

      Want to see the entire Steel Roses anthology? Check it out here!

      Scent Notes: A vase full of blooming wild roses amid an impressive array of decadence: dark chocolate, vanilla bean, creamsicles, whisky and bourbon, and thickly cut, smoky bacon, all arranged in an old library in a dusty castle with wisps of patchouli in the air.

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