Fire and Ice Young Adult and New Adult Books

An End of Ever After Novel

Beautiful To Me

by E. L. Tenenbaum



"Beautiful To Me" by E. L. Tenenbaum Princess Sienna is the most beautiful, the most charming, the most beloved of King Trident's daughters in the enchanted underwater kingdom. Not much is denied her, and all of Merdom favors her.

Then a few days after her fifteenth birthday, Sienna does the unthinkable. She makes a bargain with the sea witch to trade her tongue and tail for a pair of legs and a chance to live a human life. Stung by her betrayal, Merdom turns its back on her.

Having grown up in Sienna's shadow at court, Ariel is used to being unnoticed. So when the sea witch specifically asks her to go after Sienna and convince her to return home, Ariel is under no illusions; she is expendable. Still, out of obligation to her king and kingdom, she goes, thinking to slip in and out unnoticed as always.

The moment she sets foot on land, however, everything changes.

Beautiful To Me is the third installment in the End of Ever After companion series that rewrites classic tales of happily ever after.


 

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Teens / New Adult


End of Ever After

 

Once upon a time, I would not have found wonder in an idyllic snowcapped mountain range or beauty in the colors of the sky watching the sun set from land.

For I once lived in the enchanted kingdom of the sea where the sand glistens a deep cobalt blue and the surface most often ripples from flying fish and leaping dolphins. Though all waters are his domain and all creatures who dwell therein his subjects, there is a center of the underwater world where the Sea King built the castle he calls home.

Tales passed down through generations on land have tried to describe it, a silly notion at best as no human eye has ever seen it. None have seen the height of the coral walls, the tall amber windows, the glittering clamshells that open with the undulation of the waves above to spare a tantalizing glimpse of a luminescent pearl before snapping shut again. None have seen the vibrant colors of the ocean floor, the blue tinging golden-yellow tails a greenish hue, where the boldest and brightest of soft coral sway among a dazzling array of passing schools of fish. None have set sight on the rainbow of merfolk who sing and dance, celebrate and thrive, deep within the sea.

None, that is, but me. And though I have not seen my true home for so very long a while, I picture it clearly still. The heart, it would seem, does not always forget.

It’s been almost three hundred years, and though the ruling member of my human family may visit me once or twice a year, though I’ve traveled around the world and then some, it is a long time to be alone. One family of servants tends me, the secret of my life and identity passed from mother to daughter until the day I no longer need their care. As far as most others know, I’m already resting for eternity beside my husband instead of living in a small cottage nestled in the rocky cliffs washed by towering waves early each morning. Through the backdoor is a staircase that steps straight into the sea, much like the one that adorned the terrace of a palace I once called home.

My days are almost at an end; I know because of how the sea now calls to me. In every sunrise, the splash of the waves hints at the day I will leave the shore with them, when I will become part of them. In the moonlight, the shimmering of the water beckons me home, my true home, that wonderful, magical kingdom in the sea.

Before I answer its call, however, I am compelled to leave an account of my time on land, to honestly tell of how I went from an overlooked mermaid in the castle of the Sea King to the queen of a prosperous maritime kingdom. Claims need to be addressed, rumors need be put to rest, and a truth needs to be told.

In close to three centuries, I have heard many versions of the story about a young mermaid, a girl who wanted so much to be human, to have an immortal soul, she traded her tongue for a pair of human legs and the chance to live a human life. Over the years, the endings have varied. Some say she threw herself into the ocean and became part of the sea, others insist she still lives as a Daughter of the Air—a faery—and recently a new thought believes she gained her happily ever after in marriage to her beloved prince.

None of those versions is accurate. Time and telling have twisted the truth, warping it to create something pretty but almost unrecognizable to the people who lived through it, especially because very few would have admitted to believing in mermaids then, certainly not as the two young foundlings living in the palace.

I know because I was one of them.

So before I leave this earth, I will set everything down as best I can, well as I can remember it. Not just for me, for her, too.

The other mermaid. The one who died. The princess. Sienna.

But to tell her story, and consequently mine as well, some things need be known to understand what occurred.

To start, Sienna was the youngest of the Sea King’s six daughters. She had long flaming red hair, bright blue eyes, and an enviable figure. Everyone she met thought her the most beautiful creature they’d ever seen. Everyone was right.

Next, the sea witch was never killed, but lives still, happily I presume, in her lair tucked into the shadows of the ocean. She isn’t called witch to her face, but by her given name, Tatiana. She has an important role in the enchanted kingdom, maintaining a significant balance of power as the night to King Trident’s day, the dark to King Trident’s light. She is not a cruel woman, but her blunt honesty and shrewd mind make her cold.

Plus, Sienna struck a bargain with the sea witch to become human in hopes of winning a prince’s heart, just as he’d accidentally won hers so completely the moment she spotted him on his ship. It didn’t end well for her. The prince fell in love with and married another woman, the one who saved him from drowning that infamously fateful night.

In short, my name is Ariel, and I was that other woman.