The sweet scent of roses mingled with the crisp morning air as Beauty skipped down a narrow path around the sparkling lake. A slight breeze produced a few ripples on the surface of the water and caressed the young girl’s rosy cheeks.
The girl paused and turned around to face the dark gray mansion behind her. She grinned, then sprinted toward the handsome woman calling to her.
“You look quite refreshed, darling,” the woman laughed, brushing a stray lock of dark brown hair behind her ear.
“It is so beautiful this morning, mother! The birds have been singing to me for hours and the flowers are perfect for a bouquet,” Beauty rushed, her eyes twinkling. “Have you ever seen a morning more exquisite than this?”
“Exquisite? And which book did you learn that word from?” her mother asked in amusement.
“The book Father gave me before he left on his trip, An Exquisite Day in Paradise. It’s a murder mystery!”
Frowning, Beauty’s mother shook her head. “Why do you not read normal books about love, like your sisters do?”
Beauty wrinkled her nose. “Love is boring. Mysteries are exciting. Father says that romance books do not teach anything useful.”
“Speaking of your father, he just arrived and would like to see you.”
“He did?” Beauty squealed, her face flushing with excitement as she presented a handful of colorful wild flowers neatly arranged in her tiny hands. “May I take him these flowers?”
Beauty tilted her head and stared up at her mother. The former elegance of the woman began to fade as her face paled and she began to shake.
“Mother? Mother, what’s wrong?”
“Bea…uty…” her mother murmured quietly, then her body vanished into thin air.