Title: Beastly Manor
Author: Alex Hall
Genre: LGBT Fantasy
Once upon a time in a faraway land a very wealthy merchant lived on a good piece of land just west of the hamlet we now call Littleton. The merchant was blessed with luck and guile, strong bones and sharp eyes, a pretty wife of gentle spirit, and four healthy children whom he called Faith, Hope, Beauty, and Corbin.
An LGBT twist on the classic love story.
Alex Hall writes LGBT speculative fiction for Madison Place Press. Find out more about Alex, Beastly Manor, and Alex's forthcoming dystopian M/M romance, The Stranded, at www.sarahremy.com
Once upon a time in faraway land a very wealthy merchant lived on a good piece of property just west of the hamlet we now call Littleton. The merchant was blessed with luck and guile, strong bones and sharp eyes, a pretty wife who had both wit and a gentle spirit, and four healthy children. He was called Jean de Beaumont, after his father and his grandfather both. His wife liked to call him ‘Roux’ for the color of his hair. To his three daughters the merchant was always ‘Papa’, but his eldest child and only son always called him simply ‘Da’.
Like many of the tenant farmers subsisting on squares of land just outside Littleton proper, de Beaumont dedicated his time and talents to the making of good cheeses. The native soil was made rich with salt from the nearby sea, and that fragrant earth produced a grass greener than the king’s most rare verdigris dyes. Black and white cattle grew fat in the fields. Their milk was thick and sweet, suitable for drinking straight from the pail, or churning into butter. More importantly, this milk was the very key to the family’s survival, for de Beaumont poured it into great bowls and set it aside to curdle before molding. The milk turned into cheese, the cheese now called Camembert.
Camembert was not so rare around Littleton. But de Beaumont, being a clever man with a head for experimentation, began to add an extra ingredient to the cheese: a special brandy his wife made from the apples collected from the trees growing wild amongst the hedges. Only she knew how to correctly prepare the brandy, and only de Beaumont knew when to add the sweet-smelling liquor between curdling and molding, and then again before he sealed the cheeses in wooden boxes and set them aside again to age. The recipe was a family secret kept only in de Beaumonts’s head. As word of the unusual and delicious Camembert spread so did demand, but de Beaumont was canny and never increased production. He raised the price for a wheel. His fortune was made in a matter of years, while Corbin was still a babe not yet out of his cot.
They say there are still wheels of de Beaumont Camembert laid aside in the king’s cellars, held back for a special occasion. If this is true the king is a very lucky man, as by all accounts de Beaumont’s special cheese exists nowhere else. It is possible the merchant meant to teach Corbin the recipe once the child came of age, so that as heir he could pass the secret on through the generations, ensuring the family’s continued fortune. But God plays tricks on a man, gives with the right hand and takes with the left, and like de Beaumont’s pretty little farm and charming family, that magical strain of Camembert is nothing more than a distant memory, a lingering taste on the tongue of good fortune, a fleeting recollection of pleasure.