A Hansel and Gretel Story
BOOK 3 in The Fairytale Quartet
Contemporary Adult Romance
Orginally published September 2019
106,700 words, 380 pages
3-Flame Sensuality Rating
Gretel, er, I mean, Gabriella Salazar finds temptation and desperation to be too great and breaks into a wicked witch's--uh, that is--a pretentious, rich woman's condo, only to discover she's not the only one with a B & E fetish. The twist is that the mysterious, handsome Hansel to her Gretel who has also stolen into the same apartment is anything but brotherly, and the two strangers find themselves lip-locked before the evening is over. Now Gabby and her new, aggravating accomplice must get crafty and work together to free themselves and everyone they hold dear from a mad woman's clutches.
But breaking and entering never ends with a happily ever after. Right?
TWENTY YEARS AGO
"Watch it, Broderick! You're spilling them everywhere."
At my mother's sharp voice, I lifted my attention from the Game Boy I'd been playing to find her swiping a super-sized bag of Skittles from my little brother. "God, you are such a mess."
Brick hung his head glumly, mumbling, "Sorry," as she jerked him around until he was facing away from her so she could unzip the backpack he was wearing and cram the Skittles inside, out of his reach.
Then she huffed impatiently and started away from us, snapping, "Well, come on. At this rate, the shopping center will close by the time we get there." Brick dutifully shuffled after her, and I filed in behind him, returning my attention to my game. It was easy to keep track of him out of my peripheral vision; he wore a bright orange shirt and had Bart Simpson on his book bag. So I was able to beat a new record and advance a level without paying attention to where we were going, even though the foreign country we were in had some pretty cool sites.
Mother had decided to come to Monte Carlo to recuperate after breaking up with her last boyfriend. Turns out, he was already married, which hadn't settled well with her.
The last thing she'd planned to do was bring Brick and me along on her recovery getaway. But Greta, our housekeeper, had also needed to take time off at the last minute because her husband had gotten into a car accident and was in the hospital, so she hadn't been able to stay with Brick and me, which pretty much forced Mother into dragging us with her.
The city wasn't exactly kid-friendly. I'd read the pamphlets they had sitting out at the place where we were staying. They were all about car racing, gambling, boxing, and Mother's reason for coming: Le Metropole Shopping Center.
"Do they have a candy store at the mall?" Brick asked, shading his eyes from the setting sun so he could peer down into the lower courtyard that housed the entrance of the Metropole.
"No, they--" She turned to us, only to stop talking abruptly and blink as if she'd never laid eyes on her two sons before.
"What about a food court?" Brick persisted, rubbing his stomach.
I swear, all he ever thought about was food.
"You know what," Mother murmured, her lips twitching with that fake smile she always flashed when she was about to lie. "I just remembered. You need to order tickets in advance to get into the Metropole, and I didn't plan on bringing you boys along, so you're going to have to wait out here."
I'm not sure which part of that was the lie, but there was definitely one in there somewhere.
I narrowed my eyes at her stonily, not amused by this turn of events. Even if I did have a game to keep me occupied, Brick didn't. He'd forgotten his Game Boy at home. He was going to be bored out of his mind sitting here waiting, and I'd be the one stuck listening to him whine.
I opened my mouth to argue my case, maybe even beg if necessary, but Mother was already waving her fingers at us over her shoulder. "I won't be gone long. There's a bench right over there. I'll meet you at it when I'm done."
And she hurried away, stepping onto an escalator that lowered her toward the entrance.
"Can you get me another bag of Skittles while you're in there?" Brick called after her.
She made no sign of hearing him at all.
I rolled my eyes. "I doubt they have any Skittles in this country."
I wasn't even sure which country it was. Malta or Morocco or something. Maybe Monaco. I was almost positive it started with an M and that we'd had to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to get here. Whatever it was, it didn't look like a Skittles kind of country.
Huffing out a depressed breath, Brick slumped his shoulders and mumbled, "I knew I should've brought my entire candy stash from home. I'll probably finish this bag before she gets back."
He slung his backpack off his shoulders as he moved toward the bench where we were supposed to wait.
I watched our mother disappear inside, wondering how long not-long-at-all was going to take. The battery light on my Game Boy was already red.
"Dammit," Brick muttered as he dug inside his bag.
"Don't cuss," I said without any heat as I plopped onto the bench next to him and got comfortable.
He ignored me, wailing a panicked, "Nooo," as he frantically searched his bag.
"What?" I asked as he pulled up a crumpled Skittles bag that looked a lot thinner than it'd been when Mother had shoved it in there.
"All my Skittles fell out of their bag, and fuck, there's a hole in the bottom of my backpack."
His snack was gone.
The horror on his face was so priceless I had to laugh. "Whoops," I said. "Sucks to be you." With a satisfied sigh, I leaned back against the bench's backrest and logged back into my game.
A second later, Brick nudged my leg. "Hey. Did you bring anything to eat?"
"Nope." I had a Snickers stashed in my pocket for later.
"Damn," he breathed under his breath.
"Language," I sang as I powered up with a mushroom.