The Modern Fairy Tale Collection

By: Aria Cole

For all those girls who dreamed about Fairy Tales but became women who slayed their own dragons. This one is for you.





Part I





BLACK - A Modern Retelling of Beauty and the Beast





A beast, alone with the horrors of his past, the scar on his face a constant reminder of the man he’s become.

A beauty, on the run with her life in a tailspin, finds herself on his doorstep seeking protection.



Deeply misunderstood and dedicated to his life of brooding solitude, Maxwell Black is hesitant to let Elle McKellan into his home where his hideous secrets hide. But he’s unable to resist the allure of this desperate stranger.

Soon the magnetism between them is undeniable, the temptation unbearable. Elle, reluctant to risk losing her heart to this dark and broken man, struggles against the sexual tension, only to surrender to the combustable heat between them.



When Elle’s life catches up to her and threatens to tear them apart, Maxwell will protect the precious love he’s found by any brutal means necessary.



✭ Black is a SAFE, sexy, insta-love spin on the Beauty and the Beast fairytale and is intended for mature audiences.





Chapter One





Maxwell





From a dark corner in the quaint library, I gazed out the crystalline windows, taking in the vibrant green of the town common and the gently lapping waves of the aqua lake beyond. The sparkle of sunlight highlighted each small crest before it kissed the shore and receded back again. My thoughts spun away as I watched, anxious as I hid away in this tiny upstate town, watching the world from a tiny library window.

I’d spent summers swimming in that lake—the two months of the year it was warm enough for swimming. I remembered the warmth of sunlight caressing my skin and sending jolts of vitamin D through my cells. Playing catch and running improvised bases in the town common as a boy—I remembered those days so fondly, but fear had strangled out pleasure these last few years and chained me like a beast.

I loved this library more than myself. My life was imprinted into the inky pages of these hardbacks. My heart came alive as I passed through the aisles, my fingers ghosting along the dusty covers. I liked being locked up here. At least most days.

Human contact was best kept at minimum; I’d quickly realized that. Sitting up here alone in my palace suited me. I paid the bag boy to deliver my food. I scheduled the mail to come directly to my steps instead of the post office box. I didn’t do gatherings, holidays were pointless as I didn’t have anyone to spend them with, and Sunday afternoons in the park existed in the far distant past.

I missed the sunlight on my skin, bronzing the body and easing the anxiety. But after that night—the night that changed my life and left me with so many scars, visible and internal—I hadn’t been able to step outside for fear of the shame. The ridicule. The flat-out gawking. Call it what you like, but I wasn’t one for subjecting myself to judgment, and the people in this town had stockpiles of it.

I might have grown up here, I might have been the town’s golden boy at one time, but I wasn’t one of them anymore.

Now I was the moody bastard who lived above the library and had a fucking panic attack every time I left my castle. Every time I descended those three steps, flashbacks overtook me, my heart raced and my palms tingled, and a sense of revenge so large it was nearly debilitating hit me. The only time I saw anyone was when they came into my library. I allowed people into my sanctuary in controlled doses, from nine to four each day and never on weekends. Small talk with the librarian was strongly discouraged.

Thankfully, I didn’t need to announce that last part. The scar did that for me.

I ran a finger across the worn copy of The Count of Monte Cristo I kept at my desk. Not a library book but mine. A treasured edition. Books were the only things that had been with me through it all. I’d never found solace in people; I’d found nothing but pain and betrayal and lies. Books provided shelter and support and encouragement.

Once in a great while, I allowed myself the privilege of sitting out on the small stoop of the library when the sun was shining brightly. I only could do so first thing in the morning, before the rest of the town awoke. But despite my disdain for people, I loved sharing books. Sharing the written word with people who could really feel a story and understand it, could sense the loss and blip of anxiety that shudders the heart when you close the pages on a favorite book—I wanted people to feel that.

I liked sharing the fantasy.

But was this my fantasy? My gaze crawled across the polished woodwork I’d sanded and stained tirelessly through the night to restore before I’d opened the place. The Spruce Lake Library was a dream come true, but I found myself craving more.

I hadn’t been on a date in years. What was the point? I’d have to hide too much of myself because baring my dark soul would surely send any woman running the other way.

But sometimes, on the nights when my thoughts overtook me, I dared to hope for someone to share my life with. I dreamed of a girl with eyes that sparkled, a laugh that made me weak in the knees, and a heart so big she could fit mine in it. Someone who could see past my moody, abrasive demeanor and the thousand quirks that made me a man unlike any other.

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