Black as Night: A Fairy Tale Retold

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Books by Regina Doman

The Fairy Tale Novels

The Shadow of the Bear: A Fairy Tale Retold
Black as Night: A Fairy Tale Retold

Waking Rose: A Fairy Tale Retold

The Midnight Dancers: A Fairy Tale Retold

Alex O’Donnell and the Forty Cyber-thieves

For children:

Angel in the Waters

 

Edited by Regina Doman:

Catholic, Reluctantly: John Paul 2 High Book One

Trespasses Against Us: John Paul 2 High Book Two

Summer of My Dissent: John Paul 2 High Book Two

By Christian M. Frank

Awakening: A Crossroads in Time Book

By Claudia Cangilla McAdam

Text copyright 2004 by Regina Doman

Originally published by Bethlehem Books, Bathgate, North Dakota in 2004

Revised paperback edition copyright 2007 by Regina Doman

Interior artwork copyright 2007 by Joan Coppa Drennen

2007 cover design by Regina Doman

All rights reserved.

You Take My Breath Away

Words and Music by Claire Hamill

Copyright © 1975 by DECOY MUSIC LTD.

Copyright Renewed

All Rights Controlled and Administered by UNIVERSAL-POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING, INC.

All Rights Reserved    Used by Permission

Reprinted by permission of Hal Leonard Corporation

Chesterton Press

P.O. Box 949

Front Royal, Virginia

www.fairytalenovels.com

www.reginadoman.com

Summary: Over the summer in New York City, seven friars who work with the homeless find a runaway girl named Nora, while Bear Denniston searches for his missing girlfriend, Blanche, in a suspenseful retelling of the Snow White story.

ISBN: 978-0-9819-3182-1

Printed in the United States of America

This one’s for the boys–

my brothers, my brothers-in-law,

my friends, my cousins,

my husband, my sons.

 

To all you members of the male gender

who have been my friends,

brothers, and comrades throughout my life,

I dedicate this book in particular gratitude,

with thanksgiving to the Father who made you,

 

and to all those boys

trying to survive the streets of New York City,

some of whom I knew for a brief time,

 

and of course,

to the Friars.

Chapter One

It was night.

In most places, Night is a time for sleep, calm, and mystery. But not  in New York City.

In the tangled thicket of the urban landscape, millions of streetlights, arcade signs, neon tubes, and incandescent bulbs conspired every evening to murder the night, shedding their unearthly glow. The glow grew stronger as Night slipped in with her gray wool cloak and dropped it softly over the streets and subways.

The subway train rushed through the hot summer night like a sleepless dragon bellowing and hurtling along its metal track towards West 55
th
Street in the Bronx. Two youths slipped like phantoms from car to car, casing each jointed metal compartment for easy cash.

The older, fair-haired one first noticed the girl through the door window in the swaying car ahead. She looked lost, frozen. She didn’t see the two vicious denizens of the Night, but they saw her—and they saw the purse clutched tightly in her lap.

This was it. This girl with her short, ragged, black hair, white skin, and eyes red from crying was their hit. She was alone in the car, staring at the floor, apparently not aware of anything around her. It was after three in the morning. As if on cue, the boys both checked over their shoulders to see if they were watched, grinned at each other and pushed through the separating door.

She looked up when they came in and she saw. At once. What they intended to do.

Her cry of surprise and fear was lost as the rocking car made a rough and deafening turn on the tracks. She stumbled to her feet, prepared to run. But there was nowhere to go.

It was too easy. They were fifteen and nineteen years old, and used to violence. The bleach-blond nineteen-year-old shoved her onto the car’s dirty linoleum floor. She fell, her pale yellow flowered print dress splatting under her like a smashed flower. The younger, bigger one, with the earring, grabbed her bag.

The girl didn’t seem to care. She scrambled to her feet, resurrecting quickly and silently, and jumped for the emergency cord. He lunged after her and knocked her against the seats. A wail and moaning seemed to break forth from the beast’s belly, as the tunnel walls suddenly widened out. The girl screamed and shoved him away from her. He fell onto the seats and banged his head against the edge.

It was time to move. The train was coming to a halt, a station careened towards them. The bigger boy stuffed the purse inside his light jacket and burst through the doors as they opened. He leapt to the deserted platform, a slab of concrete in a burned-out neighborhood. The fair-haired boy was still staggering to get to his feet, furious. The girl dodged around him, and ran out of the dragon’s belly, an escaping yellow flame. Surprisingly, she didn’t stop to call for help. She just ran.

That was odd. Cursing, the fair-haired one regained his feet, looked after her and felt his blood stir to the chase. He sped across the platform after the fleeing form of the girl.

Greasy streetlights looming above in the humid night. Trash crushed in all the crevices of the broken concrete. No one around in the artificial light pools. Nocturnal creatures or nocturnal scavengers moving from shadow to shadow. A bleach-blond boy easily trailing a yellow cowslip girl, whose footsteps hammered to the beat of the cacophony of hidden nightlife, looking for someplace to hide.

His big pal joined him from out of a narrow alley, grabbing at his arm. “What’re you doing?” he hissed, jogging to keep up with the other’s smooth lope.

 The fair one didn’t even bother to answer, his eyes fixed on his prey. The girl had paused at a corner and looked around, breathing hard. She saw them, and darted down another street.

“She’s not from this part of town. She’s gotta be lost. She can’t go anywhere,” the fair one said, by way of explanation. He ran on, pulse racing. His companion followed.

Down beneath the train tracks, the dragon’s skeletal feet, she ran, crossing a street, in and out of crosshatched shadows. Past a string of closed and barred and spray-painted stores—pawnshops, long-distance phone places, drug stores—

She had to be slowing down soon, the fair one figured. Soon she would be too disoriented and too beat to go much further…

Unexpectedly she halted and took off in a new direction, as though inspired.

They could see the girl was staggering now. A faint flickering figure with not much left in her... The two boys ran on, feeling sure that they were closing in. They wore sneakers, were used to racing for their lives.

 Then the fair boy saw the church. It loomed in front of them, a gray-slabbed old mausoleum of heavy oak doors and a huge round window like a black spoked wheel that seemed to float ominously above their heads. The fair boy actually paused, but his pal, now intent on their goal, jerked him onward.

Ahead, the girl was running, stumbling, yanking at the neckline of her dress. She was hurrying up the steps; she was jamming something into the lock...

The fair one had seen that move before, a lady they had mugged shoving her car keys into the lock of her car, leaping in to make an escape…But this was a
church
, he thought. What sort of girl kept keys to a church?

Incredulous, the boys watched the door open, swallow the yellow and white and black figure, and close, like a mouth obstinately shut.

Cursing out of sheer disbelief, the boys jumped up the steps and seized the door handles. Locked. Neither door would budge.

“She’s gone.”

They hardly knew which had spoken. It was like a drug haze. Around them, the City continued in its dead sounds of machines and boom-box music sliding in and out of the streets, in and out of consciousness.

The bleach blond stared and finally turned to his friend. “Did we just follow a girl out here?”

“We swiped her purse.” He tugged at the zipper of his jacket.

The church stood silent before them, betraying no secrets. No echo issued from beyond its walls.

At last, the older boy shook his head. “Some kind of weird. Like it never happened.”

“But it did. Lookit!” the big boy had fished out the purse, unzipped it, and thrust it at his older companion.

A mass of hundred dollar bills stared out at them. Gingerly, the fair-headed boy touched one as though it were enchanted. But it was real, thick green and white paper beneath his fingers. This was something they understood.

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