Once Upon a Marriage
Retelling The Three Army Surgeons
By Sara Daniel
My favorite school assignment ever was modernizing and retelling a fairy tale (sophomore English – Aced it AND got extra credit – Thanks Ms. Seckler!), so when Decadent Publishing put out the call for a retelling of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale, my hand immediately shot in the air. I was given The Three Army Surgeons, an obscure, somewhat gruesome story that was definitely not a romance. (Read it here.)
At the beginning of the initial brainstorming, I thought, “You have got to be kidding me. What I have I gotten myself into?” But then I plunged in. Before long, I was giggling as I typed because Once Upon a Marriage was SO MUCH FUN to write. Yep, favorite assignment ever!
Time is running out for Armina Keer to have the baby she’s always wanted. Before she can move on with her life, she needs her estranged husband to sign their divorce papers. When she can’t get him to respond, her meddling uncles arrange for a trip to his inn. Despite vowing to guard her broken heart, she has to settle the past before she can have a future.
Ian Keer might not deserve a second chance with his wife, but he’s not going to give up one either, not with the immediate flaming attraction still between them. While her uncles’ antics wreak havoc on life at The Inn, he offers her the ultimate gamble: Spend the night with him, and afterwards he’ll sign the papers if she still wants to leave.
With everything riding on one night together, Ian must convince her that their love is strong enough the second time around, and Armina must decide if love is worth sacrificing her dreams.
“You hate me,” Ian whispered, feeling more nauseous than if he’d ingested a prosthetic eyeball. How could she not hate him when she believed their personal relationship had meant less to him than an employment issue?
Armina gazed beyond his left shoulder. “I don’t hate you. I’ve never hated you. When we got married, I understood you had a strong work ethic combined with an unusual drive to succeed and a consuming passion for the Inn. I knew I’d come in second to this place.”
He opened his mouth, wanting to argue, but couldn’t. If she’d made him choose, he wouldn’t have picked her.
“I thought I was okay with it,” she continued. “After all, I loved the Inn, too, and wanted you to realize your vision for it. Turns out I wasn’t okay. I didn’t realize how distant second place actually was.” She shrugged her slim shoulders. “Live and learn, right?”
Not right. He wanted to take back the lesson and teach her about real love instead. “You never should have had to settle for second place. With me or with anyone else. No one has the right to ask that of you.”
“Agreed.” Her voice came out stronger, her shoulders squared, and she looked him directly in the eye. “Now you understand why I want a divorce.”
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