In the Beginning...
This story is a continuation of my first book, The Reality of Fairy Tales. That book got its start right here on FictionPress in 2003. Of course since its publication I've had to take it down, which brings me to this preface to the preface. KLL doesn't allow me to offer the first book in digital form, anywhere, for any reason unless it is through them. Therefore if you want to read this story but never read the first book when it was here (and you don't have Amazon Prime for the Kindle Lending Library), it could be a little confusing. The first story was a 180,000+ monstrosity, because there was a lot of introduction I had to make to these characters. Lucky for me, KLL places no restriction on giving a digital synopsis of the first book. So here's what you need to know about the first book, the original fairy tale if you will, before you start reading The Reality of Happily Ever After. For one, there's the characters:
Devon Dunn – He's the youngest of eight, with six older brothers (Gregory IV, Nathaniel, Vernon, Ethan, Bradley, Robert) and a twin sister (Marjorie). His father, Gregory Dunn III ran one of the largest and most successful pharmaceutical empires in the world. He's our fairy tale's classic prince. He's rich, handsome, brilliant, British-American, and something of a playboy in the first book. His moral compass doesn't quite run true North. He's bred for business but loves to teach, and he pursued dual PhDs in Economics and Education. Like all men in his family, he's supposed to do two things: help run the family business and marry a very specific type of woman chosen for him to strengthen the family's wealth and stature while protecting their own.
Chastane McAllen-Darborough Dunn – Chase for short, her last name(s) are a good summary of her evolution in the first book. She the only daughter of a single mother, comes from fairly modest means, and had almost no relationship with her father before his death, save for a brief two year time as a teenager that ended disastrously. She learns later that her father is in fact from a wealthy and powerful real-estate empire, that she had been an integral piece of a larger plan to carry on that line. And as fate would have it, she was, at one time, supposed to do that with Gregory the Third's youngest son even though she had never met him.
There are several others from the first book that reappear in this one: Marjorie, of course. Eva, Chase's old college roommate and snarky friend. Brian, once Devon's best friend until they learned he'd been spying for the Dunn family to keep Devon in line. Gregory IV (called Greg usually) and a couple of Devon's other brothers here and there. Robert makes a cameo of sorts, although he is still one of the more pivotal characters in both books. Then there's Rose. In the first book her role is as both business associate and assistant for the Dunn family, ending with Devon. But there's a connection with Chase as well.
This story is also written under the assumption that you know the general timeline of events in the first book. So these are the highlights:
(Past) At eighteen, Devon is told he will marry Kenneth Darborough's only daughter, however he is allowed to do as he pleases until the wedding, which is scheduled to happen in six years.
(Past) At twelve, Chastane's father has made a deal with the Dunn family to combine their empires through the marriage of the only available children either still have. Chase's mother agrees only because a) she can't afford not to, and b) it is agreed Chase won't even meet her husband-to-be until she's sixteen. But since she has to start learning her new place in general, a proxy of sorts is chosen to teach her what she'll need to know, without actually letting her know.
(Past) Devon's brother Robert is chosen. Two years later Robert blows the deal in grand fashion when Chase is fourteen by getting her pregnant. To cover it up, he tries to have her killed and make it look like an illegal abortion. The murder attempt is unsuccessful, and the betrothal is called off. At this point, Devon and Chase have never met, and are not supposed to.
Fast forward six years: Devon is finishing grad school, and Chase is an undergrad at the same university. By coincidence Devon and Chase do meet, completely unaware of any connection they may have had to one another. (I wish I could uncliche the rest, but in this format it's impossible.)
They become friends, then lovers. And then Devon is told his time's up; it's time to get married and get on board with the business. Chase thinks their relationship is over. Until the Dunn family learn that the last eligible Darborough heir has reappeared. So naturally, they want Devon to carry out what they started years earlier.
Chase learns early on that Devon and Robert are related, but knows nothing else. When Devon learns that Chase, unlike him, has no idea of the earlier plans, he decides to try to have the marriage he wants and is being forced to have all at the same time. Loving marriages are frowned upon in the Dunn family, as they are considered a weakness. So Devon chooses not to tell Chase anything and spin the whole thing for his own family.
Chase does inherit a portion of the Darborough fortune, shooting her into a whole new lifestyle. All the while Devon and Chase are in love and even elope before Chase finally learns about everything that was planned. As Devon's family realizes what he's tried to do, they once again make a move to force Devon into a new arrangement, not knowing that the couple is already married.
Robert, on his father's order, makes another attempt on Chase's life to rectify the problem. As a result, Devon almost beats his brother to death and basically crushes the former power pyramid from the top down.
That basically ends Devon and Chase's fairy tale. In the epilogue, the last of several journal entries Chase makes throughout the first book, she states her intent on living that happily ever after. And she notes that the actual reality of that happily ever after is another story entirely.
This story is that continuation, set ten years after the entry mentioned above. And indeed, it is a very different type of fairy tale, even a different kind of love story, that the first. After much debate, I decided it really belongs in its first-worst form on FictionPress. Because that's where it started, and I think that's where it should end.