Well, here's some of the work I've been doing. This scene is somewhere in the early chapters of the current manuscript. I am still trying to decide if it should be the opening scene or not.
Her hand rested against the rough, lumpy bark of one of the tall trees in front of her. In the quiet guise of the neighboring forest, the gateway to forbidden adventure beckoned only a few steps away. Trying to muster the courage to push forward, She stared hard at the shadowy undergrowth. She glanced back over her shoulder for the fifth time. He’s still asleep. Now’s my chance. I’ve got to go now, or he’ll stop me. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and put one foot forward, crossing the line between the known and the unknown.
A breeze wafted through the shade and chilled her bare arms. Her eyes opened, expecting to see some kind of miraculous transformation, but it looked exactly as it had when she stood on the other side of the tree. Her shoulders slumped. Silence pounded at her ears. The crack of a branch as she stepped on it seemed deafening.
Each step stirred up the musty aroma of decaying leaves on the perpetually damp ground. The hem of her skirts clung damply to her legs as she pushed her way further into the deepening shadows, passing bushes and roots that grabbed at her hands and feet. A skittering sound in the bushes made her stop in her tracks. A small gray squirrel broke from the cover, surprised to no longer be alone in the woods. She heaved a sigh of relief at the retreating back of the little animal and laughed at herself before setting off into the gloom again.
Her footsteps echoed against the gnarled trunks of the enormous oak trees as she weaved between them. She kept her eyes on the ground to avoid tripping over the roots and deadfall that hid beneath the bushes. She was so intent on her own progress that the sound of her passage masked the approaching footfalls behind her. A hand grabbed her shoulder, spinning her around, and she stifled a scream.
“Dawn! What are you doing in here? Do you realize how much trouble you’ll be in if I tell your parents?” Her eyes met the glowering face of her tutor, Master Thaddeus. His grip on her shoulder relaxed slightly. “What in heaven’s name made you sneak off like that?”
“Oh, Master Thaddeus. It’s you.” Her features betrayed the disappointment she felt at being caught out in the woods. “I was just doing some exploring.”
“Running away is more likely the case. What were hoping to accomplish?” Thaddeus asked.
“I thought I might meet the fairy,” Beauty said. She folded her arms across her chest, instantly defiant at his protective grasp on her shoulder. “Why does it matter to you?”
“You know I would be devastated if you left. Who would listen to the lessons I so painstakingly prepare? And your parents would be absolutely furious with me if I didn’t stop you. Let’s go back to the house now. I just can’t trust you out of my sight.”
“But, the fairy! I know I could have met her if you hadn’t stopped me just now. She’s just around the corner and I could finally know how to break this curse!” She pushed against the firm grip of his hand as he steered her back toward the open field she had walked through.
“Dawn, the fairy has been gone for years now. Every since that monster showed up in the woods.”
“Monster? What monster? There’s a monster in here?” A sudden, delicious fear filled her. “Do you think I would have seen him instead?”
“I forgot that your parents have forbidden us from talking about that. Forgive me. Let’s go, Dawn.” He dropped his hand to her waist and pushed her in front of him. “We need to go back to the study and finish your lessons for the day.”
“Do you have to call me Dawn? Nana calls me Beauty and I love it.”
“Your name is Dawn. That is what your parents call you. I will continue to call you Dawn, as well. Now, go!”