When I came up with The Flash Fiction Ponder’s slogan “Quick Stories Of Substance, For When Life Has You On Standby” I had no idea three and a half years later the modern world would actually be on a standby like never before.
As we all patiently sit back and wait for things to get better my son and I wanted to offer you one of our most popular books as a free read, to help get your mind off the crisis for awhile. And so we will be posting our critically-acclaimed novella, ‘The Maiden of Monaco’, one chapter every twelve hours, with of course continuing the stories of substance we are known for once the whole book has been posted.
(Don’t let the word Romance in the following review
scare you off.
this book has a lot of elements to it.)
“A wonderful novella!
and structured perfectly.
Absolutely loved it!”
-The Romance Radio Network
We’re happy to be here for you during these times of isolation. Thankfully we still have a way to stay connected, so let’s do so~
Copyright 2020 Rico Lamoureux
CHRISTOPHE had never seen Le Palais de la Cite covered in snow before, as he had only been supplying pinot grapes to the royal palace for a couple of months. This was the winter’s first snowfall, and the virgin white blanketed the estate in such a way that it was as if he were entering a fairytale.
The Cistercian monastery which grew the fresh fruit was usually an hour’s journey from the palace, but with the change in weather it had taken twice as long and with twice the care to transport the precious cargo. This would mean Christophe’s monthly visits to his hometown some two hundred miles away would now take a month of travel just to get there.
Perhaps he could persuade Father Ramsey to keep him at the capital’s abbey until the coming of spring. After all, the new vineyard Christophe had begun growing here over a year ago was now flourishing, with the cuttings he had brought back from his home region of Bourgogne having adapted exceptionally well.
The young Christophe was known throughout this side of France for being somewhat of a prodigy when it came to cultivating grapes. He had been at it for over half his life, and now, at the ripening age of fourteen had been put in charge of the monastery’s full production on such matters by his mentor, his second father, Father Ramsey.
Christophe had actually been raised by a number of fathers, including the one who had produced the seed he had originated from.
Jack, a master builder, had arrived on the doorstep of the religious order in extreme destitute after having searched the whole of France for work.
The baby’s mother had died during child birth, and not knowing if his newborn son would survive without its mother’s milk the man who could build castles had found it impossible to build a providing home during a time when work of his nature was far and few in between and as a result whose child’s future could only be determined on a day-to-day basis.
It was for this reason that the heartbroken father couldn’t bear to name his offspring, as a nameless child may be easier to bury, or so Jack wanted to believe.
He had fought with every ounce of his being to provide for the life he and his beloved had created together, but fate continued to be cruel to the master builder and with his last few weak footsteps the defeated man found himself in front of a monastery in a small nameless town in the region of Bourgogne.
The monks had been kind from the start, offering hearty meals to the father, goat’s milk to his son and shelter from the harsh elements of December, the charity of which would mark a new chapter with all lives involved.
For the next six and a half years, Christophe, whom the monks so affectionately named, had an unusual upbringing. A quarter of his time was spent on the building site of the monks’ new church, with most of the chapel being single-handedly built by his father and therefore taking years to construct.
The next quarter of Christophe’s schedule was reserved for church services, which the boy found nearly as boring as the first.
And then there were his treasured hours. The second half of the lad’s structured day that was divided between reading in the monastery’s vast library and grape cultivating with Father Ramsey.
Christophe had amazed the brotherhood with how well he had taken to the written word, excelling in literature more rapidly than any child they had ever known. And although the order was set in their beliefs they were not bias in the literary works they kept, which Christophe richly benefited from as he learned about nearly every subject under the sun.
His time with Father Ramsey while they tended to the grapes was just as rewarding. It was during these hours that his mentor was more like a fun uncle, discussing everything from what Christophe had recently read to talk of the world of grapes.
One thing Christophe admired most about Father Ramsey was his ability to separate his own beliefs from that of others. He never shied away nor tried to misconstrue the many different perspectives which came out of the books, but rather would converse about them as if he were a man with a completely open mind. And as Christophe grew older, as the versatility of his education expanded he grew to appreciate his opportunity to do so more and more. And just as much, his love for his mentor continued to strengthen with every passing year.
It was Father Ramsey who had always encouraged him to follow his heart. To not be afraid to question anything. To embrace new things and hold true to that which proved to be undeniable.
And it was Father Ramsey who had stood up for the lad two years ago when a tug-of-war of sorts began to take place over Christophe’s future.
The monks wanted him to follow in their footsteps and become a man of God while his father naturally saw his son’s future as a builder like himself.
But Father Ramsey knew neither would be the fate of a soul that was obviously destined for more than a life in a robe or chisel in hand. He believed this special boy with a driven nature and adventurous heart had been sent from God to remind the order that not all men were meant to live strictly religious lives, and that it was the responsibility of those that did so to merely offer guidance to the rest of the world.
In the end no one could argue with Father Ramsey’s wisdom, leaving Christophe with the free will to choose his own path in life. And that path, that future had become evident to those who loved the boy. His passion was in grapes, and soon after dedicating his full schedule to what he saw as an art Christophe’s natural talent could be tasted with every delicious grape he nurtured.
His interest was in all families of the berry fruit, seeing that first stage of producing for whatever they may be used for as the most important and leaving the outcome of his perfected bunches in the hands of others as they went on to serve their purpose.
It had not taken long for the royal palace to take wind of the Cistercian’s new reputation for producing the best grapes this side of France, and a royal request to supply the king’s kitchen with the mouth-watering fruit soon followed, in turn turning Christophe’s small world into a much bigger one as he was now to divide his time between the home he had always known and the monks larger abbey in Paris.
The young Christophe was now well on his way to that special future he seemed so destined for.
Chapter two will be posted shortly. Subscribe so you don’t miss the life-changing event that’s about to happen to the young Christophe!