Rosa Rojo (Rose Red) is the heroine of a roller coaster ride of a dash from Spain to the Pyrenees to Italy to the Black Forest to Budapest, Lapland and finally to England along with two sailors desperate to warn Queen Elizabeth about the Spanish Armada, and with a host of fairy tale characters.
Every wish that could be made goes wrong, leaving the travelers farther away from their destination.
Here is the start of Rosa’s adventure:
A flash of lightning, a cloud of smoke and the roar of thunder filled the bedchamber of Rosita Lucilla Cecilia Maria Maria Rojo-Reyes. No harm was done to Rosa, as the seventeen-year-old beauty was known. She was out on the balcony attempting an escape.
“I’ve come to grant your wish,” came a gruff voice, as a tall shape emerged through the smoke billowing onto the balcony.
“Be quiet,” hissed Rosa. “Do you want to wake my father?” She had one leg over the wall of the balcony. Her red skirt was hitched up to allow freedom of movement. She paused to consider the apparition before her.
It was a wizard in flowing purple robes and a tall pointed black hat with moons and stars on its sides. He had a long gray beard with a string tied in the middle. He wore leather sandals on feet that were otherwise bare and it was obvious that he needed to clip his toenails.
Squeaking wheels sounded below and Rosa looked down to see in the shadows an oxcart loaded with straw positioning itself beneath her.
“Wait just a minute,” requested the wizard.
But Rosa paid him no heed. She acted as if ignoring wizards was a common occurrence in her life. She swung her other leg over the wall, hung by her fingers for a moment and dropped into the straw. The cart took off into the dark at an astonishing clip.
“Well done, Chevy!” she said to the fifteen-year-old boy driving the cart. She crawled out of the straw and climbed onto the seat beside him. “I’m glad you’re coming with me.”
“What’s to stay for, Senorita Rosa? I have no family and, except for sometimes working for your father, there’s nothing for me here. You do me a kindness allowing me to come.”
Rosa unhitched her skirt and smoothed it out. She removed the red scarf covering her ebony tresses and racked out bits of straw with her fingers. Satisfied, she shook her curls and retied the scarf around her neck.
“Just call me Rosa,” she said. “We’re fellow adventurers now.” She paused, “I hope my father will be all right.” She sighed. “He’s such an impractical dreamer. That’s not a good trait for a tax collector.”
“He’s one of the good ones. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
“Why didn’t you wait?” asked a voice from behind them.
Astonished, Rosa turned and looked at the odd figure sitting in the straw. The wizard’s spindly legs were sticking out on each side of his body with his knees reaching nearly to his bearded chin. His hat had fallen off and was stuck upside down in the straw, revealing the top of a head quite void of hair, except for scraggly strands of gray that hung to his shoulders from the back of his head. He had bushy eyebrows and a fair amount of hair in his ears. His robe and his beard were fluttering in the wind.
Ignoring his question, Rosa asked, “Who are you and how’d you get here? Did you jump off behind me?” She looked like she did not believe him capable of such a feat.
“I am Llywarch Gwyther Llewellyn of Wales. No, I didn’t jump. I used magic!”
“You didn’t burn the cart with all that smoke and fire, did you?”
* * *
Rosa meets the love of her life, although both resisted it, in Christopher Morris, the first mate on the sloop, the Good Queen. And it is misunderstanding at first sight:
Chris was tongue-tied seated next to the young Spanish beauty.
Rosa soon changed that. “Aren’t you a little old to be beating up that young man?”
“What?” said Chris. “I’m only twenty-three and I didn’t hit him. He hit me! Besides, I’m all wet and I lost my money.” He showed her his empty purse.
“Don’t get water on me!” she exclaimed, as she scooted away. “Of course he hit you, when you insulted his beautiful sister.”
“I didn’t insult his beautiful sister.”
“So!” said Rosa, “You do think she’s beautiful!”
“Gretel? I suppose so.” Chris preferred dark-haired beauties, but he wasn’t going to tell Rosa that.
“It’s a shame that I don’t have a brother to beat you up when you say I’m beautiful and make passes at me.”
“But I didn’t say that,” Chris argued, but that didn’t seem to appease her.
* * *
Llywarch, the wizard, know as Larry, is Chris’s uncle. Before he was forced to take the reins as the family wizard, he wanted to be a translator in the diplomatic service. Even today anyone standing within 50 feet of him has any language spoken in that circle automatically translated. This allows diverse characters to understand and not understand each other as Larry appears and disappears. There is one exception. If a couple falls in love, then their hearts speak to each other and a translator is not longer needed. Chris and Rosa experience this phenomena as they race through the 7 dwarfs’s diamond mine fleeing a hive of angry bees:
“This tunnel is too small,” said Rosa, as she and Chris crawled through the hole they had taken to escape the bees.
He struck his flint, pausing to admire the sight of Rosa crawling in front of him. “Small tunnels are a miner complaint.”
“You’re still not funny, Christopher. Why did you steal that mime’s glove?” She stood after the tunnel grew and waved her pan in his face. It was splattered with bees. “Do you love Gretel that much?”
“What? You think I stole that glove?” Chris climbed to his feet, dusting himself off. “What would I do with one glove? That’s not even a set.”
“For sentimental reasons, of course, because Gretel’s so beautiful. …I suppose if I were beautiful, you would steal my red scarf?”
“But you are beautiful. Say, you can understand me and Uncle Larry’s not around. I think you’re in love with me,” he challenged, as the light faded.
Rosa was aghast! She was glad the tunnel was dark, so Chris couldn’t see her face.
He restruck the flint.
“What did you say?” She pretended. “We must have passed out of Larry’s range, because I don’t understand a word you say.”
“But we left Uncle Larry way back there.”
The tunnel went dark, again.
“I am sorry, I still don’t understand,” Rosa lied. “I suppose, Larry must have been in a nearby tunnel that took a sudden turn away from us.”
“That makes sense,“ Christopher had to admit. “Wait! I can understand you.”
Rosa smiled in the dark. So, he loved her. But why did he steal the mime’s glove? Wasn’t that just like a man? He’d just fallen in love and already he was a cheat. Besides disobeyed his parents and telling bad jokes, he was a glove thief. He was Welsh to boot and what did he do for a living? He was a first mate. Not a captain, just a mate on a boat. No, she corrected herself. It was not a boat; it was a ship, but a tiny little ship.
Well, she couldn’t stay in love with him and she wouldn’t let him stay in love with her. She’d see to that. She’d give him no encouragement…if only she didn’t understand him.
“I can still understand you,” Chris repeated.
Try and understand this, she thought. She remembered what Chevy told her in the valley, “A Hemi engine is a four-stroke engine with a camshaft that has a timing ratio of 1 to 2. It’s a 420 cubic inch V-8 engine with 399 horse power, an 8 to1 compression ratio and 400 pounds of torque.”
“I didn’t understand that,” he admitted. “I guess I was mistaken. I’m not in love after all.” He sighed.
Somehow, that didn’t make Rosa feel better. “That’s typical of a man, not knowing his own heart,” she muttered
“Wait a minute. I understood that!”
Oops! Thinking quickly, She added, “Knit one, purl two…double the loop and draw the needle through.”
“That makes no sense, at all!”
Good! In the darkness, Rosa shoved her red scarf into his pocket.
* * *
William, Chris’s older brother is a ner-do-well, so naturally all the women find him interesting. Rosa’s problem is that he looks just like Chris. And kissing is the only way to tell them apart:
“William?” asked Rosa suspiciously, eyeing the Morris standing before her.
“That settles it.” The Admiral was satisfied. “She says he’s William – and she’s kissed both of them. …Er…Does your father know about that, young lady?”
“Do you know my father?”
“Er… Ia ‘anca ‘alkta ‘igPa ‘atinLa.”
“Rosa,” said Chris. “You’ve got to help me. Tell them I’m Chris.”
“You’ve lied to me before,” responded Rosa.
“Not me. That was William.”
“Both of you,” insisted Rosa.
“Then, kiss me. That’ll prove it.”
“Well,” said Rosa, after the kiss. “It was better than the frog.”
“I mean…Chris could have gotten better…or William could be feeling poorly…or I could just be tired.”
“I can do worse; try it again.”
“You’re right. This is Chris,” said Rosa, wiping her lips.
“Oh, no!” said Admiral Watanabe.
“What are you complaining about? I’m the one that kissed him.”
* * *
You can read more about Rosa in “One Wish” on Amazon Kindle. (http://www.amazon.com/One-Wish-ebook/dp/B004Z7SHAO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1305752127&sr=1-1)