- Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books
- Available in: Kindle
- Published: January 23, 2016
Cinder never thought that he could rise from the ashes of his life, but an unexpected encounter with a woman claiming to be his fairy godmother may be just what he needs. Finding himself flung into his very own fairy tale, she sends him off to meet his Prince Charming. But was the gown really necessary?
Excerpt: From the Ashes
Attempting to cover his discomfort, he gulped his wine, and unfamiliar with the heady nectar, nearly choked on the bubbles. Would nothing go right for him this night?
He took a careful sip this time, the effervescence tickling his nose, and breathed in the cool night air. The fragrance of the tulips, yew, and tender grass, even sweeter than the wine, filled the air.
“See everyone looking at us? They are wondering who you are and how I came to have the most beautiful woman here by my side.”
“I don’t feel beautiful,” Cinder groused. “I feel like an overdone birthday cake on wobbly shoes!”
Henri barked out a laugh, an honest laugh he tried to muffle. “I see you also find all the pomp and vanity to be too much. At least you don’t have to put up with all the fawning lackeys with their flattery.”
“What is calling me beautiful, if not flattery?”
“It is nothing short of the truth, ma chère,” Henri averred with a straight face.
Cinder stared at him unconvinced.
“You wound me, mademoiselle!” Henri struck a dramatic pose with the back of his hand to his brow. “I would never offer praise where it is not due. I am your humble servant in all things.”
Cinder giggled. Giggled? Why couldn’t it have been a nice deep laugh like Henri’s? Except then he would have given himself away.
“Then I wish we were riding right now, instead of trying to dance in this ridiculous concoction of satin and lace.”
“You are a woman after my own heart. I knew you were special when I first spotted you. Do you believe in fate, ma chère?” A pleased smile lit up Henri’s face, making him look both younger and, if possible, more charming. Cinder’s heart stuttered in his chest.
Did he believe in fate? For a moment he wanted to, but then he remembered Henri wasn’t seeing him. Henri saw Cinderella.
If only they could both be their true selves…. But then they would have never met.
Henri set his glass on the railing and indicated Cinder should do the same, before guiding him down the stairs and onto one of the many pebbled paths. The warm clasp of his fingers offered Cinder support and surprisingly a sense of safety.
“Where are we going?”
“I thought you might like to take a closer look at the garden. It is magical at night, lit by these lanterns, n’est-ce pas?”
Cinder glanced around. Paper lanterns floated in the trees, lined the walks, and graced the gazebo near the reflecting pool, giving the grounds a mystical air. Their warm glow caught the dancing jets of the fountain splashing merrily to his right. The musical, crystalline tones carried on the night wind’s breath. He was reminded of the enchanted gardens in the fairy tales his father had read to him when he was a child. What would happen to him if he dared walk there?
Henri led him toward the gazebo. Soon he would find out.
The cool breeze caressed his uncovered neck. Cinder shivered at the ethereal touch. Henri turned to him, the question clear in his eyes, but he didn’t know how to answer. Instead he breathed in the tangible scent of rich earth and flowing water, hoping to calm his bounding heart.
Henri lightly stroked his arm. Cinder’s breath caught at the silky brush of his fingers. He drew another shaky breath. Henri may have meant to soothe him; instead his touch set Cinder’s wayward body aflame.
They left the last of the courtiers behind as they entered the dim interior of the fanciful pavilion. Vines climbed its intricately carved posts, perfuming the air within. The music and voices of the aristocrats faded away. Only a single intrepid nightingale could be heard over the cheerful burbling of the fountain. Hidden from the rest of the court, an unworldly sense of peace filled him. Was his very own fairy tale about to come true?
Bespelled and bemused, he could feel the magic in every beat of his heart, in every trembling breath he drew.