A Cinderella Story
BOOK 2 in The Fairytale Quartet
Contemporary Adult Romance
Orginally published February 2018
92,140 words, 322 pages
3-Flame Sensuality Rating
What's the one thing you shouldn't do when your boss is your ruthless evil widowed stepmother who hates your guts more than anyone?
Kiss the man she's interested in.
So what does Kaitlynn Judge find herself doing?
Yep, she kisses the one man her stepmother currently wants, who also happens to be the CEO of the company where she works.
Can we say doomed?
After the death of her father, Kaitlynn's life has been stuck in a rut. But that begins to change after meeting a dashing stranger during the office Halloween party. Now she has to navigate vengeful stepmothers, meddling stepsiblings, and gorgeous guys in hot pursuit to reach her happily ever after.
While making a detour from the fantasy aspect, this contemporary take on the Cinderella story continues to cling to a few of our favorite traditions. You'll still find the unmerited oppression along with fleeing women, missing shoes, mouse companions, magic wands, pumpkin-like rides to the big bash, and so much more. So rest assured, it's all familiar and yet quirkily different.
The unexpected shriek that blasted through the intercom caused me to jump so hard I spilled the armful of papers I'd been carrying from the copy machine to my desk.
Groaning over my clumsiness, I bent to pick them up, only for the cantankerous voice to return. "I need you up here. Now, Kaitlynn."
After scooping the mess of pages into my arms, I slapped them into a disorganized heap on my desk, figuring I'd deal with them later, and called, "I'm coming!" Then I hustled to the teapot sitting on a nearby table and fished out the tea ball bobbing in hot water.
Lana preferred full-bodied oolong tea every morning, so I usually left the oxidized leaves in for at least six minutes before removing the ball. But today, it sounded as if she wanted her tea sooner, so hopefully she didn't notice a weaker flavor.
I placed the ceramic lid on the pot, then carefully poured a portion of the tea into a waiting cup on the tray. After dripping some, I wiped away the splatter and settled the pot next to the full cup. I rearranged it twice before it looked aesthetically pleasing enough to suit me and then I tossed two sugar cubes into the steaming brew.
There. I stepped back and checked for any final flaws before lifting the tray in satisfaction. Perfect.
I hummed contentedly as I held the tray with one hand and opened the door to the musty stairwell with the other. The steps were a narrow, rickety old metal monstrosity that, I swear, swayed when you walked up them. There was one turn halfway through that was tricky to navigate when carrying anything cumbersome, then a low-hanging pipe from above to duck under, and after that, a clunky red fire extinguisher bolted to the wall a person could smack their shoulder against if they weren't paying attention. And yet I'd failed to drop the tea once. Go me!
At the top, I had one more door to finagle open, and voilà, I made it to Shyla's desk located in Lana's outer office in one piece.
"Morning!" I breathlessly greeted Lana's personal assistant with a smile, dropping off a bottle of water for her that I'd had sitting on the tea tray.
The pinch in Shyla's brow smoothed as she glanced up from the computer screen she'd been scowling at. "Oh! Morning, Kaitlynn. Thank God you're early today." She shuddered and sent a fearful cringe toward Lana's door as she picked up her water and unscrewed the cap. "It's been one of those mornings."
I laughed. "Yeah, I had a suspicion."
Sweeping past her, I came to the door of the dragon's den and quietly knocked with my toe before entering.
"It's about time," Lana grumbled. "How long does it take to make a simple cup of tea around here?"
Lana Judge was a callous, ungrateful, condescending, selfish, and coldly beautiful woman in her early fifties. She was also the co-CEO of Judge Fashions Industry where I worked and thus, my boss. Oh, and add in the small fact she'd married my dad when I was eight, which I guess technically made her my stepmother, and there you had our relationship in a nutshell. We pretty much loathed each other.
Ignoring her jab at my timeliness, I set the tray on the corner of her desk where I always put it.
"Hello," I greeted with much more reservation than I'd used with Shyla. After stirring in the dissolved sugar, I set the cup on the desk close to her. "Is there anything else you need?"
She ignored the tea and frowned at a memo she was browsing. "Have you copied the market reports for the meeting yet?"
"Yes," I was happy—aka, smugly thrilled—to report. "And I'll have them organized and stapled in just a few minutes."
Lana made an irritated sound. "Don't bother. Throw those away, because the idiots in accounting just emailed me last-second numbers, meaning the file I sent you is wrong." She thrust the memo she'd been scanning my way. "Plug in these new figures and make sure the revised version is ready with copies for everyone by the time the meeting starts."
"Uh…" What? No. I didn't have time to start all over again. Was she crazy? The meeting began in fifteen minutes. But when Lana arched a meaningful glance my way, I found myself bobbing my head enthusiastically. "Sure. No problem."
One thing I could never do was let her think I was incapable of completing any challenge she set before me. She would only ever find me agreeable, prompt, and efficient. So, yeah, suck on that, stepmommy dearest.