Cinderfella ~A Modern Fairy Tale~

They say that Cinderella was blessed with her prince through her kindness and hard work and a little bit of magic. Well. The magic part's definitely not going to happen for me. Don't mistake me, I'm no Cinderella. But my prince is...


11. Chapter 11

My eyes grow wide like saucers, and he stares back, daring me to say something. I can't, I just step and swirl, and whisper, confused,

"Did you get my letter? W-what? How?"

We meet together again, his hand pressed firmly against my waist, hot and masculine, drawing me towards him. He whispers in my ear, lips wetly tickling me.

"I got it. I'll explain later, your mother's watching. Meet me in the garden later."

I glance up, and sure enough, my mother is frowning. Has she recognized him? Her mouth forms the word who, as she looks at my father for some form of recognition, and my father's brow furrows. 

I turn back, and he's already gone, swallowed up by the crowd. Another man takes my hand and stomps on my foot. I give him a weak smile, winking back tears of pain as he grips my fingers a little too tightly, crushing them.

I escape.

"It's been lovely mother," I say breathlessly, "but I need to use the restroom."

She waves her hands dismissively. I've clearly interrupted her conversation with a man I recognize as her lover from past experiences, as my father sits stiffly beside her. Jerome seems uncomfortable, caught between my parents. My father seems ready to burst. He knows, and he's not happy. 

"So go. They'll be here, waiting for you when you come back." She waggles her fingers, not breaking eye contact with her new meat, delving back into dialogue with him.

"So, Jerome...Be a dear and tell me again about your family business." Her voice is sweet and tinkles softly and I grimace at the personality change. She's trapping him, like she tried and failed to trap my father. Poor Jerome. He has no idea what he's getting himself into. I even feel sorry for my dad at this point. She's already after the next best thing.

I head towards the restroom, then slip through the empty kitchen. The maids are gossiping as usual, and immediately quiet down as they notice my presence. They were talking about the used condoms in my mother's room when my father was in Rome. My face flushes with shame even though it has nothing to do with me.

"Vanessa, how do you like your party?" one asks, and I mumble something about it being fun before slipping out of the side door.

The cool night air hits my bare shoulders and I sigh a little breath of relief. I round the bend into the shrubberies that have been sculpted to perfection, and there he is, on the steps shining moonbeam yogurt in the pale night light. The yellow lights from the party harshly illuminate the rest of the garden, but this corner is bare. Just him and me.

"Xavi." My throat is dry again, thudding. "Did you get my letter?"

He smiles his funny little half smile, teeth flashing white in the night, and rubs his absent stubble before speaking.

"It was forwarded to my new address. I got it today."

I shake my head.

"How did you know to come tonight? How did you come here? Xavi, what, how?"

He smiles again.

"I hitched a ride. My stepmother was getting awfully testy about having to hire help. She told me if I came home and cleaned and cooked, she'd make sure I'd have an invitation to the party."

His eyebrows knit together as he remembers.

"You danced with my stepbrother before I knocked him aside." My eyes widen. He'd seemed familiar, but I hadn't been paying attention.

"Of course, she did try to lock me in the basement to prevent me from coming," he mentions sarcastically, "but luckily, I got the other gardener to help me out. I remembered his number. He broke down the door."

He rubs his chin, grimacing.

"I'm wearing my stepbrother's discarded suit. My stepmother didn't recognize me without the beard though, I guess that says a lot about our relationship. I mean, it's not like I was Jean Valjean or anything." He touches the ends of his hair, self-consciously. 

"I just figured a ponytail wouldn't be appropriate for this sort of gathering." He locks eyes with me, searching for something, a glimmer of insecurity rising within him.

He's so beautiful, moonlight hitting his face, and I tilt his chin and kiss him, greedily. He remains unresponsive for a split second, as though he can't comprehend what's happening, and then he reciprocates, letting loose a small groan before locking his hands behind my head.

All of a sudden, I'm blinded by a flash, and I groan inwardly.

"It appears as though the young heiress Vanessa Vanna has made her choice!" A dozen microphones are shoved in my face and I try to shield my eyes as the flash goes off.

"It's a secret meeting with her paramour. Do you have a statement?"

"Vanessa, over here!"

"Look here, smile!"

"Kiss for the camera, Vanessa?"

I grab one of the microphones.

"I have a statement for you guys. Fuck off," I say, rudely, then turn to smile at Xavi, but he's gone, left without warning.

No. He was here, but now he's not and it's because he doesn't feel the same way about me. That last was a goodbye kiss, one of longing but like a museum exhibit, looking, but no touching and taking home to display. My heart clenches. I push through the paparazzi  and run upstairs, locking myself in my room. Now I'm in my own self imposed prison. Misery. So close, so close I could almost touch it. Was it a dream? I pound the pillow and scream.

"Vanessa, you're being a rude hostess!" My mom's shrill voice carries through the door, as she tries unsuccessfully to unlock the door, rattling the hinges.

"And you're not, mom? Really? Jerome?" The door goes silent. For a moment.

"Don't you dare judge my choices!" My mom goes even shriller, high pitched enough to become her own patented titanium dog whistle. Hurray. Family business expansion.

"No, mom. I will judge you. You're nothing but a coward and a hypocrite, trying to control me. I am an ADULT. If I want to leave, I will! You can't stop me from going to RISD, and even if you try to block my admissions, I will do everything I can to go. On my own. Without any of you. And if you so much as come near me again, I'll get a restraining order, and you'll be arrested, no matter how rich you may be or how well connected you are."

I stride out of the door, with nothing but my wallet in tow. My parents are stunned, and begin arguing with each other, in front of the entire room of sons of millionaires and their parents. Their own defeat.

I stand outside for a moment longer. High heels. A dress. I shiver in the coldness. Is this a bad idea? Definitely. But there's nothing left for me here. I need to find my own way. Xavi's a coward. He disappeared at the first sign of press, abandoning me. I let loose a sob. What did I expect? Reliability? Someone who would stay beside me as I pursued my dreams? Someone who wasn't scared to be seen with me? The tears cloud my vision, but I make my way across the gardens and down the steps, singing softly trying to self-soothe, my heart breaking as my words tremble.

At the gate I notice a trampled rose. Its bruised petals release a stronger scent, more beauty in its weakness.

I have nothing but my identification, a driver's license, and six hundred dollars. My credit cards are definitely going to be useless, they're tied to my parents accounts. Good enough to stay on my feet though. I start walking, ignoring the painful blisters oozing on my heels.

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