Author: Renee Lovins
Publisher: Bad Ash Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9905182-3-5more from this user
Love is a choice you make.
Ember Verre is about to follow her dream - cooking school in Paris. When tragedy strikes her family, she walks away from her goals to be there for them.
Ring Jordan has it all, great friends, great parents, and is working on his MBA. When his father unexpectedly dies, he drops everything to go home, not expecting to stay.
Struggling to be everything for her family, the last thing Ember expects is to run into her one night stand, the guy she would have loved to have met in Paris. Ring is trying to pick up the pieces of his dad’s crumbling legacy, and is shocked to run into the girl he can’t forget. While they lean on each other to get through this rough patch in their lives, will they choose to let love shine, or keep their fragile hearts safe and alone?
Ember moved her body to the pulsing music, the flashing lights creating snapshots in time. She danced alone in a room full of people. When she stopped being pulled by the beat, she turned, but the people she had come with, fellow students, had all drifted off to find their own end to the graduation celebration.
Shutting off the feeling of being isolated, she focused on the feeling of being free, of her dreams about to become reality. Sweat gathered at the nape of her neck, and thirst drove her from the dance floor. Bars just weren’t her style, and she would have rather been celebrating with her family. But that would be later this weekend. For now, she might as well dance. But first she needed a drink.
A quiet place didn’t exist in the club, but at least at the bar she didn’t have to shout to place an order.
“Water and two fingers of whiskey.” She didn’t visit bars often, but at least she didn’t try to order a fancy drink at one.
The bartender glanced at the stamp on her hand and nodded, reaching for a bottle. Ember stopped him.
“Tullamore Dew, please.” The bartender flashed a smile and reached for that bottle.
Looking around the floor, she realized she didn’t fit in. But for the moment, it didn’t matter. The knowledge of the scholarship, her excellent grades, and the general atmosphere of the club elevated her mood. Anyway, anything would be more fun that spending the evening packing and cleaning. Although, this just put that activity off for a few hours. Ember rocked, waiting for her drink, unable to keep from moving a little with the music.
The image of Belinda being here flashed into her mind, and she knew the men would be draped all over her. Ember thanked her stars Belinda had just turned fifteen, and it would be her mom’s job to deal with that nightmare. Belinda possessed beauty, brains, and attitude, and she had qualified for Olympic swimming trials, which was the primary thing she talked about right now. Boys were a distraction she didn’t care about.
Ember laughed at the mental image of Belinda and all her suitors. She pulled out of it when the bartender set her water and whiskey down in front of her.
“From the gentlemen.” He nodded to two guys smiling at them a bit further down the bar.
Ember sighed, adjusting the dress, which suddenly felt too tight.
“Why would anyone hit on me? I’m not even playing the fat friend tonight.” Her voice got lost in the noise as the bartender drifted away. Confused, she looked at the drink, wondering about the motivation behind the offer.
Ember grimaced as she looked out over the mass of twenty-somethings on the dance floor, mentally comparing the sleek bodies and enhanced features to her overflowing bosom and abundant curves. Her dress hugged every curve, something that made her even more uncomfortable. She lifted the shot, taking a mouthful, then swallowed, enjoying the smoky burn.
“I’m impressed. Most women don’t drink whiskey, and when they do they look like they’re gagging, not savoring something exquisite.” A low male voice spoke the words over her shoulder, his breath ghosting over her ear.
Startled she turned to look at the speaker, so focused on the whiskey she hadn’t seen him approach. He must be the mysterious benefactor of her drink, the cute one. A smile crossed his face, and he didn’t have the normal, “I’m taking one for my friend” look.
“Um, yeah. My dad is big into it, and when I got old enough to drink, he taught me what to appreciate.” She grinned. “At least old enough in his opinion. The law might have had a quibble or two about that.”
The smile grew, and she found herself mesmerized by his green eyes and hair the color of Ceylon cinnamon, her favorite spice.
“Smart man. Educate you now, for someone else to enjoy the skills.” His eyes locked on hers as he spoke.
The blatant flirting had Ember ducking her head, discomfited by his attention. Other women garnered attention, not her. On the rare occasion that she found herself in a social setting, Belinda and her mom tended to be there also, drawing the attention. Gathering up her courage, she lifted her head to find him still watching her.
His words caught her off guard and all she could do was nod. A strong, callused hand grabbed hers and led her out onto the dance floor. Her pulse, already pumping from the earlier dancing and the shot of whiskey, spiked as he pulled her close and began to move.
Neither of them were expert dancers, but he focused only on her, his hand in the small of her back, always touching her as she moved.
She wanted to have a last fling before she started her career, her dream. Why not make it something to remember? Mental walls dropped and she gave herself to his hands, the music, and her own desire. Ember laughed with joy at feeling sexy and wanted.
Dancing and feeling his eyes on her body set her blood on fire, and she wondered if he tasted like cinnamon. That thought made her blink and pull back. He looked at her, a touch of disappointment on his face.
“Break?” she offered, trying to get control of both her heart and her breath.
He nodded and followed her off the floor. Before they got back to the bar, he snagged a small booth and pulled her into it.
“Stop me if you don’t want this, but I’ve been dying to know if you taste like whiskey since you drank that shot.”
A thrill of elation shot through her, and his mouth moved towards hers, giving her plenty of time to pull away. She leaned forward and captured his lips with hers.
He tasted of salt, smoky whiskey, and ginger, another favorite spice. She deepened the kiss, marveling at her own impetuousness.
Hands wrapped around her waist, pulling her close to him, her breasts smashing against his chest. Well as much as her supportive lingerie would let them.
The sweet burn of need made the kiss even better. When the ache in her lungs, which begged for oxygen, overwhelmed the pleasure, she pulled back.
This is my take on the Cinderella trope. I needed to justify why anyone would put up with a stepmother and sister like in the original fairy tale. I think I did a good job showing how love is why you do so many things an outsider would call you crazy for. The journey of Ember and Ring is one we've all faced at one time or another, having to suddenly deal with life, when it kicks you in the teeth. I hope you enjoy my modern version of Cinderella.