What if your fairy godmother sent you to the royal ball to assassinate the prince, but instead of killing him you fell in love?
It all started when my best friend, a smoke sprite, was arrested for a teensy-weensy crime I committed. My fairy godmother offered a devious deal. She’ll get me into the palace to save my friend, if I kill the prince while at the ball. But there’s a problem. Several, actually.
The royals are imprisoning anyone with fairytale blood in a crusade to get rid of magic. I pass as human but if the truth were discovered the results would be disastrous. I don’t travel in royal circles and wouldn’t recognize the prince if he kissed me. And, I certainly didn’t want to kill anyone. Ever.
But I’d do anything to save my friend.
At the ball, I meet a charming stranger who follows me into the palace prison. There, we discover a dark plot that will destroy all fairytale creatures. Should I fight for my magical friends or my heart?
“What a great story - super unique retelling! Characters were so dynamic and interesting. I loved it!” – Reviewer
5 of 5 STARS “Who knew Cinderella could be such a kicking heroine?!” – Books n Coffee Reviews
5 of 5 STARS “The world Burton built in this book is absolutely spellbinding.” – Jennie K.
5 of 5 STARS “Absolutely brilliant. Can’t wait for the sequel!” –Cashmere
5 of 5 STARS “Fun and fantastic retelling of Cinderella.” –I. Ray
5 of 5 STARS “Cinderella like you’ve never seen her before.” – Amazon Reviewer
5 of 5 STARS “I highly recommend this book if you like coming of age stories, fairy tales, action, romance, and kick-ass heroines. I can’t wait to keep reading this new series.” – Essiery’s Reviews
4 of 5 STARS “A magical read!”
The dark and dingy alley was the perfect place for making an illegal deal.
The bright crystal castle sitting high on thenearby mountain prevented the early morning light shimmering through the almost-invisible dome from reaching this drab, grease-filled spot.Adding to the dreariness, the shiny business and residential towers reflected sunlight in the opposite direction. The crowded skywalk didn’t travel this way, so people weren’t wandering about, and the area had an abandoned feel to it. Rustling and blowing papers, darkness, and despair.
We were isolated here, safe from discovery.
As long as the SCUM—Security Collectors of Unique Magic—didn’t show up.
Then I’d be a goner.
For now, however, I was huddling near a trash chute with my best friend, Arbor, nervously waiting for our contact to arrive, I tapped a quick beat on the dirty pavement with my boot-clad toe. In spite of the monotonous-official-perfect-year-round temperature, sweat dribbled down my back.
Arbor, a smoke sprite, buzzed in front of my face. Her short, psychedelic hair stood out like a multi-colored flower in hues of pink and purple. “Don’t hum,” she hissed. “No one should be relaxed.”
Her command had me biting my lower lip, gnawing at its edges. I wasn’t relaxed, far from it. My humming was just a distraction from the eerie, quiet surroundings. I didn’t like it being so quiet, although at least I didn’t have to worry about someone sneaking up on us. I hadn’t even realized I’d been humming.
I knew the habit made Arbor nervous, and her being nervous would have her going up in smoke—literally. One of a smoke sprite’s idiosyncrasies was showing their emotions by the color of mist they produced.
“Are you sure we can trust the fairy?” I loosened my grip around the delicate, vintage, glass perfume bottle etched with swirling gold designs. If I clutched it too tight, the fragile glass would crack, shattering my chances of fitting in and having a normal life.
Arbor fluttered her tiny wings in front of my face,creating a slight breeze and stirring my whitish-blond hair. “Who can you trust completely these days, Elle?”
Her skepticism stabbed my chest. She was right.
I remembered the first time my stepsisters tricked me. They’d convinced me to borrow a necklace from my stepmother’s jewelry box saying they needed it to play dress-up with me. I believed them and swiped the necklace, but then the two of them ran off to play together, leaving me out. When they’d fought over the necklace and broken it, they told their mother I’d stolen the piece of jewelry. Which had technically been true, but I was the only who’d gotten in trouble. As punishment, besides all the other chores around the house, I had to give my stepmother foot massages.
Arbor was different. I trusted her advice. From the beginning, when she’d shown up at my house lost and alone six months ago, she’d steered me straight. She’d taught me about the lost art of humming and the sway it held. She’d shared her laughter and friendship, and information about the secret underbelly of the Kingdom of Alandaska, and tales from the fairies. Hailing from the same province as my mother, she had to be good.
“Why does this fairy want my mom’s old perfume bottle enough that they’re willing to pay creds?” I sniffed at the top, taking in the strange rotting vegetable smell and crinkled my nose. “It certainly isn’t for the scent.”
“The bottle is a fairy artifact.” Her luminous mossy-green eyes blinked. She wore a green dress with a purposely made rip in the skirt. Her fingerless gloves made her appear more edgy. “The government is trying to destroy our heritage, one tiny item at a time.”
If the SCUM came upon us, I’d be arrested for possessing a fairy item, and the perfume bottle would be destroyed. Humans couldn’t use or own majik artifacts, in case they were tempted to access the magic within.
My heart tugged as though I’d be handing over the vital organ along with the bottle. I hated parting with anything that had once belonged to Mom. The small trunk hidden in my attic bedroom held my only reminders of her. A precious and emotional link to the mother I barely remembered. But right now, I couldn’t risk being distracted by the past. I needed to focus on my future. I desperately needed the creds the perfume bottle would get so I could buy a dress to wear to the royal ball.
Stupid to risk so much for something so silly, except an appearance at the ball would establish my place in society.
A silhouette emerged at the end of the alley. Holding my breath, I watched the gloom float forward, sticking to the edges of the walls until he reached us. The male fairy cast a taller shadow than me. Too-large pants and jacket swallowed his thin frame. If he was trying to look human, he was failing miserably. Fairies came in different types and sizes just like humans, but it was difficult to hide their shorter stature, pointy ears, and fluttering wings.
“Do you have the item?” His cold, beady eyes raked over me and then narrowed as if spotting something he didn’t like.
I ran a finger over the edge of my almost-perfectly-round ears. He wasn’t the first to make me feel like I didn’t belong, and I was tired of others’ biased attitude toward me. “If I didn’t, would I be here risking getting caught?”
Caught by the SCUM or my stepmother. Either would have severe consequences.
“Elle, shush.” Arbor’s tone resembled that of an army sergeant. It must be how she displayed fear—by ordering me around.
I understood her fear. I was terrified. We were in a dark alley, making a shady deal with an illegal fairy for an illicit artifact. But why was Arbor fearful when she used the same tone while teaching me things I didn’t want to learn? I got enough bossiness from my stepmom. I didn’t need it from my friend.
My hands shook slightly as I held out the atomizer, knowing I was giving away a piece of my mom. A vision flashed through my mind of her squeezing the soft bulb at the top and spraying perfume on each side of her neck. The scent hadn’t smelled rotten then, it had smelled beautiful, like her.
“This is it.” I forced the words between tight lips.
“How do I know it is what you say it is?” The fairy glowered at Arbor, and her colorful hair spiked higher.
Once more I was being overlooked and belittled. He was buying the bottle from me, not her.
“Because I say so.” Her little kid imitation edged with authority.
“Why would I lie?” My muscles tensed tighter. Fairies couldn’t lie, but I could. He must not trust me. I realize I appeared younger than my sixteen years and also had plenty of lies spoon fed to me. He didn’t know that. “It’s my mom’s perfume bottle.”
Hearing my mother’s maiden name again after so long was like a kick to the gut. It shouldn’t bother me. She’d died when I was a toddler. “You knew her?”
He snatched the bottle from me and held it up to his eyes. I fisted my hands together, forcing myself not to snag it back. My hands felt empty, and the sensation traveled to my chest. Another memory of my mother slipping away.
This was a bad idea, but it was the only choice I had and the only way to get creds. Creds I desperately needed.
The fairy clutched the bottle to his pointy nose and smiled. The exact opposite reaction I had. Maybe majiks had different smell sensations.
He slipped a plastic cred payment out of his pocket. “I’m not allowed to carry creds in this kingdom anymore.”
Bitterness laced his words, as though he remembered better times for majiks, before the regent decided to put an end to magic in favor of technology, something he could control.
“Neither am I.” Arbor dove toward the card. With her eight-inch height, even if she was allowed, she wouldn’t be able to carry something so large.
My fingers tingled as they closed around the card. The creds were the first step in achieving my goal.
The fairy’s gaze narrowed. “The card better not get traced back to me.”
“It won’t. I’ll be spending it today.” I had to hurry.
Shopping was at the end of my very long list. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, and helping my stepsisters prepare for the ball, all before I could head to the mall. The creds weren’t worth much, but I could find a dress on sale.
Then, when I stepped onto the dance floor at the royal ball, the kids from school would finally accept me as being just like them.
Nothing strange. Nothing unusual. Nothing out of the ordinary.