EVERYTHING IS ABOUT TO BURN
We all know the story. Cinderella's father remarries. She gets a crappy new family. He dies in a tragic accident and she is forced into a life of servitude.
But what happens when Ella's father is brutally murdered and she's sold to the Romans? What happens when she meets a dark fae who tempts her to embrace the embers in her heart? When he shows her the fire she was born with and coaxes those powers to light? What happens when he tells her that she doesn't need a prince.
She needs a crown.
Climbing to her feet, Ella looked southeast to the lands of the dark fae. For years she'd contemplated venturing in to find the Dark One, but the stories all said he only took one type of payment - the selling of one's soul.
But Ella didn't care anymore. The gods could judge her in the afterlife because she was already living in hell.
Decision made, Ella headed for the hill. She came across a circle of stones, ten and three in number, most of which were taller than her. Wildflowers grew inside it, as did various mushrooms, including penny buns and many she'd never seen before.
Figuring this had to be the place, Ella stepped into the clearing and lifted her chin. "Hello?" she called out, but only the birds answered her. Frowning, she took another step forward. "I'm here to make a deal with the dark fae," she tried again.
Straining her ears, she tried to listen for a mystical voice, but all she heard were the birds and insects. Muttering, Ella shook her head. She was being foolish. There were no fae here. Everyone knew they had left this world long ago.
Placing her basket on the ground, she reached for the closest cluster of penny buns. She's just been about to pick them when a low voice echoed through the meadow.
"Remove them and I will do the same to you."
Jerking to her feet, Ella quickly turned her head. She peered all around her, but did not see the man who had spoken. "Who's there?" she demanded.
"You come into my home and dare ask who I am?"
She swallowed as a man stepped out from behind one of the stones. He was built to perfection. Broad shoulders. Strong jaw. Lean and fit and beautifully shirtless. His bare chest showed off a web of blue tattoos. But it was his eyes that held her. His eyes that were old and ancient. That spoke of horrors she could never imagine. That whispered of dangers she would not survive. Taking a step back, Ella wetted her lips. "Are...are ye the fae?"
He studied her with his dark eyes. They were as black as his hair, bottomless voids of chaos that led straight to the Otherworld. It was as if he was peering into her soul, weighing her worth and finding it too light to give a damn.
Digging her fingers into her thighs, Ella raised her chin. He smiled lazily, but it was far too feral to be nice.