Originally on Literary Escapism Blog for Cinderfella (The Men of Summerly)
There are moments in our life when we are filled with doubts and we wonder if anything great will happen or any kindness will be shown our way. It is a treasure to find a friend that reminds you of the existence of such kindness.
When I wrote my RIVETED series Steampunk romance, CINDERFELLA, I wanted to not only showcase my two heroes’ love story, but I wanted to show how kindness comes to us in many different forms. Ashland Gottschalk is of utmost gentle and kindhearted Cinderfella and at the beginning of his story, he has quietly accepted that he is never destined to experience anything for himself to enjoy.
When he gives of himself it is in regards to the happiness of another, but in the Appalachian town of Stubborn, it’s Ash’s turn to experience the kindness he gives to others:
Ash turned to see the tiny Suzette looking up at him holding two lemons with slightly bent chewy candy straws sticking out of their sides.
“For you and your friend, Monsieur Ash,” she said. “It is lemonade with framboise essence. You drink it with the straw. Very sweet.”
“Ma’am, you seem to come up with the dandiest things.” Marshall declared taking a proffered lemon.
Suzette gave him a look that implied ‘Of course’. “Come, I have more bonnes choses for you…”
Ash sipped from the hollowed lemon rind enjoying the contrast of sweet and tart. “Afraid not, ma’am. We have to get back for the night shift.”
“Will I see you at the Summerly Ball next week?”
Ash took another sip. “People like me don’t belong at fancy parties.”
Suzette took a step towards him. “You’ve never wanted to see that beautiful mansion?”
Marshall chuckled. “I think all of us wanna see it, but Ash here belongs at that ball. Weren’t for him, the old Pantoufle Factory wouldn’t be nothing special, just another glass factory.”
“What your friend says is the truth. It surprises me that Monsieur Pantoufle has not yet made Monsieur Ashland the director of the whole factory.” The petite woman waved her hand. “I have heard rumors that a certain tyrant has made things difficult for your craftsman.”
Marshall sighed, “You can say that again. We keep losing our journeymen to other factories. We only have a few left and apprentices like me can’t learn nothing when we are run ragged. Tell you what, Ma’am; all of us sure do miss the old man.”
“C’est dommage. He is a good man. Does he not understand what is happening? Cher Monsieur Ashland visits—”
Suzette was about to say more, but Ash politely cut her off. “Thank you again for this cool drink, but we must go.”
Ash turned to leave when he bumped into solid stone.
No, not stone.
He looked into eyes as brown as cinnamon. He stumbled over his words as he took in the gentleman’s dark brown skin, his broad cheeks and his full lips. “Pardon me, sir,” he finally said.
The dignified gentleman studied him. “The fault is all mine.”
Ash blinked at the non-New Virginian accent. He opened his mouth to say something more when the gentleman looked down at the young man’s hands upon his chest. Ash pulled away. “Sorry.”
Turning and grabbing the gawking Marshall by the sleeve, he hurried towards the waiting cart. He looked over his shoulder after clucking the horses forward and found that the gentleman watched him leave. Ash faced forward.
That beautiful man was out of his league.
Marshall chuckled, “Well, well. You don’t see too many like that around Stubborn.”
Ash looked over his shoulder again and watched the man with cinnamon eyes disappear into the crowd, “No,” he sighed, “No you don’t.”
Have you ever talked yourself out of a potential wonderful experience or interaction with someone due to your insecurities? You wouldn’t be alone.
If we get out of our own way we can experience amazing things. This is the aspect of ourselves and experiences I explored in this fairy tale. This story is about letting go of someone’s projections of who they believe you to be and what unfolds when we let go of how we think things should be.
To let go and trust is terrifying and thrilling, but that’s not a bad thing.
As you can imagine, this reimagining of a Cinderella tale with a Steampunk twist is more than what Ash could bargain for when acts of kindness are set in motion for Ash and the “prince”. May we all have a short, cute and pushy French woman urging us towards the good things that lie ahead on our journey along with delicious treats to eat along the way.
For more details about the RIVETED steampunk romantic comedy novella series go to our personal library HERE