Page 17 of Claiming Cinderella

“I’m quite aware of my mother’s intentions, but seeing as this is my party and this beautiful young woman is a friend of mine and hardly a threat to anyone here, you’ll please step aside.” I pushed past him and took the young the woman, whose face now ringed a bit red around those sparkling blue eyes, which only made them bluer.

She practically fell into me, leaning close to my side as she began to ramble. “My apologies. I was supposed to ride in with my friends, but we were separated. I was hoping I’d find them outside, but then I noticed they must have already gone inside and since they had the only invitation—well, anyway, thank you.” She clutched my arm with a bit of relief and then pulled away as if she realized the gesture was a bit too intimate for strangers.

“You’ve nothing to apologize for, and you’re perfectly welcome. I’m glad you came, and I do hope you have a wonderful night.” I looked down, noticing she had a couple of extra masks in her hand and then she nervously put them behind her clutch bag as if she was embarrassed to be carrying them.

“I guess I should find my friends.” She looked around the room as I glanced up to do the same and found Zep standing alone. He held up his glass, and then a couple of our friends stepped up to greet him and then waved me over.

As she stepped away, I took her hand. “I’m Aiden. I’d love to talk later. I’ll find you...”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m Ella, and I’d like that very much.” She hurried away before I could get out another word, and all I could do was watch her go.

I stepped over to the crowd, wishing I’d gone after her, but then Zep was all about introductions, and as she disappeared around the corner, I greeted my other guests.

I let Zep carry on, still lost in a daze over the beautiful girl and wondering where she’d gone off to.

Chapter 9

Ella

I had seen the twins scurry away from the front doors as Aiden Prince had greeted me, and so as soon as I could break away I headed back to find them. As soon as I rounded the corner they grabbed me, each pulling me by one of my arms until I thought I might lose my footing or come apart at the seams.

“Easy, you’ll rip my arms off,” I snapped as we entered the ladies room. “You left me on purpose!” I wasn’t going to let them get off without at least mentioning what they did, but they made no apologies.

“You’re here, aren't’ you? You’re damned lucky that Aiden took pity on you. He said you looked like a fool and he didn’t want the other guests to be embarrassed as they came in.” Sadie’s voice was tinny and tinged with the perfect amount of acid.

“Well, I wouldn’t have been standing there like a fool if you hadn’t left the house without me. You knew I’d need the invite to get in.” I knew that was the point. Neither had wanted me to get in, to ruin their night.

“Well, you sure wasted your time making doe eyes at Aiden Prince, and if you’re a smart girl, you’ll stay away from him. He’s ours and much too far out of your league.” Halle rolled her eyes as she spoke and wrapped her arm wrapped around her sister’s.

“I’m not interested in Aiden.” I clasped the pendant at my collar bones. “I’m only here to entertain your parent’s idea of the two of you needing a babysitter, but don’t worry, I have plans of my own.”

“And what would that be?” Sadie sneered and crossed her arms in front of her.

“I’m here to socialize to hopefully gain interest in my jewelry line.” I held my head high, I was Layla Ford’s daughter, and the idea wasn’t that far of a stretch, even though the two broke out in laughter and exchanged a creepy smile.

“Good luck with that,” Sadie said with an eye roll.

Halle nodded and stepped closer. “Yeah, good luck, because no one here is going to want your crappy jewelry. They’ll see you as a Layla Ford knock off and nothing more.”

Sadie let out a long breath. “Just make sure that you’re not in our way, and I don’t care who you peddle your shit to. But don’t tell a soul you’re with us and stay away. We don’t want you making us look bad like you did the other night in the club.”

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