Page 33 of Claiming Cinderella

“She didn’t. Days before she passed, the bank contacted Nola. I’d asked her to take over mom’s finances. I was too young, and I didn’t understand anything happening. I honestly didn’t even want to try. My mother’s insurance canceled on her and the loan she’d taken on the house defaulted, and so they took it. Nola hadn’t had the heart to tell me until after the funeral. I had hoped there was something we could do.”

I really felt for her, and though I still had my suspicions about Nola, this story seemed legit. Her mother had borrowed against the house which wasn’t the best move, but probably her only one if her finances were suffering.

“I’m sorry.” It was all I could say.

“Thanks. One day, though, I’m going to earn it all back.” She lifted her chin, and there was a proud determination, a solemn vow that I had no doubt she’d make sure was fulfilled.

I pulled into my drive, and her face lit up. “You own this house? I’ve always loved it!”

“Yes. It’s my sanctuary. I still want to live here one day, but for now, I’m staying at the house with mom. I’ve got to keep an eye on her and how she tries to spend the money.” I didn’t go into my mother’s past issues. Maybe one day Ella would learn of them, but not today.

I reached over and put my hand on her knee, and she covered it with her own but didn’t push me away. “Would you like to go inside and see it?”

She smiled brightly and nodded. “I’d love to.”

Chapter 17

Ella

It’s funny how things turn out. I’d always wanted to go in this house growing up, but never knew anyone who lived in it. It was the finest house on the beach and had always been painted the most incredible shade of blue that it looked like an extension of the sky and ocean.

I perused through each room of the house as Aiden toured me and then we made our way back to the front after going full circle. “It’s even more beautiful than I imagined. I don’t blame you for wanting to live here full-time. You should.”

He gestured to the sofa. “Sit with me a while?”

I didn’t hesitate as I lowered myself to the soft sofa. “This is nice.”

“I’m glad you like it.”

“I meant this, being here with you.” She lay her head back against the sofa and closed her eyes.

“Are you tired?”

“It has been a really interesting night. Eventful.” I shivered thinking about the twins being my sister and Scott Blue. Scott Blue was my father. I felt the throw blanket that had been across the arm of the sofa now across me.

“You’re shivering,”

“Thank you.” The blanket helped put me at ease. “I’m afraid I’m still trying to calm down.”

“I’m sorry about all of that. I know it was ugly and bound to have rattled some nerves.” He rubbed his hand down my arms as if to warm me, soothe me.

Laughter had spilled from my lips before I realized how it must sound. “You don’t know the half of it.” I rolled my head to the back of the couch to face him and met his eyes with an exhausted glance.

He angled himself toward me. “Was there more?”

I belted another laugh. “So much more.”

“Okay, you’re going to have to explain, because your crazy laughter is starting to creep me out.” He laughed too and placed his arm on the back of the sofa. I leaned in toward him, resting myself back against his chest. We settled into one another, and he even placed his arm across me.

“When I got back to the house I ran into Millie— also known as Mama Blue because she’s Scott Blue’s mother, and I told her I lost my ring, and then she let it slip out that she remembered when my father gave it to my mother.” I glanced up at him to see if he remembered what I’d told him earlier. I saw it the moment it registered, his eyes widened.

“Wait, she knows your father?”

I nodded. “Oh yeah, she knows him very well. She gave birth to him.”

“No fucking way. Scott Blue is—that’s where you get those eyes!” Everyone knew Scott Blue’s trademark blue eyes. They were even bluer than Frank Sinatra’s.

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