Page 38 of Claiming Cinderella

“I, for one, would appreciate you girls all getting along,” said Scott from the head of the table. Nola glared his way as if she wished he’d go back to perusing through his phone.

It was hard to look at him now the same way as before. The man was not just Scott Blue, rock legend, but he was my father. I had always known he had stories about my mother, but now I knew there were probably so many more that he’d never share around Nola, that he’d probably not ever share with anyone. Intimate details, private ones about my birth and what he thought about it. I could learn my family history if I wanted, and I tried hard to think of all the things that Millie had told me and how they’d now relate to me.

“I’d appreciate it, Ella, if you wouldn’t stay out all night again, at least not without telling me where you are.” Nola turned a pleading eye to my father as if to get him to agree. I wondered if she had the same rules for the twins.

“What time did you ladies get home?” I gave them a warm smile and their father, my father, lifted his head to listen.

Halle clenched her jaw so hard I could see the muscle twitch, but Sadie kept a blank expression as she answered. “Long before you.”

Nola gave Sadie a narrowed look and then offered me a smile. “I do hope the jewels the girls borrowed were not in poor condition when they were returned.”

I wanted to remind her that the jewelry was not borrowed, but stolen. Instead, I played along. “Yes, they are fine. I’ll just be making sure to keep a better eye on them in the future.”

“You’re welcome to lock them in the main vault. Or, if you’ve changed your mind, perhaps I could buy them from you. I know you could use the money, and I’m always adding to my collection as well. I’d love to keep your mother’s things close rather than you having to sell them to a stranger later.”

“I’ve no need to sell them, and as I’ve already explained, the pieces mean far too much to me to ever part with them.” I wasn’t sure why she couldn’t get that through her thick skull, but it would be a cold day in hell before she or her sadistic daughters ever got their paws on my things. I wasn’t about to keep the pieces in their house. I’d already decided to purchase a safe deposit box for them instead, but she didn’t need to know that.

Scott cleared his throat. “If it’s money Ella needs we could always give her the money. We’ve no need for her things.” Nola’s smile was so fake it seemed slapped on as she looked to her husband.

“That’s very big of you to offer dear, but it’s a little much, isn’t it?” She narrowed her eyes, and her lip curled as if she were challenging him. “It isn’t like she’s family. Perhaps she’d rather earn her keep.”

I felt a sharp pain as Millie kicked me under the table and I reminded myself not to sit so close to her again. She gave me a glare and nudged toward my father, but he hadn’t reacted to the statement, so, why should I? I supposed Millie thought that would make things better, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t. There was a reason the man hadn’t stood up for me and told Nola the truth, and if she was such a hard player to make him stick to his guns, then I wasn’t going to rock the boat. His secret was safe with me. But then he spoke up.

“She’s practically family. We’ve known her all her life, and if there’s ever something you need, I’d appreciate it very much if you came to me. No matter if it’s money or anything else.” He offered a warm smile, and Nola plastered on one just the same.

“I guess you’re right, Scott. She’s practically like a daughter.” Something in Nola’s tone told me she already knew, but Scott didn’t falter. He returned to his phone and swiped the screen as a hush fell over the table.

I looked across to Halle who was stabbing her waffle with her fork as if she could kill it, and Sadie was slowly ripping hers apart with her fingers, dipping it in the syrup and shoving it into her mouth, not taking her eyes off of me. I wondered what they thought of their father’s offer.

“Thanks, but I’ll be fine. I appreciate the job, and that’s plenty.”