Page 53 of Claiming Cinderella

“That’s impossible. My mother owned our house. She was buying it from the bank. I saw the papers I signed when they took it.”

“You signed something? Are you sure it was something to do with the house?”

“Yes, for my mother. Nola said it would be okay since mom was out of it. That since I had power of attorney over her, I could take care of things. I was so scared. I let Nola handle everything. She really stepped up to help me. Or, as least I think she did. Aiden, I’m not so sure what I signed.”

I pulled her to me. “I’m not either, but it’s possible my mother overlooked something. I’ll double-check. In the meantime, I want you out of that house.”

“I can’t just leave, Aiden. I have to work.”

“No, you don’t. I’ll help you.”

“No, I have to take care of myself. Which reminds me. That house—

“You already accepted the house, and you’ll accept my help as well. I’m not so sure you’re safe there.”

Her eyes widened and then as quick as they had, they narrowed. “Why do you say that?”

“I’m not sure. I only know I don’t trust any of them. That’s why I bought the house, and that’s why I want you to leave. There’s something going on. Are you sure that your mother and Nola were friends? Even in the end?”

“I can’t see Nola being so cruel to try and take advantage of my mother while she was dying. She was her best friend.”

“She was the best friend of a woman who was leaving a considerable fortune.” I hated having to point these things out, but I knew I had to be totally honest with her and with what I believed.

“Aiden, I’m scared.” She shook her head. “It’s all so mixed up. I’ve never been on my own before.” I’d always had Nola.

“Don’t be scared. I’ve got you. You can trust me. I’ll go with you, and we’ll get your things.” Come the end of the day, I’d get to the bottom of whatever Nola had done if anything. I hoped that Ella had been mistaken for her sake, but I had to give her the benefit of the doubt. Even my mother made mistakes, and it was possible she had this time.

“Just promise me one thing, Aiden?” She gave me that pleading look that made me want to kiss her until it was all better.

“They can never know. I don’t want to do anything to hurt Millie. Her secret is safe with me. It’s enough for me just to know. I don’t need everyone else to.”

“I promise.” I didn’t agree with it, but if I could get her away from that house, I was okay with granting her that one wish.

Chapter 27

Ella

I was shocked when he’d told me that Nola had the house in her name and I wondered what other things I’d been entitled to that had somehow slipped over into Nola’s control while I grieved for my mother. Had she taken advantage of me or had she simply bought the house from the bank? Maybe she was too embarrassed to tell me or thought it would make things awkward. It was too much to think that Nola had somehow cheated me and I brushed away the thought knowing it didn’t matter and it didn’t seem possible.

As Aiden drove me home, it didn’t matter. Nothing did. The intimacy of the night before, his claiming me in such an official way, solidified his commitment to me in a way I never dreamed. It was all I wanted. What was done was done. No amount of money would bring my mother back to me. There was no sense in dredging it all up now.

I showed up at the Blue family mansion and found everyone in the dining room having breakfast, all gathered around the table like any other morning, except for Millie who wasn’t there. I knew some mornings she went out for coffee at the cemetery, and I could only assume that’s where she was.

“Where have you been?” snapped Sadie, giving me and Aiden an evil glare. “We needed you this morning. If you’re going to be out all night, it would be nice for a little head’s up.” I felt each word crawl up my spine and assault me, but no more. I didn’t have to hear it. I owed them nothing.

I ignored her and decided to address Nola instead. “I’m handing in my resignation effective immediately.” Aiden took my hand and gave it a squeeze. “And I’ll be moving out, of course.”

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