Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lost (Cinderella's Secret Diaries Book 1) by Ron Vitale - FREEBIE

Lost (Cinderella's Secret Diaries Book 1) by Ron Vitale

This is the first book in the Cinderella's Secret Diaries series. Lost will captivate readers who love New Adult fiction and fairy tales. Lost is a perfect match for fans who have read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.

Everyone knows the story of Cinderella and the glass slipper, but what happened to her after she married the Prince? Set in the late 1700s as Napoleon is rising to power, Cinderella embarks on a journey of self-discovery as she tries to come to terms with her new life. Her journey leads her to find her long lost Fairy Godmother and aids her to solve the mystery behind her mother's death. Yet the Fey Lord, the Silver Fox, also takes notice in her and suddenly her world is turned upside down . . .

Find out if Cinderella does find her happily ever after in Lost, the dark and intriguing first book in the Cinderella’s Secret Diaries series!


January 2
Dear Fairy Godmother,

Although I am a fool to believe you will ever read these words, I begin this diary in the hope of reaching you. I need your help. Tonight is the twelfth anniversary of my Mother’s passing, and I have decided to write to you because I am distraught and sorrowful. I wish that she were still here to comfort me, but she is not, and my heart still aches for her.
In the dozen years since my mother’s death, you are the closest I have come to a Mother, as you once rescued me. I have need of your listening ear tonight, for my life is filled with uncertainty.  I send these words out to you as a most fervent prayer. With magic beyond what I may know, I conjure the hope that my imaginary correspondence will take flight and that these words will whisper themselves to you as I share with you a story I have longed to tell.
On the night my Mother died, she carried me into her bed, sick as she was, and held me close. Father was away on business, not to return for weeks. A fever had taken us, and I remember how weak I felt. Mother cuddled me in her arms and put a damp cloth on my forehead to cool me. I was soothed and settled back against her, listening to the crackling of the fire.
       “Would you like to hear a story about the Silver Fox?” Her voice calmed me.
       “Who is that, Mamma?” I asked.
       “He is the Faerie Lord who visits our world from time to time to bestow magic on the land.”
       I nodded and fought hard not to drift into sleep, unaware that this would be the last time my Mother and I would be together. At eight years of age, I thought the world still such a beautiful place. She took the cloth from my forehead and began her tale. Over the years, I have forgotten some parts, but tonight I will retell the story to you in the hope of keeping my Mother’s memory alive. If I stop writing and listen, I can almost hear her voice as she told me her tale…

* * *

       “Once in a great while, the Faerie Lord came to the world of men and played in the grass and fields, looking for amusement and companionship.”
       I looked up at my mother’s face and asked, “What did he look like?”
       “He resembled a fox. Yet his fur was not rust-colored but silver and bright.” She ran her fingers through my hair and glanced longingly out the window. “He chanced upon the house of a young woman who was unhappy in her marriage, for her husband was often away. On seeing her so sad as she dug in her garden, the Faerie Lord shifted into the body of a man and trundled down a hill, unused to balancing on two human legs. He rolled to an embarrassing stop and quite surprised the young woman.”
       “How did the Faerie Lord change from a fox to a man, and was he hurt?” I woke up a bit and wanted to know.
       “Men and faeries can be foxes inside, but his magic was strong and true, so he was unhurt.” She paused, and seeing me content with her answer, continued. “He rubbed a bump on his head and smiled at the young woman.
       “Standing up and a little surprised, she brushed the dirt off her hands and asked, ‘Dear Sir, are you well?’
       “He smiled at her with a small devilish grin and winked. ‘I am now, for I have met you.’ He bowed and from out behind his back he handed her a bunch of wild flowers.”
       ‘I cannot accept these,’ she backed away and headed toward the house, ‘I am married.’
       “He put the flowers behind his back, and they vanished from sight. He then bowed, but before taking his leave he knelt and kissed the spot in the dirt where the young woman had been digging. She watched him go, and that night, in the hour before dawn, a beautiful pink rose bush grew and blossomed.
       “The next day he returned and again offered her his smile and flowers. She again told him to go away, and he did, but again kissed the ground and whispered into the soil with a smile. The second night another beautiful rose bush grew next to the pink roses of the previous evening. On the third day, she expected his return, but he did not show himself. She wondered what had happened to him and secretly missed him, hoping he would come see her again.
       “That night, after midnight, she awoke in bed, hearing an animal scratching at the front door. She gathered her garments and dressed, looking outside. There in the garden was a large silver fox seemingly waiting for her. She walked with caution toward it…”
       “Did it bite her?” I interrupted.
       “The fox did something she did not expect. He changed into a man. As a man, he walked up to her and then looked up at the sky, searching until he found what he wanted. Taking his hands, he cupped them and raised his arms so the moon appeared to be resting in his palms.”
       ‘The roses were not enough,’ he said. ‘But here is the moon that I give to you.’
       “Quiet and tentative in her response, a slow smile broke across her face in the moonlight.
“He offered his hands to her and said, ‘I have followed you for years and have seen how unhappy you are. Come away with me to the Land of the Fey where you are not married, and I will love you as you deserve for all of your days.’”
“She paused a moment, thinking of her sleeping daughter inside and her husband who was away and the loneliness she had suffered for months upon months and then took his hands in hers, feeling his warmth and smoothness.”

* * *

       I fell asleep then and never heard the ending to the story. In the morning, my mother was dead. The physician said she had passed in her sleep from the fever that we both had fought against the whole week. I do not remember any of the events following my mother’s death, as I was with the sickness for days afterward, which father told me nearly took my life. At such a young age, to lose my mother, the difficulties of that time I still carry with me. But I am not here to write solely on my past woes.  I have fresh troubles to resolve. Though, if I be honest, a part of me still wishes my mother were here. I miss her. But that is not to be, as I cannot speak to the dead.
Fairy Godmother, I wish I could have told my Mother’s story to you in person because I wonder if you have heard of the Silver Fox, or if he is just the creation of my Mother’s fertile imagination. You once cared for me and helped me with your magic. It has been nearly four years since you whisked me to the ball, and I met the Prince, and my supposed happily ever after took place. Why have I not heard from you?
Since that time, much has happened between the Prince and me. In the beginning, his affections were constant and true, but over time, as my usefulness to him declined, so did his attention toward me. His mother, the Queen, has waited for me to produce an heir, and I have failed at so simple a task. The Prince’s patience with me is gone, and I ponder on what I may have done wrong, only to realize that what he and I once shared is not as solid as I once thought.
I sit here in my many rooms, alone, in the dark of the night by candlelight, using a pen to alleviate my frustration and woes. Will you hear me, my Fairy Godmother? I will go to sleep now because I am weary, and I will hope to dream of better days to come in the warm sun.

January 23
Dear Fairy Godmother,
Quite some time has passed since I have been able to write. Several weeks ago my good friend Clarissa came looking for me in a panic. She called and called for me in distress, running into my room with her skirts bundled up in her hands in such a state. There had been an accident, the Prince had been hurt, and one of his men had almost been killed. She rushed the story, and I tried to take it all in. A horse had become spooked, and there had been drinking on the hunt. Horses collided, and one of them reared up into the air and fell on top of a young attendant. In the confusion, the Prince was hit in the shoulder with a wild horse’s hooves, but he stood his ground and protected the boy from being further trampled. There was much talk of the Prince’s heroic act, but he would hear none of it, saying he was simply happy to have saved the boy.
Several weeks have passed since the accident, and the doctor has informed us that the Prince will recover, but the accident was frightful to us all. The Queen hovered over his bedside like an angel, and I tried to tend to him, like a good wife, but the situation tested my patience, for his mother’s disapproval of me was hard to ignore. At times, I have not liked her. She has been controlling and intrusive, insinuating that my inability to bear a child is my fault and due to my social standing and poor background. She has not said this outright, so perhaps I exaggerate, but I feel that she dislikes me and believes that I am not good enough for her son.
The first night after the accident frightened us all, for the Prince was weak and in pain from his broken shoulder and ribs. The Queen knelt by his bed in silence for most of the night.
I sat to the right of the bed, and when the Queen thought me asleep I saw her take her son’s hands in hers and whisper, “Please save him, Lord. Please, heal my son.”
She rocked back and forth, repeating the chant over and over again, stopping every few moments to wipe the Prince’s brow.  I pretended to be asleep, embarrassed by the Queen’s intense prayers. I had never seen her act with such love before. With my own eyes closed, I reached out to you, Fairy Godmother, and prayed that you would help save the Prince with your fairy magic. I do not know if either of our prayers helped him, but in the early morning hours I could see how tired the Queen was and called for an attendant to assist her.  
After the sun rose, a change came over the Prince, and he rested more peacefully. I went back to my chamber to sleep and prepare for the long days ahead. I do not know how long the Queen stayed with the Prince, but when I returned later that morning she was still there. The Prince had opened his eyes and tried to smile, but it was apparent that he had withstood a difficult night.
He thanked both of us for staying with him and excused us, asking that we worry not for him, as he saw how tired we both were. The Queen gently kissed him on the forehead and smiled, leaving him in peace. I withdrew as well, but before I could leave he reached for my hand and squeezed it.
“Thank you for your concern.” He held my hand for a moment but let it go quickly. “I suspect many guests will come to visit me. You better get some rest.”
I kissed his hand and smiled. “I am happy that you are better.”
“My own lack of caution caused the accident, with the rest of the group filled with drink,” he said with frustration. “Lucky we were that the boy was not trampled and killed.” He pounded a pillow with his good hand. “What an ass I was, boasting of my great hunting skills, and I did not see Charles come behind me.”
I remained silent, unsure of how to respond.
“Go rest, as you deserve some peace.” He pushed away my hand.
He closed his eyes, distraught with his thoughts, and I left him.  I did desire some rest myself. The weeks after the accident were filled, as the Prince foresaw, with visitors coming to wish him well, and I needed to entertain them. I became drained from my duties. Visitors have now left the court after their extended stay to bring cheer and comfort to the Prince. He is no longer confined to his bed, but he walks with slowness and a tenderness that show his injuries are still of concern to him.
His kindness to me over the last few weeks has been constant, and I hope that he does not distance himself from me again. I have spoken at length with Clarissa, and her friendship has helped me during this dark time. But I fear that once the Prince is well enough, I will again be forgotten, like an old shoe. Let me end here before I turn too somber. It is late, and I should sleep.

January 25

Dear Fairy Godmother,
Earlier today Clarissa came to visit me as I practiced my writing. She took my hand and said, “Come with me.”
Attempting to argue with or ask for a reason from Clarissa only frustrates her, so I put down my book and followed. She brought me to the kitchens, where I knew that she had matters of importance to speak, as the rest of the royal family never visits this side of the castle.
“I have seen him make advances toward another.” Clarissa held my hands firmly in hers. “I do not trust him, and have seen this with my own eyes.”
My heart ached at the words. I did not wish to hear any more of what she had seen. “I fear to ask you to tell me more.”
“He plans to be unfaithful to you. I have seen it.” Clarissa saw me turn away.
“I do not wish to hear any more. I truly wish you to cease this talk as it pains me to hear the words.” I pulled away from her and started back to my room.
“You are a Princess and do not deserve such treatment.” Clarissa noticed several of the kitchen hands turn toward us, so she lowered her voice. “Do not allow him to treat you so!”
She followed after me and grabbed at my arm. I stopped, covered my hands, and took a breath. “I came from ashes and dirt not born of royal blood. Nothing I say will convince him to do other than he desires.”
“If you remain silent, then you are complicit and he will take you as weak of will, which I know that you are not.” She placed her hands together in prayer. “Please, confront him before he has his way with this woman.”
“The time for action has already passed.” I lowered my head and began to cry. “Do you not understand? I am weak and unable to stand against him for fear that I will be abandoned.”
Clarissa remained quiet and she came closer and spoke low. “You have proof of this?”
“Proof enough as my own two eyes have seen a sight I wish they had not.” I tried to stop crying as I did not enjoy showing my vulnerability and fear, but could not.
“What do you plan to do?” she asked.
“I do not know. I truly do not know.”
Such is the news within my heart that I share with you. I cannot go back to my father as my stepmother and her daughters still rule him. If I leave here, I have no subsistence of my own to survive and know of no relatives to take me in and shelter me. I have twenty years, am married and trapped in a prison of my own making. When you helped me attend the ball and I met the Prince, I imagined my life changed forever and that goodness and light would reign over the rest of my days. Yet the darkness that has descended over me is complete, and I am afraid.
I have considered leaving here, dream of it each night, but where would I go? I beg of you in my hour of need to please hear me. I am in despair. Aid me with your magic and whisk me away so that I can have time to think and place my thoughts, rather than be afraid of my own husband! His mood is not to be swayed when he is choleric, and I fear to stand against him. He has made his wishes clear to me these last years. My Mother, if she were here, what would she say to me? I often wonder. 
She could counsel me if she were still here, but she is not, and my only true and deserved friend is the lovely Clarissa. Unmarried and beholden to her father, she has not the power to save me. Thus my thoughts of fancy turn to you in the hope that you will come to me. I beg of you to use your magic and help me in my need.
What foolishness I continue to entertain, I do not know. I truly do not know. If there be faerie magic, let it come to rescue me.

January 26

Help from magick lies within each heart
if to claim it as your own is what you seek.
Look and search within before you start
as you must free your mind to reach its peak.
Dear Fairy Godmother,
What magic have you used to reach out and write back to me in this very book? My dearest fairy Godmother, you have discovered a way to answer me! I want to sit down and write back to you, but your words are so few and elusive. You have asked for me to free my mind, and I will do so in the hope that we will soon be reconciled. When I first saw the letters and words in my book, I feared that someone had secreted into my chamber and wrote the words to play with me, but I see that is not possible, as the words glow soft in a silvery light. No quill and ink could make those marks. The words were created with magic pure and true. I am excited and happy that you can hear me. If you can read what I write here, then I will share with you the stories of my days in the hope that you will continue to communicate with me.
I hear noise outside my door. I am sorry, but I must go.       
January 27 
Dear Fairy Godmother,
I woke this morning not feeling well. There is a sickness that has afflicted many in the castle. The weather has been cold, but not cold enough for snow, and yet I have a chill that I cannot rid myself of. My mind wanders back to this diary, and I often question whether your note to me still exists. I often open the book to the page, rub my hand over the words you wrote, and smile. I do not know how or when we will be together, but you have charged me with a task that I have set myself to.
Yet I am here, and my task is to free my mind, so I will attempt to do so in these days of winter and darkness. Here at the castle, life is quiet as the sickness has caused many to fall ill. I suspect that I have the illness because my head is light, and I find that I am often tired. I try hard to free my mind and imagine what it would be like to have the freedom to not worry about my husband or the Queen as I go about my daily routine. I imagine that I would have peace and that new ideas would come to me, for when I am alone, I am wont to dream of travel and seeing new cultures. If I were to open the dams within my mind, a rush of thought would come to me of which I am still much afraid. I do wish to travel and see France with its operas, plays and art.
I know not how to achieve these dreams when there are such obstacles in my path. I truly do not. Last night after all had gone to sleep, I brought out the glass slippers that you gave me, and I put them on. With eyes closed, I imagined that you stood beside me, and we talked about other girls you had helped. You would think me silly in my nightclothes standing in front of the mirror wearing the glass slippers that I treasure as my own. I would write more, but to bed I must go as I feel tired and weak.
I pray that I will dream of your return to me and that when I awake all will be made clear!

February 10

Dear Fairy Godmother,
I have been very sick. Truth be told, I did not think I was going to live. A strong fever and cough weakened and sickened me, as well as many in the castle. I lay in bed, day after day, with a high fever, unable to get up, and feeling so tired and delirious. I wanted to write to you but could not as I was too weak. Perhaps a week ago Clarissa came to wake me, for I did not get up in the morning. I could tell from the worried look on her face that she was upset. I felt trapped in my own body, but could not gather the strength to rise out of bed.
       She felt my forehead and then covered me. Yet the cold would not leave my bones no matter how many covers she placed me under. Clarissa, my dear, dear friend, called the King’s doctor, who came to examine me. He let out some of my blood to remove the sickness, and told me to stay in bed and rest.
       For seven long days, I stayed in bed, sick, and feverish. Time passed oddly as I lost track of the days and drifted in and out of sleep. One day I had a surge of energy that focused my faculties so much so that a sense of clarity came over me. Fearing that I would die, I devised a plan to give Clarissa my diaries in order that the Prince never read them. In a fit of stubbornness, I tried to rise out of bed and tell Clarissa that I had to give her my diaries and that I needed her help to keep them secret from the Prince and his Mother.
       Poor Clarissa! I can only imagine what she thought of me in my deranged state. I have not had a chance to talk to her since that time, as she has been busy taking care of others who are sick. Two of the more elderly servants have died from this dreaded sickness, and many others have fallen ill. I have only been up and about for a day now, and I still find it difficult to walk. I must take my time and am trying to build up my strength.
       The Prince came to see me several times, and he did stay with me for a long while. He was kind and sweet. The one day he sat by my bed for hours, not saying anything as I moaned in my feverish state, but it was encouraging to see him sitting there. He had several large maps on his lap and it looked like he was studying them.
       Later that day I heard him ask for more logs to be put on the fire and he asked for hot tea to be brought to me. I tried to drink it, but could not lift the cup to my lips. He sat next to me, held the cup, and I drank a few sips at a time.
       “Thank you for your help.” I lay back on my pillow and rested. The room appeared larger to me, and I had a difficult time concentrating, as every item swayed to a strange motion that I could not control.
       “You took care of me when I had injured myself and did not complain or admonish me for my antics.” He sat back in his chair, putting the cup of tea on a tray.
       “Do you remember how happy we were when we first met?” I believe the fever caused me to speak more openly.
       “I recall how magical you were with your dress, the glass slippers and your charming smile.” He rubbed the beard on his chin.
       “Are you not happy with me?” I turned to face him directly. “Have I disappointed you in some way?”
       He turned from me and picked up his cup of tea, lingering on the sip as he gathered his thoughts. “Must we speak of this now?”
       “I would like to know…”
       He interrupted me before I could finish and said, “The doctor informed me that you are in a delicate state and that your rest is paramount.”
       “Of course.” I remained silent and closed my eyes, trying to hold back my tears.
He did not say anything else, and after a few minutes of my silent crying, he stood up and left the room without a word. A part of me had warmed to him, for his actions were kind and thoughtful, but a thoughts of deeper motive rose to the surface of my mind, and I wondered if guilt caused him to care for me.
Now, days later, I have had much time to think while recuperating, and I have come to a decision. I had thought about withholding my opinion, even from myself, as possibly the effects of the fever still hold sway over me, but I know that is not the case. Freely I will say that I dislike the Prince at times and think he can be an insensitive man.
       He and I met when I was 16 years of age and my knowledge of the world was remote and naïve. Yet at 20, am I truly much more informed? I think not. Rather I realize a truth that I had not wanted to speak before: I wanted to escape my life under my stepmother. The Prince needed a woman at his side for appearances and to have his children. I have performed my role extremely well as a Princess, learning all that was necessary to fulfill my duties. I have been dignified and graceful, supporting the King and Queen, showing that I am worthy of my status. Now I question what my future in this family will be. I wonder if I will be forever trapped in my fear.
       My hand tires from writing so much. Perhaps I should go and have some dinner. Wherever you are, Fairy Godmother, I wish you well.

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