Cinder has never been limited to the one godmother in his story. He has a few others besides.
The very first of these women, Linda Reilly, is responsible for his conception. She told me about Samhain Publishing's open submission call for fairy tales. At the time all I could think was "Yeah, right! Who would publish anything by me?" However, I conceived a plausible plot for a Cinderfella (m/m take on Cinderella), and it wouldn't let me go.
I actually had to set aside the fanfic slash I was working on to start Cinder's story. I had only written a couple of chapters of my fanfic so I by no means considered myself a writer, much less an author. But I was writing for myself and my friend Sara, so it really was a moot point at that time.
After I finished Cinder's story, I asked Linda and another author, Rebecca Leigh, to read it. Rebecca loved it and wanted me to sub it. And I might have, except I had missed the deadline on the submissions call. So I filed it away and just went on writing one shots for a small group of friends.
Deanna Wadsworth, another m/m romance author (Sensing a theme here?), likewise loved it and pushed me repeatedly to submit it. By this time I had actually published a short story and a novel with Breathless Press, so I finally took her advice.
I revamped the story a little (read applied everything I had learned with subsequent stories) and sent it off to my editor. Linda, Rebecca, and Deanna were right; From the Ashes was accepted!
From the Ashes will be available after the New Year.
Rebecca and Deanna are still writing m/m erotic romance. Linda was forced to give up her writing by some people who refused to see the message in her stories, that love is always right.
So I just want to say "Thank you" to all of Cinder's godmothers.
Cinder never thought that he could rise from the ashes of his life, but an unexpected encounter with a woman claiming to be his fairy godmother may be just what he needs. Finding himself flung into his very own fairy tale, she sends him off to meet his Prince Charming. But was the gown really necessary?
Cinder glanced around. Paper lanterns floated in the trees, lined the walks, and graced the gazebo near the reflecting pool, giving the grounds a mystical air. Their warm glow caught the dancing jets of the fountain splashing merrily to his right. The musical, crystalline tones carried on the night wind’s breath. He was reminded of the enchanted gardens in the fairy tales his father had read to him when he was a child. What would happen to him if he dared walk there?
Henri led him toward the gazebo. Soon he would find out.
The cool breeze caressed his uncovered neck. Cinder shivered at the ethereal touch. Henri turned to him, the question clear in his eyes, but he didn’t know how to answer. Instead he breathed in the tangible scent of rich earth and flowing water, hoping to calm his bounding heart.
Henri lightly stroked his arm. Cinder’s breath caught at the silky brush of the other man’s fingers. He drew another shaky breath. Henri may have meant to soothe him, instead his touch set Cinder’s wayward body aflame.
They left the last of the courtiers behind as they entered the dim interior of the fanciful pavilion. Vines climbed its intricately carved posts, perfuming the air within. The music and voices of the aristocrats faded away. Only a single intrepid nightingale could be heard over the cheerful babbling of the fountain. Hidden from the rest of the court, an unworldly sense of peace filled him. Was his very own fairy tale about to come true?
Bespelled and bemused, he could feel the magic in every beat of his heart, in every trembling breath he drew.
Once inside the bower, Henri reached to cup Cinder's cheek. Unused to being touched, he nearly flinched away but managed to still, heart pounding, before giving himself away. The older man's thumb slid across his cheekbone and came to rest lightly on his mouth. Why did he want to lean into that caress?
The other man's warm, slightly musky scent filled his nostrils, drowning his senses.
Henri's other hand wrapped around his waist and drew him close while tipping his face upwards. Cinder's breath left him in a rush, stirring the noble’s hair. Henri was all that he could see, his mouth slowly, carefully descending toward Cinder’s. If he allowed this, the other man might discover his deception. He couldn’t risk that, so why then did he ache to feel Henri’s kiss? Their lips brushed, light as thistle down.
Surprisingly, Henri's mouth was soft and warm upon his own. After a moment, Henri's pressed more firmly against his. Something fluttered in his chest, trying to get out.
Cinder didn't think to pull away until he felt Henri's tongue seeking entrance. The hand on his face slipped to his nape and held firm. He froze in shock, not even daring to breathe, as flames rushed through his body. The very beat of his heart betrayed him.
The questing tongue stroked his lips and pushed between them. It slid over his teeth, seeking to enter. When he protested, Henri's tongue swept in and began a lazy, sensuous exploration that left him breathless.
Soon he found himself stroking Henri's tongue with his own. Henri responded to his fledgling attempts by pulling him closer and moaning into his mouth. He had never experienced anything so deeply sensual and erotic. He fed his own needy pleas to the other man one at a time.
Finally they separated slightly, Cinder panting heavily, trying to catch his breath. Was Henri as affected by their kiss as he was? A quick glance confirmed Cinder was not alone in his arousal. Flushed and gasping, Henri gazed at him with eyes full of wonder and something unnamed smoldering in their depths.
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