An American Cinderella:A Royal Love Story(13)

By: Krista Lakes

“You must have really hated him,” I said softly, shaking my head. How in the world did my father ever marry this woman?

Her green eyes narrowed. “He was an idealist. He was a fool. And he died before he could follow through on the promises he made me. It was my one chance for power and he failed. He ruined my chances. You deserve everything you get because of him.”

I took a step back as if slapped. I had no idea the resentment she harbored toward my father, and I was just beginning to see how it was going to affect me.

She was going to make my life miserable because my father didn’t live long enough to get her where she wanted to go.

I didn’t say anything, but just looked at the door. She walked me to the door and held it open like she was a gracious host all along.

“Have a wonderful night, dear,” she said as I stepped out onto the porch. “Oh, and one more thing. I’ll know if you’re trying to keep things from me. I’d hate to find out you were lazy or incompetent. Imagine how disappointed your father would be if you were either of those things.”

She smiled, the threat hanging in the spring air like cold ice.

I didn’t look back as I walked away. The street was dark and full of shadows. I stomped my way down the street to the bus station, knowing that the anger in my face would keep everyone away. I had a long ride home to think about what she was forcing me to do.

There was nothing good about today.

What about Henry? I thought. His smile made me warm a little bit. I remembered the kindness in his eyes and the way his hand had felt in mine. The happy way he made my heart speed up and my stomach flutter.

Well, I amended, other than Henry, there was nothing good about today.

Chapter 5

I wore my favorite dark gray slacks and cream colored silk top for my first day back at my old job. Just because I was going back in time didn’t mean I had to dress like it. Besides, wearing something that made me feel professional and attractive would at least make the day start out better.

Gus greeted me warmly as I walked in the front door.

“Good morning, Aria,” he said, smiling at me.

“Good morning, Gus.”

“If you get hungry later, the missus made banana bread. I’m happy to share.”

I’d forgotten how good Mrs. Gus’s banana bread was. It was almost reason enough to come work here on its own. Today was already a better day than yesterday.

“That sounds great. Thank you.”

He just grinned and waved me on to the stairs so I could go up and start my work.

I stopped by Jaqui’s office and said hello. She showed me where I was working and gave me the password to the WiFi in the building.

“Here’s your work space,” Jaqui said, bringing me to a small office on the top floor. It was already warmer up here than on the lower levels, and it was only the beginning of spring. It was one of the downsides of working in an historic old building. The heating and cooling weren’t always efficient.

Boxes filled the room except for a small table, where a scanner attached to a laptop sat waiting for me. One small window let in the light from outside. I sighed. This was going to be my life for a while.

“It won’t be too bad,” Jaqui promised. “Want to get lunch with me today? My treat? And Gus brought his wife’s banana bread.”

“Lunch sounds good,” I replied, staring at the sheer amount of work I had in front of me. This was going to take forever to scan everything. So much for a paperless society. “Oh, wait. I might have someone bringing me lunch,” I said quickly.

“Oh yeah?” Jaqui grinned. “Is he cute?”

I thought about Henry’s green eyes and the way he smiled.

“Yeah. But he’ll probably forget. So, if he does, I’m all yours.”

“Sounds good,” Jaqui said. She pointed to the stack of boxes closest to the table. “I need you to start with these ones. We’re backlogged and I’d like to catch up a little bit before moving onto the new stuff.”

“Okay,” I said, glad to at least have a starting point.

“Once you finish those, then you can move onto the Paradisa stuff,” she said, motioning to the rest of the room. “And I’m supposed to remind you, none of this may leave this room. It’s confidential and the US Government will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law, yada yada yada. You know the legal disclaimer on all this stuff.”

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