I’m not evil.
I know, I know, that’s the story you heard from that brat. Or maybe you heard it from those thieving mice who “rescued” her. If you knew the real story, your bustle would drop.
It’s true I married Cindy’s father for the money, that I’ll admit. He wasn’t only rich, he was handsome, kind, and charming. I like a nice smile as much as the next woman. But mostly he was loaded. Before you go thinking I’m both evil and a gold digger, hear me out.
When my first husband died, I was left to care for my daughters Anastasia and Drizzela. I didn’t discover he’d spent our savings visiting a house of ill repute until after the funeral. Of course, he never took out a life insurance policy, as he’d promised—too much money spent on bosoms and booze. Bastard.
What was I to do? My girls needed to eat. So, yes, I may have “accidentally” dropped my pocketbook at the market and bent to pick it up, pushing my perky, bustled bum sky-high before the most eligible bachelor in town, who may have ever-so-politely retrieved it before asking me to dinner. Who’d blame me?
Imagine my surprise when, three months later, he asked me to meet his daughter. You know the one. At first, she looked innocent, all blink and blue eyes. She was a sweetheart, giving my girls pony rides around the chateau and inviting them to sleepovers. Her room was a palace, pink and jeweled, with a huge canopy bed. Yeah, she was spoiled. But she seemed nice.
Everything changed after her dad proposed. In a wink, we were married. And in another, he was dead. Carriage accident. Can you believe my luck? I couldn’t run the household without help from the girls—just the normal chores—washing dishes, sweeping the hearth, feeding Lucifer the cat. The only one with a surly attitude was Cindy. She wouldn’t lift a finger, acted like a princess. Flounced around with her nose in the air, snarling orders and eating bon bons while her sisters worked. She made my girls cry! So, I grounded her. Can you blame me? It’s not my fault it happened the night of the ball.
Yeah, yeah. I locked her in the attic sometimes. That part’s true. She was always slipping into my boudoir, stealing things—silver brushes, strings of pearls, even my rouge. So improper for a young lady! But the worst part? The girl snuck out of the house constantly, running willy-nilly with every coachman in town, lifting her petticoat. We couldn’t afford a baby in the house. And there was our reputation to consider.
So, yes, she was locked up that night. I’m sure she told the mice some story about her “evil stepmother.” She’s good at that. Telling lies. So horrid, when all I’ve ever done is treat her like my own. The part about the gown and a fairy godmother magically changing the horses to coachmen? A bit much, isn’t it? The truth is, only the mice were involved. They stole the key to the attic. Cindy used it to escape, then nabbed my favorite ball gown and slippers as I slept, although both must have been a bit tight on her. I’ve kept my girlish figure, you know.
I don’t know how Cindy got to the ball that night. Most likely she owed a “favor” to her latest coachman. Drizella and Anastasia told me they saw her throw herself at the prince, “accidentally” rubbing her bosom against him. He was instantly smitten. You know men.
Next thing, it’s morning, and the royal messenger shows up at our doorstep with my glass slipper. Out saunters Cindy, innocent as you please. The slipper fit (barely). I didn’t say a word. Cindy packed her bags and left for the palace.
Have things changed for us? Well, the daily tantrums have finally stopped. That’s gift enough.
I feel sorry for the prince, I really do. Good luck to him, poor chap. It’s only a matter of time, and he’ll see.
You’ll all see.
I’m not evil.