Family can be a blessing and a curse, but for artist Florian, it’s a nightmare he longs to escape.
As chief designer for Bartholomew Artist Porcelain, Florian specializes in painting birds. He also watches them in the wild to distract himself from his short-tempered mother, at least temporarily. Florian’s heart is too soft to leave his stepsister, Ella, to suffer alone. Still, he can’t help dreaming about one day finding happiness and love.
When Count Dieter von Hollenbach arrives in town to visit a friend and present an award, he isn’t looking for romance. Then again, he doesn’t expect someone as perfect as Florian to come into his life. To make sure Florian is all he seems and that their connection is genuine, Dieter keeps his title to himself.
But he isn’t the only one with a secret.
At a masquerade ball to celebrate the award, some of the masks fall away, but those that remain in place could destroy the love beginning to grow between them.
I love the story of Cinderella and Redeeming the Stepbrother is my take on the classic fairy tale. Well sort of. See I didn’t want to do a Cinder-fella story. They had been done, so I decided to twist the story and write a romance from one of the stepbrother’s perspectives. See, I’ve already twisted the story to meet my own needs. Of course you’ll recognize many of the classic players in the fairy tale, including the prince. LOL I had an amazing time with this story. It was fun, and interesting for me as a writer. To play with some classic archetypal characters and put my own spin on them. I think as a writer to be able to play with things like this, for me anyway, was as liberating and fun as it was a challenge. I wanted to bring something new while still retaining enough of the familiar to make the story fun. Of course you’ll see some old friends as well from Taming the Beast. I really hope you enjoy it.
“Look at that mess,” Mother scolded. “You need to stop all that stupid bird shit and do something productive with your time.” She sat at the kitchen table in a pair of jeans and a red blouse, reading a book. She lifted her gaze to Isabella, who was at the sink doing dishes, before returning to her book. “Put the jeans in the washtub once you’ve changed so they can be rinsed out. Don’t put them in the washer. I don’t want mud in there again.” She never looked up at me. It was her usual behavior.
I went up to my room, changed, and brought the jeans back down. Once they were taken care of, I took a sandwich to my room and locked the door so Jeremy, Mother’s favorite and my perfect older brother, didn’t come in to cause trouble. We each had a talent, and that was definitely his. The jerk.
I put the plate and glass of water on my desk, then pulled out my paint kit and a blank canvas from the closet. I set up my small easel and got to work, brush in hand, mixing colors, letting my inner eye take over.
There were many things about my job that I loved. Painting birds in great detail, flying, sitting still, standing in a pool of water—I enjoyed it. The work made me happy and I was good at it. I could actually make a living with my art. And I was proud of that. But it was what I did in this room, after work, alone—just me, the paint, and the canvas—that got my heart racing. At night, I painted men—nude, beautiful men, the ones who came to me in my head. And I had a vivid, wild, and sometimes naughty imagination. What always made me smile was that I sold my art on the internet. People paid me for the visual representations of my fantasies.
My mother and brother would have two fits and a hemorrhage, each, if they knew about my little side business, so I hid the canvases under my bed. After all these years, if I stacked them all up, my mattress would be six feet off the ground. Lots of pictures came to me. Not that it mattered, as I shipped most of them away, all over the world, and did it very quietly.
Anyway, I put the fresh canvas on the easel and got to work. The shoulder-length blond hair and strong jaw were easy enough to recreate, as were Dieter’s eyes and nose. Those I had seen, and because I posed him slightly to the side, I was easily able to imagine what his butt looked like. After the way his pants had tightened when he’d bent over, I just let my mind’s eye remove them. It was the rest of him that left me at a loss, but not for long. One thing I had learned was to let my mind fill in the blanks. It was so much easier and a lot more fun. I painted his broad shoulders, which were pretty easy to see through his clothes, and the rest, I just let my little old mind take over.
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.
Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey