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Fairy Tale Colors: Black

fairy tale colors black

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Chapter One

Budding rock star Jay Black had a problem. He'd been working local bars and had a few other gigs, and he'd even been to a few other cities where he'd met with great success. The trouble was, he wanted to cut an album, but he needed $15,000 to pay for the time at the recording studio. He was $5,000 short, and running out of ideas.

That was why he had decided to book a room and attend a business opportunities convention being held at the Baker Hotel. Which took another $2,000 of his precious resources, but which he considered to be an investment in his future. But, as his father often used to say, only time would tell.

OOO

"Ella Baker, you’re late!" bellowed her step-mother, Diana, as she paced back and forth in the break room of her posh hotel.

"Sorry, step-mother," said Ella as she rushed to her seat while her snooty step-sister snickered behind her hands. "I had to clean all the rooms on the fourth floor before the people for the convention arrive."

"That is no excuse, you lazy girl," she grumbled. "You're lucky to have a job at all. I could have easily sent you to an orphanage when your father died ten years ago, but I kept you out of the goodness of my heart. Don't you dare repay that kindness with an insolent tongue."

"Step-mother, I am grateful, truly," Ella said. "But I could really use more than two other maids to help me with all this work, and maybe a few people to do the laundry."

"There are forty rooms in this place, Ella, not four hundred," Diana snapped. "You really should be able to do them all by yourself. You're lucky I hired anyone to help you at all."

"Yes, step-mother," Ella responded nervously.

"Now go make sure the convention room is still in order, and don't bother any of the entrepreneurs. And make sure the chef is replenishing the pies on the tables."

"Yes, step-mother."


Chapter Two

The men and women milled around the large room, stopping at booth after booth of opportunities. Jay was nervous as he stood in his own booth playing his demo tape to potential investors.

"I have $10,000 of my own to invest," he explained. "The trouble is, to get all of the songs I need $15,000 total. And the studio wants all of it up front."

"I still don't see why they need your money," said the man he was trying to convince. "Shouldn't it be like publishing a book, where you get paid instead?"

"Actually many books today are self-published," Jay said. "I just need to get this first album out, and then a better studio should pick me up. So believe it or not I'm a commodity."

"That's quite a risk for $5,000," he said. "I'm not sure I want to part with that much money on a long-shot."

"Not a long shot, sir," Jay reassured him. "I have a big enough fan base to make a profit."

"Sorry, son, but I didn’t get to where I am today by taking such big risks," he answered. "But I do wish you good luck. I really like your work."

"Thank you, sir," Jay said, beginning to think this whole convention thing had been a bad idea.

After the man was gone, he realized he needed a break. With a heavy sigh he wandered over to the table filled with pies and cakes and helped himself. Chocolate silk pie wasn’t going to ease his money woes, but it sure did sooth his battered nerves.

He was still savoring his last bite when the double doors opened and someone walked inside. Not just someone, he amended. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Unlike the rest of the people, she wore an understated blouse and a pair of blue jeans, and her long, black hair cascaded in a ponytail down her back.

"Glad to see someone enjoying the food," she said to him with a smile as she prepared to walk past.

"Why don’t you join me?" he asked hopefully.

"Oh, no, I can’t—"

"You’re not on a diet, are you?" he teased her. "With a figure like that, it must be working well for you."

"Oh, no, I’m not on a diet," she said. "I’m just—working."

"So you’re an investor, then?" he asked excitedly. "I’m in need of one of those, most desperately in fact."

"Really?" she asked. "What for?"

"Step into my web, said the spider to the fly," he chuckled. "Come on over to my booth, and I’ll give you my best pitch of the day."

"Oh, I really shouldn’t," she answered.

"It’ll only take a minute," he said as he took her by the elbow. "And I promise not to bite—unless you want me to."

The woman bit her lip in indecision, considering him for a moment. He felt her pulse speed up as their eyes met and held, and realized his had done the same.

"Maybe one minute," she conceded. "But you’d better make it worth my time."


Chapter Three

Ella knew she should not be in the piano room, but Jay had shown her his demo tape, and then asked if there was a piano anywhere so he could show her some other songs he'd written as well. She was feeling as light as a feather in his presence, and she didn't want to go back to reality just yet.

Jay was idly fingering the keys as they talked, side by side on the bench. "Yeah, I’ve always known I wanted to make a living as a musician, but when I was a kid my parents had me playing old classical stuff like Mozart. You should have seen their faces when I came home with sheet music for some heavy metal. We decided to compromise, and so now I generally go with rock and roll."

"It must be nice having parents who are willing to compromise," said Ella with a sigh.

"Why, are your parents really strict?"

"Well, one of them is," she said. "My father has been dead for a long time now."

"Oh, I’m sorry," he said. "It’s so cruel of me to complain about my folks when you don’t even have both of yours."

"Technically, I don’t have either," she said. "I was referring to my step-mother."

"Wow, a real life evil step-mom, just like in the fairytales," he teased her, and gave her a soft jab to her ribs with his elbow. \"So, do I get to be Prince Charming?"

"Stop it!" she said with a blush.

"Well, I do kinda feel like a prince with you," he admitted as he took her hand in his and gave it a kiss. Then he set it on the piano keys and placed his one octave up from it. "Play this for me?" Ella followed the motions of his fingers with her own, and Jay smiled appreciatively. "Look at you, Ella, you’re a natural."

"I always wanted to learn," she said.

"Maybe you will someday," he said with a smile, and then started to play a song and sing to her. "Her hair was raven-black. Her eyes were like a heart attack. One look, and I just knew, there was only one thing left to do. Ella, Cinderella, will you be my own? You’re the sweetest little thing I’ve ever known. Just one taste of your lips could send me straight to heaven—but baby I’d rather have maybe six or seven—"

Ella giggled as he leaned forward and pouted his lips at her, looking for the aforementioned kisses. Timidly, she gave him one.

"More,” he said with a grin, and when they’d finally gotten to a seventh he whispered, “Hmm, I’m gonna have to work on those lyrics, I think,"

The grandfather clock in the background began to chime, and Ella gasped and looked up at it. "Oh no! We’ve been in here way too long! I’ll see you at the convention tomorrow, Jay. I’ve got something for you."

"But Ella, wait," he complained as she ushered him towards the door. "What’s so important you have to take care of it at eight o’clock at night?"

"It’s part of my job," she hedged. "I didn’t take care of it earlier, so I’ll have to go do it now. But I’ll see you tomorrow. I promise."

"Kiss good-night?" he asked hopefully

"No way, I’d never leave then. Go up to bed or something, and take your mind off of it."

"I’ll go to bed," he agreed. "But I don’t plan to take my mind off of it." He drew her forward and kissed her soundly. "And now, neither will you."


Chapter Four

"Ella Baker, who was that?" asked Annette, one of the other maids, as she rounded the corner out of Jay’s sight.

"Um, that was Jay Black," she answered, her cheeks still flushed.

"The rock star?" she gasped.

"Oh, you’ve heard of him?" Ella asked in surprise.

"Girl, you really don’t get out enough," she chastised her as they headed for the service elevator. "He’s been on the rise for over a year now, and the fans are chomping at the bit begging him to produce an album. I had heard he was going to be staying here for the convention, but how in the world did you end up kissing him in the hallway?"

"It’s a long story," she answered with a blush.

"I’m all ears," she said, pushing the button for the next floor up.

"Diana sent me to check on the pies, and he thought I was an entrepreneur, and he was just so cute and funny and sexy and sweet, I just couldn’t tell him," she blurted out as quickly as she could. "I think I’ve decided what to do with all my savings."

"Tell me you are not going to give him your nest egg, honey," Annette gasped. "You were going to use that to bust out of here. What are you thinking?"

"Annette, you just said it yourself," she answered. "His fans are dying for him to make an album. If it takes off, the money I’d get from it will more than pay for me to get away from this place. Besides, it gives me an excuse to see him again, doesn’t it?"

"If Diana catches you, you’re sunk," said her friend with concern. "Now get to work, and make it quick. I’ve been covering for you for three hours already."

Ella was quick to head upstairs and start cleaning like crazy, but it still seemed to be taking her forever to get anything done as she kept pausing to think about that good-night kiss.

"Why are you still working on the third floor at this hour?" Diana demanded a couple of hours later. "You should have been finished with all this work and down to the laundry room by now."

"Oh, I’ve got a batch in the dryer," Ella lied. "I was just on my way downstairs to tend to it."

"Ella Baker, I don’t know what you’ve been doing all day, but I do know you haven’t been up to the fourth floor," she scolded. "There’s a big spill right in the middle of the hallway. You’d best get up there before you go downstairs."

"Yes, step-mother," she said, and quickly headed for the stairs.


Chapter Five

"But Ella, this must be at least ten thousand dollars," said Jay as he held a couple of the hundreds in his hand. "In cash. Where did you get all of this?"

"I’ve been keeping it for a good cause," she answered softly as she pushed the money back into the envelope she’d opened only briefly so he could see the contents. "I think you’re the perfect investment for this."

"Sweetheart, I didn’t think I kissed you quite that good," he chuckled against her ear. Ella looked furtively over his shoulder as he drew her in for a hug. Annette motioned for her to rejoin her out in the hall from the doorway.

"Well, maybe you did," she chuckled, giving his cheek a playful peck. "Listen, I have to go for now, but I want to see you again before you leave the hotel, okay?"

"Which room are you in? I could stop by a bit later on," he said as she moved away from him and headed toward the exit.

"Meet me in the piano room—at midnight," she answered."Wait, I thought that was what time Cinderella was meant to run away," he called after her. "You’re not going to run away on me, are you?"

"Of course not," she said. "You should go deposit that, though."

"I’m on my way right now," he said. "I’ll see you later."

OOO

At midnight, Jay happily stepped into the music room and sat down at the piano, leaving the lights dimmed. He began to play, and quite some time later he realized that Ella had still not joined him. The clock struck two before he finally decided he may as well go up to bed.

On the way from the elevator to his room, he noticed a maid working frantically at putting away supplies in the broom closet. With a smirk, he said, "Isn’t it awfully late to be doing the housekeeping?"

Biting her lower lip, Ella poked her head out and asked. "How late is it?"

"Ella?" he gasped. "What are you doing in there?"

"Um, trying to catch up on the work I didn’t finish yesterday?"

"You’re not an entrepreneur?" he asked. "Why did you lie to me?"

"I’m sorry, Jay, I just really liked being with you," she admitted with a blush. "I’ll understand if you don’t want to talk to me again. But now that you’ve got the record money, I am sort of an entrepreneur."

"I don’t like being lied to, Ella," he said with a flushed face. "I waited for you for two hours, you know."

"Is it that late already?" she asked, meekly biting her lip.

"It is," he said. "Well, I suppose I’ll leave you to finish up then. When the record launches, where shall I send the check?"

"Jay, don’t be angry," she pleaded. "I didn’t mean for it to happen, you know."

"I’ll be leaving in the morning," he said. "You can have the room back by nine."

He walked away, leaving behind a pretty maid with tears streaming down her cheeks. He didn’t even look back.


Chapter Six

"Ella Baker, why do you have an invitation to Jay Black’s record launching celebration?" Diana demanded as she stormed into the break room with the letter in her hand.

"Why are you reading my mail?" Ella protested as she snatched it from her.

"Wasn’t he one of the guests here a couple months ago?" Diana stormed. "Don’t tell me he’s the reason you’ve been such a clumsy little tear-pot since then. How ridiculous, thinking a guy like him is going to fall for you."

"Actually, Diana, I gave him the money he needed for the album," she answered smugly.

"You? How could you possibly give anybody money?" she scoffed. "You’re just a little nothing, and that’s all you’ll ever be. And if that superstar does show up here with any money, the place could use some fixing up anyway. I’ll see to it that you don’t see a single dime. And as for that little gala event, you won’t be going."

"What do you mean?" Ella demanded.

"I mean even if I have to lock you in, you’re not going anywhere near that place," Diana told her as she grabbed her by the arm and pushed her into the closet.

"You can’t keep me in here!" Ella wailed as she began to pound on the door.

Diana turned the key in the lock. "If any of you let her out, you’ll be looking for work somewhere else."

"Yes, Diana," the rest of the employees said as they looked down.

The woman sauntered out with the invitation. "Looks like I need to dress for a party," she smirked along the way.

OOO

"Annette, I can’t let you do this," Ella complained yet again as the other woman ran a brush through her hair. "Besides, you said it yourself, Diana stole the invitation. They're not going to just let me in the door."

"If Jay sent you that invitation, maybe he wants to make up with you," Annette insisted. "Maddy and I are more than willing to do all the work here so you can go. You deserve some happiness after everything that woman has put you through."

Ella sighed. "But what if he only sent it to be polite because I gave him the money? What if he doesn’t want to make up at all?"

Annette gave her an exasperated frown. "A man doesn’t invite a girl to a party so he can keep being mad at her, you goose. I think he must have gotten over it by now."

"I hope so, but that still doesn’t get me through the door," said Ella with a sigh.

"No, but my brother Eddie will," said Annette with a grin. "He works at Corgin Hall. I’m having him come to get you. Now all we need is a really nice dress, and I know just the one."

"Oh, no, you can’t sneak into my mother’s old wardrobe," Ella protested.

"Why not?" she scoffed. "I do it all the time. Now let’s go, while Diana is busy primping. She’s sure to be at it for a while. We can slip right in and right out again."

"I hope this works," Ella said. "But if it does, you know we’ll both be looking for a new job, right?"

"She’s not going to throw you out, Ella," Annette said. "Without you, she’d actually have to fork over cash to your replacement, or the place would shut down so fast it would make her head spin."


Chapter Seven

"Gentlemen, why is this woman sitting where Ella is supposed to be?" asked Jay as he looked the tall, slender blonde over with irritation.

"She had the invitation, sir," said one of the security guards sheepishly. "We just assumed she was the one you wanted."

"Please, I can clear all of this up," Diana said in a wheedling tone. "Ella is too sick to attend, Mr. Black. She has sent me here personally to let you know. And, if you have anything you’d like to send with me, like money or a gift, she has authorized me to accept that for her as well."

"Who are you?" Jay demanded.

"Why, I’m Ella’s step-mother, of course," she simpered. "Did she not tell you the two of us are so close? We’re like two peas in a pod, Ella and I."

"Get out," Jay said. "Now."

"But-but—why?"

"Because Ella would never have sent you," Jay told her.

"You’re right, I wouldn’t," said Ella from the doorway as one of the other security guards led her in. "She locked me in a closet and left me there. I’ve brought along a couple policemen to have her arrested."

"You can’t have me arrested, darling," said Diana, still maintaining a plastic-looking smile. "You’ve no place to go."

"Don’t bet on it," said Jay as he put an arm around Ella’s shoulders and drew her close to his side. "Come on, Ella, I want you backstage while I sing, and then we can talk."

Two policemen stepped past Annette’s brother and grabbed a protesting Diana. She tried to run away and they chased her around, but Jay and Ella never looked back at all.

Ella watched with a smile the entire time Jay sang, and on the very last song, he stepped over and brought her onto the stage with him. "This is a song I wrote for a beautiful young woman, and I’m hoping when she hears it, her answer will be yes."

Blushing, Ella clung to his hand as Jay sang her the revised version of the Cinderella song he’d teased her with before. He ended with, "and if my Ella wants me to, I’ll even make her my wife."

Ella’s eyes were filled with tears. Gasping as he said the last few words, she flung herself into his arms. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" she shouted as she rained kisses upon his cheek and lips.

"And the handsome prince lived happily ever after," Jay said into the microphone before he wrapped Ella into his arms and carried her off to collect on all the kisses he hadn’t gotten before.


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