Find more from this author on:
About the author:
As an author, Melissa Shirley believes in fairytales, happily ever after, and destiny. Born and raised in Illinois, and a mother of eight, she lives with her husband and three youngest children in a quiet town in the southern part of the state where she spends her time writing and watching her children grow into the people she has always dreamed.
What inspired you to write your book?
I discovered a call for retelling of fairy tales on the Decadent Publishing website and immediately thought how fun it would be. I was thinking Cinderella or Snow White, but I was assigned The Goose Girl at the Pond by The Brothers Grimm. Having never heard of it before, I was flubbered. Then the story came together and I am so glad..
Here is a short sample from the book:
I went ten days without running into Dylan, not that I was counting, of course. It was due mostly to the fact whenever he came around, I chose to hide. On the bright side, during those ten days, Grandma and I grew close. Over dinner, she’d recount the stories of her life, of my mother and my grandfather, all when the house had electricity. She constructed humorous tales of my mother’s life, her own bad girl ways, the naughty escapades, even detailing my mother’s follies in driving Grandpa’s car into the lake—twice. I lapped it all up because, for once, someone noticed I’d shown up for more than a quick appearance at a dinner party. She shared parts of herself with me no one else ever had, and I realized how empty my life had been.
I found myself wondering how my mother had become so different over the years. I yearned to know the woman she’d once been. More than anything, though, I wanted my grandmother, my mother, someone to know me.
Cleaning out the stalls simulated a hard-core workout. I called it a poor man’s gym, but not to Gran. I didn’t want to take the chance of hurting her feelings when we had taken such strides in our relationship. On day eleven, as I shoveled muck, footsteps rustled the hay on the barn floor.
Dylan. I knew it, deep in my bones…and other parts. I ducked down, hoping he’d just do whatever he’d come to do and leave. I held my breath, pressed myself against the wall.
Nothing. Trying without much success not to make noise, I peeked through two slats, and his face stared at me from the spot where he crouched on the other side, all blond and blue and sex appeal. “Hi, there.”
I jumped up as though I’d been bitten in the ass and stole a quick glimpse of his dress pants and crisp button down—or more accurately, the way the clothes fit him. “Hi.”
“What’re you doing?”
I shrugged, wary. Attractive or not, it did not translate into inner beauty, and there were only so many times a girl could hear she’d sunk to snake level without causing serious injury to the speaker. “Avoiding confrontation.”
He smiled, and my heart did a little dance in my chest. What crazy God had created such a fine specimen of eye candy whose personality could be defined with a simple coupling of unpleasant and obnoxious? I picked up the giant fork and began tossing hay out of the stall. I chose not to think about the horse droppings mixed in with the hay. He watched me for a few minutes before I stopped and wiped my glove across my forehead.
“Can I help you with something?”
“Um, yes, but uh, first, I wanted to apologize.”
I tilted my head sideways, one formerly arched brow sliding heavenward. It had to be good if he was hemming and hawing like a school girl about to have her first date.
“I was mean. Those things I said weren’t about you. They were about someone else, and I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”
“It’s okay. Thanks.” As far as apologies went, I’d heard worse. “And?”
He looked down at his white-knuckled fists. “And what?”
“You said you need something?”
“Right.” His gaze touched every object in the room except me. I hid a grin of spiteful anticipation. “Today’s my birthday.”
“Well, happy birthday.” I rocked on my heels, leaning against the stall wall. I had six months left and not a single activity planned. I could wait.
“Thanks.” He blew out a long breath, shoved his hands in his pockets, and lowered his eyes. “It’s been a while since I’ve been with a woman.”
What?Was this some weird farm boy proposition because I’d surrendered style to the warmth and comfort of flannel? Some county bumpkin mating ritual we city folks never heard of? I straightened, not sure in which direction he planned to take this conversation, and not sure I wanted to know. “Choose your words carefully, farm boy. I’m the one holding Godzilla’s salad fork, and you’re in striking range.”
“Right.” He swallowed hard, his discomfort almost painful for me to watch. Almost. “That came out wrong.”
“I hope so.”
“Okay. It’s my birthday.”
I wasn’t about to let him off the hook. “I think we covered that already.”
He shuffled from one foot to the other and then repeated the movement a few times. “There’s a party tonight, in town, and uh, my family’s all here. Turning thirty is a big deal, I guess. There’s Jace and Lyric and…well, all of them. Anyway, like I said, it’s been a while—” He shifted his gaze away from me, his eyes widened, and he took a small step back. “—since I’ve dated anyone, and they haven’t been here to know, you know?”
I shook my head slowly. “Not really.”
“Uh, the thing is…I told them I was dating someone so they wouldn’t worry so much about me being out here all alone.” Color crept up his cheeks. It would’ve been endearing except he spent so much time being an ass, I thought he kind of deserved the humiliation. “And, anyway, I need a date for tonight, and I thought since we’re friends….”
“When did we become friends?” Of course I would say yes. I hadn’t been off the property since I arrived, and I’d spent hours daydreaming of mingling with other people, maybe even some in my own age group who didn’t hate me. Seeing the town and exploring its quirks would just be a bonus.
“You know, the snowball fight.”
“Oh, right, and just after you called me shallow and…what was it?” I tapped my chin. “Greedy. Yup. I believe that was the exact term you used.” I paused. “Very eloquently, by the way.” I sent him my own trollish sneer. “It barely stung at all.” I threw in a nonchalant shrug for impact.
“And I said I’m sorry.” His face darkened to a satisfying shade of crimson. Sweet Lord. I hadn’t thought he could look any better, but of course, wrong.
I let him suffer for a few more seconds. “Okay.”
“Okay?” He blew out a relieved breath and rewarded me with one of those pulse pounding flashes of happiness. “Really?”
“You can get ready at my house if you want.”
“What? I can’t go like this?” I had horse crap on my shoes. My flannel—yes, flannel—shirt caught on a wayward nail earlier and tore a strip down the front. My hair hadn’t been straightened in days, and I hadn’t a single idea where my makeup bag had run off to.
He grinned, the tension leaving his body. “Absolutely, but maybe add some more straw to your hair.” Which he did. “Smudge some extra dirt on your cheeks.” He reached for me, and I backed away, sidestepping his grasp. “Maybe a little extra horse—” He bit his cheek. “—stuff on your boots.” He grinned and advanced closer. I stood stock still. “My sister used to be a super model. Wouldn’t wanna disappoint her.” He winked, then frowned, then settled on an expression I assumed was supposed to be friendly but portrayed pain. “Seriously, whatever you do, however you come along, you’ll be beautiful. Even like this, you’ll be the prettiest princess in the room.”
Wow. I filed all of that away for later perusal. There was no way in hell I could summon the pride to pass up a hot shower and the opportunity to blow dry by antagonizing him over an offhanded comment. “What time’s the party?”
Because the sun had set already, I had no way of telling time anyway.
“An hour or so,” he answered not looking at me, and I wished for the willpower to refuse him.
Hot shower? Being taken for granted? Definitely, hot shower.
“You waited until an hour before you have to be there to ask me?”
“I didn’t think you’d have plans.”
“You’re so lucky I’m dying to stand under a hot streaming spray of water, or I’d tell you to go screw—” I looked up hearing Gran’s soft footsteps on the wooden barn floor. She wore one of those to-die-for dresses, and shoes that I knew cost more than her house was worth. Her hair gleamed, every strand pinned in place, and I smelled like I’d taken a roll in the manure pile.
“You look so pretty,” I gushed. “Hot date?”
“Well, in honor of my best guy’s birthday, I thought I would surprise us all and get a little gussied up.” She ambled to Dylan’s side. He drew her in for a hug, folding her in close to his body.
I grinned and poured on the charm. “Well, if that’s a little gussied up, if you go all in, there won’t be a man from nineteen to ninety who won’t need a little heart medication today.”
She winked at me. “I laid a dress out for you on your bed, and I think it’ll be positively smashing with those cute little pink pumps you brought along.”
I fell more and more in love with my grandma every single day.
While almost giddy with the knowledge I was going to get to go out, I thought I would have been just as happy in my flannel shirt and poop boots.