Here’s the last excerpt we’re sharing from the fourteen stories inside Rogues: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology. We hope we’ve teased you sufficiently that you’re eager to read the rest! And at just $0.99, we think it’s a steal. We’re not out to make money with this book. We simply want to be read, with the hope you find authors’ voices you love and want more of!
“Glass Slippers, Hardly Worn” is, of course, a Cinderella story, with twists you will adore. ~DD
Ashel tugged at the bindings on her hands, and nearly turned an ankle as the highwayman led her away from the carriage and into the dark forest. After everything she’d been through that day, it would be just her luck to be kidnapped on the way to the ball and forced to tramp through the wild in the most uncomfortable pair of shoes ever conceived of.
“My family won’t stand for this,” she said, more because she felt the declaration necessary than because it was actually true. “My footmen will free themselves and come after us. I expect them at any moment.”
“Your footmen? Miss, when I tried to speak to one of them, he squeaked. Your coachman mewed like a kitten.” The highwayman’s voice was as deep and mysterious as the forest that now rose all around them.
Ashel trembled at the sound of it.
“At any rate, my men will keep close watch over them. I am confident we won’t be followed.”
He helped her step over a fallen log, their way lit only by the moon and the stars peeking through the heavy canopy above. His strong grip burned through the silk of her new gown, and when she stepped down from the log, he momentarily put his arm around her, protectively.
She wasn’t frightened exactly. The stories of young ladies being carried off by highwaymen nearly always ended in the ladies in question being robbed of their honor; since Ashel had no honor to lose, she felt strangely calm about this possibility. Her beloved father, her inheritance, her station in life, and yes, her honor were all long gone. What more had she to lose?
As she trudged through the dark, the highwayman’s strong grip on her never loosening, Ashel thought of honor, and the sweet-natured stable boy, Hobby, who had relieved her of hers over five years past. Only her late father’s horse master knew of this horrifying transgression. Ashel’s begging had saved the boy from the gallows, but nothing could save their love. He had disappeared in the night, and the horse master had concocted a story about his joining the King’s army. Then a tense month had passed while Ashel actually wished she might be with his child, but that was not to be. Hobby was never seen again.
He had been an awkward boy, his head perpetually shaved by the cruel horse master who had a paranoia about fleas and lice, his nose often peeling from sunburn, his underfed frame gangly and thin. But Ashel had loved him just the same. Loved his gentle ways, his laughter, his kisses, the multitude of loving nicknames he gave her: Ashputtle, The Queen of Hearths, and her favorite, Ashelina. She had loved giving herself to him that fateful night, their naked bodies wound together in the hayloft.
Hobby had cupped her small breasts reverently, pinched her aching nipples, and cried her name as he spent his seed inside her. Then he cradled her and kissed and licked away the stinging that her deflowering had left. It had been his first time too; how he knew what to do so expertly, making her moan and writhe under his tongue, she never found out. She had no complaints though. Until the master had burst in on them, The encounter had been like a dream. But then, like a dream, her darling Hob was gone.
Ashel had swallowed her sadness as her stepsisters teased her about Hobby. “Oh do you miss the little horse boy? Do you miss his smell? I could make a sachet of manure for you to put under your pillow.” And in her dusty little corner of the woodshed, she had dreamed of Hobby’s hands and other parts of him that were not so little. And she had chafed at the unfairness of it. To be treated like a servant in her father’s house, yet denied the pleasure of love, maybe even a marriage, with another servant because that was beneath the daughter of a nobleman, even a dead one. In between their mooning over the king’s insipid son, she endured merciless teasing from her stepsisters about that, too. “Who would marry someone who smells like a tinder box? You’ll die with your dusty little hole unpoked, Ash-pot.”
If only they knew what a magnificent poking Hobby had given her that night. Sometimes Ashel smiled to remember it, despite her stepsisters’ cruel words.
Then one day, fed up with their years of mockery, Ashel had decided she would marry their feckless fop of a prince just to spite them. A silly impulse from a silly young girl she now realized, and she chided herself for wasting her meager savings on the scheme. If she hadn’t worked that witch’s spell—that she had paid handsomely for, too—and called up that ridiculous fairy with her pink cloud of magic and lace, she wouldn’t be in this predicament. Festooned in gaudy jewels, dragging a heavy silk gown through brambles and thorns, gasping from a corset that was almost all bone, and her feet! Slippers made of glass! It was not to be borne.
“Wait,” Ashel finally said. “These infernal shoes. Let me take them off. I beg you.”
The highwayman’s eyes twinkled below the rim of his black hat. “How will you walk without shoes? The ground is rough and thick with bristles and pine barbs.”
Did he smile under his scarf? Ashel attempted to cross her arms, stubbornly, a gesture she had seldom made since her father’s death. But of course with her hands bound in front of her, the effect was more comical than stubborn. The highwayman actually laughed, a low grumbling laugh that evoked something warm in Ashel’s heart. The sound reminded her of the purring of a barn cat.
“Perhaps if you tell me where we are going,” Ashel said. “And how far away it is, I can imagine if I might bear it. My feet are not delicate lady’s feet, despite what you may think.”
“I have a better idea.” The highwayman lifted her easily into his arms and, cradling her, continued through the trees.
Ashel was inclined to struggle and protest at first, but something about the highwayman made her feel oddly safe. She lay her head against the coarse wool of his cloak and, with her next breath, inhaled the warm familiar scent of someone who lived in close company with horses. Straw, horse sweat, and faintly, but not unpleasantly, manure. Either this was a stolen cloak or the highwayman was a horseman. Again Ashel thought of Hobby then and blinked back a tear. This was not the time to show weakness. Though she was increasingly resigned to her fate, she planned to be at least somewhat in control too.
“Why did you not take my horses?” Ashel said. “If you’re a rider as I suspect you are, could you and your men not use fine horses like them?”
The highwayman let out another low rumbling laugh. “Fine horses? One had whiskers, the other scales. I recognize enchantments when I see them, lady. Those are no more horses than I am a prince.”
That made Ashel think of the ball she was missing, and all the fine food and drink that might be found there. Her stomach rumbled at the thought. “Well then, are you not afraid I will enchant you too? Maybe turn you into a mouse and myself an owl to eat you?”
“I might enjoy being eaten by you, lady,”
To her horror, Ashel laughed.
About the Author
Bibi Rizer is a writer and blogger who lives in Vancouver, Canada. When she’s not writing sexy stories, she designs book covers featuring sexy vampires, trolls, millionaires, and lifeguards. If you enjoyed her story, she has several more available for Kindle.