AN: Thanks for taking the time to read this story. This is one of the few stories that I have already completed in its entirety and able to be converted from fanfic, so I'm posting it here! Let me know what you think. Here's the entire summary:
What happens when the beloved tale of Cinderella finds itself in the middle of the major corporations of the music industry? Cinderella, herself, is caught trying to save her father's company from the evil grasp of her poisonous stepmother. At the same time, the pretty, unpretentious window-washer has caught the eye of two top-level execs, including one who'd been her best friend in the deep, dark past that neither remembers. Amidst the twists and turns of a corporate merger, an arranged marriage, and more family ties to deal with than she can handle, will she be able to choose and hold onto her Prince Charming?
"Apollo, Apollo." Glancing from the order sheet in her hand and the address of the building she currently had her truck stopped in front of, she shrugged and pulled the key from the ignition before swinging out of the car. "And, here we go."
The building was huge, she mused as she set about pulling the supplies she needed for the job. Bucket, chemicals, rags all went into the cart she'd pulled out of the truck first. She bundled her thick, dark locks under a dusty cap and propped protective eyegear over her green eyes. Gathering the rest of her supplies, she started pushing the cart towards the large structure then stopped to tilt her head back and study it.
Forty stories of perfect architecture looked back down at her, glass shimmering and winking in the early April sunlight. It was a pretty enough building, she supposed. She didn't really worry about any aesthetics when it came to her job. She did what she did because it got her out of the house, out from under the watchful eyes of her glaringly hateful stepmother. Besides, it was the only job she'd had any sort of qualifications for, having only been allowed to finish her high school degree.
Then, she'd been banished to doing laborious tasks until she'd escaped.
As she hooked up the cart to the side of the building and harnessed herself to it, she wondered briefly what her father would think if he were to see her. After a moment, she told herself it was pointless to have those thoughts anyway. Her father was dead.
And she, Laurel Caine, was a professional window-washer.
They shook hands like well-trained dogs and then, abandoning protocol, tapped their fists together before doing the handshake they'd invented when they'd been fifteen. The laughter erupting between them baffled the elderly members present in the meeting. The newspaper photographer caught it at all.
"I'm glad we're going to be working together, Bri." James Apollus sat back in his chair after the meeting had ended and it was just the two of them. His gray eyes gleamed with satisfaction from beneath unruly dark hair as he studied his best friend and now co-worker.
"I'll be working under you, buddy. Of course, you're glad." Ethan Kelly swiped his fingers through his curly dark blonde hair and grinned at one of his oldest friends. "But, yeah, you're right. It'll be good."
James handed him a bottle of water from the mini-fridge he kept well-stocked in his office. "No regrets about me buying the business your dad built and put his heart into?"
"Not really. He'd told me to do what I wanted with it just as long as I didn't disband it completely." Ethan lifted one shoulder. "I'm doing what's best for the company. I couldn't run it the way my father did, but I love every bit of it. I trust you and Apollo with it more than I'd trust anyone else."
"It's going to make us filthy rich," James added after a moment.
Ethan grinned and looked out at the city beyond the wide expanse of window in James' office. "Pal, we're already rich."
"No, no, no." Zack flicked her hands away from the soundboard and bent over it himself. Closing his eyes briefly, he let his fingers wander over it before he adjusted the knobs just enough so that the resulting blend of music pleased him. Sitting back, he opened his eyes so that the dark blue sparked as he smiled, satisfied, at his current partner. "What do you think of that?"
Bryna Chambers narrowed her eyes and repressed the urge to throw something at him. As appealing and charming as he was, it didn't mean he wasn't frustrating to work with. The sound was hers, but he always felt the need to change it. Zack Carter was used to having things his way, but she'd long since decided his perfect house of cards was going to be knocked down. By her.
She'd been in love with him for more than half of her life, and she was bound and determined to find a way to finally capture his heart. She just had to figure out the how first.
"It's okay," Bryna finally answered. When his face took on the lost puppy dog look, she rolled her eyes, resisting the need to kiss it off his face, and shook her head. "Knock it off, Zack. It's not going to work with me, and you know it. You've got the sound you want, so why don't you take it and go? Send it off to your fledgling artists and make them happy." She pushed away from the console and stood. "Obviously, I'm not needed here, so I'm going to go where I am needed."
"Oh, come on, Bryna." Zack tugged at her hand. "There's no need to get all huffy and leave. So what that my fiddling with the track made it better? It's still yours, and you're going to get the byline in the album jacket."
She shook his hand off and pulled on her coat. "It's not the byline that matters to me, Zack. It was never the byline."
His question stopped her at the door. "If you don't know by now," she finally said, "then it would hardly matter if I told you." Before he could say another word, she'd disappeared through the door.
Zack sat back and frowned. What the hell was her problem? Usually Bryna Chambers was calm, quiet, and a freaking genius when it came to the music. Today, she'd lost the calm, and she certainly hadn't been quiet. She'd been snappish and moody, and that spark that her deep brown eyes took on when she was pissed had flickered briefly here and there during their eight hours of working together. Fortunately for the both of them and their work, she'd quelled that anger—though it still fascinated him that her eyes would practically spit flames when she got that furious.
Shaking his head, he flicked on the track again and listened to it. It had taken them eight hours, but they'd perfected it. At least, he thought they'd perfected it. Bryna had been angry that he'd changed her initial ideas. But he knew what was what.
Zack Carter hadn't gotten to be the Head of Sound Research and Development at Apollo Records for nothing. He knew his music, his sounds, and what was hot. Bryna Chambers, genius producer though she may be, was just going to have to deal with his expertise until they'd played out the contract he'd signed her to for the company.
Then, he thought, reaching for the controls on the board, then they'd see what was what.
Laurel scraped the dirt and grime from every inch of her body and nearly cried from the relief of hot water pouring over each aching muscle. Forty stories of gleaming glass had left her muscles nearly paralyzed, but she didn't mind. When she thought of the mansion, her once-upon-a-time home, and the tortures she could be enduring working there, washing windows for companies with more money than God was a snap.
She could've been there, she thought, closing her eyes as water sluiced over her. She could have been one of those wealthy scions sitting in her own plush office, overseeing the daily businesses of a powerful company. If things had turned out differently, she would have been in charge of half of the multibillion-dollar corporation her father and aunt had founded before her birth. But things hadn't turned out differently.
Laurel had sold her soul to the very devil herself and was now forced to watch Clarissa Chambers-Caine, her stepmother, control everything.