Cinderella Got Nothin' On Me
When I was younger, just like any other little girl, I loved princesses. I lived, breathed, and slept Walt Disney PG-rated romance animations. Though, while most of my friends strived to be a Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, I preferred Belle. She was different; out of all the other princesses she seemed the most real.
Contrary to Belle, Cinderella and Aurora fell in love way too fast (in my opinion). Sleeping Beauty had way too much singing in it – too la-dee-da for me. She slept through most of the story, and then her (supposed) "true love" came and planted one on her, and boom! They got married and lived happily ever after. I doubt she even knew his favorite color! Or his middle name. Or what kind of cereal he liked for breakfast… if he even liked cereal. Not like little things matter all thatmuch; I would just personally prefer to get to know a guy rather than sing with him in the woods and have him slay a dragon for me while I was in a coma.
And Cinderella? All she did was put on an innocent little act while everything was handed to her; Fairy Godmother and Prince Charming did all the freaking work. How do you leave your shoe on the stairs like that anyway? If for some stupid reason I chose to wear heels made of glass, I would've sure as hell made sure I took my time getting down the stairs. If those heels fell off my feet as I charged down the steps, I would've most likely fallen flat on my face and ended up in the hospital.
But Belle? She took her time getting to know a wild beast of a guy. Sure, she was a little late in her proclamation of love… but the mere fact that she talked to an asshole, got to know him (in turn taming him), and then fell in love with him made an impact on me. For every man there is a woman who can make him change; she's proof of that. That's what love is about: becoming a better person.
Though I've wanted to live my own Beauty and the Beast fairytale for as long as I can remember, life was really intent on making tonight a Cinderella type of night.
I ran my fingers along the pale, golden silk of my floor-length dress as the limo pulled up the driveway. No pumpkin-shaped carriages drawn by rodents-in-horse's-clothing tonight. And unlike little Cindy, I was actually allowed to go to the ball. There weren't any evil siblings or step-parents to stop me. I was an only child, and my parents loved me a lot. Although they worked in the corporate world and were away on business more often than not, it almost worked to my advantage. That whole midnight curfew thing? Yeah… nope, not me.
Taking one last look in the mirror, I fluffed my dark curls one last time and quickly applied some lip gloss before making my way outside.
"Aye dios mio! Look at you, Rella!" my friend Selena called from the limousine. Her date, Cristiano, whistled as I slipped inside with them. "Love that dress, honey," she commented further, "It brings out those Latino curves you got there."
"Likewise, boo," I smiled, crossing my legs and nodding appreciatively in the direction of her lilac ensemble.
"Yeah, yeah," she laughed. "As my friend you are obligated to say that, but we both know your dress brings out your tan while mine only takes away from my burn." She sheepishly was referring to the redness her usually pale skin had acquired over the numerous trips she'd taken to the tanning salon.
"It's doing a very good job, baby," Cristiano cut in. Good boy, I thought as he placed his arm around her and gently ran his hand up and down her arm. "You still look beautiful," he told her. Selena smiled and nestled her face in the crook of his neck.
"So Relle, what happened to getting Drake off your ass?" my other friend Maria asked from across the limo. "He's going to be all over you tonight." Everyone chuckled as I rolled my eyes and groaned in annoyance.
Truthfully, I'd forgotten all about Drake. For the past two weeks he'd been trying to make me his girl, something about how he "needed a spicy little European" in his life. He'd tried to impress me with his knowledge of Real Madrid football and the fact that he was taking Spanish 2 this year. But somehow, to every other girl's relief, I'd rejected the quarterback's proposal for prom date. Twice. Maybe if he wasn't notorious for purchasing the penthouse suite after each and every formal gathering, I just might've gone as his date. Going alone to every dance wasn't exactly a pastime for me.
Arriving at the hotel, Selena and I shared Cristiano as we entered the Hollywood-themed ball. Palm trees (artificial, obviously) stood tall and spotlights followed a patterned performance on the dancefloor. The red carpet was rolled out right through the center of the gala, with creepy cardboard cutouts of famous people lining the stage.
It wasn't long before everyone's faces were glistening and the punch bowls were spiked. The dance floor was heating up; I'd long since ditched my three-inch heels and joined my friends in a much shorter state. We were all jumping around, fist-pumping, and grinding playfully to the music. It was just like any other dance we'd been to, only we were twice as hyped and buzzed. Not only because of the spiked punch, but also because we were all excited for graduation. It was our last dance together.
I'd been so into the song I'd almost missed the familiar-looking figure leaning against the wall, watching me.
"Oh my God, you guys," I laughed over the music, "Char's here!"
They all looked around anxiously, ready to call my bluff. I sauntered off with a smile in Char's direction, my eyes widening with each step that I took toward him. Not only was he in a tuxedo – and working it – but his usual black mop of curls was preserved with gel and kept out of his yummy hazel eyes. Warmth spread through my stomach, and I giggled softly as I approached him. I'd had more than my fair share of punch.
"I guess miracles really do happen," I taunted, looking him straight in the eyes. It was hard not to get intimidated around Char; he had the typical bad-boy image down cold, and his 6' 1 towered over my 5' 3.
He smirked in return, clenching his jaw as he studied me. His piercing gaze skimmed me head to toe before leisurely making its way back up to meet mine. My cheeks grew warm.
"What's the matter, Rella?" he teased, pulling his hand out of his pocket in order to brush my pink cheek. "It's the tux, isn't it?"
"Mhm, definitely," I scoffed. "It's got nothing to do with the punch at all." Acutely aware of his thumb still rubbing my cheek in soft strokes, I fought to hold my ground.
"Sure," he smirked.
"What're you doing here?" I asked suddenly.
He stepped forward. "You don't want me here?" he questioned, cocking his head to the side tauntingly.
I shrugged nonchalantly. "I just never see you at these types of events. Or in anything but torn jeans, for that matter."
"Well then, enjoy it while you can," he said with a cheeky grin.
"Seriously?" he repeated solemnly, slowly luring me in. "I had something to tell you," he told me so softly I barely heard him over the noise.
"I see," I nodded, openly eyeing his hand – the one getting comfortable on my cheek. He didn't seem to get the hint. "Well, whenever you're ready..."
He pulled an envelope out of his jacket pocket and handed it to me. I opened it, ignoring the address on the front. Pulling out a letter, I scanned it briefly before slowly looking up at him. It was an acceptance letter.
"Columbia?!" I exclaimed. "Holy shit! Char, that's freaking amazing!"
He smiled at my reaction, tucking the letter back into his coat interior as I continued.
"I'm so happy for you, oh my God. That's effing great! I–"
Getting cut off by someone was one thing. But getting cut off by someone's lips – someone's incredibly warm, plump, tender, luscious, overall seamless lips – was another thing entirely. I tried not to sigh as his hand moved from my cheek to my neck and his other arm circled my waist, gently pulling me closer. I barely had any time to gauge the situation before my arms found their place around his neck and my lips applied just as much pressure as his were. It was the hungriest, most passionate kiss I'd ever experienced; as if it was the first and last we'd ever share.
But of course, midnight held particular ironic importance. I hadn't noticed the music abruptly stop as Mr. Adler announced the king and queen.
"Rella!" Selena whisper-screamed, tapping my shoulder. "Get up there!"
"What?" I asked, pulling away from Char to stare at her with a confused expression.
She looked both excited and apologetic. "You won!" she told me.
"Rella Morales," Mr. Adler repeated dully.
My eyes turned toward the stage where Drake, crowned King, was looking out into the audience expectantly. He so rigged this little stunt! How the hell would I get picked for Prom Queen? That boy is beyond desperate.
I sighed, reluctantly making my way to the stage where a crown was placed upon my head and Drake took my hand. Still in a state of confusion, I let him lead me to the center of the floor and twirl me like the zombie I was. My mind was clouded by all these different emotions and unanswered questions. I focused on the spot where I'd left Char as Drake moved me around the floor; I watched helplessly as he took a few steps back before turning around and heading for the exit.
No offense Cindy, but guys with crowns are huge tools.
Acting on impulse, I disentangled myself from Drake and handed my crown to the nearest, eager-looking orange-skinned girl in sight.
"Watch my shoes," I told Maria as I ran for the back doors. Cinderella had made it clear running in heels is dangerous, and when you've got somewhere to be, they hold no value. Feeling determined, albeit still a little shaky, I pushed through the doors and stepped out. Char was mounting his crimson motorcycle as I ran down the path in frustration.
But of course, glass had to come in at some point in the story. And it just so happened to make its way into the bottom of my foot.
"You can't just kis–OW," I yelled, wincing as I looked down and found myself surrounded by bits of shattered glass. "Ssshhhhhiiitttttt" I hissed, hopping away from puddle of sharp pieces and plopping down on the bench conveniently set two feet away.
"Rella?" Char asked, running over. "What the hell happened? Are you okay?"
I cautiously lifted my left foot and gasped at the thick, inch-long red slit across the center of my sole. That's when the pain settled in and I inhaled deeply, trying to stay calm. I'd like to see Cinderella get herself outta this one.
"Char, what the hell? Do you suddenly find yourself hot or someth–" I started in response to him taking his jacket, vest, and tie off. I stopped, however, when he unbuttoned his crisp white dress shirt, because the special surprise underneath literally took my breath away. He's hot indeed.
I whined like an injured puppy as he wrapped his, probably new, snow-white dress shirt around my foot and made sure it was fastened tight. I watched as the red stain sunk through the layers of my makeshift bandage.
Char put his jacket back on and stuck the rest of his suit into the little trunk on his motorcycle before running back to me. He lifted me up, bridal style, effortlessly and set me on his motorcycle.
"Um, mind explaining what you're do–" I managed. Then he stuck a big black helmet over my head and took a seat in front of me. "Hey! Do you have any idea how long it took me to do my hair today?"
"Nope," he said, his hands reaching back to grab my arms and wrap them around his body. I didn't protest, because my skin made contact with his beneath his jacket. "Now hold on, or we'll be in the hospital for reasons not pertaining to your foot."
"Where's your helmet, smartass?" I asked.
I heard him smirk before the engine purred and the seat vibrated beneath me. Holy shit, I'm going to die… where the hell's my golden pumpkin carriage? "I don't wanna ruin my hair," he shrugged, sending us flying forward on the deathtrap. Instead of punching him, I simply squeezed the life out of him as our speed climbed and everything became I blur.
Minutes, possibly seconds later, he was parking his motorcycle. I was carried inside and placed on a wheelchair. Surprisingly, the place wasn't completely packed – which meant there was a good chance I'd get medical care before I got an infection and died on prom night, a virgin.
Char sat in a chair beside me, with his head in his hands. The clock read 1:32 when I was finally cut in. He rolled me in and placed me on the bed they had in the middle of the room. A pear-shaped nurse came in, holding a clipboard and some juice. She gave me the juice box while the interrogation started.
"Are you on any drugs? Over the counter and/or illegal ones such as marijuana, heroin, ecstasy–" she began.
"Ma'am, are you sure?" she pressed.
I tried not to give her attitude, but my patience was pending. "I'm pretty positive."
"Well you don't have to tell me, but make sure you let the doctor know when he comes in because it's imperative he knows what's in your syste–"
"Okay," I said in a tight smile.
"Are you pregnant? Or planning on becoming pregnant?"
"Not for a couple years."
"Are you sure, ma'am?"
"I'm sure." Jesus!
Char seemed to be stifling laughter in the corner of the room.
"Do you suffer from abuse? Parental abuse, or perhaps from a partner?" she asks, eyeing Char sternly. Now it was my turn to smother the laughter bubbling up.
"Nope," I said, lifting my foot. "I stepped in glass all on my own; I think I suffer from I Was in a Hurry and Didn't Look Where I Was Going Syndrome."
Her lips pressed in a straight line as she huffed. "Hmph, evidently you've had a bit to drink. The doctor will be with you shortly."
"Thank you," Char and I both say, trying not to smile as she waddles out of the room. We have our laughs before I realize she'll probably make sure to leave a few pieces of glass in my foot.
"When they say, 'the doctor will be with you shortly," they don't really mean it – do they?" I sighed, staring at the clock. It'd been a little less than an hour since any medical personnel had entered the room.
"Nope," Char muttered, twisted in a strange position in his chair. I turned my head to look at him completely, turning on my side on the bed.
"Hey Char?" I ask.
He raised his eyebrows in response.
"Why'd you leave?" I ask simply, dropping my arm and letting it rest on the cool metal of the drawers beneath me.
He cleared his throat, drumming his fingers on his bare chest. "I told you everything I needed to say," he shrugged.
"You did everything you needed to do, too?" I questioned, making reference to the part of the conversation where our lips moved, but words were the last thing that escaped them.
"Depends on how you look at it."
Way to make things difficult.
I looked at my foot, which had been uncovered by his bloody shirt when we first arrived. "If you'd stayed, we could've gone about this a different way."
"Where are you shoes?" he countered.
"Under Table 7," I responded. "I wasn't planning on injuring myself, or leaving the parking lot, for that matter."
"So it's my fault? Is that what you're saying?" he asked, sitting up straight in his chair.
Yes but no.
"I don't know what I'm saying," I admitted. I wanted to just ask him straight up why he'd kissed me, and what he meant by it. But the doctor finally decided to show as I opened my mouth to speak.
I commented on their horrible timing before whimpering as they put alcohol all over my foot and pulling out the large piece of glass before pulling out the smaller bits. Then the sewed my foot up and bandaged me up, telling me to schedule an appointment in a week to see how it's doing. It was 3:57 when they finished.
Char drove me home, where he carried me up to my bed and then took out the crutches we kept in the closet.
Seeing his figure in the dark, I suddenly felt my heart throb. My lips tingled with the desire to meet his again.
"Char," I whispered as he put his hand on my doorknob.
"Can you um… unzip me, please?" I asked sheepishly, thankful for the darkness of my room.
He came over, feeling around for the zipper. I felt it slide slowly down my backside.
"Thanks." I slipped it off and reached for the big tee I kept under my pillow. I pushed my head and my arms through the holes before plopping down on my bed and lifting my legs slowly over.
"Goodnight, Char. And thank you so much for putting up with me," I said sincerely. He smirked, and I apologized further, "Sorry for ruining your senior prom."
"You didn't ruin anything," he assured me, bending down to kiss my forehead, "except maybe my shirt."
I laughed, and he headed for the door. "Goodbye Rella."
When people say goodbye, I expect to see them (ironically) relatively soon. When I found a week after prom that Char had left early for Columbia, I screamed internally.
Without a second thought, I threw my crutches into the backseat of my car and eased into the driver's seat. Thankfully, my right foot wasn't injured and I could use it to pound on the gas.
Isn't the prince supposed to come get me? I don't remember reading anything about Cinderella speeding across New England (while handicapped) to get her man. Or, in my case, smack him.
A good four hours later, I was in the parking lot of Columbia University. In all honesty, I wasn't planning on driving up here for another couple of weeks.
I decided to drive around campus, searching for any signs of Char. Roughly twelve minutes later I found his motorcycle outside of a large dormitory. Ditching my crutches, I limped confidently inside the building. Reading all the little boards outside the rooms, I came to a room on the second floor where the white board read Hector & Char's Bachelor Pad.
Oh hell no.
I knocked furiously until a shirtless guy answered the door, grinning mischievously.
"Hola, mamasita," he purred. "You've come to the right place."
I pushed past him, inspecting the small room to find nothing. Turning back to who I assumed to be Hector, I raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, you're lookin' for Char? Ma' homes?" he asked, slightly disappointed.
Right on cue, Char swaggered into the room. His eyes locked on mine and he froze.
"Rella," he said, caught off guard. "What're you doing here?"
"Oh, I just came to see how you were doing," I shrugged nonchalantly. "Since you left without really mentioning you were leaving for Columbia the morning after prom… I felt like paying a visit."
He clenched his jaw, looking at Hector. He held his hands up, grabbing a shirt and walking out. "No sex on my bed," he warned, winking at me before closing the door.
"I was gonna tell you," he said, "but you were too busy twirling with Drake that I figured it didn't really matter."
"Oh, I see," I nodded sarcastically. "You thought that me staring at you from across the freaking ballroom, grimacing at the fact that I had to be within five feet of the prom king that basically wants to rape me, was a sign that I didn't care whether or not you left the state after you kissed me. Makes sense."
Before he could speak, I cut him off again.
"What about the 5 hours after prom? You couldn't find the time to tell me then?" I asked, placing my hands on my hips.
I watched as his teeth bit his bottom lip, letting it slide out slowly in a sly grin. He's so checking me out right now.
"You drove here just to bitch at me?" he asks, amusement written all over his face.
"Well someone had to," I huff. "And I'm pretty pissed off."
"Why's that?" he asks softly, moving in on me.
"Because I wasn't on making that boring, four hour drive up here for another two months," I explained. "Now I have to do it twice."
He arches his brow, trying to understand what I was saying.
I cleared things up for him, smiling as I punched him in the arm. "I tried to tell you at prom, before you so rudely interrupted me," I teased, knowing his kiss was anything but rude, "that I got into Columbia too."
He blinked a couple of times, taking the news in.
"So… I'm going to Columbia… and you're going to Columbia…" he thought out loud. I nodded axiomatically. "And I got all worked up over saying goodbye… when I don't have to try and get over you at all."
I grinned at his revelation, and his mouth against mine. As Hector instructed, we stayed on Char's bed.
I almost forgot!
Pulling away from Char's magnetic pull, we both were breathing heavily as I looked up at him. "Char…"
"Hmm?" he replied, eyeing my lips like a hawk.
"You have three seconds to get Bachelor Pad off your whiteboard before I–" I growled, laughing happily as he was already wiping away the words.
Prince Charming… oh man.
Suck it, Cindy!