Cinder, a poor and beautiful young man who designs clothing, makeup, and hair for his stepmother and stepsisters, offers his clothing and slippers to a naked stranger in the woods, who turns out to be none other than Prince Charming. Follow Cinder and Prince Charming in this twist on the classic Cinderella tale as they discover their inner strengths and find their very own happily ever after.
Enjoy The Naked Prince and three other reimagined tales from Fairyland, each with a unique spin on stories we all know and love, including The Golden Rule, where eighteen-year-old Gideon Golden, after being thrown out of his home in Fairyland by his homophobic parents, breaks into the cottage of three burly men on Bear Mountain.
In Whatever Happened To…?, friction ensues between a celebrity with a growing appendage and a reporter who has a thing for giants.
And in Ice Cold, young Gaelen must save his love, Kieran, after a handsome but evil prince freezes Kieran’s heart and bewitches him into being the prince’s slave.
The Naked Prince
ONCE UPON a time in a far-off kingdom resting high in the mountains of Fairyland stood a cherry-red cottage with lemon-yellow shutters and a thatched roof. Flowers of every color lined the cobblestone walkway leading to the house’s oak dutch door.
The cottage had been built by two kind and gentle men, Maxwell and Mortimer, who crafted the most splendid clothing, hats, and shoes of silk, satin, and velvet. When a poor, single girl in the village died in childbirth, the two men raised her son as their own and taught the boy all they knew about designing and sewing.
However, after the men’s benefactor Morbella swindled them out of their money, she conned Maxwell into marrying her rather than losing his home and trade. Shortly after he agreed, she ordered Mortimer out of the cottage and out of Maxwell’s life. Sadly, this led to broken hearts and early side-by-side graves for Maxwell and Mortimer.
With Maxwell and Mortimer gone, Morbella raised their adopted son, as well as her own two daughters from a previous marriage to another man she had sent to an early grave. Since her stepson had his fathers’ flair for design, Morbella instructed the boy to spend his days and evenings creating beautiful clothing and accessories for her and her two daughters, Griselda and Prunella.
One morning while applying cinder from the fireplace to highlight his stepsisters’ eyes, he accidentally smudged some onto his own cheek. This caused his stepsisters to laugh at him and name him Cinder. When word of this got out to the other young men in the village, they mocked and teased him unmercifully, and Cinder feared leaving his cottage and its surrounding meadow.
From the moment Cinder woke each morning in his narrow straw bed next to the kitchen fireplace until he could rest his tired head each night, Cinder heard shrieks and screams from his stepsisters’ bedrooms. “Cinder, crush more berries and apply them to my lips and cheeks!” “Cinder, where is my gold velvet gown?” “Cinder, I like her silver satin handbag better than my violet brocade bag!” “Cinder, I have grown tired of my twenty dresses. I need a new wardrobe now!” “Cinder, my turquoise suede hat and shoes are too tight!” “Cinder, brush my hair a hundred times until it shines brighter than hers!” Most people would have gone mad, but Cinder enjoyed making his stepmother and stepsisters look beautiful. He took pride in hearing them quote the townspeople’s compliments on their appearance.
Also like his fathers, Cinder was a fine cook. While he ate oatmeal in the kitchen, Morbella, Griselda, and Prunella sat in their dining room feasting on elaborate five-course meals of Cinder’s creation. Again, Cinder never complained even once. During the early morning hours, and while the women slept off their grand meals throughout the day, Cinder looked forward to designing and sewing beautiful wardrobes for his family.
One early morning, while Cinder was hemming a stunning peach velvet shawl for his stepmother, he realized he was late to cook breakfast. So Cinder rushed outside to pick some vegetables, milk the cow, and collect the eggs from the hens. After leaving the items on the wooden kitchen table, Cinder raced through the meadow to draw water from the well. He had no sooner begun to lower the bucket when he noticed a young man walking through the meadow. Seeing that the stranger was naked, Cinder took off his own clothing, ran over to him, and gave the young man his tunic, breeches, and slippers.
“Why are you giving me these things?” the stranger asked, perplexed.
Cinder answered, “Because you are naked, and I assume your home is farther away than mine.”
“My home is a good walk from here,” the young man replied.
Cinder admired the young man’s tan skin, thick black hair, sky blue eyes, broad and muscular physique, and massive organ. He also reveled in the stranger’s outdoorsy scent. “You will need the clothing and the slippers to walk home. I wish they were of a nicer fabric, but my stepmother permits me to use only burlap to make my clothing.”
As he dressed, the stranger asked, “Are you saying you made these clothes?”
Cinder nodded. “And the slippers as well.”
The young man put on the warm slippers. “Thank you… very much.”
“You are most welcome, sir.” Cinder noticed the stranger staring at his lean figure, shapely bottom, and thick organ. Cinder asked, “How did you lose your clothing?”
“I was trapped by a group of robbers,” the man responded.
Cinder’s heart went out to the young man. “I am very sorry to hear that.” Looking down at the emerald grass, his strawberry-blond hair covered his violet eyes. “That is one of the reasons I no longer venture out into the village.”
The stranger lifted Cinder’s chin and stared at his rosy lips. “That is a pity for the village.”
Their eyes met, and they shared a gentle smile.
Cinder wasn’t sure how much time had passed when the young man said, “You should go home and get dressed. I need to get home as well.”
As he walked back through the meadow, Cinder heard the stranger say to his bare back, “Thank you again for the clothes and slippers.”
Cinder turned to find the young man was gone. Realizing he forgot to get water, Cinder went back to the well. Drawing the water into his bucket, he could not help but think that the stranger was the most handsome and sensitive man he had ever met.
After dressing, Cinder nearly undercooked the bread and burned the eggs. As much as he tried to focus on making breakfast for his family, Cinder could only gaze out the tiny kitchen window and think about the naked stranger’s handsome face, virile physique, and kind words. Having no friends or family members he could talk to, Cinder told the squirrel, chipmunk, rabbit, and blue jay outside his window of his broken heart, knowing he would never see the young stranger again.
Cinder kept a pet mouse in a big old pickling jar next to the root vegetable bin in a corner of the kitchen. After serving and then clearing his family’s breakfast in the dining room, Cinder sat on the wide-planked wooden floor in the kitchen next to the cinder box at the lip of the fireplace and rested the mouse on his lap. Why was he feeling this stirring in his heart? Why was he experiencing such intense loneliness? He had never felt lonely in the past except when his fathers had died.
As was often his practice, Cinder lit a candle in the fireplace cubbyhole, closed his eyes, and addressed his deceased fathers. He asked Maxwell and Mortimer to help lead the stranger back to him or to take him from the land of the living to be with his fathers.
Cinder’s stepmother entered the kitchen. Noticing he was not working, she asked, “Cinder, why are you sitting on the floor?”
“I was thinking about a nice young man I met near the well, Stepmother.”
She said with mock affection, “Cinder, after your fathers passed on, I took you in when nobody else wanted you. I gave you a warm home and a loving family. Don’t you think you owe me a little more in return than daydreaming on the kitchen floor?”
“I’m sorry, Stepmother.” Cinder put his pet back in the jar, stood up, and began preparing his family’s lunch.
After rearranging her ruby-red velour gown, one of Cinder’s finest creations, his stepmother said, “I have shown patience with you, Cinder, because your fathers were lazy daydreamers. You saw what happened to them. They lost their business and their home. I caution you not to fall into the same trap. Do you understand what I am saying to you, Cinder?”
Cinder didn’t believe her lies about his fathers, but his stepmother and stepsisters were the only family he had left. “Yes, Stepmother,” he replied, wiping a tear from his smooth cheek.
She offered him a frozen smile. “Good.” Clutching at his arm with her long painted nails, she whispered in his ear, “Let us make sure it does not happen again.”
After his stepmother had left the kitchen and locked herself in her bedroom for a rest, Cinder thought about the naked stranger and wept until his eyes ached.
ON THE other side of the kingdom in the king and queen’s palace, the prince tiptoed up the servants’ staircase, praying his parents would not hear him. Once at the corridor to his bedchambers, the prince sprinted to his doorway, thrust open the door, and closed it quickly behind him. To his dismay, he found his mother sitting on the comfortable love seat in his sitting room, looking anything but comfortable.
The wrinkles on her forehead intertwined like threads on a loom as the queen asked her son, “Where have you been? And why are you dressed like a peasant?”
The prince looked down at his gifted burlap clothing. “I was planning to attend a costume ball?”
Waving her bejeweled hand as if swatting a fly, the queen arched an eyebrow in annoyance. “Enough of this nonsense. Tell me the truth!”
After taking a deep breath, the prince answered, “I was out walking in the woods, and a band of robbers stole my bow and arrow… and my gold coin pouch… and my clothing.”
The queen’s mouth opened wide like a starving lioness facing a well-fed antelope. The prince braced himself for a lecture. Instead, his mother put her heavily made-up face in her hands and wept.
Feeling terribly guilty, the prince kneeled next to his mother and placed his hand on her bony knee. “I’m sorry, Mother.”
She wiped her eyes on her indigo robe. “You were a beautiful, obedient child. You told me you loved me every day. And I doted on you, devoted my life to your every happiness.”
Prince Charming sat next to his mother and rested his head on her heaving chest. “I appreciate all you’ve done for me, Mother. And I don’t want to make you and Father unhappy.”
Taking his warm, smooth hand in her cold, dry ones, the queen asked, “Then why do you continue to disobey us? Are our requests of you too severe? Are we unfit parents? Do we ask too much of you?”
“No, of course not, Mother.”
“Then why can’t you do the one thing… the only thing I ask of you: to stay within these palace walls?”
He squeezed his mother’s hand. “I thought that if I could talk to some of our subjects, perhaps I could help them.”
“And you saw where that got you!” She clasped her hands around the enormous jade broach attached to her velvet gown as if it were an anchor in a storm.
The prince walked to the large window and looked over the kingdom. “Mother, not all of our subjects are like the men who robbed me.”
“Yes, a small number are of the upper register.” She pointed a long bloodred fingernail at him. “But most of our subjects are dangerous people who will stop at nothing to snatch away our wealth. Why do you continue to defy me and venture into that maze of homelessness, unwanted children, and starvation when you could spend your days here being served bountiful feasts, resting on plush settees, and admiring our stacks of gold… with me?”
Sitting back down next to his mother, the prince said, “Not all of the poor people in our kingdom are dangerous, Mother.” His face brightened like sunshine flooding a dark room. “I met a nice young man today. He was kind and generous. Though he possessed so little, he gave me the clothes off his own back!”
Looking the prince up and down as if surveying a pile of rubbish, the queen said, “These rags? It’s an insult for one of our subjects to offer these to the prince!”
Putting his arm around his mother’s rigid shoulders, he said, “He didn’t know I was the prince, Mother. He only wanted to help someone in need. And by the time we parted, I had the distinct feeling that, unlike everyone at the palace, he liked me… for me.”
“Your father and I named you Charming, because even as a baby you were… charming.” Eye to eye with her son, the queen issued her order. “Now go be charming. Take off those horrible things immediately, and burn them.”
“But I wanted to bring them back to—”
The queen’s eyes bulged out of her head. “If you love me, burn them!”
The slope of the prince’s strong nose continued to his dimpled chin. “Yes, Mother.”
“And I don’t want you to step a foot out of this palace ever again. Do you understand, Charming?”
“But Mother, I—”
She clutched at her heart as if it was breaking. “Please, Charming? For me?”
Not wanting to see his mother suffer so, he responded, “All right, Mother.”
The queen moved to the doorway, and made her final pronouncement. “And your father and I want to see you in the throne room after you are… presentable.”
After his mother had gone, Prince Charming touched his clothes and thought about the young man he had met in the meadow. He was taken by the beautiful man’s generosity and pure heart. Now more than ever, Charming wanted to leave the confines of the palace walls, but he didn’t want to cause his mother any more anguish and disappointment. So with tearstained cheeks, the prince changed into his tunic, pants, and royal robe. Upon leaving his bedchambers, he reticently asked a servant to burn the burlap clothing and slippers. Then with a heavy heart, the prince made his way to the throne room.
“We are hosting a ball in your honor.” Sitting on her throne, the queen explained to her son, standing before her, that only the most elite residents of their kingdom and the neighboring kingdoms would be invited to bring their daughters to dance with the prince.
Since Charming enjoyed dancing, he wasn’t dismayed by the news until his mother added, “And after dancing with each maiden, you will choose your bride—” She smiled triumphantly. “—and the mother of your heir to the throne.”
Prince Charming nearly lost his charm. He wanted to one day marry and have children, but he had no interest in any of the young women he had met in the palace or on his travels. While his mother chattered on about the decorations and music for the ball, the prince thought about the handsome and sweet young man he had met in the meadow, and how very much he would like to see him again.
After the queen left the throne room to give the menu for the ball to the palace chef, the king rose from his throne and motioned for his son to join him on the gold velvet window seat that overlooked the kingdom.
The king looked at his son with eyes full of love. “Your mother told me you were out in the kingdom today.”
Prince Charming hung his head. “I apologize, Father. I didn’t mean to disobey Mother’s orders.” Standing at the window, he looked out at the villagers shouting and begging for food and clothing. “Father, why do we live in such luxury when our subjects are hungry, homeless, and have little clothing to wear?”
The king rubbed his temples. “Our people revel in our wealth and power. They look to us as their shining hope for the future. They take great pride in our magnificence. And your mother will have it no other way.”
“There are so many things I don’t understand, Father.”
Lifting his son’s chin, the king smiled. “Your mother tells me you met a young man today. Tell me about him.”
As if the king had lowered the palace drawbridge and unleashed a torrent of peasants, the prince gushed to his father. “He was thoughtful and caring. I felt so comfortable being with him, Father”—the prince blushed—“though we were in a vulnerable state.” He clenched his fists to his forehead. “But I will never see him again!” He grasped his father’s strong hand. “I’m sorry if this disappoints you and Mother, but I don’t think I can live without this young man in my life.”
The king rested his son’s head on his large shoulder. “Nothing you do could ever disappoint me, son.”
“But what about the ball? How can I smile and dance with all those young maidens when my heart feels broken in two?”
He grasped his son by the young man’s formidable shoulders. “Go to the ball. Dance. And have faith that everything will work out in the end.”
Charming looked up at his father with tearstained cheeks. “How do you know, Father?”
He smiled. “I know because I am the king.”
Joe Cosentino is always full of imagination and surprise. This anthology presents four short stories inspired by familiar fairy tales and nursery rhymes, all tweaked with gay characters and Joe’s special quirky twists. Some are hysterically funny, some are full of adventure, and all contain sweet and touching romance. It is a quick and entertaining read through a very creative fairyland.
Chevalier by Mary Calmes eBook
Beauty, Inc. by Tara Lain eBook
Loaded for Bear by Cheyenne Meadows eBook
Love in Retrograde by Charlie Cochet eBook
There You Are by CJane Elliott eBook
Not Just Passing Through by Jamie Dean eBook
Jewel Cave by Elizabeth Noble eBook
Bad Dogs and Drag Queens by Julie Lynn Hayes eBook
Stained by Chris T. Kat eBook
Sand-Man's Family by CJane Elliott eBook
Requires site membership
Unstable Stud by Ariel Tachna Audiobook