(Once Upon a Vegas Night #2)
Publication date: February 25th 2021
Genres: Adult, Fairy Tales, LGBTQ+, Retelling, Romance
As the son of music industry royalty and a famous rock star in his own right, Henry “Cinder” Cinderford has spent his life on the road. Craving stability, he signs on to do a special limited engagement in Las Vegas and plans to spend the next six months discovering the meaning of home.
After losing his mom at a young age, Ellis Tremaine survived a childhood with an abusive stepfather who took out his anger on the son he never wanted. Nearly two decades later, Ellis continues to struggle against the emotional manipulations of his family, even in his career. But when he meets none other than the Prince of Pop himself, things start to change.
From attraction to friendship to something so much more, Ellis and Cinder become the celebrity ‘ship known as “Cinderellis.” But when reality threatens their storybook romance, all they can do is hope there really is a happily ever after for every once upon a time.
Ellis leaned his elbows on the handrail of the narrow metal catwalk overlooking the frontstage area and closed his eyes, allowing the music below to encompass him from all sides. Surrounding his senses. Filling his soul.
About three-quarters of the way through Cinder’s set, there was a song that dripped with passion and heart, making exquisite use of his stunning vibrato. It had become a favorite of Ellis’s almost from the get-go, most especially because its simplicity allowed him a moment to breathe, to open himself, and to fall heart-first into the music.
The constantly moving parts of the high-concept production ground to a halt during those three minutes and forty-two seconds. The fly space he occupied went still and quiet as a single bloodred spotlight focused on center stage, highlighting a lone wooden stool and a microphone stand. Following his third wardrobe change of the night, clad in skintight black jeans and a white ribbed tank, Cinder stepped onto the stage clutching the neck of an acoustic guitar. As if on cue, the audience swooned into the orchestrated mood change.
They all knew what came next, and with a soft, collective gasp, the whole theater held its breath. Then, like the beat of a heart, as Cinder rested a hip on the stool, adjusted the strap of his guitar, and drew the microphone close, the crowd exhaled as one.
With the first note of the now familiar song, Ellis’s chest tightened. Music had always held an important place in his life, affecting him in ways he couldn’t explain. But nothing in his twenty-six years on this earth had ever latched on to his very being the way Cinder could with his haunting tenor as it trembled up an octave before plunging in both register and depth. Straight into his heart.
He looked forward to this brief respite more and more each day, surprised to find himself curious about the man who made such soul-moving compositions. Ellis rarely cared about anything other than the music itself, but something about Cinder’s music was different. Something about Cinder was different; Ellis just couldn’t put his finger on what.
Growing up in Vegas with a stepfather in show business, Ellis had never been impressed by celebrity. He admired the effort that went into reaching and maintaining stardom, but he could say the same thing about a lot of jobs out there. If someone put in a full day of hard work, they earned his respect, no matter what the end goal or result.
But Ellis’s curiosity over Cinder wasn’t based on the novelty of his fame or even over the man himself. It was the music Ellis yearned to delve deeper into. It affected him in ways he didn’t understand, but he wanted to. It was like Cinder saw into a part of Ellis even he had never known was there, and he needed to know why… and how?
He wanted to put a face to the voice if only to prove Cinder was real. To prove the responses he drew from Ellis weren’t figments of his imagination. To prove he was still capable of emotions that ran so deep they could penetrate the walls he’d built around his fractured heart after his mom’s death.
To prove he could still feel.
Evie Drae (Ze/Hir/Hirs) is a registered nurse by day and a best-selling, award-winning male/male romance writer by night. Ze has won first place in seven Romance Writers of America® (RWA®) competitions, including the prestigious title “Best of the Best” in the 2018 Golden Opportunity Contest. Ze was a double finalist in the 2019 Golden Heart® in both the Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense categories.
One of Evie’s favorite things to do is encourage hir fellow writers. To that end, ze started the #writeLGBTQ and #promoLGBTQ hashtags on Twitter to support and promote LGBTQ+ authors and allies while providing a safe space to connect and grow as a community. Ze is married to the love of hir life, is the parent of two wonderful fur babies, and runs almost entirely on coffee and good vibes.
Evie loves to link EvieDrae@gmail.com or find hir on hir social media accounts listed below. Twitter is where ze’s most active but be sure to check out hir blog too. Ze focuses on reviews for LGBTQ+ authors and allies with the occasional quirky advice/recommendation post just to toss things up.