Before Midnight

Before Midnight

A Retelling of "Cinderella"

Etienne de Brabant is brokenhearted. His wife has died in childbirth, leaving him alone with an infant daughter he cannot bear to name. But before he abandons her for king and court, he brings a second child to be raised alongside her, a boy whose identity he does not reveal.

The girl, La Cendrillon, and the boy, Raoul, pass sixteen years in the servants' care until one day a very fine lady arrives with her two daughters. The lady has married La Cendrillon's father, and her arrival changes everything.

When an invitation to a great ball reaches the family, La Cendrillon's new stepmother will make a decision with far-reaching effects. Her choice will lead La Cendrillon and Raoul toward their destiny -- a choice that will challenge their understanding of family, test their loyalty and courage, and, ultimately, teach them who they are.

"Married!" I exclaimed." I put a hand out, as the world began to whirl, and felt Niccolo's hand grasp mine. "My father is married? When did this happen?"

"Just last week," Niccolo said. "Chantal de Saint Andre is your stepmother's name. She is a wealthy widow, and a ward of the crown. None may marry her but by the king's command."

"And now the king has married her to my father?" I said. I knew I sounded stupid, but I could not seem to get my brain to function. "But why?"

"That is the question to which all the court would like an answer," Niccolo said. "Your new stepmother and stepsisters most of all?"

"Stepsisters!" I cried. "I have stepsisters?"

"Two," Niccolo answered. "Their names are Amelie and Anastasia."

"I think," I said faintly, "that I would like to sit down."

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