A retelling of the classic Grimm's tale "Three Little Men In The Wood."
Ellie D'Arcy just wants to graduate college and move out of her home to escape her stepmother and stepsister. Her inheritance can wait until she reaches 25, as long as she's free. But, there's another inheritance she is due at 21, one she never knew was coming. What happens when a 21st Century woman is given three wishes by fairy godfathers? Simply put, havoc ensues, because the fae have a sense of humor the likes of which you've never seen before. They also have tempers.
CONTENT ADVISORY: This is a re-release title.
Ellie D'Arcy cringed at her step-mother's screeching tone, wrinkling her nose at the formal name no one but Tina and Maria used. "Here," she called sweetly.
What is it this time? Maria needs more closet space? I can't possibly have the spare room anymore, unless I manage to come up with another hundred dollars a month? Whatever it was, it was sure to be unpleasant; everything had been unpleasant since her step-mother and step-sister had joined the family, moreso since her father had died.
She hadn't liked Maria back in high school. She hadn't cared for Tina on sight. Why her father bought Tina's talk about what a good thing it would be for Ellie to have other women around in her "burgeoning years" was beyond Ellie.
Oh, forget it. He was lonely. He was probably horny. He fell for it. The problem was...now Ellie had to deal with it.
As if that thought summoned her, Tina--Estina, to most people--breezed into the room. Her outfit would be called "tacky" or at least "distasteful" by most of her father's former business associates, but now that networking luncheons were no longer on Tina's schedule, it seemed she'd reverted to "upscale tramp" full-time.
While Ellie could certainly use the old business and semi-formal clothes, ill-fitting as they'd be, she was certain that Tina had trashed them long ago. It wasn't her step-mother's style to donate anything, to Ellie or anyone else.
The outfit of the day consisted of skin-tight jeans, the type from Newport News or Fredrick's of Hollywood, with the peek-a-boo lace panels down the sides of the hips and legs that proved, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that she was nude beneath them. She'd topped that off with a fine knit sweater that would be positively adorable were it not for the Pepto Bismol pink color and the two-tones lighter faux fur double-breasted (also faux) collar. Completing the ensemble was a pair of high-heeled--no less than four-inches-high--gold-tone strappy sandals that matched the heavy gold loops pulling down on her beleaguered earlobes and the blue-black dyed hair, cut in the style of Betty Paige in her heyday.
Ellie pretended to notice none of it, though she found the combination nauseating. Not that Tina gave Ellie a chance to speak her mind, if she wanted to do so.
Her step-mother shoved a tri-folded piece of paper onto Ellie's notebook, knocking her pen aside and creating a glaring mark on the rough draft of her final paper for Business Ethics. For a long moment, Ellie ground her teeth in silence, not trusting what would come out of her mouth if she opened it.
"Well, open it, Eleanor," she was summarily ordered.
Ellie unfolded the letter, looking to the greeting first. "This was addressed to me," she noted.
"You're reading it, aren't you?"
"Is there any reason I can't open my own mail?" Not that Ellie got much mail, but her mail was still her own. Don't delude yourself. Nothing is your own, with these two around. That much was depressingly true.
Tina placed her manicured nails--the same color of pink as the faux fur collar--on her hips. "I opened it by accident. You so seldom get mail that I forgot to check."
"You never open Maria's mail by accident." Ellie stressed the word. She was well aware that she was pushing it but beyond caring that there might be backlash for it.
"Call the U.S. Postal Service, why don't you?" she invited.
Gladly, if I thought they'd do anything about it. But, Tina's tone announced that she wasn't going to listen to any more of Ellie's complaints, so she clamped her lips shut and started to read.
As you are no doubt aware, the terms of your grandfather's, our brother's, will specify certain comforts to be afforded my brothers and myself, until our deaths.
She hadn't been, but that was hardly a surprise. It was all she could do to demand a copy of her father's will, let alone her grandfather's.
Those comforts are to be provided to us by way of your father's inheritance.
Well, that was tough luck for them. Ellie wouldn't inherit anything until she was twenty-five, and that was four long years away. That meant they had to deal with Tina, and as she'd learned, no one enjoyed dealing with Tina.
Upon your father's passing...please, note my condolences on your loss...the maid/cook provided to us ceased to be paid. We have tried discussing this matter with Estina, as executor to your father's will, to no avail. Surely, you realize your grandfather's will takes precedence over any current claims on your father's. As such, I look forward to an amicable resolution to this situation.
Ellie folded the letter, sighing at the coming scene. "I don't see that you have much choice. I suggest you pay the maid."
"I don't see why I should. This is your problem, not mine."
"You're suggesting I pay for the maid out of my fund?"
How could she? Even Tina couldn't touch that money, much to her step-mother's disgust and Ellie's relief.
"I really don't care how you do it. Do the work yourself, for all I care."
Ellie forced her jaw to unclench. "And when would I have time for yet another full-time job?" she asked, stretching the truth just a bit. Technically, her job at the shop wasn't full-time, either; it was only thirty hours per week, but with the school load on top of it, it might as well have been full-time.
I am not giving up school. Great Uncle Marcus can fight this out in court with Tina, before I do that. She wondered who these great uncles were, in the first place. Though the return address had been across town, Ellie couldn't remember ever meeting them or even hearing about them.
"It's not full time. As far as I can tell, it was only an afternoon, three times a week."
"And when do I have time to do this myself?" She enunciated each word. As it was, she had bags under her eyes from lack of sleep. Maria might delight in that, but it was hardly to Ellie's tastes. "If it's supposed to be taken care of out of my father's estate, it seems to me that it was being handled right, in the first place. Pay her."
"And live on what?" she countered.
Ellie eyed Tina's outfit. It surely amounted to more than three-hundred dollars alone, and that wasn't counting the manicure job and face paint. It was a far cry from the thrift store jeans and sweater Ellie wore. The most expensive thing on her body was the fifteen-dollar tennis shoes from Wal-Mart.
A plan took form. "I'd have to cut back my hours at the store. If I paid in less to the household..." she hinted. Less to you.
"Well, you could, but then I suppose you'd be on the street. See if you can find another place to live on what you pay into the household."
The challenge was stated, and there was no denying it was true. Ellie couldn't earn enough to support herself in more than the worst slum in the city and still make it to college. At least, once she graduated in the summer, she'd be able to move out. Until then, she was stuck, just as she'd been stuck for the last two years.
"I'll try it. If it doesn't work out, you get to deal with him." Maybe I can make it as far as June. But, that was three long months away.