Fantastical Page 21

He rose from his seat and was around the table in a flash. Then I was out of my seat. Then I was in his arms. Then his hard mouth was on mine. Then his delicious tongue was doing equally delicious things in my mouth.

When my belly warmed, my bones turned to water, my ni**les were tingling, a surge of wetness gathered between my legs and my arms curled around his neck and held on for dear life, he lifted his head and I gazed hazily up at him.

He held me plastered to his body and he didn’t move back even an inch.

“When I say quiet, Cora, you be quiet,” he said low. “You don’t, I swear to the gods, I’ll keep at you until you do and I don’t care if that means I’ve got to throw your skirts up and take you on the bloody table. Am I understood?”

Oh dear.

“Yes,” I whispered.

“You’re a bloody princess,” he clipped.

“Okay.” I kept whispering.

“Act like one,” he ordered.

I nodded though I wasn’t certain what that entailed.

He glowered at me. I tried to look contrite.

Then he let me go and started to move around the table but as he did a wave of sound hit us, he moved back to me, his arm circled my waist protectively and we both looked at the wild, cheering like mad crowd.

“Hurrah!” someone cried.

“Long live Prince Noctorno!” someone else yelled.

“Behold, the black prince and his exquisite bride!” someone else shouted.

How. Totally. Cool!

“Hey, ya’ll!” I shouted and waved.

At my greeting, the cheer rose so high it nearly took the roof off.

Cool!

I smiled. Tor’s arm around my waist squeezed.

“Princess,” he clipped into my ear.

Oh shit.

Right.

I stopped waving like a friendly person, closed my fingers, cupped my hand slightly and started waving like a royal person.

This had no affect on the crowd who kept shouting, clapping and stamping then someone yelled, “We love you, Princess Cora.”

“Isn’t that sweet?” I yelled back in the direction from where the words came even though I had no clue who said it.

“Deliver me.” I heard Tor mutter from beside me and I looked to the side and up at him.

“What?” I asked.

“Just, gods, please sit down and eat,” he replied.

“Sure,” I said, smiled at the crowd, did the royal wave again then Tor let me go and we sat down.

The cheering kept going for a bit then subsided but only when Tor looked toward them, inclined his head but lifted a hand, palm up, and he pressed the air out. They took their royal command and cooled it.

Whoa. Awesome.

I got over my awe, finished with his bread then put it on the side of his bowl and started on mine.

“So,” I began, “I need royal instruction. I’m not hip on this princess gig.”

“Pardon?” he asked and I stopped slathering butter on my bread, dropped the knife to the board and brought the slice to my face.

“This princess gig. You’ll need to explain,” I told him and then took a bite of the bread.

It was chewy and full of flavor. Lush.

“Well, you can start with never asking the proprietress of a pub to drink with you,” he stated.

I swallowed. “What? Why?”

“She’s common,” he informed me and my head jutted back with not-so-mild affront.

“So? So am I.”

“You are not.”

“I so am.”

“Cora, your father is an Earl.”

I was sipping at cider and I choked at this news. I managed not to spew it across the table at him and instead swallow it but my mirth was not spent. Not by a long shot. At the thought of my hippie Dad being royalty in this world, well, I couldn’t help it.

I lost it.

Totally.

I threw my head back, wrapped my arm around my middle and laughed myself silly.

“Cora,” Tor called.

“Hang on,” I choked between giggles, my other fist on the table was banging it repeatedly.

“Cora.”

“Just a minute.”

“Did you not understand me before?”

That sobered me. My mirth died away but my stomach still ached. I held on, chuckling and wiping tears from my eyes, then I looked at him.

The laughter ceased as I caught the look on his face.

He was not pissed, annoyed, irritated or impatient. He was staring at me like he’d never seen me before in his life. He was staring at me like a movie star would stare at his movie co-star when he saw her for the first time and was instantly intrigued by something that would mean he’d soon become lovestruck. But Tor did it better because he was hotter by far than any movie star and he was real and sitting across a table from me.

Holy crap.

“I’ve never seen you laugh,” he told me quietly.

“I do it often,” I replied quietly.

“You should do it more.”

“If you’d quit being a jerk, I would,” I returned.

“That was worth not being a… jerk,” he said the last word cautiously, like he was testing it out.

I liked that so smiled at him.

He smiled back.

My skin tingled all over and I felt my lips part.

God, he was gorgeous.

He lifted his spoonful of stew and asked before putting it in his mouth, “Why were you laughing?”

“My Dad’s an Earl.”

He chewed, swallowed and grinned. “That’s amusing?”

“My Dad’s a hippie in my world.”

Something shifted on his face, like a shutter closing but not completely. “A hippie?”

“A love child. A child of mother earth. He’s kind of a loon. He’s liberal. Like, way liberal. He smokes weed. He gets down to Grateful Dead albums. He wears tie-dye, kid you not, to this day and he’s fifty-five years old.”

“Sweets, you know I only understood half of those words but I didn’t understand the meaning of any of them.”

I grinned at him, leaned my elbow on the table so I was closer to him and took a bite of bread. After I chewed, I swallowed but in that time, I hadn’t come up with any answers.

“I haven’t been in your world long enough to make a like comparison.”

That shutter closed further, he looked to his stew and muttered, “Right.”

“Tor?” I called, he took a spoonful of stew and looked at me while he chewed, brows up. “Is everything okay?” I went on.

He swallowed then without hesitation he cut me to the quick and pulled the rug right out from under me, I landed flat on my back, winded and wounded.

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