Fantastical Page 33

“It’s not about a kiss, it’s about nature. This is nature happening and you cannot intervene.”

I glared up at him. Then I pulled free and stomped to the tree, stating, “Fine! I’ll climb up and get him.”

I didn’t get within three feet of the tree trunk before my h*ps were captured in big hands and I was pulled back.

I struggled forward. “Don’t try to stop me.”

“Woman, you are not climbing up a gods damned tree!”

I looked over my shoulder at him. “You wanna bet?”

He yanked me back and I collided with his hard body. “Yes, I’ll bet.”

Oh dear. I wasn’t going to win this fight.

So I tried a different tactic and cried pleadingly, “Tor!”

He stared down at me. I tried to stare up at him beseechingly.

Surprisingly, I won.

He let me go and strode to the tree, grumbling, “When we get home, remind me to speak to my physician about the state of my sanity.”

“Thank you, honey,” I called quietly.

He stopped at the trunk and cut his eyes to me. “You owe me.”

Oh shit.

“I’ll pay,” I promised.

“You bet your beautiful arse you will,” he muttered then he climbed the tree like he was a ten year old boy yesterday and did it five times daily. Then he climbed down just as agilely all the while cradling the tiny Aggie in one hand.

I rushed to him and bent my head to an Aggie who didn’t look too good.

“Oh Aggie,” I whispered.

“Chirp,” meaning, “Cora.”

“Baby, we got you,” I told the bird.

“Cora,” Tor called and I tilted my head to look up at him not noticing I had the fingers of one hand wrapped around the wrist of his hand holding Aggie and the other hand resting on the wall of his chest. “His wing is mangled. Beyond repair.”

“Oh God,” I breathed.

“You and Salem need to go to the road, I’ll take care of Aggie,” he continued and I blinked.

“Take care of him?”

“He’s in pain. He’s been up in that tree for awhile, no water, no food. He’s not half dead, he’s mostly dead. I need to take care of him.”

I tilted my head to the side. “Take care of him how?

“Take away his pain.”

Oh no. I was pretty sure I knew what he was saying.

“Are you saying –?”

He must have read the horror on my face for he answered swiftly and gently, “Yes.”

“Tor, no.”

“It’s the right thing to do.”

“We’ll find a vet.”

“Pardon?”

“A vet, a veterinarian. A doctor for animals.”

“I know what a vet is, love, what I was trying to ask without saying it is, are you mad?”

I stepped back. “I’m not mad! Maybe something can be done.”

“Something can be done and if you would go with Salem to the road, I could do it and put this creature out of its misery.”

“Chirp” came from Aggie which unfortunately meant “chirp”. Therefore, no clue what Aggie thought of this conversation and his impending euthanasia at the hands of a hot prince warrior.

“Tor –” I whispered.

“Sweets, go.”

I shook my head. “We can get him water. Food. Maybe he’ll perk up.”

“Sweets… go.”

I stepped into him and put my hand back on his chest. Leaning in and up, I begged again, “Please.”

His eyes moved over my face before he said quietly, “I give in, we do this bird no favors.”

Oh my God. Was he going to relent?

“We can nurse him back to health. Get him some seed, water, then to a vet the first chance we get,” I suggested.

His jaw clenched.

My hand slid up his chest to curl my fingers around his neck. “Tor, please, he’s Aggie. The first being I saw in this world was Rosa, the second, Aggie. I don’t have a sister at home and I had Rosa for about ten minutes before she was gone. Aggie was swept away in the wind when the vickrants came. They both can’t be gone. I couldn’t bear it. It may sound crazy but he’s important to me. I can’t do anything to help Rosa but maybe I can do something to help Aggie. Help me help him. Please.”

Okay, truth be told, I was laying it on a bit thick but the reason this bird had been stuck up in a tree for days was because I had inadvertently started a curse that struck up a wind that caught this little creature in it so it was all my fault his wing was mangled (kind of).

Tor held my eyes then he lifted his hand and cupped my jaw.

Then he murmured, “Go get the waterskin. Let’s get this bird hydrated.”

He relented!

Goodie!

I smiled brightly at him, lifted up on my toes, pushed in (careful not to further crush Aggie) at the same time my hand slid to the back of his neck and pulled down. He bent and I touched my mouth to his.

I pulled back an inch and looked in his beautiful eyes.

“Thank you, honey,” I whispered, watched his eyes light but I had things to do so I didn’t dawdle.

I let him go and raced to Salem to get the waterskin thinking as I did it that maybe Prince Noctorno Hawthorne wasn’t all that bad.

Chapter Twelve

Bellebryn

“Sweets, wake up.”

I shifted physically but in my unconscious I executed a lazy br**ststroke toward consciousness, decided I liked the warm, safe waters I was in, gave up and floated.

Tor’s deep voice again penetrated my slumber. “Cora, we’re almost home.”

That got my attention and my eyes fluttered open.

I was turned fully to the side in Tor’s saddle, snug between his legs and up against his chest, my cheek pressed deep, his arm cradling me, my arm cradling a recuperating Aggie.

I tipped my head back, sliding my cheek against his chest, saw the underside of his strong, stubbled jaw tilt down and his beautiful light blue eyes hit mine.

“Hey,” I whispered.

“Hullo, sleepy,” he whispered back.

My stomach melted.

Mm.

I gave him a small smile. He returned a gorgeous one.

My stomach melted more.

Mm.

“We’re nearly there?” I asked and he jerked his chin slightly up and replied, “Turn and see.”

I started to turn, thinking that I wished we weren’t nearly to his castle.

It had taken not three days to get there, but four.

This was because we stopped at a large village with a veterinarian who looked at Aggie, did his best to set Aggie’s wing, gave us some medicinal herbal drops, a kind of rudimentary eye dropper we could use to give Aggie water and some tiny balls made of suet and crushed seeds that we could give Aggie to eat.

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