Fantastical Page 41

“You haven’t had breakfast?” he enquired.

My hand slid down to his neck. “I think I slept in.”

That got me the wicked grin again. Then he said, “I have things to do, love. Can you find ways to stay occupied?”

“I think so,” I replied, though I wasn’t certain since the only person in his castle that I had really talked to clearly detested me and the rest the other Cora had set to fits of tears or threats of quitting, I was wondering if I should leave his rooms.

“Only stupid people get bored,” he muttered, my body stilled and then I felt my face go soft.

“That’s what my Mama told me,” I whispered.

He grinned at me again, this one wasn’t wicked, it was warm. It was a close call but I reckoned I liked the warm one even more.

Then he turned his head to the side, lifted his chin and asked, “You’ll take care of my bride, Perdita?”

Hesitantly, I turned my head to the side and took in the clearly astonished, pale-faced woman called Perdita who was staring at us with rapt attention and complete shock.

“Perdita?” Tor called and she lurched.

“Yes, your grace?” she answered.

“You’ll look after Cora?” he queried.

“Of… of course,” she replied.

“Excellent,” he muttered, gave me another squeeze to get my attention, I looked at him and he commanded, “Now give me a kiss before I go.”

I tilted my head to the side and teased, “Earning my French toast?”

His brows drew together. “Your what?”

“French toast,” I replied, tipped my head to the table and his gaze followed, “breakfast.”

His eyes came back to me, they moved over my face, something I didn’t understand working behind them then he corrected, “Custard toast, Cora.”

“Custard toast?”

“That’s what we call it.”

“Oh,” I whispered.

Yum. That sounded way better.

“Sweets,” he called and I focused on him. “My kiss.”

Feeling Perdita’s eyes on us, I got up on my toes, touched my mouth to his and intended to give him a chaste kiss but his head slanted, he leaned into me, his mouth opened over mine and chaste was a fleeting memory.

I was breathing heavily when his head lifted.

“Don’t get into any trouble,” he warned.

“I won’t,” I panted.

He grinned. Then he stated, “I’m not jesting, be good.”

My head tilted in confusion. “I’ll be good.”

“Like a princess would be good,” he clarified and I felt my eyes narrow.

Then I snapped, “Tor!”

“Cora,” he returned.

“All I can be is me,” I informed him, he stared at me then he sighed.

Then he turned his head to Perdita and announced, “My wife can be stubborn and she gets things in her head. If she tries to save a wounded bird, invite every innkeeper in the city to dinner or the like, stop her. You have my permission.”

“Tor!” I cried, trying to pull away but he pulled me back.

“You’re a princess; you’ve got to stop being so damned friendly.”

“You didn’t complain about how friendly I was last night, three times,” I returned only to hear Perdita gasp.


My head whipped around to Perdita and I babbled, “I’m sorry. So sorry. So, so, so, so sorry. That was rude. I shouldn’t –”

“It’s fine,” she cut me off, her dour expression gone, she was, dear God, was I seeing things right? She was smiling and it was glowing. “Perfectly fine.” She bustled to the door repeating, “Perfectly fine.” She stopped at the door and looked at me. Then she floored me by finishing, “I’m glad to see, your grace, that this time you’re more yourself.” Her eyes flitted to Tor then to me, then she lifted a hand and called merrily, “Cheerio!” and she disappeared.

I blinked at the door.

“What’s this about being more yourself?” Tor asked and I looked up at him.

Jeez, did making out with Tor and starting to bicker with him win over the frosty housekeeper?

God, I hoped it was that easy.

“Nothing,” I muttered. Then pushed on his shoulders. “Go, be a prince, rule your princedom, I have a castle to peruse and innkeepers to ask to dinner.”

His arms got tight and he growled a warning, “Cora.”

I rolled my eyes then rolled them back to his face. “Oh, all right, I won’t ask any innkeepers to dinner.”

He studied me then shook his head and his mouth twitched. Then he gave me another squeeze, a brush of his lips against mine, he let me go and walked to the door.

When he had it open and was halfway through, I called, “Is it okay if I ask their wives?”

He turned, speared me with a glower, I grinned at him, his glower disappeared when he winked at me, my breath caught at how damned hot he could wink and then he vanished behind the door.

* * *

“I need to go home, I need to go home, I need to go home,” I whispered my prayer into the falling night as I sat curled up in a padded, iron chair in a secluded corner of one of the many balconies in Tor’s huge castle. “I’ll miss Tor and I’ll hate leaving him but please, please, please God, send me home.”

The people were lighting their lanterns, windows were beginning to glow and the street lamps were being lit.

And I was crying.

Nope, I wasn’t crying. I was sobbing.

Nope, I wasn’t sobbing either. I was bawling.

Because, outside of the day the curse started, that day was the worst day in my entire life – the short one I’d led here and the long one I’d led at home. Both of them. The worst day ever.

And I needed to go back home because the people here hated me.

Nope, they didn’t hate me, they detested me.

Nope, that wasn’t right either, they didn’t detest me, they loathed me.

And they were not to be won over by bright smiles and politeness and I hadn’t seen Tor all day for them to be won over by us making out or bickering.

No, that day for the first day since I arrived in this world, I had to go it alone. And alone I went it, touring the castle and the city before I could take no more, slunk back and decided that I might be falling in love with a warrior prince, and he was pretty magnificent (in bed and out of it) and his world was beautiful, but I couldn’t take this.

I couldn’t take it.

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