Fantastical Page 55

“I…” I started, my mind searching then I came up with it, “got in an accident.”

“Holy shit! Were you hurt?”

“No, I mean, yes. I had a head injury.”

“Oh, Cora, I can’t believe it! That sucks! I can’t believe Dara and Forrest didn’t phone. They went it alone. That’s awful. We could have, I don’t know, sent a fruit basket or something. Are you okay?”

“Um, well, I had amnesia for awhile so obviously, uh… forgot where I worked…” Pure soap opera, was he going to buy this shit? “And so, no… I’m still recovering and…” Was I going to do this? Damn, I was. “I need a bit more time.”

“Whatever you need. We’ll activate the extended sick leave policy for you. We had to, you know, stop your pay. HR made us do it, swear. But we’ll reinstate it and get you reimbursed for…”

“No,” I cut in, feeling like a cheat, “you don’t have to do that.”

“Of course we do. You’ve been with us frickin’ forever.”

God, that was nice.

“No, really, I have special insurance for, you know, that kind of thing,” I lied and kept lying. “I’m good. Totally okay. I just need another week. Maybe two. And then, um… can I come back?”

“Yeah, sure, totally,” Dave told me. “We have an ad in the paper but we’ve been getting temps and they, like, totally suck so, abso-freaking-lutely. Can’t wait to have you back but you get healthy first, hear?”

My boss rocked.

“Thanks, Dave.”

“Good to hear your voice, Cora. Sucks you had an accident but glad you’re gonna be okay.”


“Later, Cora.”

“Bye, Dave.”

I hit the off button.

Then I stared at the phone.

Then I started giggling, this, I knew, was definitely hysteria.

Then I did more laundry, folded clothes, tidied them away and put clean sheets on the bed.

Then I did another round of phone calls to my friends, none of whom, again, picked up.

After that, I started freaking out.

And after that, I started pacing, waiting for Tor to return and trying not to panic.

And now, it was after eight, he left just after nine thirty, it was raining and he wasn’t home.

He was probably in an emergency room, every bone in his beautiful body broken, having been hit by a bus.

Sure he was a dick and an ass**le who ripped my heart out and stomped on it, but when I was new to his world, he took care of me. Yes, there was a curse that started and the small fact he thought I was his wife that made him take care of me, but he did.

He killed rabbits for me.

And I let him go out and be hit by a bus.


The door opened and he walked through, hair wet, clothes drenched and plastered to him, looking hot.

Not thinking, I ran to him, grabbed his shirt in my fists, pressed to his wet body and tipped my head back to look at him as his arms slid around me.

“Thank God you’re home,” I breathed.

Tor stared into my face.

Then he smiled.

Chapter Nineteen

Only You

After Tor smiled at me, his eyes moved over my face then over my head then they scanned my living room. Then his smile faded, his expression went decidedly ominous, his gaze dropped back to me and he growled, “What are you doing out of bed?”

I didn’t have time for Tor’s ominous look. There was a shitload of money in my TV cabinet, none of my friends were talking to me, Cora had hooked up with my world’s Noctorno and we had a date to have dinner with my freaking parents tomorrow night. I had to stay on target.

“Where have you been?” I asked, my voice pitched high, my fingers still curled into his wet shirt.

“Out in your world,” he answered and before I could say more, he did. “You were right, love, it’s colorless.”

“I know, but –”

“Gray. So bloody wet. And it’s loud.”

“I know, listen –”

“And grimy,” he cut me off again, “so much filth, even the air doesn’t taste good.”

“Tor, I know, but –”

“And so many bloody people, all in a hurry, all impatient, gods, hideous.”

“Tor!” I shouted.

“What?” he asked.

“We need to talk, we have problems,” I informed him and his brows drew slightly together as his arms curled me protectively closer.

“What problems?”

I opened my mouth to speak and didn’t know where to start. So I asked, “Have you eaten?”

“No,” he replied.

I pulled away, ordering, “Change out of those wet clothes, I’ll make you a bologna sandwich and we’ll talk.”

“A what?”

That’s when I lost it.

“Just change out of your clothes!” I cried.

The instant I finished my last word, his hand cupped my jaw and he bent to put his face in mine. “I’ll change, Cora, calm down. Whatever it is, we’ll sort it out. Right?” he said softly.

I looked in his eyes, sucked in breath and nodded, hating that his quiet, powerful strength could calm me but having to admit that it could.

His hand dropped away and he sauntered into my bedroom.

I dashed into the kitchen.

I was toasting bread and frying bologna when he walked in wearing another, more faded pair of jeans (that were, incidentally, even hotter on him than the others) and a white, long sleeved tee that was tighter than the other one and seeing as I’d never seen him in anything but black or, this morning, navy blue, its brightness against his tanned, olive-toned skin looked so good, it struck me momentarily speechless.

I pulled it together when his eyes dropped to the frying pan and he asked, “What, by the gods, is that?”

“Bologna,” I answered, he looked at me, I knew my answer meant nothing to him so I explained, “It’s a kind of meat.”

“It’s round,” he observed with barely concealed distaste.

“Uh… yes.”

“Meat is not round,” he declared.

Well, he was mostly right.

“Can we not talk about bologna?” I asked, he held my eyes for a second then he crossed his arms on his wide chest and leaned a hip against the counter which I took as an affirmative.

I flipped the bologna, snatched the toast out when it popped up and started talking.

“I think Cora is in trouble. I found a big stash of money in my TV cabinet. A lot of it, Tor. Too much to earn in two months in any legal way. I found out she’s playing poker and I think that’s how she’s getting it.”

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