Fantastical Page 56

I squirted mustard on the bread and turned my head to look at him.

“Poker?” he asked.

“It’s a card game. Gambling.”

His brows drew together and he clarified, “A game of chance for money?”

I nodded.

His lips thinned.

Oh boy.

“What?” I asked.

“Cora has a gift. Most would use it for good. I could see she would not.”

That didn’t sound good.

“What gift?” I asked.

“She excels with numbers.”

Oh dear. That could mean Cora was counting cards. Cora was playing poker and counting cards.

Shit!

“This isn’t good,” I muttered, grabbing a slice of American cheese and unwrapping it from its plastic.

“What’s that?” Tor asked and I looked at him to see his eyes on the cheese.

“American cheese.”

“And that clear sheet you’re removing?”

“Plastic wrap.”

His hand came out and he took the plastic from me. I slapped the cheese on one of the pieces of bologna and went for another slice as he rubbed the plastic between his fingers.

“Extraordinary,” he murmured.

“It doesn’t biodegrade,” I informed him, his eyes came to me, brows up and I slapped the second slice of cheese on another piece of bologna and continued. “Biodegrade, meaning break down. Return to nature. It never goes away. It’s manmade. It’s part of the reason this world is so… colorless.”

He looked at the plastic and then set it aside.

Acutely aware in a way I’d never been before of the waste I was creating, I opened another slice and slapped it on the last piece of bologna. Gathering the pieces of plastic, I took them to the garbage thinking I was never going to buy American cheese again and then I decided to take us back to target.

“If Cora’s gambling, and counting cards, that wouldn’t be good if someone suspects. But we have another problem,” I told him.

“And that would be?” he asked as I went back to the frying pan, turned off the burner and used a spatula to slide the pieces of bologna on the bread.

“I had a visitor today,” I told him. “The Cora of your world somehow managed to hook up with the Noctorno of this world. They’re together. The clothes you’re wearing are his. He’s the one who told me about the poker. It seems while you’ve been carrying on with me, she’s been carrying on with him.”

The air in the room suddenly changed and it was not a good change. It was also not a bad change.

It was a very bad change.

I turned my head to look at his face and I instantly realized my mistake.

He’d been in love with her. Maybe, by the look on his face, he still was. The news that his wife was cheating on him, regardless that he’d flagrantly cheated on her, was not going down very well.

Still, I felt for him and whispered, “Tor –”

“He visited today?” he asked in a soft, dangerous voice.

“Uh… yes.”

“He was here?”

“Um… yes,” I breathed for his expression nor tone had changed.

“With you?”

Uh-oh.

“Uh…”

“With you, Cora?” he pushed.

“Yes, of course, we… talked.”

“And you know they, as you put it… hooked up?”

“Uh…”

“How do you know this?”

Oh boy.

“Tor –”

“How do you know this?”

I wasn’t going to get out of it. So I answered, “He kind of… hugged me and, uh… kissed me.” I watched Tor’s face turn to stone and finished lamely, “Twice.”

The air in the room changed again, it got heavier. So heavy, it was hard to breathe.

“He touched you?” he whispered.

“He surprised me,” I said quickly. “I had to, uh –”

“Put his mouth on you?”

“Tor –”

His eyes narrowed. “Twice?”

“Um –”

Suddenly I was across the kitchen, my back to the wall and Tor was in my space, his hands on my neck, his thumbs in my jaw forcing it up so his eyes could lock on mine.

“He does not touch you again,” Tor growled.

“Tor, he doesn’t know what’s going on. I had to –”

His fingers tensed and his face came to within an inch of mine. “He does not touch you again.”

“Okay,” I whispered.

“Repeat it,” he commanded harshly.

“He does not touch me again.” I kept whispering.

“I will deal with him.”

What?

“What?” I asked. “How?”

“I don’t know but I will. You do not deal with this man. This man does not touch you. He does not see you –”

I wrapped my fingers around his wrists and interrupted, “Tor, he can’t see you either. You both look exactly alike!”

“Precisely,” he clipped. “You’re in love with me and I’ll not give this… other bloody me an opportunity to muddle your head.”

There it was. He wasn’t jealous and hurt about Cora cheating on him. He didn’t care about that at all.

He was thinking about me.

God, I hated it that he could still be sweet, protective and possessive, all of which I liked when I was trying to convince myself I hated him.

“Tor!” I cried. “He’s not going to –”

“Cora, we’re not discussing this.”

“This is insane! If he sees you, he’ll freak! You can’t –”

“Leave him to me,” he ordered.

“Tor, seriously –”

His fingers tensed again and he growled low, “Cora, I said, leave him to me.”

I glared at him, my mind conjuring the vision of a Noctorno to Noctorno faceoff and just how freaking weird that would be.

Then I snapped, “Oh, all right!”

He relaxed but his hands brought my face up the inch it needed so he could brush his lips against mine.

My lips tingled.

God, I liked it when he did that.

“Stop kissing me,” I whispered, staring into his eyes.

“No chance of that, love,” he whispered back then let go and walked to his plate. “Is this finished?” he asked, pointing to his sandwich.

I stood where he left me, glaring at him. Then I stomped to the bag of Cheetos.

“Not yet,” I stated, shook out some Cheetos on the plate next to the sandwich, dropped the bag on the counter, rounded him and got him a can of Coke from the fridge. Then I picked up the plate and offered it and the Coke to him. “Now it’s done.”

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