Fantastical Page 60

I was wearing a cute little lilac dress with a tiered, full skirt that hit me at the knees, a low, square neckline and cap sleeves, over it a thin, dusty blue cardigan and a pair of spike-heeled, very strappy purple sandals. I’d blown out my hair and put on light makeup.

Then he capped it by muttering, “You’re by far the most beautiful woman I’ve seen in this world.” My step stuttered, his arm tightened around my shoulders to steady me and he murmured, “All right?”

“Yes,” I lied.

But I was not.

We were at a mall and there were a number of hot babes there, including several who’d waited on him in stores, practically pushing each other out of the way, I might add, even with me standing right there. Not to mention the fact that he’d been out all day yesterday and clearly seen a number of people.

Knowing that, it was the nicest compliment anyone had ever given me.

Then he said, as if to himself, his eyes taking in the eyes of the other patrons taking us in, “This makes me wonder…” He trailed off and didn’t continue.

“What?” I asked.

“Mm?” he asked back.

“What makes you wonder?”

He squeezed my shoulders and said distractedly, “Nothing, my sweet.”

I watched his face and saw he looked as distracted as he sounded.

I let it go, we made it to the car, loaded it up and went to the grocery store.

Tor had far more interest in the grocery store and we perused every aisle, Tor picking up stuff, studying it, reading labels, turning it in his hands and tossing it into the cart if it held any interest to him at all.

I knew Tor liked his food. When we were at the castle, the meals were sumptuous, there was always dessert and his portions were manly.

But when our cart in the grocery store was filled to the point we needed another one, I felt the need to intervene.

“Tor, this is a lot of food.”

“Indeed,” he said, studying a bag of spiral pasta.

“We have no way of knowing how long you’re going to be in this world and it’ll take me a year to eat all of this,” I pointed out and his eyes sliced to me.

“If I go back, you’ll be coming with me,” he declared.

“We don’t know that,” I replied.

“If I go back, you’ll be coming with me,” he repeated, more firmly this time and with his face set hard.

I didn’t want to have an incident in the grocery store, which, by the set look on his face, I was pretty sure we would have if I told him that firstly, he couldn’t know that and secondly, I didn’t want to go back with him, not anymore.

So instead, I said, “Okay.”

He scowled at me then threw the pasta in the cart.

I rushed to get another one.

We loaded the car full to bursting with our grocery purchases and on the way home, my cell rang. The display said, “Noc.”

“Excellent, your gadget is sounding,” Tor noted.

“Not excellent, Tor!” I cried, holding it out to show him the display, thankful we were stopped at a red light. “It’s Noc!”

His eyes slid to the display then to me. “Noc?”

“The other you!” I exclaimed.

“Is it necessary for you to answer it?” he asked logically.

“Uh… no.”

“Then don’t answer it.”

Good advice.

It quit ringing but binged a few seconds later, telling me I had a voicemail.

I flipped it open in order to listen to the voicemail.

“What are you doing?” Tor asked, executing a perfect left hand turn.

“Listening to voicemail,” I told him.

“To what?”

“Sh!” I hissed. “He’s left a message.”

“Cory,” Noc said in my ear, “I’m standing in your apartment and you’re not here. What the f**k is goin’ on? I got shit to do. I’ll be back tonight. You get this, call me.” The last was growled.

Noc was not happy.

Oh dear.

And I’d forgotten about him having a key.

“What was his message?” Tor enquired.

“He’s at the apartment. He has a key. He says he’s leaving but coming back tonight. Tonight! What do we do?”

“First, we deal with his access. How do we do that?”

“Uh… get my landlord to change the lock. But he’s lazy and returns phone calls about a millennium after you leave a message. He’ll never do it by tonight.”

“Why does he have to do it?”

“Because I don’t know how and he owns the building.”

“We can’t wait a millennium,” Tor pointed out.

“I know, Tor!” I cried.

“Calm down, sweets, how difficult is this lock changing?”

“I don’t know that either, I don’t know how to do it.”

“In this world, there are vendors who sell everything. In fact, outside of houses and places to eat, that’s practically all there is in this world. Is there a place where we can purchase what we require?”

Jeez, it sucked that Tor was the sensible and logical one, even in my world.

“Yes, the hardware store,” I informed him.

“Tell me how to get there, we’ll acquire what we need and I’ll change your lock. He won’t have access, one problem solved.”

Yep, it sucked that Tor was the sensible and logical one, even in my world.

“Turn right at the second light,” I replied.

He turned right at the second light then into the silence he called, “Cora?”

“Yes,” I answered the side window.

I felt his strong fingers give my thigh a firm squeeze and he murmured, “My love, everything will be all right.”

He couldn’t know that either.

But I didn’t tell him that.

I stayed silent and directed him to the hardware store.

* * *

Tor refused to allow me to carry the bags up to the apartment (two flights!), informing me, “Men do manual labor. Women do not unless they’re servants or common.”

I glared at him then let him do it. He wanted to lug a gazillion shopping bags and a million pounds of groceries up two flights of stairs? That was okay by me.

I turned on music and got out the toolbox my father bought me when I moved out of my parents’ house. I’d used the hammer and a couple screwdrivers but other than that, the set of tools in it were nearly new.

After Tor brought up the stuff, I handed him the toolbox, he perused it with some interest and I put all his clothes and the groceries away while he inspected the lock and then, like all things Tor, changed it without any ado.

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