Fantastical Page 61

He was testing it when I wandered to my answering machine because I saw it blinking. The numerical display said I had two messages. I stood by the box, hit the button and Noc’s (in other words, Tor’s) voice filled the room and I watched Tor still as he listened to it.

“Cory? Hope you’re feelin’ better, babe. On my way over. See you in five.”

“Is that me?” Tor asked.

“No,” I answered and his eyes went from the answering machine to me.

“No, sweets, I mean the other me,” he explained.

“Then, yes,” I replied and the next message came on.

It was my friend Selena.

“Got your message and just wanna say, don’t call back ‘cause I got your other message loud and clear. I can’t believe you have the balls to call me after you did what you did. Don’t call back, Cora, ever.”

I stood frozen to the spot, staring at my machine.

“Cora?” Tor called.

I didn’t move.

I felt his hand on my back. “Cora, who was that?”

“My…” My nose started stinging, oh shit, I was going to cry again! Damn the other Cora! “My friend, Selena.”

“Love –”

“What’d she do?” I whispered, staring at the answering machine.

“Sweets –”

I looked up at him, tears swimming in my eyes and whispered again, “What’d she do?”

Then a tear fell, then another because I could tell my parents (maybe) that I’d been in another world but I couldn’t tell my friends. They’d never believe me, they’d think I was insane or making crazy excuses for whatever the other Cora did.

And whatever Cora did, it sounded bad and I knew from experience Cora’s bad was the worst that bad could be.

Tor pulled me to the couch, sat down in it with me and gathered me in his arms. I pressed into his chest and held onto him while the tears fell silently.

“I hope I never meet her,” I whispered after awhile.

“I hope you don’t either, love, it’s rarely a pleasant experience.”

After he spoke, for some reason, I just sat there, cradled by Tor and thought about the fact that none of my other friends had bothered to call back, knowing now what that meant. Then I tried to think of how to rectify whatever happened. Then I realized I was right back where I started in Bellebryn when Tor first took me there. But this time, it wasn’t a bunch of people I didn’t know who hated me, it was a bunch of people I cared about. A lot.

I sighed into Tor’s chest.

Tor murmured, “This musician is a poet,” and I lifted my head and looked at him.

“What?” I asked.

His eyes came to my face then his hand came to my face and he used his thumb to wipe away the wetness as he answered quietly, “That song that was just coming from your box,” he tipped his head to my stereo, “the musician is a poet.”

I tilted my head to the side because I’d been so deep in thought I hadn’t heard what was playing. Then I twisted and reached for my stereo remote in the side table drawer. I used it to go back to the song before the one playing and the guitar strums of The Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash into Me” started.

I looked up at Tor who was studying the remote, he felt my eyes, his came to mine and I smiled.

“I love this song,” I told him.

His eyes dropped to my mouth then without a word he slid the remote out of my hands and tucked my face back to his chest.

Held by Prince Noctorno Hawthorne on my sofa, in my world I listened to a beautiful, sexy song.

When it was over, almost immediately the guitar strums sounded again (clearly Tor had mastered the stereo remote) and we listened yet again, the words washing over me and I heard them not for the first time but I heard their meaning for the first time – they were words full of yearning, passion, admiration and a love that sounded like worship.

And again, when it was over, the guitar strums came back but when they did this time, Tor dropped the remote on the side table, pulled me out of the couch, put his hands to my h*ps and slid them around so he could fit me into his arms.

I tensed, thinking he was going to try to start something, maybe kiss me.

But he didn’t, he pressed his jaw to the side of my head and his h*ps started swaying, his hands at the small of my back moving me with him.

Holy crap, he was dancing with me in my living room.

I didn’t even wait a second before I closed my eyes and moved, telling myself, just this moment, just this time, just this five minutes with Tor and The Dave Matthews Band and a freaking fantastic song.

Just these five minutes.

So I bent my neck and rested my forehead to his shoulder. He took my hand, laced our fingers together, held them to his chest, his other hand pushing into the small of my back, fitting my h*ps snug to his. I slid my other arm around his shoulders and turned my head so my forehead was against his neck. At this, he bent his neck and rested his lips against mine.

And we swayed. Even when the tempo of the song increased, Tor kept our movements slow, fluid and in my little, colorful living room, the rain beating outside, the day gray, the streets grimy, with the help of The Dave Matthews Band, Tor created magic. I felt it with every strum of the guitars, every longing word, every sway of our hips, the hardness of Tor’s body pressed to mine, the warmth of his hand at the small of my back, his strong fingers holding mine tight.

It was the most astonishingly beautiful moment in my life, unbearably sexy, and even though I’d spent nearly two months in a glittering fairytale world, in that moment’s enchanting simplicity, it was by far and away the most magical.

And when the song faded away, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to snatch the notes back. I didn’t want five minutes, I wanted ten, I wanted an hour.

I wanted a lifetime.

Tor’s h*ps stopped moving and his hand pressed mine flat to his chest before it came to my chin, lifted my face up to his and I could see, clear in his eyes, he’d felt everything I’d felt and that exquisite pain I felt last night again slashed through me.

Then he declared quietly, “The man who wrote the words in that song has given half his soul to his woman. There is destiny you cannot control but this man, he found the woman who completed him and he gave his soul at his liberty.”

And he said this like he knew it from experience.

And he said it looking at me.

Then he bent his head and touched his lips tenderly to each of my eyes in turn, both of them closing and staying closed even after he let me go and I heard his boots beat on my floors and then I heard the electric razor coming through the bedroom from the bathroom.

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