Fantastical Page 62

I realized my chest was rising and falling deeply, my eyes slowly opened and I stared at my wall as I allowed myself one more thing.

I allowed myself to feel that exquisite pain at the same time the shadow of the touch of Tor’s lips on my eyes lingered.

Then I went to my bathroom to share the basin with Tor as I fixed my makeup and decided not to share with him that “Crash into Me” had hints of voyeurism at the same time I decided, forever and always, that song would mean to me exactly what it meant to Tor.

* * *

And now we were in my car, heading to my parents’ house and I was, again, freaking out.

And I was tired of freaking out.

So damned tired of it.

Tor’s hand came to mine and his fingers laced through while he noted softly, “I like this transport.” I turned to look at him and watched him lift my hand and brush his lips against my knuckles.

Damn. There it was, that exquisite pain was back.

He dropped our hands to his thigh and without taking his eyes from the road, he continued, “But I prefer Salem. In your car, you’re too far away.” My breath caught. “On Salem, you’re right where you’re supposed to be.”

I closed my eyes, looked away then sighed deeply.

I wished he’d quit saying (and doing) things like that at the same time I wished he’d never stop.

Damn.

My folks’ house came into sight and I whispered to Tor, pointing with my hand not held in his, “It’s that one, right there. You can park in front.”

With ease, Tor guided my car to the curb.

I stared out the window at my parents’ house, trying to force myself toward calm.

I felt Tor squeeze my fingers and my head swung to him.

“It’ll be all right, my love,” he assured me quietly.

“Right,” I whispered, not believing him.

His hand brought mine to his chest as his other hand came out, hooked me around the neck and pulled me to him.

“If it isn’t, I’ll make it so,” he declared. “That’s a vow.”

I held my breath. Tor smiled at me.

And, damn and blast, looking at his smile and the ease behind his eyes, I found calm.

Chapter Twenty-One

Meeting the Parents

“You what?” my father shouted at me then his eyes sliced to Tor, his fists hit the table, he shot out of his chair and bellowed, “Get away from my daughter!”

I closed my eyes tight.

Let’s just say that dinner was not going well.

It had started okay.

Sure, Mom and Dad had been a little overawed in an obvious way when they first laid eyes on Tor. For one, he was a lot taller than any of my other boyfriends (a lot). For two, he was also a lot more powerfully built (a lot). And three, he was a lot scarier-looking (a lot).

Tor was hot but that didn’t mean he looked like a guy you messed with. All of my boyfriends were relatively good-looking but they were also laidback, easygoing and fun-loving. Tor looked like what he was. A warrior dressed in jeans, boots and a nice shirt.

His scar, no matter how sexy, obviously helped.

But my parents seemed game and were themselves, friendly and charming.

Things disintegrated when Tor was, well, Tor. He was touchy, very much so. He was also attentive, very much so. And he was possessive, clearly so. I couldn’t really explain how he demonstrated the last, he just did. And Mom and Dad caught it. And Mom, who for two decades of my life (to my utter embarrassment as a teen) didn’t wear a bra and Dad, who read Mom’s newsletters from the National Organization for Women from cover to cover (sometimes taking highlighters to it just so Mom, during her perusal, wouldn’t miss things Dad thought important she note), didn’t take to it too well.

It didn’t help matters that I was freaked out, worried, confused and my life was in a turmoil… and it showed. They noticed and didn’t take to that too well, either.

They started to pry into the last two months of my life, specifically how I hooked up with Tor, and, wanting to pick the best time to deliver the news that Tor and I were at the mercy of unpredictable blue mist magic, my answers were cagey. Tor took my lead and kept completely silent on the subject. Again, they didn’t take to that too well.

Conversation became stilted. Mom and Dad exchanged unhappy glances. Tor was catching my eye, communicating to me that if I didn’t do something, he would. I didn’t want him to do anything Tor-like which would likely not go over very well either so, after eating Mom’s delicious herbed chicken, cheesy-garlic mashed potatoes and steamed greens but before she moved us onto dessert, I told them that Tor was from a parallel universe, the same parallel universe I had been hurled into in my sleep and resided in the last two months and we were at the whim of blue mist magic.

“Forrest!” Mom cried when Dad finished shouting.

“Dad, please sit down and calm down,” I urged.

“No!” Dad returned to me. “What hold does this man have over you?” he asked then didn’t allow me to answer and looked at Tor. “What are you doing to my daughter? Why haven’t we seen or heard from her in two months? Why does she believe this crazy story? Are you drugging her fruit juice?”

I didn’t drink fruit juice primarily because I preferred to chew my calories unless they were alcoholic (not that I chewed very much fruit, but you get what I’m saying) and my Dad knew that (not about the calories, just that I didn’t drink juice). He was being dramatic. He was also being loud.

“Pardon?” Tor asked, his tone quiet but also deadly. He didn’t like my father’s words or the way they were thrown at him, he was the future king after all, and a prince to boot and, well, Tor and I could see him struggling for control.

“Drugging her fruit juice?” Dad continued. “Addling her mind? A parallel universe! That’s insane! Are you in some kind of cult?”

“Dad!” I exclaimed. “Tor’s not in a cult!”

My father ignored me.

“What kind of name is Tor, anyway? Were you born with that name?” Dad asked Tor, forgetting, in his histrionics, that he had for a brief period of time called himself (and made others call him) Eaglethorn (Mom had taken the name Jasminevine, luckily they stopped doing this before I was born).

“No,” Tor replied calmly then announced in his deep, commanding voice, “I am Prince Noctorno Allegro Hawthorne of the House of Hawthorne, heir to the Kingdom of Hawkvale and ruler of Bellebryn. Those close to me, including Cora, call me Tor.”

Uh-oh.

What he said was true but it was not the right thing to say. I could see it because my Mom went pale but my Dad went beet red.

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