Fantastical Page 66

I nodded and my fingers came up and curled around her wrists. “I get you, Mom.”

“Promise, whatever happens, you’ll be safe,” she demanded fervently.

“I promise,” I promised on another hitch of breath.

“No more wielding daggers,” she ordered and I pressed my lips together because who knew what could happen? I couldn’t promise that.

“How about, I promise not to wield daggers unless absolutely necessary?” I replied, she stared at me a second then she burst out laughing and wrapped her arms tight around me again.

I shoved my face in her neck and when her hilarity calmed, I said into her skin, “I love you, Mom and when I was gone, I missed you and the worst thing about being gone was thinking I’d never see you and Dad again and I didn’t have the chance to say good-bye.”

Her arms gave me a squeeze and she whispered, “Oh sweetie.”

My arms gave her a squeeze and I whispered back, “So, if we go again, I want you to know, and never forget, that I’ll miss you and I’ll always love you. Always.”

She shoved her face even further in my neck and held on even tighter.

Moments passed as we held each other and just when I was about to let go, she said, “One more promise, Cora.”

“Anything, Mom,” I replied and her head went back but her arms stayed around me.

“Hold onto him tight. Don’t let that man go. For me, for your Dad and mostly… mostly, my beautiful, funny girl,” her hand came up to cup my cheek and her eyes stared deep into mine, “for you. Yeah?”

I bit my lips and even between my lips, they trembled.

I let them go and said quietly, “He could be lost to me.”

“Then hold on tight.”

“It might not –”

Her arm gave me a squeeze. “Hold on tight.”

“He –”

“Cora, learn this from your mother. There are not many men like him in this world or his, I’d guess. Men like him don’t come around very often. Men like him who look at my girl like she holds the other half to his soul and he couldn’t exist without her are even more rare.” I held my breath at her words, a part of both Tor and Rosa’s story I did not share, but words she used anyway while she concluded, “So hold… on… tight.”

“Okay,” I whispered.

Seriously, what else could I do?

“Promise?” she pushed.

“Promise,” I gave in.

Mom smiled.

Boy, I was screwed.

Mom let me go and turned back to the sink, wiping her face and saying, “Okay, let’s get this done and get back in there. It’s good they’re bonding but they’re doing it with whisky. Whisky makes your father talkative. Talkative means he might get out photo albums. And you went through that unfortunate punk phase when you were fifteen. We don’t want Tor seeing that.”

Oh crap.

No. Agreed. We absolutely, definitely did not want Tor seeing photos of me with ratted out hair, too much black eyeliner and torn clothes held together with safety pins.

I snatched a plate out of the drainer and dried it, urging, “Hurry, Mom. Dad had three before we even cleared the table.”

“Right,” Mom muttered and started wiping silverware.

And I finished the dishes with my Mom and while I did it I memorized every freaking second.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Something to Celebrate

I was silent on the ride home mostly because I was thinking of all my mother had said, all that had happened between Tor and me and about the words to “Crash into Me”.

It wasn’t until Tor unlocked the door to my apartment that it hit me Tor had been silent all the ride home too.

He opened the door for me, I preceded him, he closed it, locked it and stalked, yes, stalked to the kitchen.

Hmm. It seemed I’d missed something.

I saw the light go on there, I switched on a few lamps in the living room then I followed him and stopped in the doorway to see he was opening and closing cupboards.

“Can I get you something?” I asked quietly and his eyes sliced to me.

They were broody and intense.

Oh boy.

“Do you have spirits?” he asked back.

Oh boy!

“Um… you had whisky with my Dad,” I pointed out.

“Yes, and I knew I would be operating that vehicle, undoubtedly in the rain, which it does all the bloody time here, so I did not have as much as I would have liked for operating that vehicle inebriated would not be wise,” he returned.

He was right about that.

“In the cupboard by the wall,” I belatedly answered his question.

He went to the cupboard, sorted through my myriad of bottles, pulled out some bourbon, opened it, sniffed it and went to the cupboard that held my glasses.

I watched him pour himself a rather healthy dose as I grew uncomfortable.

Tor was being broody, something he could be but he was usually kind of… openly broody. As in, it was rare he didn’t tell me what was on his mind.

And he’d just had an emotional dinner with my parents and he wasn’t telling me what was on his mind.

“Is something on your mind?” I asked after he swallowed a large swig.

He looked at me and declared weirdly, “Things here, in your world, are more advanced.”

“Well… yeah,” I replied.

“Is this true with medicine?”

My head tipped to the side. “Medicine?”

“Do you not call it medicine?” he asked, didn’t wait for me to answer and he went on to explain using the word, “Healing.”

“Yes, we call it medicine and yes, it’s more advanced.”

He scowled at me a second then drained his glass. Then he poured another healthy measure.

“Tor,” I started hesitantly, not sure what to do with him in this mood, “has something upset you?”

He answered immediately, “While you were with your mother in the kitchen, your father was verbose.”

Uh-oh.

Dad could have told him anything. About my punk phase, or worse, my militant vegetarian phase, or worse, the excruciatingly uncomfortable time he found Tad Millstrom getting to second base with me in our basement.

“And?” I whispered.

“And, he told me about Rosa, your Rosa, the sister you did not have.”

“Seriously?” I asked softly, surprised by this. Dad could get chatty while smashed but that was an overshare, even for Dad. I knew this because I’d been around Dad while he was hammered a bunch of times and he’d (obviously) never mentioned Rosa.

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