Fantastical Page 72

I raced after him, hissing, “You can’t! What if it’s Noc?”

Tor stopped at the door, lifted a big hand and pointed a long finger at my peephole.

“You have a tiny porthole,” he replied in a low voice, his blue eyes on me.

Oh.

Right.

I did. I had a tiny porthole.

The banging came back as he bent and looked through it then his head turned to me, his expression unreadable then I stopped trying to read it when I heard Phoebe shouting, “Cora! I know you’re in there! Open up! I don’t have all day.”

Phoebe!

My heart started racing.

She’d called last night. Now she was here.

I didn’t know whether to be terrified, happy or to brace.

My eyes refocused on Tor just as he unlocked the door, pulled it open and when he did, I decided my best option was to brace.

Then I saw my petite, dark-pixie-cut-haired, adorable-faced, gorgeous platform pumps with skinny jeans and kickass sweater wearing friend standing at the door, one hand raised ready to knock again, one hand holding a department store bag by the handles, body arrested and head tipped way back with mouth falling right open when she caught sight of Tor.

Oh boy.

She blinked then her eyes did a top-to-toe scan. They stopped on the way back to the top, arrested on his chest, she blinked again and I had a feeling she also started salivating (I had this feeling because that was what I did when I saw Tor’s chest) then her eyes slid all the way up, they moved over his face then she whispered, “Dude. What happened to you? You didn’t have a scar the last time I saw you.”

Oh boy!

“Phoebe,” I said cautiously, moving into my living room and her head jerked my way, her eyes lost their wonder and her face instantly closed down.

My heart clenched and I stopped moving.

I’d been right to brace. Cora had done something to her.

Really, really, God, really, I hoped I never met that awful woman!

She opened her mouth to speak but Tor got there before her, shifting slightly but the movement was hard to miss since he was a big guy but also because it was vaguely threatening and Phoebe didn’t miss the movement or the vague threat. Her head jerked back as her eyes cut to him and I watched her body go still.

“You are clearly an acquaintance of my wife and we are not unaware that others of her acquaintance are unhappy with her, or, the other her. What you must be aware of is that I will not tolerate you being unkind to her, that is to say, the real her,” Tor declared, Phoebe blinked yet again and I snapped, “Tor!”

He looked to me and asked, “What?”

I didn’t answer and this was because Phoebe whispered a shocked, “Your wife?”

I looked from Phoebe to Tor, pointed to my friend and said, “That’s what.”

“What’s what?” Tor returned.

“Your wife?” Phoebe repeated.

I walked three more strides into my living room, stopped and planted my hands on my hips. “You can’t go around telling everyone we’re married.”

Tor turned to me, crossed his arms on his chest, tilted his head slightly but dangerously to the side and asked back, “And why not?”

“Because it freaks them out!” I semi-shouted.

“The other her?” Phoebe asked.

“Oh for goodness sakes,” I hissed, stomped to the door, reached to Phoebe, grabbed her arm, pulled her in and turned to her. Then I introduced my friend to my parallel world husband, throwing my hand out from one to the other and back again as I spoke, “Phoebe, my kind of husband, Tor, Tor, my hopefully still best friend, Phoebe.”

Phoebe blinked again and asked, “Kind of husband?”

“It’s a long story,” I muttered.

“I’m not her kind of anything,” Tor stated at this point. “I am her husband and she is my wife and the mother of my unborn child.”

Oh my God!

Phoebe’s eyes bugged out of her head.

I whirled and exclaimed, “Tor!”

“What?” he growled, losing patience.

“You also can’t go around telling everyone I’m pregnant!” I cried.

“The little white stick said you were and I knew you were even before that contraption confirmed it so why the bloody hell not?” Tor returned.

“You just can’t,” I shot back.

“You’re pregnant?” Phoebe whispered and I turned back to see her face pale, her eyes still big and they were on me.

“Uh… yeah,” I whispered back.

Her big eyes darted to Tor then back to me then back to Tor then to me.

Then I knew she came to a decision (and not a good one for me) when she straightened her shoulders and pulled in breath as I watched her face close down.

Then she lifted up the bag and informed me, “Dave said you were back. He also told me some stupid story about how you had amnesia or whatever. Total soap opera but he bought it because he’s a big dork. So, whatever. I’m here to return that Coach bag and that blouse you loaned me. Then I’m gone.” She shook the bag. “Here it is.”

I didn’t look at the bag; I kept my eyes glued to my friend.

The other Cora had done something to her, obviously, I just had no clue what.

And I also had no clue what to do to make it better.

What I did know was that I couldn’t bear thinking she was mad at me at all much less leaving her in this world after whatever happened to me and Tor knowing she would always hate me for whatever the other Cora did so I had to do something.

“Take it,” she said, shaking the bag again.

“She hurt you,” I whispered.

“All right, don’t take it,” Phoebe stated, moved further into the living room, dropped it by my armchair and hitched her purse up on her shoulder muttering, “Have a happy life with your hot guy kind of husband.”

Then she started toward the door Tor had not yet closed.

“His name is Prince Noctorno Allegro Hawthorne. He’s of the House of Hawthorne, heir to the kingdom of Hawkvale, ruler of Bellebryn,” I announced, Phoebe’s shoulders went up her neck as I spoke, she stopped and slowly turned to face me.

I kept talking.

What the hell? I had nothing to lose.

“Obviously, all this is in an alternate universe that, evidence is suggesting, has the same people in it as we have here but even though they look the same, they’re different. I was transported there in my sleep two months ago and the Cora from there was sent here. She’s a bitch, like, an all ‘round bitch. She doesn’t discriminate with her bitchiness. She’s a bitch to everyone, here and in the other world, Tor’s world. Everyone hates her there but she’s had a lifetime of building that. It proves the true strength of her bitchiness considering she’d been here for just under two months and succeeded in making everyone hate me.”

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