Fantastical Page 87

“Cora, babe, sorry but at first, it served a purpose and you…” He shook his head. “You got somethin’ about you. A promise. It just never was fulfilled and for some reason, signs you gave me or things I wanted to believe, I kept thinkin’ it would be. I gotta tell you, there were times when I hoped it would be, when I thought maybe, no matter the f**ked up way we hooked up, we could sort our shit out. But then you would…” he paused, “be you. You tried, I could tell you tried, but you couldn’t pull it off. But, if it helps, I know you tried.”

God, he thought I was a mental case and was trying to make me feel better about Cora failing to be able to play him.

Totally a sweet guy.

I looked back out the front window and muttered to myself, “I wonder why she’d give it to you and not Tor, who’s her husband. That’s weird.”

“You said you were into me,” he answered my question and I looked back at him.

“I did? I mean, she did?”

“You did.”

“I said I was into you?”

“Not in those words. When you’re her, you don’t talk like you do now.”

“So, what did I say? Something like, ‘You’re my moon and my stars, my love?’”

He was silent and I got the message.

I turned back to facing forward. “Sorry, I shouldn’t ask about –”

“Fuck,” he muttered and I looked back at him.

“What?”

“Fuck,” he repeated.

“What?” I asked louder.

He glanced at me then back at the road. “You said I was perfect. Completely perfect. You said exactly that. ‘You’re perfect. Completely perfect. As you should have come to me.”

He was perfect, as far as I could tell (uh… mostly, when he wasn’t angry and saying jerky things that was), though not as perfect as Tor (who could also get angry and say jerky things, by the by, I just decided not to think about that).

“That was a nice thing to say, right?” I asked.

“It was nice and it was weird.”

“Weird how?”

“You said it while touching my face, where you touched it earlier.”

I sucked in breath.

Noc kept talking and now he was talking like it was to himself. “Later, when we were in bed, you kissed my chest and whispered, ‘perfect, no scars, no bloody scars’.”

Oh my God!

“Cora didn’t like Tor because he has scars?” I asked him a question he’d already inadvertently bloody answered.

“Babe –”

I twisted back to forward and snapped, “That bitch!”

“Cora –”

“Tor was only scarred while saving his people from King Baldur’s tyrannical rule. He’s a warrior. He had a kingdom to rebuild. Shit like that happens when you’re at war!”

“Jesus,” Noc breathed out on a sigh.

“Tor was right. She so totally is not the other half to his soul, I’ll tell you that!” I clipped.

“Do me a favor,” he said and I snapped, “What?”

“Calm down, yeah?”

I crossed my arms on my chest and grunted, “Yeah.”

Cora, so… totally… a bitch.

I deep breathed and as I was deep breathing I realized what my outburst must have sounded like, not to mention all the other stuff I’d been saying, so I started to smile. Then I started to giggle. Then I started to giggle harder.

“Oh shit,” Noc said, “you’re not cracking up on me, are you?”

I shook my head and sucked in breath, trying to control the giggles and I forced out, “It just hit me what what I said must have sounded like.”

Noc was silent.

“It’s no wonder you think I’m crazy.”

Noc remained silent.

I fought the giggles back and took a steadying breath.

“You all right?” he asked softly when my laughter died away.

“Yeah,” I answered softly.

“You got a great laugh, babe.” He was still talking softly.

“You’ve never heard me laugh?” I asked.

“Nope,” he answered.

I’d heard that before.

I stared at the dark, slick road, the windshield wipers moving slowly to clean away the mist and I whispered, “You are, you know, as far as I can tell.”

“I’m what?”

“Perfect.”

I heard him pull in a breath.

I ignored that too.

“Do you want kids?” I asked quietly.

He hesitated before he answered quietly, “Yeah.”

“How many?”

This time, he didn’t hesitate. This time, he spoke like he knew exactly what he wanted.

“Don’t care. As long as they’re healthy, happy and I can provide a good life for them, I’ll keep goin’.”

I turned to him, looked at his beautiful profile and whispered, “I hope you find someone really fantastic, someone as beautiful as you who thinks you’re perfect, has a great laugh and you want to keep going with her.”

He glanced at me again and when he did he was smiling and his smile caught in my throat.

It was nearly as good as Tor’s.

“Baby, you just described you.”

“Shit,” I whispered and turned back forward, “I kind of did.”

He chuckled.

“Though I’m not fantastic, I’m cold and bad in bed,” I reminded him and he burst out laughing.

That caught in my throat too because it was also nearly as good as Tor’s.

He quit laughing but declared, “Babe, you made me laugh like that when we were together, I wouldn’t have let you pack my bags.”

Hmm.

“Good thing I did, considering I’m crazy,” I reminded him.

“I could handle crazy, you make me laugh and you can kiss like you kissed me tonight.”

I felt my eyes get wide and turned to look at him again. “Noc, are you flirting with a lunatic woman you think has multiple personalities, a gambling addiction and is pregnant with your child?”

He glanced at me before turning back to the road, his handsome face even more handsome with his smile. “Cora, if there’s anyone I can flirt with, I can flirt with the woman who’s pregnant with my child.”

I faced back forward, muttering, “I can’t argue with that.”

Noc chuckled again.

I finally (and belatedly wisely) fell silent.

It was Noc who next spoke.

“Which one is you?”

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