Fantastical Page 88

I closed my eyes.

Then I opened them and replied, “I guess both are me, Noc, in a way.”

“I prefer this you.”

Poor Cora. What an idiot.

“Everyone does,” I whispered.

“I could work with this you,” he muttered, again as if to himself.

Oh boy.

I turned to him. “Noc –”

I stopped talking when his eyes narrowed on the road and he started, “What’s…?”

I turned back and saw what looked like… I leaned closer… stars. Little, glittering stars, hundreds, maybe thousands of them and they were dancing in a wide line perpendicular to the road.

“What the f**k?” Noc whispered as the stars started growing, glittering, increasing in number and Noc slowed his SUV but we still kept driving straight at them.

Oh shit.

“Noc,” I breathed but said no more because the stars exploded, shooting out to the sides, they burst in a blinding light. I flinched against the sudden brightness, lifting a hand to shield my eyes and when I recovered I saw that up their middle a black seam had split through.

“Fucking hell!” Noc shouted.

Then a black horse with rider surged through the seam.

Oh my God!

“Fucking hell!” Noc repeated as the horse’s hooves hit the slick asphalt and came tearing straight at us. “Hold on!” Noc yelled and swerved his SUV, narrowly missing horse and rider.

I grabbed onto the dash but twisted my head to look back, seeing the rider pull the reins sharply to the side to round the horse and come back.

“Stop!” I cried.

“What the f**k is that?” Noc asked, looking in the rearview mirror.

“It’s Tor! Stop! Stop. Bloody stop!”

Noc stood on the brakes, his SUV came to a sliding halt and I was out of my seatbelt and out of the car before Noc could finish shouting, “Cora!”

I took off on a run and cleared the back of the SUV seeing Salem galloping toward me, Tor on his back and I kept right on running but I did it faster.

At the sight of him, the pain that had ebbed with the promise of hope washed clean away.

Tor kept Salem coming at me and when he got close, he leaned down to the side. His arm hooking around my waist, he lifted me up and set me on the horse in front of him.

I didn’t hesitate. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, aimed my mouth at his and the minute our lips touched, they opened and his tongue slid in my mouth.

Oh yes. There it was.

I was home.

I didn’t notice Salem slow to a halt under us because Tor’s arms were around me, his mouth was on mine, his sandalwood scent filled my nostrils and his strength surrounded me. He kissed me hard and I kissed him back just as hard, pushing close, draining him dry.

His mouth tore from mine and his hands came to either side of my head where he held me still while his eyes searched my face so I took that opportunity to allow mine to roam his.

Then he let my head go, his arms crushed me to him and he shoved his face in my neck.

“My love,” he said there, his voice low and hoarse with unconcealed relief.

Feeling it, hearing it, my tears came instantly and started to fall.

“Honey,” I whispered against his skin, holding him tight but my arms still clenched in a futile effort to hold him tighter.

In return, his arms gave me a squeeze.

“I was dying without you,” I told him, my voice trembling with tears.

“I know, sweets,” he told me.

“You came to me,” I breathed. “I prayed you would.” I pulled my face out of his neck, his head came up and I smiled a tremulous smile into his beautiful face. “I prayed you’d crash into me, but, honey, I didn’t mean it literally.”

A slow smile spread across his face and then he snatched me back into his arms. I shoved my face back into his neck and took him in with all my senses, opening them so I could suck everything I could from him.

Which was why I immediately felt it when his body went solid.

“Fuckin’ hell,” Noc muttered.

Uh-oh.

“By the gods, tell me you jest, Cora,” Tor stated.

Uh-oh!

I pulled my face from his neck and looked up at him. He was looking down but beyond me. I followed his gaze and saw Noc standing in the drizzling rain with his arms crossed on his chest, his feet planted wide looking a lot like Tor. Well, just like him, actually.

Oh shit.

“Uh…” I started and stopped when I felt the heat of Tor’s gaze so I looked back at him.

“You were with this man.”

“Tor, honey –”

“Jesus, Cora, babe, f**k me. You weren’t lying,” I heard Noc say, his voice heavy with shocked surprise and Tor’s eyes narrowed.

“Cora babe?” he asked.

“Tor –”

“I thought I told you that you were not to be in the presence of this man.”

“You did, but –”

“It appears to me, my sweet, that you’re in the presence of this man.”

“I am, but, you see, he was –”

“I was in my world, searching high and low for magic which would bring me back to you, and you were carrying on with this man,” he ground out.

Now hang on a second.

My back went straight and I pulled away as best I could (seeing as we were on Salem), snapping, “I was not carrying on with Noc! He was –”

“You were in his transport with him,” Tor interrupted me to point out.

“He was taking me to Clarabelle to find you, you jerk!” I shouted, Tor’s head jolted and I smacked his bicep before continuing. “A Clarabelle who Harold, Marlene, Phoebe, Brianna, Dad, Mom and half of Seattle have been looking high and low for but Noc found for me in, like, ten minutes. So you should be thanking him because we were on our way to her so I could get back to you before you came tearing through the sky on your mighty beast!” At my mention of him, Salem threw his head back and whinnied, alerting me to his presence and when he did, I instantly twisted and bent to pat his neck and coo, “Heya Salem, missed you, boy.”

He snorted, shook his head and stamped a foot.

“Thank you for coming to get me.” I kept cooing and stroking.

Salem let out a soft, sweet whinny and I knew what that meant.

“I love you too, buddy,” I whispered.

“This is not unusual,” Tor announced. “Our souls are torn asunder, I move heaven and earth, tearing my kingdom apart to find magic that will bring me back to her, she spends approximately five minutes greeting me then she fawns over my horse.” I twisted back to look at him to see he was addressing Noc. “It vexes me,” he stated and his eyes cut to mine when he concluded, “Greatly.”

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