Home > Midnight Soul (Fantasyland #5)(4)

Midnight Soul (Fantasyland #5)(4)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Giving something away so easily? Especially something like discomfiture?

You’ve ruined me, I snapped silently at Antoine.

My dead lover had no rejoinder.

“You okay?” Noctorno asked.

“Am I what?” I asked in return.

His head gave a slight twitch before he went on, “You okay? All right?” His voice lowered. “It’s been a tough day, babe, for all of us. Including you.”

I looked beyond him to the fire, lifting my wine to my lips but not sipping it until after I murmured, “I’m perfectly fine.”

“Yeah, right,” he stated, and the disbelief veritably dripping from his tone made my gaze flick immediately back to him.

This meant I watched as he sauntered right in front of me to the chair accompanying mine, threw his lengthy frame in it and reached for the wine at the table that separated our seats.

He also reached for the extra glass.

These were seats, I shall add, that were turned at corners to each other with a small, round table in between, so my knee was nearly touching his.

He poured.

It was on the tip of my tongue to share that I had not invited him to attend me.

Alas, I became distracted by his long fingers, and the words died in my mouth.

“That shit was whacked,” Noctorno declared, easing back in his chair, lifting the red wine to finely-molded male lips while I watched. “Glad it’s done,” he finished before he drew in a sip.

With some effort I refused to acknowledge, I turned my eyes back to the fire.

“Franka, right?” he asked my name.

“Correct,” I answered, thinking that one of the other universe women claimed by men in this one should have shared with this man, princely or not, that as a member of the guard he was well beyond his station tossing his (long, powerful) body in a chair, helping himself to my wine and introducing himself to me with a, “Franka, right?”


Perhaps this was how they did it in his world.

It was not how we did it in mine.

I was of the House of Drakkar. I was aristocracy. My cousin, Frey Drakkar was The Frey, The Drakkar. He commanded elves and dragons. He was married to the Ice Princess of my snowy country (even though she actually wasn’t the real princess, she was from a parallel universe, I had no earthly idea what had become of the real Princess Sjofn, but everyone seemed to be disregarding that so I had no choice but to do so as well, and frankly I’d never liked the woman much anyway, her replacement, however, was quite spirited).

Not to mention, my cousin, Frey, had already sired the future king on her, for Adele’s sake!

I was, however, not going to offer myself up for etiquette lessons to this man.

I would sip my wine and hope he’d get the indication I wished no company through my manner. If he didn’t, I would leave (though, I couldn’t figure out how to do that and take the other bottle of wine with me without this appearing undignified).

As I turned this quandary in my brain, he said in that gentle voice, “Hay,” again, but he added at the end, for some unknown reason and for the second time in the short period he’d been addressing me, “babe.”

I turned to him and informed him condescendingly, “You speak strangely.”

That got another twitch of his head before he asked, “Pardon?”

“Hay. Babe,” I said. “What do these words mean?”

“You…uh, don’t have the words ‘hay’ and ‘babe’ in this world?”

I lifted my chin a smidge.

“Of course we do. Hay is fed to horses. And babes are wee. Newborns. I simply don’t understand why you utter them to me.”

He grinned.

My heart squeezed, the pain so immense it was a wonder I didn’t double over, fall to the floor, dead before I hit.

So handsome. That light in his striking eyes.

My Antoine had been handsome.

But when he’d smiled…

“Not saying ‘hay,’” Noctorno told me. “I’m saying ‘hey,’ with an e. It’s how people say hello, greet each other in my world.”

I battled the pain, hid the severity of the fight and nodded my head once.

“And ‘babe?’” I prompted, though I shouldn’t have. Engaging in discourse would not get him to leave.

“It’s what guys call chicks in my world.”

I drew up a brow.

He watched it go and his striking eyes lit brighter.

“Chicks?” I asked, ignoring the amused light in his eyes.

“Girls. Women.”

“Girls and women?” I asked.

“Well, you wouldn’t call a girl-girl, like a little kid, a babe or a chick. You’d call women that.”

“So it’s an endearment,” I deduced, thinking that I might, indeed, expend the effort to have a word with one of the women in this world who were of his world to share with him a few important things.

Precisely that he shouldn’t be referring to anyone he barely knew, and certainly not his superior, with an endearment.

“That, though chick is more slang,” he shared.

“In other words, in your world, you refer to the female gender with words indicating to said female every time you use them that you think they’re as vulnerable and weak as a newborn child or the like, but that of a species of fowl.”

Without hesitation his mirth surged forth, filling the room, warming it, drawing me out of my mood, away from the events of that day, of the last months, of the loss of the only man I’d ever loved, and silently I watched and listened.

I gave no indication I enjoyed it.

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