Home > Midnight Soul (Fantasyland #5)(7)

Midnight Soul (Fantasyland #5)(7)
Author: Kristen Ashley

It did not go wary.

It warmed with a gentleness that made it feel my insides were unravelling.

“Franka,” he whispered back.

“You should not be kind to me,” I repeated.


“I’ve done terrible things.”

He said nothing, just stared right into my eyes, unafraid, without judgement, holding my gaze steady.

“I love my frosted country,” the whiskey (or the wine) made me whisper. “They don’t think so. They don’t know. I can’t…” I shook my head, enough of my faculties still intact not to give him that. “I don’t let that be known. I’ve traveled the Northlands extensively. But there’s nothing like the air in Lunwyn. I prefer it in the many months it’s covered in snow. I prefer the chill. I prefer the cold air carving through your innards, washing them clean.”

Something flickered in his gaze.



“I would do nothing…nothing…to betray my country.” My voice dropped beyond a whisper to nearly nothing. “But for him.”

“I get it.”

I shook my head. “You don’t.” I lifted a hand weakly then dropped it in my lap. “They don’t.”

I was referring to Queen Aurora. Frey and his Finnie. King Lahn and his Circe. Prince Noctorno and his Cora. Apollo and his Madeleine. The green witch Valentine. Lavinia.


“They get it,” he returned.

“No, they don’t.”

“They get it, sweetheart. You don’t think if those men had the same choice as you, their women taken, tortured, living in the pits of hell every day for weeks, fucking months…or those women had that choice with their men…they wouldn’t make the same choice as you?”

“I shared this exact sentiment with them and they—”

He leaned deeply across the seat over the table that separated us, very close to me, and his voice was the lash of a whip when he interrupted me to state, “Lied.”

He did not move away as he continued, and when he did his voice was no less strong.

“They fuckin’ lied, Franka. I know those are good men who have done remarkable things for their countries. I also know they wouldn’t hesitate to do anything in their power to keep their women safe and free from harm. So, since they weren’t in your position, they can say whatever the fuck they wanna say. But today, when Cora and Circe and Maddie and Finnie were taken, if they weren’t made safe as quickly as they were, if you think for one fuckin’ second each one of those men wouldn’t make a deal with the goddamned devil to make that so, you…are…wrong.”

He jerked a finger at his chest and didn’t cease talking.

“I know, ’cause I’m a man like that. And if I had a woman I loved like those men love their women, I’d do it and I wouldn’t fuckin’ blink.”

That sensation behind my eyes became stronger as I asked, “You would?”

“Fuck yes,” he stated inflexibly. “And I wouldn’t even blink.”

It had started, and for the first time in decades I could stop the flow of words coming out of my mouth.

“I’m a traitor,” I admitted.

“You were and you aren’t the first to make the decision you made for someone you loved. Worse has happened when people made that same decision. And what you did, in the end, no one got hurt. But today, even if that’s the case, you made up for it. Those bitches could have cut you down with a snap.” He lifted his hand and made that noise with his fingers, the sound so loud I jumped. “You knew it. You still walked in there. I know vengeance, I get the need for that. I know that’s what pushed you to make the decision you made. But there was more. Loyalty. To the country you think you betrayed, to your family, ’cause I know you and Frey are blood. I get with the way he looks at you, the others do, that there’s no love lost and I don’t give a fuck why. You changed the course of history, baby, and every citizen of this nation should be grateful.”

“I walked into a room and cast a spell,” I reminded him. “I hardly wielded swords, and it wasn’t even my magic.”

“And saved lives doin’ that. A lot of them.”

“You make me sound like a hero,” I scoffed.

He edged slightly back, a cloud coming over his expression.

“There is no such thing as a hero. Just a person doing the right thing in more than the usual, extreme circumstances.”

It was my turn to consider him curiously.

Once I’d taken long moments to do this, I asked quietly, “Why do I think that declaration is self-effacing?”

“I’d answer that, if I knew what the fuck ‘self-effacing’ meant.”

I felt my lips curl slightly up at the edges.

“Modest,” I explained.

“It isn’t,” he stated. “It just is what it is.”

As he would say, bullshit.

I did not share this sentiment.

I also did not share my immense gratitude at the relief his words made me feel.

I simply continued to look into his remarkable eyes.

“You’re good at it,” he said softly, tipping his head my way. “That game you got goin’ on. Those walls you built that you hide behind. The distance you keep with every look, every word, every fuckin’ breath.” His gaze tipped down to the table then back to me. “When you aren’t drinking whiskey, that is.”


“No one calls me Noctorno,” he stated flatly and leaned toward me again. “It’s Noc. Especially to friends, and Franka, I help save a universe with a woman then down a coupla bottles of wine and a whatever this is called…” he motioned with a flick of his wrist to the nearly depleted whiskey, “of hooch.”

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