Home > Midnight Soul (Fantasyland #5)(8)

Midnight Soul (Fantasyland #5)(8)
Author: Kristen Ashley

“A decanter,” I shared.

“Whatever,” he muttered then spoke up when he spoke on. “You’re a friend. So call me Noc.”

I pressed my lips together.

He let that go and continued.

“So now I’m a friend. I’m also the man who sees you for what you are, sugarlips. You don’t fool me. And those other men,” his eyes flicked to the door briefly, his indication of Frey, Lahn, the other Noctorno and Apollo, “if they didn’t have the end of the world as they knew it breathing down their necks and took the time to see, you wouldn’t fool them either.”

I drew in a breath, burying his words, words I’d heard (of a sort) from another man, in fact, from the only other person I’d come across in my years on this earth who’d expended the energy to see.


He’d called me sugarlips.

I felt my brows snap together and I couldn’t control the sneer in my, “Sugarlips?”

It was then his gaze dropped to my mouth before it came back to my eyes and he whispered, “Baby, you got the prettiest mouth I’ve ever seen.”

This flirtation after that very evening he’d succeeded in bedding a woman who had been repeatedly violated for over two decades.

The gall.

“Cease flirting with me,” I clipped.

He blinked, again looking perplexed, before he stated, “I’m not. I’m just sayin’ it like it is.”

I stared at him angrily.

And again saw no guile.

This was not a man who would flirt with a woman who he knew had just lost the only man she’d ever loved in a heinous, drawn-out way, the pain of which would never die.


How mortifying.

“I…I, well…” By the gods, I was stammering! “I apologize.” And apologizing! Gods, what had become of me? I finished it quickly, “I mistook your words.”

“I like lookin’ at you, Franka, and you’re cute when you stop tryin’ so hard to be a hard-ass bitch. But no decent man would make a play on a woman in your situation.” He grinned, “He succeeds in getting her shitfaced drunk or not.”


I did not ask.

“I am not drunk,” I lied haughtily on a toss of my head.


I narrowed my eyes at him declaring, “I dislike this word.”

He continued to appear amused. “I get it you think you can rule the world with a flash of those gorgeous blues, a pout on that pretty mouth and a pissed-off look, baby, and there are men who’d likely break their backs to cater to your every whim. I’m just not one of those who falls for that shit.” He leaned in mock-suggestively. “I do it the other way around, minus the pouting and pissed off parts.”

I pressed his way. “You do flirt.”

He shrugged, clearly continuing to be entertained—by me—and not hiding it.

“It’s just me.”

There was a time when I’d wish he would. When I would play with Noctorno Hawthorne in ways we’d both like.

Those times were dead for me.


I wrapped my fingers around my mostly-drunk glass of whiskey on the table, turned to face the fire, sat back and emptied its contents down my throat.

“Hey,” he called.

I allowed only my eyes to slide his way.

“Just messin’ with you, sweetheart,” he explained.

I looked back to the fire and decided, with all that I’d already given him, there was no reason to stop doing it.

With this man, one of only two I’d ever met, it would cause no harm.

Therefore, I shared, “I miss him.”

“Bet you do,” he said gently.

“Their deaths were too quick,” I declared, speaking of Minerva, Edith, Helda, the witches who had all deservedly perished that day.

The witches who had taken my Antoine from me and then treated him to a slow, agonizing death.

“Mm-hmm,” he murmured soothingly.

“But it’s over,” I concluded.

“That’s the rub, am I right?”

I turned my head to give my attention to Noctorno. “The rub?”

“Without vengeance to concentrate on…”

I understood him even if he left it at that, and I shifted my gaze back to the fire.

“Got all night, Franka,” he told me. “Goin’ to Apollo and Maddie’s wedding in a few days, hangin’ here, taking some time to be in a place not a lot of people from my world could hit for a vacation. So if you want me to pull the cord and get us more whiskey, just say the word.”

He was kind.

Too kind.

“I wish for the bread and lovely cheese I consumed earlier to remain in my stomach, not be expressed onto the carpet,” I told him.

“Think that’s a good plan,” he muttered.

I set my glass on the table and pushed out of my seat, looking down at him.

“I should find my bed and allow you to find yours.”

He stood too, putting him nearly toe to toe with me.

I was a tall woman, unusually tall for this world, and I found myself wondering if it was the same in his.

But he towered over me.

Suddenly, and in a strange way I found oddly enjoyable, I felt delicate.


He was closer than he’d been to Circe in the doorway to her bedchamber.

Thus he could easily lift his hand and sweep his thumb along my jaw.

“You gonna sleep?” he asked quietly, and I tore thoughts of his thumb on my jaw out of my mind, now feeling no joy but deep guilt for a disloyal thought so soon after I’d lost Antoine.

“Since I haven’t done that well since he was taken, I doubt tonight will be any different, regardless of the whiskey,” I answered.

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