I need you.
Jane inhaled deeply, exhaled slowly and shifted to her side, clutching her pillow close. As close as she suddenly wanted to clutch Nicolai, to comfort him. To be with him. Uh, not going there. She didn’t know the man. Therefore, she wasn’t going to imagine sleeping with him.
But that’s exactly what she did. His plight was forgotten as she imagined him climbing on top of her, his silver eyes bright with desire, his pupils blown. His lips were plump and red from kissing her entire body, still moist with her flavor. She licked at him, tasting him, tasting herself, eager for anything and everything he would give her.
He growled his approval, flashing his fangs.
His big, muscled body surrounded her, his skin hot, little beads of sweat forming, causing them to rub and glide together, straining toward release. God, he felt good. So damn good. Long and thick. A perfect fit, stretching her just right. Rocking, rocking, faster and faster, taking her to the edge of sensation before slowing…slowing…tormenting.
She clawed at him, her nails scouring his back. He groaned. She raised her knees, squeezing his hips. Yes. Yes, more. Faster, faster still. Never enough, almost enough. More, please more.
Nicolai’s tongue thrust into her mouth, rolling with hers before he bit down, drawing blood, sucking. A sharp sting, and then, finally, oh, God, finally, she tumbled over.
Ripples of satisfaction swept through her entire body, little stars winking behind her eyes. Her inner muscles clenched and unclenched, liquid heat pooling between her legs. She rode the tide for endless seconds, minutes, before sagging against the mattress, boneless, unable to catch her breath.
An orgasm, she mused dazedly. A freaking orgasm from a fantasy man, and she hadn’t even needed to touch herself.
“Nicolai…mine…” she whispered, and she was smiling as she at last drifted off to sleep.
“PRINCESS. PRINCESS, you must wake up.”
Jane blinked open her eyes. Muted sunlight pushed into the bedroom—an unfamiliar bedroom, she realized with confusion. Her room was plain, with white walls and brown carpet, the only furniture an unadorned bed. Now, a lacy pink canopy was draped overhead. To her right was an intricately carved nightstand, a bejeweled goblet perched on top. Beyond that, a plush, glittery carpet led to arched double doors framing a spacious closet bursting with a rainbow of velvets, satins and silks.
This wasn’t right.
She jolted upright. Dizziness hit her—familiar, but not comforting—and she moaned.
“Are you all right, princess?”
She forced herself to focus and take stock. A girl stood beside her bed. A girl she had never encountered before. Short, plump, with a freckled nose and frizzy red hair, wearing a coarse brown dress that appeared uncomfortably snug.
Jane scrambled backward, hitting the headboard. “Who are you? What are you doing here?” Even as she spoke, her eyes widened. She knew five different languages, but she wasn’t speaking any of them. And yet, she understood every word that left her mouth.
No emotion crossed the girl’s features, as if she were used to strange people yelling at her. “I am Rhoslyn, once personal servant to your mother but now personal servant to you. If you agree to keep me,” she added, unsure now. She, too, spoke in that weird, lyrical language of flowing syllables. “The queen has bid me to rouse you and escort you to her study.”
Servant? Mother? Jane’s mother was dead, along with her father and her sister. The latter two had been killed on impact, the drunk driver having slammed his car into their side of the vehicle. Her mom, though…she had died right before Jane’s eyes, her life dripping out of her and onto Jane, their car propped against a tree, their seat belts holding them in place, the metal doors and roof smashed so completely they’d had to be pried out. But, by then, it had been too late. She’d already taken her last, pained breath.
She’d died the very day she was told her cancer was gone.
“Don’t you dare tease me about my mother,” Jane growled, and Rhoslyn flinched.
“I’m sorry, princess, but I do not understand. I tease you not about your mother’s summons.” How frightened she sounded now. Tears even beaded in her dark eyes. “And I swear to you, I meant no offense. Please do not punish me.”
Punish her? Was this some sort of joke?
The word joke was as familiar as the dizziness. But, really, joke still didn’t fit. Nervous breakdown, perhaps? No, couldn’t be. Breakdowns were a form of hysteria, and she was not hysterical. Plus, there was the language thing. Come on. You’re a scientist. You can reason this out.
“Where am I? How did I get here?” Her last memory was of reading the book and—the book! Where was the book? Her heart thundered uncontrollably, a storm inside her chest, as she panned her surroundings once more. There! Her book rested on the vanity, so close, yet so far away.
Mine, every cell in her body screamed, surprising her. Equally surprising, the absolute rightness of the claim. But then, she’d practically made love to the thing. And, oh, damn. Her blood heated and her skin tingled, her body readying for absolute, utter possession.
I need you, Jane. The text. She remembered the text. Come to me. Save me.
Consider this logically. She’d fallen asleep, dreamed of a vampire’s decadent touch and, like Alice in Wonderland, had woken up in a strange, new world. And she was awake. This was not a dream. So, where was she? How had she gotten here? What if…?
She cut off the thought before it could veer into a direction she didn’t like. There had to be a rational explanation. “Where am I?” she asked again.
As Jane scooted from the soft confines of the feather-lined mattress, the “servant” said, “You are in…Delfina.” She spoke with a question in her tone, as if she couldn’t quite grasp the fact that Jane didn’t already know the answer. “A kingdom without time or age.”
Delfina? She’d…heard of it, she realized with a start. Not the name, but the “kingdom without time.” A few of the beings she’d interviewed had mentioned another realm, a magical realm, with differing kingdoms outside the notice of humans. At the time, she hadn’t known whether to believe them or not. They’d been prisoners, locked away for the good of mankind. They would have said anything to gain their freedom. Even offer to escort her into their world.
What if she’d crossed the threshold from her world and into the other? Jane finally allowed the thought to reach its conclusion, and her stomach churned with sickness.