|There is no Prince Charming!
Author: Crystyl.Blue PM
Jen had given up on Romance, until the day she found the book. It sucked her in, quite literally, and dropped her in a land where Kings still ruled. With the threat of death on her head she must find her way back home or lose it all, including her heart.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Fantasy - Chapters: 31 - Words: 165,086 - Reviews: 420 - Favs: 392 - Follows: 134 - Updated: 03-11-10 - Published: 09-08-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2718239
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Christopher delivered the final blow of death and fired a shot directly at the gigantic man's head. His aim was perfect, despite the pain in his arm. The giant grunted as the bullet hit its mark and fell heavily on his side, shuddering as life drained from his wound and onto the cold floor. Christopher wiped the sweat that had gathered on his brow with his sleeve. Without a backward glance, he rushed past the man and up the steps to the room; that held his fate and housed his destiny.
He reached the door and without a moment of hesitation, he pulled back his leg, putting all his weight into the kick. The door burst from its hinges in an explosion of wood and dust, landing inside the room. When the debris settled the room was silent. Now he hesitated.
Slowly he stepped one foot into the room and looked around. There was nothing but gloom. He continued into the room then his eyes landed on her. He froze as their eyes locked. All he could hear was his heart thundering in his ears.
In an instant, she flew across the room and was in his arms, burying her face in his shirt, crying with relief. His arms circled her tiny body and held her close, allowing himself to relax for the first time in ages.
"I knew you'd come back," she whispered into his shoulder.
"How could I stay away?"
She pushed back from Christopher enough to see him. Her lips tugged into a smile. Her smile warmed him. With no restraint, he leaned forward and kissed her tenderly on the mouth. She sucked in a breath of surprise, but a moment later was pressing her lips back to his. When they parted, her cheeks glowed with a rosy flush. Now he was smiling.
He grabbed her hand and hurried from the room. "Let's get out of here."
She laughed nervously in agreement, squeezing his hand as they descended the stairs and out into the world.
The sun had almost set; kissing the sky and making it blush, just as she had moments before. Christopher pulled her to him and kissed her once more before pulling his motorcycle out of the bushes outside the strange abandoned house. She climbed on after him and pressed herself to him, her arms circling his waist. As he started the engine and felt her warm body against his back, he smiled, realizing that everything he had been through for this woman had been worth it.
He revved the engine and shot forward, putting that horrible house as far behind them as possible and driving into the sunset−
"Wait a minute!" I muttered to myself, slamming the book shut. "Stories like that are too good to be true. I can't take it." Grunting in distaste, I threw the romance book to the side. "Stories are good for the soul, no matter how farfetched," my grandma always said. The only thing stories and fairytales had ever gotten me were false hopes and heartache.
Prince Charming was NOT real and he was NOT going to sweep into my tiny New York apartment, carry me down the fire escape, and into his noble Mustang Convertible, though just the thought made me sigh wistfully.
I finally eased to a stand from the couch, my muscles aching in protest with every move. How long have I been sitting in that position? I asked myself. Long enough to finish that stupid book and earn myself a good cramp. I didn't know why I even bothered with books like that. They were all the same.
As I shuffled past the kitchen, I caught a glimpse of the clock and cursed. I'm late! I ran into my room and threw on the first pair of pants I could find. They were crumpled on the floor and were probably in need of a washing, but I didn't have time to be picky. That's what I get for having a lazy day. I thought harshly. I tugged my stubborn hair into a ponytail and rushed out the door, just remembering to grab my purse and jacket.
A short bus ride later, I arrived at Central Park and rushed to my special bench that sat nestled under a specific tree. The woman on the bench was tense with agitation and looked at her watch a total of three times before I reached her. "Maggie! I'm so sorry!"
The woman with red curls bouncing to her shoulders, Maggie, turned and sighed. "Late again, Jen."
"I know, I know. I was…reading."
Maggie rolled her green eyes knowingly. "Another romance." It wasn't a question. It almost made me feel ashamed that I was that predictable. Maggie stood and wrapped her scarf closer to her neck. In her hand was a cup of Starbucks that was still giving off steam. Seeing the steam reminded me just how cold it was today. I was thankful I remembered my jacket. In an effort to keep out the chill, I tugged my jacket closer and fell into step beside Maggie.
I noticed that even though she had a warm drink she was hugging her arms to her body to keep herself warm. Guilt flooded me. If I weren't so late, she wouldn't be so cold. I batted the thought aside. Maggie was a big girl; she could handle herself.
Every Thursday had become our "park day". Our lives were so busy every other day at the office we both worked at, that we agreed to go out into the sunshine and get some "fresh" city air on our day off. Though the closer winter was getting the more we were looking for an alternative to the park.
Despite the cold Maggie started what was only to be expected of her, a long stream of gossip she'd recently heard at the office. I had taken the last two days off so that I could clean my apartment and run errands (though none of that had gotten done). She acted as though it had been forever since she had last seen me.
As we walked, we passed joggers and bikers, braving the cold for their last laps before it grew too cold. All the children who played wore fluffy coats and some scarves, hats and gloves. Over-protective moms.
We talked about the newest addition to the office. A European man named John. Maggie was trying to convince me to go out with him. I was surprised she hadn't tried for him yet.
"He's cute," she said as she continued to press the issue on me.
I shook my head.
"He…looks at himself too much."
Maggie nearly spat out her coffee as she laughed.
"It's true," I rushed on before she could contradict. "He carries around that stupid little mirror and comb. What is he, stuck in the 80's?"
Maggie laughed again, this time without the coffee. "I guess that's true. Still, when are you going to go out on more than one date with a guy? I don't think I've ever seen you call a guy back, Jen. It's been…how long?"
I winced. Why does she have to remind me? "I know…It's just there's no one around worth going out with a second time."
"What about Ted?"
"Ugh, too old."
"Ok, Justin? He was nice," she pressed.
All I had to do was give her a look and she mentally crossed the name off the list. "Brandon? Chad? Matt?"
"Pervert. Creepy. Has stalker potential," I listed.
Maggie sighed. "One
of these days you'll have to face that there is no Mr. Perfect out
I gaped. "I know that! I just…I'm too busy for a relationship right now." I knew the words sounded lame before they even left my mouth.
She snorted at me then shrugged. "Fine. You can't say I didn't try. You're destined to be alone I guess."
I frowned deeply at the thought. Alone? Forever?
We exited the park and walked through the streets. Vendors were still out, the owners of the booths in thick jackets to fight the cold. We passed tables displaying jewelry, movies, books, maps, trinkets, and a booth where you could have your portrait hand drawn. We hardly spared a glance.
Maggie quickly settled into talking about her latest find. A man named Noah. She didn't like the name, but she was all for his body. I rolled my eyes. It was so like Maggie. She pestered me about going out with less than attractive men and here she was, the shallowest woman I knew.
She said my name and pulled me from my thoughts. "Huh?"
"I said Noah has a
friend." She lifted her eyebrows suggestively.
I shook my head. "No more blind dates. You promised!" Unwillingly I remembered my last blind date with a man who had the most annoying laugh and for some reason he thought everything I said was funny. Not only that, but he was a complete slob and smelled like dirty socks. It was obvious that the man had been desperate for a date. There I was with Mr. Bad Hygiene and there Maggie was, with a drop dead gorgeous model that was in town for a shoot. How she pulled, that one off I'd never know.
"But he's really cute!" she persisted.
"No. I've had enough blind dates to last me forever."
"You've only been on three," she said skeptically.
"And believe me, that was more than enough." We laughed and crossed the street with the crowds of people.
gasped. "You still haven't met Noah, have you?"
I shook my head. Is that some sort of crime?
"Want to meet him?" she asked sweetly.
I shook my head firmly. "I'll pass on meeting the new love interest, thanks."
She shrugged. "I think he might be…different."
asked. "Might be?"
She gave me a look. "He's not a jerk like the others."
"Not yet, you mean."
She gave me another look. "He really is nice." At that moment, we arrived at my apartment and began the long climb up to my floor, all thoughts of Noah aside.
I let us in. Without a word, she made herself at home, heading straight for the fridge, with a monstrous sweet tooth no doubt. What she found didn't please her. "You really need to go shopping."
"I've been meaning to go…" I spoke the truth. I had been planning to shop, but one book after another had stolen my time. What a waste! There were days when I would forget to eat all together. She closed the door and turned to me, propping her hands on her hips.
"Just like you've been 'meaning' to do the laundry? Or to take out the trash?" With pursed lips, she looked around my pigsty of an apartment. "Let's go food shopping now."
I groaned. We just got in and I didn't want to face the cold again.
"Come on," she urged, looking at me with her special pout that always made me do whatever she wanted. I wondered just how powerful that look would be on a man. I laughed to myself at the thought of a man tripping over his feet to do her bidding. Lucky, I thought bitterly. With a sigh, I slipped on my jacket again and grabbed my purse.
We descended the stairs and Maggie bounced. I was grateful to have a friend like her, but sometimes I'd rather wallow in self-pity than be with Ms. Energetic. She always had to be doing something, unlike me, who was perfectly happy just reading, pondering, or watching people.
She thought it was strange how I "people watched". She may have been right, but she didn't know how much you could find out about what a person was thinking by watching their body language and facial expressions. Or, just how entertaining people were
The young woman across the street who had recently purchased a puppy was a good example. She came out almost every hour, on the hour, convinced that her dog needed to use the bathroom. Her dog would just sit there or sniff a tree while she cooed for him to poop. Eventually she'd give up and drag him back inside and out of the cold. Poor dog.
We joined the pace of the hundreds of people on the streets. I realized it was rush hour, so the whole city was out, when only moments ago it had been manageable. I frowned at Maggie. "This was your idea."
She shrugged and smiled at me as we hurriedly crossed the street to get out of traffics way. I didn't understand why people even bothered to buy cars; there was never any parking. We walked a few blocks from my apartment and entered a small corner store, the only store with reasonable prices. I waved to Jerry, the owner of the store and family friend.
"Jennifah, I haven't seen you lately. Don't tell me you found anothah store to shop at," he teased in a thick city accent. He laughed and his belly jiggled. He was a large man but in a warm sort of way, like Santa without the white hair. His looks were deceiving; he had a mouth that would put a sailor to shame when drunk.
"Jer, I'd never shop anywhere else."
He smiled and winked, the skin around his eyes falling into his well-worn smile lines. "No one can beat my prices."
Maggie rolled her eyes.
We grabbed the necessities: milk, bread, cheese, frozen pizza, and chocolate, but I couldn't help but wonder if Maggie was adding things that she wanted to the cart. My suspicions proved correct when I watched her put a cheesecake in the basket. I don't even like cheesecake!
As we continued scanning different aisles, I began sneaking her items out of the cart. I knew that she did not intend to pay for anything in the cart, she never did. By the time we reached Jerry's register, all her things were gone. As we passed the items to Jerry to ring up she began to notice her chosen items missing. She said nothing, but threw me a glare. I just smiled naïvely.
Time went on a usual. I went to work every morning at seven, got home at four (sometimes much, much later), ran a few errands. Every other day I visited my grandma in the nursing home. My mom was the one to check her in. I would have taken care of her myself if I wasn't so busy. I averaged 13 hours of overtime a week at least and I was constantly traveling for my job as an assistant. I hardly even saw my apartment, but I did make the effort to spend at least an hour with grandma every time I visited. Maggie just didn't understand. I spoke the truth when I said I didn't have time for dates, let alone a boyfriend.
The thought made me sad. The heroines in the books I hated, pathetic, as they were, never seemed to have anything to do but be in a relationship. In a way, I envied those women. They had love, but at the same time I didn't envy them, because all love brought with it was heartache.
I finally punched out, my mind already far from work, and locked up. Of course, I was the only one crazy enough to stay late to get all my paperwork done. There would just be more tomorrow. Sometimes I didn't know why I even bothered. I had better get that promotion. My boss had been hinting towards it. It wasn't news to me that I was the best employee he had, but he was also known for throwing everyone off by doing to opposite of what everyone thought he would. I hoped that this time that wasn't the case. I had worked my butt off for three years.
As I reached the outside world, I found that the sun had set hours ago and it was pouring down in torrents of freezing rain. I groaned and held my purse over my head as I ran to the subway, thoughts of my possible promotion washed to the gutter like everything else was at the moment.
I hurried down the stairs of the subway and slid my card at the toll. The smell of urine hit me like a wall as I walked through the gates. I hated the small subway station, but it was better than waiting in the rain for the bus. There was hardly a soul in sight, but soon enough I heard the screech of metal against metal and saw the lights of my train. It flew by, slowing. My hair blew back from my face as car after car breezed by. Finally, it stopped and the doors dinged as they opened. I passed a few people getting off and found a seat. I settled into my planner, reviewing all the things I had to do the next day, exhausting myself at just the thought.
The train started forward with a lurch. At that moment, my purse decided to spill itself all over the place. I groaned and bent over to pick up my scattered things. I tried hard to ignore the inch of filth on the floor as I was forced to my knees to reach under the chairs for my lipstick, cell phone, and glasses. Before I got up I spied something else under the chair; something black jammed in the bars. I reached forward, curiosity winning. With a hard yank, it came loose.
I stood and brushed my knees off as I studied the black object. It looked like some sort of book. At closer inspection, I found that my guess was correct. It was bound in black leather and was worn. It was obvious that this book was ancient and well read at that. I turned the book over repeatedly; a leather cord, intricately knotted, bound it. As I tried to figure out how to undo it, the train stopped and I nearly went flying because I wasn't holding on.
I grabbed my purse, shoved the book inside, and hustled for the door before I missed my stop. I got out a second before the door closed and sighed with relief. Clutching my purse to me, I headed up the stairs. It was still pouring, if not harder than when I got out of work.
I ran the two blocks to my apartment, in heels. When I got in, I was completely drenched. My shoes squeaked and clacked against the tile as I walked up the stairs to my apartment. It reminded me of being a kid and squeaking on purpose just to see who I could piss off. Now it only embarrassed me. I hoped I didn't wake anyone up this late.
The key slid home as I let myself in and dumped my things on the couch. As soon as my hands were free, I peeled my stockings off and threw them towards the hamper, missing. I contemplated picking them up, but decided the effort was too much, so I left them there. I felt a lot better in my dry set of jeans and baggy shirt. Searching through the fridge didn't produce anything worthwhile, so I popped a TV dinner in the microwave and lit my stove, placing a teakettle on top.
My teeth chattered. Why is it so cold? I wondered. I roamed around my small apartment and found my robe under heaps of other clothes. That helped a little. I turned on the heat. That helped a little more.
The microwave blared the same time the kettle whistled. I jumped at the sudden thunder of noise in my tiny apartment. With my heart still racing, I turned my little stove off and took my food out of the microwave. While I waited for my food to cool, I made my tea. Since I lived alone and had no one to impress, I didn't bother to go to the table; I just ate and drank right there on the counter. The hot tea hit the spot, warming me to the bone. The food wasn't very good, but I ate it anyway.
After my belly was full, I settled myself on the couch with another cup of soothing tea and watched the storm out my window. I loved to hear the rain, so I cracked one of my windows open, listening to the hard patter. Within seconds, the smell of rain entered my apartment. Its heavy scent clung to everything it touched. I smiled as I took a deep breath. With a yawn, I stretched my legs out and in the process knocked over my purse. I sighed heavily and contemplated leaving it there, until I spotted the strange black book from the subway. I had forgotten all about it.
Setting my tea down, I scooped it up and flipped it around in my hands. As I studied the tiny leather cord, which held it closed, the first flash of lightning lit the sky. I jumped and chided myself. I was too jumpy. My fingers brushed over the cord and tried to find where it all came together to open.
Another strike of lightning. This one was bright. I lowered my blinds a little and got closer to my table lamp for added light. Even though I brought the book into the light, I couldn't find the opening. As I turned it, I saw tiny gold lettering under the bindings. It was foreign. I knew I couldn't read it. I growled in frustration and finally just threw the book on the floor. To my surprise, the strap fell loose. Of course. I just stared at it in disbelief for a minute.
The rain pelted the ground and the buildings harder. I picked up the book again, gingerly unbinding it. The leather felt rich under my fingers despite its ancient appearance. I opened the book; it was very, very old. The pages were yellowing. My eyes studied the words. They were hand written, but the way the pages had been organized so it did not look like a journal or random thoughts. It looked almost like a story. It was written in…Latin? Suddenly I wished I had paid more attention in my classes in high school.
I recognized a few words. Man… Run… Woman... Love… I sneered down at the book. Another romance! I closed it deciding it was high time I stopped reading crap like that. After I set the book aside, I went to put my cup in the sink. A yawn tore up my throat and out my mouth. Work had been grueling. It was well past my bedtime.
I shuffled into the living room and to my lamp. I picked up the book and shook my head. Why'd it have to be a romance? My hand felt around for the lamp switch. At that very moment, a powerful wind blew through my blinds and the rain entered.
What were the chances that I'd be electrocuted? Who knows? Slim to none in my book. Maybe fate was cruel or maybe it was just a freak accident, either way, my lamp short-circuited, catching me. The vibrations raced from my fingertips to my whole hand, engulfing my arm, traveling fast. Before I knew it, my hairs stood on end and the rain continued to blow. I couldn't find the strength to let go. I couldn't even find the muscles that controlled my fingers.
A soft gasp escaped my lips as finally it grew to be too much and my body played its last defense card. I passed out.