Bewitched (Betwixt & Between #2) - Darynda Jones
Time flies over us but leaves its shadow behind.
-Sign in The House of the Seven Gables,
Again with the knocking.
A persistent pounding forced me out of a fitful slumber. I tried to pry open my lids, but my bed was far too comfy. Or I was sleeping on air.
I couldn’t seem to separate my lashes, as though they were superglued together. I swore the last time my BFF did that to me, she would rue the day. Clearly, Annette didn’t rue it enough.
After an eternity of struggles, I finally managed to create a narrow slit in one eye. I looked around despite the lack of depth perception only to find I really was sleeping on air. Hovering, actually, about a foot off a beautiful ebony four-poster bed. A soft white gown floated around me along with a silky mass of long black hair. Thankfully, it was mine.
Either Earth’s gravity had called it quits and moved to Mars or I’d met my maker via a watery grave. I drew in a breath, testing my surroundings. Definitely not in water. Then it hit me. No wonder I couldn’t open my eyes. I was still asleep.
Asleep or not, however, the knocking continued. Seemed even in my dream world, I’d have to answer the door if I wanted any peace. I gritted my teeth and fought with the other lid, rehearsing in my head the firm talking to I was going to give the transgressor. I might even throw in a stern glare for good measure.
After managing to coax it open, I had to figure out how to get down. I was working through that conundrum when I noticed the vines. They cloaked the entire room, as black as velvet at night with roses to match. Only a slight blush of crimson colored the base of each blossom, the edges so dark they looked burned.
Best. Dream. Ever.
Much better than the dreams I’d been having. The dark ones that slithered through me and left me coldly unsettled. I shuddered, glad to shove those puppies into the recycle bin so I could get back to enjoying the nice, floaty one.
And . . . cue the knock again.
For the love of the Sanderson Sisters. I could either wait for my prince—and who knew how long that would take—or I could answer the dang door and get back to sleep. Still, if I was dreaming, wasn’t I already asleep? I must’ve been exhausted to crave sleep while asleep. This was like a fairy tale gone horridly wrong.
I floated—like, literally—down to the bed, my landing pillow soft. As far as dreams went, this one rocked. When I swung my legs over the side and stood, the vines there parted for my bare feet. A good thing since they boasted thorns the size of my palm, as though Mother Nature had decorated the room with her own version of razor wire.
The moment I flattened my feet onto the wood floor, a soft vibration hummed through me. I took a few seconds to gain my bearings, then stepped forward, trusting the dream not to shred my feet.
Sure enough, the vines parted with every step I took. I scanned the room again. The vines had crawled up the walls and over the ceiling, but I could still tell I was in my grandmother’s bedroom. The grandmother, who preferred to be called Gigi, I’d very recently inherited.
The vibration must’ve been Percival, the house for all intents and purposes, that came with the grandmother who preferred to be called Gigi. Only now that I knew what she’d done, now that I knew her deep dark secret, I didn’t know if I could call her that anymore.
I opened the bedroom door, amazed as the vines parted with the billowing grace of a fine mist, soundless and fluid. When I looked out onto the mezzanine, I realized they’d covered the entire house.
I placed my hand on the banister and started down one set of those stairs. The matching set of stairs rose along the wall on the other side of the immense foyer. Together, they led up to the mezzanine lined with rooms and down to a marble-floored entryway.
Again, the vines did its red sea thing as I slid my hand down the polished dark wood, each strand curling into itself and moving aside. One would think black on black—the black foliage covering the black walls of the mansion—would’ve made the house lifeless and bleak.
One would be wrong.
Natural light streamed in from the huge