The Book Addict(7)

By: Annette Mori

“I do wish you wouldn’t antagonize them. At least they gave your father a new life, where he is reasonably happy in his ignorance.”

“How do you know that?”

“Gordon promised me. He said he would be none the wiser and live out his life in contentment after an initial time of pain.”

“And you believed him?”

“I had to. The alternative was not at all appealing to me.”

Elle knew what that alternative was. Gordon had the power to lock her father inside a book of his choosing. Gordon was a malevolent sort and would surely pick the most nightmarish book he could find. The thought of her father fighting inside a book for all eternity injected ice into the very marrow of her bones.

Chapter Four

Tanya was antsy to get back to her condo and crack open her new book. She felt the pull to start this one more acutely than any other time. She’d read on the back deck, where she could soak in a few rays before the temperature climbed. Vitamin D was important, and she was starting to look like a vampire.

Tolstoy greeted her at the door, but this time she wasn’t quick enough to stop him before he ran outside. She set down her bag and new book on the granite counter and turned back around.

He was rolling on the ground, collecting pieces of dirt in his fur that she would need to brush off. She bent to grab his scruff, and he became a ragdoll in her arms. Fluffing his hair and scattering tiny debris, she set him inside and closed the front door.

Tanya walked into her bedroom and changed into a tank top and a pair of shorts, her sunshine outfit. She grabbed the book off the counter and walked outside, squinting in the bright sunshine.

After settling into her solo lawn chair, she cracked open the book and began reading the prologue. Urban fantasy, her favorite subgenre. It wasn’t until she started on the first chapter that she felt a funny sensation, like being sucked into a vortex.

Tanya found herself in a strange bed, and when an irate woman appeared in the doorway, pointing to someone who looked like she’d walked out of a strip club, Tanya shut her eyes tight. The room began to spin, as she listened to the woman say, “I believe this one is attached to you. You didn’t take your fucking meds again, did you?”

What the hell was happening to her? She chanted in her head. I’m not crazy, I’m not crazy, I’m not crazy.

She knew she had a very active imagination and would often see the women in her books so clearly she could almost touch their skin, taste their lips, smell their sweet aroma… But this was something entirely different. She slammed the book shut. After a few seconds of that same odd sensation, she opened her eyes.

She was sitting in her chair; the birds were chirping. Tolstoy was pawing against the sliding glass door, asking for her to let him out. The sun was still shining over the lake. Everything was normal. She took a deep breath, set the book down, and got up from the chair to let Tolstoy join her on the deck. She needed something cool to drink. That was it; she was dehydrated—that could cause hallucinations.

When Tanya opened the door, Tolstoy scooted out. She left the door open as she walked inside her condo. Grabbing a glass from the cabinet, she added ice before walking over to the bubbler to dispense some cool, clean water.

She sat in her rocker as she gulped down the cold beverage. She wondered whether she should return to the book or take a walk. Exercise, she could always use more exercise. It wasn’t like she would present her fit and trim body to a girlfriend to ravish, staying toned just made her mildly happy. She couldn’t change her facial features, but she could sculpt her body. Not that anyone ever noticed. Tanya smiled when she remembered reading Metamorphosis. She would always feel like that cockroach. Living her life alone wasn’t the worst thing, she rationalized. She excelled at hiding behind a computer and solving problems no one else seemed to find the answers to.

Elle felt the tug and frowned. Damn. It was too early for the chosen to join the adventure. Shit. She needed to intervene. The remnants of the woman’s distress hung in the air, but for how long? She decided she needed to have her mother watch the store while she followed that thread to Tanya’s residence. But what would she do then?