Eight hundred miles to the north, Lily Chareau bolted upright, heart pounding, the scream echoing in her ears. Disoriented, chilled to the bone, she stared with unseeing eyes at the familiar walls of her bedroom, still caught in the throes of her dream.
Mind reeling, Lily remembered a golden building, filled to dizzying heights with books, millions upon millions of books, in every imaginable color and size, shape and thickness. She’d been floating down a multitude of aisles, past floor after floor, the vastness of what she was seeing incomprehensible, then she had softly drifted onto a glowing counter of some kind, in front of a man. Tall, handsome, black hair tousled around his shoulders, his hand reached out to her. But no, wait. Not her, he was reaching for a book. Distracted, she wondered if the vivid green of his eyes was real, or just a reflection from the emerald light radiating from the book. He looked over his shoulder at something, then furtively tucked it inside his shirt, confusing her by the look on his face of unease, urgency. Stealth.
Strangely, the moment the man had put away the book, she could no longer see clearly, as if she were looking through gauze, though the heat from his body, the scent of his skin became more pronounced. Startled, Lily realized her vision was clouded by the fabric of his shirt. As if she were inside his shirt. He spoke briefly to someone, she sensed him walking, but before she could begin to grasp what was happening, another man suddenly appeared, a vague outline seen through the material. Trapped under the first man’s shirt, she felt the jolt of shock run down his body when the second man grabbed him and called him…what? His name was Valentine? Daniel Valentine? An odd name, but she didn't give it much more thought over the new, pressing concern of the intense heat building around her. Lily thought she could actually see smoke curling over the Valentine guy's skin. What a bizarre dream this—
Without warning, everything had gone utterly, totally black, her stomach had lurched as if she were free-falling a hundred stories to her death in an elevator. Screaming with horror and dread, Lily had frightened herself out of a dream turned into sudden nightmare.
Now fully awake, but still trembling with residual panic, she pulled the quilt around her shoulders and took several shaky breaths, thankful when her racing heart began to slow. This was the kind of weird dream—or night terror—she ought to write down. There had to be a wealth of hidden meanings buried all over place. Katy would have a field day with this one.
Deciding on a hot cup of tea to warm her up, and help her settle back to sleep, Lily got out of bed, donned her robe and slippers, then made her way to the kitchen. Turning on the kettle, she was surprised at the time; it had only been an hour or so since she’d gone to bed to read. She put a teabag in her mug, got out the milk and sugar, all the while trying to dissect the dream.
It made sense she would have books on the brain since she owned a bookstore. Though what was the message in the grandiose and awe-inspiring size of the dream bookstore? Her subconscious telling her to expand the business? That made her smile. Not likely. Her bookstore was just fine the way it was.
Okay, table that part of the dream for now. Next, how about the handsome guy. That one was almost too easy. Ever since Katy had met Dominic at the bakery last week, there had been no end to the daydreaming, long sighs, or moment by moment details of every meeting and phone call. It was no wonder Lily was fantasizing.
Tea made, she curled up in her favorite chair in the living room, pulling a soft woolen throw off the back and over her lap. What was the dream guy’s name again? She sipped the tea, trying to remember, but already the dream was fading. Reaching into the little drawer in the end table, she pulled out a tablet and pen and spent some time jotting down what she could still recall. For some reason, the name of the green-eyed man was eluding her. It was something…funny? Curious? With a deep yawn, Lily gave up. It didn’t really matter, it was just an odd dream.
Putting the mug in the dishwasher, she yawned again as she headed back to bed. Tomorrow night was the Halloween party and there was still much to get done. The bookstore had been having Halloween parties for years; each one trying to outdo the previous year. Lily was looking forward to this one in particular because she would finally get to meet the man who had swept her best friend completely off her feet.
The mysterious and elusive Dominic Cantrell was coming to the party.