Ambrose opened his eyes as wide as he could.
That’s when the lights turned on.
“Argh!” He scrunched his eyes up and rubbed them with the heels of his hands.
Ambrose dropped his hands and opened his eyes.
Mark Caten stood in the middle of a round, empty room. Everything was white – floor, ceiling, walls, recessed lights. But he stood there in his black Armani suit with a crystal wine glass cradled in his hand.
He took a sip of wine and smiled. “I was wondering when you would try a stunt like this. But I’m disappointed. It took you too long. Where were you all this time?”
Something clicked all wrong in Ambrose’s head. He threw hesitation and good sense to the wind as he charged towards the other man. He let loose a sound that was somewhere between a howl and a roar.
Mark stood there, not moving. Just smiling and waiting.
Ambrose plowed into him, knocking him flat to the floor. He pinned his arms and bit his neck.
“Oh, Ambrose.” It wasn’t Mark’s voice. “Is that any way to greet me?”
It was Maria’s.
Ambrose released her arms and neck and skedaddled off of her.
She sat up and smiled. “Hello, Ambrose.”
It’s her voice. “Is it really…” He frowned as he remembered. “This is too familiar.” He rose to his feet.
She stood with a fluid grace and laid her hands on his chest. “Ambrose. Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.”
He backed away from her. “I can’t trust you. You aren’t Maria. I don’t know what you are. Maybe you’re an illusion. Maybe you’re some after effect of my sun exposure. But I know. I know that—”
“I am real. You can trust me on that one.”
“What are you?”
“I could stay in this form, but that spell has been broken. So, if you don’t mind…” Maria’s face and form disappeared. A woman with red and silver striped hair and an unreasonably tight little black dress stood in Maria’s place. “There. This is who I am.” She unfurled her black lace-like wings. “I am Preyuna, Queen of the Fey. It’s a pleasure to see you again.”