Raised by a mother who loved everything pink, Cori has decided to give up her colouration and go pale. Rejecting pink, she makes costumes in any other colour for a living. A ball, a prize and a trip to the Crossroads change everything.
Artur has decided that he wants a woman who doesn’t want him for what he can do or how much money he has. He wants to fall in love and sweep a woman off her feet.
When they meet, they get along just fine, but it is an evening of dance that locks them together. The first flamenco in the Crossroads draws a crowd but wakes the knowledge that dance isn’t the only thing they have in common.
She stumbled as she arrived and did what Stella had told her. She put on the charm from the file and waited for the guardians to come and get her.
It took a minute, but a woman in a black robe who had snow-white hair came in and blinked. “I am sorry. I wasn’t expecting an arrival.”
Cori curtseyed. “I apologise. It was a last-minute decision.”
“Did you travel in time as well as space?”
Cori chuckled. “I won a transport and expenses to the Crossroads at a costume party and the next window was in six weeks. I am never one to pretend fate did not smack me in the face, so here I am.”
She extended the paperwork to the guardian, and when a man stumbled in a moment later, she curtsied again. “Good evening.”
He smiled sleepily and walked up to what was obviously his mate. She filled him in and made a few calls.
“Teebie is waiting for you at the Open Heart. Give me a minute and I will get dressed.” The guardian ran a hand through her hair.
“Don’t bother. I will stop at the general store and get some regular clothing before I make my way to the Open Heart. I should be there in under twenty minutes if the map was accurate.”
The woman smiled and there was relief in her gaze. “I will check up on you in the morning.”
“Thank you. I apologise again for the unannounced arrival.” Cori retrieved the documents that were her copies.
“It isn’t a problem. We just don’t get caught by surprise often.”
“Good evening, enjoy your dreams.” Cori swished out the door with her skirts rustling around her. It was a great costume but didn’t seem to be the type of thing to wear while seeking out a mate, at least not this century.
Her black and red locks were pinned high on her head in a modified Gibson-girl style. Having her hair out of the way made for a full range of vision, and she could see several people moving about on the streets, and the moment that they saw her, they froze in place.
Smirking a little, she headed into the general store to do some shopping. It was time to get her clothing selections back into the current decade.
Andy was most helpful, and ten minutes later, Cori had what she needed and was off to the Open Heart to pry off the corset and climb into some pajamas for the evening.
Cori’s slow pace took her past the bar, and a man, who was about to enter, paused.
“Am I seeing what I think I am seeing?”
She smiled and paused in return. He was huge, muscular and had tattoos climbing up his arms and in the small vee of his open shirt.
“What do you think you are seeing?”
“A woman so stunning she would fit in any century with clothing that was designed just for her.”
Cori blushed. She was so used to folks only seeing the costume that someone seeing her took getting used to. “Well, you are seeing me, but I am on my way to locate a good night’s sleep.”
“May I walk you there?”
She really didn’t have a reason to say no. This was a safe place, and his harshly carved features seemed friendly enough.
“Please. That would be very kind of you.”
He moved toward her with an easy grace and offered her his arm.
She placed her hand on his and he asked, “Where am I taking you?”
“The Open Heart Bed and Breakfast.”
“Excellent. My own home away from home.”
Cori smirked. “Of course it is. That is some lovely ink you have.”
He brightened. “Thank you.”
His hair was a dark brown with golden streaks, and his pleased smile was boyish.
“Do you have any?” He asked it with honest curiosity.
“No. I have never been able to settle on a design.”
“Fair enough. May I ask your name?”
She grinned. “Coriel Flisk. And yours?”
“Arturat Darling. My family just calls me Arty.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Can I call you Artur?”
He grinned. “You can call me Darling.”
“Not tonight I can’t. That transport flattened me.” She smiled.
“Artur it is then, Coriel.”
“Cori. Coriel sounds like a fallen angel.”
“You definitely have the look of an angel. Fallen or otherwise.” There was an openness to his words and expression that charmed her.
Their feet were crunching on the gravel paths, and all too soon, they were at the Open Heart.
She lifted her skirt with the hand holding the shopping and made her way up the steps.
“What did you purchase tonight?”
“More socially acceptable clothing. This costume is fun, but I would rather have something I can move in.”
He sighed. “A pity. It is striking.”
“And, yet, I can’t even touch my own toes in it. Not very practical.”
“You will be striking no matter what you are wearing.” He smiled and pressed a kiss to the back of her hand. “Now, I must return to my appointment. I wish you good evening and happy dreams.”
As he walked down the sidewalk, he called out, “Welcome to the Crossroads.”