Together in a land all their own…until reality pulls them back to separate worlds.
Dana’s about to write off her birthday when she finds herself taken to a world that may not exist. There, she meets Adam, a man she apparently dreamed up as her guide to an unsettlingly real hallucination.
Or is it?
Alone together in paradise, she can’t stop herself from falling for the man that may only live in her imagination. Unless, of course, he’s somehow real. But perfect as Adam seems, he’s keeping secrets from her—secrets about his life on the other side.
As the day they will part draws near, she can’t convince him to talk about the real world. When reality pulls them back, she must either discover the truth about his existence or resign herself to only seeing the man she loves…once every spring.
With a slight wobble, Dana wandered out from the tree for a better view. Sunlight fell like a beacon across the field they stood in, the flat vista broken up here and there by gently sloped hills dotted with groupings of trees. Silken green grass covered everything, with splotches of sweet clover and wildflowers the only interruption to an endless emerald blanket. Maybe she was in Oz, after all.
She was both drawn to the beauty and reluctant to venture into it. The jacaranda tree felt like a lifeline—her last link to anything solid or real. Perhaps leaving it behind wasn’t a smart idea.
The warmth of the strange man’s body heat penetrated her when he moved close to stand beside her. His voice held a note of reverence. “It is beautiful, isn’t it? Powerful, and yet soothing. Like nothing could go wrong in the world so long as it stays like this.”
She nodded in silence, trying to keep her thoughts cemented on something other than the fear that she’d never claw out of whatever hallucination she’d fallen into. The whole scene was entirely too vivid. Then again, if one was going to dive off the deep end, one might as well go over with style, right?
Still, there were some notable oversights in her fantasy, such as any sign of civilization. Why hadn’t her imagination conjured up a five-star hotel, complete with endless room service and a free mini bar? She closed her eyes and strained hard, forming that very image in her head. She willed it to appear while trying not to wonder why she wasn’t just wishing herself back home instead.
After a moment, the man beside her stirred. “What are you doing?”
“Shh. I’m focusing my thoughts on a resort hotel.”
He laughed. “I tried something like that the first time too. It won’t work.”
She whooshed out an exasperated sigh and turned to face him. “Not with that negative attitude, mister. And you’re messing up my concentration.”
“You’re not imagining things. This place is real, even if I don’t know where it is.”
“It can’t be real. How do I leave? Maybe I can zap myself back.”
“We can’t control leaving. Only whether or not we arrive.”
That figured. “How long have you lived here?”
“I told you, I don’t. It’s more like I have a sort of vacation home here.”
Her snort was less than kind. “A vacation home? You mean you come and go?”
“This is my third cycle.”
“Who else is here?”
“No one, so far as I can tell. You’re the first other person I’ve encountered.”
She shook her head, feeling the first throbbing beats of a headache. Too bad her break with reality hadn’t been kind enough to bring her coffee along for the ride.
“I don’t understand. You say you don’t know where this is, but you can visit whenever you want?”
He turned to her, the sun hitting his green eyes in a way that made them light up with a fire that sparked in her abdomen. “Not whenever I want.” Then he started walking away.
“How, then?” She had trouble matching his long, easy strides as she followed. “Do you wish yourself here? Did you know what would happen the first time? Can you leave any time?”
He stopped with an amused grin and outstretched hand. “Hi. I’m Adam, by the way. And you are?”
She burst out laughing.
He arched a brow. “What’s so funny?”
“Adam?” She shook her head, still chuckling. “Adam who?”
He hesitated. “Just Adam.”
Her chuckle turned into a belly laugh sufficient to squeeze tears into the corner of her eyes, and she had to clutch her abdomen to contain it.
He looked less than amused. “So what’s the joke?”
“You, I guess. Me. This.” She gestured around. “I’ve cracked my block and teleported myself into Dreamsville with a handsome guy. My very own Garden of Eden, complete with none other than Adam himself.”
He broke into a grin that tingled along all new nerve bundles in her spine. “You think I’m handsome?”
She folded her arms, mentally berating herself for saying it right to his face. But then, he was only a figment of her deluded subconscious. Why play coy?
She shrugged. “If I’m going to have a mental meltdown, a gorgeous guy may as well be in the fantasy. Right?”
His look burned into her. “Now I’m gorgeous?”
“Yeah, well, don’t let it go to your head. The last thing I need is a delusion with delusions of grandeur.”
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Award-winning story writer Janell Michaels resides in Southern California with her triple-A husband (an Author, Artist, and Actor), their youngest daughter, and Tina the wonder pup. Secretary by day, romance writer by night, she has authored more than thirty books under three different pen names. This is done with steady infusions of coffee, imagination, and chocolate. During rare moments when she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, binge watching her TV shows, and the occasional guilty pleasure of video games (Minecraft is a favorite).