Scarecrow carried me up the stairs, taking special care of my sore ass. Once he had brought me into his bedroom, he laid me gently on my stomach.
“Don’t move, Princess,”
I snuggled down into his sheets that smelled just like him. I didn’t think I could go anywhere even if I wanted to, and I certainly did not want to be anywhere but with him.
I heard him walk back into the room from the bathroom. My eyes were closed, and my mind was floating, somewhere off in Neverland.
I felt the bed sag as he sat down beside me, followed by the cooling sensation from the cream being gently rubbed into my smarting skin.
I cracked an eyelid, “What are you doing?”
His voice was gruff, “Aloe Vera cream, it has cooling and soothing properties that will help take the sting out of your ass.”
I loved having his hands on me and I loved him taking care of me. I knew I was in safe hands. The moment he gathered me into his arms, I snuggled up as tightly as one person could be beside another.
If I could have gotten inside of him, I would have. My mind was still muddled, but my heart felt free.
“Better?” he asked, kissing the top of my head as he held my body close to his.
I nodded, causing my lips to brush against his hot skin. He hissed, and if I hadn’t been so out of it, I would have laughed. But as it was, I allowed the sandman to pull me deeper and deeper into slumber.
“YOU CAN’T LEAVE YOUR damn panties on the bar, Indy!” Jake’s face was flushed three shades of red as he read Scarecrow and I the riot act.
“It is a good thing I come in early,” he continued to implore. “I can only imagine one of the regulars strapping on your bra and taking it for a test drive.”
I mean, I know I don’t have the biggest tits in the world, but I didn’t think that just anyone could fill out my size-c grey lingerie.
It took me a moment to realize that Scarecrow was no longer listening to Jake, but had become very interested in what I was doing. His eyes were dancing, and I saw a familiar quirk of his lips.
'What?' I mouthed, snatching my bra away from Jake indignantly.
“I don’t think the Princess quite gets the point,” Scarecrow could melt the panties off a nun.
“Why don’t you yell at the pretty boy?” I countered motioning over to where he was standing.
I tried throwing Jake off his game. I had listened to enough of this bullshit and I wanted to see Scarecrow in the hot seat for once.
“Oh, don’t even get me started about the stain on the pool table!” Jake moaned low in his throat, and it almost sounded animalistic.
It was this time that Scarecrow really did laugh. It was rich and decadent. He threw his head back, exposing his deeply tanned throat. His manly unshaven skin was making me want to lick every inch of that delectable body.
I cocked my head willing him to answer Jake.
“Spilled something,” Scarecrow replied deadpan.
His laughing eyes never left my face, and I felt my cheeks heat once again. Why did I even try?
“Shit,” Jake shook his head in exasperation.
“It’s not what it looks like,” I began, but Scarecrow let out another round chuckle, not even attempting to cover it up this time.
“What was it like?” Scarecrow asked, eyebrows raised as he leaned in, gently mocking me.
Images of the two of us fucking like rabbits on the pool table flooded my mind. My ass was still sensitive, although not nearly as much as it had been last night.
“You were there!” I smacked his hard chest with my fist, noting how it hurt me a whole lot more than it did him.
“I sure was,” his reply, firing back at me, “That’s why I can’t wait to hear you describe what we were doing. By all means, Indy, the floor is yours.”
Arrogant asshole, why did I ever think that this man was attractive?
My eyes traveled over his familiar features, drinking him in. My heart rate increasing as I continued down his rock-hard frame.
He stiffened, “If you don’t want a repeat performance, Indy, I suggest you quit with the eye-fucking.”
My hands flew to my cheeks. How could he say these things in front of Jake?
“Where did Jake go?” I demanded.
Scarecrow swiped my silk bra from me.
“I think he’s washed his hands of us,” eyes dancing, Scarecrow held the skimpy material up to his chest. “So, honestly, were you more offended by the idea of one of these low life’s wearing your lingerie or that it might actually fit?”
“Argh!” I launched myself at him, trying to snatch the fabric from his fingers. He held the garment high above his head and caught me, so I didn’t fall.
His giant hand, anchoring my ass to his waist. I winced, and he stilled.
“Are you alright?” his gentle question was in such relief against our playful teasing that it didn’t only tug on my heartstrings, but tied the damn things in knots that no boy scout could ever unravel.
This is how Lucy found us. My skirt hiked up to an inappropriate degree, showing way more thigh than was necessary at nine in the morning.
Indeed, it was her fault. She had only brought a few outfits yesterday, and this was my second favorite behind the pink skinny jeans.
That damn Munchkin was worse than being caught by my mama. Her censorious eyes took in my disheveled appearance along with Scarecrow clutching my unmentionables.
It was far worse than facing Jake.
I disentangled myself from Scarecrow and straightened my navy pleated skirt that ended at mid-thigh.
“I assume that you haven’t heard from the Mayor?” Lucy sighed, and I noticed that she had large bags underneath her eyes.
“No,” I replied, “Is he looking for me?”
She barked out a laugh that held little to do with humor. “Looking for you? Not even close, Indy. He has proclaimed you legally dead.”
Scarecrow bristled, his protective arm pulling me into his side.
“What the fuck?” he growled.
Lucy nodded, “My sentiments exactly, but it is all right here in the morning paper.”
She pulled it out from her purse, and we read the front-page news.
'As Mayor of Munchkin City, in the county of The Land of Oz,
I would like to extend a formal welcome to Dorothy of Kansas on our official day of Independence.
The Coroner has declared that Bastinda, daughter of King Oz is most sincerely—dead.
I will be overtaking all of her responsibilities in lieu of these tragic events.
We are grateful to have Dorothy of Kansas to help guide the Munchkin’s and their descendants to their most significant heights.'
I stopped reading, numb from shock.
“Take it away,” Scarecrow growled, and Lucy quickly folded the paper and replaced it in her purse.
“Why do they believe him?” my voice was hollow.
“He’s a dip-shit, Indy. You know that.”
My eyes were clouded with tears, “I’ve never been genuinely dead before, not spiritually and physically dead.”
“You aren’t now,” Scarecrow uttered, “Just because some bitch prints some lies, it doesn’t make any of it real. Indy, she is trying to get to you. Don’t let her under your skin.”
My hands were shaking because deep inside, I knew that she was already under my skin.
Dorothy had tried to kill me. She has repeatedly killed my people in graphic ways. She poisoned my farmlands and my Mayor’s mind. And now she has declared me dead.
I felt a raw hunger break free inside of me. The fear and anxiety that had been swirling in my chest was thrust out to be replaced by sheer determination.
“That bitch can’t have my crown.”
Pride shown in Scarecrow’s eyes as he challenged me, “She can’t?”
“Hell, no. Dorothy needs to get back to Kansas. After all, there is no place like home.”