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O

She was dreaming of dancing lights, gold and shimmering. Despite being unconscious, she felt so alive, being swished this way and that, to and fro, all the while, feeling secure. Her head swam from this lovely night, seemingly put on for her amusement. Her senses were in high-gear. Eyes filled with visions of beauty. Notes of cedar, pepper, and jasmine hung in the perfumed air. Her palms touched soft leather and stiff wool, whilst her ears were treated to a lovely song sung by a warm masculine voice.

      "Falling,

      Falling,

      Falling in love.”

Intoxicated and inspired by this poetry, she couldn’t help but lean closer to her dance partner, taking her wrists up behind his neck to pull in tightly and whisper, “I love you.”

His eyelids drew together, narrowing two asymmetrical gems of aquamarine. Arms around her waist coiled like a ravenous snake. He savored the sentiment but did not return it and instead,  whisked them both away to a nook with a gold bistro table and chairs. Nearby pillows strewn about the floor beckoned for someone to sit upon them, but a diaphanous white curtain, pulled half-closed as an afterthought, ensured no privacy would be found here.

“Would you care for some champagne?”  the mystery man placed a flute in her hand.

“Thank you,” she replied and took a long sip.

“Petit four?” he positioned a small white cake at her full pink lips.

Its invitingly familiar vanilla scent was too tempting to ignore and she opened her mouth to accept the tiny treat, letting it slip past her teeth and swallowed the sweetness. Before she could say anything, she saw the glass again.

“Have more, darling, it’s so good,” her companion spoke. “All the way from the Benedictine monks of France, just to quench our thirsts. Isn’t that wonderful?” he asked with a chuckle.

She dumbly nodded, unsure of what to say. Not a single pithy comment was in her mind and yet she felt as if she were about to speak.

Drink," he said, drawing out the word imploringly.   

She did so and relished the tiny bubbles gliding down her throat.

All the guests in attendance dressed elegantly with garish masks, which took nothing away from their attractiveness, and there before her was the most handsome of all.

He was tall and lean, with an angular jaw set on a delicate face. Long platinum hair, sharp teeth, and nonidentical pupils made him seem inhuman—something superhuman. His glossy lips puckered as he looked her up and down with approval.

She smiled at him and pulled in the corner of her lip to bite it. She was happy and enjoying herself greatly, but an inner voice nagged at her. Where am I?

Her brow knitted together slightly, and she gave a quick shake of her head as if that would answer the question.

The man across from her became acutely aware of this shift in her demeanor. “You must be exhausted.”

“I am a bit tired,” she frowned, her high wearing off.

“Let’s get you into a hot bath.”

Before she could agree or protest, she was in a large soaking tub, overflowing with amber scented bubbles. Realizing that she was naked, her eyes darted around the dark room, save for a tall candelabra alight with a quartet of candles.

“How did I…how did you?”

“Just sit back and relax,” his voice crept up from behind her. A hand moved her long hair over her shoulder and a hot wet hand towel swept across her shoulder blades. “After the day you had you need to wind down, little clock.”

“The day I’ve had?” she mumbled to herself. “I’m having some difficulty remembering.” She turned around and looked up into those cold jewels in search of warmth.

Who am I?

“Have more champagne, Sarah.”

“Sarah?” She took the glass from his hand and sat back into the tub in an attempt to both relax and conceal her naked breasts behind a cover of foam.

“Yes,” he said as he tilted his head and went around to the tub’s side. He bent down to get closer to her, his left hand gripping the edge, while his right swirled the little towel in the frothy bathwater. “You are Sarah,” he continued as he traced the towel upwards from her heart to underneath her chin, all the while holding her gaze. “And I am Jareth.”

“Jareth.” She sighed. Yes, of course, she was Sarah, and he was Jareth, and they were together in this opulent space of ballrooms, soaking tubs and endless flutes of champagne. It all made perfect sense at that moment. Never mind that she couldn’t remember anything before she was dancing in his arms; this was absolutely where she was meant to be. She smiled contentedly at him and tipped the rest of the glass back into her mouth.

“Good girl, stay in there as long as you like. I’m going to fetch your dressing gown.”

“No!” Sarah panicked and grabbed at him to prevent him from getting up. “Don’t leave, Jareth.”

He arched a perfect eyebrow at this display. “You don’t want me to go?”

She shook her head.

“Dressing gown be damned?”

She nodded and gripped his arm tighter.

“As always, your wish is my command,” he purred and resumed his feigned washing of her exposed parts.

Sarah was feeling more exhausted. The champagne and hot water were lulling her into a trance. Yet there was that nagging feeling of unease creeping up once again. She shook her head harder than before, more determined to get her bearings.

“It’s so odd, but my mind is practically blank."

“Not odd after what you’ve been through today,” he dismissed but took in that her emerald eyes were searching the room, looking anywhere except at him. Jareth discarded the towel, took his gloved hand under her chin, and brought her attention where he preferred it: on him. His leather-clad thumb traced over her plump bottom lip.

“See, I don’t remember what I’ve been through.” She sat up taller.

“Do you remember this?” he asked softly, and he placed his lips on hers. Pursed and a bit chaste, he waited a second before moving slowly, parting open and drawing in her bottom lip; sucking it slightly before pulling away.

“No,” Sarah replied with half-closed eyes and upturned face.

“Hmmm, curious. What about this?” he teased the words against her lips, and he kissed her harder than before, opening his mouth and pushing his tongue inside where it swirled around hers.

“No,” she said breathlessly after he’d released her. “But I like it.”

With that, she put her mouth to his, kissing him hard, her wet hands on either side of his chiseled jaw, which moved rhythmically. Jareth brought his hands to the back of Sarah’s neck and trailed them down her shoulders and arms, where he stopped at her elbows and began to pull her up out of the bath, never breaking their ardent kiss.

Unsteady on her legs, Sarah had difficulty getting out of the tub and nearly fell back in it.

“Careful,” Jareth held her steady and draped a long white towel around her. It was as thin as a tablecloth and embellished with royal blue trim and fringe. “We don’t want you falling,” he added as he fixed the towel tight across her chest.

     “Falling.”

Suddenly she remembered something, and her fingertips went to her dampened lips.

“What is it?” Jareth asked.

“Earlier, when we were dancing, I think I may have said I love you to you,” Sarah dropped her head down. “I don’t know if that’s something we say to each other. Sorry if that was awkward for you.”

“Not awkward at all,” Jareth said and smoothed his hands down the towel, making sure it was tied securely.

“Well, you didn’t say it back so,” she trailed off.

“Then let me say it now, Sarah,” he took a deep breath and faced her head-on, aquamarine to emerald, man to young woman. “I love you.”

Her lungs emptied a deep exhale. She was a relieved and exhilarated amnesiac. Sarah quickly pecked him on the lips and took hold of the towel, noting that she felt very comfortable with this quasi-stranger.

“Shall we to bed?” he asked, and Sarah realized they were both lying down on a plush mattress. Now dry, she wore a long ivory nightgown. Jareth was gloveless and wore only a pair of loose linen pants, slung low on his narrow hips.

“How does this keep happening?” she muttered.

“Still disoriented?” Jareth shook his head. “Must be from all that running around you did. Go to sleep, you’ll feel much better in the morning. I’m sure of it.”

“Not only disoriented, but I can’t remember anything before we were dancing. I was running?” She stopped, distracted. Sarah took in this new room they were in, which was lovely and full of baroque-style furnishings. She gaped at all the curved and gilded pieces and turned to eye the headboard behind her. It was a six-foot-tall tangle of gold filigrees, and in its center sat a noble-looking owl. “Is this where we sleep?”

“It is our bed.”

“I have no recollection of any of this stuff. Where are all my clothes?” She pulled at the plunging halter neckline of the nightgown. “Maybe if I saw my possessions, it would help.”

“There’s time for that later. You need to rest.”

“Did I hit my head or something?” Sarah asked, raking her fingers up the back of her head and gingerly felt the crown. Everything seemed normal.

“Not that I’m aware of.” Jareth stroked through her hair as well, twirling it around his fingers and letting the coils spring free.

“Jareth,” Sarah said with a crack in her voice. “I’m really scared.”

Hearing that, he took her in his arms and kissed her softly. “Now, now. I’m here, you’re quite safe. I promise if you wake tomorrow and don’t feel better, I’ll have a doctor come and examine you, all right?”

“All right,” Sarah agreed and wiped a solitary tear from her cheek. She did feel happy to be in the arms of a man she was certain she loved. The small voice in her mind screaming that something was wrong would simply have to go to sleep along with her.

Still in his embrace, it wasn’t long before their lips found each other. They fell back into the passionate kiss they’d shared earlier. Sarah following his lead at first, then taking her own by plunging her eager tongue into Jareth’s mouth over and over again. His fingertips danced across her collarbone and behind the fabric of her nightgown, feeling her breasts firmly and taking his mouth down to them.

“Beautiful girl,” he murmured against her smooth skin

“You are so incredibly handsome.” Sarah breathed hard. “It’s like you’re not even real.”

Although, he was very real; she was sure of it, in spite of her porous mind and nagging doubts. But, were they married, she wondered and glanced down to his left hand, busy cupping her breast. No ring. Sarah looked at her own and saw nothing there either. Are we simply lovers?

“Who are we?” she asked, disrupting Jareth’s ministrations.

“Jareth and Sarah, I just told you. This memory loss of yours is worse than I thought.”

“I mean to each other. We live together, correct? But I don’t think we’re married,” she regarded her naked finger again. “What are we?”

“We’re in love and desperately attracted to one another. Isn’t that enough?”

“Have we,” she paused, searching for the phrase she wanted, “been intimate?”

“I’d say this is fairly intimate,” Jareth said with a short laugh, gesturing down at their embrace, her flush against his body, décolletage exposed and one leg hooked around his.

Growing weary of his evasiveness, Sarah reached down, put her hand on the outside of the thin pants he wore and felt for his manhood. It was hot and grew hard in her hand. She pressed her fingers in and felt it throb.

“What I mean is,” she said through gritted teeth, “has this been inside me?”

Jareth inhaled sharply and uttered, “I’ve been waiting for the right time. Is that time now?” he kissed her before she could answer.

“I don’t think it is,” Sarah shook her head and pulled her hand away. “I’m worried I won’t remember it.”

“Fair enough.” Jareth recoiled from her and laid supine. “Off to dreamland. May you find your memories there,” he patted her thigh tepidly.

Sarah moved away from him and stretched out on her back. She took a deep breath and gave a frustrated little groan.

“Not tired?” Jareth asked flatly.

“I am, but I feel very antsy. Just so many questions and thoughts.”

Jareth rolled over on his side and got closer to Sarah. He took his left hand, held it out flat and dragged it down her face.

“What are you doing?” she asked uneasily.

“Ensuring that you sleep.”

Sarah could no longer open her eyes. Her arms became leaden and would not budge. All she felt was sheets sliding down her body, and the nightgown sliding up to her waist. There was a shift on the mattress and soft hair brushed across her skin. She could move her legs, and she instinctively opened them to invite what was about to come.

It started with fiery hot breath at the heart of her femininity, going in and out as if her skin gave off opium smoke that was a pleasure to consume. Something soft yet firm parted her folds, went past her inner lips and slowly up to her crest where her tiny bud of flesh was massaged.

Sarah felt an explosion under her skin, like fireworks going off inside her spine. Possessed, her pelvis tilted up and feet arched. The sensation built into a precarious house of cards. Warmth rushed to every point of her body as she felt the cards fall. Still able to verbalize, she let out a string of nonsensical words strung together with expletives, weaving a tapestry of noise.

Released and able to open her eyes, she sat up quickly only to see that Jareth was sound asleep with his back to her.

“What just happened?” Sarah shakily asked the air and received no reply.

O

Morning came with lemony sunlight and birdsong. Sarah opened her eyes to see that Jareth was dressed in clothes similar to the night before wearing tight gray breeches and an open black shirt.

“Good morning, Sarah. Cook prepared a special drink, just for you,” he held a hobnail cordial glass in front of her.

“What is it?” she asked as she took it from his hand and sniffed the liquid.

“Peach juice, of course, your absolute favorite.” Jareth’s brow was knitted. “This doesn’t bode well. Are you still having trouble remembering?”

“I don’t recall a single thing before we were dancing to that ‘Falling’ song,” she said dully and gulped the juice.

“That’s it, I’m calling for a doctor. You’ll want to freshen up before he arrives. I’ve laid clothes out for you,” he pointed to a seating area near the window. A pretty dress in sage green, underclothes, stockings, and heeled shoes were neatly arranged on a tufted chair.

“Just show me where my wardrobe is, and I’ll select something,” she said as she finished the drink.

“It’s right there.” Jareth pointed to an entrance at the far end of the room, swathed with theatrical fuchsia curtains; Sarah could have sworn wasn’t there a moment ago.

“Darling, please just get ready. Wash your face and clean your teeth. I will have the doctor here on the wings of angels.” Jareth kissed her forehead.

Sarah walked trepidatiously over to the small room and through the velvet curtains. It was a charming feminine space, with an elegant rug, vanity table, dress form matching her body, and a large white wardrobe painted with cherubs playing in the clouds.

She ran her hands across the surface, opened it, and touched a few of the dresses inside. It was all very pretty, but not familiar. On the vanity, she spied something that spoke to her. A little figurine of a dark-haired woman dressed in a ballgown, inside a gazebo and housed safely under a bell jar. Sarah went over to it, gripped the knob, and lifted it up.

“Sarah, the doctor will be here shortly,” Jareth called out from the door, and Sarah rushed into the bathroom to make sure she was presentable.

O

Clean and freshly dressed Sarah laid on a chaise longue, and the doctor was perched on a footstool at her side. He was elderly and thin, with a Roman nose adorned with pince-nez glasses through which he regarded Sarah.

After a brief chat and cursory examination, he beckoned Jareth over. “She has memory loss,” he wheezed, before coughing violently into a handkerchief.

“We are aware of this,” Jareth said curtly as he sat down on the couch and placed a protective arm across Sarah’s legs.

“She also is disoriented and mentions feeling time shift quickly. One minute she’s in one room, and the next, another.” He placed the handkerchief back into his top pocket. “I found no injury to her head to account for such symptoms.”

“Also, nothing we didn’t already know. The question is what is the cure?”

“Rest.” The doctor shrugged. “Fresh air, sunshine; just no exertion, please.” He wagged a bony finger at Sarah.

“Is she prone to excitement?” he asked Jareth directly.

“It does take some effort to get her to sleep.” Jareth winked at Sarah.

“Young lady,” the doctor lectured, “His Majesty told me that you had quite a wild time yesterday. Running yourself ragged for the better part of the day and then attending a ball where you danced and imbibed spirits.” He tsked his tongue.

Sarah bypassed the patronizing words and exclaimed, “You’re a king?”

Jareth and the doctor exchanged worried looks. “I feel as though I am a stranger to her,” he complained.

“Not only a king but more importantly, your beloved.” The doctor took out a notepad and scribbled in it with a pencil.

“Well her love for me is intact, thankfully,” Jareth boasted.

“That gives me encouragement that she’ll make a full recovery, in due course.” The old doctor smiled wide. “I’ll show myself out, but please call on me for any reason.”

Jareth watched as he walked out the door and turned back to Sarah. “That was a waste of time and twenty gold pieces.” He shook his head and reached out for Sarah’s hand. “Shall we get you something to eat?”

“I’m not hungry.” Sarah frowned.

“Don’t pout, love,” Jareth leaned in and tapped the bow of her lips with his index finger. “You heard him, you’re expected to make a full recovery, and until you do, just try to enjoy yourself.”

“I can’t. Don’t you understand that I can’t?” 

“What a pity.” 

“Help me remember my past. Tell me everything you know.” She raised her voice. “Tell me how we met!”

“I was an admirer of yours. I gave you a book, to show my interest, and you allowed me into your life.”

“That’s rather vague.” Trying to get more information, she asked, “Where did we meet?”

“The first time we were in the same room was in your father’s house.”

“My father? Tell me about him and my family,” Sarah implored.

“I think breakfast or perhaps a walk might do you better than to hear about something like that.”

“Why?”

“The truth is less than happy. You’re better off not remembering it.”

“Please,” she took both of his hands in hers and squeezed gently.

“Sarah, some people would kill to be in your position. You’re holding a blank slate on which you could paint the most exquisite picture. But you dare to persist to know the unpleasant truth and see that the pristine white canvas was once black?”

Sarah nodded solemnly.

“Very well. You are the only child of a vain and selfish mother, who abandoned you to an uninterested father. He remarried an absolute shrew of a woman who despised you. Together they created a child, for whom you were expected to be more minder than a sister. Father and stepmother provided you with endless chores, and you were practically a slave.

“When you could get away from the drudgery, you would flee to a quiet park just to pretend you were someone else. I saw you and became smitten with your beauty and also your tremendous spirit. I bid you to come away with me, and you did, where you now lie on a veritable bed of roses.

“Is this not enough for you?” he asked ominously.

“It’s not that I don’t appreciate all of this”—she swept her hand across the room—“it’s that I’m confused. I don’t remember this life you just described, but it sounds terrible.”

“And it is over,” he interrupted. “You are here now.”

“How long have I been here?”

“Not long.” He shifted in his seat. “In fact, you arrived yesterday.”

“Is that why you keep saying I was running around?”

“Yes, that’s right. Your journey was long and arduous. By the time you debuted at your welcoming party, you were quite tired and foggy.”

“Foggy.” Sarah repeated dryly. “That’s an understatement. My own clothes aren’t even familiar to me.”

“You won’t recognize anything here. You don’t have any of your old clothes or possessions because your family wasn’t wealthy, and everything you owned was worthless. I selected everything in your wardrobe. It was merely to ensure you won’t have to go around naked until you meet with a seamstress. You are free to wear what you like.”

“I liked what I saw, it’s just—”

“I’ll give you whatever you want. Your dreams! All I ask in return is for your happiness.” He rose from the chaise. “So I think it best that we halt this stroll down memory lane and instead take a walk outside. You could do with some sun. No more sadness please, your memories shall return, and if they don’t”—he paused dramatically and rolled his head away from her and back—“we shall make new ones.”

O

Jareth and Sarah ambled outdoors down a pebbled path, under flowering archways, past alabaster statues and headed toward a glen dotted with shade trees.

He had set a slow pace, giving Sarah ample opportunity to appreciate every beautiful thing she saw. With his arm tightly around her waist, he didn’t miss anything that caught her eye, and he paused here and there to give her more information about the object in question.

Noticing her sharp inhale at the sight of a statue of a woman in repose, he said, “This is a reclining goddess. Isn’t it just perfect? See how well the sculptor captured her serenity?”

“It looks like those are actual sheets and not marble,” she said, entranced at the voluptuous figure, draped in fabric, as she ran her fingers along its body. “She is gorgeous.”

“I’m going to commission one in your likeness. It will be the most impressive sight ever,” he pulled her in tighter and kissed her neck. “No one shall upstage you.”

Sarah had been holding a parasol over her head and let her arm fall aside. She moved her lips to his. “You make me feel like a queen,” she whispered.

“Not a queen, yet, but soon, I pray,” he said as he led her to a row of tall Brugmansia trees on which white trumpet flowers swayed like bells in the gentle breeze. “Until then, can I interest you in a picnic?” Jareth knelt down on a simple quilt and began to remove a bottle of pale orange liquid from a wicker basket.

“Where did this come from?” Sarah asked gleefully and dropped down beside him.

“Magic,” Jareth dramatically splayed his gloved fingers in front of her surprised face. “No, that’s not true. I asked Cook to throw something together for us.” He busied himself with pouring peach juice into two glasses.

“Cheers, darling.” Jareth clinked his glass to hers. “To your health.”

“To us,” Sarah added with a smile.

“That’s what I like to hear,” he beamed. “Come sit closer to me.” He patted a space next to his hip, and Sarah slid over, taking her arm behind him and dropping her head to his shoulder.

“This is all I ever wanted. Just this.” Jareth sighed, almost to himself.

Just this?” Sarah teased.

“You, in my arms and surrendered.”

“What?” She snapped her head up, wondering if she heard him correctly.

“Surrendered to my love, I mean,” he replied and then took his lips to hers.

Sarah couldn’t help but think that was an odd thing to say as she kissed him back. So much of his phrasing seemed foreign to her, and yet she was surrendering herself and judgment all for a moment of passion and sinking deeper into his embrace.

His hands roved over her body and down to the laced hem of her dress. Two fingers gingerly plucked at it and pulled it up. A gloved hand slid onto her knee and traced her inner thigh where it rested in wait.

“I want you,” she moaned to him.

“Are you saying you’re ready? I can finally have you completely?”

“Yes,” she replied, pulling her head back and looking around to ensure they were alone. They were not.

Something nearby caught her attention. Voices. Movement. She recoiled and said, “I think someone is here.”

Jareth pulled away too. His whole demeanor changed abruptly. “Who cares? Have some more drink, love, and tell me how badly you desire me.”

Sarah got up, entranced by the sight and what sounded like little girls giggling. Getting closer, she saw them more clearly: about a dozen fairies playing happily.

“How sweet!” she exclaimed over her shoulder.

“Don’t get too close, fairies are very unpredictable, especially if they feel threatened.”

“I won’t! I know that they bite.”

     “What do you expect fairies to do?”

“Do you?” Jareth sounded surprised. “Well, clever girl, just take a quick peek and come have tea sandwiches with me.”

Sarah was entranced by the lovely figures with gossamer wings twirling and swooping in the air. She got close enough to see one with long silver hair and even the details of her little dress. The sprite flew up inside a flower and darted out again, giving Sarah a cheeky wink before flying away with her friends. It took a moment for her eyes to focus, and in that time, Sarah saw something curious on the horizon.

Things looked bowed to her. Rays of sunlight that cascaded between trees diagonally appeared to curve away and back in as if some giant force was pushing them.

“Why does it look that way?” she asked herself, and she began to take a step to walk toward it.

“Scared the fairies away, did you?” Jareth clasped a gloved hand around her bicep, preventing her from moving.

“No, I-they just,” she stuttered, “Jareth, do you see that off in the distance?” She pointed to the mysterious sight.

“What?”

“The light looks so odd,” she whispered as she spread out her fingers. “Can’t you see?”

“All I can see is two lovers resuming their afternoon.” He attempted to guide her back toward the blanket, but Sarah planted her feet firmly into the ground.

“Don’t pull at me!” she said sternly, weary of feeling managed by him. “I want to see this up close.” She pulled herself away from his grasp.

“That is nothing but trouble. Why not choose something easy, for once in your life?” he asked.

Sarah wasn’t listening and walked closer to the spectacle. She reached out to the beams of light and was startled when her hand met with a hard surface. It was if they were encased in glass. Like the little figurine in the bell jar, she thought with a shudder.

She put her other hand against the surface and pushed. It didn’t feel very thick and gave way slightly. A few more hard pushes and maybe it would break.

“Shall we have our picnic at the end of the rainbow?” Jareth asked with a strained voice, trying to keep things light, and failing miserably.

Sarah turned around to see that he was behind her and holding the basket. Without thinking, she smiled as she pulled out the half-empty bottle of peach juice and pumped her arm up and down, lightly gauging its weight.

“Excellent,” Jareth said with relief. “I’ll spread the blanket, and perhaps we can salvage this day. Never mind that, dear, it’s just there to keep us intact.”

Sarah pivoted quickly away from him and smashed the bottle against the glass with all her might, sending shards of bottle and barrier everywhere.

O

All the air rushed out of the bubble, pulling Jareth, Sarah, and a few fairies out into a dark wasteland. They fell into a heap of trash. The fairies scattered in search of more habitable conditions.

“Idiot!” Jareth screamed as he dusted himself off and stood over her. Sarah was picking dirty rags off of herself and began to sit up.

“Bloody selfish brat!” he shouted and stabbed at her shoulder with a now-materialized swagger stick, keeping her pinned against the rubble. Gone was the genteel lover from earlier. Before her was a man with a sharp face contorted with rage. His clothes, now all black leather, were so slick they appeared wet.

Sarah winced in pain and pushed the swagger stick off, and Jareth to tripped forward. She jumped up and away from him, but he quickly rebounded and was in her face again.

“How could anyone be so ungrateful?” he barked. He grabbed her arms, pulled her against his heaving chest and pushed his nose onto hers. “Why would you spit in my face and destroy what I made for you?”

“Get away from me,” she screamed and tried desperately to free herself from him. “I never asked you for anything! I don’t even know you!” She lied. She remembered everything the moment she left the bubble.

“You do know me, and you are very aware that you love me.”

“I don’t love you! My actions earlier could be attributed to being drugged, and your constant gaslighting, you baby thief!” she shouted, head whipping and eyes darting around to get the lay of the land, and more importantly, trying to spot his castle on the horizon.

“Baby? So you do remember, all right, very good.” He smiled, baring jagged teeth.

“Let’s put our cards on the table, then. I did not drug you. The peach is merely a device to relax you. It cannot alter. It only brings what is buried to the surface. Therefore all that passion we shared was pure.”

Sarah twisted in his grasp.

“Also, I’m not from your world, nor do I subscribe to modern psychology, therefore this gaslighting you speak of”—he tightened his grip on her arms and lowered his voice to a husk—“means nothing to me.” He lightly touched his lips to hers, as if to start a kiss, but never did. He loosened his clamped fists.

“I was being romantic.”

“Fuck. You,” Sarah said with a thump on his chest. She then turned on her heel to walk away.

“As for the baby,” Jareth called out.

She turned around. “Yes?”

“He’s safe and sound in his bed. Come see.” He produced a crystal ball in his hand and held it out to show her. Sarah ran to it and saw the image of Toby, her baby brother, still in his striped pajamas and nestled in his crib.

“This is a trick, this isn’t real!” she exclaimed, tears coming into her eyes.

“It’s not a trick, this is him right now,” Jareth said softly. “He’s home, and your father and stepmother are asleep in the bed next to him.”

“Like you’d just return him for no reason.”

“I returned him for a valid reason. You.”

Sarah shivered. Although it was cold and dark where the stood it was his words that affected her body.

“There is so much you don’t know. I was betrothed to someone. A beautiful kind woman who would do anything I asked. She was born to be my queen, but when I saw you, I knew I could not go through with the marriage. Don’t you realize I’d pull the fucking sun out of the sky for you?”

She looked at him in disbelief. “Marry her Jareth, she sounds great.”

“I cannot continue my life without you.”

“You’ll have to. I’m sixteen years old and not interested in being here another second! I want to go home!” she screamed.

“You are home,” he cried out. “And you can live in a perfect world, a fairytale! That’s what I made for you. I would be your servant if you granted me the honor, ” he said, his voice trembling.

“Live in a lie, you mean? I want to live in reality!” she shouted.

“Let me show you my reality.” He produced a crystal again and revealed the horrors of his castle. Nasty little goblins ran amok, fighting, biting each other’s arms, and hitting one another over the head with clubs. Dark walls glistened with slime. The king sat slumped in his throne.

“No! My reality! I don’t want to be here,” she cried. “Please let me go.”

“Fine. Come close to me, and it be will so,” he said dejectedly.

“I don’t trust you.”

“You can, Sarah. I’ll put you where you’re meant to be.”

She slowly made her way over to him, and he gently placed his hands on her. One on her shoulder and the other at the base of her skull.

“You have no power over me,” Sarah whispered.

“Nor did I ever want to,” Jareth replied.

O

Sarah awoke in her bed. It was a sunny day, and she opened her eyes to admire the light cascading across her room. She stretched her arms up with a slight yawn and raked her fingers through her long hair.

“Sleep well?” a male voice asked.

“Mmm, very well. I feel like I was asleep for years.”

A cup of tea was placed at her bedside. She picked it up and continued. “I had the oddest dream,” she said and took a sip.

“What about?”

“Oh, peach tea. I dreamt that I was a teenager again, and I was trapped. You were there,” she added as Jareth slid himself behind her, allowing her rest against him.

“I was there? That sounds like a wonderful dream.” He laughed and kissed the back of her head.

“It wasn’t. One moment I was in one room, and then I was somewhere else. We were housed in this bubble, and you wouldn’t let me leave.”

“You are your own woman and free to do as you like,” he said.

“Right, I know, but it just…I was able to break out, and we went to this dark cold place. You were screaming at me then, trying to console me. It was upsetting.”

“Well enough upset, let’s do something pleasant. Would you care to take your tea on the balcony? We can go over the preparations for our next soirée.”

“Sure,” she said and followed him toward the open French doors. Scanning past the glen and trees, Sarah couldn’t help but think the light looked a little different, as if everything was curved.

“Jareth do you see that?” she asked.

“Hmm?” Jareth replied as he sat down on a wrought-iron loveseat and patted the cushion next to him, never once looking where Sarah pointed.

“Oh, nothing.” She sighed and told herself she must have slept too long. Sarah then finished her tea seated comfortably next to Jareth.

O