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Junior Editor in the City

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“You need to redo the edits, Sarah.” Her boss gives her a stern look, his dark brown eyes glint disapprovingly. “You’ve really gone overboard with these.” His position is quite unique in the company—he’s head of marketing and strategy, yet he oversees editing as well.

“What, all of them?” she exclaims. “I spent hours making those edits.”

Her boss sneers, “waste of your time then. I expect the re-edits to be done by tomorrow morning.”

“But it’s eight in the night already!” It’s on the tip of her tongue to say ‘that’s not fair’ but she doesn’t.

Her boss sighs, rubbing his temples. “Sarah,” he says, his crisp, upper crust British accent drawing out her name in a familiar fashion. “These are New Adult novels with fairly simple story lines. I asked you to edit basic grammar, not fact check and insert your opinions where you saw fit.”

“I can explain…” she begins before getting cut off.

“Alright,” he cuts in, picking up a manuscript, “why have you changed ‘Oxford’ to ‘LBS’ and why have you repeatedly cut ‘love’ from Mr. Bennington’s lines in Two Weeks in London?”

Her jade eyes flash in annoyance. Isn’t it obvious? “Because an individual who grew up in central London wouldn’t use the word ‘love’ at the end of every sentence,” she says rolling her eyes, “you should know, you are British and a central London raised brat.” She rolls her eyes again as he laughs at her softly. “And LBS has a far better finance based MBA program than Oxford.”

Her boss’s almost black eyes light up with laughter. “Sarah, let me teach you a very, very fundamental principle of marketing—know your product and know your target. Your product is a poorly written fantasy about an extremely hot, rich man falling hopelessly in love with a plain brunette, with no personality to speak of.” He holds up a hand when she tries interrupting, “Your target market is ‘Bessie May’.”

“Bessie May?”

He shrugs, “That’s what I call her. Bessie May is American who lives in the suburbs of a smallish city and she’s one of two women —she’s either a tired mother of two whose sex life could use some spicing up or she’s a shy virgin desperately in need of Tinder.”

She snorts. Good grief. “That’s too much of a generalization.”

He smiles again. “That’s what marketing and strategy is based on, Sarah—generalizations. Anyway, an American woman living in the suburbs of a smallish city has no clue about different kinds of British accents. They see some BBC show with a character who says ‘love’ all the time and that’s how they assume we speak. And Oxford is probably the only English Uni that they know of—mention LSE OR LBS and they’ll get confused.”

“That’s an unfair generalization.”

He rolls his eyes. “The basic point I want you to understand is that the target does not care about accents or universities. The target doesn’t care about any specifics. It’s not your job to teach them the difference between a Manchester and a Birmingham accent. It’s your job to edit shitty books.”

She sighs. “What’s wrong with the rest of the edits?”

Coffee in New York” he says, holding another manuscript, “I don’t understand why you’ve crossed out ‘two bedroom, two bathroom apartment in the Upper West Side’?”

Her green eyes widen incredulously. “How can a twenty one year old recent college grad with low paying internship afford that?” She huffs. “I pay 1.2 k to rent half a two-bedroom basement apartment in Brooklyn—and that’s a great deal!”

He sighs again, this time with a little more annoyance. “Once again, Sarah, Bessie May doesn’t care. She watches Friends and thinks that’s normal life. And why have you highlighted ‘even the mere thought of such a horrible act made her nauseous’ as problematic?”

She purses her lips determinately, knowing exactly why she’s highlighted that bit. “Because it’s about time we stop demonizing women’s reproductive rights as ‘horrible.’ A twenty one year old, recent college grad, would most definitely think about getting an abortion.”

“Sarah,” his tone is not harsh, but he is losing his patience, “We do not use the A word in New Adult fiction. Ever. Don’t take things too personally. You don’t see me demanding every ridiculous, exaggerated depiction of gay men be erased from popular culture, do you?”

“You should,” she says testily.

He laughs. “I am a highly paid marketing consultant Sarah and I’ve managed to snag a position in a major publishing house in spite of the fact that I’ve never taken a single literature course in Uni. I didn’t do it by reacting to everything I found ignorant or offensive.”

“Thanks for the advice,” she mumbles sarcastically.

“What am I, Sarah?” he asks suddenly, as if trying to make a point.

Raising her brows, she answers, “British?”

“And?” he probes.

“Highly paid? Really successful? From a ridiculously wealthy background? Gay?”

“And?”

She rolls her eyes. “I give up, Sanjay, what?”

“Brown,” he answers, “Most Bessie Mays freak out when I start speaking. And even then, they assume I work at a Cash & Carry in some fuck-all neighborhood in Bradford.”

“I have no idea what the last part even means.”

“Not important,” he says, leaning back, “It doesn’t occur to them that I come from a family that owns one of the biggest steel manufacturing plants in the world. You don’t see me running around going ‘hey, I’m brown, I’m British, and I’m rich’ do you?”

“Maybe you should, seriously.”

He shakes his head. “I don’t care what Bessie May thinks—she may think, very inaccurately, that I’m from ISIS and start running in the opposite direction when she sees me and I still won’t be offended. All I care about is that she buys what I’m selling her and the only way I can do that is to make sure the product fits her perception of the world.”

“How magnanimous of you.”

“Bessie May is your target audience,” he says, ignoring her, “next time you decide to underline something as ‘problematic’ think what would Bessie May want.”

“But-”

“No room for arguments,” he hands back the four manuscripts she’s edited during the day, “re-edit all of these and have them on my desk by tomorrow morning.”

“Fine,” she hisses. “You’re a slave driver. Hope you know that.”

He flashes a consoling smile, “Now, about this summary of yours…I like the concept. The story line is simplistic enough.”

She grimaces. “I’m not so sure about whether I should go ahead with this. My family didn’t spend a hell of a lot of money for my Wellesley degree so that I could write New Adult. What a waste.”

“Firstly, spending all that money for an English degree…darling, of course it’s a waste. Secondly, publish it under a pen-name, sell some books, make some money, and then write something profound as per your standards.” He says it all so matter-of-factly. “You’ve seen the New York Times bestseller’s lists—half the fiction books are poorly written drivel. That’s what sells.”

Her face reddens—there’s something else that bothers her. “I don’t know if the story line is…” her voice trails off.

“The story line is great. Twenty two year old, shy, quiet, receptionist calls on some fictional king to take her much younger brother. She runs his…labyrinth…that may be too complicated a word for New Adult. Let’s go with maze. Anyway, the heroine runs his maze—shags him many times along the way. He sends her brother back. Some gorgeous, bitchy exes make her sad. He tells them to fuck off. She marries him---I’d make her pregnant by the end of it for good measure. New Adult readers love pregnancy.”

She holds her head with both her hands. “That sounds god awful.”

He shrugs, “That’s what’ll sell, darling.” He pulls out a box of cigarettes and offers her one. “I won’t tell if you don’t,” he says conspiratorially and opens a small window for ventilation. There are strict regulations against smoking indoors, but it’s late-ish in the night and no one’s there to catch them.

Taking the cigarette, she lights it up. “The smell is going to stay, you know.”

“Eucalyptus oil,” he says, “burn some of that next time you need to hide your habit.” He takes a long drag, “why are you so bothered about the storyline? I know you’re a good writer and New Adult books are simple enough to be written in a few months.”

“Meh.”

“You need a better reason than that.”

She sighs. “Some very famous, successful women went to Wellesley, you know. I don’t want to write some crap that encourages women to be pregnant, and completely dependent on some man who’s going to grant their every wish.”

“You take things too seriously, Sarah. Look at it as a means of making money, which gives you the opportunity to do what you want.”

“Meh.”

“Perhaps there’s something else that’s bothering you?”

She looks at him sharply but doesn’t say anything.

He lets it go. “Let’s continue with our protagonist—you’ve described her as pretty, strong willed, slim, tall, and adventurous.” He pauses and tsks. “You’re going to have to write her as a plain, pasty skinned brunette who may be strong willed but not too argumentative. Do not, under any circumstances, describe her as slim. Say slim wrist or ankle, other than that leave any weight references out.”

He studies her character summaries for a few minutes, “basically, she’s a very average, maybe even slightly less than average looking woman who loves to read—that’s pretty much the extent of her personality. Most men…make that all men, do not notice her, except for this magical Elf King, who wants to fuck her senseless for reasons known only to him.”

“Goblin King,” she corrects, sniggering at Elf King.

“Yes, well, make sure you do not describe her facial features in detail. We want the reader to be able to insert herself into the protagonist’s shoes.” Giving her his secret ashtray that he has stashed away inside his desk drawer, he stands up and grabs his coat. “See you in the morning, Sarah. You can give me the manuscripts by lunch if you are not able to do so in the morning.”

“Nah, I screwed up so I’ll do what it takes to fix my mistakes,” she grins. “You going to The Box for drinks with Michael?”

“Michael is busy as usual, entertaining clients,” he smiles sarcastically as they get into the elevator “I’ll go home, open a bottle of pinot and complain about how crap it is.”

“Still beats my night,” she says, waving as they part ways.

--

By the time she’s done re-editing all four manuscripts, it’s three in the morning. She’s at the all-night coffee house right across the street from her basement apartment in Brooklyn—she thanks her lucky stars that she has the option of escaping her absolutely depressing and overpriced room when she has to work in the nights.

“Do you need anything Sar, or can I go to the back and play Halo?” Josh, the night shift waiter calls from the front.

“Nothing for now, thanks. I’ll come get you if I need anything,” she yells back. She’s the only one in the place so she knows she isn’t disturbing anyone.

“Okay,” he yells back.

She makes sure he has disappeared into the back room before taking out the summary she is working on. The protagonist seems easy enough to write—an average looking blank slate. The brother hardly has a role. The evil but gorgeous ex is pretty much supposed to be Bessie May’s own personal Regina George. The Goblin King…now he is supposed to be a multifaceted character described in minute detail.

She’s never believed her traipse through the Labyrinth was real—believing it to be a figment of her hormonal fourteen-year-old mind, instead. A dream so vivid that she felt as if she were living it. But she cannot deny that she is still affected by the experience and it bothers her deeply that she can’t quite remember the Goblin King. She remembers him being the most beautiful being she had ever laid eyes upon. She remembers how he made her feel. But she doesn’t remember him.

How on earth is she supposed to create this perfect, magical, male specimen and describe him in minute detail if she doesn’t remember him?!

She sighs. It’s 4 in the morning. If she runs home and jumps into bed, she has two hours before having to wake up and get to work. It’ll be far easier to pop in the little orange and black capsule in her pocket and go without sleep for the day. All-nighters were far easier to pull off in college, she thinks reflectively, swallowing a slow release Dexedrine capsule with black coffee.

“I wish,” she begins, “I wish….”

She doesn’t quite know what she wants. “I wish someone would help me describe the Goblin King in detail.” She stands up to leave—she’ll take a nice long shower and eat a ginormous bagel with cream cheese.

Just as she pushes the door to head out, a strong breeze knocks the door shut, trapping her inside. The lights waver. Loud, raucous thunder booms across the skies, drowning out the very-early traffic noises.

“How fortunate for you, precious, that I’ve decided to…grant your wish.”

Chapter Text

She stares at him, her mouth wide open. “You…” her voice dies down automatically. “You…but I…how,” she clamps her mouth shut before sounding even more ridiculous.

The Goblin King sits on a chair, legs languidly stretched out in front of him, and raises a brow. “Yes, me,” he croons, evidently amused by her confusion.

She takes in his image—the harsh lines of his face are familiar, as are his sharp cheekbones. She can almost feel the feather soft hair that frames his face like an ethereal crown. His eyes—she remembers his eyes from a nightmare or two—a terrifyingly beautiful creature with dual colored eyes chasing her into the darkness.

She takes a step back and frowns.

“You’re him…aren’t you?” she asks, the words vaguely familiar. “You’re…real?”

He gives her a haughty look, eyes narrowing sharply, as if to say ‘of course I’m real.’ “I’m here to fulfil your wish, Sarah.” He smiles, flashing her his wolfish canines.

She takes another step back. “My wish?” she repeats.

Rolling his eyes, he speaks slowly, as if he’s explaining something to a very dimwitted individual. “Yes, darling girl, your wish—that there was someone to explain the Goblin King to you in…detail.” His tone insinuates something lascivious, “I shall oblige you.”

Her frown deepens. Nightmarish creature or not, she’s beginning to get damn annoyed with all the sexual innuendo. “Well, you don’t have to oblige me. I changed my mind.”

A sinister laugh. “I’m afraid it doesn’t quite work that way, precious.”

“Yes, well, there’s no other way it can work,” she throws his words back at him before shaking her head and walking out of the coffee house. He can sit there and rot. Or maybe he can be Josh’s problem if he ever comes out of the back room.

--

“You realize you cannot outrun me, Sarah.”

She groans as he materializes out of thin air, right in front of her, as she’s crossing the street. Miraculously, none of the early morning joggers seem to notice.

“I wish you’d go away.” She looks at him expectantly, hoping he’ll disappear into thin air.

Placing a gloved finger on his lips, he chuckles darkly. “Your brilliance never ceases to amaze me, precious, but I will only go away when I’ve finished describing the Goblin King in as detailed a manner as possible.”

Dear lord. The innuendo was back.

“You’re going to hover around until I finish my book?” she asks, eyes wide at the thought.

Raising a perfectly arched brow at ‘book,’ he scoffs elegantly. “Not at all—I’m only here to give you an adequate description of myself.”  

“Fine,” she says, throwing up her hands. “Follow me.”

--

He’s unnaturally quiet as they make their way into her apartment, but he takes in his surroundings distastefully. “You live in a dungeon,” he remarks, his voice full of disdain.

“Oh, shut up,” she says, leading him towards the sofa in the tiny living area. “Sit down. Please.” She sits down right beside him, massaging her temples. She wonders if the Dexedrine pill she took minutes earlier had gone bad…and maybe, combined with the lack of sleep, was causing hallucinations.

“Sarah, are you ill?”

A talking hallucination, perhaps.

“Sarah?”

A very insistent, talking hallucination, perhaps.

“Sarah?!”

“For the love of Christ, what?” she asks, still massaging her temples, trying to soothe a mounting headache.

How the hell is she supposed to explain the presence of a fairytale creature to her roommate? If luck is on her side, her roommate would have already left for work.

“OH MY GOD. SARAH WILLIAMS!”

Apparently, luck isn’t on her side today.

She grimaces as she looks up at her wildly energetic roommate who seems to be running, yes literally running, towards the Goblin King. “Morning, Elle,” she calls out.

Elle’s a SoCal raised UCLA grad, who’s trying to make it in the dying industry of fashion magazines. Technically, wedding magazines. The two young women get along relatively well. For the most part anyway.

The Goblin King looks a little fearful as this Elle person buzzes around him like an excited wasp.

“Walk of shame, Williams?” The roommate laughs maniacally, “What will the insufferably self-righteous Marc think?” She doesn’t give anyone else a chance to speak as she plops down on a bean bag and looks up at the Goblin King. “Hello! Elle Larian,” she shakes his hand enthusiastically.

Sarah can’t help but smile when the Goblin King’s expression goes from a little fearful to downright bewildered.

Elle doesn’t seem to notice. “Elle’s short for Elham but some people pronounce my name like El-ham and that really gets on my nerves—so please, call me Elle. I’m so, so glad Sarah’s going out with someone other than Marc,” she pauses to breathe, “he’s all like, ‘I have a student loan to pay off so I’m more of a grown up than any of you’…what an annoying prick. Anyway, who’re you? What do you do? How’d you meet Sarah?” She peers up at the Goblin King with her bright hazel eyes.

“Stop right there,” Sarah interrupts, her headache blossoming into a full-on migraine. “This isn’t a walk of shame,” she clears that up first, “this is Mr. King, an old acquaintance. He’s uh…agreed to be my model.” That’s the best thing she can come up with on such a short notice.

 “WHAT?” Elle looks at the Goblin King, truly looks at him for the first time. Dressed in black leather pants with a matching black leather jacket (and black leather boots), and his wild hairstyle, he looks…well, he does not look like anyone she’s ever seen.

The pants say Mick Jagger, the jacket says seventeenth century Diesel, and the boots say high-end Dungeons and Dragons. “What kind of model?” Elle asks, slyly looking at her roommate. ‘Mr. King’ looks like something out of a very high budget BDSM movie. About vampires. “And why is he so pale. Like one level above albino pale?”

“He’s going to help me with a character in my book,” Sarah replies, hoping this is the end of the ludicrous conversation. “And he’s from a remote fishing village…in Norway, hence the paleness.”

The Goblin King lets out an irritated sigh. Of all the ridiculous stories to make up, the imaginative Sarah Williams came up with ‘fisherman from Norway?’ It is time he intervene.

“Elle, is it?” he croons, the very embodiment of charm. “Call me Jareth,” he says, flashing her a smile without showing her the edges of his teeth. “I’m helping Sarah out with her little project. But I would love to know more about this… self-righteous Marc.”

Elle giggles. “Ooh, Sarah. You better tell me the backstory here. Remote fishing village, my ass.”

Sarah seethes. ‘Helping Sarah out with her little project’ indeed. Like he knows anything about her miserable book. “Elle, don’t you have to get to work before your heinous bitch of a boss gets there?”

That’s all it takes for Elle to tear back into her room and gather her things, before making a beeline for the door. “We may need a blond male model in an upcoming photo shoot,” she says looking back at Jareth, “would you be interested?”

He smiles noncommittally, “Depends, I require more information.”

“Great! Sar, we’re on for tonight, right?”

Sarah groans for the umpteenth time. She’d forgotten about the plans they have for tonight. “Sure,” she says, knowing full well that blowing off Elle at the last minute isn’t advisable.

“Awesome! You should come too,” Elle says to Jareth before slamming the door behind her.

Sarah savors the silence for a few seconds before looking at a very amused Goblin King. “I have to get ready for work,” she tells him, “Stay here and do not touch anything.”

He flashes her a grin, one showing a full set of spiky teeth. “I shall not destroy your rather humble dwelling with rocks…or colossal orange beasts.”

“I’ll be out in ten,” she says, ignoring his jab. She heads to the bathroom and gets ready in record speed—taking a five minute shower and throwing on a jade colored silk blouse over black, form fitting pants. She dries her hair using the highest setting on her dryer and fashions her hair into an impromptu ballerina bun.

Rushing out of the bathroom, she’s surprised to find him sitting serenely on the sofa—right where she left him.

She looks at her watch—“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.”

A deep chuckle, “your vocabulary is more interesting than the last time we met, precious.”

“I’m going to be so fucking late,” she curses deliberately.

“I can help you if you’ll let me,” he says rather softly, “envision your destination, and I can transport us there.”

“I can’t risk anyone seeing me poof out of thin air,” she laughs—utterly oblivious to the intensity of his gaze as she does this.

“We shall be shielded from the humans,” he explains. “Are you brave enough?” He holds out his hand, a challenging gleam in his eyes.

She sighs, supposing that she has to take him along to work…the alternative being that she leave him at her residence. Which isn’t an option.

“You can’t come into my office dressed like that.” She’s horrified enough that he will be tagging along. If anyone sees him dressed like that, they’d assume all kinds of things.

“Anything to please you, precious.” His body is hemmed in black smoke, which slowly clears to reveal dark jeans paired with a modern version of his seventeenth century-esque Diesel jacket. His hair is shorter than normal but as untamed as ever, and his eyes stay mismatched. He grins at her, his feral teeth still sharp.

She understands that this is about as human as he’ll ever look.

“Shall we?” The challenging gleam in his eyes remains.

She realizes that he’s baiting her—daring her to take his hand.

And she decides to take it.

--

“This is your…model?” her boss raises his brows, surprised. He looks at the pale, platinum blond, punk rock star slash vampire standing beside Sarah. “From Norway?”

She shrugs as casually as she can, “Come on, Sanj, I think he’s perfect for the Goblin King. The Fae are generally thin, with elongated limbs and sharp features—exactly like Jareth. Heterochromia is an added bonus, it makes him look even more unusual.”

The Goblin King, for his part, watches the exchange with glittering eyes. His lips twitch upwards, but he doesn’t quite smile.

“Alright,” Sanjay concedes, “We normally go with broad shouldered, dark haired men for New Adult, but that’s generally the billionaires.” He eyes Jareth again, “Perhaps Goblin Kings can sell under…different packaging.”

She swallows a smile at ‘packaging.’ “Did you read the new character summary for my protagonist?”

“The character summary is fine. But we do need more conflict in the storyline—the bitchy exes aren’t enough. I think your heroine gives in too easily to this Goblin King. What if she fights to return back to her old life?”

Sarah snorts. “This is a twenty two-year-old woman with no personality, no career, and zero success with men. Why would she fight to return and eventually turn into a forty-year-old virgin cum career receptionist with no life, when she should be fucking ecstatic at the thought of becoming Goblin Queen?”

Her boss laughs, while the Goblin King listens interestedly. “Sarah,” Sanjay chides, “the protagonist does have a personality…she’s willful.”

“Willful? In what way?”

“Willful, as in—she fights to return to her world in spite having the chance of becoming Goblin Queen.”

“That makes no fucking sense,” she responds, exasperated. “There’s no reason for someone to fight for the chance to return to such a pathetic life. Unless being absolutely-fucking-stupid is also part of her personality.”

Her boss exhales and gives her a look. “You cannot equate this character to yourself, Sarah. Don’t make me give you the Bessie May speech again.”

“Fine,” she surrenders, though obviously still annoyed. “I’ll make her fight, willfully. If this does become a bestseller, I’m going to fucking cry at the fate of humanity.” She pauses to take a breather, “But why does my character have to be a virgin? I feel like I’m writing about a girl whose super creepy, abortion-hating, evolution-denying, basically illiterate dad gives her a ‘purity’ ring.”

Waving off her concerns, Sanjay smiles, amused by her dramatic statements. “It’s a fantasy, Sarah, nothing more. Remember Bessie May? She’s either a youngish virgin or a much older, middle-aged mother—market research shows that both groups seem to idealize virgins. Perhaps the younger Bessie May does wear a ‘purity ring,’ whatever that is, and perhaps the haggard, middle-aged mother wants to relive her youth. Either way, it’s not your job psychoanalyze them—understand that they idealize virgins, and use it in your storyline.” He hands her his notes, and says determinedly, “Make them buy what you’re selling, Sarah. Books are commodities—understand the market.”

Somewhat saddened, she nods, “Fine. It’s depressing though…literature should be an art, not a commodity.” She doesn’t notice as the Goblin King watches her from the corners of his eyes.

Her boss only shrugs. “We’re speaking of books, which are published and sold, they’re products like anything else. Something else you wanted to ask?”

She know it’s futile, but she may as well try. “So. I was wondering if I could work from home for the next few days.”

He shakes his head immediately. “You know my policy Sarah, no exceptions.” He stops talking and his dark brown eyes glaze over. “However, I suppose I can make an exception for you. For how long?”

Glaring at the Goblin King, she answers, “A week.” She doesn’t quite approve of magicking her boss, but she knows the only way to get rid of Jareth is to work on her novel, and she needs a week to write the rough draft.

Eyes still glazed, Sanjay nods, “A week then.”

Chapter Text

“One grande Americano and one grande, non-fat, pumpkin-spice latte, please. For Sarah.” She says to the barista as she ushers the Goblin King to a table at the corner of the room.

“What is pumpkin-spice?” he asks, eyes alight with curiosity. “And why do you presume I require ‘non-fat’?”

She wonders if she’s offended him by ordering ‘non-fat.’ “I’ve never had it, but people rave about pumpkin-spice lattes and non-fat because that’s what I get for myself. Anyway—let’s get started, shall we?” Taking out a notebook and pen, she looks at him expectantly. “How would you describe yourself in detail?”

The Goblin King sneers. “Oh Sarah, surely, with all your talent as a supposed writer, you can come up with a better question than that.” He gives her a look that says ‘I expected so much more out of you.’

Pompous bastard. She glares at him. “Fine,” she says tersely. Taking out her phone, she takes a few pictures of him, while he looks on, amused. “I can describe your appearance in detail without having to look at you.”

“Not all of my appearance,” his voice is silky. “Not all parts that I’d like to share with you, at least.”

She looks at him to tell him to shut up, but the light in his eyes makes her smile. “What do women find alluring about you?”

A raised brow. “A long list of things, precious—I have very powerful magic, I have a great deal of influence within the High Court, I’ve been told that my appearance isn’t all that bad, and I possess the ability to please a woman so much so that she cannot move or speak.”

Her mouth goes dry but she tries disguising her discomfort by rolling her eyes, “Are you dating anyone?”

His lips quirk up with amusement. “Yes, three individuals.” He eyes her intently, studying her reactions.

“Perfect!” She exclaims, flipping open a fresh page. “Give me their profiles.”

He eyes her with cool amusement; that certainly is not the reaction he had expected. Perhaps he’s read her wrong. “What will you give me in return, Sarah?” His eyes sharpen as the focus on her, his body stills.

Parting her lips, she looks at him, wide eyed—the air around the room suddenly chills. “I thought you were here to help me.”

He smiles toothily. “Regarding myself, yes. However, if you require information about my lovers…you will have to make me an acceptable offer first.”

“Hold that thought,” she says, walking towards the counter to retrieve their respective drinks. “Here.” She hands him his, hiding a smile as he sniffs it suspiciously. “In return,” she says, her jade eyes calm, “I’ll give you information about my, um, lover. Sort of lover anyway.”

Eyes gleaming, he nods. “Very well. You first.”

She sighs. Of course he’s going to make her go first. Tricky bastard. “Marc’s my age, twenty four, actually almost twenty five. He’s about your height, dark haired, went to NYU—did a double degree in finance and economics. Just paid off his student loans. Are you satisfied?”

He gives her an icy look. “Hardly,” he drawls, “how is he as a lover?”

What? “Erm good.” She desperately hopes her face hasn’t turned crimson.

“Come now, Sarah.”

She sighs again. He isn’t going to let this go. “He’s good. He’s a type A, hard worker with something to prove so he works for it.” Jesus, you did not just say that, she chides herself. “Now will you give at least one profile—start with how she looks.” She’ll be perfect for the bitchy ex, she thinks gleefully.

He produces a miniature painting and hands it to her. “Take a look for yourself.”

And so she does. The woman in the painting has his features—tall, thin, fine boned, and sharp. Her hair is a shade of silvery lavender not found among humans, naturally anyway, and her eyes are a deep shade of onyx, a stark contrast to her pale features.

“You may keep that.” His deep voice breaks her thoughts.

She purses her lips, almost embarrassed at having looked at the painting for so long. “So if you were to fall in love with a far less physically attractive human,” she winces at how ridiculous that sounds, “And marry said human—how would this lady react?”

A slow smile, “Normally, I suppose.”

She frowns. “It wouldn’t bother her that you’d be getting married to someone else?”

“Considering that she is married to a feudal lord from a neighboring province, no.” The smile on his lips remains. “Good choice, precious,” he adds, indicating his approval of her choice of beverage for him.

Her mouth drops open. His girlfriend is married? No, that’s incorrect—one out of three girlfriends is married. She wonders about the other two. “Let me rephrase that; what if you stop sleeping with her because you fell in love etcetera, etcetera, how would she react?”

An elegant shrug. “She’ll find someone else to grace her bed. Perhaps join her husband and his current mistress.”

“No jealous rages? Trying to put your plain new girlfriend, in her place? Temper tantrums?” So much for using lavender locks as the bitchy ex.

“No.” Eyes narrowing, his piercing gaze sharpens even more. “Explain this book of yours, precious.”

Taking a big gulp of her Americano, she tries condensing the story as much as she can. “Borderline unattractive, mortal virgin with no personality or career wishes her brother away. She runs the Goblin King’s maze—he falls in love with her so he keeps her and sends her brother back—but she fights to return to her fuck-all life because she is willful, and he somehow convinces her to stay even though his exes are awful and make snide comments about how unattractive she is. They get married and she has a baby. The end.”

Stunned silence follows for a few moments.

“So Elana is supposed to be this awful ex who makes ‘snide comments.’”

“Yes,” she says.

“And I am this Goblin King?” his voice is almost playful.

“Obviously.”

A light chuckle. “And you are the borderline unattractive, mortal virgin with no personality or career?”

Motherfucker. “What the fuck is wrong with you? God no!” She grits her teeth in annoyance as he laughs at her expression. “I happen to be quite an attractive, non-virgin with a decent career, thank-you-very-much.” She’s angry that he might even entertain the thought of her being some sort of sad Bessie May. Enraged even.

Deep, amused laughter. “I was only joking, precious thing.” He smiles wolfishly as she glares at him. “If Elana were to feel such jealousy, she would most likely befriend the mortal, quite sincerely might I add, and slip poison into her food when she least expected it. I don’t enjoy bedding foolish women who are quick to throw ineffective tantrums. My paramours are intelligent enough to employ effective battle tactics.”

Jesus. “Remind me never to piss of any of your girlfriends,” she mumbles. “I can’t use that—I need someone who’d throw a fit and call the mortal virgin names before being bitch slapped by her. Someone who’ll cause a problem but is not an actual threat, know what I mean?”

He has no idea what she means. “Why are the ‘mortal virgin’ and ‘bitchy ex’ so quick to get into a petty fight? Wouldn’t the smarter course of action, for each, be to study their ‘opponent’ so to speak and then exploit any weaknesses?”

Smiling wryly, she replies, “Because everyone in this book is a moron.” And that is the sad truth. “Anyway, Sanjay, my boss that you met,” she explains, “would say Bessie May, AKA the mortal virgin, needs some sort of catharsis. Through this interaction, our readers are able to bitch slap the fake-tanned, bleached blond who was mean to them in high school.”

Looking at her, his gaze intensifying by the second, he asks, “And why would you write a story so imbecilic?”

“Money,” she says, shrugging lightly. “If I can get this poorly characterized book just right, then I can make some quick money—then, I can be free to write what I truly want. Could we get back to profiling you? Forget about the bitchy ex.”

“As you wish.”

--

Two pumpkin-spice lattes and two Americanos later…

“Sarah, you’re beginning to tremble, is something wrong?”

She waves off his concern, “The lack of sleep is getting to me, but I can work for another hour. We’re done with your clothes, which you described in great detail, your castle, your goblins, your…um…friends,” that is one way of putting it, “some of your girlfriends…” she lets the thought drift off. What she really wants to cover next is…well, sex. After all, that’s the main component of a New Adult novel, isn’t it?

“What next, precious?” He is all smiles, as if he knows what she’s trying to ask. “You can ask me anything you desire.”

 Flushing lightly, she tries to phrase her question suitably. “If you were to fall in love, like suddenly out of nowhere, and the woman you fell in love with kept fighting you, how would you…seduce her?” She pats herself on the back—great phrasing.

Deep, sardonic laughter. “You certainly have a way with words,” he smiles as she flushes some more. “If I wanted to keep this unique woman, I’d put her up in a gilded tower for a month or so. Isolate her in luxury until she’s so exhausted of said isolation that she stops fighting me. Seduction isn’t all that necessary since I’m the one who rescues her out of the dreaded tower.”

She gasps at his deviousness, her jade eyes wide. “You are absolutely evil!” Very efficiently evil.

Flashing her a set of predatory teeth, he bows his head. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Of course he would. She looks at him wryly. “I can’t use that—I need the usual ‘shove her on the bed and will her body into submission’ type seduction where her brain says ‘no’ but her body says ‘yes.’”

His eyes turn dark. “Is that what you like?”

“No,” she says with a snort, “but it is what our under-sexed Bessie Mays want so, how would you do that?”

“I wouldn’t.” His tone is icy cold as is the look in his eyes. “If I were to seduce a woman, especially an under-sexed, borderline unattractive, mortal virgin, her brain would most definitely say ‘yes.’”

She exhales, exasperated. “Forget about seduction then. How do you have sex?” The words are out of her mouth before she can stop herself, and she turns an alarming shade of tomato red.

He grins at her, enjoying her sudden bashfulness. “You do realize there are many creative ways and not just one way to, as you say, have sex?” His smile widens as she looks away, “Perhaps the type A Marc needs to work harder.”

“Leave Marc out of it,” she snaps, annoyed.

“Of course.”

Standing up swiftly, she closes her notebook shut. “Let’s go for lunch,” she says, wincing when she notices her hands shake like a crack addict’s—too much caffeine combined with the Dex was probably a bad idea. She groans as she remembers that she never did have that bagel in the morning….which means her last meal was yesterday’s lunch. Black dots swarm before her eyes and she realizes that she’s going to fall.

Frowning as he notices her tremble and then almost collapse, he quickly jumps up and drapes an arm around her waist. “Are you ill, Sarah?” his words are clipped, almost as if he is angry.

The overdose of dopamine in her system, low blood sugar, and lack of sleep, combined with the heat of his closeness causes a rush of dizziness. “I just need something to eat and some sleep.” She struggles in his grasp, “I’m fine, you can let go.” Please. Her heartrate seems to have gone from zero to a hundred.

Pursing his bow-shaped lips, Jareth’s grip around her waist tightens some more. “Close your eyes, precious.”

Chapter Text

“Sarah, shut up,” he says, voice raised with a hint of agitation.

The jade eyed mortal gives him scorching look, “You’ve…you’ve kidnapped me!” She scuttles back on the bed, his bed, as he comes closer.

Controlling himself from snarling in anger, he slows his breathing down. “I shall take you back to your realm if you wish.” He gives her a menacing look, “Stop. Shouting. You’re beginning to take on the role of the ridiculous mortal in your story.”

She seems to calm down a little. “Why did you bring me to your,” she scans the room, wide eyed, “castle?”

He sighs. Why indeed. Perhaps because he is a fool. “I allowed you to catch up on some required sleep, Sarah—nothing more.” 

Her jade eyes light with liquid fire. “How generous of you!”

He almost gnashes his teeth and tells her that yes, it is indeed generous of him, but refrains himself from doing so. “I shall transport us back to your humble dwelling, Sarah—you’ve clearly gotten a very wrong impression of what I was trying to do.” He notices the look of surprise in her eyes, “I would, however, like to request that you join me for lunch first.”

She nods slowly, shrinking back when he smiles widely, predatory teeth in full view. She wonders if he realizes just how scary his smile is.

And just like that, they are sitting across from each other in a gazebo type structure in the middle of a beautiful garden. The table is full of various delicacies she does not recognize with some regular items like fresh bread rolls and green salad.

“I hope everything is to your liking.” He plays the role of the courtly king well.

Filling her plate with salad, she offers him a small smile. “Everything looks great. I’d like to continue with your profile, if you’re up to it,” she says, hoping he is.

“Very well,” his voice becomes very soft. “What else do you wish to know?”

“What do you do with the children who’ve been wished away?”

“Your book would have had this information Sarah,” he says, his voice mockingly disapproving, “I turn them into goblins.”

She frowns. “Sanjay says that’s too morbid. We need you to get them adopted by families here.”

A raised brow. “A very unfeasible solution, precious.”

She nods in agreement, “My very first thought was ‘but what about children from Madagascar or Kazakhstan or Japan?’ but Sanj said Bessie Mays do not take into consideration those that are…different from them. Every Underground being looks like they could be a part of the Von Trapps and every child wished away would make an excellent extra for the Sound of Music.” She takes a big bite of a delicious dish that is completely foreign to her.

Fascinating.” He sounds anything but fascinated. “I don’t feel my answers have helped you all that much, precious…how else could I help you?” His sharp, dissecting gaze burns her skin.

Her utensils clatter on her plate as she suddenly stops eating. His voice has taken on a daring tone and she suddenly realizes that she is alone with him, in his realm. She laughs nervously, “Every answer helps!”

His gaze sharpens even more, as if he’s trying to look into her very soul. “Really?” The mocking tone in his question clearly states that he does not believe her.

“Yes,” she says brightly, “Let’s get back to questions—what would make you fall in love with a less-than-stellar mortal?” She cannot come up with a synonym for less-than-stellar apart from loserific, but she does not think he would understand that term. “Please don’t say ‘innocence’ or ‘innocent but passionate demeanor’ because that’s just so fucking unbelievable and so fucking overdone.”

He merely shrugs. “I wouldn’t fall in love with a ‘less-than-stellar mortal.’” A slow smile plays on his lips, “As I stated before, my answers do not seem to be helping you, at all. What shall we do for the rest of the week?”

Giving up, she sighs. He’s correct—an immortal being would most definitely not be interested in a loserific mortal. The Goblin King in her story would be very different from the real Goblin King.

A slow smile. “Is there something you want from me, Sarah?”

Her breath hitches as she raises her eyes to meet his—the way he looks at her is intense enough to send a shiver up her spine. “Let’s focus on your distraction techniques, especially the um, seductive techniques…”

“You assume I seduce the runners?”

She clicks her teeth. Yes, she wants to say. “Don’t you?”

“Decidedly not, precious.”

She supposes his three girlfriends keep him busy enough. “But what about that masquerade ball in the glass bubble?” That had most definitely been a devious technique meant to entrap her.

A toothy smile. “That was a dream specifically designed for you. But the clock was strategically placed so you had a reminder of time.”

Well. She hadn’t expected that answer. Finishing the rest of her meal quickly, she decides to save her questions for later.

He doesn’t say anything further—content with just watching her eat.

She stands up the second she finishes her meal, “You have to send me back—I promised Elle I’d go for her friend’s birthday dinner.”

He looks at her silently, a teasing smile on his lips.

“Jareth, please.” Her voice takes on a slightly anxious edge. “Send me back. I’ll never hear the end of it if I’m late.”

“Of course, darling girl, you don’t believe I’d keep you here against your will. Do you?” His smile turns predatory when her eyes widen. “Oh, you do.”

She takes a few deep breaths and calms herself down. “I never said that.”

“Come on then,” he says, extending a gloved hand, before she has the chance to say anything.

--

For the life of her, she cannot comprehend why the Goblin King would want to spend time with 20-something humans. “Are you sure you want to come tonight, you don’t have to,” she says, eyeing his outfit with approval—he’s wearing slim fit indigo trousers with a tailored, off-white shirt, and casual leather loafers on his feet.

He gives her an appraising look—she wears a knee length, black and white dress, one with a white bodice and black, form fitting, skirt, paired with elegant stiletto boots. Her hair is loose. She’s more of a distressed skinny jeans and silk top kind of girl, but the dinner is going to take place in a private room in an upscale hotel, so she’s dressed up a little.

“I do. Unless you do not want me there, precious.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” she’s quick to protest, “but I’d like to make a request.”

He grins sharply. “Anything.”

“Marc will most likely join us later…”

“So?”

“Try not making things uncomfortable for him, okay?”

Widening his unnerving eyes, he tries looking innocent. “Me? Never.”

She rolls her eyes. “Let’s go. I’ve called us an Uber.”

--

“Sarah! You FINALLY made it!” Elle gives her a hug. “And so did YOU! Mr. hot model.” She gives Jareth a hug as well, oblivious to his startled expression.

Sarah only knows a handful of people at the party. She walks up to the birthday boy, well, man, and gives him a hug. “Happy birthday Rez.”

“Thanks Sarah. Glad you could make it.” Rez looks at Jareth curiously, “You actually got a model? From Norway? I thought it was another one of Elle’s ludicrous stories.” He grabs two glasses of champagne off a tray for them.

“So she did.” The Goblin King answers him, taking an elegant sip. “Happy birthday.” He smiles.

Rez takes a step back. Something about this man gives him the creeps. “Thanks man. Please enjoy yourselves.”

“CAFÉ PATRON SHOTS!” Elle seems to have appeared out of nowhere with a bunch of café patron shots in her hands.

The Goblin King raises a brow before downing one. He makes a face. “What was that?”

Sarah laughs. “Coffee flavored tequila.” She glares at her roommate. “Café Patron is disgusting—I’m not taking that.”

“More for me then.” Elle downs two shots in the flash of a second. “I’m going to group hop,” she says, leaving the two of them behind.

Looking at her buzzing phone, she types a quick message. It’s her boss asking about the progress of her outline. In all of her haste to get ready, she forgot to email Sanj in the evening.

The Goblin King eyes all of the mortal youths enjoying themselves—their inhibitions lowered thanks to copious amounts of champagne and that vile drink, café patron. He can’t help but think of the many, many wishes he could grant tonight.

“Hey Sarah.” A wavy haired boy gives Sarah a hug, his hands lingering on the small of her back a little too long.

“Hey Marc.” She hugs him back in a manner that’s decidedly intimate. “Meet Jareth,” she says quickly, “I’m supposed to use him as my model for that book I’m writing.”

Marc turns his warm brown eyes to the Goblin King’s icy gaze. “Hey Jareth.”

“Hello Marc.”

She groans at Jareth’s frosty tone. “You got here directly from work?” she tries making some conversation.

He indicates the gray suit he has on and takes a sip of beer. “Yea.” He turns to Jareth, “So, Elle tells me you’re from a remote village in Norway; how do you like New York, Jareth?”

A shrug. “It’s adequate.”

She grits her teeth. Adequate? “Jareth’s more of a forest person.” She groans internally. That sounds ridiculous.

Marc’s eyes light up with interest. “I would love to live in a more rural setting. But being in finance, I have no choice but to live here—if I want to climb up the ladder that is.” He goes on, “the only finance positions in smaller places is being a manager in a local bank branch. I’d probably shoot myself if I ended up in that position.” His phone buzzes. “Excuse me.”

She glares at the Goblin King. “Why are you being so cold?”

Jareth gives an indifferent scoff. “Your Marc left you for his buzzing device.”

She rolls her eyes. “He’s not my Marc. And he’s one of the most competitive and ambitious people I know—he’s not going to skip work calls just because he’s at a party.”

A harshly curious look. “You admire him.”

“I guess,” she shrugs.

The Goblin King looks at her intensely for a few moments, his dual eyes as unnerving as ever. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Sarah.” That’s all he says before disappearing into thin air.

--

Chapter Text

“Sanj, you really need to rethink the adoption thing. It doesn’t make sense unless the Underground looks like the fucking UN building.”

There’s an exasperated sigh on the other end. “Von Trapp, Sarah—think Von Trapp only.” There’s a pause. “Never mind. Fuck the Von Trapps. Remember the ‘I am seventeen going on eighteen’ Nazi—the Underground is only populated with beings who look like humans that he’d approve of. Including the wished away children. That means I, Sanjay Arora, would not exist in this book of yours. Do not make me repeat myself.”

Her sigh matches his. “Fine. I’ll make sure the Underground is more Nazi-land as opposed to the UN,” she says, defeated. “I’ve sent you a rough outline.”

“I’ll look it over and send you feedback. In the meantime, I’ve emailed you a manuscript for Vampire Love—it’s a New Adult romance with vampires. Have the basic edit in my inbox by lunch.”

Switching on her MacBook Pro, she opens her work email and downloads Vampire Love. How original.

“I’M DYING.”

She sees a mop of brown hair with caramel highlights sweep across the floor. It’s Elle’s usual crawl on the floor hangover routine.  “I’ve laid out two aspirins with a glass of Perrier on the counter,” she calls out, taking a sip of her espresso.

“Thanks Sar,” Elle says, her voice hoarse. “If I ever mix champagne with café patron again. KILL ME.”

She hears the bathroom door close and the shower runs soon after. Poor Elle. The girl did not take alcohol well—at least not as well as the rest of her LA crowd in NY.

She cringes. The story, as she predicted, is about a very old vampire falling in love with a nineteen year old. Because she’s refreshing. She wonders what kind of moronic vampire would attend the local state college in the middle-of-nowhere for fun. And then fall in love with the girl in the jeans and t-shirt who sits in the back. Seriously. If she were a five hundred year old vampire, she would live in a major world capital with a shoe closet that rivaled Mariah Carey’s.  

“Wish me luck.” Elle stands by the door, perfectly made up. That girl has a ridiculous talent for looking perfectly put together even when she is feeling like shit.

Sarah smiles. “Good luck. Drink lots of Gatorade.”

“Let me know how the ‘modeling session’ goes.” She says with a wink before leaving.

--

Hitting the send button, she sighs, half anxious, half irritated. He hasn’t shown up all morning and she’s convinced he’s doing this on purpose. She sprinkles walnuts and almonds on cut fruit, topping the mélange with some feta cheese. After the burrito she gorged at two in the morning, she wants a light lunch.

She picks up her phone, hoping there isn’t an issue with her editing—she made it a point to ignore every idiotic error she’d come across. “Hey Sanjay—everything good?”

“Brilliant. You did a perfectly mediocre job editing the manuscript, just like I asked you.”

She takes a bite of her food and thinks feta might have been too strong a choice. “Then what’s up?”

“I’ve sent you some notes on your outline—have a revised copy done by half-four. And I’ve sent you another manuscript, Sea Cove Lighthouse, it’s a billionaire romance. Finish the basic edit by seven.”

“Will do.” There’s a smile in her voice. “Would you like one of my kidneys as well?”

He laughs. “Fuck off. I’m letting you work from home for an entire week.”

Smiling as she shuts her phone, she opens up her email and looks over his notes. She whistles lightly—she certainly has her work cut out for her. And she could definitely use some help. “Where is he anyway,” she says aloud before heading to the kitchen, kitchenette more like, to make another espresso.

“You called.” And just like that, the motherfucker appears out of nowhere.

She whips around to face him, frowning when she sees him lounging comfortably on her sofa. Feeling like a complete slob in her yoga pants and t-shirt, she eyes his gray pants, cream colored silk shirt, and knee high black boots. “You said you’d come in the morning.” Her voice sounds whiny even to herself.

Tilting his head, he raises an amused brow; his dual colored eyes glitter. “I couldn’t charge into your home without notice and invade your…privacy, could I?” His tone of voice indicates that he can invade her privacy any time he so wishes.

She decides to ignore his little game—partly because she has no idea how to play it. “Well, you have three hours to help me revise my outline. Coffee?”

“No thanks.”

Sitting down next to him, she opens a new document. “Let’s start with scenery within the Labyrinth and your castle.”

--

Two hours and three espressos later…

“Great.” She says, hitting the send button. “Thanks Jareth.”

“Don’t mention it.”

She stands and walks towards the fridge. Fat-free, sugar-free yogurt—pass. Apples—pass. Cucumbers—pass. Jesus. They really should stock their fridge with some decent snacks.

Right at that moment, her intercom system buzzes and Marc’s friendly voice flows across the room. “Sarah, you home?”

Glancing worriedly at the Goblin King, she rushes over, “Yes, I’m buzzing you in.”

Jareth is sprawled on the sofa, as relaxed as he can be, legs stretched out in front of him. “I would offer to leave so that you have some privacy…” he lets the sentence drift off.

She rolls her eyes, “I sense a ‘but’ coming up.”

Raising his head, he looks her in the eyes and smiles. A little too sharply. “But I don’t think I will.”

“Play nice, Jareth. If we’re lucky, he’s brought us some halfway decent snacks.” She opens the door without waiting for Marc to knock.

“Hey.” Sure enough, he has a large paper bag with him.

Neither mortals notice the Goblin King narrow his eyes ever so slightly when they hug. However, Marc does notice a very comfortable looking Norwegian model sprawled on Sarah’s sofa the second he walks in through the front door. “Hey Jareth, didn’t know you were here.” He places the paper bag on the counter before heading to the living area and sitting on a small arm-chair.

“Sarah needed my help.”

Sarah groans…she knows she would never go to his castle and annoy his girlfriends. What gives him the right to annoy hers? Sort of boyfriend? “Cupcakes! Thanks Marc.” She places some plates and napkins on the coffee table. “Help yourselves.” With Jareth sprawled on the sofa and Marc on the arm chair, she has to sit on the bean bag.

The Goblin King eyes a marshmallow flavored, pink cupcake before taking a tentative bite. He winces. “Sweet.”

Giving Sarah a concerned look, Marc tries studying this strange but dangerous-looking man that suddenly seems to be a part of her life. “You’re not diabetic, are you?”

Sarah stifles a laugh. Trust Marc to be so practical. “No, he’s just not used to eating American baked goods. Nice of you to drop by Marc, and thanks for the cupcakes.”

The wavy haired youth smiles, dimples on either side of his face. “Give one to Elle—she must be feeling like hell today.”

Laughing, Sarah nods. “She’ll want to thank you for carrying her to the cab last night. And I want to thank you for coming with me to get a burrito at two in the morning.”

His smile widens. “Anything for you.”

This simple line causes the Goblin King a great deal of irritation. He doesn’t quite know why, but he feels that that’s supposed to be his line. Sitting up abruptly, he turns his intense gaze onto the unsuspecting Marc. “Do you have a specific purpose for being here right now, Marc? I was under the impression that you were employed.” A sudden chill engulfs the small apartment and the air buzzes lightly with electricity.

Sarah looks at Marc, horrified.

Marc, who’s the youngest analyst in the research department of a famous invest bank, is unperturbed. He’s had to deal with far worse behavior on a daily basis. “I had lunch at my desk so I could come here later.” He looks at Sarah, “But I do have to get back. I am still the research department’s whipping boy for one more year until I get my MBA. Are we on for tomorrow night, Sarah?”

She feels like hitting her head on the wall. Repeatedly. She’d forgotten all about date night, but there’s no way she’s going to cancel last minute. Not when he’d been nice enough to get cupcakes. “Yea, sure.” Looking pointedly at Jareth, she gives Marc a goodbye hug. “You pick the place.”

“See you then.” Marc turns to nod at Jareth, “See you sometime soon.”

Jareth smiles. This time, he doesn’t bother hiding his teeth. “You will.”

Slamming the door shut, Sarah fumes. “What is wrong with you?”

An elegant shrug. “Many things, I assume.”

Bastard. “You were so rude to him…and he-”

“Is so polite,” he mocks lightly, “I know.”

Biting into a chocolate frosted cupcake rather angrily, she glares at him. “What do you want from me, Jareth?”

A laconic brow. “Whatever do you mean?”

“Why are you being so vicious to Marc?” She’s genuinely curious. “You don’t see me coming to your place and being a total bitch to any of your three girlfriends, do you?”

Deeply amused laughter reverberates around the room. “You never cease to entertain me, precious creature.”

“JARETH. I’m SERIOUS.”

He raises a hand in mock surrender. “You look like you’re about to murder me, Sarah.”

“I probably will.”

“You’ll have to come a bit closer to inflict any real damage.” His tone borders on obscene and his eyes glitter challengingly.

Exhaling deeply, she shakes her head. “I have to get back to editing this stupid billionaire romance Jareth. Just don’t talk to me until I’m done.” Opening up her laptop once more, she ignores the Goblin King sprawled on her sofa.

Sarah groans. This one’s rife with slut-shaming—which seems to be an essential part of New Adult. Every beautiful woman is a quote, unquote slut who’s after the billionaire’s money, in addition to being a mega bitch to the gentle but not as physically attractive protagonist. She thinks of Sanjay’s words to keep herself from editing at least some of the venom out—

“You’re performing a public service for the poor-girl-in-the-library. She sits there every day during lunch; the pretty girls are nasty to her. She needs some sort of fantasy doesn’t she? Every beautiful woman, who’s not related to the male love interest, is a slut or a gold digger or a psycho.”

She rolls her eyes, wondering whether Bessie Mays actually believe this shit.

--

Four hours later…just after Sarah shuts off her work for the day.

“So who’s this in the picture? Next to you? Behind you?” The Goblin King swipes the ipad and another picture appears. “Young Toby. How he’s grown.” Another swipe. “My, my Sarah. Perhaps you should wear this outfit next time I visit you.”

She snatches the ipad away from Jareth—who, after eating four cupcakes, is acting like a hyperactive leopard cub. On cocaine. She sees said outfit and rolls her eyes, it’s a risqué cat costume she’d worn for Halloween last year.

“Jareth,” she begins, “shouldn’t you be spending time with your many lovers or harassing runners right about now?”

He shrugs, unconcerned before looking at her with gleaming eyes. “Wish to be rid of me so soon, precious?” A wicked grin graces his lips when she flushes, “I’ll only leave once you accept my help.” The deep timbre of his voice makes her shiver.

She’s so not going to ask what he means by that. Fortunately, she’s interrupted by her phone. It’s her boss. “Sanj—you get my work?”

“Yes. That was perfect.” A pause.

“So…then what’s up?” She really hopes it isn’t another manuscript. All she wants to do is take a shower and jump into bed. After inhaling three cupcakes.

“Michael canceled on the tasting menu session we had at Vendetta.” A pause, “The usual, client meetings.”

She frowns. “That’s not even open yet.”

“To the public, no. But they are holding tasting sessions for special guests. Would you care to join me?”

“Hell yes!” Like she’s going to say no to a meal that she’d never be able to afford…for a long, long time anyway. “But my, um, model is with me.”

“Bring him then. But do stop calling him your model, Sarah, you sound highly idiotic.”

“But he is my model.” She’s quick to protest.

Her boss laughs, shortly, “I’ve never heard of a ‘literary’ model and I doubt that’s what he is.”

She turns red and changes the subject. “What time should we get there?”

“I’ll send a town car to your place at nine.”

Shutting her phone, she looks at the Goblin King. “Would you like to come for dinner?”

An amused look. “Of course.”

Chapter Text

(At Vendetta…)

“Enough of the bullshit, what are you, really?” Sanjay asks the platinum blond sitting across from him. A platter of assorted wasabi and lemongrass infused canapes sits on the table, untouched. He thinks molecular gastronomy is overrated. “And you,” the dark haired man turns his attention to his junior, “need to come up with better lies. Jareth King is not even a Norwegian name.” 

Raising an amused brow, the Goblin King looks at Sarah before turning his attention to her boss. “You would not care to know.” There’s a mild threat that laces his words, “The consequences of knowing more about me are rather…dire.”

“He’s joking,” Sarah cuts in, her tone sharp. “He’s just unemployed and likes to make up ridiculously unbelievable professions.” Now that’s a fucking brilliant lie and she’s relieved when her boss looks like he buys it.  

Sanjay signals a waiter. “Another bottle of the Bordeaux, red.” He’d normally be fucking annoyed that some idiot chef thought pairing a Bordeaux with molecular fusion French, Sichuan, Japanese, and Southern Thai cuisine was a great idea, but he’s a little too tipsy to care at the moment.

“Um…” she begins, a little concerned, “Everything okay with you and Michael?”

The Goblin King sits quietly, assessing the human’s reactions.

“I’ve stopped asking our friends to accompany me when he cancels because they keep asking the same thing, so don’t,” Sanjay replies, sipping the wine. “In any case,” he says, eyeing Jareth curiously, “I’m concerned about you.”

She rolls her eyes. “Fine, he’s not my model, but he is helping me with this book. The scenes from the Labyrinth? Castle? All his ideas.”

Her boss looks at the Goblin King with renewed interest. “We have an illustrator who could use some inspiration for a children’s book, would you be interested?”

The Goblin King smiles a vicious smile. “Very much so.” His voice is positively gleeful.

“No. Absolutely not,” she says quickly, trying to think on her feet. “He’s on a tourist visa. It’s illegal for him to work here at the moment.”

“I’d volunteer without any monetary compensation,” Jareth offers, “out of the kindness of my heart.”

She chokes. Kindness of his heart indeed. She realizes that she has to change the subject, and she has to do so quickly. “Jareth here disagrees with you about the Goblin King, by the way. He doesn’t think that an all-powerful king is stupid enough to fall for an annoying, loserific, borderline unattractive virgin with no personality.” Heh, His Arrogantness probably couldn’t resist taking this bait, she muses.

She’s right. A small, delicate frown graces the Goblin King’s forehead.

Sanjay shrugs casually. “Unless Jareth has spent an adequate time doing qual and quan research on New Adult readership, his opinions are rather pointless aren’t they?”

Sucking in a deep breath, she prays that Jareth doesn’t turn her boss into a toad or something equally slimy. Fortunately, he only sits there and smiles, his sharp teeth hidden.

“Sanjay,” Jareth says, pronouncing the name perfectly. “I am a touch curious as to why this Goblin King of Sarah’s,” he smiles slyly at her as he says this, “is fool enough to-”

“Let me interrupt you before you go any further,” Sanj cuts in, “The purpose of the Goblin King, or any male figure in New Adult, is to be physically attractive and obsessed with the protagonist. He’s a man who is enormously, and I use that word both literally and figuratively, attracted to the protagonist regardless of how unattractive, dull, unremarkable, and insecure she is.”

The Goblin King remains quiet, but Sarah let’s out a scoff. “But why is the protagonist insecure to the point of having Borderline Personality Disorder…that bugs me even more than the virgin part.” After three and a half glasses of wine, she’s a little tipsy as well. “Every five minutes, she’s all ‘I’m so ugly, and the women you bang are so gorgeous’ and he’s supposed to reassure her that she’s amazing by fucking her into oblivion…if I was the Goblin King, I’d tell her to ‘shut the fuck up’ after the first few times.”

“Would you?” Jareth’s lips curl amusedly as he tilts his head and reads her. “To use your crude words, perhaps fucking her into oblivion is the Goblin King’s way of telling her to shut the fuck up.”

She glares at him and continues, “Same fucking issue with that stupid Sea Cove Lighthouse book I edited in the afternoon. If the protagonist is so psychotically insecure about her looks, she could just join the gym and head to the salon for a makeover. Life isn’t so fucking difficult.”

“Sarah,” her boss cuts in before she begins another rant, “I never want to hear the words ‘but why’ from you again. And this may come as a surprise to you, but life is fucking difficult for most—what do you think the average household income is for a family of four, in this divine country of yours?”

She shrugs, having no idea. “Lit major here, Sanj. Not stats.”

“Somewhere around 52 K per year,” he says, smiling as she stares at him incredulously. “Your father is a well-established corporate lawyer and your stepmother is an experienced OB-GYN—they were able to fund your education in one of the most expensive universities in the country.” He pauses and appraises her appearance, “And darling, you’re tall, thin, and fucking gorgeous. I’m going to go ahead and assume that your experiences are not remotely similar to the average Bessie May’s. It’s only fair that you stop judging these fantasies because if you hadn’t won the genetic lottery, you too may have been born in the middle of nowhere, in a family with an average income, and your life would have been utterly unremarkable in every way—and then, perhaps, you would understand the protagonist’s insecurities.”

She stares at her plate of duck confit dumplings with cherry anglaise, a bit humbled.

“Insecurity is a most interesting human emotion,” the Goblin King’s dulcet voice interrupts the silence and a chill runs down her spine. “It makes humans wish rather ardently.” His voice is tinged with malicious hunger...as if he’s thinking about various ways to use this knowledge to his advantage.

For the first time, she wonders whether it is smart, on her part, to expose the Goblin King to the human world.

“Your Norwegian model is correct, Sarah,” her boss agrees, not noticing her sudden unease, “Everybody gets insecure. New Adult only exaggerates that particular emotion, experience more like.” He bites into the dumpling, surprised when it tastes delicious. “I’m fucking insecure—my fiancé seems hell bent on working himself to death and my relationship is nonexistent.”

She doesn’t quite know what to say to that. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to say anything.

“Your fiancé has been fucking stupid lately.” A light brown haired man dressed in a crisp slate gray suit says this as he gives Sanjay a kiss and sits down next to him. “Hello Sarah—is he paying you overtime for this?” He notices the Goblin King and raises a brow before extending a hand, “Michael Kaufman.”

“Jareth King.”

Sarah grins as her boss rolls his eyes. “Sanj, doesn’t believe in getting paid extra for overtime. He’s quite capitalistic that way.”

“How’s the Nazi book going?” Michael asks. “Another bottle and glass, please,” he says to the waiter before turning his attention back to Sarah.

She raises her brows. “What?”

Michael laughs. “I overheard the ‘no Sanjay Arora’s in your world’ conversation,” he grins, “definitely no Michael Kauffman’s there.” He turns to Jareth, “only people who look like you I suppose.”

Jareth raises a brow and smiles slowly. “People who look like me.”

Sarah takes this as her cue to leave. She’s definitely glad Michael had the good sense to join them—those two belong together. “We are going to leave you two alone,” she says, tugging Jareth’s arm to cue him. “Let me know how much I owe you for the wine,” she says. The tasting menu is complimentary but the alcohol isn’t.

Sanjay waves her off, “think of it as overtime payment.”

“It is taken care of.” Jareth’s voice cuts sharply through the exchange as he hands over a wad of cash to the waiter, “I take it that will suffice for anything else these gentlemen order? You may keep the rest.” The waiter only nods disbelievingly before ushering him to the front of the restaurant.

Brows furrowing, Sanjay eyes her suspiciously, “an unemployed model from a remote fishing village in Norway with a few thousand dollars in his pocket. Sarah, what the fuck is going on? The only people who carry that kind of cash are in the mafia.”

“Erm…he’s a really rich unemployed model who hates credit cards?” she offers, hell why not. “Some people are just born rich,” she looks at him pointedly, “Mr. Steel baron’s grandson.” She’s glad when he doesn’t argue, “Anyway, I’ll start working from seven as usual.”

“You’ll have instructions in your inbox at six.” He waves.

--

(Somewhere in a bar close to Sarah’s apartment...)

“Where did you get all that money from anyway,” she asks, a slight lag in her voice. She’s only a drink or two away from crossing the line between tipsy and drunk. Being old enough to have experienced a few alcohol related disasters, she asks for a large bottle of water. Surprisingly, she has enjoyed spending time with the Goblin King…but she’s also smart enough not to get drunk with him. The bastard looks perfectly composed for someone who’s had as much.

“Magic, precious creature.”

Creature?! She huffs before turning serious. “Jareth…you’re not here to cause any harm are you?”

Looking into her wide, jade eyes, he bites back an acerbic retort. Instead, he says, his voice low, “I’d never harm you.”

It doesn’t escape her that he emphasizes ‘you.’ “I would never forgive myself if you caused someone else harm because of a casual wish I made.” She is absolutely serious, “Especially Marc.”

His penetrating gaze is unreadable. “Fear not, my sweet,” his voice is lower still, “I will not harm your precious Marc.”

“Great,” she says with a sigh of relief, getting up from her seat. “I’ve already paid the bill,” she says with a wink when he takes out his magical money, “Apple Pay.” She laughs upon seeing his confused expression, wondering if he thinks she’s paid the bill with apples.

“Explain.”

“Electronic wallet type thing,” she says, holding up her phone. “I’ll go home now. Early morning tomorrow.”

“Then I am greatly indebted to you, precious.” His eyes glitter victoriously when he realizes she does not understand the implications of the debt. “Would you?” he says, holding out his arm, smiling as takes it without question.

--

Next morning…

She cuts up some mushrooms and fresh chives and whips up some eggs, before pouring the mixture into a frittata dish. Easiest breakfast ever, she thinks. Of course, she doesn’t think about why she’s making breakfast for two.

“I don’t understand how you can drink four glasses of wine plus two large scotches, and not get a hangover,” her roommate half questions, half complains. “And I don’t understand why Mr. Model isn’t in your room with you.”

Sarah gives her a look. “Because there’s nothing going on between us.”

“Sarah,” Elle says, flipping her hair and fluffing it for volume, “I’m not stupid—I know he’s not your model.”

Holding her head in her hands, Sarah sighs. Sanjay is right, she needs to be a better liar. “It’s complicated,” is all she offers, “I don’t want to make this situation weirder than it already is.”

Elle stares at her, wide eyed. “Whatever’s going on between the two of you, I definitely think the situation’s going to get weirder than ever. Especially with Marc involved.”

Fuck.” Sarah knows her roommate is correct. “I was thinking of getting serious with Marc…but now…” she lets that drift off. Taking a large gulp of her coffee, she pushes the thought to the back of her mind. She’s got a full day of work ahead and cannot afford to be bogged down by her personal life.

“Sarah, but now WHAT?”

Sarah growls. It seems like she can’t escape her personal life until Elle leaves for work. “Speaking of Marc, he got us some cupcakes yesterday,” she says, strategizing to change the subject.

It works.

“I need to thank him for carrying me into the taxi,” Elle ponders aloud. “I didn’t say anything rude to him, did I?”

Grinning, Sarah replies, “You told him to stop playing the poverty Olympics.”

Elle turns red.

“You also said he wears old man suits when he should wear Italian slim fits.”

Elle turns redder still.

“And that you really like his hair.”

“OH MY GOD.” Elle’s turns the shade of a ripe cherry. “I’m NOT drinking again,” she declares, “…for a month.” Looking utterly embarrassed, she heads out. “I’ll apologize.”

Laughing softly, Sarah shakes her head. “He said it was one of the funniest conversations he’s had in a while,” she says, waving goodbye and setting up her tiny kitchen table for a breakfast for two.

--

(Thirty seconds after Elle leaves…)

“You were expecting me.” The Goblin King’s rich baritone reverberates around the tiny apartment.

She jumps and splashes some orange juice on herself. Curse Jareth and his ability to pop up out of nowhere.

“Yes,” she says, turning to look at him. He wears midnight blue trousers with a crisp, white shirt. Just how does the bastard look so put together this early in the morning, anyway?

He smiles at her wolfishly before sitting down, his eyes gleam in delight. “Perfect. I’m absolutely famished.”

--

Chapter Text

 

--

(Sometime in the afternoon)…

“This Goblin King of yours is a deranged lunatic, precious.”

She gives him a look as if she’s saying ‘you’re telling me.’ “Yea well, a deranged lunatic and an undersexed virgin go well together, I suppose.” She’s surprised he’s helped her out without any incident—this makes her wary. Thankful, but wary. They’re done with her outline for the day…unfortunately, she still has two mind-numbingly dull manuscripts to edit.

The actual Goblin King gives her a haughty look, his dual eyes sharp. “I have generously allowed you to tarnish my good name in the human realm, precious. Perhaps you can explain the…appeal of such a pairing.”

She frowns, never having been in a position to defend the ridiculous story line before. She can see why Sanjay gets repeatedly annoyed with her. “I don’t know…the target market for this kind of book is undersexed and I guess the fantasy involves a dominant, deranged lunatic who does all the work. All the protagonist has to do is lie back and start with ‘no, don’t touch me’ and end with ‘yes, yes, YES, OH GOD YES.’”

He smiles sarcastically, “Yes, the amazing Goblin King, undersexed virgin connoisseur, lunatic rapist extraordinaire.”

Somebody has to force undersexed virgins to have multiple orgasms. Why not you?” Smiling at his look of utter distaste, she continues, “Anyway, haven’t you heard? All publicity is good publicity.”

He’s about to give her a scathing reply when he realizes that perhaps this publicity can be used to his advantage. “I suppose,” he concedes, a thoughtful frown on his kingly forehead, “What are the odds of your target market wishing away children to the deranged Goblin King?”

An icy shiver runs down her spine—but after thinking about the situation, she doesn’t think it poses too much of a threat. “Children? Really low,” she replies, “Themselves on the other hand…”

He lets out a scoff as if to say he’s not interested in hearing any more. “I shall leave you to your work, precious, do give me your revised outline so I may tsk at you in disdain.”

Glaring at him, she speaks, “Thanks a lot Your Majesty.” She has better things to do with her time than to hear him tsk at her in disdain. Arrogant bastard.

A slow, mocking laugh. “My pleasure. I do believe you have a courtship ritual that you call ‘date’ with your precious Marc tonight, do you not?”

Is she imagining a hint of a threat in his voice? She’s not sure. “You said you wouldn’t-”

“Yes, I know I said I wouldn’t harm him,” his voice is low now and deadly serious and his mismatched gaze glitters intensely. “Until tomorrow, precious.”

She trembles—he had also said he wouldn’t harm her, hadn’t he? “Bye.”

--

(Marc’s Apartment somewhere in Alphabet City)…

“I don’t get it,” she says, stuffing a handful of popcorn in her mouth. “Why does everyone in this movie speak like an asshole?”

Marc laughs, “That’s Hollywood’s perception of investment bankers, Sarah. This movie actually tones down the language.”

She rolls her eyes. “You don’t talk like that.”

“Because real investment bankers are either mathematically inclined nerds or mathematically inclined nerds who are good at sales.” He stops and thinks, “Actually, make that modern day investment bankers. I’m sure the 80s crowd would have been that bad.”

“Why’s that—was there a sudden change in policy—investment banks got together and said they’re going to stop hiring jerks?”

He smiles. “Nah. After one too many fluctuations, they decided to hire smart people instead of loud morons. Hollywood’s still hung up on that personality-type though.”

She looks at him disbelievingly. “Marc, the 2008 recession was way worse than anything that happened in the 80s, 90s, or early 2000s.”

“Smart doesn’t mean less greedy, Sarah. In fact, smart can mean more efficient at being greedy. Especially if the government decides to deregulate everything.” He’s so matter-of-fact. “And everyone feels entitled to own a house they cannot afford.”

Shaking her head, she takes a sip of her wine. “I just do NOT understand business—everything sounds so…cold. I don’t want to sound stupid, but this movie makes it look like gambling.”

He raises a brow, “It is, in a way.” Inching closer, he drapes an arm around her shoulder. “Should we go for dinner?”

After stuffing her face with an entire bowl of heavily buttered popcorn, she feels too full to eat. “We could stay here…” she says, eyes lowered. She runs her fingers through his wavy hair.

He looks at her intently for a few seconds before swooping down and kissing her, his hands grasping her back, as he lays her down on his couch.

Something’s different. She’s kissed him before. She’s made out with him before. Hell, she’s had sex with him before. So why is she suddenly so awkward? The thought makes her mad and she curses the Goblin King, determined not to let him get to her head.

“Everything okay?” he asks, concerned. She’s been staring into space for the last minute. “Sarah?”

A hot blush creeps up her face. “I’m fine,” she mutters, embarrassed, “I’m just a little-” She’s interrupted by the infernal beeping of the smoke detector, they jolt up, smelling smoke.

“What the fuck!” he swears as he rushes into kitchen to investigate the smell.

She hears the fizzing sound of a fire extinguisher being used (trust Marc to have a working fire extinguisher in his apartment). Trembling, she stands up and walks up to him—she’s relieved to see that no real damage has been done.

“A plug point just randomly caught on fire,” he says, “must have been a surge that created a spark.”

She knows different—her teeth start chattering and her face turns ashen.

“Sarah,” he’s by her side in an instant, “Don’t worry—everything’s fine.” He looks at her, worried, knowing that she’s not the type to freak out turn hysterical. So what bothers her so much? “I’ll take you home,” he says, ever the gallant prince.

--

(At Sarah’s Apartment)…

She sits in the kitchen, elbows resting on the kitchen table, head buried in her hands. “It’s him. I’m sure it’s him.”

Elle looks at her like she’s lost it. “Sarah,” she says, concerned, “Who are you talking about?”

She looks at her roommate and shakes her head wearily. “I’ve had a long day,” she lies, “The fire disturbed me more than it should have. You should carry on with your plans.”

“Are you coming out of a massive coke high?” Elle asks suspiciously, “I’ve heard people get all kinds of paranoid, just take a few shots of tequila and everything will be okay.”

This makes Sarah snort with laughter. She’s only done coke twice in her life, just enough to give her a peppy high and not remotely enough to cause paranoia. Either way, coke and tequila sounds like a terrible mix. “I love your solutions, Elle.”

Elle does not laugh and her hazel eyes turn serious. “I’ve noticed that you’ve been acting strange ever since the Norwegian model came into your life…” her thought drifts off as she climbs atop a small ladder and places a wet paper towel on the smoke detector.

Lighting up a cigarette, Sarah takes a deep drag. “Thanks for letting me smoke here, Elle.”

“You smoke menthol lights and your eucalyptus oil technique works amazingly, so it’s okay.”

“You’re right, the Norwegian model is a…major pain in the ass,” Sarah says, pulling herself together. “He’s such an…UGH.”

“What did he do?” Elle asks curiously. That man looked like…well…he looked like he could do a great many things. Especially in darkened rooms under silken sheets.

Sarah shrugs.

“Come on, Sar,” Elle is nothing if not persistent, “WHAT did he DO? Is he an old boyfriend?” She looks a tad scandalized, “Is it a sex thing? It's a sex thing, isn't it?"

Sarah gives her a look to say ‘leave it alone.’

And that doesn’t work.

“Come on, tell me,” Elle insists. “Tell meeeeeeeeee, tell me, tell me, tell me, TELL ME,” she whines, and Sarah is reminded of her whiny ten year old brother—which, inadvertently, reminds her of the Goblin King.

“Elle, I wish you’d leave me alone.” Plastering her hand over her mouth the second she utters the words, she looks at her roommate, stricken, who seems to be…frozen, for the lack of a better word. She can hear the blood roar in her ears for just a split second before-

“Sarah. Sarah. Sweet Sarah.” The Goblin King’s deeply musical voice sounds hauntingly disturbing as his boots click against the hardwood floor. “You seem to have made another rather…careless wish.” His smile is absolutely vicious,” How fortunate for you, that I am here to grant it.”

She looks at him, eyes blazing. “I thought you said wishes didn’t work that way when I wished you’d go away.” She looks at him, shuddering as she takes in his image—he’s dressed in a midnight blue jacket and charcoal gray trousers, and on his head rests a crown of stars. The stark angles of his face are harshly drawn and his skin shimmers unnaturally. He feels so very different than the Jareth who had joked with her earlier that day—and yet, he also feels the same.

A razor sharp smile. “I chose not to grant that wish.” He circles the small kitchen table, eyes never leaving her face, “But this wish, sweet Sarah, I choose to grant this one.”

She stands up, stopping him mid-circle. “That’s not fair.”

He laughs a full throated laugh. “Haven’t we had this conversation sometime before?”

“There has to be some rules to your sick game, Goblin King,” she glares angrily, “What allows you to grant this wish?”

“You do not know?” he asks theatrically, it’s obvious she does not. “You chose to compensate my bill with apples, sweet, generous Sarah, and you made no objection when I told you that I was indebted to you.” He steps closer menacingly, smiling a malicious smile, “You accepted the debt.”

“Fucking bullshit,” she all-but-growls. “What have you done to Elle?” she asks, her poor roommate seems rooted to the spot, her face frozen and her eyes glazed.

He huffs for show, “Why, I’ve granted your wish of course. She is leaving you alone at the moment, no?”

Crossing her arms in determination, she grits her teeth, trying her best to swallow her temper. She has to keep her wits about her to win. “What do you want?”

A laconic brow, “What makes you assume I want anything from you?”

“First, you try setting Marc’s kitchen on fire. And now, you freeze Elle. What THE FUCK would it take for you to get the HELL out of my life?”

A flicker of emotion passes through his gleaming eyes as she says this, but it’s gone as quickly as it appears. “Nothing,” he says with a nonchalant shrug.

Her temper flares. Nothing? Nothing? Oh how she seethes. Forcing herself to calm down, she regains her composure. Somewhat. “Then why are you so determined to drive me insane?” her fists clench, as do her teeth.

“What I meant, my darling creature,” he says slowly, a gloved finger tracing her cheeks, “is that nothing will ever keep me away from you.” He grins wolfishly as she takes a step back. “I don’t want anything from you. I just want you.”

 --

 

Chapter Text

 

To say she’s shocked is an understatement—she’s flabbergasted. He wants her? “For what?” she asks, anxiety lacing her voice. “And for how long?”

A deliciously slow laugh. He looks at her, mismatched eyes gleaming, “Why, forever, precious.” His eyes rake over her form from head to two, eyes darkening. “As to what…”

Sarah shivers—some invisible thing reaches into her pajama top and caresses her back. Realizing that it’s his doing, her fear dissolves into pure, unadulterated rage. “Stop that.”

An amused glance. “As you like.” The caress stops.

“What do you want for unfreezing Elle?” She asks, taking out a cigarette with a shaky hand.

“At the moment? I want you to stop filling your weak mortal lungs with poison, Sarah,” Jareth says, no, he commands, eyes narrowed and voice positively icy.

She raises a brow. Who does he think he is, Karen? “Fine,” she says, putting the cigarette away. “Unfreeze Elle and go away.”

A hint of suspicion flickers in his eyes—as if he’s bargained too quickly and gotten the shorter end of the stick—but he isn’t deterred. Leaning into her menacingly, he places his face inches from hers. “I shall return tomorrow, Sarah,” he murmurs sinisterly, “Let us conclude this Goblin King story of yours, once and for all, hmm?”

Her eyes widen in surprise as she feels his warm breath rasp against her lips. She can’t help but wonder what his lips would feel like? Soft and coaxing, or rough and demanding? Blood creeps up her cheeks and her breathing hitches. She wonders what he tastes like.

“Sarah?”

Snapping out of her fantasy with a shiver, she glares at his conceited expression. Bastard looks like he knows exactly what she has been thinking. “Alright,” she answers, standing as tall as she can, “Let’s end this story, once and for all. You can poof in after lunch tomorrow.”

“Till then, My Lady.” He bows extravagantly. “Oh, and Sarah,” he says with his trademark smirk, “Realize that you’ve agreed to stop filling your lungs with poison. Are you to do so again, at any point of your short, mortal life, darling Elle will suffer the consequences.” Saying that, he disappears, laughing amusedly as he hears her curse.

Sarah fumes. Not literally. Who’d have thought the fucking Goblin King would be such an anti-smoker.

 --

(Unfrozen, Elle has left for a party. Marc is with Sarah in her apartment. 11 pm)…

Marc stares at her, his mouth wide open—he looks shocked and disturbed. “You don’t want to see me anymore because your so called Norwegian model is actually an obsessive Goblin King who wants you for himself, and he is willing to set my apartment on fire to get me out of the way.” He runs a hand through his wavy hair, “Sarah, I think you need to take a break from work.”

Groaning, she places her head in her hands for the second time that night. Something tells her it won’t be the last time she does this. “I know it sounds crazy, but forget about him for a second,” she steers the topic towards their ‘relationship’, “Let’s focus on us.”

He raises his brows—as lovely as he thinks she is, dating a woman undergoing a psychotic break involving Goblin Kings isn’t really his cup of tea. “I don’t think the breakup talk is required Sarah, we hadn’t even defined our…relationship.”

She rolls her eyes, “Not that. I think you should date Elle.”

He stops himself from asking if she’s insane. Poor Sarah is delusional, it’s probably best to skip words like insane, crazy, lunatic and the like. “What makes you say that?”

“Because I think someone like her would be well suited for someone like you.”

Gaping in disbelief, he asks, “You do realize this is the same Elle who said Smirnoff is for hobos and that every girl should get diamond solitaires on her sixteenth birthday and that her monthly hairdresser’s bill is equivalent to her rent?”

“Also the same Elle who volunteers at ASPCA, has excellent work ethic, and does her best to help anyone in need. She bought a homeless person a bottle of Grey Goose once,” Sarah offers, before trying another tactic. “Why did you date me, Marc?”

Marc shrugs, wondering if he’s stumbling head first into a trap. “You’re nice—smart, fun to hang around, driven.”

Smiling triumphantly, Sarah raises a finger as if to say a-ha. “Fuck nice, smart, and fun,” she states, “You described me like Karen does when she’s trying to set me up on a blind date.” Her smile deepens as he looks surprised. “Wouldn’t you rather throw all of your preconceived notions of dating and relationships right out the window and dive into something completely foreign? Something that’ll throw you off balance?” The irony of this lecture isn’t lost on her.

He wonders if editing all those romance books has finally made her snap, but he thinks there’s some truth to her words. “Let’s forget about Elle right now. I think I should take you to the hospital—you are delusional.” Type A Marc is nothing but logical during a crisis.

She groans. “I’m not crazy, Marc. I know you read legal contracts at work sometimes, so I need your help creating one.”

“Alright,” Marc agrees, indulging her. He’s had some experience in going over contracts for mid-cap infra companies—he doesn’t know how that’ll help her. But, he supposes, all legal contracts are somewhat similar—long, boring, and full of loopholes. Either way, the sooner he helps her with the contract, the sooner he can get her to a hospital.

They sit together and create a contract for the Goblin King to sign.   

--

(Sarah’s office, 7 am)…

“The outline’s perfect—give me three chapters by the end of next week. I sent you some manuscripts yesterday. Finish editing those by the end of the day.” Sanjay’s already had his second cup of coffee this morning—he’s full of energy.

“They’re already done. Check your inbox,” Sarah replies.

Sanjay looks up from his laptop, a bit concerned when he sees how tired she looks. “I sent you those at 1 in the morning.”

She shrugs. “I couldn’t sleep. I get productive when anxious.”

“Whatever’s going on, Sarah, I’m here if you need any help. Take the day off—I suggest you return home, make yourself a nice cup of cocoa and spike it with a generous helping of Baileys.”

Waving off his concern, she fumbles to come up with the right words. “Sanj…” she begins, hesitant, “…what made you go out with Michael?”

The question catches him off guard, but he humors her. “I can’t quite explain it logically, Sarah, but something about him drew me in.”

Noting how he doesn’t use the words nice, smart, and fun, she smiles—eyes brightening instantly, “…And you know everything’s going to work out in spite of his crazy schedule?”

Sanjay laughs. “You’re quite personal today, Sarah,” he says, tone friendly but surprised, “One never knows whether everything’s going to work out. I believe his work schedule will get sorted into something I find acceptable and that particular issue will get resolved. Where are these questions coming from?”

She makes a face, “Marc and I broke up…and I…met someone who is interested in me.”

“Let me guess—your filthy rich but unemployed Norwegian model who, coincidentally, doesn’t believe in credit cards?”

She rolls her eyes. “His name is Jareth, you know. Why does everyone insist on calling him my Norwegian model?”

He gives her a look as if to say ‘you’re the one who chose the ridiculous lie, now live with it.’ “It’s none of my business to dole out advice, especially since you’re not asking for any. But the man looks dangerous.”

She stares into space, “He is.”

Slamming his laptop shut, Sanjay stands up. This conversation is getting too personal for the workplace. “Come on, let’s get some breakfast.”

They walk to the diner two blocks away from the building. It’s quite busy with the before-office-hours crowd, but they manage to find a relatively isolated booth.

“Talk. I’m listening,” Sanjay says, signaling the waitress for two cups of coffee. He sends the cream and sugar tray back.

Not knowing where to begin and what to include, Sarah purses her lips. “Jareth seems to have been interested in me for a long time…and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t attracted to him…but he seems to want me…like own me or something…for eternity.”

“You’re not making sense, Sarah,” Sanjay says with a frown. “And what do you mean that he wants to own you for eternity? Does he believe himself to be Dracula?” Getting serious when she doesn’t laugh, he assesses the situation grimly. “Sounds extremely obsessive.”

“Yup,” her voice is now soft, “I don’t know what to do.”

“The most logical solution, and I say this considering I was deeply in love with an obsessive, older man at a young age, is not to enter a relationship with a maniac.”

She sighs, knowing that isn’t possible. “I feel like I’ll second guess my life forever if I don’t give it a shot. Screw him once maybe, you know, get him out of my system.”

Mimicking her sigh, he nods sympathetically, having been there before. “You’re in your mid-20s, Sarah—relationships are supposed to be easy. Not as angst ridden as your teen years and early 20s, and not as complicated as they will be in your 30s. I suggest you relax and do exactly what you like—if you must date this maniacal Norwegian model, then let him know your boundaries and make sure he agrees.”

“Any other advice?”

“Yes,” he states definitively, “Give yourself an out. Tell yourself, write it down if necessary, that if situation X occurs, then you will leave without question.”

Looking at him appreciatively, she nods in agreement. “Thanks Sanj, that’s a brilliant idea.” She’s going to put this in the contract immediately. “I’m taking the day off, like you suggested,” she says the last part rather quickly.

“I’m not going back on my word, Sarah. Think of it as a treat for finally coming to a compromise on your plot.”

She frowns. “That wasn’t a compromise—I agreed to every ridiculous point.”

He smiles at her outrage. “I’ll let you vent one last time, and then we’ll bury the integrity issues you have with your book, yes?”

She scoffs at ‘integrity’ issues. “Me? Vent about my pathetic loser of a protagonist whose goal in life is to end up barefoot and pregnant at 21, and her deranged, sexist asshole slash walking dildo of a love interest? What makes you think I want to vent about such a brilliant story line?”

He laughs. “Sarah,” he says in a chiding tone, “You’re such an elitist.”

“Look who’s talking,” she snorts with laughter. “Anyway—just so you know, that the whole ‘abortion hating-evolution denying-purity ring wearing’ crowd that we’re encouraging, is the same crowd that votes the worst kind of lunatics into power. So don’t be surprised if this book indirectly causes a nuclear holocaust.”

Sanj only reacts with a somewhat irritated smile. “Detachment, Sarah. Work on that.”

--

(Sarah’s apartment. 1 pm)…

The Goblin King stares at the woman sleeping on her pathetically small bed, dark circles under her eyes. Vanishing his gloves into ether, he runs his naked fingers through her hair. Unfortunately, he cannot allow her to continue resting—he’s here for a purpose after all. Her exhaustion will only work towards his advantage.

“Awaken, precious creature,” Jareth murmurs into her ear, grinning sharply as she jolts into an upright position.

Glaring at him, Sarah tries gaining some composure. “You’re here.” Dressed in, what looks like, black battle armor, he looks as intimidating as when she first laid eyes on him—perhaps even more so because of the crown of stars atop his silvery hair.

Jareth raises a brow, amused. “How observant on your part.” His lips part slightly when he sees fire blaze in her eyes.

Jumping out of bed, she leads him to her living room and sits down on the couch. “Um…” she starts, unsure how to begin the conversation. “Um…er…what…you…um.”

“Oh, Sarah, how eloquent you’ve become,” his eyes gleam viciously and his voice drips with sarcasm.

“Jareth,” she replies, considering bashing him on the head with her floor lamp. “We need to talk.”

A deep, slow laugh. “Yes, that’s why I’m here, precious creature,” his tone makes it sound as if she’s the dumbest being he’s ever encountered.

Sarah considers it a miracle that she is able to keep herself from grabbing the floor lamp and creating a Goblin King-sized dent in it. “You arrogant, annoying, bastard! Why don’t you start the conversation then, Your Most Eloquent Highness?”

Throwing his head back, Jareth barks a full-fledged laugh before looking at her, his gaze piercing as a hawk’s. “My darling girl,” his tone is deathly calm, “I thought you’d never ask.”

Rolling her eyes, she wonders if he’s memorized a list of sinister phrases, or he just comes up with them as he goes along.

Just at that moment, the intercom system buzzes and Marc’s voice is heard, “Sarah, I came to check up on you. Let me in.”

“Well, well, well. What have we here? By all means, let him in, Sarah.”

--

 

Chapter Text

 

--

 “Well, well, well. What have we here? By all means, let him in, Sarah.”

She hesitates—trying to think of something to make Marc go away. But he is persistent, “Sarah, I’m dialing 911 if you don’t answer me.”

Sighing in aggravation, she buzzes him in, her eyes on the Goblin King. “You said you won’t harm him,” she reminds the smirking monarch.

The Goblin King’s smile widens wolfishly, a wicked gleam in his eyes. “Me? I’d never even think of it, my dear,” he flops down on the sofa, legs stretched comfortably.

Rolling her eyes, she opens the door. “Marc—Do. Not. Freak out,” she says, emphasizing each word slowly. “The Goblin King is here.”

“Sarah, you’re delusional, we need to get to a hospital. NOW,” Marc says, hurriedly walking in through the door. He pauses, seeing Jareth sprawled out languidly on the sofa. He notices how different the man looks—sharper. Wilder perhaps. He seems to be wearing some kind of Game of Thrones costume and a shiny star headband that should look ridiculous…but instead, it exudes power.

“Hello, Sarah’s precious Marc,” The Goblin King says, not moving a muscle. “I try so hard to keep myself from harming you, yet you seem to enjoy trying your luck.” A razor sharp smile, “Perhaps I’ll have to take back my word, hmm, Sarah?”

“NO,” she says quickly, ushering Marc to the arm chair.

Getting over his initial shock, Marc glares angrily at strange man. “Have you drugged her? Are you some kind of freak who gets his kicks by fucking with someone’s mind?”

Sarah goes white. The Goblin King only smiles wider.

Marc isn’t finished. “You’ve clearly done something to her—I’m calling the cops this fucking second-”

“MARC,” she interrupts, “You need to shut up for a second.” She turns to Jareth, who now sports a dangerous gleam in his eyes, “Tell him.”

Huffing exaggeratedly, Jareth sits upright and plants his boot clad feet flat on the floor. “Marc,” he states authoritatively, “Humor Sarah for a while.”

Marc wonders whether he’s the one who’s hallucinating, but he decides to go along with the general bizarreness of the situation. “Alright,” he concedes. Of course, he doesn’t realize that the Goblin King has used just a tiny bit of compulsion to keep him compliant.

Forcibly clenching her hands so she doesn’t grab the floor lamp, Sarah glares at the Goblin King. “Marc and I wrote a…contract for…us.”

Jareth raises a brow and his lips quiver. “A contract, precious creature, whatever for?”

“If you want anything, anything, from me, you’ll have to sign the contract,” she says, trying to sound assertive. She hands him the ten page document that she and Marc worked on the night before. “Marc helped me with it so he’ll help answer any questions you might have... and he’s a witness.”

A slow, deep laugh. “Of course. Marc is a witness, is he?”” he asks softly, taking the document and flipping through the pages. He fixates his piercing gaze on her. “Very well, precious creature, I will allow it.”

Marc turns his head back and forth between Jareth and Sarah, wondering if they’re experiencing shared psychosis. He also wonders if he should be afraid.

Sarah seethes in anger. “Allow it?” Fire blazes in her eyes. “You better fucking allow it.”

Jareth tsks, his lips curl into a sneer. “Emotional outbursts are so…crass, Sarah, really. But I suppose you are human…”

Sarah’s temper resembles a volcanic eruption—as per her character, she turns extremely blunt when angry. “Jareth, do you want to date me or not?”

Jareth’s condescending smile evaporates from his face, leaving it neutral. “I do.”

“Then read and sign the fucking contract,” she snaps. There’s only so much patience Sarah Williams can spare and the Goblin King has had his share for the day.

--

(30 mins later)…

Marc cannot believe he’s sat for half an hour with Sarah and this strange man—answering all of his questions. He should be calling 911, shouldn’t he? Or the police? Or those people in charge of Area 51?

Jareth frowns. “How, in all the seven realms, is a serious relationship different from dating?” It’s taken the Goblin King every ounce of willpower to stop himself from tearing up Sarah’s ridiculous contract. For beings with such short lifespans, humans, it seems, have become far too complicated.

Sarah rolls her eyes—she’s explained the concept of dating at least three times already. “A serious relationship is when we decide to take it to the next level. Until then either party is free to date other people.”

Jareth’s eyes flash darkly. “Is that what you want?” His eyes drift to Marc and his lips thin into a straight line.

Sighing for the umpteenth time, Sarah replies harshly, “Yes. Don’t look at Marc like that, we’ve broken up. And didn’t you say you have three girlfriends?”

A slow smirk. “I would never use the term ‘girlfriends,’ precious—that was your assumption. I would call them…acquaintances.”

“You said you were dating three individuals,” she says angrily. The bastard is tricky with his words.

Jareth laughs deeply, his voice echoing around the small apartment, “Once again, precious, ‘dating’ was your term, not mine.”

Sarah hisses. “Fine. Whatever it is that you’re doing with these three individuals, you’re free to continue doing it until we become serious, if we ever become serious. And I am free to do the same.”

Giving her a sharp, calculating look, Jareth stands up abruptly. “Very well. I shall study this,” he looks at the document in contempt, “most detailed contract you’ve provided before I sign it.” Saying that, he disappears from the room.

(A few seconds of stunned silence follows)…

“What. The. Fuck.” A very confused Marc looks visibly shaken. “I’m hallucinating. Fuck. I’ve got to get back to work—how can I fucking work on the fucking derivatives model if I’m fucking hallucinating?” he babbles.

Rolling her eyes, Sarah grabs a can of iced green tea from the fridge. Trust Marc to think about work even when hysterical. “I told you he was the Goblin King,” she says in her ‘I told you so’ voice. “Drink this and count to ten.”

After doing just that, Marc calms down and looks at Sarah with concern. “You’re going to date that thing? Have you gone insane?”

She wonders the same thing. “It’s something I have to do… It’s like dating a starving artist—not something serious—you only do it to get it out of your system…you know?”

Marc stares mutely. He doesn’t know what she means at all.

--

(3 weeks later at a popular salad place, Thursday, during lunch hour)…

“That’s twelve chapters in three fucking weeks, in addition to your usual work load. I’m beginning to get concerned,” Sanjay says, digging into his chickpea and baby spinach salad.

Sarah shrugs. “My social life’s taken a pause, I guess,” she states—and it’s true. She hasn’t heard from the Goblin King, and Elle, after much convincing on Sarah’s part, has started going out with Marc.

“Keep going at this pace and you should be done with this book in a few months.” Sanjay is impressed.

Smiling grimly, Sarah nods. “That’s the plan. There are times I feel physically sick writing this shit.”

Sanj gives her a look to say ‘don’t be so dramatic.’ “Don’t start on your usual Bessie May rant.”

She rolls her eyes. “Yeah, well, we’re in deep, deep shit because of Bessie Mays and Jimmy Bobs. I feel like by writing this book, I’m becoming part of the problem. Spare me if I can’t help myself from ranting.”

“Jimmy Bobs?” Sanjay can’t help but laugh. “They’re in deeper shit, Sarah. We’re far better off than they will ever be--isn’t it smarter for you to let nature take its course, instead of ranting?”

“Really?” she asks disbelievingly, “My reproductive rights are in danger. You may not be allowed to get legally married. How am I better off—how are you better off for that matter?”

Sanj doesn’t miss a beat. “For one, I’m rich, I’m educated, and tax breaks are going to benefit me, not them. Should the economy tank, I’ve got my options open. And so do you, for that matter. Bessie Mays and Jimmy Bobs on the other hand, will only get poorer, more illiterate, and have shorter lifespans because they’ve just denied themselves the opportunity to have decent healthcare.”

She frowns—it sounds so cold when he puts it like that. “That’s not fair,” she says. “You’re the one who said people can’t help where they’re born and how they’re raised—that we may have had the same views were we in their place.”

“It isn’t fair—but life isn’t fair, is it?” Shrugging, Sanj says, “Darling, I’m brown and I’m gay—far be it for me to feel any sympathy for racist homophobes who vote against their own self interests. Let them get poorer and ply themselves with crystal meth and cheap alcohol.” He smiles a slightly evil smile, “As I’ve told you previously, all we’re concerned about is whether they buy the crap we’re selling them.”

Sarah’s about to reply when Michael joins them, salad bowl in hand.

“Ah, we’re talking about that,” Michael says, sitting next to Sarah after kissing his fiancé. “Let’s not. I’ve never understood why people vote against their own self-interests, and now, I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s not my problem.”

Having attended a socially liberal university that advocates class integration, Sarah is uncomfortable with that line of thought. “Shouldn’t we educate these people instead?” she asks, frowning when she sees the two older men grin at her naïveté.

Sanj replies, “That hasn’t worked across the pond and it hasn’t worked here—but, if that’s what you’d like to do, you should join the social sector. You’re in the private sector, Sarah—and as I’ve explained, books are commodities to be sold. Our job is to keep those numbers up.”

“You’re such a capitalist,” she scoffs, her tone accusatory.

Both the men laugh at that. Michael responds, “As are all humans, Sarah. ‘Capitalist’ isn’t an insult.”

--

(Saturday, after lunch)…

With Elle quite busy dating Marc, Sarah has quite a lot of time to herself. She opens a fresh page on a notebook and sets out to ‘define her goals’ as per the instructions in the new self-help book she’s read.

She writes down ‘consider changing careers’ as the first point—publishing isn’t remotely what she thought it would be. ‘Use Waggle’ she write as the second point—it’s a new dating app that she’s read about, that apparently is amazing for people in their mid-20s. ‘Volunteer for a good cause,’ she cringes at her wording—but it’s about time she started doing something that resonates with her beliefs.

Just as she’s thinking about the many different volunteer opportunities available, the Goblin King’s deep, melodic voice interrupts her thought. “You seem to be lost.”

Sarah jumps, staring at the smirking monarch in disbelief. Here he is—standing in her living room, as if he hasn’t disappeared for three weeks. He’s wearing form fitting dark jeans and a pale pink (seriously, pink), tailored shirt. His hair is wild around his angled face, and his eyes gleam amusedly. A small smile plays on his bow shaped lips, as if he’s cherishing her reaction.

After her initial surprise, Sarah gets angry. Blazing inferno of rage angry. “Where, the fuck, have you been?” she asks, her voice calm but shaky—as if the dam of volcanic lava is ready to overflow any second.

The Goblin King remains unfazed, his smile deepening. “I was reading your…contract, sweet Sarah. After all, I am a King—I don’t sign documents unless my council reads through every line and deems it safe.”

Just as she’s about to blow up, Sarah takes a second to calm herself down. “I can’t take this,” she mutters, heading to the fridge and pulling out two light beers. “Here,” she says, handing him one, “It’s a twist cap.”

“Based on your reaction, I’m going to assume you missed my presence in your life,” Jareth teases, tentatively taking a sip from the bottle she’s given him.

She looks at him warily. “You’re really unpredictable, Jareth. I don’t think dating you is going to be very smart, on my part.” Not that dating someone from Waggle is going to be any better—but hey, at least he wouldn’t be a powerful magical being who’d disappear for weeks on end.

“Too late, precious,” Jareth says, tone salacious, “You provided me with an agreement, an oath—I intend to hold you accountable.” He sits next to her, handing over her contract, signed. “I have agreed to most of your terms…however, there are some alterations and amendments.”

She growls. Only he would have the audacity to disappear for weeks and show up suddenly, demanding that she date him. “Such as?”

Jareth smiles toothily, “For one, neither party will ‘date’ other individuals during our courtship, no matter how…not-serious it is.”

“Okay,” she says, grudgingly. Waggle could wait.

Looking pleased with her quick reply, Jareth continues, “We will ‘date’ in my realm.” Jareth continues quickly before she can disagree, “To know me as I am, you will have to spend time with me in my realm, precious.”

She frowns. The bastard actually makes sense. “Only for dates,” she agrees warningly.

Jareth looks strangely excited. “Then we have an agreement,” he says, holding out his hand.

Breath catching in her throat, Sarah marvels at how damn cute he looks. Almost like a child opening a Christmas present. “We do,” she says, extending her hand to shake his—she feels a pulling sensation on her limbs and a flash of cool breeze on her skin.

--

When she opens her eyes, she finds herself in a room with stone walls decorated with intricately woven tapestries.

“Welcome to my realm, precious.”

--

 

Chapter Text

 

 “Welcome to my realm, precious.”

Staring mutely at the Goblin King, Sarah stands paralyzed with shock.

“Precious?” he asks when she doesn’t respond. “Sarah?” His voice is edged with worry. He expected a temper tantrum, a shouting match, or hysterics of some sort, but not utter silence.

“Why are you dressed in a pink shirt?” Sarah asks suddenly. “Seriously, why pink?” Walking towards the sitting area by the fireplace, she flops down on a comfortable looking couch and massages her temples. It’s been a long few weeks and she just can’t get her temper riled up.

Following Sarah somewhat hesitantly, Jareth warily sits down next to her. “I was…studying the fashions of your realm,” he says, frowning when a small smile twists her lips. “I came to the understanding that pink is in this season.” He mentally curses the stupid published manual called GQ—the damn thing had told him women go ‘crazy’ for men in pink.

Sarah almost chokes with laughter—the Goblin King studying current fashion trends indeed! “You look very Brooks Brothers in that outfit,” she says.

A brow raise. “Is that unappealing?”

She smiles slyly, “You’re so not a Brooks Brothers kind of guy.”

Stretching out his legs languidly, the Goblin King tosses a crystal in the air. In the flash of a second, he’s outfitted in form fitting dragon leather pants and a crisp white, tailored silk shirt. “No,” he says, eyes gleaming, “Perhaps not.”

 She marvels at the sudden change in his appearance before turning serious. “Send me back, Jareth,” she says, her voice flat, letting him know that she isn’t to be trifled with.

Crossing his arms sullenly, Jareth shakes his head. “You said you would ‘date’ me in my realm—you signed an oath, precious Sarah. I suggest you start upholding your promises,” he pauses and eyes her sharply, “or you will not like the consequences. My realm, my definition of ‘date.’”

Standing up jerkily, a murderous expression on her face, Sarah Williams is about to give the smug Goblin King an acidic verbal lashing, when her good sense, and possibly evolutionary self-preservation instincts, intervene. She notices that he is almost pouting, like a child throwing a tantrum—obviously, his tantrums hold some very serious threats, but the reaction itself is childlike.

“But this isn’t a date, Jareth,” Sarah explains, her tone patient, “You’d have to ask me first…and then I’d check if the time and date worked for me before saying yes, explicitly—and then we’d go on a date.”

Jareth waves off her explanation with a roll of his dual colored eyes. “That sounds more complicated than a coronation ceremony, precious. I’ve decided to ‘take charge’ and ‘give you an amazing experience’ instead of just ‘showing you a nice time.’”

She stares at him, dumfounded, before bursting into a fit of giggles. “Where the hell did you read that?” she asks, certain that those aren’t his words.

Jareth frowns. “I read it in a published manual called Cosmopolitan—taking charge of a date means creating a magical experience,” he smiles rather wolfishly, “I know just how to do that, precious.”

Sarah laughs until there are tears in her eyes. “Jareth,” she says in between breaths, “the Goblin King reading fucking Cosmo…” she reverts back to laughing hysterically. “All because you wanted to what? Impress me?” She collapses into a fit of giggles before looking at him for an answer.

Jareth, for his part, looks rather indignant. He is not used to being laughed at, and certainly not by a mortal woman. She’s supposed to be swooning at his feet, dammit—she’s supposed to be thanking her lucky stars that the Goblin King is trying to woo her. Instead, here she sits, laughing at him.

“Are you done, my darling?” he asks, his tone chilling. “I do have a wonderfully gilded tower room waiting for you, should you turn hysterical…” he lets his thought drift off, but the underlying threat is blatant. There’s no doubt that he is absolutely serious.

Her laughter dying immediately, Sarah looks into his frosty, mismatched gaze. She understands that arguing with him generally leads nowhere. The sooner she’s done with this ‘date’ the sooner he’ll send her back…and she can mourn Bessie Mays’ and Jimmy Bobs’ fuck-all decision.

Good Lord, she does not want to do that.

She spent all Friday night arguing in the comments section of a news article, with an opponent who claimed to be a partner in a top law firm. Of course, she’s used to the internet and knows the difference between an actual lawyer and a half-way literate person in the internet claiming to be a lawyer—an internet lawyer, if you will. Still, she’s not proud that she’d sunk low enough to argue with a complete moron for a few hours.

Sarah Williams decides to make a choice she wouldn’t have, in a normal world anyway. “Fine,” she says, shrugging casually, “take me on a ‘date’ Jareth. I’m all yours.”

--

(15 days later)…

“I need to start b-school now.” Marc Boulier isn’t kidding around—the poor guy, usually calm and composed, is close to losing it. This was not supposed to happen. “The last time a dumb-fuck decided to lower interests indefinitely and deregulate the markets, everything came crashing down. If I get into a one year program, I’ll have at least four to five years to make a fuck load of money before the next systemic crash. This is not the time for a serious relationship, Elle.”

Elle Larian isn’t one to take things lying down. She gives zero fucks about the next systemic crash. “I don’t see what starting business school has to do with relationships. If you want to dump me, asshole, just go ahead and dump me. Don’t come up with bullshit excuses.”

Marc scrubs his face with his hands, exhausted. “Elle, people get divorced in the middle of the program—that’s how draining it is. We may as well call it quits now. Amicably. Don’t blame me—blame the people making 70 k who’re dumb enough to think they’re rich and the government is out to tax them, they’re the ones who voted us into this mess. Well, them and the racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, women-hating, semi-literates.”

Fire burns in Elle’s hazel eyes. “Fuck them. And fuck you for being such a coward.” That’s all she says before slamming the door on his face. “I fucking hate him, and I fucking hate you for convincing me to go out with him in the first place,” she tells a stunned Sarah.

“Um,” Sarah starts, unsure of what to say, “At least you know you feel something for him?”

Elle rolls her eyes. “An intense, burning hate. Such a practical bastard.”

“That he is,” Sarah agrees, “He’s still behind the door you know…maybe you guys should take a walk? Get some coffee? Talk things over…amicably?” she asks with a small smile.

Elle sighs, she knows she should end things on a good note. Mock-glaring at Sarah, she opens the door—not surprised to see a haggard looking Marc just standing there, a mop of curly brown hair over his eyes. “This calls for something stronger than just coffee. It calls for Café Patron,” she says, shutting the door behind her.

--

(2 hours later)…

Sarah sits in front of the bathroom mirror, applying eyeliner as carefully as she can, prepping herself for her third ‘date’ with the Goblin King.

Surprisingly, the first two dates have gone well—for the first date, he gave a tour of his vast private art collection.

For the second date, he took her through the pinewood forest that surrounds the castle, to a picturesque clearing, where he conjured up an impromptu picnic. It was a bit cheesy and not exactly her style, but she enjoyed herself nonetheless.

He’s made it a point to act as the perfect gentlemen for the first two dates—he’s only kissed her lightly on the lips, lingering for a few seconds. Leaving her wondering what a real kiss would feel like. Blushing slightly, she recalls some extremely…vivid dreams she’s been having lately—she wonders what his angle is—perhaps he’ll pounce on her today, on their third ‘date,’ as per Cosmo’s usual advice.

Adjusting her black, Breakfast at Tiffany’s style dress, she screws in old-fashioned, pearl drop earrings in each ear. She opts for a delicate platinum chain necklace with a diamond-studded horse shoe pendant and four inch heeled black leather pumps to complete the outfit. She lets her hair hang loose.

--

(1 hour later)…

“Precious Sarah,” he purrs into her ear, “How are you enjoying your first Goblin soiree?”

She’s interrupted by the rest of Jareth’s guests, who’ve crowded around the games table.  

“I got 99 problems but – TIGHT PANTS – ain’t one.”

(A few seconds of raucous laughter, followed by sneaky looks towards the Goblin King’s crown jewels)…

They seem to be having fun,” she says, finding it hilarious that the Cards Against Humanity game she brought is a success with these faeries? Elves? Non-green goblins? Whatever these magic people are.

“If you can’t handle – AN ERECTION THAT LASTS LONGER THAN FOUR HOURS- you’d better stay away from – TENTACLE PORN.”

(A few seconds of raucous laughter, followed, once again, by sneaky looks towards the Goblin King’s crown jewels)…

Sarah smirks at him, a brow raised. Tentacle porn, hmm.

Looking at his guests with a sour expression on his face, Jareth leads her away to a corner, “Excuse my guests, precious, they seem to have caught a sudden case of stupidity.”

She laughs. “Can’t say they’re not entertaining,” she offers. This party, or soiree, to use Jareth’s terms isn’t quite what she was expecting. This is the first time she’s actually met any of his peers, apart from goblins that is, and she thinks they’re nice. Strange, but nice.

Elana AKA girlfriend number 1 is here with her husband and his mistress, and she has been perfectly agreeable—she and the mistress seem to have something going on as they keep kissing amidst fits of laughter. The husband, who’s also sharp featured, onyx eyed, and lavender haired, doesn’t seem too happy about that.

Girlfriend number 2 can’t make it as she, weirdly enough, is a mermaid. She wonders how the mechanics of that works—just how did they have sex, anyway? And lastly, girlfriend number 3 is a vampyr travelling through the seven realms for the next few centuries—and apparently she’s taken off for the Ream of Two Moons. Wherever that is.

Sarah sighs, taking a sip of wine. His dating life is so much more interesting than hers—she’s almost jealous.

“After blacking out during New Year’s Eve, I was awoken by – ELF CUM.”

(A few seconds of raucous laughter followed, once again, by sneaky looks towards the Goblin King’s crown jewels)…

This time, she’s too curious to resist. “Why the fuck do they keep looking at your crotch?”

The Goblin King mutters something darkly before glaring at the boisterous crowd, “Because they are buffoons.”

She decides to let that go. “Elana and her husband’s mistress are sure going at it,” she observes—they’ve now moved to the other side of the room—the mistress moans while Elana caresses a breast through her dress—the husband sits grumpily at the games table, ignored. Sarah turns beet red and turns away as the lavender haired woman starts unlacing the mistress’s dress.  

A delighted laugh. “You are shy,” Jareth murmurs, his lips moving against the sensitive skin of her ear.

Shivering lightly, she tries putting some space between the two of them, but finds herself trapped against the wall. How had the bastard backed her into a corner so easily?! “So,” she begins, refusing to play this predator-prey game he has going on. “Can I go home now?” she asks softly before pulling him closer and whispering into his ear, “Or do you have something else planned?”

--

 

Chapter Text

 

--

She mimics his trademark smirk and watches the Goblin King with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes as he stares at her, open mouthed. “Do you?”

Jareth scowls, suddenly sullen. First, his guests have turned into raging buffoons thanks to Sarah’s game, and now she seems to be seducing him. The nerve. Seduction is his game, dammit! And he, the King of the Goblins, has an excellent plan, thanks to the human manual called Cosmopolitan. Jareth stands tall, his mouth grim, he’s definitely not going to let Sarah Williams ruin his meticulous plans. Again.

Eyeing him suspiciously, she leans back—she’s given him an opening to zap them into his room and ravage her senseless, and yet he stands there looking irritated. “Jareth?”

Regaining his kingly composure, Jareth sighs coolly. “Right,” he says, his tone bored, “I’ll send you home in a bit.”

“What?” she can’t help but blurt out.

“To answer your question, yes, you can go home,” he says smoothly, stopping himself from laughing as her eyes widen with surprise. “Allow me to socialize a little with my guests—after that, I’ll take you back.” And with that, he walks over to the games table, leaving her open mouthed.

The bastard. The utterly deplorable bastard. She knows he’s up to something. Taking a smoky looking cocktail from a server, she walks towards the massive balcony. Gazing at the moon, she decides to, as Elle would say, live a little dangerously.

--

(20 mins later)…

That should do it, he thinks to himself smugly—she’s probably wondering about his feelings for her and the anticipation is probably driving her mad. And wild. Ha! The advice in the manual had catered to human females trying to attract human males—but in this case, it seemed to work wonderfully for him.

Jareth frowns as he nears the mortal woman. Instead of sitting there confused and lost in thought, she’s talking and worse, laughing, with that repulsive little scab of a dwarf. Not if he can help it!

“Hello, Hedgewart,” the Goblin King says, eyes narrowing ominously as he looks at the suddenly nervous dwarf. “I didn’t know you had received an invitation to my soiree.” He smirks as the dwarf jumps up fretfully. “Especially as I do not recall sending you one.”

“Yer Majesty,” Hoggle says, bowing as low as he can, “I is only here to talk to the little lady—didn’t mean to crash your soiree.”

Stalking closer to the dwarf, Jareth chuckles darkly. “Yes, well you have. And you will be punished.”

“Yer Majesty,” Hoggle grovels miserably, “Take pity-”

“Stop bullying him,” Sarah cuts in, fury alight in her jade eyes. “And his name is Hoggle.” She steps in-between the menacing monarch and sniveling dwarf, her arms crossed.

The Goblin King smiles a feral smile, sudden possessiveness flaring into life. “This is my kingdom and I shall do as I please, lovely Sarah,” his voice is pleasantly calm. “I see you’re enjoying the opportunity to play heroine again. Defending poor little Higgle from the evil Goblin King.”

“Hoggle,” Hoggle corrects, whimpering as the King’s furious eyes turn to him.

Sarah takes a step towards the Goblin King, fire burning brighter in her eyes. “You threatened him first.”

A slow smirk. “He attended my soiree uninvited.”

“For fuck’s sake, he didn’t want to attend your fucking soiree, he came here to talk to me.” Blood runs hot in her veins. “This is between us, Jareth, take it up with me.”

Hoggle gasps, his wrinkled face turns white. “Sarah,” he says, aghast, “You do not know-”

“Do shut up, dear Hogwart,” the Goblin King’s silky voice interrupts the poor dwarf, an absolutely savage smile on his face. “Very well, my precious Sarah,” he croons, inching closer to the somewhat wary mortal, “I accept.”

Just like that Hoggle disappears from balcony and the moonlight dims around them. The boisterous noise of the party inside dies out. Sarah narrows her eyes, did Jareth suddenly have a riding crop in his hand?

“What did you do to him?” she demands, face flushing. The three smoky cocktails from earlier, made with God knows what, work to fuel her anger. “You can take me home now,” she says a little too boldly.

“I sent him back to the gate, where he should be,” Jareth says, calm as ever, tapping the leather crop against his boots in a slow rhythm. “As for taking you home…” he lets the sentence trail off, still tapping the crop against his boots. Tilting his head to the side, his smile widens as he notices a slow blush spread up her neck.

“I’d like to go back now, Jareth,” she says, taking a step back.

“Come, come Sarah,” he stalks towards her slowly, eyes locked onto hers. “How can I take you home, when you so…heroically decided to take up, to use your words, Hogkins punishment?”

“WHAT?” Sarah fumes. “His name is HOGGLE.”

Standing less than half-a-foot away from her, he trails the crop up her arms, placing the feathered tip under her chin, holding her head in place. “You really should stop saying things rashly, precious. Although I cannot say that I am…displeased with the outcome of this particular situation.”

How – in the actual fuck – has she landed up in this predicament? Sarah’s mind races with the implications of the word punishment, her eyes automatically focusing on his riding crop. This time, her blood runs hot with a sudden wave of desire.

Delighted that she’s at a loss for words, for once, Jareth uses the opportunity to grasp one of her hands with his. “Let us take this discussion to a more private setting.”

--

She stands in the middle of his massive room, eyes focused on his every move. The bastard lounges comfortably on an armchair by the fire, and he sits there with a smile that would put the Cheshire cat to shame. “This,” she cringes as her voice wavers, “This is getting ridiculous, Jareth.”

A laconic brow. “Oh?” He tugs a glove off of his fingers with his teeth, and he does the same with the other. His eyes never leave her face as he removes his jacket and cuffs. Cosmopolitan has served well to confuse Sarah—his original plan was to make her chase him until his ego had been fed. But now…the idiot Higgle has inadvertently thrown a golden opportunity right into his lap. An opportunity he cannot resist.

Running a nervous hand through her long hair, she’s beginning to feel a tad bit fearful. Fuck the riding crop—he can technically say that living in the Underground, in the dungeons of his castle, is suitable punishment. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck times infinity. She has to think of something quick.

Deeply amused laughter reverberates around the stone chambers. “I’ve never seen you at such a loss for words, my precious Sarah. I have to say, quite refreshing for a change.” He removes his boots and cocks his head to the side.

“Alright,” she concedes with a casual shrug, “Punish me. Then send me home, I have work to do.”

He frowns at her unruffled tone. The clever girl has regained her composure quicker than expected. No matter—he’s sure he can render her speechless again. Smiling wickedly, he leans back on the armchair, resting his legs on the ottoman. “So eager,” he drawls, smile deepening as uncertainty flashes through her eyes. “Take off your clothes,” he commands, making a lazy circle in the air with his riding crop.

What in the what?! “Is this how you punish Hoggle?” She stares at him, incredulous.

“Decidedly not,” he snorts. Standing up fluidly, he suddenly crosses the room to where she stands and slips an arm around her waist, pulling her against him. “Will you let me punish you, precious?” he whispers into her ear.

Sarah almost jumps when his lips move against the sensitive skin of her ear, his breath feels warm against her skin. Tiny hairs on her neck stand up and her skin tingles from head to toe. The thought of him punishing her sounds so…depraved. And hot. And a wicked combination of both. “I thought I didn’t have a choice,” she counters, wondering how the situation had escalated so quickly.

“Oh Sarah,” he says, a hand cupping her chin. “You always have a choice. Unless…” his tone has a slightly condescending edge to it, “You are afraid.” He smiles as she huffs, “In which case, I will be happy to send you home where you can…play with your toys.” Saying that, he saunters back to the arm chair and lounges languidly. One leg stretched out on the ottoman, the other planted firmly on the floor.

Sarah’s conscience splits into two halves—one half wages war against the other. The saner half reminds her that the Goblin King is not to be trusted—that she better run for the hills when she has the chance. The wilder half reminds her that she’d probably fuck him sometime in the future anyway…so why not now? Hell, life is short, one should experience anything and everything one can. One does not simply run away when a nightmarish fairytale king offers himself and his…multifaceted services on a silver platter.

Alright, shut up, the sane half says, conceding, you win.

In spite of his cool demeanor, Jareth wonders whether he has underestimated her once again. He’d thought that goading her about being fearful would enrage her enough to challenge him further. Instead she stands there with a calculating look in her eyes.

Her mind made up, Sarah smiles slowly. Raising a challenging brow, she unzips her dress.

Jareth looks at her, eyes blazing. It takes centuries of training to keep his mouth from hanging open as she steps out of her black dress—now clad only in the flimsy undergarments that modern mortal women wear, and tall, tall shoes. His eyes darken as he takes in her form and his arousal strains against his already-too-tight pants. “Stop,” he says, when she reaches for the clasp of her bra.

Sarah’s mouth goes dry and her core sizzles with heat—moisture soaks into the lacey fabric of her panties as she stands there, watching him as he watches her. Her pulse quickens as she awaits his instructions—her skin becomes unbearably hot with every passing second.

Running his tongue against his pointy teeth, Jareth grips his riding crop—forcibly keeping himself from striding to where she stands. He smiles a little as he notices her reactions—anticipation will only heighten her desire…and his. “Lie down on the bed,” he demands.

She raises a brow. “My shoes?”

“Keep them on.”

Ah. The Goblin King has a fascination with high heels, she thinks, slowly making her way to the bed. Flipping her hair to the side, she climbs onto his, rather intimidating, bed and lies down in the middle. She struggles to look at him—he still sits on the arm chair, hand gripping his riding crop, eyes intent on hers. She wonders how long he’s going to make her wait, and she’s about to say something, when he stands up in his graceful manner, and walks towards her.

Jareth is painfully hard—the sight of her laid out on his bed. In those flimsy undergarments…and in those shoes. He almost groans. “Sa-rah,” he savors her name, tilting his head to the side as he sits at the foot of his bed. “Are you certain you want this?” He runs the feathered tip of the riding crop up her leg.

Sarah’s heartrate reaches new heights and desire floods her body in waves. The bastard hasn’t even touched her yet…how the fuck does he have this effect on her body? “I am almost naked on your bed, what do you think?” she questions, her voice hazy with need.

Jareth stills as he takes her in, his body tense, eyes still locked with hers. Suddenly, he reaches for her bra and he magicks it off of her. “Then let us begin,” he says, voice hoarse—in a movement too quick for her to follow, he takes both of her wrists and binds them to the headboard with the straps of her bra.

--

 

Chapter Text

 

--

Her eyes are as wide as saucers as she stares at him. Great job, Williams, her mind screams, what if he suddenly goes all Sweeny Todd on you?

The way he’s looking at her…oh God…he looks as if he’s a starving man and she’s the main course. “Jareth…” her voice comes out unsteady, “Just so we’re clear, you’ve tied me up...”

“I have,” his voice is soothing—like he’s humoring a child. Taking his leather crop, he runs the feathered tip across the valley between her breasts, down her stomach—lingering at the soft flesh right below her navel.

She tries pulling her arms, surprised to find that her flimsy bra straps seem to be quite strong—he’s probably used magic. “…and you’re not letting me go.”

A slow, crooked smile and a flash of teeth. “No.”

The lights in the room suddenly die out—silvery moonlight illuminates the room. There’s a crisp, resounding crack—not unlike the lash of a whip.

Sarah gasps.

--

(A few seconds later)…

A profoundly confused Goblin King lies on the bed with his hands tied to the headboard. Sarah sits beside him with his riding crop grasped in her hand—still naked save for her flimsy panties and sky high shoes.

It’s Sarah’s turn to smile slowly while touching his nose with the feathered tip of the crop. She speaks in a low and sultry voice, mocking his earlier tone, “I’m going to assume that you magicked the contract I made you sign. Bad decision.”

“What is the meaning of this,” Jareth’s voice is surprisingly quiet. He tries using magic to untie the bonds, but it doesn’t work.

“My boss gave me really good advice, my precious Jareth, he said I should give myself an ‘out.’” She straddles him, knees on either side of his hips. “I did something better—all 15 subsections of point number 12 state that should you restrain me magically, and refuse to let me go, our roles shall be reversed—and you will find yourself in the exact position that you had intended for me. That’s why, I’m guessing, you can’t magic yourself out of your…predicament.”

The Goblin King keeps his breathing calm, fighting the immense mélange of lust and fury raging under the surface. “I did not read any such point, and neither did my council.”

Sarah grins, using the crop, she pushes a mop of wild hair out of his eyes. “You’re tricky with words, Jareth, I learned my lesson with the whole apples thing. We, humans, can be tricky as well--we make people study for years just so they can twist words around. It looks like your council failed to recognize modern human jargon.”

“Well then, you seem to have me at a disadvantage, sweet Sarah,” Jareth lilts, eyes darkening as they focus on her exposed breasts. “What now?” He raises a challenging brow—daring her, almost.

What now, indeed. The dark intensity of his gaze makes her flush—her breathing hitches. “Send me home,” she has to try twice before finding her voice. How is it that the bastard can seduce her with his hands tied behind his back?

Soft, yet arrogant laughter. “I believe you will have to untie me first.”

She scoffs. “I’m not stupid Jareth—whatever you’ll do next...” she leans into him, face inches from his—nipples brushing slightly against his silk shirt. “I have a feeling I won’t like it.”

Jareth’s dual eyes darken even more as he feels her heat. “Then we seem to be at an impasse, my precious creature.”

Feeling bolder by the second, Sarah traces the lines of his face with her fingers. “There must be some other way you can send me back,” she insists.

A laconic brow. “Convince me,” he demands, fighting the urge to shut his eyes and lean into her touch.

She’s about to snort at the sheer arrogance in his voice, when she sees his outline in the silvery moonlight. Wild, pale gold hair, ethereal features, the sharp lines of his face, the curve of his lips—her breath catches in her throat, he is sensuality personified. Holding his gaze, she swoops down and brushes her lips against his in a quick kiss, and pulls away.

This time, he doesn’t bother restraining himself. He leans into her caress as much as his restraints allow. “Convince me,” he repeats—slightly breathless.

She doesn’t know what possesses her to do it - perhaps it’s the hunger in his eyes, or perhaps it’s his reaction to her touch - Sarah Williams swoops down and kisses him again. She parts her lips slowly, deepening the kiss, tasting him, but pulling away before he can taste her. Her breathing becomes labored as a dull, aching pulse settles in-between her legs.

A small sound escapes the back of his throat as she lowers herself onto him.

“Shhh,” Sarah whispers softly, as she pulls away, outlining his lips with the feathered tip of the riding crop. “Convinced, now?”

He laughs with abandon, tugging against his restraints one last time. If only he could break free—the things he would do to her. “You are a timid little thing aren’t you, Sarah—you start playing the game and then you turn back...”

Giving him a wickedly gleeful smile, she presses herself against his hardened arousal that’s straining against his leather pants—satisfied as he groans. “Not too timid,” she says, fully aware that she’s wet with need. She moves against him slowly, “Convinced?”

His breathes harder, faster—the hunger in her hooded eyes only spurs his own. If she continues moving against him, he’s sure to spill himself in his pants, like a young boy. This certainly isn’t how he had envisioned the night to go—but then again, Sarah Williams was somewhat of an expert in ruining his plans. “Sarah,” he groans as she grinds against him.

“Convince me, Goblin King.” Her voice comes out shaky—she’s close to the edge herself.

Breathing heavily, he concedes, “You’ll find a crystal on my writing desk. You may use it to wish yourself home. Untie me, now.”

She immediately jumps off the bed and pulls up her black dress—glad that she can get away without wearing a bra. Grabbing the crystal, she walks back towards his bed, smiling sweetly as the Goblin King glares at her angrily.

“Untie me, this instant.”

Sarah winks at him playfully, “And face your wrath, I don’t think so.” She grabs his riding crop from the bed and studies it. “I think I’m going to borrow this, Jareth.” With that parting shot, she takes a look at the crystal and wishes herself home.

“SARAH!” A very frustrated Goblin King screams as she disappears from his sight.

--

(The next morning)…

“Your Majesty, the court awaits your presence.” Jareth’s personal assistant, Grym the Goblin, says from outside his chambers.

Oh the humiliation. “Come in, Grym,” Jareth commands, adding, “Shut the door behind you immediately.”

Grym winces at the harsh tone—his King seems to be in a terrible mood, and that normally means at least three boggings before breakfast. He goes in hurriedly, only to gawk, open mouthed, as he sees his sovereign tied to the bed with some rather strange looking restraints.

“Pull up your jaw and untie me. THIS INSTANT.”

Grym doesn’t have to be told twice. He frees his King with trembling fingers.

“Get out,” the Goblin King hisses once he is free. “Oh and Grym,” his voice is deceptively calm, as he watches his assistant scurry away, “Speak of this to anyone and the bog will be the least of your worries.”

Stepping out of bed, the Goblin King laughs maniacally as he considers all the different ways through which he can seek vengeance. He’s going to lull her into a false sense of security for some time, and then…then, he’s going to strike. Sarah Williams may have won the battle, but he, most assuredly, will win the war.

But first, he’s going to deal with his incompetent council.

--

(2 Weeks Later)…

“This scene…as intriguing as it would have been, had I been straight, doesn’t work for New Adult.”

Sarah crosses her arms adamantly. “But it’s such a great scene—he’s been a very bad King and needs to be punished.”

Sanjay sighs, possibly for the millionth time since he’s hired Sarah. “New Adult, Sarah. You forget the genre of your novel quite often. You don’t require any plot twists or quirky side stories—you’ve got your ‘nice girl’ protagonist, your sexy Goblin King, two conflicts—‘willfulness’ and ‘beautiful slutty exes,’ and your ‘marriage and babies’ resolution.”

She rolls her eyes, but doesn’t say anything.

“I want you to do something for me—in addition to everything else we’ve discussed, assume Bessie May has major daddy issues.”

“What now?”

Sanj shrugs matter-of-factly. “More than fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, and mothers have always been more likely to receive primary custody of the children. The love interest, your Goblin King, should fulfil an authoritarian slash father-figure role of sorts—he is the sole provider of luxury goods, premium lifestyle, endless reassurances, and discipline. He never gets tied up. Ever.”

“Fine,” she grumbles, possibly for the millionth time since she’s been a junior editor. “Anything else?”

“No,” he beams, “We’ll do some final edits and publish it right away. Just in time for winter break.” He thinks for a few moments, “You should add some Christmas themes—that way we’ll publish it with a holiday cover.”

She rolls her eyes. “Fine,” she grumbles again, “I’ll do that tonight.”

Looking at the time, Sanjay narrows his dark eyes. “It’s 8 pm on a Friday night, no plans?”

“Nope.”

“Norwegian model still in the picture?”

She shrugs, “I haven’t heard from him in two weeks…so probably not.”  The sulky bastard.

“You’ve churned out an insane amount of work in a very short period of time, Sarah. You deserve a fucking break.” Sanjay shuts his laptop with a snap, “Let’s get some drinks at The Box.”

--

(1 hour later, at The Box)…

“OH MY GOD,” Elle says after Sanjay introduces himself, “Are you from the same family that had that wedding?”

Giving Sarah an annoyed glance, Sanjay responds, “Probably.”

Elle squeaks. “Did you hire those private jets? Fly your guests from Venice to the Maldives? Give each guest a diamond studded statue?”

Sanjay’s mouth curls in distaste. “My cousin had a garish spectacle of a wedding. Please do not associate me with it.”

“Oh,” Elle says, tempering down, “Um, does your cousin plan on visiting New York any time soon?”

He glances at Sarah again—this roommate of hers is ridiculous. “Next month. Are you planning on stalking her?”

“I work for Serein,” Elle says, as if that explains her strange fascination with Sanjay’s cousin.

He raises a brow. “And that is?” he asks, still looking at Sarah, who’s trying hard not to burst out laughing.

“It’s a premium wedding magazine,” Elle explains, “I’d KILL to score an interview with your cousin about her wedding.”

“By all means, I’ll pass on your contact information. Sarah,” he says, “I’ll leave you with your friend…try and live a little. Don’t kill yourself with work.” He insists on getting the check before leaving.

--

(4 hours later at a random bar, 1 am)…

“I think I’ll make a killer dominatrix.” Four sugary cocktails down, Sarah’s feeling more than a little tipsy.

Marc gapes at her. “Wow…you never told me this when we were going out!” For a man who doesn’t drink too much, he’s quite tipsy having consumed three glasses of wine.

“She only found out recently,” Elle cuts in, giggling a little too loudly. She’s way over the tipsy line. “Sarah left Mr. Model tied up, all hot and blue balled. And she stole his whip thingy.” She giggles again before looking at Marc. “Why’re you here again? I hate you.” Elle’s an honest drunk.

Marc looks a little hurt. “I thought you were over-”

“Stop talking already,” Elle cuts in. She can also be an obnoxious drunk. “Call him. Call him, like, now,” she tells Sarah.

Marc pales. Unlike Elle, he knows the truth about Sarah’s ‘model.’ “It’s a good thing he’s out of your life, considering what he is.”

Sarah shakes her head. “Maybe I went a little too far—I should have left him untied.”

“He could have hurt you, Sarah,” Marc says, the voice of reason, “Why’d you tie him up in the first place?”

Sarah flushes. “It’s complicated.”

“You know what this calls for?” Elle questions, while the other two stare at her, wondering what she means by ‘this.’ She hasn’t heard a word of their conversation. “Café Patron shots!”

--

(Late morning, the next day)…

“Why does he have to be so nice?” Elle rages, holding her head, trying to ease her headache. Marc had dragged both inebriated roommates home last night, and he’d made sure they were safe. “I wouldn’t hate him so much if he wasn’t so fucking nice.”

Sarah laughs, wincing as the room spins a little. “Just tell him you may be in love with him—it might change things between the two of you.”

Dead silence follows.

“I may be in love with Marc,” Elle says softly. Her eyes widen. “I MAY BE IN LOVE WITH MARC,” she screeches before dashing into her room and grabbing her coat. “Thanks Sar! I’m going to go talk to him right now,” she says, hastily running for the door.

She’s quick to take advice, Sarah muses, making herself an espresso. Opening up her laptop, she thinks of ways to insert Christmassy things into her storyline. She can’t help but wonder if the real Goblin King has simply lost interest in her.

And then, she wonders why that particular thought bothers her so much.

--

 

 

Chapter Text

--

(One month later)…

She takes a glass of champagne from the bar counter and eyes various small groups of people dispersed across the hotel ballroom. Sighing, she takes a sip—the company’s annual Christmas Gala is always so boring. Sanj has already left, but she has to stay—not so much as an employee but as a first time published author. She snorts at the thought—she published under the name Gracie Lou McLovin so she shouldn’t even count as a first time author.

Her book [Gracie Lou’s book, rather] Entrapped by Love, she winces as she recalls the name, has done far better than she had ever expected. Which, of course, has left her to cry at the fate of humanity, but has also increased her bank balance by a hefty margin. A significantly hefty margin. If sales figures keep going up, she can haggle for a two-book contract—which will give her enough money to buy a decent apartment, travel a bit, and, most importantly, it will buy her time to write a real book.

She’s had to play the perfect charmer tonight, an ingénue with just a touch of sophistication—she wears a color-blocked black and white gown paired with her black pumps. Her hair sits atop her head in an elegant upswept twist and she’s wearing Karen’s solitaires on her ears. Her makeup is simple enough—kohl rimmed eyes and dark, burgundy lipstick—but combined with her outfit and jewelry, her overall look is striking. Striking enough to make a pair of mismatched eyes widen and they take in her image.

“What should I do with you, precious creature?”

Sarah jolts visibly as she hears the Goblin King’s deep timbre—she pales, there’s a silent threat hidden in his words. Whirling around to look at him, her eyes sweep over his form appreciatively. He wears a bright navy, slim fitting suit with a crisp white shirt—a combination Elle would approve of—with cap toed brown shoes. His hair is shorter than ever, making the harsh angles of his face stand out even more.

“I do not like this human drink,” comes a smooth, unfamiliar, feminine voice.

Turning a little, Sarah notices that the Goblin King has brought a…date? A beautiful date by the looks of it—she’s a tall, slim, woman with flowing locks of red hair, and eyes a shade of marine blue that’s reminiscent of the ocean. Sarah narrows her eyes, she looks exactly like the real-life version of-

“Ariel,” the woman says, holding out her hand, “Pleasure to meet you.”

Sarah stands there, mutely for a few seconds. So that’s girlfriend number two. “Ariel as in the little mermaid?”

The woman raises a perfectly arched brow. “Mermaid is a crude term. I am a marine nymph.”

Shaking her hand, Sarah blushes at her faux pas. “Sarah. Uh…pleasure to meet you as well, Ariel.” She turns to the Goblin King, who’s watched this exchange with a feline smile, “You’ve magicked yourself into my gala. You shouldn’t have bothered, it’s really boring.”

“Ariel wanted to see humans…in their natural habitat. So I thought I’d bring her to your little gathering.” His voice is absolutely smug.

“In their natural habitat?” Sarah questions, looking from one fairytale creature to the other. What an oddly sinister thing to say.

“The humans here are so lively,” Ariel says with a smile—a flash of dazzling white teeth. “We have some humans in our depths, but they are not so…animated once they drown and are resurrected.”

A shiver runs up Sarah’s spine—not that Ariel then. “Um, okay. Have fun,” she says, whirling around to make a quick exit—only to feel the Goblin King’s steely fingers grasp her wrist.

“Come, come, Sarah,” the smile on his face becomes feral, “I’ve kept you entertained in my realm. It’s only fair that you return the favor.”

She’s afraid now—she can’t afford to create a commotion here—not with so many people around. “Alright,” she concedes, “You can let go of my wrist.”

“Give us some privacy, Ariel.” The Goblin King tells his marine nymph, his tone bordering on commanding.

“Of course, I’m going to observe these humans,” Ariel says with a curious twinkle in her eyes. “Thank you, Your Highness,” her voice takes a sultry tone. Saying that, she entangles a delicate hand in his hair and kisses him on the mouth. Deeply. With skilled lips and tongue.

Sarah can’t help but stare at the passionate display, her mouth wide open and her face flushing deep red—perhaps with embarrassment, and perhaps something else. Her heart beats wildly in her chest, and blood roars in her ears. It’s only when she feels like throwing the contents of her glass in Jareth’s face, that she realizes she’s jealous. Stark, raving jealous.

A wicked, toothy grin. “Ariel has the most appreciative way of showing gratitude,” the Goblin King says, clearly amused. “Sarah?”

“What do you want?” Sarah’s tone comes out sharper than she intended.

“Oh my precious creature, you look like you should sit down.” In a flash, they’re sitting down at a table at the very far end of the hotel ballroom. “Perhaps some air,” Jareth says, handing her a lacquered Chinese fan, straight from the Regency era.

Fighting to keep her emotions under control, Sarah glares at the smug monarch. “I am not some delicate Victorian invalid, Goblin King,” she spits out, her eyes flashing. “Tell me what you fucking want.”

Jareth laughs delightedly. “So formal, so…emotional,” his eyes scan the room until he sees Ariel. “Should I be concerned about jealous tantrums? After all, I didn’t bring poor Ariel here so you could scream at her.”

Following his gaze, Sarah sees the redhead stalk around the room, as if making notes about her observations. She scoffs—“If I were to experience that kind of jealousy,” she says, using his words from earlier, “Then I would deal with it by swiping a bottle of champagne and drinking it in my apartment. With a pint of Haagen-Dazs. Public tantrums aren’t really my thing. I’ve never had the urge to put a prettier girl in her place—something to do with the fact that I wasn’t bullied by a prettier girl in high school, according to Sanj.”

She doesn’t see his eyes narrow when she says ‘prettier girl.’

“Anyway,” Sarah says resignedly, taking a large gulp of champagne, “What do you want, Jareth?”

A dark chuckle. “I got what I wanted, precious Sarah,” he says her name mockingly, “I shall leave you to your champagne and Haagen-Dazs, whatever that is—because you are indeed experiencing that kind of jealousy.”

Just when she’s about to tell him to go to hell, she sees Ariel talking to a handsome man with jet black hair and blue eyes. She raises her brows, “Ariel seems to have found Prince Eric,” she says, tone amused.

Jareth waves her off, unconcerned. “That man is a prince?”

“No, he’s a Hollywood actor who has quote, unquote written a memoir that we’re publishing. You don’t care that your…date is flirting with someone else?”

Lounging back on the chair, Jareth grins. “I’m not one to deprive my lovers of their…various amusements.”

She rolls her eyes. “Then why the hell were you so insistent on-”

“Because you were different, precious,” he cuts her off before she can finish.

Oh. She flushes again—her skin feels uncomfortably warm. “I guess we didn’t end it on a good note,” she mumbles, looking away.

“When you left me painfully aroused and tied to my bed?” he asks darkly, “No, not a good note.”

“So, are we talking about S&M?” Lena Wu, fellow Wellesley grad and junior editor swiftly cuts into their conversation, taking a seat next to Sarah. “Hello,” she says, extending a hand, “Lena. You are?”

A predatory smile. “Jareth.”

Lena looks at Sarah, “You, into S&M? I’d never have guessed,” she gushes, not noticing Sarah’s face turn tomato red. “I thought you were a Connecticut-prep-schooled prude.”

“That’s an interesting…assessment,” Jareth says, a slightly malicious glint in his eyes.

“Cirque,” Lena tells Sarah, oblivious to Jareth’s comment. “That’s pretty much the only club I’d recommend. Every other club is just full of…you know,” she gestures, as if expecting them to agree. “You go into a club expecting to see young Brad Pitt, but you get Danny DeVito instead.”

“I really have no idea what you’re talking about, Lena,” Sarah says sincerely.

“You know,” Lena says again, sighing as she sees Sarah’s confused expression. “It’s like going to a nude beach—the people who’re naked are people you never want to see naked. Everyone’s fat and old and just plain unattractive. Or they’re disgusting, fugly men with Asian-girl fetishes. You have no idea how lucky you are that you don’t have to deal with those freaks.”

“Okay,” Sarah says, “I’ll take your word for it.”

“Cirque,” Lena repeats, standing up to leave. “It’s where all the good looking people go,” she says with a wink. “Good job on the book.”

“What interesting colleagues you have, precious,” the Goblin King says once the energetic Lena leaves to socialize with the next table.

Sarah shrugs. “You’re in New York. I’m probably the most boring person around.” Draining the remaining champagne in her glass, she stands up to leave. “Good bye, Jareth. I suppose I won’t see you again,” she ignores the dull ache in her chest as she says this.

A sharp smile. “Good bye, Sa-rah,” he draws out her name with an air of finality, “I would very much appreciate receiving a copy of your book for…closure.”

Raising her brows, she looks at him—she hadn’t expected him to say that. The word closure echoes in her mind, and she feels worse. Champagne and a pint of Haagen-Dazs it is, she thinks. Maybe even two pints of Haagen-Dazs. “How would I send it to you?”

Holding her gaze for a few moments, Jareth chuckles, “I thought you would have known by now, precious Sarah--you would wish it to me.”

--

(Sunday brunch at Tres, 2 weeks later)…

“To Gracie Lou McLovin,” the group says, clicking their glasses together in an enthusiastic toast.

 “Two books to go Sarah and you’re fucking rich. Congratulations,” Sanj says, a proud expression on his face.

Sarah frowns. “I haven’t even thought of a story line for the second book…”

Her boss laughs at that. “The fun fact about New Adult trilogies is that you don’t have to think of a story line. Just repeat what you wrote in the first book—this time, come up with an even bitchier ex who makes the poor insecure protagonist feel worse about herself because childbirth has made her gain some weight. Be sure to write that her ‘soft, womanly curves’ have become ‘curvier,’ skip the word f-a-t at all costs.”

“What about the sex—there’s only so many ways I can write sex scenes?”

Sanj shrugs, “Recycle, darling. Take the exact same scene from book one and change the words, it’s what the rest of the other so called authors do.”

“OH MY GOD, stop talking about work,” Elle cuts in, indignant. “Here’s to a proper session of day time drinking!”

“Elle, you do realize we’re meeting your parents this evening,” Marc says apprehensively. He’d hate to meet her parents while their only daughter is intoxicated. Especially considering they aren’t big drinkers.

“Whatevs,” Elle scoffs, “We’re celebrating Sarah’s success.”

“And that’s my cue to leave,” Sanj says, standing up abruptly, “There’s only so much time I can spend with 20-somethings before I go insane.”

--

(That evening. Elle and Marc have gone to meet her parents, Sarah is alone in her apartment)…

Having changed into her Christmas flannel pajamas after a warm shower, Sarah brushes the tangles in her long hair. She hasn’t wished her book to the Goblin King…not yet, anyway…the word ‘closure’ still hangs heavy in her mind.

She frowns as she looks at the cover—a cross between Legolas and Fabio is kissing a faceless woman’s neck. A faceless woman with ginormous boobs. How embarrassing.

Sighing, she gathers up as much courage as she can. “I wish…” she falters for a few seconds, “I wish I could speak to the Goblin King. Right now.”

She feels the air shift around her, and her vision blurs.

--

Chapter Text

 

--

She feels the air shift around her, and her vision blurs

--

Clad in bright red pajamas patterned with snowflakes, still clutching her book with the ridiculous cover, Sarah Williams gawks at Jareth, who sits languidly on his throne, one leg draped over arm. Dressed in a dove gray shirt and matching pants, she can almost say he doesn’t appear too threatening. Almost. The large, stone chamber is empty save for the two of them.

The Goblin King tilts his head, assessing the young woman’s discomfort. “What brings you to my…humble castle, Sarah Williams?” His eyes glitter with cool amusement.

Sarah Williams? She fidgets nervously at his use of her full name. “You wanted my...” she holds out her book, flinching as he gives her a delighted smirk.

Sighing exaggeratedly, the Goblin King leans back on his throne, the epitome of comfort. “Very well…”

A brush of magic touches her hands and the book disappears.

“…is that all?” His eyes are piercing and his voice borders on cold. “I was under the impression you wished to speak to me.”

She grits her teeth—there’s only so much highhandedness she can stand from His High and Mighty. “Yes, I did.”

Well?” he sneers. “Speak.”

“Why do you have to make things so damned difficult?”

The Goblin King smiles a serene smile, one with no sign of teeth. An uncharacteristic smile, if you will. A smile that chills Sarah’s bones. “I…?” His voice is calm and pleasant, “make things difficultfor you?”

Eyes widening, Sarah takes a hesitant step back as alarm bells go off in her head. Her lips clamp shut as the air cackles with a sudden burst of magic.

Jareth sits up abruptly, his face unreadable and his gaze penetrating. “I have done everything you asked of me, Sarah. And in return, you have treated me rather…heartlessly. Unkindly, even.”

She gapes. “Are you fucking serious? You almost burned down Marc’s apartment, froze Elle, smoking-shamed my mortal lungs, and used some bullshit excuse to restrain me the first chance you got.”

Ignoring her outburst, the Goblin King continues, tone mild. “What, do you suppose, happens to a woman who displays unkind behavior towards a king, hmm?”

How she wants to roll her eyes and tell him to stop being such a drama-queen. But she smartly restrains herself from doing just that. “I guess I’m done speaking to you….um…and I gave you the book already, so…” Her voice dies out when she sees a big, wolfish grin spread across his face.

Jareth cocks his head to the side. “So?”

“So, you can send me back now.” She winces as her voice comes out a little squeaky. “Please.”

He stands up in a fluid motion and slowly stalks towards her. “You may be done speaking to me…but I, precious Sarah, I am only getting started. After all, you did, very willingly, walk into my parlor, and I am loath to let you walk away.”

She does roll her eyes this time. “You? Referencing the Spider and the Fly. Why am I not surprised?”

“Familiar with the poem, are you?”

She scoffs. “Of course I’m familiar. English major.”

A razor sharp smile. “Then you’ll know, precious creature, that my parlor is…” he raises a brow, compelling her to complete the line.

“…up a winding stair,” she finishes for him, frowning as she wonders what his game is. The symbolism isn’t lost on her.

The last thing she sees is flash of triumph in his unnerving eyes, before the air shifts, yet again, and her vision goes black for a few seconds.

--

When she opens her eyes, she’s in another room. Not Jareth’s by the looks of it—this room has lighter tapestries hanging from its circular walls, and sweeping windows—she notices that the room is clearly high enough that she can see low hanging clouds just below…then she understands the significance of this room.

She’s angry enough that she looks comical. “You actually put me in a fucking tower?”

A short laugh. “A luxuriously gilded tower, precious.”

The comment only spurs her anger, as it’s meant to. “This, this is exactly what I meant when I said you make things difficult. You’re always trying to trick me into…I don’t know…selling my soul to you, like you’re Lucifer or Dracula. Choose the right fucking mythological genre and stick with it, faerie boy-”

“Shh.” The Goblin King makes a quick gesture with his hand, effectively silencing her with a stormy look. “Heartless and unkind, as always,” he smirks, circling her—his gaze intently fixed on hers.

Her eyes widen with every step he takes. She knows he’s being deliberately slow, just so he can intimidate her—it seems to be working. Her heartrate skyrockets and the pulse on her neck throbs erratically.

“Sit down, won’t you?” He gestures toward the Maplewood bed in the center of the room. Before she can protest, he saunters to the side and sits on the couch that faces the bed. “You may leave once I am through…speaking to you.”

Frowning, she sits down on the bed, eyeing his every move. It’s damn annoying that the bastard can be so intimidating while displaying such perfect manners.

“The last time we met, I asked you to wish your book to me,” the deep timbre of his voice is lightly taunting, “Yet, you seem to have wished yourself over instead…in a manner of speaking, of course. Tell me why that is, precious creature?”

“Um…” she stammers “I…um…”

An amused laugh. “Eloquent as always.”

She bristles. “I was curious, okay,” she bites out, hoping he’s satisfied with her answer.

“What about, Sarah?” he questions, a predatory gleam in his dual eyes. “Fucking me?”

Her mouth goes dry and a wave of desire washes over her. “Jareth,” she says, her voice deep, “I was ready to fuck you the night of your soiree.” She grins at his confused expression. “I only changed my mind once I saw how quick you were to…restrain me.”

“Ah, you were afraid.”

Sighing exasperatedly, she glares at him. “I wasn’t afraid, I was annoyed.”

Jareth gives a nonchalant shrug. “You were afraid then, just as you are afraid now, precious creature.”

She snarls angrily. The soft fabric of her pajamas feels excessively warm against her skin. “I’m not-”

“Stop lying to yourself,” he cuts in, voice dangerously low, “You are afraid, little heroine.” And just like that, in the blink of an eye, he’s standing right in front of her—grinning smugly as she grips the sheets in her hands, proving his point. “So…very…afraid,” he taunts softly.

Her heart thudding in her ears, Sarah Williams decides to wipe that smug grin off of his face, for once and for all. Using all the force she can muster, she pulls the Goblin King onto the bed and shoves him onto the mattress, straddling his waist. Looking into his eyes for a few moments, she bends down and crushes her mouth against his in a searing kiss.

That she takes Jareth by surprise is an understatement—his strength is no match for a mere mortal’s, but when Sarah pulls him into bed, he is stunned. He intended on driving her absolutely insane with fury—he’d wanted to force her to admit exactly what she wants from him before claiming her—but she is one step ahead in this never-ending game of theirs.

Jareth groans as she kisses him fiercely, possessing his mouth with her wicked, wicked tongue. “Sarah,” he growls her name—weeks, upon weeks of frustration bubbling up to the surface. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower not to throw her down and take her roughly.

She pulls back, her green eyes ablaze with passion. “Do I look afraid, Jareth?” she asks—but she doesn’t let him answer as she swoops down and kisses him again, placing a sharp bite on his lower lip.

With a roar, Jareth flips their positions, placing himself on top. There’s only so much control he’s willing to hand over. “Sarah,” he breathes her name, trailing kisses along her jawline. He presses himself against her warmth.

She gasps as she feels his heat in between her thighs, moisture pooling into her core—generating a need so intense, she cries out in anticipation. “Too slow,” she says, in between gasps.

Giving her a feral grin, he vanishes her pajamas into the ether, while he remains fully clothed. “But precious creature,” he murmurs, laying burning, open mouthed kisses against the throbbing pulse on her neck. “I intend to…sate your curiosity. Completely.” He torments the sensitive skin of her neck with skilled lips and teeth, sucking at just the right spots to draw soft cries from her.

His fingers…she cries sharply, his gloved fingers stroke the heated flesh between her legs, teasing her, making her lift her hips for more contact. His thumb massages the hood that covers her clitoris—smooth leather against heated flesh. The anticipation is absolute torture and she wonders if he intends to make her beg. The thought makes her warm and cold at the same time and a gush of wetness flows between her legs.

“Let us play a new game, Sa-rah,” he says, smirking as he sees her eyes darken with desire. Placing one of his legs between hers, he spreads her legs further—his thigh pressing against the slick flesh of her center.  

“N-n-now?” She gasps as he runs a leather clad finger along the length of her slit, teasing the glistening flesh at her entrance.

“I’ll ask you certain questions,” he whispers in her ear, tongue darting out for a quick, wet caress. “And you provide me with answers.” He runs his fingers up and down her slit, pace slow—his other hand holds her hips in place so she cannot move. “For every sincere answer you provide…” he lays tantalizingly soft kisses around a taut nipple, “I will reward you.”

Head thrown back, she moans as his mouth closes over her breast, his sharp teeth tugging her nipple—eliciting just the right mix of pleasure and pain. She runs her fingers through the silky strands of his hair. She’s torn between telling him to continue and telling him to fuck off.

“Why did you…” he holds her gaze, the tip of his tongue lazily circles a nipple “…call on me tonight?” His fingers continue their slow torture—inducing just enough pleasure to keep her on the edge, but not push her over.

Her lips part open but she cannot speak—her breath comes out hot, labored. “I already told you,” she says, eyes rolling back into her head as strokes her clit, roughly. She moans, arching into his touch as she wavers on the edge of climaxing.

His fingers still—he smirks as she makes a whining noise in protest. “Oh, precious Sarah,” he chides mockingly, “We both know that’s not the truth. Not in its entirety.” He lays feather light kisses on her stomach, lips barely touching her hyper-sensitive skin. “You wish to be rewarded, don’t you, pet?”

Pet? Just as she’s about to tell him to fuck off, his tongue circles her navel before delving into her bellybutton—he places two leather clad fingers inside her abruptly. “Jareth,” she half squeaks, half gasps. “That feels…” she whimpers as he moves them slowly. He intends on driving me crazy, she thinks.

“You haven’t answered me, precious,” he laughs, darkly amused as she struggles to break free of his grip on her hips—desperate to move into his touch. He controls his darker urges to force her legs apart roughly, and devour her as she falls over the edge again, and again until she begs for mercy. Too soon—he has to get some answers first.

“You’re a bastard, I hope you know that.” Her eyes flash at him, equal parts lust and rage.

Barking a delighted laugh, he places an open mouthed kiss on her lower abdomen—relishing her reaction as she trembles. “And yet you sought my company tonight,” his tongue caresses her salty skin, “Why is that, precious Sarah?”

“Jareth, what are you-” that’s all she can manage as he kisses her mound right above the sensitive bundle of nerves in between her legs—and sucks.

“Answer me, Sarah.” His harsh tone is commanding—his teeth nip the sensitive skin of her mound, eliciting a sharp yelp.

She can feel her arousal soak the skin of her thighs—a strange sensation building within her. The pressure is excruciating. “I…” she moans as his tongue traces the line of her slit, “I wanted to know if I mattered to you.” Her breaths come out in pants—the pressure keeps building still.

Eyes blazing with hidden emotion, Jareth looks into her eyes—a snarl on his lips. “My foolish mortal, what makes you believe I would waste a second on someone who did not?”

He seems genuinely surprised and angry—distracted even.

Realizing that this is her chance, she rolls the Goblin King over as fast as she can—flipping their positions as he had done earlier. “I’m done playing games, Jareth,” she says with as much authority as she can gather, “Take off your clothes.”

The Goblin King finds himself momentarily speechless—he hadn’t expected such a bold command from her, but his body responds immediately. Blood rushes into his groin—the pain is acute. In a flash, he vanishes his own clothing into the ether, raising a brow and smirking devilishly as Sarah blushes atop him. “Well?”

Cursing her genes as she feels the blush spread across her body, Sarah tries gaining some of her confidence back. A few thoughts race into her head. The first one being ‘OMG, what is that?—is that what an uncircumcised penis looks like?’ The second being, ‘I’m naked, on top of the Goblin King. Woo!’

The latter thought diminishes any anxiety caused by the first—and Sarah slips his hard cock into her slick entrance, moaning as he fills her to the hilt—she feels a rush of power as he groans, arching into her. She has never felt this kind of power during sex—nor has she ever felt this uninhibited.

Jareth’s hips move rhythmically to meet hers as she rocks on top of him, driving him deeper, and deeper into her wet, hot center—her head thrown back in pleasure and her breasts bouncing freely. Gripping her waist with one hand, he kneads the soft flesh of her breasts with the other.

She lets out a high pitched moan as his thrusts become more vigorous, his hand on her waist grips her skin painfully enough to bruise. “Fuck, Jareth,” she pants, rocking back against him with considerable force, “don’t stop.”

His breath comes out faster and his thrusts become harder, more frequent—he grips her hips with both his hands—keeping her in place. The look on her face—her head thrown back, beads of sweat bathing her skin, mouth wide open as she moans and murmurs in pleasure—drives his lust to frenzied heights. He can feel her inner muscles clinging to him, tensing, pulsing with fevered need. “I will never stop,” he promises, voice husky with desire. “I plan on fucking you until you cannot walk, precious.”

His words send her over the edge—her orgasm feels so intense, she cries out in agony. Her inner muscles contract, gripping him violently and she feels her entire body go shudder before going limp with pleasure.

Jareth groans as her muscles grip his cock, thrusting blindly now, at a feverish pace. Driving into her one last time, he fills her with his release—moaning her name as he comes.

--

(10 minutes later—Sarah has a post unprotected sex freak-out session)…

“Calm down, Sarah,” Jareth sounds highly indignant, “I do not have, what you call, magical herpes.”

Sarah groans, her head in her hands. “How do you know? Maybe you have mermaid herpes…or vampyr herpes or-”

Sarah,” the Goblin King’s tone is formidable, “My kind does not suffer from diseases, if that’s what you’re worried about. Cease your hysterics at once.”

She calms down a little. Stupid, stupid, stupid, she yells at herself for having unprotected sex. She looks up at him, her eyes worried. “Um…what about babies? I don’t want-”

A sharp sigh. “Neither do I, silly girl,” he admonishes, “Not at the moment, anyway—of course I’m going to take precautions to make sure that doesn’t happen. Especially with you humans being as fertile as rabbits.”

Letting out a deep breath in relief, Sarah murmurs, “Thank God.”

A curious look. “You do not want children?”

She frowns at the personal question, but decides to indulge him. “Maybe…someday. But I’ve felt iffy ever since I saw this Zazoo condom commercial on YouTube. I’d show you if I had my phone…or the internet.” The second she finishes her sentence, she finds her phone next to the pillow, complete with four bars.

“Show me.”

Rolling her eyes, she searches for and plays the commercial, stifling a laugh as the Goblin King’s eyes widen in horror.  

--

(1 week later)…

“Stop distracting me, Jareth,” she says, removing his hand from her breast. She’s coming up with an outline for the second part to in her fuck-all trilogy, and Jareth seems hell bent on distracting her.

A dark smile, “I did promise to fuck you until you couldn’t walk, Sarah. A Goblin King isn’t worth much if he doesn’t keep his promises.”

She glares at him, looking up from her MacBook. “You already did that once. Now stop bugging me—Sanj is going to turn homicidal if he doesn’t get this outline by the end of the week.”

Jareth tsks, annoyed. “I cannot believe you’re writing another atrocious novel, precious—your first one read as if it were written by an illiterate, heavy set woman with far too many fantasies, most of which fairly mild.”

Sarah’s eyes narrow dangerously…

…but Jareth continues, oblivious. “I would do many more things with a crop than just whack an inexperienced woman on the backside. I would-”

“That’s enough,” Sarah snaps. Sure, her book may be fuck-all crap, but she’s had enough of his insults. “I kept the language simple as my boss pointed out that the majority of readers, for this genre, are not well educated.” Which is true enough, apparently only 32% of Americans have four year college degrees—Bessie Mays were more likely not to have one. “And a few whacks on the ass is as much BDSM as most Bessie Mays can handle.” She goes back to working on her outline.

“You’re not this Bessie May, are you, precious?”

“No,” she says, typing distractedly.

He wraps his arms around her suddenly and whispers into her ear, “I suppose you can handle a lot more. After all, you did just return my riding crop…”

Her mouth goes dry as lust pools into her gut. Damn Jareth. She is going to have to work on her outline tomorrow.

--

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

--

(At a popular club located in the UWS)…

“You can leave if you’re dead bored,” she says sympathetically, smiling a little as Jareth winces at the loud music playing in the club.

“How can I feel bored when I’m hearing this most interesting song about a man not being able to…feel his face, Sarah?”

She laughs. “Seriously. You should leave—you’re too old to enjoy this scene.”

An indignant huff. “I came here as your escort, and I shall stay.”

(Later that night, in the Goblin King’s chambers)…

Jareth massages his temples, his head pounding. He should have listened to Sarah and left earlier.

--

(At a mid-scale restaurant, Suburbia, CT)…

“Hello, sir, welcome to Vesuvius’s. Hope you’ve had a great day so far. Would you like to know our specials for the day?”

A raised brow and a cold smile. “Hello Travis,” the Goblin King reads the waiter’s name tag, his voice icy, “I am at your establishment to converse with my lovely companion who’s sitting across the table, and not to converse with…you.”

Sarah gapes at him in horror. “Jareth, you can’t talk to people like that,” she whispers furiously.

Jareth, for his part, looks confused, “Why would I have a conversation about my day with the waiter?”

She rolls her eyes, getting up to leave. “Get up, we’re leaving.”

“Whatever for?” Poor Jareth looks even more confused.

“He’s going to spit in our food, or worse.”

Jareth furrows his brows in an elegant frown. “But isn’t the waiter’s job to serve me without being a nuisance? Shouldn’t he strive to serve my every need while blending in with the background so I hardly know he’s there?”

“Good fucking God, no,” she says, dragging him out, “That’s only in very expensive places. Or if you’re the Queen of England.”

“Precious Sarah,” he hisses, “Perhaps it’s slipped your mind that I am, indeed, a King.”

“Believe me, it hasn’t,” she mutters.

--

(A year later)…

“Uh, no.”

“Sarah.”

“Nope.”

Sarah.”

“No. Way. In. Hell,” she enunciates every word adamantly.

“I don’t understand why you cannot work from my castle.” The Goblin King crosses his arms and glares at the infuriating woman in front of him.

She sighs, this conversation had caused way too many fights, and she doesn’t want to start another one. “I just bought my own apartment, Jareth—I don’t want to move in with you.”

Jareth’s lips curl in distaste. “Yes, your apartment—it’s smaller than a torture cell at my dungeon.”

She gapes at him, “Mentioning dungeons and torture cells probably isn’t the best way to get me to stay with you, Jareth.”

“Sarah…” he sounds defeated.

Her eyes soften as she looks at him pout—why does the bastard have to look so damn cute, anyway? It’s just not fair! “I’m sure we can work something out,” she says, smiling as his frown disappears.

--

Sarah publishes a profound (at least in her opinion) book, using her own name. It gathers some buzz and sells some copies—doesn’t remotely compare to the sales figures of Gracie Lou’s trilogy. But that doesn’t bother her too much.

--

Jareth takes a sabbatical from being the Goblin King for a few months—he joins Sarah as she travels across the world.

--

Sanjay and Michael get married in the Bahamas. Sanjay’s mother makes him have a reception in London. With 1000+ guests. Michael is traumatized.

--

Marc abandons his plans of getting an MBA as he’s too afraid of graduating during a recession. Instead—he takes an interest-free business loan and buys liquor stores (stocked with cheap alcohol) across small cities and rural areas.

He makes a ton of money.

--

Elle opens a wedding planning firm in San Diego—she starts with planning her own wedding. She and Marc have a perfect wedding by the beach. All guests have to down two Café Patron shots.

--

A popular young Hollywood actor with blue eyes and black hair goes sailing one day—his yacht is found three days later with no signs of the young man. The world wonders how someone, a popular public figure no-less, can just disappear like that.

--

(Meanwhile, @ J’s Castle—once he’s back from his much needed sabbatical)…

“You’re saying she pulled him into the ocean?” Sarah asks, incredulous.

Jareth gives a nonchalant shrug, “She is a marine nymph, my love, that’s what they do to humans.”

She shudders. “So much for Ariel and Prince Eric.”

--

The end.

--