Alice Quinn gripped the shoulder strap of her backpack in one fist as she frowned her way across Brakebill’s well-manicured grounds to the house of the Physical Kids. All her life, she’d been the focused one in her family, the arrow that once pointed at a target never stopped until it hit. Her drive had served her well in her studies, in getting into Brakebill’s so she could find out more about her brother’s death. Now that his story had ended, at least temporarily, she found herself wondering what she was doing in a place she didn’t really want to be with people who’d never miss her if she was gone.
Well, technically that wasn’t entirely true. Alice supposed Quentin would miss her for awhile. The smile that brought to her lips warmed and worried her in equal measure.
Luck was with Alice as she approached the house. None of the Physical Kids were loitering on the lawn or the porch, and the common room was also blissfully empty as she trudged across it, her gaze stubbornly fixed on the carpet in front of her feet. She didn’t plan on looking up until she reached her room.
“I’ve been wondering, do you have a setting that isn’t like the little girl that Santa forgot on Christmas morning?”
Eliot stood behind the bar--because where else would he be?--a mocking smile curving his lips. Great. Alice thought it should have been clear to anyone with half a brain that she didn’t want to talk. Since she wasn’t the Queen of Witty Retorts, she ignored him and kept walking.
“Hey! Wait!” Eliot emerged from behind the bar and started following her.
Alice’s jaw tensed, and she squared her shoulders as she stopped and turned to face him. “What is it, Eliot? I really don’t have time for…” She managed to stop herself before she said “you,” not willing to cross the line from annoyed to mean. “I have things to do.”
“Ah.” Eliot’s wicked grin instantly made Alice wish she hadn’t stopped to indulge him. “I know women have things they need to do in private. Margot tells me about them. Would you like to tell me too? I’ve been told I’m a very good listener.”
The ease with which he twisted her innocent words made Alice frown. She shut her eyes, counted to ten. “What do you want, Eliot?”
“Want?” His laughter implied an intimacy they didn’t—and wouldn’t ever—share. “I want a lot of things, but right now, I want to give you something.”
That was surprising. If it wasn’t Eliot she might have thought he was trying to be nice to a friend who was feeling down. But it was Eliot, so Alice was instantly suspicious. “What is it?”
“Well, it’s part of personal project, you might say.” He went back to the bar and picked up a large margarita glass. It held a liquid that was blue as a June sky with a silvery mist that clung to the surface of the drink.
“Your project is making drinks?” Alice folded her arms across her chest. “I thought that was part of your daily routine.”
“Tsk.” Eliot brushed aside her words with a sweeping gesture. “It’s not just any drink, darling. My project is making special drinks inspired by each person in the house, and I’ve finished yours first.”
“Mmmhmmm.” He offered her the glass with a bright smile. The drink was the violent cyan of those squeeze popsicles that tasted like fake blueberry.
Alice looked from the glass to Eliot. “What is it?”
“I’ve called it…Wonderland.” He gestured grandly as a snake-oil salesman in front of a admiring crowd.
“Seriously?” She gave him her best I am not impressed face.
“Seriously. Margot has been taste-testing so I could get the flavor just right.” Eliot stepped closer, extended his arm and the glass again.
“You know I’m not drinking that, right?”
“You have to.”
“No, I don’t.” In fact, Alice was reasonably certain that if she did, something worse than her tongue turning blue for a few hours would happen. “Sorry, Eliot, I’m not playing.” She shook her head slightly as she turned and started climbing the stairs.
“Alice, you can’t…”
Alice left him protesting as she bolted up the stairs, closed the door to her room more forcefully than she would have liked, and locked it behind her. Not that something as normal as a lock would stop any of her fellow students, but she hoped the message it sent was enough to discourage them from bothering her. She let her backpack slip off her shoulder and thump to the floor as she sat heavily on the bed before kicking her shoes off and across the room.
When Alice reached for the nightstand to turn on her small lamp, she almost knocked over the glass of Eliot’s Wonderland that magically appeared in her room. She was close enough to see the words, “Drink Me,” etched into the glass in an elegant script.
“No fucking way.” There was no way she was going to drink that. No way. Eliot might be stubborn, but so was she.
Alice leaned back against the pillows and cracked her book on transmutation. As determined as she was to let studying distract her from, well, everything, her attention kept being drawn back to the drink. The simmering mist hugging the surface of the drink roiled across the liquid, rebounding from the lip of the glass instead of spilling over it. Alice had to grudgingly admit it was a nice effect.
Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to see what it smelled like. Raising the glass to her lips, Alice inhaled, and instead of the artificial, syrupy scent she expected, the drink smelled red, ripe and juicy like crushed strawberries. It made her mouth water, and she tipped the glass just enough to take a small sip. If the drink smelled delicious, the taste was a thousand times better, like the nectar pressed from the freshest strawberries. There was no burn or aftertaste of alcohol in Wonderland, just smooth sweetness.
One sip. That’s all Alice meant to take, so she was surprised when she found the glass in her hand was empty. Eliot might be a serious pain in the ass, but the man could mix a mean drink. Alice set the glass back on the nightstand and stretched out more fully on her bed, savoring the hum of Wonderland moving through her and lulling her to sleep.
“Come on, Alice, you’re late.”
“Late?” Classes were done for the day, and dinner didn’t exactly have a set time. Unless… Alice sat bolt upright. Unless Eliot’s fucking drink knocked her out for the whole evening and was going to make her late for classes the next morning. She was going to kill him. She was going to….
Alice’s eyes widened as she realized Margot was wearing a ridiculously glittery purple leotard and silver fishnet stockings. A headband sporting silvery rabbit ears nestled in her dark hair, and a silver puffball cottontail perched just above her ass. She held a large pocket watch that had no pockets she could have pulled it out of or into which it could disappear.
“You’re late, bitch.” Margot tugged her to her feet, and to her horror, Alice found herself wearing a blue pinafore with a white apron.
“You have to be kidding me.” She really was going to kill Eliot. Painfully and permanently. But not until she got out of these ridiculous clothes. She threw open her closet door, but Margot was right behind her.
“You aren’t listening, Alice. I told you that you’re late.” She gave Alice a hard shove that should have sent her crashing into the inside of the closet door and into the full length mirror that hung there.
Instead of hitting glass of feeling it crack and shatter at the impact, Alice tumbled through the mirror and into a field of sapphire-blue grass that tickled against her knees. Giant mushrooms rose out of the grass like strange fungal trees. Some sported broadly domed caps that cast wide shadows beneath them; others had peaked caps that jutted far up into the green-glass sky.
“What the hell?” Alice frowned at the surreal landscape and at the pinafore she still wore. “I’m going to kill him.”
“You wouldn’t happen to be talking about me, darling, would you?”
Speak of the devil. Alice frowned up at Eliot where he was perched on the cap of a purple mushroom with fluffy aqua tufts erupting from it. He wore a raspberry velvet jacket trimmed with lime green accents with an oversized velvet top hat that matched the colors of the suit. The combination made her eyes ache.
“Fix this.” Alice gestured at her dress. She might as well start with the easy things first, and getting herself out of mock-worthy clothing was pretty damned important to her at the moment.
“It’s your Wonderland, darling. You make the rules.” Eliot jumped down from the mushroom, landing lightly on the ground next to her. “Well, go ahead.”
Alice looked down, and the girly frock shimmered and changed into a blue jersey sheath dress. The cut was simple, classic, but it clung to her curves in all the right ways.
“Happier, darling Alice?” Eliot’s gaze moved over her body as he licked his lips.
“Marginally, yes.” Better still if he stopped looking at her like the Big Bad Wolf must have looked at Red Riding Hood. Saying that would let him know how deeply under her skin he had gotten, and she couldn’t have that. “Eliot?”
“Yes, darling Alice?”
“Please stop calling me that.” She wasn’t his darling anything. Maybe Margot liked mocking endearments, but she wasn’t Margot. “And send us back to Brakebills. Now.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t do that.”
Alice’s hands curled into fists. “Eliot...”
“There’s still fun to be had, Alice. You can’t go back before then.” And before she could start to argue with him, he tipped that hat at her, and bounded off through the grass.
Alice did her best to fight through the grass that clutch at her ankles slowing her progress as she moved through it. The mushrooms shook their caps, sending showers of silvery spores to obscure her vision. It didn’t take long for her to totally lose sight of Eliot. With no familiar landmarks, no sun to mark her direction, Alice started wandering. She walked until her feet ached and her stomach protested the fact she hadn’t eaten dinner. However, the sky hadn’t darkened, and there was nothing to mark the time she’d spent here. She was about ready to curl up under one of the mushrooms and wait until she woke up—because there was no way this wasn’t a dream—when she heard a string of soft cries.
Instinctively, Alice brought her hands together, trying to call and shape magic to conceal herself from whatever was making those sounds. Nothing happened. Wonderful. She had no magic and hadn’t seen anything she could use as a weapon. She crouched down in the grass, using it for cover as she crept up to the thick stalk of one of the mushrooms. Cautiously, she peeked around the base and saw Quentin. More precisely, she saw Quentin and Penny.
“Oh my god.” Alice’s words were little more than a whisper.
Quentin’s cheek pressed against the ground. His eyes were closed, his mouth open slightly. As Alice watched, she wet her lips, admiring the flush that colored Quentin’s skin, the way each of Penny’s thrusts shook his body, and the soft whimpering cries he seemed helpless to hold back. Alice’s fingers curled into a loose fist as she realized how very tempted she was to tug up her dress so she could touch herself.
“Pegging your boyfriend by proxy, hmm?” Eliot’s voice was low and his lips brushed her ear when he spoke. “How inventive.”
Alice swallowed hard, shook her head. Her voice wasn’t steady as she spoke. “That’s not what I’m doing.” Her protest sounded weak, even to her own ears. She cleared her throat. “Quentin’s just a friend. We haven’t… I wouldn’t…” She might not have, but clearly she had no objection to watching Penny as he gripped Quentin’s hips, riding him harder even as he pulled him back to meet each thrust. Quentin’s cries grew more needy, and his fingers curled, clawing at the earth. Alice made a soft sound as she watched Quentin struggle, though she wasn’t sure if he was fighting to get more or to get away or which of those made excited her more.
“Au contraire, darling.” Eliot’s lips ghosted up and down her neck. “That’s precisely what you’re doing. And you know what the best thing is?” Eliot’s arm curled around her, his fingers finding and teasing one of her nipples, which were already hard under her dress. .
Her fingers closed around his wrist as she intended to pull his hand away, but she didn’t quite follow through. “What?”
“It’s your Wonderland, darling. You can keep them like this for hours.” Eliot’s hand slid over her stomach. “Penny will never tire, and Quentin will never come.” He nipped at her earlobe. “Not until you’ve had your fill of them.”
Alice shuddered as she brushed Eliot’s hand off her body so she could move closer to Quentin and Penny. If Eliot was right, they wouldn’t see her. Not if she didn’t want them to. She sat next to Quentin, ran her fingers over his back. His body, strung tight with need, arched into her touch, and Alice wondered if he looked even half as good naked as she imagined.
Her fingers slid over Quentin’s hip, across his stomach, until she could run them along the length of his cock. He made a startled sound and tensed even more at her touch. And why wouldn’t he after she’d kept him trembling on the edge of the release he was powerless to find. When Alice curled her fingers around Quentin’s cock, he cried out her name. That single word was all it took for Penny to ripple and vanish like a mirage taking her clothes and any remaining sense of her modesty with him.
The mossy earth was soft and warm under Alice’s body as Quentin nuzzled her neck. She didn’t question how she came to be naked under him. Honestly, it didn’t matter. What mattered was how he lingered over every sensitive spot, tasting and teasing, as he worked his way down her body. She tangled her fingers in his hair as he raised her hips, spread her so he could nibble and nuzzle.
Since this was her Wonderland, Quentin knew just when to lick and when to suck, when to ease off and when to drive her harder, and because talent like that should be rewarded, she conjured Eliot to kneel behind him and tongue him open. Alice rode the waves of desire that rose higher and higher without cresting as she forced Quentin to do the same.
Alice didn’t have to tell Quentin when she needed more, he simply knew and pulled back, shifted, and locked his gaze with hers as he slid slowly into her. Finally. It took every ounce of determination for Alice not to give in to the sharp need that sang through her blood, and she saw the same urgency on Quentin’s face as Eliot slid into him. Quentin buried his face against the side of her neck as he began moving, muffling desperate cries against her skin as Eliot’s thrusts drove him deeper into her heat.
“It’s your Wonderland, darling,” Eliot said with a wink and a wicked grin. “I suggest you make the most of it. And of us.”
Even though Alice was generally inclined to ignore advice from Eliot, this time, she fully intended to savor having partners who knew and would indulge her every desire. Quentin could keep his Fillory, as long as she had her Wonderland.