Last Friday I introduced you to my seven realms series, starting with the desert realm. This week I’m sharing the beginning of the jungle realm. It’s the same premise, just a different setting.
Three friends were on their way to a vacation when they caught some teenagers hassling a little old lady – of course they came to her rescue. But it turns out the little old lady was a fairy godmother and granted them a wish as their reward. It was to be used for something personal, and the three wished to meet the men of their deepest desires.
Evangeline Covington couldn't remember the last time she'd had such a wicked hangover. She groaned, but didn't feel up to opening her eyes yet. It wasn't like they'd had that much to drink last night, two bottles of wine between the three of them - she must be getting old.
She felt damp. There was something digging into her back and the distinct smell of greenery in the air. She had a sneaking suspicion of where she was. Cracking her eyes open slightly, she slammed them tightly shut again, her suspicions confirmed. They hadn't made it back to the cabin last night - she'd slept outside.
"Fi? Taylor? You guys awake?" Even the sound of her own voice made her wince.
There was no answer. With another groan she rolled to her side so the sun wasn't in her face and tried opening her eyes again.
Frowning, she stared at the bright red flower in front of her nose. She didn't remember there being flowers blooming in the woods, especially not such exotic looking ones.
Feeling a slight chill, she levered herself into a sitting position and took a good look around.
"What the hell?"
Hangover forgotten, Eva got to her feet and stared around in disbelief. This was not the woods full of pine trees surrounding the cabin on the lake. In fact, this wasn't a forest at all, it was more like a jungle.
Several different varieties of palm and other exotic trees towered upwards, hung with trailing vines. The undergrowth seemed to be filled with broad-leafed shrubs and ferns. An endless variety of colorful blossoms rioted around her.
Eva staggered, reaching out to steady herself by holding on to the trunk of a palm. "Where am I?" she whispered.
More importantly, how did she get here? The last thing she remembered was sitting around the camp fire with Fiona and Taylor. They were drinking wine and made a toast to friendship. Then she'd spotted the evening star and . . .
She remembered hearing the old woman's voice, something about making a wish. They'd treated it like a joke and decided to wish for their perfect mate.
All her life Eva had loved adventure stories, especially ones set in exotic locations. Her favorites were by the old romantic fantasy writers - Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. Rider Haggard, A. A. Merritt - with their tales of lost cities set in the jungles of the world. In her deepest fantasies, ones she'd never shared with even Fiona or Taylor, she'd dreamed of being swept away by her very own jungle lord.
"This is crazy!" she said firmly. "Hello? Anyone?"
People didn't just wish for something like that and have it happen. Someone was playing a joke on her. A very bad, practical joke. There must have been something in the wine that knocked her out so someone, or a couple of someones, could transport her to the nearest zoo and leave her in the middle of the African exhibit.
Eva leaned against the palm tree for support. Which was just as likely as being transported to an actual jungle. What else had Esmeralda told them?
"I'm a fairy godmother, but no one believes in magic anymore, more's the pity."
"Magic," Eva repeated, trying the word on for size. Esmeralda was right. People didn't believe in magic any more. Maybe if they did she wouldn't have such a hard time believing in it now.
A cool breeze swept through the jungle and she shivered, her damp clothing amplifying the chill. The tops of the trees were starting to wave and when she looked up she caught a glimpse of dark clouds building.
"This is so not fair!"
She needed shelter from the oncoming storm and fast, judging by the smell of rain in the air. With any luck she could curl up and go to sleep, awakening to find this was nothing more than an alcohol induced, very vivid, dream.