Home > Knightfall (Tangled Crowns #1)(4)

Knightfall (Tangled Crowns #1)(4)
Author: Ann Denton

My heart leapt into my throat. Fear buzzed along my spine. These men were planning to attack my little sister. The new crown princess. I skittered backwards. I turned and ran blindly back up the tunnel.

I could hear them toasting behind me.

“To a new day for Evaness!”

Bile rose in my stomach. They were sick men. Twisted. Maybe it was just talk. Maybe. I tried to calm my beating heart. But cat reflexes don’t react too well to logic. My heart raced. Every nerve in my body pushed me to bolt. My instincts screamed that these men were serious. These men were dangerous. They were going to kill my sister.

I tripped. Rocks skittered down the tunnel behind me.

“Someone’s here!” I heard one of the rebels yell.


Now I didn’t just have a spy master chasing me. I had a rebel group, too.

Chapter Three

I tumbled down the hill into the night and took cover under some bushes.

I sniffed desperately, trying to separate the smells that assaulted my cat nose.

I smelled bear scat somewhere nearby, and instead of revolting me, it just sent a warning tingle to my toes.

Don’t walk there, my senses whispered.

I heard boots tromping around the hills behind me. I crouched lower to the ground, desperate to catch Quinn’s scent.

Warm and wild, slightly musky, his bobcat smell hadn’t been the worst thing. I twitched my nose to the north, seeking.

There. There it was.

I shot out of the bushes and through the fallen blue leaves, not caring how much sound I made.

An arrow whizzed overhead.

A boom sounded behind me. Like those rebels had set off an explosion spell.

My ears rang, and my balance was thrown off. I stumbled sideways, though I didn’t slow my pace. I couldn’t.


Those shites were serious. Beyond serious. This couldn’t be a small operation if they had the funds to pony up for spells like that. Even the royal palace only used explosion spells for war.

Avia. They are gonna hurt Avia. Go!

I pushed my cat legs to go faster, pushed the nose to keep on Quinn’s trail. When it turned left, I tried to turn so quickly I ended up rolling head over tail into a thorny bush.

I landed right at the feet of a very angry bobcat, whose neck wounds still showed a trickle of blood.

The cat’s eyes flashed, and his big paw batted at my head and pushed it down into the leaves.

I let him. I held very still as his sharp ears caught the sound of the rebel’s hunt in the distance.

His eyes flickered back to mine and held.

I twisted slightly until I showed him my belly.

His nostrils flared, and he gave a huffy cat breath at that. I wasn’t sure if he was pleased by my submission or annoyed he didn’t have the excuse to hurt me.

If we’d been human, I would have told him what I’d heard and bolted. I’d have told him, kicked him in the nards, and run for my life.

But we weren’t human. I couldn’t talk.

I had no choice.

I was going to have to let him bring me in.

Quinn the bobcat leaned down and nudged me with his nose until I rolled onto my feet. Then he scooped me up by the scruff and turned east, heading toward the dawn, the castle, and my sister.

Five hours past sunrise, we arrived at the palace. I expected Quinn to go around to the soldier’s entrance. But he trotted toward the main gates. He crossed the moat, letting me dangle over the water once, just because he could. The huge oversized portcullis loomed over us. Wagons traveled in and out, carrying laundry and foodstuffs and nobles.

Shite. He was going to reveal me here. In front of everyone.

Because everyone knew enchantments couldn’t be brought in to the castle of Evaness. No spells could make it past the barriers at the gates. An invisible shield protected the castle, set up by one of the great wizards who ruled centuries ago. The shield removed all mage spells and revealed all true human natures. No hidden poisons, no spelled disguises, nothing made it past the gates. Only the royal family and palace mage could use their magic inside.

Quinn shifted me in his mouth. He batted me with his paw until my body spun to face his furry chest. He walked calmly up the bridge, ignoring the villagers and servants who screamed and fled at the sight of a spotted bobcat.

He dodged a soldier’s arrow.

My heart pounded, and I fought to keep from trembling. Yes, the arrows concerned me. But the gate did even more.

Why this gate? Why not one more private? Why reveal me in front of everyone?

And then it hit me. He was here to humiliate me. Much as I had humiliated him.

I hadn’t thought much of it at the time, but now I was sure Quinn was angry. I had run from the palace two days before my coronation. The day after he’d been announced as my fourth husband.

His father had just won a major naval battle. My mother had seen me as a fitting reward. My husband group had lacked an Admiral. Quinn had been on that path.

I remember mother telling me, “One who controls the sea controls the land.”

I had bit back an argument about the sky at the time. No one had controlled the sky since dragons had been vanished after the last Fire War. I’d just nodded my head and let her tack on another man. I’d already planned to leave at that point anyway.

The only thing I’d known of Quinn Byrne before I’d run had been his name.

The timing was pure coincidence. I’d seen the chance to escape and leapt at it.

I very much doubted the spy master believed in coincidence.

I closed my eyes as he neared the portcullis. We just had to pass it to encounter the shield.

Think of Avia. Think of Avia. You have to warn her. Let him do what he wants so you can get to her, I told myself.

My back was shoved against a frozen stone wall. My eyes popped open in surprise. My body twisted and shifted and grew to my natural human size. Quinn’s grew at the same time, until he loomed over me.

My breath caught in my lungs. I hadn’t truly appreciated just how handsome he was. But now that those tempting lips were inches from mine, I couldn’t help but stare. Particularly when one of those lips curved upward in a smirk.

He was hot. And not in a drunken I-haven’t-been-touched-in-four years way like Abel or Marcus. Quinn was tall and lean but muscled. His arms boxed me in against the stone wall. For a second, the image of them boxing me in on a mattress flashed through my head. The stubble that covered his jaw made me want to rub my hand and face along his. Perhaps changing into a cat left lingering instincts. I’d only ever used the spelled disguises to go human before.

Yes. It’s definitely cat instinct. Not attraction, I told myself.

I was smarter than that. He was the enemy. His job was to bring me here and keep me here. My job was to warn my sister and escape again to continue my quest. Not to wonder if he was rough or gentle in bed.

I glanced at those grey eyes. Rough. They definitely screamed rough. My thighs trembled at that thought. And for a second, I was glad I’d run before I’d seen him. He’d tempt the devil into sweetness. Half-elves were dangerous that way.

Quinn grabbed a lock of my hair and twisted it around his finger.

Welcome home, wife.

I started. It was as if I’d heard his voice in my head. No. I was overtired. We had traveled through the night.

If his stern face had anything to say, it wasn’t welcome home. It was: I sarding hate you.

I looked away to gather my wits and saw the staring crowd.

Quinn pulled my attention back to him when his body pushed into mine, and even though we’d regained our clothes, I felt every hard inch of him pressed against my stomach.

Part of him didn’t hate me, at least.

I nearly made a bawdy joke about him holding me at sword point. But the expression on his face made me pause.

Maybe I should apologize first, I thought.


Quinn didn’t let me speak. Instead, he held a finger to my lips. He ran his hand over my long brown curls, then up my neck, sending shivers of delight and fear down my spine. He traced my brow and the underside of my hazel eyes. His fingertip was warm, and a stark contrast to the fall air.

My skin came alive at his touch. Heat pooled in between my legs. I forgot myself for a moment and pressed into him.

I forgot he’d only meant to use me to show his prowess. His catch. To rub in my nose the fact that I’d been captured. That the spy master had been successful.

He turned me into a simpering barmaid. Stupid, temptingly handsome man. And me, the idiot, acting like we were lovers.

Quinn stepped back, taking my wrist in what might have been mistaken for a protective gesture.

But I knew better. It was a shackle.

He turned me toward the courtyard, where nobles and servants and soldiers had all stopped what they were doing. They all stood stock still, staring at us.

I’m sure I was a sight, disheveled, in a servant’s black dress, one that was too big on my naturally slender form. At least Quinn wasn’t much better. His outfit still had hay sticking out of it from the barn at Kylee’s. His nose still had the cat scratch I’d given him. I couldn’t see how his neck had fared.

Quinn marched toward the front doors. I struggled to keep pace with his long legs. There was no way I’d let him drag me through my own courtyard like some criminal.

No sarding way.

People’s eyes followed us. The silence was deafening.

“Princess Bloss?” a woman’s voice called out.

I turned to see Lady Agatha, a snotty and entitled woman who’d spent far too many years fawning over my mother.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
Most Popular
» Knightfall (Tangled Crowns #1)
» The Lost Night
» Pride (The Elite Seven #2)
» Watch Me Follow
» Meet Cute
» Don't You Forget About Me
» Daisy Jones & The Six
» California Girls