Home > Knightfall (Tangled Crowns #1)(9)

Knightfall (Tangled Crowns #1)(9)
Author: Ann Denton

“Yes. I should have refused appointment to your husband group.”

“Appointment? You mean honor.”

“I mean appointment. I wasn’t given much choice.”

“Makes two of us.”

“Is that why you left?”

“I left so I could find a wizard to get rid of my … cock,” the geas almost tied my tongue and that was the best I could get out. I punched the side of the tub.

“Is that so? Because Quinn put money on that one as well.”

I threw the sponge at Declan. Unfortunately, the bastard ducked. The sponge splatted against the window and Declan grabbed it and tossed it back at my head before it could do much damage to his precious papers.

He shook his head at me, looking like a disappointed school teacher. “You’re an idiot. You expect me to believe that you actually returned to help your sister, when you can’t even take that basic question seriously?”

“You expect me to take men seriously when they’ve wagered gold on my body parts?”

“You’re impossible.” Declan turned back to his desk.

And for some reason I panicked. It felt symbolic, his turning his back. Like a door was closing, an opportunity flitting away. I felt a sudden, urgent need to win his trust and get his help. If anyone could figure out the geas, and my reasons for leaving, it would be him.


He turned back and raised his eyebrows. Our eye contact became intense. A staring contest as I willed him to take me seriously. “I’m complex. I’m a riddle you need to solve.”

“What do you mean?”

“I can’t say.”

He rolled his eyes. “If you’re going to be that way—”

“No.” I stood, rivulets of water flowing down my body, dripping from my fingertips.

Declan seemed to leave his seat without thought, also standing. His gaze traveled over my body.

“I mean, I can’t say.”

His blue eyes narrowed in thought and focused back on my face. “Is this a word play?”

“No.” But his sentence sparked excitement. “I mean, there are words I cannot say. Important words.”

We shared a long moment, weighing one another. I wasn’t sure if he believed me. I tried to wait until he nodded or gave some acknowledgment. Some sign of trust. But a chill crept over my body and shivers set in, and still, he said nothing.

“They forgot a robe and towels,” I noted, as my teeth chattered.

“I’ll ring for them,” Declan took a few steps toward the bell pull before my knee slammed into the edge of the tub, yanked by the curse. He was too far away.

“Stop!” I climbed out of the tub and limped over to him, a stream forming on the floor beneath me and running down the cracks in the floor. I rubbed my knee and moaned.

Our eyes met and Declan’s eyes almost looked playful. Like he was holding back a laugh.

“You think this curse is funny?”

“It’s a spell.”

“It’s a curse. My mother wants us to hate one another.”

Declan’s brow arched.

“More. She wants us to hate each other more. She never wants us to have a moment’s peace.”

The amusement faded from Declan’s face. “I think we’ve already got the hatred figured out.”

“Sard you. Just give me your shirt for a towel.”

“What?” he balked.

I took a step closer and put my hand on his arm. “Give me your shirt.”

Heat flashed in his eyes for a moment. And then it was gone.

“No,” his words made me second guess what I’d seen.

But my instincts screamed that I was right. My mind flashed back to the look Declan had when Ryan gave him an order in the hall. There’d been tension there. Sexual tension? I decided to test it. “Declan McCarthy, you give me that shirt right now, or so help me—”

“You’ll what?” his whisper was breathy. Yeah. Some part of him liked it when I bossed him around.

I narrowed my eyes. “Are you willing to find out?”


“Stand still and face that wall,” I growled.

To my surprise, he did.

I stalked around him as if I were going to his bed to grab a sheet. But as soon as I was behind his back I grabbed my long hair and pulled it forward over my shoulder. I leaned toward him, putting my hair as close to his back as I could without touching. Then I twisted. A waterfall erupted from my hair and drenched Declan’s backside.

“Ah!” he jumped.

I didn’t give him a chance to retaliate. Bastard wouldn’t give a lady his clothes? Well, then his clothes would get ruined.

I tackled Declan to the ground and sat on his back. Then I rubbed my sopping body over him like a cat. I pressed my chest to his back and ran it up and down. I ran my legs over his pants. When he reached his arms back to grab me, I balked.

“Don’t you dare touch. Put your hands here.” I tossed his hands straight out on either side of him and scooted up to straddle his torso. I leaned into his back and pressed his palms to the floor. “Stay.”

Declan complied, out of shock or arousal, or maybe both. I got my front side dry, but my back was still drenched from my hair.

I decided to press the point.

“Turn over, Declan.” I sat back on my knees so he could.

When he did, his face was flush. His eyes were dilated. His breathing was rapid and shallow. “Now, you can give me your shirt, or you can—”

“Sard you,” he breathed.

“I didn’t offer that as an option.”

He didn’t laugh. Neither did I. I stared down at his ice blue eyes. I noticed the tiny frown line between his brows that he got from reading his ledgers and muttering at them day after day. My fingers went to smooth it down of their own accord before I caught myself.

I’m teaching him a lesson, I had to remind myself. Feeling the heat of his body underneath me made it hard to remember that.

Declan’s eyes roamed my body and I decided to see just how far I could push him.

I grabbed Declan’s right hand. I turned his palm so it faced away from me, so he couldn’t cop a feel. Then I dragged his arm down my back slowly. I rubbed his forearm everywhere. I grabbed his left arm and did the same for my legs, dragging his arm up my calves and over my thighs, along the ridge of my ass.

And as parts of my body grew drier, other parts grew wetter, particularly when I felt his bulge pressing against the crack of my ass. I hadn’t had a man’s hands on me, caressing me, in so long. Declan didn’t speak, but he was panting by the time I was done.

I leaned forward as if I was going to kiss him. But I simply patted his cheek with a wicked grin. I stood, looming over him, letting him see my most intimate part. “Fine. Forget the shirt. I’ll air dry the rest. But I warned you.” I stepped back.

“You did,” he propped himself up on his elbow. He didn’t look like he minded being freezing and wet at all. In fact, he gave ample attention to my chest, indicating he didn’t mind me being freezing and wet either.

“You are supposed to be the gentleman of this group.”

“Gentlemen are only polite to ladies,” he sat up and shrugged, pulling off his soaked shirt and wringing it out.

“We’ve established I don’t have a cock,” I argued as I tried very hard not to stare at the dark blond happy trail leading south. Declan most definitely had a cock. One that was at full mast.

“But we haven’t established that you’re a lady.”

“Then what the hell am I?”

“A puzzle. A riddle I need to solve.”

My eyes met his. A buzz filled my stomach. Like bees had invaded. Or was it butterflies?

“Put the shirt on and I’ll ring for some new clothes.” He tossed his shirt to me.

As I pulled it over my head, I asked, “So, um, does this mean that you believe me? About coming here to help Avia?”

Declan pulled the rope and leaned against the wall, watching as I struggled to straighten out his soaked shirt and cover up important bits.

“No. I don’t believe you at all.”

I spun toward him, aghast. “But—”

“I think you have an ulterior motive. And I’m gonna find out what that is.”

Chapter Six

Declan resumed work and didn’t speak to me or look my way as maids dressed me and did my hair until I was mother’s perfect doll again. My hair was curled in ringlets. My eyes were lined in kohl. Emeralds glittered at my neck and a plunging neckline showed off my modest cleavage to its best advantage. My billowing, hunter green skirt was lined with lace made by the pixies in Cheryn. I picked at the padded, long sleeves of my dress. Even more than the circlet in my skin, the sleeves felt like cuffs. They reminded me of every day I’d spent with my mother, in training to take up my place as monarch.

I rubbed my arms and stared out Declan’s window. After his declaration, we’d come to an unspoken agreement: ignore one another.

He didn’t trust me? Fine. Forget understanding the geas. Forget my curse. That wasn’t important anyway. I didn’t need him to know me to accomplish my goals. But I had no idea how I was going to achieve any of them. I wish my mother had cursed me to be within five feet of my sister at all times instead. Then I could protect her.

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