Home > Knightfall (Tangled Crowns #1)(14)

Knightfall (Tangled Crowns #1)(14)
Author: Ann Denton

“Have you tried to feel if I’m telling the truth?” I whispered.

“Has it occurred to you that your feelings don’t matter to me anymore?”

I dropped his hair. I gulped. “You’re right. They shouldn’t.”

I took a deep breath, regretting that I’d let it come to this in a public place. I wanted to collapse on a bed and cry. Or under the bed, as I’d done when I was a child and needed to get away from the prying eyes of the maids.

I grabbed Connor’s elbow and turned to the first person on my right. I needed a distraction. The first person I saw was the ambassador from Sedara, Declan’s home country. Meeker had been our ambassador for years. He was a short, bushy-haired old man with a thick accent and he was quite upset that a pegasus team had been shot down and captured in Cheryn. The two countries had been poking one another for the last five years, often trying to drag Evaness into their conflict.

“Two injaared animals. And they won’t evaan speak to us. Probably they are breeding them as we speak,” he swigged his orange juice as if it were spiked. “Those bastaards will do anything to steal our magic.”

I didn’t ask why Sedara had sent a pegasus team to fly over Cheryn. It was easy enough to guess. It had either been an aerial attack or a spy mission. Either way …

“I’m sure we could speak to the Cheryn ambassadors about the release of your pegasus. Connor is an excellent diplomat,” I smiled widely. “He’s always had a golden tongue.”

A picture of Connor’s tongue between my thighs appeared in my head and I stiffened involuntarily. Then his tongue turned to gold. And dragged his jaw down so his face smacked the floor. He tried to swallow, but the golden tongue grew longer.

“Are you alright, darling? She had a hard day yesterday. I’m not certain she’s feeling better,” Connor turned my face to his and flashed a warning with his eyes. He gave my hand two squeezes.

That was our signal. Shite. I’d said something wrong. And then my brain had gone and fritzed, seeing things. I restored my face to calm. “Just a little light-headed. Probably tired from travel.”

“Travaal will do me in. Gives me the shits, too,” Meeker nodded at me. “Go get some raast, Princess. I’ll talk to your man here about the horses and those blimey baastards.”

I was being dismissed from the conversation. As if I was nothing. Not the crown princess. As if this conversation were for men.

I bristled and opened my mouth to argue, but Connor swept me into a hug. “Shut your mouth and let me fix this shite you stirred up. Sedara’s already been hard enough to calm down recently because of some stupid stolen chains or something. Damn Bloss. Setting me up as the go-between for countries on the brink of war? Really? I’ll get another sitter summoned so you can ruin someone else’s morning.” He snapped for a page and told the boy to summon Declan.

Was I that bad? I was hallucinating …

Quinn appeared at my side mere seconds later. Had he been in the room? I hadn’t noticed. Shite. One day at the palace and one little injury and I’d become passive. Next thing, I’d forget to have my food tested for poison. Wonderful. Not to mention whatever I’d just said.

Maybe Connor was right. Maybe I’d ruined his morning.

The picture of Connor letting out a giant trumpet fart filled my mind. I had to shake my head to clear the image.

Quinn offered his elbow as he escorted me out of the room.

We paused at the door, so that everyone could turn and bow. I gave them all a smile and a nod.

“Can you take me to Avia’s chambers, please? And can we somehow repeat the set up from last night? So that one of you can work in the next room and I can rest? I really don’t feel well.”

Quinn nodded briskly. He walked me straight down the hall. Unlike Connor, he didn’t stop to acknowledge anyone. He didn’t smile. He just strode with purpose, cut through the crowd. He had shite to do and no time to be bothered. When I’d been younger, I’d have been scared witless about offending someone. But after several hours of mindless chatter, it was refreshing. Freeing.

I held onto his arm a little harder than I’d intended as I realized that. But he didn’t seem to mind. Quinn closed his big hand around mine and he pulled me into his side.

It was odd. I almost felt happy.

Here.

In the palace.

With a stranger.

When we reached Avia’s door, I pushed off Quinn’s arm. “Thank you.”

He escorted me into her bed and helped me sit. One of her ladies-in-waiting helped pull off my slippers and get me under the covers.

Declan dipped his head in the door shortly after I laid back.

“Same routine as last night?” he asked.

“Yes, please,” I called, and Quinn nodded.

Declan ducked out and I heard the door next to ours creak open.

Quinn stared down at me while he waited for Declan to get into place.

“Thank you,” I mumbled. “I’m not sure what’s wrong.”

Quinn simply quirked up one side of his mouth in a half-grin and turned. He marched away with the same silent confidence he always had.

My eyelids fluttered closed as I waited for Avia to get back from lessons. And dark, naughty dreams drifted over me. I was naked, in a bedroom, standing on a plush rug. Ryan was behind me, his large arms wrapped around mine. He palmed my breasts and held me upright as Quinn kissed his way up my right leg, dragging his pointed tongue along the sensitive nerves on my inner thighs. Connor and Declan watched, hands on their dicks. Quinn’s mouth was just about to reach the pinnacle of my thigh when hands started shaking me.

“Are you okay?” Avia’s voice cut through my dream. “Why are you asleep so early?”

I cracked my eyes. “You just ruined an amazing dream.” I pushed her hands off my shoulders.

“You shouldn’t be having amazing dreams mid-morning. What’s going on? And why are you in my room?”

“I think I lost too much blood. I’ve been seeing things all morning. Also, my room is in a tower. We should switch. I can’t pull the man-behind-the-wall trick in my room.”

“What?”

I rubbed my face and stretched. Then I sat up in bed. “What part are you asking about? Rooms? It’s logical.”

“No. Why are you seeing things? What things are you seeing?”

“Well, weird things. I spoke to Lady Agatha—”

Avia groaned.

“Yes, I know. But the point is, I started seeing her naked. Barking and stuff. And then I said to someone else that Connor had a golden tongue and suddenly I was picturing … his tongue turning gold. Or random stuff. Like Connor farting, loud.”

Avia cocked a brow. “Were all of the things you imagined dirty or embarrassing?”

“Um … yes?” I had no idea where she was leading.

She sat on the bed so hard I bounced. “Lean forward,” she commanded.

“Why?”

“Just do it.”

I complied. She dug her hands into my hair and started to tug.

“Ow!”

“Be still.”

“What are you doing?”

“Just a moment … ah! There!” She yanked a piece of my hair triumphantly.

Unfortunately, that piece was still attached to my head. “Ow!”

Avia didn’t apologize. She laughed instead. “Quinn marked you.”

“What?”

Avia fingered a small bead knotted into my hair. She held it up in front of my face. “You didn’t research the spy master who was after you? The one you were supposed to marry?”

“What research was I supposed to do in a wheat field or tavern disguised as a commoner? It’s not exactly as if they’re publishing tomes on him,” I retorted, snatching my hair out of her hand and examining the bead. It was a small brown bead and blended perfectly. If Avia hadn’t found it in my tresses, I’m not sure I’d ever have noticed it. It could have passed for a small knot.

“You know Quinn’s mute,” she said.

“No. He’s arrogant. Too smug to talk to the townspeople. Rubs his air of mystery in their faces. Just expects them to know who he is,” I muttered, thinking back to the complaints at the whorehouse in Tera. They’d also complained he’d never spent any coin with them.

“He’s mute.”

“He’s not. I’ve heard him,” My eyes shot to hers.

“You what?”

“I heard him speak when we first arrived. He called me wife.”

“Are you sure this wasn’t in your hair then?”

“We’d just transformed, so I doubt it.” But I gnawed my lip. He’d fingered my hair. Had he placed it then?

“His power is thought transference. He can send his thoughts to you. And pick up on any thoughts you project loud enough,” Avia grins. “Its price is his voice. He just tries to put on a mysterious air.”

Her words caused my stomach to drop like a stone. A million images from the morning shuffled through my brain. The naughty thoughts. The dirty words. “That fat-kidneyed ass. He’s been putting dirty thoughts in my brain all day. I thought I was delirious.”

“Really?” Avia’s eyes glittered with mirth. “So, you pictured a naked Lady Agatha barking during tea?”

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