Tasminia fled down the corridor ignoring her stepmother's shocked cry. She gripped the gaudy material of her wedding dress in white-knuckled fists, barely able to lift the horrid thing off the ground. "A dress fitting, indeed." The princess was pissed. Furious. The latest attempt of her stepmother's matchmaking involved the slimy Baron Winterwood -- as her surprise groom. Surprise only to her, apparently.
She refused to let tears fall. Princesses do not cry over political agenda, no matter how well intentioned or infuriating it might be. They even the playing field, and that left her only one option.
She raised her chin.
Run for her life.
She bypassed her rooms in favor of the secret corridor to the lost wing of Werthing Ton Fallorian's Northern Keep. Where the heart of the kingdom was rumored to beat. Or so the ancient rhyme went.
Tasminia knew it for what it was... superstitious nonsense. The lost wing was a fortuitous accident caused by a jinxed wizard hundreds of years ago. He was supposed to reinforce the walls. Instead he hid the wing inside the walls. The possibilities were mind-boggling. All Tasminia knew was that it used to be her mother's favorite hiding place, and had become her own sanctuary from the pressures of political intrigue.
Her stepmother's voice traveled through the halls. "How far do you think you can go? I just have to follow your train, silly girl."
Her stepmother would have never tried this had the princess's father and brother not been out on quest. The queen was so worried that Tasminia would never settle down, but why did people think marriage would do it?
Tasminia raced to the giant mirror at the end of the corridor, ignoring the ornate, unflattering, and damned annoying amount of lace and poofs in her would-be wedding dress. Whispering the secret words to open the door, she touched the hidden latches on the mirror frame.
The mirror shimmered. Tasminia's reflection faded until she could see a dark, ancient corridor. She picked up her dress, stepped over the bottom of the frame, and hauled the material with her. With a touch of her fingers against mirrored hidden latches, and words whispered in reverse, the door closed, cutting her train off. She could barely make out the shimmering fabric as it floated to the ground on the other side.
Tasminia sighed in sudden relief. The fabric had weighed down her head until she thought her neck would snap. Her stepmother would be furious at the train's destruction. The mirror shimmered, growing opaque until her reflection stared back at her. She looked like a washed out twitter bug.
Tasminia turned back to the dark corridor, yanking the ornamental piece off her head as she stormed down the hallway. It tore loose with a few strands of her hair. If she didn't know any better, she'd swear her stepmother had chosen the fabric to keep her weighted down at the altar.
A flash of something caught her eye, and she jerked to a stop. Fifty layers of material continued the forward momentum, nearly knocking her on her royal rump.
With monumental effort she turned, kicking layers of fabric out of her way. First order of business was to get out of this feminine nightmare.
She trekked back, realizing a new room had appeared. Tasminia ran her fingers along the brick edges. It was smooth and worn as though it had stood forever. Until this moment, she'd never seen it. Was it an illusion? A temporary portal?
She hesitated. Stray magic should be left alone. Most princesses would choose a safer route, especially when it involved hidden rooms. One had to be careful to not be caught in one. "I ran out on a wedding I didn't plan or want. I'm in a magic corridor of a wing that doesn't exist. A new door opens." She shrugged. What was the worst that could happen?
Tasminia pushed through the doorway to the darkness beyond.
Torches flared, and Tasminia winced. She put a hand up to shade the glare. Her first impression was a room. Her second impression was like a windstorm whipping through her body. Chained in the center of the room was a man. His arms were bound above his body. He was huge. Far taller than her. She swallowed. He was quite a man. Quite a naked man. His head was bowed, leaving his face in shadow. Long sable hair flowed down his chest and back like a silk cloak.
A surge of heat filled her. Her gaze traveled down the length of him. Sun-kissed skin. Broad shoulders. This was a man to star in her countless midnight fantasies. Carved by the gods, shaped by a woman's deepest desires. Her mouth grew dry at the length of his cock. Tasminia knew what happened between a man and woman. She'd watched enough interludes in her life to realize this man was well endowed.
He raised his head, and she clenched a fist at her chest. This was no smooth-faced prince. His face was arresting. Too rugged to be beautiful, but stunning nonetheless. The curve of his lips drew the eye, as did the jade green eyes glaring at her. Her back straightened instantly.
"What are you supposed to be with that dust mop of a dress? I don't recall requesting a room cleaning."
Tasminia stamped down her irritation at his accurate description. "I can see you're not one of the good behavior type of prisoners."
His jaw opened in apparent shock.
"What? You don't expect women to hold their own when you insult them?"
His eyes flashed to an eerie green that had the hair on the back of her neck standing on end. "You can see me." It was a quiet statement. No emotion.
Tasminia sighed. He was completely off his rocker. "Of course I can see you. How long have you been trapped here?"
"Too long." His lips tightened, but his eyes still gleamed with something she recognized as hunger. A twitch in her peripheral vision had her looking down. His incredible cock was hardening. Goodness. Her pussy clenched and pulses of something new, something downright delicious began to coalesce in her nether region.
She cleared her throat and looked down at her dress. With surprise she noted she still held the remnant of her train. His cock was entirely too distracting for her peace of mind.
She tore the material loose from the headpiece and walked to the captive. No matter what the man had done to earn this kind of entrapment, he deserved to at least be clothed.
"What are you doing?"
Tasminia's cheeks burned with embarrassment. "You're naked."
His lips twitched in the making of a smile. "You noticed?"
Tasminia licked her lips. "I'm observant like that." She also noted that he was almost fully erect. She closed her eyes wishing the ground would just swallow her up. Why did she come into this side room? She opened her eyes. His expression had turned to something darker, something that had moisture slicking her thighs. "I'm just going to tie this around your waist. Okay?"
The prisoner blinked slowly, and smiled. Tasminia froze. His smile transformed his face to something breathtaking. There was no way he was real. "Dash Ryan."
Tasminia blinked. "Excuse me?"
He inclined his head. "My name is Dash Ryan. Unless the culture has significantly changed since my imprisonment, it's normal procedure for you to reply with your name."