Princess Penelope came to slowly. A blanket of fog seemed to press on her thoughts. Her last memory was tainted, smeared by magic. Where am I? Her cheek was cushioned against a very firm pillow.
A pillow that rumbled in a sexy baritone?
Penelope tried to sit up. It was then that she noticed it wasn't a pillow, but skin she was cushioned against. With shock, she realized she was lying on top of a man. She tried to move, but his large hands held her against a very sexy, and very hard body. She gaped at the sleepy-eyed and bare-chested rogue. His face was ruggedly handsome, as though chiseled from stone. If not for his expressive eyes and sensual lips, she would have thought he was a sculpture. Her fingers itched to trace the curve of his lips. A glint of color drew her attention, and she noticed the silky fall of streaked hair. Black and indigo. A mark of the fey. Absolutely stunning. For the first time in her life, Penelope was speechless.
"Where do you think you're going?" He buried his face in her hair and inhaled.
Shivers of delight ran down her spine. This would never do.
"Get your hands off me." She couldn't move her feet. He had his leg wrapped around her calves, trapping her. What in the five kingdoms was going on? Her last memory was foggy. She'd camped for the night. How did she end up here? And where was here? "You need to let me go, now." She tried a voice of command, but it came out like a breathless whisper.
"I can't do that." She could hear the smile in his voice.
"Let me down."
"I can't do that, either." His husky drawl made a woman think of morning sex and breakfast in bed.
She tried to push away, but his hold tightened until she gasped for breath. Anger burned away any bit of fear she might have had. Penelope collapsed against him with a huff. Fine. He wouldn't let her go. He shifted against her, and she nearly moaned at the evidence of his excitement.
It had been entirely too long since her husband's untimely death. Two years without sex was an eternity, but the curse on her house would extend to whomever she took to her bed.
It wasn't worth it. She let her gaze wander over the incredible build of the man. What she wouldn't give to have a go at this one. A spark of guilt ate at her.
She put her hands under her chin and stared up at the man. No hardship there. He was too handsome for words. His eyes flashed an intense blue. Entrancing. The same blue streaked through his dark hair. Magic. Fey magic. She froze. Was he working for Diane? "Why can't you let me go?"
"There are flesh-eating penumbra on the floor." He spoke the word with a clipped accent, one she'd heard her professors use when reading the old texts. That childhood memory was of a different time, a different life.
Penumbra. Why did she know that name? Penelope's eyes widened with realization. Penumbra were shadow beasts. Carnivorous, efficiently so. Another one of Diane's twisted creations. "Are you sure?"
His smile disappeared. "Your predecessor suffered. By the time he screamed, it was already too late. So I pulled you up here the moment you were dumped in the cell. They only come out at night and never rise above the floor, but I wasn't going to take that chance."
A knot of fear tightened in her chest. "Thank you for that."
His fingers toyed with her hair, gently caressing, lightly brushing against it. "It has been my pleasure, I assure you." He watched her with a sensual awareness that sent her body into a riot of sensation.
Penelope's body definitely liked the attention. Her nipples were hard points of sensitivity, and her pussy grew slick with sexual interest. From the way his eyes shuttered and the twitch of his cock against her stomach, she'd guess he was aware of how it affected her. She cleared her suddenly dry throat and looked around the small room. Crystalline bars surrounded them on three sides. The floor and ceiling were polished marble. No purchase there, and deadly slippery should they need the floor for traction. A solid wall behind them. How did I end up here? Was Diane behind this? Or someone working for her? It wouldn't be the first time a bounty hunter had tried to claim the reward.
"How did you get caged?"