Chapter 1

Sometimes you need to pause for a moment and take stock of your situation. This is one of those times – one of those times when Flynn needs to take a step back and use his brain so that he doesn't lose his temper on the girl holding him hostage.

First, his head hurts. A lot. It's shocking that the third hit to the head with her cast iron skillet didn't kill him, but his vision is still a bit jumpy. He recites the ABCs to himself and recalls what his name is and what he had for lunch yesterday just to prove to himself that he does not have brain damage.

Secondly, he is tied to a chair. It's a rather comfortable chair, or it would be if he was a foot shorter and not bound to it. It also looks a bit battered, a bit loved, telling him that this is someone's home rather than someone's abandoned secret hideout.

Who could have guessed that?

Then there's the fact that he is bound to the chair by yards and yards and yards of live human hair. He finds this thoroughly disgusting. It's thick and tight around his wrists, and chest, and shins, but it's only hair, right? He should be able to cut it fairly easily, and it's so silky that if he can find the knot he might be able to slip the whole mass right off. Now that he's looking, he can tell that the main knot is under his left wrist and he subtly begins to jimmy his hand to loosen it without her noticing.

He can tell that his captor is far more afraid of him than he is of her. She's thin and would probably weigh a hundred pounds soaking wet (excluding the hair.) She doesn't seem to have any backup except a lizard, who's more bizarre and annoying than threatening, and a frying pan that he's decided is rather scary. He figures that once he's loose he can overpower her easily and wrestle the damned thing away (the frying pan, not the lizard.)

Finally, there's the fact that now he actually has no idea where his satchel and its precious cargo are hidden. He really should have kept his mouth shut instead of pointing out that her skills of concealment are juvenile at best. But he just couldn't help himself. When a moment for snarkiness arises, it's a shame to let it pass him by. He searches the tower with a quick scan of his eyes, guessing that it's in a cupboard or possibly hidden behind the drapes, but he's not entirely convinced of ether of these places.

She pulls a thick red curtain back to show him a mural she's painted of what look like fireflies. Unfortunately his satchel isn't hidden back there.

He rocks his hand some more as he answers one of her questions, and the hair gives a bit. Oh yeah. This will be all too easy.

"You mean the floating lantern thing they do for the princess?"

She gasps as if this is the best thing ever. Weird. While she's distracted the knot slips loose and he freezes for a moment to see if she noticed. Nope. Excellent. He starts moving his other wrist, transferring some of the slack over to his right hand. In just a second he'll be free. He'll be free, but he still won't know where the crown is.


"Hey, Blondie." Her head snaps back around to him, and she frowns as if she just remembered he was there. A sultry grin eases onto his face. "You want to see the lights?" She blinks at him and his smirk grows. "Come here."

She looks unsure, but shuffles a bit closer, her fingers adjusting against the handle of her frying pan.

"That's right, gorgeous. I don't bite."

That gives her pause. Maybe it was the pet name. Maybe she was considering for the first time that he might bite… Maybe she wanted him to bite her?

She slips a step closer.

"You'll show me the lights?"

"Oh yeah."

Another step.

Her eyes rake over him, and he lifts an eyebrow at her.

"I've never had a man in my tower before."

"Really? Well, this is your lucky day."

She bites her lip.

Another step forward.

"I've decided to trust you."

"Good call," he purrs. It isn't actually, but sometimes honesty isn't the best policy.

She takes the last step forward and bends down, lowering her face close to his, searching his eyes for dishonesty. Up close he can see the freckles sprinkled across her cheeks. It's actually kind of cute.

Seizing his chance, he darts forward and seals his lips over hers, pouring enough magnetism, enough heat and desire into the kiss to keep her from immediately jerking away and whacking him upside the head. She squeaks, but he stays with her, pushing forward, keeping contact.

And she pauses. Not completely defensive, and not relaxed. But close. She teeters on the edge of giving in. He can tell her eyes are open, that she's staring at him, and he moves into an easily caresses against lips. He's warm and nice and inviting and with every movement of his lips he seems to whisper, to hypnotize. Trust me. Trust me.

She takes a deep, shaking breath through her nose, pulling in his scent of dust and sweat and outside.

And then she melts. Her eyes and her weapon lowers and she follows his lead, pursing her lips and relaxing her shoulders.

She melts for him and he's safe. He's got her where he wants her, and he knows that this victory is already his.

He guides her mouth open, and builds the heat in her chest with a few languid strokes of his tongue. Her hands find the back of his neck to pull him closer, and he takes the opportunity to slip his hands free and wrap them about her waist, guiding her down to his lap, down to him and all the pleasures and sensations of the outside world. She hisses in surprise, but he's already locking his tongue over the pulse in her neck, trust me, and dragging broad, warm hands over slender sides, trust me. And she trembles in his arms, dropping her weapon to the floor with an echoing clang.

One hand comes up to cup her breast, and she arches against him, needing him to touch her more, needing him to- oh! Just like that. She clutches at him, burying her face against his neck, never having felt any this before, never even having imagined that her veins could light on fire and her skin could simmer and prickle and that she could ever feel such a pull, such a need for another human being.

There's a science to seduction. Careful planning and control of a thousand little details, a million little sensations that all add up to a bliss that dissolves a girl from the inside out. The way she holds him, the passion of her warm breath, the sway of her hips all make him hunger, make him long for her.

But he has other plans.

Skilled fingers trail over her hip, across her thigh, down her leg. He nips at her skin, breaking one promise, as he slips under them hem of her dress. Trust me. He works his way slowly back tracing the trail he drew down her leg, this time against bare flesh, fabric bunching around his wrist, her hips shifting to urge him further, closer towards where she needs him to be.

She shudders as he pulls a calloused thumb over that last inch of her inner thigh, and she released a deep moan as he at last makes contact, rubbing her in languid strokes that grow firmer, swifter, more pressing as she grows warmer, as her nails bite into his arms and the tension in her muscles builds to a breaking point.

She cries out, one long, clear note of relief and pleasure and heartbreak, and he keeps stroking her, making it last, making her fly.

He breathes into her ear, his voice husky. "Do you see the lights?"

"Yes. Oh!"

"Are they lovely?"


"And where's my satchel?"

"Under the… ah! Under the stairs."

She grabs his face in both hands and plants a deep, feverent kiss against him, full of gratitude and tongue as his movements wind down and her body slumps against him. He holds her there and listens to her breathe. He feels the excitement in her limbs drain away around him. She falls asleep in his arms, her little, button nose pressed against his neck.

He sighs to gather his wits again, and runs a hand through his hair, before he kicks his legs free of his binds. He lifts her up gingerly, turns, and deposits her limp form back in the chair, where she curls into a snuggly ball and sighs.

He finds the crown easily and takes the thin circlet in his hands, smiling down at it like an old friend. Somehow it reminds him of the girl. He pushes the thought aside as he stuffs the crown back in his bag and wipes his fingers on his pants.

"Sweet dreams, Blondie," he whispers as he leaves the tower the same way he came.