Ordered to marry a mere knight who has already proven himself capable of spanking her bare bottom for the most minor of infractions, Princess Madeline tries to escape her intended husband, only to find herself lost and cold in the deep, dark woods.
The mist had turned to a wet dew which soaked her slippers within steps, chilling her toes. Despairing, Madeline looked about for some warm nook or cranny. She spied a large tree with sprawling roots ringed by bushes which was less exposed than the open grass.
Curled up in woody embrace, Madeline closed her eyes and tried to sleep. With cold air biting at her nose and toes, she tucked herself into the smallest ball possible and prayed for morning. Unfortunately, sleep did not come easily to the shivering princess. Each minute seemed more torturous than the last. She began to think of the tales she’d heard, of wandering kings with bloody stumps where there heads once were. Every sound in the depths of the wilds sounded as though it could be the shuffling steps of a decapitated monarch. She did not know what was worse, her fear or the bitter cold, but both were fast becoming mortal threats when a splashing down river made her sit bolt upright.
The stallion lifted his head and nickered in the direction of the sound. He did not seem concerned by it, so Madeline reasoned it probably was not a predator, nor a ghost for that matter. Were horses afraid of ghosts? She imagined they probably would be. They were afraid of most things.
Light reflected off the water as a mounted rider drew closer. The bearer was holding the light high and back so that his face was in shadow. It could be a barbarian or a bandit. It could be death itself coming for her. Chilled fingers seemed to creep about her heart as her own cold hands clasped her dress close for comfort. Slowly the band of light fell first over the stallion, then over her. She looked into it, her eyes wide as the shadowy figure swung itself down from the horse it rode and came toward her.
“Princess, you do have a talent for finding trouble.”
Sir Gregory’s voice purred from the darkness. He lowered the torch and his face was lit in a halo of light which made him look more imposing than ever for the way it highlighted the hollows of his eyes and the hard slashes of his cheekbones.
Relief and annoyance flooded Madeline in equal measure. “Why did you not call out to me!”
“A wise man does not go shouting around in a dark forest,” Sir Gregory replied. “Tracking you was no easy task, princess. The hounds lost your scent at the river.”
“Yes,” Madeline said. “I took to the water for that very reason.”
“A goodly idea if you were being pursued by those who wished you harm, not quite so good an idea when it lands you in the middle of dangerous woods without proper clothing.” He crossed to her and grabbed her up in his arms. “Are you hurt?” His breath was warm against her cheek, his body imparting instant heat to her chilled frame.
“No,” she said. “I am cold, that is all.”
He wrapped his cloak around her, using the heavy fur and the heat of his body to warm her bones. “Foolish princess,” he chided. “Why did you do this?”
“Because I will not marry you,” she shivered as he sat down where she had been laying, holding her in his lap.
“So you ran to the woods? You wish to be taken by some commoner, bandit, or enemy instead?”
“I will be taken only by a man worthy of me,” Madeline frowned. “I have no intention of being a knight’s wife. I was born for greater things, you understand. I have ambition.”
“I see, the princess has airs,” he chuckled. “The king is furious, you understand.”
“What does it matter if he is furious? He has given me to you, and you have found me.” Madeline was too cold to maintain the level of defiance she would like. Sir Gregory was warm and he had undoubtedly saved her from her ill-advised adventure, but she could not be happy about the situation.
“I have found you,” he said, brushing stray hair out of her eyes. “Which is fortunate, for these woods are crawling with bandits and your father’s enemies.”
“So far I have seen nothing besides a few fish and a snail,” Madeline shrugged.
“Lady Fortune has smiled on you, but she does not always smile,” Gregory replied. “When dawn comes, we will make haste back to the castle.”
Madeline offered no argument. She was basking in the warmth of his body, protected from elements, beasts and bandits alike. A knight might be less refined than a prince, but his body bore testament to the exertions of his calling. Every part of him was imbued with strength, and curled up against his thighs and chest she was compelled to touch him, though she tried to do so subtly so that he did not know she was tracing the lines of his biceps and the hard plane of his stomach. Her hands wandered for long minutes, familiarizing themselves with the body of the man who would be her husband.
Perhaps she was not as subtle as she would have liked to imagine, for after a time his arm wound around her waist and his hand cupped her breast. Madeline stiffened slightly, surprised by the boldness of his touch. For a moment she thought to open her mouth in protest, but his thumb began to stroke the underside gently back and forth and she felt a tingling which was not limited to the breast he was touching, but made its way down between her thighs where it danced about her clitoral bud. She felt his lips on the back of her neck, tasting her skin in a passionate kiss which further stoked the storm in her loins.
“When we are safely home, you will be punished for this rash attempt at escaping your duty,” he murmured against her ear. “I intend to strip you bare and whip your bottom until you repent.”
“You will be whipping a very long time,” Madeline replied, biting her lower lip to stop a moan from escaping as his thumb brushed against her nipple. “I regret nothing.”
Nineteen-year-old Princess Madeline is not about to let anyone dictate who she can and cannot marry. She will settle for nothing less than a king, and her sister’s upcoming marriage to a prince is merely tedious—much like everything that goes on at court.
Madeline is used to getting her way, so when Sir Gregory—a mere knight—finds her making mischief and spanks her long and hard for her behavior, she is angrier than she’s ever been. To her absolute horror, after her encounter with Sir Gregory rumors begin to spread through the court that her virtue may have been compromised. Fearing a scandal and wanting Madeline off his hands, the king commands her to take the brave knight’s hand in marriage. But knights don’t inherit kingdoms, and Madeline intends to be a queen.
In an attempt to prevent the ruin of her plans, she flees the castle. Yet after Sir Gregory tracks her down and brings her home with a sore, well-spanked bottom, his firm-handed dominance proves to the feisty princess that, regardless of his station, his bearing is that of a king. She soon finds herself falling in love with her new husband, even though it means putting aside her dreams of a crown. But when an old and bitter foe attacks their homeland, both Madeline and Sir Gregory will need all their wits and all their courage to save their people.