The Kingdom's Crown (Inheritance of Hunger #3) - Kathryn Moon

1

Bryony

“Is that a note to Griffin? Bryony, it hasn't even been a day since we left," Wendell chuckled, leaning in to watch me scribble quickly against the rocking of the carriage.

"I know, but I was so busy with Lady Prudence that I barely got to—Oh!" I hissed as the carriage jostled roughly and my pot of ink toppled, spilling across the page.

Cosmo and Wendell both leaned in to help me as Thao snorted from the opposite seat.

"I think correspondence can wait for us to rest for the night, little muse," Cosmo murmured, his lips twitching as he took my writing desk away and Wendell disposed of the ruined page.

"I just wanted to suggest to Griffin that she might—"

"The hawk will have schemes of her own," Thao said, cocking an eyebrow.

I hummed and glanced out the window. That was probably true. Griffin had only winced when I'd proposed a caper to unite my somewhat fractured thieves' court. It seemed diplomacy was more complicated when it came to rogues.

Owen and Daniel passed us on their horses, laughing easily with one another, their cheeks flushed with the cold weather.

"I like him better than I expected, although I'm not sure I can say why," Wendell murmured, watching with me as the two men passed.

"Would it have something to do with how ridiculously huge his—"

"Thao!" I cut him off with a gasp and a laugh.

Thao only shrugged and smirked at me. "If you'd mentioned it earlier, I might've been more understanding when it came to you finding yourself unexpectedly taking him for a ride."

"That had nothing to do with it!"

Cosmo had his mouth covered with his hand, a poor attempt to hide his laughter, and Wendell was not so subtly kicking at Thao's shin, but our prince was piled with blankets and didn't seem to notice.

"If I hadn't seen for myself how well you take him, I would've sworn it wasn't possible for him to fit," Thao continued, so obviously enjoying teasing me.

I blushed, which was absurd after all the acts I'd committed with these men, and resisted the urge to lunge at Thao and cover his wicked mouth. I knew where it would lead, which was perhaps Thao's aim.

"Mmm, I had my reservations about Daniel, but that was an attractive show," Cosmo said, nodding to Thao, who took the statement as a victory.

Wendell wrapped an arm around my shoulders and bundled me into his side. "Ignore them, love. They're just jealous."

Cosmo chuckled, but Thao's mouth dropped open in offense.

"That you don't get to enjoy him yourself, of course," Wendell added, grinning at Thao, who hmph'ed.

"Well I have you, my darling, and you are certainly adequate," Thao said tartly.

"I suddenly understand the need to protect you all from your own statistics," I said on a sigh. "Daniel's cock had next to nothing to do with why he is my Chosen now."

Cosmo's knee nudged against mine. "Ignore us. Anyway, Thao is just nervous for tonight."

Thao's eyes widened, and he shot an utterly betrayed look in Cosmo's direction.

"Are you?" Wendell asked, voice bright with surprise.

We'd made it down from the mountain, leaving the Winter Palace in the care of Lady Prudence and Sam, and the thieves' court with Griffin, and we were on our way to Wendell's family home to rest for a day. As eager as I was to see my grandmother in the south, there had been a tender tentativeness in Wendell's suggestion that we stop there for a night. One that left me certain of how much it would mean to him to see his family again after being so long away in Mennary.

It was only now occurring to me what this brief visit might mean for Thao as well, who had never met his lover's family before.

Thao shied away from the question, trying to find something else of interest within the carriage and failing. "A bit," he admitted, and both Wendell and I froze at the two words. From Thao, they revealed a great deal. "But the focus will be on Bryony, so I can relax into the background."

You hate blending into the background, I thought and resisted saying. I glanced at Wendell, who was wearing a soft smile that Thao refused to notice.

When Thao and Wendell had joined my Chosen, they'd belonged solely to one another in heart. It was more equal now between us and even Cosmo, but Thao and Wendell had meant so much to one another for so long and lived with it secretly. Which meant that whether he liked

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