Will this shy Charming Noble find a way to end his curses--the one on his person, and the one burning in his heart.
Charming Fairy Tales Book 3
Charming Noble, Marquis Bryan von Auerbach has a very difficult problem. He has upset a witch.
While saving lady Kathryn von Stroebel—otherwise known as Rapunzel—and his best friend, Nick von Hohburg from the witch, Vevika Gothel, he burned her most prized possession, the magical hair she’d grown from Rapunzel’s head.
Bryan never expected the witch’s retribution would be so fierce, and powerful even after her death. Nor did he expect to find his only ally to be his best friend’s sister, Enrika “Kiki” von Hohburg. The one person who witnessed this witch’s revenge.
But who else can he trust? He certainly cannot tell Nick or Penn about this, they would tease him mercilessly. Kiki truly is his only hope.
She must take him on an adventure, all across the White Mountains, in hopes to save him from Gothel’s curse. Gothel has woven a powerful magic that not many have ever seen, as her final revenge against Bryan and the Charming Nobles.
With Kiki’s help, he must find a way to end the witch’s curse. Especially since every moment he spends with Kiki begins meaning dangerously more than it should.
And Kiki is determined to never let Bryan go again.
Charming Fairy Tales:
Many years ago
The girl had lost her sense!
“Lady Enrika von Hohburg, what are you doing?” Bryan called out to her as he burst onto the roof of Castle Hohburg. His words were stunted by running all the flights to the roof.
The wind howled at him up here, high above Castle Hohburg proper.
“Shh!” she said. Enrika leaned over the edge of the turret wall, doing, well, he wasn’t exactly sure what she was doing.
But it looked very much like she was climbing on the wall.
He took a few steps toward her. “Kiki, come back here. You’re going to get hurt!”
“I am fine,” she said, her voice quieter as she stood on the castle wall and started scooting along it. Or perhaps the wind was drowning her out.
“Kiki!” He grabbed at her skirts but couldn’t get a grip on them.
“Will you stop,” she snapped, waving him off with one hand. It was as though she had no fear of being on the highest wall of Hohburg Castle and no concern she could fall to the ground.
“No, get down. You’re going to be hurt!” he said.
“I am not going to get hurt. I know exactly what I’m doing, Bryan the Spare.”
He gritted his teeth.
He’d only just arrived at the castle and caught sight of her skirts on the roof of the tower, and a horrible feeling of dread overcame him. He’d seen women climbing on high tower walls before.
It was never for pleasantries.
He had burst inside and headed straight for the roof.
What had happened? Had she gone daft? Been promised to marry some pig? How dare they try to force her into something?
And it must be horrid if she was so willing to leap to her death… His mind had swirled as he ran to the top of the tower was that she was too young to die—a mere sixteen, Kiki was still learning to be alive.
She could not throw her life away!
Bryan had wasted no time heading to the roof. While he was as high as he could get without scaling the roofing, it was not the tallest point on Castle Hohburg. The landing was next to a more towering wall and roof that held one of the armories for the soldiers to protect the castle.
Bryan knew the area well. He used to practice shooting from this very landing. The courtyard where the soldiers practiced was below.
“You don’t have to do this,” Bryan said, panting as he closed in on Kiki. “Please, come down.”
This did give her pause. “You don’t know what you’re speaking of,” she said. “I do have to do this.” She turned, her hands against her chest, and a tear poured down her cheek. She brushed it away and clenched her jaw.
“But I do too,” Bryan spoke carefully. He adored Kiki. She meant more to him than almost anyone he’d ever known. He’d grown up around her and had a vague memory of her in her crib when he was a child. She was so tiny and perfect. The sister of his best friend, Nick von Hohburg. She was someone Bryan would protect with his life.
He always had.
When he, Nick, and Penn weren’t tormenting her, of course.
But every one of them would defend her, with their lives if necessary.
“Kiki, you must come down.” He took a few steps toward her and noticed she’d taken off her shoes. “I know that the world is not perfect. Society rules are binding and especially unfair to women.”
She paused and turned to look at him, her eyes wide, cheeks still slightly round from youth. “Bryan—”
“No, let me finish,” he said. “No one in this world is perfect. No family, no life. No image. Please. I will tell you a secret, Kiki if you promise to come down.”
Secrets were always a way to get Kiki to listen. “I will, in a minute,” she said, still moving over to the rooftop.
“No, Kiki, you must come down.”
She turned and glanced back at him. “Why? Surely you don’t have any truly juicy secrets, Bryan the Spare.”
He grimaced. “I hate that.”
She blinked. “Everyone calls you that.”
“I know, and I hate it.”
This did make her pause and glance at him, a strange expression on her face. “I am sorry… I thought…”
“My family has a rather dark sense of humor.” He shook his head. “But, truly, do not concern yourself. You must, instead, come down at once.”
She hurried along the top of the wall to the roofline. “Be patient.”
Wind blasted. Kiki wobbled, her skirts flying everywhere, and she shrieked.
How Bryan moved that fast, he didn’t know. One moment he was more than an arm’s span away, and the next, he had a hold of her. They tumbled to the landing, and he held her against him.
His heart hammered.
Kiki cowered against his chest.
“Kiki, are you….”
“Yes,” she said, her voice breathy as she panted. She met his gaze, her eyes wide. “That was the most frightening thing.”
“I’ve got you, Kiki.” He stroked her cheek. “I will always protect you.”
Her eyes widened, and her lips opened like she had something to say. They were mere inches from one another. Her hand had somehow entangled over his shoulder.
“Bry—" Her cheeks warmed, and her eyelashes lowered.
A strange chirp emanated from between them.
“Oh, oh!” She bolted up. There, cradled in her other hand, in between them, was a tiny baby bird. “I have to put her back,” she said.
Bryan stared at her, dumbfounded. “That is what you were doing? Returning a baby bird?”
“Yes. What did you think? She fell from her nest.” Kiki gestured to the roofline.
And sure enough, there was a thatch of hay sticking out of a corner, an obvious sign of a nest.
“I have to get her back.” Kiki shoved herself off him and started to rise.
He sighed. A wave of relief washed over him. He should have known better than to think Kiki would be so inclined to do—
She started to climb back onto the wall.
“Here, let me do it,” Bryan said, pulling her away, wild skirts and all.
“No.” She pulled the bird into her chest, cradling it.
“Kiki, I’m taller. I can reach it better. And at least a stone or two heavier than you.”
“What does that have to do with anything? I’m not a child!” The wind picked up, and her hair started to unravel from its bundle at the nape of her neck, the dark strands like tree branches alive around her face.
And at that moment, she didn’t look like a child at all.
But he still couldn’t let her get back up on that wall. “You’re the most petite girl in the castle. Even among all your friends.”
“The wind almost blew you down. And believe me, you would not flutter to the ground, even with all those skirts on! Let me do it.”
“Fine then.” She put her empty hand on her hip. “Let’s see if you have any better luck.” She held up the bird, and he carefully accepted the tiny creature.
He climbed on the wall and slipped over to where Kiki had pointed out the nest. The wind zipped around him, and despite his bigger size, it was still intimidating enough that he had to stop moving more than once to solidify his position as he got closer to the nest.
“What were you going to tell me, Bryan?” Kiki asked.
“What?” he asked, the wind streaking around him.
“Your secret. What were you going to tell me?”
He raised his arm to place the little bird back into its nest and wondered what he should say.
After all, while Kiki was a lady, there were certain things she didn’t need to know in this world at sixteen.
Like how not every household was as happy as hers was.
“It’s not important,” he said as the little bird got situated in the nest. It hopped over to the other birds inside, and they started to coo at each other.
He turned back, and Kiki stood there with her hands on her hips.
“You thought it was important enough to get me down.”
He forced a smile on his face.
He’d been about to tell her things she didn’t need to hear because he wanted her to know that… that…
He wasn’t sure.
Only that the world wasn’t always happy and perfect, and she wasn’t alone in sadness if that is what brought her to the roof in the first place. That was, of course, when he thought she was trying to throw herself off.
“I was bluffing,” he said as he leaped off the wall and landed in front of her.
She raised her eyebrow. “Bluffing?”
He nodded. “One does that to win a match on occasion.”
She didn’t look like she believed him.
He didn’t care. The fact was, she was safe, and everything was right with the world again.
He turned to the door that led back into the castle proper.
“Bryan, what is it?”
He paused and glanced at her. “You didn’t call me Bryan the Spare.”
“You don’t like it.”
“So? Never stops anyone else from calling me that.” His bitterness must have rung through his words, for her entire expression shifted.
She placed her hand on his arm. “I am not everyone else, Lord Bryan.”
He covered her hand with his. Her fingers cool to the touch. “I know.” He held his hand there a moment longer, warming her fingers.
She gazed at him, a smile on her face. “Thank you.”
Though what she thanked him for, he wasn’t sure. If not all of it.
“You’re welcome, my lady.” He tipped his head, bowing to her as though she was a lady he greeted at a ball.
The door opened, and out poured Penn and Nick.
“What are you doing, Bryan?”
He leaped away from Kiki. “Nothing, now.”
Nick’s gaze darted from Bryan to Kiki and back. “What. Were. You. Doing with My. Sister?”
Bryan stepped backward.
Nick did not hold back.
His fist flew.
Kiki screamed at Nick, and she might have been hitting Nick. Bryan wasn’t sure. He focused on defending himself in these impromptu fisticuffs.
In a moment, they were separated, both panting hard.
“You stay away from my sister!”
“Nick, you twit! He was helping me!” Kiki screamed.
“Alone? On the rooftop?”
“Where everyone can see?” Kiki yelled back.
“Yes, where everybody—” Nick looked around and must have realized his mistake. There was no hiding anything they were doing on this rooftop unless they lay on the ground.
Bryan rubbed his jaw. “Nick.”
Nick started walking back down, but not without making sure Kiki went as well, in front of him.
Bryan and Penn remained on the landing, Bryan shaking his head.
“If you’re going to dally with Kiki, at least do it in a dark room. Not on a rooftop,” Penn said.
Maybe it was the anger or still filled with raw emotions.
But Penn’s lip was too much today. He hauled back and punched his friend right in the face before he walked off the roof.
And he heard Penn laugh, asking if he’d hit a sore spot.
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