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Authors: Delphine Dryden

Tangled Truth

BOOK: Tangled Truth
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Tangled Truth

Delphine Dryden


Truth & Lies, Book Four


Drew likes Eva. But he also likes to tie girls up for fun.

Eva likes Drew. But she keeps insisting ropes aren’t her

When a friend’s fluke accident lands them in a
bondage-themed photo shoot, however, Drew soon discovers why the lady doth
protest too much. And Eva overcomes personal demons to discover a whole new
world of freedom within the loving constraint of a well-tied rope.


Ellora’s Cave Publishing




Tangled Truth


ISBN 9781419934483


Tangled Truth Copyright © 2011 Delphine Dryden


Edited by Kelli Collins

Cover art by Syneca


Electronic book publication June 2011


The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of
Ellora’s Cave Publishing.


With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home
Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.


Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed
via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the
publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement
without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5
years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.  (
Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not
participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your
support of the author’s rights is appreciated.


This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The
characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

Tangled Truth

Delphine Dryden

Trademarks Acknowledgement


The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark
owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

Boy Scouts: Boy Scouts of America Corporation

Converse: Converse Inc.

Currier & Ives: Currier & Ives Foundation

Eagle Scouts: Boy Scouts of America Corporation

Fortune 500: Time Inc.

Le Corbusier: Foundation Le Corbusier

Monopoly: Hasbro, Inc.

Scrunchie: L&N Sales and Marketing, Inc.

Starbucks: Starbucks Corporation


Chapter One


Drew narrowed his eyes, barely resisting the urge to lick
his lips. “Come on. I dare you.”

“To go out with you? That really doesn’t bode well, Mr.

God, he loved it when Eva called him Mr. Brantley. Over the
past few weeks, spending far too much time hanging around the Swift Gallery, he
had learned the best way to encourage it. “It’s Drew, remember? Come on, I
can’t stop calling you Miss Godfrey until you start calling me Drew.”

“Mr. Brantley.” Eva smirked as she said it, and Drew counted
that a minor victory. She was willing to flirt just that much. “I’m working.
Can’t you find anybody else to bother? There’s quite a crowd this evening. Take
your time, look around. I’m sure there is at least one willing, unattached
woman here who would love to give you the time of day.”

It was true, the gallery was packed. And for once, Drew
actually had a somewhat legitimate reason for attending an exhibit, other than
to hit on the lovely gallery manager; one of the featured artists was his
brother’s girlfriend’s cousin. It was a slim connection, but he wasn’t too
proud to exploit it. He had no interest in any of the other unattached women in
the crowd, willing or otherwise. Ever since he’d met Eva Godfrey through some
mutual friends the previous month, he had been a man on a mission.

“Your lips say
, Miss Godfrey, but your
clipboard says
. Actually, what does your clipboard say? Is there
really anything on there?”

Eva clutched the long, well-worn clipboard closer to her
chest. Drew knew the board was mostly a prop, a piece of armor. He’d sneaked a
peek at a previous gallery event and found only a heavily annotated list of
caterers and business contacts. Was it habit that made her carry it around all
the time, he wondered, or was she really that much on her guard? But at least
she hadn’t simply walked away.

“The dare itself isn’t to go on a date,” Drew went on. “It’s
to take a bet. Just answer a trivia question. About art. If you get it wrong or
I stump you, then you go out with me.”

Her skepticism was apparent. “A question about art? You’re
really expecting to win that? What if I get it right, what do I win?”

“If you get it right, I will walk away brokenhearted, never
to trouble you again,” Drew assured her. He placed a hand over his heart,
confident enough to risk a little drama. He knew she couldn’t resist this hook.
In the brief time he’d known her, he’d seen that her knowledge of art was as
deep and broad as her love for it. She didn’t talk much, but when she did, it
was about art.

But he also knew she would get this one wrong. It wasn’t
exactly a question about art, although close enough that she couldn’t accuse
him of cheating. He hoped.

With a sigh, Eva nodded. “Okay, it’s a bet. Let’s hear it.
Quickly, because I really do need to get back to work.”

Restraining a whoop of joy, Drew stepped closer. Just inside
the boundary of polite conversation, so he could pitch his voice a little
lower. His heart leapt when she stood her ground, and he had to swallow before
posing his stumper.

“Okay, in the late eighties the punk band Wire released a
song called
Madman’s Honey
. One of the lyrics to that song was a quote
from a caption on a painting by a famous fifteenth century painter. Who was the

He had to bite his lip to keep from grinning at the look of
disbelief that transformed Eva’s face.

“That’s not…oh, you are evil.”

“Is it a date?”

“Wait, wait.” She mulled it over, tapping her pen against
the clipboard as she considered. She looked slightly panicky. “Tell me the

“Oh, that might give it away. ‘Master cut the stone out, my
name is Lubbert Das’.”

“Das. Fifteenth century? It sounds German, maybe. Or Dutch?
Albrecht Durer.”

“Wrong.” He couldn’t quite believe it. When she’d said
“Dutch,” he was sure the next name out of her mouth would be—

“Wait, no. Lucas Cranach the Elder.”

“Still wrong.” He was astonished, but he didn’t want to give
her any more time to throw names at him. “You’re guessing now. That’s it. I
win!” He had no idea how she could have guessed wrong twice. How many fifteenth
century Dutch painters were there, anyway?

“No, but—”

“Do you want to know the answer?”

After a pause, during which Drew feared the clipboard might
be crushed to bits in Eva’s delicate white-knuckled hands, she let her
shoulders drop and conceded defeat.

“Oh fine. Who was it, then? I can’t believe this!”

“I’ll tell you over dinner. Tomorrow night at eight.”

* * * * *

The first time he saw Eva, he thought she was his friend
Sheila. From the back they were nearly identical, with the same impossibly pale
skin and blonde hair so fair it was almost silvery.

But then she’d turned, and Drew’s eyebrows had shot up. Far
from sharing Sheila’s adorably oversized features, this girl had a face like a
marble angel. Beautiful, classic, and at that moment so cold even the heat of
August couldn’t soften its lines. Stunning.

The girl who wasn’t Sheila had been standing in front of one
of the photos, holding a plastic glass of white wine and looking as though she
would rather be just about anywhere else. Drew wondered what she was doing at
the photography show, but then Sheila and her husband Danny walked over to
greet her and it became obvious she was a friend of theirs.

Danny gestured Drew over, and as he approached he saw the
girl wasn’t nearly as tall as Sheila, either. Similar build and coloring,
similar proportions, but smaller all over. A delicate porcelain doll of a girl.
When he got closer, he realized she barely came up to his shoulder.

“Eva Godfrey, Drew Brantley, you meet at last,” Danny said
dramatically, with a bow and flourish.

“Pleasure,” Drew said, offering a hand that Eva took in a
forceful, brief handshake. All business. Her fingers were as cool as her smile.
Drew felt the urge to keep her hand in his, warm her up a bit.

“Mr. Brantley. Danny’s said very nice things about you.”

“Oh, it’s Drew, please. And the same to you. You run the
Swift Gallery, right? Nice place.” Not that he spent much time in art
galleries, but he had certainly looked in the window once or twice, and it
seemed nice enough. He might be tempted to do more than just look in the window

“A bit too highbrow for the likes of us low art folks, I’m
sure,” Danny quipped, obviously not too concerned.

Eva rolled her eyes at him. Drew noticed that when her gaze
happened to fall on one of Danny’s photos, she quickly looked away.

The photographs could be startling to the uninitiated. On
every wall of the large loft space, pictures depicted soft skin restrained by
ropes in complex knots and woven patterns. Close-ups, for the most part, with
only one or two shots in which the model’s face could be seen. But of course,
everybody there already knew the model was Sheila.

“You’re not a fan?” Drew was surprised. The crowd at the
small, private showing that night consisted primarily of friends and family,
and it wasn’t as though Danny and Sheila’s friends tended to be closed-minded.
In fact, the room felt not unlike the neutral conversation area at a BDSM
gathering…though these participants were, in general, more heavily clothed.

“Evie doesn’t play,” Sheila said with a shrug. “Though she
knows she has a standing invitation.”

“I appreciate your artistry,” the petite blonde said with a
hint of wry humor. “And I’m here, being supportive.”

“Yes, you are, my love,” Danny said firmly, “and we
appreciate your support. Sheila’s too big for her britches tonight and she’s
got her brat hat on.”

As if to prove him correct, Sheila stuck her tongue out at
her partner then grinned unapologetically. “You’ll take care of that later, I’m

Drew smiled, watching the easy banter between his friends
with enjoyment. Theirs was a rare partnership, balancing equality and expertise
in business with domination and submission in the bedroom, and a stunning
juggling act of all those dynamics in their daily life together. Danny might
have the upper hand when it came to bondage and sex, but he had no trouble
deferring to Sheila’s business acumen or writing talent. They were a formidable
team, but mostly Drew liked the way they approached life with such obvious
relish and gleeful flouting of convention.

Drew’s own tastes were a fraction more conservative, but
only a fraction. Domination and submission didn’t interest him much. His
participation in the BDSM scene fell squarely into the category of bondage, and
his expertise with ropes and knots made him Danny’s favorite assistant for some
of the more complex suspension and predicament bondage the photographer liked
to experiment with. Drew’s clean-cut, vanilla manner had earned him the
affectionate nickname “Bondage Boy Scout” among Danny and Sheila’s generally
edgy group of friends and fans. Few knew that the label was accurate; Drew and
Danny had actually both been Eagle Scouts. There were no badges in the type of
knots they were into now, however.

Drew knew Eva had a nickname, too, although it was not quite
as affectionate. Predictably, she was “Ice Princess”. Drew watched her
surreptitiously throughout the evening, wondering how apt the title actually
was. Eva looked chilly enough. Her already cool, Grace Kelly looks were
rendered even icier by her simple white shift dress and silver thong sandals.
The only hint of warmer color about her was the long, thin watermelon-colored
scarf draped loosely around her elegant neck. Just a sheer hint of silk,
bringing out the color in her lips and cheeks a tiny bit.

Or perhaps, he corrected himself, the blush on her face had
more to do with the subject matter of the oversized photographs surrounding
them. More than once, Drew caught a glimpse of Eva when it was clear she
thought nobody was watching, and on each occasion she was staring at the artwork
with something very like longing. In those moments, she looked far from icy.
She looked hot, and Drew found himself picturing her in the poses he’d helped
tie Sheila into for the photo series. He couldn’t help imagining Eva’s soft,
smooth white skin crisscrossed with black or maybe red ropes, the tender flesh
plumping out on either side of the snug restraints. He didn’t imagine, however,
that before the evening was out he would get the chance to see even a hint of
such a thing in person.

“Drew! Buddy!” called a tipsy Danny from across the room.
Drew looked away from Eva to see his friend waving a camera at him. Intrigued,
he approached and saw that Danny had tied a mutual friend of theirs to the
cowhide-covered Le Corbusier chaise that occupied one corner of the loft.
Brandon, the friend, was a study in blue and gold, his light denim jeans and
chambray button-down forming a neutral and strikingly conservative background
for the intricate web of black ropes securing him to his ultramodern chair. His
shock of blond hair and fashionably tanned skin almost glowed in the cool

“It’s his present for hosting this shindig,” Danny
explained, fiddling with his camera lens and stalking around the chair as an
audience formed. “I promised him a souvenir photo. But Sheila went on a drinks
run, so I need you to find me a substitute for her. I want some hands around
his shoulders or something like that, tied in something bright. This place
needs color desperately.”

“Black and white are the new black and white, Daniel,”
Brandon said, obviously unconcerned. He was an award-winning designer, and he
had no serious doubts about his decor choices. The black-and-white loft was
also a perfect impromptu gallery space, as the evening’s festivities proved.
“But if there must be more color, let’s have something warm. Evie’s scarf,
maybe. I can wear it as a cravat.”

“Let’s leave my scarf out of this, please,” Eva said with a
sniff. “I don’t know where your neck has been.”

The line got a laugh, loudest from those who suspected they
knew where Brandon’s neck had been.

“If you’re trying to find a Sheila replacement,” Drew
speculated, “it seems like Eva’s the logical choice, anyway. Same skin tones,
and she’s already wearing sleeveless.”

“It’s my understanding that our Eva doesn’t care to be
tied,” Brandon said with a snarky smile. “Or whipped, or dressed up like a
gimp, or anything else like that. She doesn’t sully herself with our sort of
low fun.”

Drew heard a murmur of “bitch” from somewhere in the crowd
behind him, and he was fairly certain the remark was aimed at Brandon, not Eva.
He had to agree with the sentiment. He looked for Eva, angry on her behalf, and
was somewhat startled to see that her crisp demeanor hadn’t changed in the

“I stand by my anti-gimp position, but you can use me and my
scarf for the picture if you really must,” she said, startling him further.
Drew had to admire the slight swagger with which she approached him and offered
her scarf and her crossed wrists in turn.

To a light smattering of applause and laughter, Drew helped
Danny ready the shot, holding the light meter and waiting patiently for the
photographer to decide how he wanted things. Then, twisting the scarf carefully
to form something like a rope, Drew pulled Eva’s slender wrists together and
began cinching them. Just a simple tie, as the “rope” was not quite six feet
long. A few loops, a twist of the ends in opposite directions, and then he
finished things off with a bow that earned a few more chuckles from the crowd.

Then, to his vast dismay, he had to let go of Eva’s hands so
she could place them according to Danny’s instructions. Drew itched to pull her
back toward him, to trace each margin of silk against skin, to bare her further
and wrap more of her up in tidy rows of loops and knots. He was close enough to
Eva as he worked to see that she enjoyed the process as well, despite her
protests. A great deal, Drew suspected. Her crystal-gray eyes were slightly
dilated, and the rosy flush on her cheeks was matched by the reddened imprint on
her lower lip where she’d worried it with her teeth. She was breathing a bit
too fast, especially considering how innocuous a bind he’d put on her wrists.
It wasn’t fear he was seeing, though. It was arousal, and he wondered if she
even realized how obvious it was.

BOOK: Tangled Truth
6.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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