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Authors: Constantine De Bohon

norse valor

 
 

VIKING
WARRIORS

BOOK
4:

NORSE
VALOR

 
 

by

 
 

Constantine De Bohon

 
 
 

TORRID
BOOKS

www.torridbooks.com

 
 

Published by
TORRID BOOKS
www.torridbooks.com
An Imprint of Whiskey Creek Press LLC 

Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052
Casper, WY 82605-1052

 

Copyright
Ó
2012 by
Constantine De Bohon

 

Warning:
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is
illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without
monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 (five)
years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

 

Names,
characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events,
locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental
and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher.

 

No
part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information
storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

ISBN 978-1-
61160
-176-3

 

Credits

Cover
Artist: Gemini Judson

Editor:
Melanie Billings

 

Printed
in the United States of America

 
 

WHAT
THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT

VIKING
WARRIORS BOOK 1:

VALHALLA
HOTT

 

“Valerie had gone to the lake cottage in a last ditch effort to save
her failing relationship. Once there, she realized that it was already over.
Contemplating her life, Valerie heads down a strange path in the woods. Out of
the mist, a stranger appears—a huge Viking stranger. Hott was suffering
overwhelming grief because of the destruction of his settlement and the death
of his wife and unborn child in a raid. As a Viking warrior, he cried out to
Odin. When he sees Valerie at the edge of the mist, he believes his prayers
have been answered. Hott moves across the boundary to claim her as his own and;
it’s quite a claiming. Hott then brings her to his world. Valerie finds herself
back in the time when Vikings roamed the world. What’s a 21st century girl to
do when she’s without electricity, cell phones or even toilets?

“I’m not usually a
fan of time-travel stories but I do like Vikings so I decided to give this one
a try. I’m really glad that I did.
Vahalla
Hott
combines the two themes seamlessly. Hott and Valerie feel an instant
attraction and when they allow Hott’s dominant brother to join them, the sex
becomes explosive. Hott and Valerie’s relationship blossoms and they do share a
deep connection. I liked both characters and loved the way [they] tried to
please each other. The plot is engaging as Valerie tries to fit into the Viking
culture and Hott and his warriors confront the raiders. The time-travel aspect
is interesting and the details really do make sense. Overall, this was a very
enjoyable read and I do hope that Hott’s brother finds his true love in the
next book.”

Emma

Night Owl Reviews

Rating: 4 Stars

 
 
 

D
edication

 

For Sean

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Prologue

 

“This chicken is disgusting, Svana.”

“It’s not chicken,” Svana said with a deep sigh. “It’s
Cornish game hen and it’s fine.”

“It tastes like salted rubber.”

“It’s perfectly seasoned. You’re just being picky, David.”

Her brother scowled at her. “Ever since your little stint in
Africa, you’ve been so…so…”

“Enlightened?”

“Boring and accepting.”

“It just put my life into perspective.”

“Perspective is one thing, little sister, rubber chicken is
another.”

Svana just shook her head when her brother practically threw
his dinner at Paul, their ‘water waiter’ as David called him when they were offshore.
He ordered him to take it back and bring him something edible. Paul, a short,
portly man with thinning dark hair in his mid-fifties, bowed respectfully and
cast a quick glance at Svana. His eyes twinkled with mischief. Svana admired
his patience. If she were Paul, she would already have thrown David overboard,
with his dinner. They had been aboard their family yacht for three days.
Svana’s father had insisted she take a vacation. She had admittedly been
stressing for the last two months. Her father was of course too busy to
accompany her so her playboy unemployed brother volunteered to take care of
her.

The thought made Svana’s eyes roll. She wondered who would
take care of whom. Svana’s gaze settled over the endless brilliant blue ocean.
The waves had increased in size, giving them all white caps that rolled in a
somewhat haphazard billow. Clouds were forming in the distance. A slight breeze
ruffled her hair. She tucked a wayward auburn strand behind her ear. The food
before her remained relatively untouched and unappetizing, it was good, no
doubt, but her thoughts were elsewhere. Not more than three months ago she
might have chucked her food back at Paul right along with David. It was a game
they had played when they were young. The two of them had been little terrors.
The cook, Abe, always knew no matter what he served, Svana’s and David’s first
course was always returned. It would seem David still enjoyed the amusement. It
was one of many juvenile pastimes Svana had outgrown.

“You’re no fun anymore,” David said with a pout, but his
eyes sparkled with mischief.

She rolled her eyes at him making him laugh.

For Svana, the senseless game had lost its appeal.
Especially when she could see a starving child in her mind’s eye. She reflected
back on her trip to Africa as she had been doing so often lately. A new passion
had engulfed her. Her mind just couldn’t seem to let go of the primal place.
When Jo-Jo, her friend Joanne, had mentioned going to Africa on safari she had
made it seem fun and exciting. It had started out that way. Their guides were
fantastic and had been falling over themselves to be doting, if not smothering.
The animals were beautiful and exciting. It was thrilling to see danger up
close and remain safe and protected. It was unlike any feeling Svana had ever
felt before. She liked it immensely. The sheer power of a rhino charging was
exhilarating. Watching a cheetah stalk its prey had made her heart pound within
her breast. They had been treated to the heated mating dance of two lions. The
clothing the people wore, the dancing that they were shown in some of the
villages was breathtaking. It was a magical place. So many smiling wonderful
people they had met.

Then one night she and Jo-Jo had gotten drunk. They made the
mistake of thinking they were invincible. Not two feet into the bush and they
realized their folly. They had become separated from their guides then gotten
lost. After wandering the jungle alone and terror stricken, they had been very
lucky to happen upon a small, seemingly forgotten village. It had been a
sobering experience.

The dilapidated huts were shacks. The food, what there was
of it, was so meager and looked so bland and tasteless Svana hadn’t tried any.
The water they were offered was brackish. While sitting on a woven leafy mat in
a dirty corner awaiting rescue in a one-room hut, Svana had been appalled at
the poverty. She had never seen such emptiness in a place. It was as though she
could hear the walls of the hovel weeping. Svana’s family vacations were always
filled with expensive lavish wonders. Everything around her had been controlled
her entire life. Nothing but the best for daddy’s little angels. Especially
after their mother had died when Svana was just thirteen. A time when a girl
needed another woman to talk to. With their father away so often, she and David
had grown even closer.

Svana’s eyes had watched the woman, owner of the hovel, no
older than herself, care for four young children. She was obviously pregnant.
She had no husband; he had died two years previously, from what she understood
the woman to say. Svana didn’t ask how she had become pregnant. All of the
children were malnourished. Spindly arms and bony legs begged for flesh to keep
them warm. Not one of them smiled, as though they never had. Svana had never
seen children who would creep and not skip. They huddled together instead of
fighting or playing.

Jo-Jo had wrinkled her nose in disgust when one of the
children, no more than eight if that, offered to share his meal. It was
apparent they ate only once a day…and sometimes not even that. When Jo-Jo had
refused and the boy had approached her, Svana couldn’t resist stroking his
gaunt little face. Her pale skin was such a contrast to his dark cheek. He was
beautiful. His eyes had looked so old when he gazed upon her. Dark brown eyes
filled with suffering and strength dragged her into his very soul. Svana had
felt trapped. Then it was as though a switch was thrown. A wrong path had led
her in the right direction. Deep down, Svana knew she was a good person and
that she had a good heart. She realized the world didn’t revolve around her.
There was so much she could offer if she thought about others for a change. She
had returned home and made it her mission to help that little village.

“Earth to Svana,” David drawled.

Svana realized she was toying with her mashed potatoes. She
sighed, worried for the children she had been reminiscing about. Without any
appetite, she rose and went to the railing to gaze overboard. Her brother
joined her. His short auburn hair, much like her own, shimmered with crazy
natural highlights. When he smiled at her cheekily and made a face, Svana
couldn’t help but return the grin. Her brother was charming and charismatic.
Unfortunately, he knew it and was a real devil when it came to the ladies and
commitment.

“I know what you’re thinking,” he said.

“Of course you do, you’re my twin. We always know what the
other is thinking.”

“Thanks to you, that little ragamuffin and his siblings and
friends are no doubt soundly sleeping with full bellies and teddy bears
clutched in their little arms. And dreaming about a future.”

“Yes, but is it enough?”

David turned and faced her. His hands gripped hers. “It’s
more than they’ve ever had. You can’t save everyone. Even we don’t have that
much money.”

For once, his dark brown eyes looked so serious that Svana
gave him a spontaneous hug.

David squeezed her hard before setting her away from him.

“If you could have seen what I saw,” Svana muttered.

“Ah, but you see, I won’t see what you saw. You’ve changed
it. The village has clean water and new homes and they’re growing food. The
kids have toys and games and clothes.”

“Until someone comes along and destroys it.”

“That’s why you hired the guards.”

“I know, but
¼

“No buts. They’ll be fine,” David insisted. “You gave them
the skills and materials. It’s up to them now.”

“There was an old woman there who cried when we returned
with food and water. She cried harder when I told her I wanted to help make
their village safe. She was such a funny thing. The village soothsayer. She
told me my life would be hard, but filled with love. I told her I was rich and
everything comes pretty easy to me, but she insisted my wealth would be found
in people, not money. I wonder how she is.”

“I’m certain she’s okay. Take some time for yourself. You’ve
earned it.”

“I just worry. They needed me, but I guess they don’t
anymore. I’m happy they’re doing better. I guess I’m just feeling a bit useless
now.”

“Be careful, little sister. Your heart is on your sleeve.”

Svana snorted. “You’re older by an entire five minutes.
Don’t ‘little sister’ me.”

“I don’t mean age-wise. I’m almost a foot taller and a good
hundred pounds heavier.”

Svana had to agree. David was six foot three with a very
muscular build. For all his great size, he was a big baby. She knew the real
reason why he would never see the African village that had captured her heart.
David was terrified of large animals, snakes, lizards…basically anything with
scales, fur or feathers. Svana was the adventurous one. She knew it had struck
a raw chord in their father that she was the tomboy. David could scream like a
girl. He wouldn’t touch anything icky or slimy. David had redeemed himself upon
occasion. When he wasn’t lazing about, he had a real knack for figuring out
problems. Most often he preferred to be flirting and spending.

A splash captured Svana’s attention. “Oh look!” she
squealed. “A dolphin.”

“Yippee,” David drawled.

Svana sighed, Mr. Cynical had returned. “You have to admit
she’s beautiful.”

“I admit nothing. And how do you know it’s female? Did you
look up her tail?” He snorted and elbowed her. “
Tail
, get it?”

“Yes I know what
tail
you’re thinking of. As in piece. Can you ever not think about women?”

“No.” He looked at her with mock horror.

“Sir, your dinner,” Paul interrupted.

David winked at Svana and taking her hand he led her back to
the table. He returned to his meal, covered it in salt and cleaned his plate
without further fuss.

Paul brought them coffee and the twins sat companionably.
David drank his black, like their father. Svana sipped at hers with cream and
sugar. Her virtually untouched plate was still before her. Left discreetly in
case she changed her mind. Svana studied the mashed potatoes. It was a staple
shipped monthly to her little village. The versatile potato. She had become
proficient in her food choices. Much depended on the land for what the
villagers could grow. The rest needed to calculate how many nutrients and
vitamins could be packed in something easy to export. The ideas had Svana
racing for books on nutrition. Then surprisingly, cookbooks. Svana, who had
never cooked a meal in her life, was suddenly creating quick efficient dishes
with few ingredients but with the most benefits. She wanted to share these
dishes with her newfound friends the next time she saw them.

Svana’s entire world became engrossed in food preparations
from land sources and not just grocery stores. She’d had no idea the earth
provided so much that was overlooked. To her surprise it was a great deal of
fun. It was also informative. Her father didn’t have the same appreciation.
When sitting down to dinner on a rare night graced with his company, Svana
listed off many numerous foodstuffs. Her father had tried to remain polite. But
it was easy to see his interest was at best aloof when she tried to entertain
the idea of making flour and coffee from acorns. As she went on and on, his
eyes had rolled.

“Daddy, you can make flour from the inner bark of a tree,”
she had told him, eyes wide. “So many things are found wild, like yeast for
breads and pectin to thicken jellies from crabapples. I tried it today and it
worked. The other day I was making ketchup and…”

His patience had then snapped, his fork filled with caviar
stopping halfway to his mouth. His lobster forgotten. Her father demanded she
take a vacation. His baby girl had no need to become a nature girl. There was
no fear of her ever going without and the nonsense would end. He informed her that
by tomorrow she would be on the yacht and soaking up sun. She had of course
refused. Her decline fell on deaf ears. When her father insisted he was more
than capable of hiring someone to make certain her village would prosper, only
then had she conceded.

With relief, his hand had rested onto hers in a rare gesture
of fatherly affection. He wanted only the best for her and her brother. It was
why he worked so hard, so they wouldn’t have to. He had chuckled and told her
secretly he could care less her brother was lazy and carefree since it was a
life he would have wanted at the age of twenty-three. There was plenty of time
for his precious children to decide what they wanted in life. They meant
everything to him. Svana knew that. She just wished he had more time to spend
with them.

The yacht pitched capturing her wandering attention. Her
untouched roll dropped off the side of her plate and almost hit her lap. David
made a successful snatch for it and put it back. The sun was setting and the
wind was picking up. A gust rose swiftly from the side of the boat. Svana made
a grab for her napkin. It fluttered to the deck. When Svana reached for it it
blew away. She raced after it in hot pursuit.

“Leave it. Paul will get it,” David insisted.

“It could go overboard. There’s enough garbage in the
ocean.” As she said that she made a dive at the rail as the fine material
fluttered over the side. The yacht slanted on a large wave and she was flung
forward, losing her grip on the rail. She was going over.

Svana heard a shrill, high-pitched god-awful scream from
behind her. The sound made her hair stand on end even though she had heard it
before. The next thing she knew David had his arm around her waist hauling her
back to safety.

“Damn it, Svana,” David said, his breath coming out in
heaving gasps. He was as white as a ghost. “You almost went over.”

“Is everyone all right?”

Paul and another man raced to them.

“I’m fine,” Svana said. “David stopped me from taking an
unwanted swim.”

“I heard you scream. You must have been terrified.”

Svana hid her smile behind her hand when Abe said that. She
saw David turn beet red.

Paul chuckled knowing immediately who had voiced the shrill
scream.

“I’m fine really,” Svana said. “David saved me.”

“Perhaps you should consider going below deck until this
little squall passes us over,” Abe said while giving her a once-over check with
eagle eyes. They all noted the gray skies rolling in.

When Svana nodded her agreement Abe smiled and went back
below deck.

Paul, still chuckling, also excused himself.

Svana couldn’t help herself; she knew her eyes were filled
with laughter. David had screamed like that ever since he was a toddler. When
he was afraid, it was the one thing he just couldn’t control. Svana also knew
if she had gone overboard David wouldn’t have hesitated, he would have been
after her in a heartbeat.

“I’m headed for bed,” Svana said. She hugged David. “Thanks,
big brother.”

“You’re welcome.”

* * *
*

Svana couldn’t sleep. She crept up to the deck. The wind
that had been blowing had died down. The yacht that had been pitched to and fro
earlier was now dead in the water. An eerie fog had rolled in. It swirled on
deck. She sat near the bow of the yacht on a padded bench. The creepy mist
seemed to follow her. It moved in quickly to engulf her feet until they
disappeared from her view. It traveled up her calves to her knees and seemed to
peek up her nightgown. Svana tucked her legs underneath her. It felt like she
was being stalked by nature. She watched the mist, feeling freaked out. Nothing
was visible in front of or behind her except the odd glow the mist created when
it swirled around the deck lights. She gave herself a sound shake when she
wondered what would materialize from it.

Svana wrinkled her nose. It was as though the mist had a
taste to it. It invaded her nostrils and slid down her throat. It was
violating. It made her wheeze, assailing her lungs. When she coughed it
expelled from her mouth. As it swished at her hips she batted at it, but it had
no substance. She couldn’t explain the irrational fear that she was being
claimed by…something. Just when she thought she would panic, it then seemed to
stop its assault. She tried to shrug off the strange feeling and remained where
she sat. It would have been impossible to make her way back below deck; she
would just have to wait the fog out. A small blanket was off to her right and
she slung it over her shoulders.

Svana was wearing a tiny, pink lace spaghetti strap nightgown
that fell almost to her knees. Her feet were bare. The air was too heavy and
humid for something warmer. Absently, she twisted the silver ring on her finger—the
only jewelry she never took off. David had a matching one. The ring was an
antique, the emblem just barely visible through wear. The rings had been given
to them by a distant relative on their sixteenth birthday. Her great-great-aunt
had told Svana in private that she would always find her way home to her loved
ones with the magic of the ring. Svana had loved it the moment she had touched
it. David only wore his because the women he dated seemed interested to hear that
he came from a long line of Viking warriors. The idea was comical. Svana could
see her brother as a Viking warrior…
not!

Svana cocked her ear to the side. She thought she heard
distant voices. The lights on the yacht suddenly extinguished. Everything went
quiet. Even the hum of the engine was nonexistent. Once more she was certain
she heard voices across the ocean. Gazing into the mist, she detected no one.
Hands planted firmly on the rail, she rose to her knees. The blanket slipped
from her shoulders to settle around her waist. A sudden gust of cold air
whipped her hair wildly around her face and goose bumps dotted her arms. Svana
peered deeper into the all-encompassing darkness. She screamed when the large
wooden face of a dragon came at her from out of nowhere. The yacht was rammed
and Svana went flying overboard. Arms flailing, Svana howled when she hit the
water. It was freezing.


Help!
” she
screamed when she surfaced. A wave slapped her in the face and she coughed out
saltwater. Svana screamed again.

A huge splash sounded from behind her. The mist was so
thick, she couldn’t see anything. Again she yelled for help. Her heart raced,
pounding in her ears. Her skin was dotted in layers of goose bumps. Water
lapped at her from every direction. Saltwater stung her eyes. Silence greeted
her next, just the odd sound of the ocean moaning all around her. Svana’s mouth
filled with saliva and she swallowed hard. She turned slowly, searching for the
outline of the yacht. She could see nothing; she was alone. A cold chill slid
down her back when she felt a tug on her nightie and she cried out. Water
swished and swirled around her. For one terrifying moment a large tail splashed
and the gray dorsal fin of a shark surfaced not more than a foot to her right.


Shark!
” she
screamed and backpaddled to get away.

The shark grabbed her clothing and Svana twisted sideways.
The nightgown was ripped from her. She watched the shark move away gumming it.

“Don’t flail,” a deep voice commanded her.

Svana whimpered. Every fiber of her being wanted to swim as
fast as she could but with the heavy fog, she couldn’t see the yacht. The voice
that had called to her wasn’t familiar. Still, it was a beacon in her fear.
Svana stilled as much as possible, her mind willing the deep voice to come
closer. The dorsal fin came up out of the water and Svana held her breath.
Higher and higher it rose then down it slipped until it was gone beneath the
black water.

Oh God, where did it
go?

Svana didn’t know what was worse, seeing the fin or nothing.
The creature could be ten feet or ten inches away and she would never know. It
could grab her and pull her under. The damned thing was toying with her. She
felt a touch to her feet and she screamed once more.

“Easy, I’m here,” the same voice said.

Only he was right behind her.

“It’s going to eat me,” she sobbed.

A hand tugged her wrist and Svana found herself pressed
against a massive chest. A powerful arm gripped her firmly to warm skin. Legs
curled under her to cradle her. She buried the side of her face against his
chest. Her hands clasped his arm, pulling him as tight as possible to her quivering
body. Svana heard David call to her. Another splash sounded.

“Oh God David, no,” she whimpered. She knew her brother had
jumped in after her.

“Be still, sweetling,” the voice said.

“Who are you?”

“Vakr.”

“Vakr?”

“It means watchful, vigilant.”

“Are you watching for the shark?” she whispered.

“Yes,” he whispered back. “Tell me your name.”

“Svana.” The word was said with a heavy stutter.

Svana screamed louder than she had ever screamed in her life
when suddenly the shark surfaced and came right at her face, mouth open. She
could see each individual pointed tooth. All were menacing. Traces of her pink
gown were visible amidst its jaws. The fabric had been shredded, no doubt like
she was about to be. Cold black eyes devoid of a soul almost stopped her heart.
Vakr spun her sideways then to Svana’s disbelief he punched the shark in the
nose. His biceps were like a battering ram. His fist like a steel sledge
hammer. The fish flew sideways and went under.

“Svana!” David yelled.

“David?” she cried back.

Svana could hear the others on the yacht calling as well.
Vakr began swimming with her, dragging her along. The man was strong. They
covered the space from the water to his vessel quickly. A thick rope was thrown
and with one hand holding her and the other the rope, Vakr and she were pulled
from the ocean. Her grip on the stranger who had saved her life was unbreakable
she held him so tightly. Svana understood the true sense of hanging on for dear
life. Vakr’s grip around her waist was just as strong. Her legs dangled down and
when he encouraged her to wrap them around his waist, she obliged. The vessel
wasn’t as high as the yacht and soon enough hands reached over the side of the
vessel to pull her up under her arms. She sobbed in relief when she released
her grip on Vakr and stumbled onto a solid wood deck.

“Wait, my brother is still out there,” Svana cried when her
thoughts cleared. She was ready to jump back over.

“Bring me a blanket!” Vakr shouted as he pulled her against
him.

Svana became aware she was standing on the strange vessel
nude. Her arm crossed over her bare breasts. Everywhere she looked she could
see the eyes of a man staring at her. Her body molded to Vakr’s to shield her
vaginal area. She had been right, he was massive, even bigger than David.
Vakr’s chest was more muscular than any man’s she had ever seen. His arms and
legs bulged like tree trunks. Water dripped down his bare chest. Shoulder-length
hair was darker in the night and she wasn’t certainmof the color.

“We have him!” someone shouted.

A blanket was tossed over Svana’s shoulders and she wept in
relief when David was hauled up over the side. She ran to him.

“Wait,” David called. His hand was splayed in front of him.

Svana stopped short. “What is it? Are you hurt?” she cried.

“No blast it, I’m naked. I think a damned shark stole my
pajama bottoms,” David called to her. “Stupid pervert shark. Must have been
female.”

She heard him mutter. Svana filled with relief, as she
realized he was fine.

“Find him a blanket and some clothes,” Vakr ordered.

Svana went back to Vakr. Her eyes gazed up at him. Water
dripped down his face and chest. He hadn’t asked for a blanket. Svana took the
edge of hers and wiped him, ridding him of as much moisture as she was able. His
body was rock-hard and Svana felt her knees grow weak. Vakr was the most
beautiful man she had ever laid eyes on. She could feel her heart begin to race
as she touched him. He was taller than David and much broader.

“Thank you for saving us,” she muttered.

“You’re welcome. I’m afraid you will be unable to return to
your vessel.”

No she supposed not. She didn’t see any lifeboats. There was
no sign of the yacht. Oddly, Svana felt no disappointment. Vakr had saved her
life, punching a shark in the face for her.

The dragon head must be carved on the bow of his ship, and
she so wished she could see it. Both the man and his vessel were intriguing and
she wanted to get to know him. She went to the side of the boat and peered into
the night wishing she could see more through the darkened mist. For a moment
she thought she heard someone yell her name.

“Paul,” she called.

The voice that answered was faraway and was Abe’s. “Are you
both safe?”

“They are safe. I will keep them from harm. I give you my
word!” Vakr yelled back.

“The wind is picking up and for some reason we’ve lost our
engines. Svana, when you have a chance, radio your father your coordinates and
we will come for you!” Abe called.

Svana felt Vakr brush up against her. He pulled her to him
until her back pressed against his skin. His touch was oddly possessive. Though
damp, his skin was warm and welcoming in the chill air. Again she marveled that
he had saved her life, from a shark no less, so she felt it safe to trust him.

“We’ll be fine, Abe! Don’t worry. Tell Daddy I love him and
will see him soon!”

Vakr tensed when she yelled this. There was no acknowledging
reply.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chapter 1

 

The mist seemed to clear as suddenly as it had appeared. The
water was calm and the occasional slap of a wave could be heard off to the
sides. The men who had been milling around her with interest found things to do
when Vakr shouted something to them in a strange language. Funny, she hadn’t
heard him speak to his men in that language before. For some odd reason his
tone remotely sounded like a challenge. Vakr looked stern, his fists balled
¼
and he snarled. Yikes
. Only one huge
dark-haired man stayed where he was, but he grinned at Vakr. When Vakr smiled
back, Svana guessed them to be close friends. The dark-haired man had an “I
have your back” look.

Peering around, Svana was surprised with the size of the
vessel she was on. The dragon head was not only on the bow but on the stern as
well. Apparently, they would never need to turn the vessel around, just face
themselves in the other direction. It was an interesting idea, never having to
back out of anywhere. She didn’t hear the engines humming. Nor was there light
on deck. Thankfully, the moon had returned to give them some luminescence.
Svana shivered, since the air was much colder than it had been just a short
time ago.

“It’s too cold up here for you,” Vakr said when her teeth
began to chatter. “You should be below deck.”

“But David,” she sputtered as he propelled her along.

Vakr changed direction.

Svana was taken to David to say a hasty goodnight since he
was to remain on deck with most of the other men. A place under what looked
like a rough wool cloth was secured where many men gathered. Svana took one
look at all the men eyeing her hungrily and she felt a tight knot form in the
pit of her stomach. She retreated until she bumped into her savior. Vakr looked
her over, then a snug arm wrapped around her waist and he snarled at his men.
He ordered a few of the men below. His language was so odd when he conversed
with his men and his English accent was thick when he spoke to her, but she
understood a safe place was being made for her.

After a brief period, the men returned. She didn’t want to
leave David but Vakr placed his hand on her shoulder and said he would make certain
her brother was settled. Svana didn’t have much of a choice when Ari turned her
around and propelled her in a different direction. Svana studied Ari, with his
jet-black hair down to his wide shoulders and sporting a short black beard. A
long knife hung at his waist, and he was bare-chested wearing dark pants and
high boots. It gave him a roughish pirate look. His eyes were dark brown and he
looked like a hairy bear. A very handsome hairy bear. The man was as large as
Vakr. He was apparently second-in-command to Vakr. When Ari spoke to her, she
didn’t understand one word he said. His voice was deep and loud but suited him
perfectly. He had a nice smile and his hand was warm as he gripped her elbow
when she stumbled over something in the dark.

Svana was surprised with the size of the vessel. The hull
seemed broad and big. Below were barrels and baskets filled with numerous
items. It was too dark to tell what exactly as Ari carried a bowl with what
looked like a stubby smelly candle and she was ushered forward at a fast pace.
Her nose wrinkled when she caught a whiff of the candle. She searched her
brain…she knew that smell. Then realized it was tallow—rendered fat. They had
used the same kind of light in the hut in Africa. It was cheaper than candles
and would store well without decomposing.

Their power must be
off.

The boat was strong and appeared sturdy. Well crafted from
what she could tell, but it seemed old as well as new. It was impossible to put
her finger on her reasoning, but the crafter must have a Viking heritage. Svana
didn’t know much about boats, but this reeked of being handmade. Someone was
very good at their skill, because the vessel was definitely a work of art. She
bet her father would be impressed, and not much impressed him.

Ari took her to a tiny makeshift cabin. A wool blanket had
been tied across a beam for some privacy. The room was bare of anything but a
raised plank piled with fur; her eyes rose at that. Someone was going for
authenticity. Ari practically pushed her onto the low bed with a wide grin and
motioned for her to stay. Ari ran his hand over his face as he gazed down on
her. To Svana he appeared to be struggling with himself over something. Svana
looked up at him innocently. She thought about getting his phone number, in case
Vakr wasn’t interested. Ari made a funny grunting sound, shook his head, once
again motioned her to stay and then left her alone.

Svana had no intention of going anywhere. One fall off a
vessel was more than enough. It was also a bit disconcerting to realize she was
the only female aboard. She wondered if it was a guy’s weekend away or
something. Svana wrapped one of the furs around herself and huddled down into
the pile of softness. With the blanket, she rubbed her damp hair until it was
somewhat dry. She jumped when Vakr flung back the blanket and approached her.

Once again Svana was taken aback by the magnificent man
before her. He stood, with his legs apart, arms crossed over his bare chest, and
his head cocked to the side studying her. His hair had dried a dark blond. She
was certain blue eyes gazed upon her. If he was play acting, he too made a
stunning pirate. One small wax candle lit the room. Vakr had brought some kind
of a bowl with a wick that cast more light, but she could still smell rancid
grease. It was a very unpleasant smell. She thought it odd that they needed so
many different ways to have light. Weren’t their flashlights working? What
about lanterns? Svana frowned, when Vakr’s look turned stern.

“Did Ari touch you?” he asked.

Svana gazed up at him in confusion. “Only my elbow when I
slipped. Why?”

“Did he touch you anywhere else with or without your
permission?”

Svana’s eyes rose in surprise. “Of course not.”

“I could see him straining against the leather of his
pants,” Vakr ground out.

“Well there you go,” Svana said in annoyance. What right did
he have drilling her? It wasn’t as if he owned her. If he was this possessive
maybe she should ask Ari for his number. “If the man was busting out of his
drawers, isn’t it obvious he’s still horny? Besides if you thought for a second
he would pounce on me, you shouldn’t have told him to bring me down here
alone.”

“Ari would not have hurt you. He is a very handsome warrior
and well-liked by women.”

Warrior? What the heck
are these men playing at?
“I’ll try and control my deep animal desire for
him,” Svana drawled out sarcastically.

Vakr looked pissed.

“Onboard you listen to me only,” he demanded. “I promised to
keep you safe. I am a man of my word. You are very beautiful. My men have gone
without women for some time and even the most trustworthy are feeling the
strain. Do not leave this spot. We will reach my homeland soon.”

“I can’t stay below deck forever,” she said with surprise.

Vakr dropped to his knees and gripped her arms. “You will
stay put unless I say otherwise.”

Wow he really is a
control freak.

“You will be allowed on deck when the men row.”

That stopped her tart rebuttal. “Row?” she asked.

“During the day they row when there is no wind for our sail.
At night it is too dark to see. We watch the water for land and debris.”

This was just too weird. “When can I use your radio to call
home?”

“Radio?”

“Your communicating device from vessel to land.”

“Huh?”

“How do you contact your people?” Svana was growing
frustrated.

“We will see them soon. We have been gone a long time,” he
replied.

“Look, speaking of going, will you show me where the
bathroom is?” she asked.

“There are no bathing rooms aboard a vessel,” Vakr said, his
expression was puzzled.

“Oh for heaven sake… Where can I go?”

“I told you that you may not go anywhere.”

“I need to pee,” she stormed.
Damn, is he dense?

“Ah, I see.” Vakr looked thoughtful and rubbed at his chin.
“I’ll be right back.”

Vakr left only to return moments later. He had a pot in his
hand and settled before her again.

“You can’t be serious,” she said with raised eyebrows.

“You would otherwise need to squat over the side of the deck.
It is why it is difficult for women aboard vessels. Many large sea animals jump
quite high and make a tasty meal out of a woman’s irresistible, vulnerable
behind.”

Svana’s mouth dropped open. “I think I’ll pass on both
ideas.”

Vakr shrugged, rose and settled beside her. He lay back with
his hands clasped under his head.

“I beg your pardon,” Svana said, eyes wide when he readied
himself for sleep.

“I promised you would remain safe. I will guard you while
you sleep.”

“Send my brother down,” she demanded. Vakr might have saved
her but it didn’t give him the right to crawl into bed with her.

Vakr looked a bit worried. “I’m sorry, Svana. I don’t wish
to be rude, but your brother is no match for my men. He’s a bit puny.”

“Puny!” she exclaimed.

“How well does he wield a sword?”

“Huh?”

“A sword, Svana. Does he fight well?”

“David couldn’t fight his way out of a soggy paper bag.
Everyone cringes when he holds something sharper than a butter knife.”

“A paper bag?” he asked, his face a mask of curiosity.

Svana was growing tired of his play acting or whatever the
heck it was he was doing but thought it might be best to amuse him, for now.
She cast her glance around. “A musty blanket full of holes.”

Vakr sighed heavily. “Do not fear, he is safe enough. He is
a pretty man but my men are not that desperate.”

Svana’s eyes rose in surprise. The man was serious. “Vakr,
where do you live?”

“A beautiful little village I have not seen in over a year.
We have traveled far and wide.” His expression was soft in the fading light.
“My mother will be pleased to see I have brought home a trophy.”

“Trophy?”

“Yes, you. Of course your brother’s help will be welcome
around the village. Do not worry, since I will not let anyone harm him. He can
pledge his allegiance to me and he will be safe.”

“Vakr, we can’t stay with you. I have to go home to my
father,” Svana said, she was becoming distressed.
Just how far does he plan on taking this?

Vakr sat up but pushed her down into the fur. His look was
stern. “You are mine. I claimed you before the men. I swore to protect you.
Your brother was saved under my command; he is mine also.”

He claimed me?
What the hell does that mean?
Svana was
becoming more confused by the moment. “But when we reach your home, I will
inform the authorities. Vakr, thank you for saving my life but it doesn’t mean
I belong to you…neither does David.”

“It is the law, so you are mine.”

“What law?” she asked incredulous.

“Viking law. I claimed you, so you are mine,” he insisted
again as though she was missing something important. It was apparent she was
making him angry.

“Viking law?” she whispered. Svana tried to still her
pounding heart.
Vakr thinks he is a
Viking?
The man who saved her wasn’t playing a role; he was nuts and she
was alone with him. She was pinned to the fur with his stare. Her entire body
began to shake. “Vakr, there is no Viking law.”

For some reason he smiled and looked enlightened. “Ah, I see
your dilemma. You have no knowledge of us. Many have not. Have you never heard
of a Viking?”

“Yes, they took what they wanted and were very fierce. They
were known as berserkers.”

“If you know of us, it is no wonder your warriors offered no
attempt to save you. They must have been too fearful. I would not have hurt
them, unless they tried to take you from me. I would have surrendered your
brother back. I am a very understanding man.

“I have been to many strange lands. Many do odd things. Some
speak strange, like you. Some claim to have different Gods and different laws.
Some are fools who think if they travel too far they will fall off the earth.
Some have no real concept of time. I am curious about the world. It’s one of
the reasons I travel. Do your people count years? Where I am from we can count seven
hundred fifty-six years. What of your people? Is it the same?”

Svana’s belly heaved.
Seven
hundred fifty-six? Vikings? Vakr isn’t nuts, he is
insane
.
The man was a boulder short of a
mountain and she was alone with him with only a fur wrapped around her nude
body. Vikings raped and slaughtered people. They stole people and forced them
into slavery. Vakr claimed to be one of them. Svana swallowed hard. Her skin
grew cold. Her teeth chattered. She couldn’t help the small frightened whimper
that escaped her lips. Was she about to be raped and murdered?

“Svana?”

“Please don’t hurt me,” she whispered.

* * *
*

Svana was taken above deck by Vakr when the sun rose the
next morning. David was just climbing out from under the tarp he had slept beneath.
He looked disheveled and very grateful to see her. Svana threw herself into his
arms. He squished her soundly to his chest. After spending the night wrapped in
Vakr’s embrace, her brother seemed smaller. She saw David cast a worried glance
at Vakr.

“He’s watching us, and he doesn’t look very happy.”

“I know, David. The only reason Vakr’s allowing you to even
hold me in your arms is because I explained to him that we’re twins. If you’re
worried about me, don’t be. Vakr hasn’t touched me and only one man was stupid
enough to brush against me…I think he’s still unconscious,” Svana replied. She
felt David shudder.