Excerpt from the short story, To Steal a Viking Bride by Gina Conkle
(story found in Tales of the Valkyries)
“Please. Gunnar. Wait.”
Wind blasted his hair as he charged ahead. Men scrambled around the humble waiting fishing boat. Footfalls raced faster behind him.
“Don’t go.” Eira grabbed the back of his tunic.
He pivoted on the sand and she let go. “I must.”
Light-colored fur framed her face, the tufts shining like choice silver threads mixing with her spun gold hair. She was a highborn woman of Aland, a woman who would be chieftain of half the island here. Without thinking, he captured the gold locks and tucked them back inside her hood.
“We were meant to be, Eira.” His hand lingered on her petal soft cheek.
She wrapped a hand over his wrist, staying his hand. “I have no regrets. If I could relive that summer again, I would and gladly so.”
“And give yourself to a corner born son again?” he asked hoarsely.
A flurry of wind blasted them, twirling her skirts around his legs.
Eira’s throat moved with a delicate swallow. “A thousand times over,” she whispered.
Her eyes softened, honest and pure. A spangle of pleasure danced across his skin, the same as when she tilted her face for their first gentle kiss.
His hand curved around her nape and he brought his mouth down on hers. The taste of her lips was sweetness and longing. She widened her mouth for him, welcoming the invasion. Tongues brushing shot heat to his groin. Eira groaned in his mouth. Her hands gripped his ribs, his tunic.
He shuddered when her nails scraped his waist before stopping on his hips. She slid both hands around him and squeezed his butt. Her fingernails dug in. Eira rubbed her breasts across his chest. Their bodies flush, his erection hardened between them.
“Don’t leave me.” Holding him close, she broke the kiss.
A single tear glistened on her cheek. He wiped the salty diamond with the pad of his thumb.
“I’d kiss away a lifetime of your tears and replace them with laughter, but not here, Eira,” he said quietly. “Ginna was right. The people of Aland will never accept me.”
Her blonde brows knit again, and a stone sunk heavily inside him. He knew the look.
“I need more time,” she begged.
“It’s the one thing we don’t have.”
“You burst into my home and expect me to run off on a moment’s notice,” she huffed. “You can’t think this was a serious plan.”
He chuckled harshly. “Yet that was my plan.”
“Sweep in, grab me, tell me to run away with you as if you were gone three days instead of three years,” she said, snapping her fingers. “Just like that.”
A grin split his face. He was certain it was none too friendly. “Bigger decisions have been made with less dithering my sweet.”
She pushed back hugging herself. Wind howled across the beach, lifting sand and leaves. White caps toppled over waves increasing in size.
“Gunnar,” Emund shouted from the boat. “Look.”
Torchlight wavered in the black forest, the flame growing brighter with each passing second.
“Steinar comes for his bride,” he said ruefully. He faced Eira and swept a deep bow. “Time to go.”
Eira raced after him. “Is this your boat? What about the one hundred men?”
“I lied,” he said over his shoulder and gave the beached vessel a heave into the water.
She waded in beside him. “You came for me, wounded, with three men and a small fishing boat?”
Waves crashed, flattening her skirts against her legs. The torch broke past the tree line at the far end of the beach. His chasers must’ve gone to the harbor first, as he’d hoped they would. Steinar emerged from the trees, fresh gusts whipping his red cloak sideways. Eira’s hood blew back and skeins of gold blonde hair tangled freely. He’d remember this moment forever. Someday he’d carve her fine features in wood, the straight nose and full lips of his tall Valkyrie maid.
“Gunnar, we need to go,” Emund’s firm voice broke in.
Across the beach voices shouted. More raised torches broke the midnight trees. Axes lifted high. White and blue shields twirled with Steinar’s colors. The tall Viking marched across the sand, each step deliberate like a man with all the time in the world. He probably thought no man would defy him. Neither would the woman he’d wed on the morrow.
With one hand on the boat, a brutish beast welled up. Warriors sped across the long beach, their boots kicking up sand. Wicked laughter welled up, and Gunnar yielded to his Viking roots. Bending low, he tossed Eira over his shoulder. He wasn’t sharing. She belonged to him.
Find out how To Steal a Viking Bride by Gina Conkle ends in the ebook Tales of the Valkyries
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