From the upcoming book

To Find a Viking Treasure



His boot nudged her foot. “You could purchase your freedom.”

Freedom’s whisper had grown stronger after Hakan offered the reward. What Brand said aloud changed a distant possibility into something real with her coming reward.

“I’m not sure…” her voice drifted off. “Where would I go? What would I do?”

She cupped her neck where once a slave’s collar circled. The hateful iron left a scar in one spot, but the weight grew familiar over time. Lady Henrikkson never required the dreaded ring. Some lords were not as kind.

“A woman alone?” She shook her head. “I’d rather have a safe home where few demands are made of me.”

“Freedom gives you that.”

The words rolled easily off his tongue. Brand wouldn’t understand.

Two hawk owls flew overhead. The birds of prey circled and swooped, so graceful. Those two had a better chance of living in a safe home than she did, and the animals had each other.

She had no one.

“There’s no certainty that I’ll gain my freedom. A thrall doesn’t get to decide how her life will go.”

His brows slammed together. “You believe that?”

“What else can I do?”

“Start by remembering you came into the world naked and screaming the same as everyone else. You have choices.”

“You don’t understand.” She shot back. “I have no control over what I wear or what I do. And don’t forget, the lord I serve decides where I make my bed.”

“Good enough reason to fight for what you want.”

Fight?” she scoffed. “Just to be cut down by someone with power over me?” Her hands fisted on her lap. “I’ve borne enough cuts and bruises to know better.”

The oars stopped.

“You’re giving up.”

“I’m not giving up,” she said, her voice louder. “More like staying smart. I learned long ago those that fight don’t live long.”

Her heart pounded in her chest. Why did he prod her so? Brand was impossible to read. He didn’t move, even the paddles stayed suspended over the water.

His silvery eyes squinted at her. “You’re afraid to be free, aren’t you?”
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