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Brandr let go of her when he came to his weapons in the grass. He knelt down, his profile severely set. “We need to get you to Hakan’s farmstead quickly. One of the women can tend you there.”

She rubbed her arms briskly. “Your warming me sounds like a better idea,” she said in her sauciest voice. “If you kiss me like you just did, I promise my tunic won’t get in your way.”

The Viking turned to strap on his axe, but not before she caught his quick smile and a dimple on his black-whiskered cheek. The kiss marked him as much as it did her. Despite the day’s troubles, she didn’t want this time with Brandr to end. Sweet night sounds filled the clearing, of Brandr rustling in the grass, collecting his weapons, of insects and night birds and the waterfall’s steady rush.

Her face tipped to the star-washed heavens. Taking a deep breath, air felt good in her lungs. Inside her chest, her heart beat steady, everything open, flowing fast. “Why do I feel so alive right now?”

“Because you cheated death.”

“I feel unstoppable.”

Brandr stood up, his shield strapped to his left arm. “All warriors get these high spirits when they’re victorious.”

“What do they do about it?” She smiled and tucked loose curls behind her ears.

Free women and slaves alike gossiped about fighting men and their particular needs after a victory.

Brandr’s mouth firmed. He waited, his tolerant stare the same as what she’d seen him give to young, untried warriors. “We’re getting off the island. Someone else will help you find warm, dry clothes.”