Excerpt from Rorik
“Have you been eating the fresh berries in the meadow, Ragna?” asked the male voice behind her. The man rolled her name off his tongue, sending shivers down her back. She knew him well, often staring at him while she traveled into the nearby village of Kirkjuvágr.
Doing her best to compose herself, she wiped the palms of her hands down the front of her gown and turned around. “I have yet to find any. Why do you ask?”
Rorik stepped forth from the shadow of a tree. His smile came slowly as he approached her.
She tried to control the fierce beating of her heart as the man loomed over her with a dark and hungry gaze.
“Your lips are as red as the berries that grow in abundance in the meadow,” he stated softly.
“’Tis only an apple I have been eating.” Unable to move away, Ragna studied the man’s features—from his deep green eyes to the dimple hidden within the dark facial hair covering his chin. To suppress the urge of twining her fingers into his long ebony hair, she dug her fingers into her gown. She thought the warrior had to be chiseled from the Gods.
Rorik lifted his hand and gently pressed his thumb against her bottom lip. “Beauty.”
An ache grew within Ragna. His nearness made her weak and without breath. When his hand slipped around her waist, she collapsed into his embrace, placing her palms against his broad chest. “What are you doing?”
“I want to taste your lips, Ragna. I have thought of nothing else these long summer days.”
She tried to breathe, finding it difficult within his strong embrace. “Why me?” she blurted out on a gasp.
He lowered his head near her ear. “Why not you?”
Excerpt from Magnar
She stomped the ground with her foot. “I will not be forced to marry a…a heathen!”
He gritted his teeth—her words sparked outrage from his inner beast. Glancing over his shoulder, he offered, “Then which would you prefer? Halvard or me? Make your choice, Elspeth. Did you not consider I do not favor this union either?”
Confusion marred her features. She fisted her hands on her hips and glanced upward. “Did you argue against this marriage with King William?”
“Yet he convinced you?”
When she returned her gaze to him again, resolve and a bit of stubbornness filled them. “Why, Magnar?”
“The king will permit me to continue with my duties with the elite guard, including an important task which requires my attention after our marriage.”
Chewing on her bottom lip, she nodded slowly. “Then you will be absent most months from Steinn?”
“Most assuredly, and when I am there, Erik will be my focus.”
Her face softened as she moved slowly toward Magnar. “Therefore this marriage is in name only for Erik’s protection, aye?”
Annoyed with the direction of his thoughts, he looked away. How Magnar longed to tell the lie on the tip of his tongue. The word ached to be released. He turned and stared into her jeweled eyes in an attempt to offer her any hope of what she wanted to hear.
When she placed a hand on his arm, she whispered, “Tell me honestly, Magnar.”
He swallowed and removed her hand from his arm. Placing it securely over his heart, he stated, “Our marriage will be binding in all ways, Elspeth—in name and body. You may worship your God and I shall do so with mine, but ken this, you will be mine completely.”
The battle of emotions splayed across her face. She stepped closer and pulled her hand free from his. “Then you understand this, Magnar MacAlpin, you can have my body on my terms. The time of my choosing. I am tired of having men telling me what to do. Will you accept my terms?”
By the hounds! Her words sparked his lust further. Magnar concluded he did not want a simpering wife by his side. For the first time, he yearned to have one challenging him—in mind and body.
Grasping her around the waist, he ignored her gasp and cupped her chin. Her eyes widened as he slowly lowered his head. “Agreed.” He breathed the word against her cheek.