Authors: Joanna Davis
Copyright © 2014 by Joanna Davis
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing, 2014
For My Viking
Two Years Later
Esme stared out through small hole in the thick stones walls of the orphanage. She'd been born and raised here. Now as a young woman she helped to care for the children who came here in need.
It was a safe haven for the lost and alone.
Clean, well built and self sufficient, the orphanage was run by older unmarried and widowed women who wanted to retire from the world. They grew their own crops, raised their own livestock, and made their own cloth.
It was perfect.
And now it was in jeopardy.
Vikings had come to the region.
A thick cloud of smoke coming from the nearby village signaled that the ransacking was underway.
Something tugged at her skirt. She glanced down to see Petra, a four year old who had only been at the orphanage for a fortnight. The girl was uncommonly attached to Esme.
"Petra! Go and hide with the other children!"
The girl's tiny face crumpled as she let out a wail. Esme sighed and lifted the child into her arms. Of course the bairn was frightened. Esme herself was terrified and she had many years advantage over the waif!
She hurried further into the main structure toward the back entrance. There was a store house toward the back of the property. It was unassuming and built of stones, which made it difficult to burn. Underneath it though was the real secret: a root cellar that spanned the length of the building twice over.
"In you go."
Esme hauled open the wooden door and handed Petra off to one of the older children. Then she held her fingers to her lips and shut the door again.
The raiders were close. She was the fastest on her feet and left to keep watch. She knew that it put her life in jeopardy but she had to protect the children as well as the older women who had raised her and all the others.
Besides, it was possible that the Vikings could be reasoned with, right? She had a barrel of wine with which to bribe them. That's if they even came up the hill at all.
Esme resumed her post by the front gate. All was quiet. Too quiet. Something was not right.
There, by the side of the road. A wizened Viking warrior was hacking away at something. The base of a large tree.
What on earth?
She gasped as the other Vikings joined the one with the axe. Actually, they all had axes. Big, sharp, deadly looking axes.
She swallowed and closed her eyes, asking that the old ones protect them all.
That's when she saw him. Taller than the rest, with long golden hair that cascaded over his shoulders. She couldn't tell from here but it looks as though- yes- his eyes were a startling blue color.
He was uncommonly handsome, other than the rough looking leather armor and broadsword he carried. His muscles bulged in every direction, making him appear twice as big as the next largest Viking.
And they were all pretty large.
The blue eyed Viking was leaning against a tree, calmly surveying the high stone wall and thick gate. In fact, it appeared that he was looking straight at the peep hole she peering out of-
He was looking right at her.
Esme gasped and backed away from the gate, feeling exposed and vulnerable. Slowly she stepped forward and looked out again. The blue eyed warrior smiled knowingly.
He had seen her! Or at least, a small portion of her face. An eye and cheek perhaps. But it was enough. He knew she was there. And now he knew that she knew.
She dropped to her knees, her hands flat against the smooth wood of the gate. It didn't appear that they were set to continue their ransacking. They didn't appear to be doing much of anything. She lifted her face to the peep hole again.
Perhaps the stone wall would dissuade them...
Her eyes widened as the tree the old man had been hacking at started to fall with a terrible cracking noise. They lifted the trunk and carried it toward the high wall.
They were going to barge down the door!
The warriors paused, looking toward the tall blond viking. He pushed away from the trunk and walked toward the door. Clearly, the leader was in no hurry to hear what she had to say.
His deep voice was nothing that she would have expected. First of all, he spoke perfect Saxon. Second, it was almost… cultured. Intelligent.
All that he conveyed with a single word.
Esme gathered her courage.
"There is nothing inside but children and old women! No wealth, no gold. Have mercy!"
"You aren't an old woman."
That stopped her stream of words. He was right. She alone was neither very young or very old. That's why she was here to represent the others interests.
"Nay- I'm one of the orphans. I- grew up and decided to, um-"
"Aye! To help. Please don't harm them. There's nothing in it for you."
She held her breath as he seemed to consider his options. Of course, he had all the options while she had none. But she didn't have to let him know that
knew that now did she?
"What will you give us then? We must have something for our efforts."
"I have some fine wine to give you as a gift- a token of appreciation for leaving us in peace."
He looked startled and nodded curtly.
"Very well. Bring us the wine and we can speak on this further."
Blessings be! The villain was being reasonable after all!
This was the one idea she'd had all along. Get them drunk, charm them and send them on their way. She smiled happily and tipped the wine barrel onto it side so she could roll it out to them.
All was going according to plan.
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Magnus could not believe his eyes. He'd enjoyed bantering with the maid through the gate, which was surprising, given his temperament so far that day. Things had not gone as planned in the village. The wealth of the settlement was far less than what he'd expected, leaving him a in foul mood. But when
appeared with the wine barrel he was momentarily stunned into silence.
The girl was a beauty- the fairest he'd ever seen. Her silky dark hair framed a face of indescribable prettiness. High cheeks, full lips and large green eyes that dominated a face of heartbreaking purity. But below her slender neck, things were another matter altogether.
Even bent over as she was, he could see that the maid was all woman. Her firm high tits, narrow waist and graceful hips were made for rutting. His eyes flared as he took in her long, elegant legs. What he wouldn't give to wrap those around him as he-
"Well? Isn't anybody going to help me with this?"
He barked out a surprised laugh. The maid was brazenly admonishing them for not helping her. The other warriors were silent, apparently as astonished as Magnus himself.
She was a spit fire that much was certain.
No one moved to help her so she shrugged and continued rolling the barrel towards them.
"By Odin what a beauty!"
"Aye, look at those tits!"
He glanced sideways at his men. The girl was about to be eaten alive. For some reason this bothered him. He glanced at her and frowned. It's not that he ever stopped his men from having their fun with a girl, but this one was special.
Magnus himself never felt the need to force a woman. But for once, he was thinking about making an exception. With her.
The softly spoken word brought utter silence to the group. They might grumble later, but that would be the last of it. The girl hadn't heard him but that was alright.
She'd find out that she belonged to him soon enough.
Most likely when he tossed her over his horse.
She rolled the barrel closer, nearly bumping into his feet. Then she looked up at him slowly. He saw the fear dawn in her beautiful eyes as she realized her mistake. She was too far from the gate to run.
He almost laughed as he watched her attempt to compose herself. She stood up as tall as she could and managed to look down her nose at him, even though she barely came up to his chest. Such a tiny, fiery little thing she was.
She'd make good sons.
His loins tightened at the thought.
He smiled at her to put her at ease.
"Thank you for your gift. Olric."
He jerked his head and Olric and two other men ran through the gate and inside. The maid's eyes widened in disbelief.
"But you said-"
"I said nothing. They will harm no one. But they will take anything worth the trouble."
He leaned forward and whispered to her.
"We are Vikings after all."
Her sweet little mouth dropped open in surprise. He had the sudden urge to kiss the pink rosebud. And more. But not in front of his men.
She looked horrified as he smiled down at her benignly.
"No one will hurt you. But you'll make a fine slave."
He nodded slowly.
"My slave in fact. Come."
He took her arm and pulled her away from the gate towards their horses, partially hidden in the woods. They had little reprisal to fear from the locals but Magnus always practiced common sense. It's why he was an excellent leader.
And very efficient in a raid.
The girl was fighting him now but he paid her no mind. She was his and would come with him. He scooped her up and over his shoulder.
"Put me down."
He ignored her.
"Please! I'm going to throw up!"
He put her down and stared at her in consternation.
"Please, if you take me away the children will be very upset."
He grunted and grabbed her arm again.
"They will wail and refuse to eat! And- I'd be a terrible slave anyway. I'm an awful cook, I can't grow crops and I can't sing or sew a stitch!"
He glanced at her.
"That's alright. I won't require you to do any of those things."
"What do you need a slave for then?"
He grinned at her as he began winding rope around her hands.
"To warm my bed, of course."
Her jaw dropped open.
"Do you always talk this much woman?"
She nodded desperately, trying to pull her hands away and he bound them.
"Yes, incessantly. I can't help it. You'll have to cut out my tongue!"
He smiled at her and tugged the ropes into a knot.
"Perhaps I have other uses for your tongue."
He'd silenced her at last. He lifted her up and plopped her on top of his horse. Olric and the others came through the gate empty handed but for a sack full of fresh bread.
Magnus lifted his hand and gestured to the road. Within minutes they were headed back down the road toward the shore where their ship awaited.
He pulled the stiff girl up against his chest, reveling at the feel of her in his arms. He decided he would wait to have her until he could see to it properly. He assumed the girl was a maid and as such would be treated with gentleness.