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Vikings: Deception (The Great Heathen Army series Book 2)
 


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Vikings: Deception (The Great Heathen Army series Book 2)


  Table of Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Prologue

  Vikings

  Deception

  The Great Heathen Army series – Book 2

  By Ceri Bladen

  ‘Vikings - Deception’ Copyright © July 2017 by Ceri Bladen

  Image Copyright © www.celwalls.com

  Poem/verse quotes © http://www.vikinganswerlady.com

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author: [email protected]

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. The author acknowledges the trademark status and owners of various items used by the author, which have been used without permission. The publication on/use of these trademarks is not authorised, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

  **While the author has a great love of history, she is not a historian. Some historical facts are from her imagination.

  This ebook is for personal use only and sold through Amazon. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.

  Acknowledgments

  Without the love and understanding of my family, my books would never happen.

  Thank you, I love you.

  Also, I’d like to thank Shirley Miller, Peg Glover, and Ian Moore for their help and observations. They are much appreciated.

  A special thank you to Val Tobin, herself a very talented author. Check out her books on Amazon - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Val-Tobin/e/B00KC5S69K

  To my readers

  Thank you for choosing this book to read. I hope you enjoy it.

  If you would like to give feedback on the story, please contact me at [email protected] Or, if you have the time, a review of the book on Amazon.com or any of their sites, would be very much appreciated.

  https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00AS0256Y

  Thank you,

  Ceri Bladen

  Contents

  Prologue

  Spring 872 - Ranaricii

  Chapter 1

  Spring 872 - Ranaricii

  Chapter 2

  Early Summer 872 - Skåne

  Chapter 3

  Summer 872 – Ranaricii

  Chapter 4

  September 872 - East Angles – Dunwich Fortress

  Chapter 5

  October 872 - Ranaricii

  Chapter 6

  October 872 – Dunwich Fortress

  Chapter 7

  October 872 - Ranaricii

  Chapter 8

  Early November 872 – Ranaricii

  Chapter 9

  November 872 - Ranaricii

  Chapter 10

  January 873 -Ranaricii

  Chapter 11

  March 873 – Dunwich Fortress

  A week later…

  Chapter 12

  March 873 – Torksey, West Lindsey – Viking camp

  Chapter 13

  April 873 - Ranaricii

  Chapter 14

  April 873 – East Angles – Dunwich Fortress

  Twelve – twelve keys, one secret

  Prologue

  Prologue

  Spring 872 - Ranaricii

  Astrid stood in the shadows, listening to Ubba’s tender declaration to Rosfrith, his thrall. Her heart hammered uncomfortably. Her fist clenched as she scowled at the pair. This scene wasn’t what she’d expected when she’d followed him into the barn with the intention of talking about his strange mood of late. She’d attempted to tackle him the night before, but he’d fallen asleep as soon as he was horizontal. This morning, he’d left too quickly, so when she had caught sight of him, alone, Astrid thought she’d be able to corner him to talk. Unconsciously rubbing her arm, she tried to absorb the situation before her.

  As the chieftain of Ranaricii, Ubba Ragnarsson almost always had someone he trusted at his side, especially on market days. To get rid of his guard on a day when the village was packed with unknown faces meant he had intended to. It would mean he knew he was going to meet this dark-haired thrall - the one he’d spent time alone with up the mountain.

  Astrid’s face screwed up and her lips thinned as she attempted to remember their conversations when he had returned. Did he mention the thrall at all? She shook her head. It was no use, she couldn’t remember - she’d been too pleased to see welcome him home to question what had happened whilst he was away. She let out a short, irritated breath, being mindful not to disturb them. Mayhap I should have questioned why she’d returned with him, instead of focusing on getting him into bed?

  Astrid looked at them again. It was evident they were indeed lovers. She waited for the hurt and anger to ride through her because this wasn’t the time or place to make a scene. She’d confront him later, or just make him remember why he loved her, not anyone else.

  Stuck in her hiding spot, she stood quietly, unable to tear her gaze away. Bleakness filled her heart, but when she noticed the tender kisses Ubba placed down Rosfrith’s neck, anger took its place. She was a lady of the jarl, not some dirty thrall. How dare he? Chieftain or not, he needed to remember he had been bonded with her for years. Even her brother, Gunnar, had reassured her Ubba would propose marriage. She’d already planned the wedding feast in her mind.

  Tearing her gaze away, she realised she had a choice to make. Confront him and perhaps lose him? Or decide that this hiccup meant nothing? Like most chieftains, he was merely indulging in a fling before settling down with her. Settling on the latter, she decided not to panic, but unable to leave, she carried on watching, her temper quietly simmering at the slight.

  When she’d seen as much as her stomach could handle, she took a tentative step back. But, as she pulled her gaze away, she froze. Her gaze narrowed and she leaned forward to study Ubba’s face. He loved her!

  Astrid turned away from their coupling, covering her mouth while she heaved. Nothing came up. She’d lost its contents earlier on. Once her nausea subsided, she straightened and glanced at them again anxious to see if they were still oblivious to her presence. They hadn’t noticed her. She alternated between relief and anger until her lip curled with a half-smile. She placed a hand on her growing stomach. It’s not important what they are up to, now. Ubba and the thrall will pay in time. In a matter of months, Ubba will have to marry me.

  Chapter 1

  Spring 872 - Ranaricii

  Ubba grasped Rosfrith’s small hand in his larger one and led her from the barn to the main longhouse. In order not to be seen, he took the back way to his bed-closet. It wasn’t because he wanted Rosfrith to be a secret, far from it, but he needed to talk to both Astrid and Gunnar before their relationship officially came to light. Not a task he would relish, as neither would be pleased, but it was something he needed to do as he prided himself on his honesty. He only wished he’d talked to Astrid before seeking Rosfrith out, but in the cold light of day, his mind
had been hesitant of his feelings – until he’d glimpsed her through the open barn door. He couldn’t help but go to her. As he’d ordered Hilde out, he’d put on a brave face, uncertain how Rosfrith would receive him after he’d treated her so badly - not speaking to her since the mountain. One thing was certain: he’d never expected a tryst in the hay. Now his mind was firm, he’d deal with the consequences that would come. From now on, it was only Rosfrith in his bed, in his life.

  As they crept into his bed-closet, he turned and closed the door on any prying eyes. Still holding her hand, he swivelled back and encircled her in his powerful arms. “Now, where were we?”

  Rosfrith’s violet eyes sparkled with mischief at the teasing quality in his voice. She delighted in the light-hearted atmosphere. Up until he’d come to the barn, she been in such a foul mood with him, she never dreamed that he still desired her. The knowledge that he wanted her as much as she wanted him gave her an inner confidence she had been missing since the mountain. “I’m sure you said something about ‘somewhere more comfortable’?”

  “Hmm, I did, didn’t I?” He nodded towards his bed. “Would that please ye?”

  She threw a glance over her shoulder at his box-bed, covered with sheepskins and woollen blankets. It was better than the bench she usually slept on. “It might,” she teased, loving seeing him in a carefree mood. “Although, we might need to test it out.” She ran a hand up his arm and laughed when he bent to tickle her ribs. “Stop, Ubba,” she breathed out between giggles. “Someone might hear us.” The longhouse, usually filled with people, afforded little privacy. Ubba, as chieftain, was the only one to have a bed-closet, but any noise from there was obvious to all.

  He raised his eyebrows, and displayed a wide grin before he removed his hands, making a show about putting them behind his back. She felt keen disappointment at his actions, until he bent forward. His warm mouth found her neck and he nibbled her exposed skin.

  “Ubba,” she breathed, grabbing his broad shoulders. “Ubba, people will hear us.” Her breath quickening with excitement. She didn’t really want him to cease, but her brain was trying to seek a balance.

  He stopped and took a step back. “You’re right. It’s the middle of the morning.” He rubbed his beard and raised an eyebrow, his gaze firmly on her. “Everyone should be working. As should I.”

  Rosfrith tore her gaze away from him before he could witness her disappointment. Her mood deflated. “All right. If you need to…” Before she could finish, she heard the rumble in his chest. Her gaze whipped back and she saw a large wolfish smile on his face.

  “Ay, I’ve got plenty of work to do.” He was intent on exploring every naked inch of her body. He bent his knee, grabbed her waist, and threw her upwards, her weight no obstacle for him. He skilfully caught her on his shoulder and straightened back up, his solid arm across her legs to hold her in place.

  She gasped when his large hand moved to squeeze her behind. “Ubba!” She playfully swatted his back. “Put me down.”

  “Oh, I intend to,” he replied and tossed her on his bed. “Right there.”

  Once she had recovered from her surprise, she gazed up into his blue eyes. Hunger burned there and her body responded.

  “Happy?”

  She nodded, watching him reach for his belt.

  “Good, I am too, Rosfrith.” He threw his belt onto the floor and reached for his woollen kirtle.

  Her breathing became a little unsteady, a little fast. When he discarded the kirtle, she reddened and pulled her gaze away from him. Although she was happy, her stomach churned and her breathing accelerated.

  When he caught her holding her stomach, a small frown fluttered on his face. Only moments before she’d been confident. “Look at me, Rosfrith.” He waited patiently until she did, but the biting of her bottom lip indicated she was not relaxed. He didn’t want to spook her, so he left his linen undershirt in place. He turned around and sat on the bed, his back towards her to give her time to compose herself. She bent down to unwind the leather straps around his legs. He kept quiet. He never pretended to understand the change in a woman’s mood, but he knew when to be silent. He didn’t know how to express himself properly with words, so his actions would have to suffice to show her his feelings.

  When his back was to her, Rosfrith watched Ubba undress. The removal of his outer clothes served to slowly reveal his body to her. Her breath hitched. Although scarred from the numerous battles he had fought, what she could see was perfection. She pulled her gaze away. She felt inferior to the fine specimen of a warrior. She knew she was being unreasonable, but she couldn’t control the emotion of inadequacy surging through her. Suddenly, she panicked about their impending intimacy. It was irrational because she’d lain with him before, and had even seen him naked while at the cabin on the mountain, but, for a reason she couldn’t voice, this seemed so much more intimate. It was his bed. Her Chieftain’s bed. Up on the mountain, they were equals; and earlier on in the barn, she hadn’t had time to think about what she was doing. But now she did, she couldn’t help wondering why someone so exquisite would desire a lowly thrall? Was it because he enjoyed their trysts? Was that what chieftains did? Certainly, from what she’d picked up as a child, it was what her father had done - although he’d tried to hide the fact - he’d enjoyed encounters with servants while married to her mother. Perhaps no man - whether lord, chieftain or slave - couldn’t be faithful to one? It didn’t matter that she’d been born a lady - she’d been a slave so long, it was who she was. He was evidently going to use her like one.

  “Rosfrith?” Ubba interrupted her thoughts, when he stood and turned towards her. “We’ll take things slowly. Do you want me?”

  She had a decision to make but, when she looked into his eyes, she understood she didn’t have a choice. She wanted him. She lowered her voice while she made her admission of need. “Ay, Sire.”

  “Ubba, not ‘Sire.’ I like the sound of my name on your lips,” he whispered, putting a knee on the bed. “Look at me, Rosfrith.” While keeping eye contact, he reached under the furs she had pulled across her, and found her foot. “Can I take these off?” He indicated to her shoes.

  She nodded her consent.

  Carefully, he pulled the first one off. He noticed the hay stuffed in the bottom. He didn’t show any emotion, but he knew, from now on, he’d make sure she had ankle length boots to keep her warm - not endure uncomfortable stuffing. In fact, he would get some of the women to nálbind, needle-bind, some woollen socks for her. Never again would she do without. He wanted to look after her.

  While his attention was on her foot, not on her face, she continued to watch him. It was easy when his focus wasn’t directly on her – then she didn’t have to acknowledge the strong feelings surging through her, making her feel vulnerable.

  “Lay back, Rosfrith. Enjoy.”

  His soothing strokes made her relax. She closed her eyes, taking pleasure in his touch.

  When he noticed her breathing calm, he glanced at her, and his brow furrowed. She had her eyes closed, but looked too relaxed. If he carried on, she would be asleep. He decided to speed things up.

  Her eyes popped open and she pushed herself onto her elbows when Ubba’s hand moved from her foot up her leg, his touch wreaking havoc on her sensitive skin.

  “Ssh, relax,” he said, massaging her calf. “Lie back and enjoy.” A mischievous smile played on his lips when she did as directed. He worked his way up her shapely leg. A muscle twitched on the side of his jaw. Yes, his desire to take it slow was waning. “Rosfrith?”

  She opened her eyes slowly. “Ay?”

  He leaned forward to grab the furs still hiding her from him. “These can go. I want to see all of you.” Sensing her apprehension, he moved forward and covered her, catching his weight on his elbows. He needed to get rid of her unnecessary fears. “I’ll wait until you are ready, but remember, we’ve coupled before and I’ve seen all of you when I bathed you up on the mountain. You don’t need to be shy.”
>
  “I know…” she breathed out, still vaguely uncomfortable at the memory.

  “You, my love, have nothing to worry about.” A smile touched his lips. “I liked what my eyes saw.”

  When she felt the brush of his breath on her cheek, her mouth went dry and her heart pounded against her chest. There was no turning back – her path was set. “Kiss me, Ubba.”

  “I do like the way my name sounds on your lips.” His eyes glistened.

  “Kiss me, so I can’t think.”

  Happiness danced in his blue eyes, before he closed them. He moved his head towards her and was glad his torment ended when their lips finally met and mated. Once he felt her body loosen, and start moulding into his, he slowly broke off the kiss. He sat back, his thighs straddling her. Her breathing was as hard as his. “Barriers need to go. I want nothing between us, Rosfrith.” He grabbed his undershirt and swiftly drew it over his head, throwing it on the floor with the rest of his clothes.

  She couldn’t help stare at his muscular chest, with its splattering of hair, and numerous scars. Her gaze lowered. When he caught her looking downwards, a flush crept across her cheeks. Embarrassed, her face and neck felt impossibly hot, so she turned away, trying to divert his attention from her. “You can’t throw your clothes on the floor. Rats might nest in them.” She sat up to reach for them.

  He rose an eyebrow. “Does that mean you intend to stay here all day, and into the night, Rosfrith?”

  She felt herself redden even more. “I… um.”

  He found her reaction surprisingly sweet. From a mere child, he had noticed she had a strong character – she needed one, otherwise, she wouldn’t have survived her mother’s death and all the hardships she’d encountered – but it was pleasant to find all her hardships hadn’t destroyed her softer side. He moved back up her and pushed her back down. “Don’t ye worry about the rats. They’ll nay be nesting in the day. Now, where were we?” He moved on to her side for better access. He used his free hand and moved it over her stomach and down to grab the end of her tunic. He paused and waited until she gave a nod. It pleased him when she wiggled to help him remove her hangerock apron and underdress. He leaned in to hiss her, his mouth only briefly leaving hers to remove them over her head, but he was soon sampling and tasting her once again. Once she was naked, he sat back up on his heels, his gaze making a thorough appraisal of her assets. She was naked as the day she was born. When he noticed her arms move to cover herself, he shook his head to stop her. His voice was husky and rough once he could speak. “Ek ann þér, Rosfrith.”

 
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