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Vikings taken the great.., p.14

Vikings: Taken (The Great Heathen Army series Book 1), page 14

 

Vikings: Taken (The Great Heathen Army series Book 1)
 


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  “Lord,” said Bard.

  “You and I will meet later on for a talk,” said Ubba.

  Bard nodded and glanced over Ubba’s shoulder.

  Ubba turned to find out what caught his attention, hoping it wasn’t Rosfrith. But it wasn’t, it was Astrid.

  “Welcome back, Ubba,” Astrid purred as he turned. She pulled Ubba’s face towards her lips.

  Ubba’s instinct was to pull away, but when he heard the cheer of those around him, those who’d expect him to bed Astrid on his return, he let her kiss him. He didn’t want to make a scene and didn’t know what to do to protect Rosfrith yet.

  “Come,” Astrid said, pulling him towards the main longhouse. “I’ve missed you,” she said with a knowing smile.

  Much to her disdain, Rosfrith could feel her face redden. She felt totally embarrassed, ridiculous even. How silly of her to expect any more of Ubba. He hadn’t promised her anything, in fact, he had told her everything would go back to normal once they returned. She took a step back, and turned, unable to watch the two of them anymore.

  Once Ubba had managed to untangle himself from Astrid, he glanced around to find Rosfrith. He didn’t know what he was going to say, but he wanted her to know he hadn’t forgotten her over a kiss from Astrid. A frown crossed his face for the briefest of moments. He was disappointed to observe Rosfrith walking away. He let out a defeated breath. He knew he had said that when they returned, she’d become just his thrall once again. Perhaps it is what she really wanted?

  Bard walked into the longhouse and hesitated. He’d expected people to be milling around, as usual, but it was empty. He scanned the darkened room and located Ubba on his chair. He tensed before he forced himself towards Ubba.

  “Bard.” Ubba nodded, indicating for Bard to sit on the low bench in front of him. He didn’t fail to notice Bard’s hesitation before doing what he asked. “We need to talk.”

  “About what, Lord?”

  Ubba noticed the shrug of his shoulders. Bard was doing a good job of seemingly not to care. He would soon, when he changed the course of his comfortable life. “Rosfrith,” Ubba stated and finally noticed his body tense.

  “What of the thrall?” He dragged the last word out.

  “You are to stay away from her,” he stated flatly.

  Bard stayed quiet for a while before a sly smile grew on Bard’s lips. “Why, Lord? Have you taken a fancy to a bit of rough?”

  Anger and something he didn’t quite recognise sped through Ubba. “Enough,” he said. “I don’t need to explain anything to you. She is my property, and you are threatening it. Stay. Away.”

  Bard’s eyes narrowed. “As you wish, Lord,” he muttered through gritted teeth.

  Ubba knew by Bard’s demeanour that he wouldn’t appreciate being reprimanded over a thrall. He knew Bard would go after Rosfrith one way or another. He sighed before standing. “I have made myself clear, Bard. If anything happens to Rosfrith, whether from an accident,” he narrowed his gaze, his blue eyes becoming icy, “or by you, you will be held accountable.” Ubba waved his hand in dismissal, wanting Bard to go before he blurted out why he wanted to protect Rosfrith.

  She is mine and mine only. Now he just had to find a time to tell her.

  Rosfrith sighed heavily while she poked the longhouse fire back to life. She scowled at the flames as they spluttered to life. Life? What had mine become? The same as before.

  She glanced around the darkened longhouse, it was unusually quiet for this time in the evening, but it suited her dark mood. She’d been in gloomy disposition since arriving back from the mountain and her time spent with Ubba. He’d obviously meant it when he said things would go back to normal when they returned from the mountain back to Ranaricii. It definitely had – she’d gone back to her chores, along with the other thralls, and she’d hardly seen Ubba, even though all her work had been centered around the longhouse. He appeared to be doing everything to avoid her. She would crumble if she let herself, but she wasn’t going to.

  The only thing that made her feel better was when Bard sailed away, back to Britain. The look he’d given her when she had gone down to the ship to check he was departing, was murderous. She hoped he wouldn’t live to return. A shiver flitted over her.

  “Anything wrong, Rosfrith, are you cold?” Hilde’s voice broke her thoughts.

  She smiled at her only friend when Hilde regarded her with a somewhat wary expression. Probably waiting for her to snap at her. “Yes,” she lied. “A little.”

  During a particularly low time, Rosfrith had told Hilde of her coupling with Ubba. But, Hilde had dismissed their act as normal. Although Rosfrith had tried to tell her how she felt, that she felt something for him, Hilde had been quiet for a while before telling her, quite abruptly, that she should not expect reciprocal emotions from their sire. It was just the way of life for Chieftains to couple with the thralls, and think nothing of it. They were their possessions after all. Those words of experience had crumbled Rosfrith, but she carried on.

  Once the last person was fed, Hilde, Rosfrith, and another couple of servants tidied up.

  Rosfrith felt a small dig in her ribs. She looked down and noticed it was Hilde’s elbow.

  “We haven’t seen the Lord, tonight,” Hilde whispered. “Nor that woman, Astrid.”

  Rosfrith’s gaze followed Hilde’s and cut to the chamber at the end. Her heart constricted. She knew where he was. And with whom.

  “Do you mind?”

  “Of course I don’t mind. Why should I?” Rosfrith said to Hilde trying not to sound defensive. She did mind – very much. All of a sudden, she wanted to be out of the longhouse, even mucking out the animals instead.

  Hilde shrugged, she’d hoped Rosfrith would have got over her longings by now. “I was just wondering, that’s all,” said Hilde, her wise eyes narrowing on Rosfrith.

  As much as she loved Hilde and knew she was trying to help, Rosfrith did not want to acknowledge what was happening in that room. She swallowed her irritation and changed the conversation to a less personal one. “Will you rinse out the bowls, or shall I?”

  Hilde let out a short huff. “We will,” she said, catching the attention of another couple of women. “You sweep, Rosfrith.”

  Rosfrith picked up the brush and watched as her friend left, her arms full. She sighed deeply, wondering whether to call her back because she was now stuck in the longhouse. Somewhere where she didn’t want to be.

  Instead, she put all her pent-up tension into vigorous brushing. Finally, she started to relax. It wasn’t Hilde’s fault that she’d been a fool, she’d apologise later for her surly behaviour. Glancing up, Rosfrith suddenly realised she had unconsciously made her way near Ubba’s chamber. She cursed her stupidity. She’d been so wound up before, she hadn’t realised what she was doing, but now she was near, she could hear the sounds of coupling. Rage built as she struggled with the sensation of hurt and fury.

  She grabbed the brush tightly in her hands, and moved far from the sire’s room. She fought her tears. She knew she was jealous of Astrid, and angry that Ubba had aroused her desire when she’d been defenseless. But, she was also angry at herself. In her heart, she’d wanted Ubba and given herself willingly. It might hurt her feelings that she was only a thrall to him, but it had been her own choice. Not caring if the longhouse floor was clean enough, Rosfrith left as soon as she could.

  As soon as he’d finished, Ubba rolled off Astrid and silently cursed. He used his arm to shield his eyes, attempting to feign sleep, so she wouldn’t want to talk.

  He’d deliberately missed food this eve, choosing to spend the evening with Astrid instead. He’d hoped his previous desire would be rekindled and she’d been overjoyed at his offer. But, it hadn’t. All he done was think of Rosfrith and why she didn’t want to be with him.

  He tried many times to talk to her, but each time, she’d been just out of reach, or there were too many people around. He’d wanted to tell Rosfrith that she didn’t have to fear Bard anymore
, as he was sending him away. But, he’d hadn’t even had a chance to speak to her about that, either. Loki was obviously playing tricks with his life.

  “Ubba?”

  When he didn’t answer, he caught Astrid huff in annoyance, but he didn’t move. If he did, she’d expect him to talk. And he didn’t want to talk - not to Astrid. All she wanted was to chat about their wedding. The one she thought she was entitled to.

  He inhaled deeply and turned, pulling a fur with him. He was tired and angry with himself. Thor’s teeth. What had possessed me to allow Astrid back into my bed? He’d been wrong to take her back, but once Rosfrith had walked away, he let his physical needs rule his behaviour. He knew it was the biggest mistake of his life.

  What he would do tomorrow was explain to Astrid, and her brother, Gunnar, that there wouldn’t be a wedding. But, for now, he was tired. If Astrid wanted to share his bed, she’d have to talk to his back because he certainly didn’t want to hold her.

  He knew when he fell asleep, he would only dream of embracing one woman. Rosfrith. She had managed to burn herself into his thoughts.

  It was no good denying it anymore. He didn’t want Astrid, he wanted Rosfrith.

  ****

  “Hilde, out,” Ubba said the moment he stepped into the barn.

  Hilde glanced at Rosfrith, unsure of whether to leave her. When Rosfrith nodded, she breathed a sigh of relief. Even though Ubba was a good sire, ultimately, she still had to do as she was told. She nodded at Ubba as she sidestepped him to get out of the barn.

  Rosfrith gripped the rake and levelled a look at him. She was angry with him, and she didn’t attempt to conceal it. She didn’t care if he was her sire, time had allowed her shame to burn within her. She had long given up praying to God, but some deeply rooted customs about virtue had apparently stayed with her.

  Ubba took a step nearer. “How are you, Rosfrith?” His gaze lingered on her face for a fraction of a second, before it lowered, down her body.

  If anger wasn't pumping through her, she would have moved to shield herself from his scrutiny. How dare he seek me out as though he hasn’t hurt me!

  A smile lit his face. “I think it might be better if you put that down,” he laughed nodding to the rake in her hands before his face sobered. “We need to talk. I need to talk.”

  She huffed and threw it down onto the hay. It wouldn’t do her any good to keep it - she might end up striking him with it.

  Glad that she’d thrown the rake, for he didn’t put it past her to use it, if the look on her face told him anything, he took a step towards her. He left enough distance, so she felt comfortable, but he knew she was within easy reaching distance. “I would like you in my bed.” When he saw fury shoot across her face, he realised he had worded that incorrectly. He stepped forward to close the distance, she took a step back, growling at him.

  “No way, sire!” she shouted, tears threatening to spill.

  He shook his head. “What I meant to say is, will you share my bed with me, Rosfrith?”

  “What, with Astrid?” she shot back, not concerned if she sounded catty – she felt it.

  He shook his head. “No, not with Astrid.” Frustrated that nothing was coming out right, he reached forward and grabbed her hand. He hauled her forward and crushed her against his chest, hoping that actions would speak louder than words.

  As her feet left the floor, it enraged her how easily his strength could subdue her. He’d hurt her, more than anyone before, yet he wanted her to forget. She twisted in his arms as his hand slid up her spine to force her closer.

  “Rosfrith, be still. I mean you no harm.”

  She stilled. “You just want another coupling?” she spat out, knowing her voice sounded bitter.

  His eyes narrowed. “No, Rosfrith. Despite what you think, you were never someone to pound my frustrations on. I wanted you.” He let out a snort as he looked down at her lips. “I want you. I still want you.”

  Even though he was her sire, she couldn’t let it be that easy for him, so she growled again.

  “What I want, Rosfrith.” He bent, and his breath tickled her ear. “Is, you.”

  She cursed when she noticed the desire for her in his voice. She had wanted to block that out, but his endearments, whispered in her ear, were starting to thaw her.

  “If I place you down on your feet, will you promise to listen?” he asked.

  She nodded, needing to get away from his embrace so she could think. As soon as her feet hit the ground, she took a step back. “I’m listening.”

  “My actions,” he pushed his hand over his face, “since we arrived back to Ranaricii have been wrong, I admit it to you. I want to correct them.”

  “How?” she whispered.

  “I realise that I need you, Rosfrith. Perhaps our fates have always been entwined? I never understood why I had the urge to look after you, even when you were a child in Dunwich. I’ve always felt connected,” he laughed. “Even when Sigurd told me you were trouble.”

  “Sigurd told you I was trouble?” she asked, confused.

  “Yes,” he took a tentative step forward. When she didn’t move, he leaned forward and kissed her forehead when it puckered. He was glad she didn’t mind.

  “Did he?”

  Ubba laughed and straightened. “Yes, he did. And I can’t wait to find out how much trouble you will be,” Ubba jested.

  When a smile flickered on her lips, he became bolder. “Can I kiss you, Rosfrith? I’ve wanted to for so long.” When she nodded, he circled her in his arms. He couldn’t disguise his desire and took her mouth in a hard, savage kiss. Rosfrith was his, be damned what was right.

  The desire and heat emanating from Ubba thrilled her. It was what she needed at this moment – a show of how much he wanted her. A yearning to match the his broke free within her. She matched his kiss with the same force. As a moan left her throat, the painful feelings faded from her thoughts.

  When they both passed the edge of consent, he pushed her up against a wooden beam, frantically grabbing at the hem of her tunic. Then, for the first time since they’d been alone together in the cabin, his name trembled from her lips.

  Ubba’s mouth fused to hers again while he drove himself, and Rosfrith, until there was only a blinding heat, clambering for release.

  Once they stilled, their mouths still mating, Ubba realised he was trembling. No woman had ever done that to him before. He broke off the kiss, placing his forehead against hers, trying to catch his breath. “I want you, Rosfrith. In my bed. In my life.”

  Her voice hitched. “As your bedmate?” She still didn’t know how she felt about that yet, even though they had laid together again.

  Ubba searched deep into her eyes and slowly smiled. Lifting a hand, he brushed a stray hair behind her ear. “No, sweet, Rosfrith. As the mother of my children, and as my wife.”

  Tears began to gather and spill out of Rosfrith’s eyes. “You mean it?”

  “Of course I do, I only ever speak the truth to you,” he replied.

  Overjoyed, she played with his hair, her arms back around his neck, pulling him nearer. She whispered into his ear. “Will I still have to call you sire?” she laughed.

  “Only if you’ve been naughty,” he muttered, his voice thick with longing.

  When she threw back her head in laughter, he bent to nibble the pulse throbbing in her neck. “Come, let’s find somewhere more comfortable,” Ubba whispered. “My chamber. I want you there, forever.”

  Astrid stood in the shadows of the barn, listening to Ubba’s declaration. She had followed him in to talk to him. She’d wanted to last night, but he’d fallen asleep. After their talk, she’d hoped to enjoy a tryst with him in the hay. She scowled. She hadn’t expected this scene to greet her.

  Undeterred by his actions, she eventually shrugged. So what if he wanted extra fun with a thrall? She was a lady of the jarl, and he’d been bonded with her for years. Besides, her brother, Gunnar, had reassured her when Ubba came back from the mountain, h
e would propose to her. She already planned the feast. This meant nothing. He was just indulging in another fling? He had many of them. Her gaze narrowed. But, there was something in the way he looked at this one…

  Astrid carried on watching them, until a small smile flittered on her lips. She placed a hand on her growing stomach. It didn’t matter, let that thrall have this moment, because within a matter of months, Ubba would have no options but to marry her.

  ****

  Thank you for reading my book. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. A review on Amazon or Goodreads would be very much appreciated.

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

  Thank you

  Ceri Bladen

  ~~~~

  Here is a snippet of one of my books - ‘Twe12ve’.

  Prologue

  Brian’s tired eyes narrowed. He grimaced at the torrential rain that pounded his car’s windscreen. Even on full power, the wipers fought a losing battle to remove the water, while Brian fought another losing battle against the condensation that obstructed his view.

  For a brief second, he dared to let go of the steering wheel to clean the windscreen. He tilted sideways to reach for the napkin in the seat beside him. He cursed as he fingered the half-eaten breakfast McMuffin that his heartburn wouldn’t allow him to finish. He licked the sauce off his fingers and eventually grabbed a paper napkin.

  Leaning forward, he wiped an area big enough to look through, but as he did, he realised this just wasn’t going to be his day. Ketchup smeared across the glass. He exhaled loudly with frustration and threw the napkin onto the floor. It silently joined the other debris that he kept meaning to remove from the car.

  Brian drove on slowly, with the spray from the vehicle in front adding to his lack of vision. He grabbed the steering wheel a little tighter because he hated driving in storms. To be honest, at that moment, he was on a fast track to hating life.

 
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