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Vikings taken the great.., p.15

Vikings: Taken (The Great Heathen Army series Book 1), page 15

 

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


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  Squinting, Brian bent over the wheel in an attempt to work out exactly where he was. Suddenly, he realised that he was near a junction - and the lights were red. Praying that he wouldn’t aqua glide into another car, because that would really make his day, he slammed his foot on the brakes. Luckily, he didn’t collide with anything, and once he’d come to a stop and could breathe again, he wiped his clammy brow with his hand.

  He sat back and took a deep breath in the hope of relaxing. But, try as he might, he couldn’t. With his fingers tapping impatiently on the wheel, Brian attempted to block out the summer storm and the uncomfortable lack of air inside the car. There was no point worrying that he couldn’t breathe, it was his fault. He should have taken the time to get the air conditioning fixed. If he had, not only would it have taken away the humidity of the storm, more importantly, it might have stopped his wife nagging him about it, too.

  Rolling his shoulders, Brian attempted to dislodge the uneasy feeling he’d had since he’d dragged himself out of bed this morning. It unsettled him. Although he couldn’t put his finger on the reason, he thought it could be to do with the fact that he’d spent last night in the spare room. He blew out a short breath and sulked for a while until honking from the vehicle behind him made him jump. Startled, Brian pushed down on the accelerator and moved quickly away from the lights; so quickly that his tyres struggled to search for traction on the waterlogged road. Once he’d made it through the traffic lights, and the annoyed driver had passed, beeping him, he slowed down.

  When his heart finally resumed its regular beat, and he could think clearly, Brian made a mental note to ring his wife when he arrived at work. Looking back in the cold light of day, he realised that he’d been a prize jerk last night - coming home drunk and obnoxious. It wasn’t even the weekend, only Tuesday.

  Lena, his wife, had been fuming with him because their dinner had burned and he’d missed the final episode of a series they were watching together. After her initial verbal tirade, the only time she’d spoken to him was to tell him to use the spare room! At the time, he hadn’t cared because he’d silently laid all the blame at her feet, not his drunken ones, but now, well, he could see he was at fault.

  Realising he was coming to another junction, and seeing the red blur of traffic lights, he slowed, gradually this time. He let out a breath in frustration. It just wasn’t his day - even the lights were against him.

  While Brian waited, pressure built in his skull. He pressed the heel of his hand into his eyes and wished his thumping headache and heartburn would go away.

  Was karma repaying him for his actions last night?

  He snorted. He didn’t believe in karma, but if he did, he was sure that it had a lot more in store for him than bad weather and a headache.

  Suddenly feeling deflated, he tried to shake his negative thoughts away. Whatever mood he was in, he wasn’t going to get out of it by sulking. It didn’t matter how much stress he and his wife were under, he needed to do something about it. He knew deep down that for the last four years he hadn’t been dealing with their situation appropriately. He had no choice, but Lena had given up all her family and friends for him. Drinking and emotionally pushing her away was cruel - it made him the biggest loser around.

  Determined to make amends, he gripped the steering wheel tighter. It was time to show Lena how much he appreciated her commitment. Before he went home tonight, he’d get her some flowers and hopefully, that action would allow him access to some bedroom attention, too. He grinned.

  Now, that would be nice.

  Brian flicked a glance at the lights and noticed, at last, the rain had lessened enough for him to crack the window open. He bent and reached for the winder, desperate to let in some fresh air. As his window slowly lowered, he looked at the car that waited next to him. It was sleek and black, with blacked-out windows. Its engine purred.

  Brian bristled as his irritation grew once again. His fingers tapped the steering wheel. For all the effort he put into work in his menial job, he’d never be able to afford one of those.

  Again.

  When thoughts of his old life entered his head, he grimaced, bitterly remembering how life could play cruel games - giving with one hand, taking with another. But, he understood it was no use hankering for the past, and for all their previous luxuries. He had to remember that the most important thing was that he was much safer now, and Lena, too. He mustn’t forget that.

  Not being able to help himself, Brian sneaked another sidewards glance at the car. Okay, he could admit he was jealous. It didn’t matter that he was trying to forget his past, he never would, and it irritated the hell out of him that his red Ford looked like a rust bucket compared to that!

  Unable to look away, his interest increased when he attempted to work out the brand of the car. He hadn’t seen one like it before. Brian shifted in his seat, craning his neck to see if it had a maker's badge. He couldn’t see any; in fact, it didn’t seem to have any marks.

  Strange. He shrugged. It could be one of those prototype cars.

  Losing interest, Brian glanced at the wet road and checked on the lights. A frown added some more wrinkles to his brow. For some reason, the lights were taking ages to change today.

  A quiet whirring made Brian glance at the car again. He watched as the black windows lowered. He let out a short breath in irritation; they had electric windows, not manual like his.

  Get ready for some bragging.

  Brian forced a small smile in readiness, knowing the ‘look at my car’ routine; he’d done it often enough. His smile faltered when he saw four men, all dressed identically in dark grey suits, white shirts, and black ties, looking directly at him.

  Uncomfortable, Brian touched the pager the police had given him. He lifted his other hand briefly to acknowledge them. They gave no response. Quickly pulling his hand back from the half-wave, he resisted the urge to wind his windows up. He was bugged. They could have acknowledged him, not made him feel silly!

  A pathetic sounding horn from the car behind pulled Brian out of his negative thoughts. He looked at the light, which was now green. Sighing with relief, he changed into gear and pushed down on the accelerator, eager to get away and into work for a much-needed coffee.

  The black car pulled off effortlessly and passed him.

  Brian barely resisted the urge to flick the bird. The little ‘boy racer’ in him urged him to put his foot down and try and keep up with them, but the adult in him knew his car had no chance. Instead, he followed it for a while before it turned off the main road.

  Brian drove on before becoming bored with his company and the silence. He reached over to put the radio on. Crackling, it picked up a signal and ‘3 am’ by Eminem boomed out. Singing along, Brian forgot his previous agitation. So what if they had a better car, or that four males wanted to dress the same? He smiled to himself. Perhaps they belonged to some strange cult?

  When the song finished, the radio crackled again. He gave it a tap. The stormy weather was obviously playing havoc with the signal. He fiddled with the notch until ‘Four Days’ by The Counting Crows eventually blasted out.

  Happy with the choice, Brian turned his attention back to the road.

  With only seconds to register what was in front of him, he crossed his arms in front of his face. The last thing he saw, before his head smashed against the steamy windscreen, was the sleek black car.

 


 

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

 


 

 
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