Viking Heart (The MacLomain Series: Viking Ancestors Book 3), page 1
Amber is heartbroken. Supposedly because of a pact made between three ninth century Viking brothers and Mt. Galdhøpiggen’s seers, her sisters have vanished into the distant past. Struggling with grief, she leans on her part-time fling Sean until even he is torn away. Or so it seems.
Of dragon blood and brother to the king, Kol Sigdir ‘the lucky’ has been determined to avoid his fate since the moment he promised himself, sight unseen, to a woman from the future. He adores all women and it’s no easy thing knowing he has to eventually pledge his heart to just one…until he meets Amber. A spirited artist and musician, she captivates him. When she offers him a soul-deep glimpse at what was missing from his life, he soon wonders how he will ever be able to let her go.
As Kol and Amber grow closer, they face multiple threats. Eager for revenge, King Alrek declares war. To make matters worse, he has an ally nobody could have anticipated. One determined to see everything come to an end.
Hearts struggle, rip apart, and then are rebuilt when the laws of time are tossed aside. A thousand years means nothing when two star-crossed souls are meant to connect. Even so, will the strength of love be enough to withstand a powerful enemy and bridge a gap across time already closed?
The MacLomain Series-Viking Ancestors
This is dedicated to all who have lost their lives to the sea and for those who have lost their loved ones to the great beyond…
May you someday reunite.
The Heart’s Prayer
As down in the sunless retreats of the ocean
Sweet flowers are springing no mortal can see,
So deep in my soul the still prayer of devotion,
Unheard by the world, rises silent to Thee.
As still to the star of its worship, though clouded,
The needle points faithfully o’er the dim sea,
So dark when I roam in this wintry world shrouded,
The hope of my spirit turns trembling to Thee.
COPYRIGHT © 2015
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of these books may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Edited by Cathy McElhaney
Cover Art by Tamra Westberry
Published in the United States of America
Winter Harbor, Maine
“I love you, Sean,” Amber murmured to herself then sighed.
For days now she had been struggling with the idea that she might actually love her part-time fling here in Winter Harbor. After all, she’d known him for nearly three years. But was that long enough to love someone? She had absolutely no idea.
“What are you sketching?”
Startled out of deep thought, her eyes shot to her cousin, Dayna. Amber tossed aside her drawing without glancing at it. “Nothing. Just doodling.”
Dayna stared at her for a long moment, compassionate, before she grabbed Amber’s glass and headed for the kitchen. “Let me get you a refill.”
Amber nodded and tried to smile. No such luck. How could she? If her quandary over Sean wasn’t enough, both of her sisters were missing. She eyed the small stone sitting on an end table. Wary of it, she inhaled deeply and gazed out Megan’s floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Frenchman Bay. Actually, she had that wrong. The house now belonged to Sean.
Though she tried not to, she couldn’t help but reflect on all that had happened in the past few months. It began when her older sister found a box resting on the shore in front of her house. Made of metal, it had the name Naðr Véurr carved in it. Though that in itself was strange, what it contained was more so.
All had a Norse rune stave engraved on either side. As it turned out and as the name carved in the box implied, the stones were connected to Naðr Véurr, a Viking king from ninth century Scandinavia. A man her oldest sister, Megan, supposedly traveled back in time and fell in love with. If that wasn’t enough, the three stones were part of a pact he made with seers. A pact that promised him and his brothers to three women from the twenty-first century.
Not only had Megan disappeared but so had her sister, Veronica, on New Year’s Day. Unbelievably, two of the three stones had vanished along with them.
It seemed the rune staves on either side of the stones matched the interlocking tattoos on the men they were meant to be with. Amber grabbed the stone and for at least the thousandth time since Veronica disappeared, rolled it over in her palm. When Megan fell in love with Viking history so long ago, Amber made a point to learn everything she could about the seafaring Norsemen. So she knew what she was looking at.
On one side was the Valknut or Hrungnir’s Heart, the Knot of the Slain. On the other side, the Web of Wyrd. The Web of Wyrd served as a reminder that the actions of the past affect the present and that present actions affect the future; all timelines inextricably interconnected.
Maybe it was because she was creative and a definite over-thinker by nature but the combined symbols seemed downright ominous.
“Here you go, cousin.”
“Thanks.” Amber took the glass of wine from Dayna. “You know you don’t have to stay.”
“I don’t want you to be alone.” Her cousin sat down on the opposite couch and offered a comforting smile. “When Sean gets home, I’ll head out.”
She nodded and took a few sips of wine. It was still strange having Dayna around again. The truth was she didn’t know her nearly as well as Megan did…does. Uniquely beautiful, she had blond-streaked red hair and vivid violet eyes.
Amber was about to respond when she heard a truck door slam. Setting aside her glass, she met Sean at the front door. Despite his heavy fisherman’s coat, she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him soundly. Yet as he was prone to do lately, he ended the kiss quickly.
Things had grown increasingly strained between them since Veronica vanished. When he wasn’t working, Sean spent most of the time quietly staring at the ocean with a haunted look in his eyes. Though she popped home to her place in New Hampshire on occasion, Amber mainly stayed here hoping he would snap out of it. Not only that but she somehow felt closer to her sisters in this house.
“Hey, Sean.” Dayna pulled on her boots. “I was just leaving.”
“Don’t on my account.” He grabbed a beer from the fridge. “Roads are messy. Crash here tonight if you want.”
Dayna’s eyes met Amber’s. It was clear her cousin sensed something was off. Then again,
Amber walked Dayna to the door.
“Thanks again for keeping me company, cuz. Much appreciated,” Amber murmured.
“Anytime.” Dayna shouldered into her jacket. “I’m worried about you. If you need anything at all, just let me know, all right?”
They embraced before Amber closed the door behind Dayna and sighed. What was going on between her and Sean? But she knew. They both did. There was an enormous rhetorical elephant in the room. The chance that she would also be traveling back to ninth century Scandinavia and into the arms of another man.
When she returned to the kitchen, he confirmed her line of thinking. Sean tossed aside his jacket and hat then sat on the counter. He took a long swig and scowled at the stone in his hand.
Amber rested her hip against the island, voice soft. “It’s just a harmless rock.”
His golden-flecked green eyes met hers and he shook his head. “We both know it’s more than that, Sweetheart.”
Amber didn't like where this was going. She drank her wine and tried not to flinch at the expression on his handsome face. Square jaw clenched, he took another long drag of beer. Dark hair tousled, he had grown a light beard to protect against the frigid winds out on the water.
She wanted to run her hands over his shoulders and hold him tight, tell him that she wasn’t going anywhere if he didn’t want her to. Yet a small part of her knew that would be a lie. Did she have any interest in a man from another time? Hell no. Did she desperately want to find her sisters? Absolutely.
“I have no intention of going anywhere, Sean,” she said, determined to put him at ease.
“I’m not sure you’re gonna have much choice in the matter.” He eyed her. “After all, Megan mentioned that this king of hers had two brothers. I’d bet just about anything that when Veronica drove to Raven’s Nest last month, she somehow ended up with one of them.”
Right. Raknar and Kol.
“It sounds like you’re really buying into all this,” she said.
Amber shrugged and rubbed her lips together, determined to keep emotions at bay. It had become a full-time job fighting them lately. Now Sean was the only one left and it seemed as if he were pushing her away.
“I need you right now,” she whispered, eyes pleading with his.
Sean polished off his beer, gaze never leaving hers. When she stepped in his direction, he shook his head then nodded at the fridge. “Grab me another, please.”
So this was how it was going to be. Amber tossed his empty bottle in the recycle bin and grabbed another. She handed it over and propped her hip against the counter next to him. Her eyes trailed down his six-foot-three-inch frame with appreciation. It was still hard to believe they hadn’t slept together since Veronica vanished. That alone was pretty ominous.
When she slipped her hand into his, he handed over the rock and pulled away. “Listen, Amber…”
Uh oh. Her eyes shot to his in alarm and her heart skipped a few extra beats as his words trailed off.
“Are you really going to do this?" she said.
“I can’t keep going on like this.” She didn’t miss the pain in his eyes. “Not with everything that could happen.”
Momentarily speechless, she stared at him. “So you’re pushing me away when I need you the most.”
“Amber, you’ve been pushing me away for three years.” Sean hopped down from the counter and shook his head. “You want me around when it’s convenient. And that only seems to be when you’re here.”
“You’ve always been fine with our arrangement.” Amber's chest tightened as she refilled her glass. “No.” She shook her head. “This isn’t about our so called arrangement. It’s because you think I might travel back in time. And don’t try to deny it.”
“Maybe partly,” he conceded and took the wine bottle when her hand shook too badly to pour. “But it’s definitely not the only reason.”
Sean finished pouring then met her eyes. “Did you honestly think I’d be okay spending the rest of my life only seeing you when you decide to visit Winter Harbor?”
He had changed so much in the past month. It was as if everything that held them together was dwindling away… as if he was dwindling away.
Amber crossed her arms over her chest. “I hadn’t given it much thought.”
“And that’s half the problem right there,” he said softly. “Because I have.”
“I’m tired of watching you leave.”
As if to drive home his words, she grabbed her wine and headed for the living room. Anything to escape this conversation.
Yet it seemed he wasn’t quite finished because he joined her in front of the windows overlooking the bay. Amber sipped her wine, shook her head and kept her eyes on the moonlit water. She had let herself get too invested in this thing with him. Let it go too far. So she did what she did best and played it safe. “I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you. It was never my intention. I thought we were having fun.”
Sean paused for a long moment. “Ya know it almost sounds like you believe your own words.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I know you better than most.” A borderline compassionate frown settled on his face. “And I know you’re afraid of getting too involved with anyone because of your parents.”
“Oh, please,” she muttered and took another sip, mumbling before she gave it much thought. “I just haven’t found…”
When she trailed off, mortified by what she nearly said, Sean spoke. “Haven’t found what Amber? The right guy for you? Love?”
Before she could respond, not emotional but physical pain flickered across his face and he pinched the bridge of his nose. Oddly enough, he had been suffering from frequent headaches since Veronica vanished. If she wasn’t mistaken, they were growing worse by the day.
Prepared, worried, she pulled some aspirin from her pocket and handed them over. “Are you okay? You really should see a doctor.”
He downed them. “I’m fine."
“You’re not.” She touched his arm. “Have you eaten today? Want me to make you something?”
Her heart sunk when he pulled his arm away and headed over to the fire. He grabbed the poker and stoked the flames. His words were so soft she barely heard them. “I’ve gotta let you go, Sweetheart.”
Amber turned her eyes back to the bay. Pressure built, but as had been the case since she was a kid, no tears fell. The truth was no matter how bad his timing, Sean had every right to end this. She was surprised he hadn’t done it sooner.
Maybe that’s why she was pondering whether she loved him…whether she should say it out loud. But no matter how hard she tried to save what they had, she just couldn’t. And like he suspected, it had less to do with how she truly felt about him and more to do with her upbringing.
Regardless, pride reared its head. Though sorely tempted, she would not beg him to change his mind. So though the words were weak and nearly impossible to say, Amber responded. “If that’s what you want.”
Sean sighed, set aside the poker, crossed his arms over his chest and stared into the fire. “Hell, if I thought you were capable of committing, I’d already have you living here. Shit, I would’ve already married you.”
In a perfect world, he would have. But this world wasn’t perfect and neither was she.
“I know,” she whispered and wished she could run into his arms and tell him what he wanted to hear. Then he would scoop her up and carry her off to bed so they could resume what they were so good at. Honest to God, she truly hated her own mental roadblocks because not only did they get along wonderfully but he was amazing in bed. “I’ll pack up and head home tomorrow.”
Sean turned and was about to respond when his eyes locked on her notepad. He slowly picked it up, his frown deepening, words just above a whisper. “What the hell is this?”
“And Vikings, obviously.” Sean quickly masked confusion when his eyes met hers. “It’s you…” He shook his head and didn’t finish his sentence.
Amber worried at her lower lip with her teeth and wished she had tossed it. Because it was clearly too telling. She held out her hand. “It’s nothing. May I have it back?”
Sean eyed it for another long moment before he handed it over. Her eyes fell to the image. This was the first time she actually looked at what she’d drawn. It was her standing on the end of a long dock with Viking ships on either side. A wave was churning, so tall that it curled far over her head, over the mast of the tallest ship.
But that wasn’t what Sean wondered about.
No, it was whose arms were wrapped protectively around her. Amber’s cheek was against his chest, eyes closed. Whoever he was he had his head lowered and his back turned away from the sea…the wave. What was very clear based on his substantial height and build was that he was not Sean.
“The ship on the left,” Sean said. “It’s the same one you drew for Megan before she left. The one she claimed belonged to her Viking king.”
“I was just doodling,” she murmured. “The ship proves it.”
“If I was to buy into the whole ‘Megan traveled back in time thing’ which for her sake, and yours, I have to, then you’ve got a little bit of foresight going on, wouldn’t you say?”
She narrowed her eyes. “You’re basing that on what I’ve shared with you about my past.”
“Ayuh,” he said with a Maine accent. “Sure am.” He plunked down on the couch and swigged his beer, eyes not leaving hers. “How many times have you drawn a picture that ended up being real?”
SKY PURINGTON SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Viking's ValorThe MacLomain Series: Later Years - a Scottish Time Travel Romance Boxed SetA Viking Holiday: The MacLomain Series: Viking Ancestors' KinAvenged by a Highland LairdPlight of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series: Next Generation Book 5)Honor of a Scottish WarriorRise of a Viking (The MacLomain Series: Viking Ancestors' Kin Book 1)Mark of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series: Next Generation, Book 1)Promised to a Highland LairdViking King (The MacLomain Series: Viking Ancestors, Book 1)
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