Click on image to enlarge.
by Ellen Margret
Description: When the small sickly boy was taken by the Vikings, following a raid on her Saxon village, Edrea believed she would never see her friend again. Years later, the legendary Ulf Skaarnakke arrived on English soil, and took Edrea by force to Denmark. She felt nothing but loathing for the pillaging barbarian until she discovered that beneath his harsh exterior there lay a caring heart. Was it possible for hatred to turn to love?
eBook Publisher: DCL Publications LLC, 2009 USA
eBookwise Release Date: January 2010
5 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [245 KB]
Reading time: 160-224 min.
He approached her, still holding the scythe. "I wondered if you would come."
"I said that I wanted to help and I have brought food and drink, should you ever allow yourself the luxury of a rest. You work hard, Skaarnakke."
He wiped the perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. "Ulf," he reminded her.
"Ulf, why do they call you Skaarnakke?" He took off his tunic and bared his back to her. She saw the long scar and felt compelled to lightly finger it.
"You have gentle fingers, lady."
"Is this why you keep your tunic on?"
"Aye. 'Tis not pretty. In answer to your question, Skaar is Danish for scar," he explained.
"And nakke must be Danish for neck," she finished. "Have you carried it long, Ulf?"
"Aye, but it does not bother me," he lied, for it often pained him.
"How did you come by it?"
"Twas inflicted upon me by a vicious beast," he replied, after a slight hesitation.
She nodded as he turned to face her. "I see. 'Twas doubtless one of those six wolves that you and Svein fought."
"I told you 'twas three," he corrected.
"As to your name. Ulf means wolf, does it not?"
"Then I can only conclude that you were given the whole of your name after your encounter with the wolves and that your real name is a mystery to me."
"Mystery is exciting, Edrea. Without mystery, life is dull."
"You may be right." She paused as she stared at his powerful, naked chest. "Can I ask another question?"
"I doubt I can stop you."
"Those legends also say that you keep your own mother as a thrall. Is there truth in that?"
His face darkened. "Do you think I would allow my own mother to live a life of bondage?"
"Nay, I do not. I did not believe that story."
"I am glad to hear it, but I will tell you the truth about my mother. She was once a thrall, although she is no more. She has a good and happy life."
"Where is she now? Can I meet her?"
"Aye, mayhap soon, Edrea. I will arrange it soon."
That mollified her for then, and she reached out and took the scythe from Ulf's hands. She touched the blade.
"Careful, it has been recently sharpened upon a whetstone and its edge is keen."
"Stand back, Ulf. I watched you for long enough and now 'tis my turn."
He stepped back and crossed his arms.
She lifted the blade high above her head and then put all her weight into bringing it down. It skimmed above the cereal crop, slicing off the tops of the plants, and offering so little resistance to the motion that the momentum carried on. It threw her off balance and the scythe left her hands and circled in the air.
Ulf ducked to avoid the blade.
Edrea gave a squeal as she toppled over and landed on top of Ulf. He fell flat on his back and she ended up straddling him. He began to laugh, and it made her bob up and down on his hard chest. "You have fine legs," he chuckled, looking at her bare knees and ankles.
She struggled to cover her legs with her dress, but it had tangled around her thighs. He ran the palm of one hand over her left thigh.
"You have nice thighs, too," he grinned.
"Remove your hand. Ulf Skaarnakke, you have no manners." He did remove his hand, but only to stroke her ankle. For a big man, he had a gentle touch.
"What do you expect? I am a raping, thieving Viking."
She looked into his blue eyes and suddenly burst out laughing. He winked at her.
"You are not very good at it, are you?"
She felt his breath on her face. He was such a powerful man. "What am I not good at?"
"You are no good at harvesting."
"Nay, I suppose not. I might improve with practise."
"I cannot imagine you will."
Ulf sat up and put his arms around her. She fidgeted slightly. "Do we stay like this?"
"Nay, we do not."
"Then what do we do?"
"We kiss. I am sure you kiss better than you swing a scythe."
She giggled. "Kissing is far less dangerous."
"Show me," he murmured, drawing her towards him.
Her arms went around his neck. Her lips touched his mouth and she sighed deeply. He smelled of man and sweat and of Ulf Skaarnakke, and she liked it. She also liked the way his tongue tantalised the inside of her mouth and ran across her teeth. It was a deep kiss. She had never been kissed in such a way before and it left her reeling and breathless. "Ulf, that was wonderful."
"A kiss can just be the beginning," he said, rising and taking her into his arms.
"I can walk."
"I like to carry you. Vikings enjoy carrying women off."
"What do you mean, a kiss can just be the beginning?" She waited for an answer, but none came. Ulf carried her through the tall crops and into the byre at the far end of the field. He found a dimly lit, cosy dry corner and he placed her down upon a blanket of soft, sweet smelling hay. Then he stood back and looked at her.
"More can follow the kiss. Much, much more."