But I'm feeling nostalgic today, and since we're just a little short of two months away from the release of DAUGHTER OF A THOUSAND YEARS, I thought you might appreciate a little teaser action. So to speak.
For context: This scene takes place in Viking Age Greenland, around the year 1000 -- give or take. Freydis is the daughter of Erik the Red, and like her father, she is a defiant pagan in a world that is quickly becoming more Christian than anything else. Enter a very bold man named Sonnung.
I sank up to my neck in the steaming water of the spring, sighing with pleasure at the warmth before pinching my nose and submerging completely. The water was almost too warm, the heat burning against my eyelids, and I did not like to think of the mess I was making of my hair, dousing it this way, but I used my free hand to loosen it from the thick braid I’d worn to keep it from tangling during the long weeks I had spent in my bed. The cleanliness of my body would be worth little if my hair and scalp still stunk.
My lungs ached, wanting to breathe, but I waited until I was truly desperate before I broke the surface again for air, gasping, then coughing from the sudden cold.
“A daughter of Njǫrd, now, are you?” a man asked, familiar amusement coloring his words. The next moment, he’d slipped into the water with me, all muscle and grace. “I was just beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t pull you back out.”
I forced myself to meet his gaze, keeping my eyes from his broad chest, scarred and pockmarked from what seemed to me a hundred battles. It was remarkable that he had survived so many wounds at all, never mind with such strength still. “I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that you were watching, eager as you seem to be to spear me through.”
He laughed, tipping his copper head back and spreading his arms along the green turf that lined the bank. “You’ll find nothing quite so sharp as a spear about my weapon, I promise you that.”
“You make far too many promises, Sonnung,” I said, looking away. He was every bit as attractive in sunlight as he had been in the dim farmhouse, but I had no interest in giving him the satisfaction of knowing I thought so. “I can’t imagine any man capable of keeping them all.”
“There are no men like me, Freydís,” he said. “You’ll see that soon enough.”
I sniffed, crossing my arms over my chest beneath the water. “That’s what they all say, but once you have your sword sheathed, you’ll be just like the others. Panting and heaving above me, dousing me in stink and sweat without a care for my comfort or pleasure.”
“Only a fool would crush you beneath him,” he said. “And I am no fool. But I won’t pretend you’ll find anything gentle in my arms. Not if you continue to tease me this way.”
“I’m not certain it would matter whether I teased you or not, in that regard,” I said, letting my gaze linger briefly on his scarred chest. “What’s a fighting man doing among a ship full of traders?”
“Perhaps he’s looking for a woman to cool the fire in his blood.”
“Then it’s Gudrid you want, not me.” I rose, not caring what he saw, meaning to haul myself back out of the water. My arms were weak, trembling, and I fell back with a splash, which only made me all the redder, shame flushing my cheeks. I grasped the turf and tried again.
“Freydís.” My name on his lips was a prayer. Admiration and desire, awe and naked need.
He was behind me in the water when my arms gave out a second time, but I wasn’t so sure it was my strength that had failed me. It was the wash of warmth from my core to my limbs, the quiver in my belly. He had one arm around my waist, his nose behind my ear, and the tickle of his beard, the caress of his very breath upon my neck. I shivered, and he drew me tight against his body, until I felt every inch of his skin against my back. He was so immense, so powerful. Not
three-legged, as Thorvard was, but large enough all the same. And hard.
The steaming water was cool against the heat of my skin, of his.
“I don’t want Gudrid,” he said against my ear. “I want the woman who stands against her. Who fights for the gods she was named for.”
“And if I refuse?” I asked, my voice far steadier than I felt.
“I’m not used to being refused,” he said, but there was humor there again, lurking beneath his words. Amusement at the game I played, even at his own expense.
He growled, but a moment later, I was standing upon the turf, shivering in the cold. He followed easily, vaulting from the water, and tossed me my cloak before I’d even had time to think of reaching for it.
“Dress before I change my mind,” he said.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt! DAUGHTER OF A THOUSAND YEARS will be blogtouring beginning February 16th with HFVBT, and releases on February 21st! So don't forget to mark it to-read on Goodreads and if you liked the above, maybe even give it a pre-order!
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