Blurb: When a young Viking buys Emer, she has no idea what to expect of their first night. It certainly was not what she anticipated…
Emer looked round. All he said was true. Thick, square pillars of golden wood rose up to meet the rafters, and the roof sloped down to meet the walls at the height of a tall man. Unbleached linen hid the lower portion of walls free of sleeping platforms, and someone’s clever needle had sketched mythical animals around it in coloured wool.
“It is a fair hall,” she agreed. “But it is not home.”
Flane sat on the bed, grasped her shoulders and pulled her back to lie on the mattress beside him. He laughed into her wide, shocked eyes. His lips dived to the skin beneath her jaw and nuzzled towards the neckline split in her chemise while his fingers untied the knot that held the strings closed. He parted the fabric and his mouth slid down towards the newly revealed curve of her breast. His bristles rasped against her skin and Emer fended him off with both hands.
He braced one hand to either side of her shoulders and loomed over her. “What’s wrong?”
Emer gulped. “It isn’t right,” she muttered, unable to meet his steady gaze. She looked across the hall, where children ran about, getting in the way of their elders, and a dog barked as it leapt crazily about his newly returned master. The rest of the world seemed to be going on as normal, and here she was fighting for her virtue. No one cared.
No one had even noticed.
Flane chuckled, and she faced him suspiciously. “I can’t think of anything better,” he said. “What’s not right?”
At his tone, some of her anxiety dispersed. She focussed on his leather jerkin and a part of her brain registered that someone had dressed the leather very well indeed, and threaded small tassels through the shoulder seam. She admired the pale shade, which so nearly matched his hair.
“Be brave,” he said. “Tell me.”
He taunted her now. Emer saw the mischief in his eyes, and caution vanished. “I cannot be happy in a place where we are on public view.” She opened her eyes wide and words, unheeded, shot out of her mouth. “And we should be married before you bed me!” Her breath came and went as if she’d been running and warm blood rushed beneath the skin of her throat and face.
“Really?” His voice betrayed nothing, but his silver brows drew down in a frown. “And how would marriage change anything?”