One woman’s journey to the truth...
Stranded on foreign soil, a Viking maiden is rescued and raised by the enemy. After witnessing the brutal slaughter of the Saxon woman who saved her life, Tyra Svensdottir declares war on her own people by kidnapping the dark Viking to carry out her revenge. Her quest takes them across the frigid waters to Iceland on a sensual voyage she never anticipated and only the gentle assault of a green-eyed Viking can soothe a heart infested with revenge.
One man’s quest to save his people...
A warrior destined to be king, and the man who wields a mythical sword, Rorik Thorlicksson must yield to his mysterious captor to uncover her dark past. When the truth is revealed he is determined to redirect her wrath to more pleasurable pursuits, although their forced intimacy reveals a deep yearning he’d long ago buried and an obscure past he is just beginning to unravel.
Blood vengeance brings them together, but will desire unleash a love that brings an end to A Valkyrie’s Vengeance?
The man, who stands at a strange threshold, should be cautious before he crosses it, glance this way and that: Who knows beforehand what foes may sit awaiting him in the hall?
Off the coast of England
Thwack, thwack, thwack. Arrows embedded into the beached ship with every step Tyra Svensdottir took, missing her ankles by mere inches.
She dove for cover inside the grounded longship’s hull. Her heart stalled and then nearly pounded its way outside her chest. She placed a hand there as if she could stop the horrendous hammering, or at least quiet it somewhat. Eyes wide, she spat out the mouthful of salt water and rose to her knees, making sure to stay hidden. The hull tilted on its side like a great fish dragged from the sea. Leaning against the wooden planks, Tyra summoned the courage not to cry. Who shot at her? How had they found her?
For the last three days, she’d wandered the beach alone. She wasn’t even sure where she was. Her gaze roamed her surroundings. Early morning mist swept the beaches in its wispy grasp and limited her visibility. But she could hear voices. She couldn’t locate from whence they came.
Tyra slogged through the calf-high water, leaning low, to the front of the ship. Her fingers shook as she reached out to grasp the edge of the jagged planks where the hull had struck stone, causing the vessel to sink. Waves lapped at her ankles and washed the sand out from under her bare toes as she stepped over one of the bloated, dead bodies. Bile rose in her throat and she tamped it down. The rancid scent of rotting flesh permeated the air around the longship’s belly, and her empty stomach protested the smell.
Her lips quivered. From fear? Cold? Both. She only wished to go home. Her father had warned her— when the gods grant our desires we may find we no longer wish for them, Tyra. An ache developed in her chest, and she could almost hear the deep timbre of his voice. Why hadn’t she listened to him?
Bodies littered the beach in various positions. Her brother...her cousins...all dead. She’d been the sole survivor. Of the twelve men, only four had washed ashore so far. She covered her mouth with both hands to hold in the scream forming in the back of her throat.
A deep, hearty laugh caused her to stiffen as she waited for further movement. She peered around the edge of the shattered boards, and a single arrow thumped into the side of the ship next to her face. She leapt back with a gasp.
The laughter grew louder. They were toying with her now. They must know she was alone. Her legs were weak and wobbly from lack of nourishment and her vision blurred. Voices carried to her and she knew the enemy was closing in.
Tyra could not wait here to be slaughtered like an animal. She must move to a better battlefield. She scanned the area. The beach faded into a dark cluster of trees. If she made it there, she would have a better chance of survival with more places to hide.
But running from here to there...a single arrow would kill her. Tyra choked back her tears.
Taking a deep breath, she burst from the opening and plunged headlong down the stretch of open beach toward the cover of the trees. Her legs pumped furiously and she squealed at the swish of an arrow flying past her.
She gasped for breath and her lungs burned from lack of air.
Plink. Plink. Two arrows hit the face of the rocks ahead of her and fell harmlessly to the ground.
Tyra grabbed one as she ran past. A weapon would even the odds somewhat. She might only be twelve winters old, but her father had taught her from an early age how to protect herself. He appreciated strength in a woman and had encouraged her to take up arms. A woman’s place was beside the hearth, but a woman also protected the hearth while the men were away.
Steep, craggy rocks settled at the base of an incline. She leapt over a small boulder and burst through the edge of the trees. There was no path here, and she knew not where to go, but she could not falter now.
The sound of the chase followed her as the enemy crashed through the brush behind her. Their harsh breath broke the silence of the forest as the men sucked air into their lungs. Tree limbs slapped against her face and stung her tender skin.
How many were there? Did she dare look? If she fell, she would never be able to get away once they caught her. She could not look and risk losing her small advantage.
They laughed and taunted in a foreign tongue, and they were closing in. Lengthening her strides, she dodged a maple tree and leapt over a dead, fallen trunk.
Why had she stowed away on her brother’s ship? Why had she not stayed home where she belonged? Hugh had been headed to Jorvikskyr on a trading expedition, and her father had forbidden her to go. Determined, she had hidden away in an empty trunk. A storm had brewed so suddenly, near falling right atop them, leaving the crew little time to sail safely to land.
And due to her foolish pride, she was left running for her life in an unknown land.
The terrain dipped and she slid down an embankment. She sprang forward and raced north. Several seconds later, she realized she heard no sound.
Her footsteps slowed. She gasped for breath and leaned a hand against a thick oak while her other settled against her heart. Dropping to her knees, she hid behind the large trunk, and searched the area. The mist weaved amongst the carpet of trees, Tyra studied the wall of green for the slightest movement. Nature’s breath seemed to be silenced as she waited for some sound.
Where had they gone? Had they given up the search?
The mist thickened amongst the vegetation and descended into a moist cloud just above her head. Everything beyond her reach faded into a grey haze.
A limb snapped. She shrank back, the bark of the tree scrapping against the soft flesh of her forehead. Hot, silent tears coursed down her cheeks. She’d wished for adventure. And now she wished for home.
Silence hung in the air like the weighty fog. It was there. She felt it. But it was the danger within she feared, not the fog itself.
She swallowed. Her parched tongue scratched against the roof of her mouth. Three days since she’d had any nourishment. Three days since she’d had shelter. And three days since she’d seen another human being. Alive at least.
To have endured the storm stowed away in a trunk and survived the crash, only to die on land at the hands of strangers seemed one of Loki’s cruel jests.By Odin, she refused to be his entertainment, and she refused to die here in a land not her own, amongst a people not her own.
© Suzie Grant