Why, hello, there… *drools*
You voted this week, and the results are in! Before I get to Run to Him: The Billionaire’s Beck and Call, Book Four, I am going to complete some unfinished business.
Some very *cough* sexy unfinished business, I might add!
With 56% of votes going to Bound by the Viking, I now have a clear path, and I feel invigorated!
For those awesome 44% who are a little disappointed, don’t fret, my darlings! I promise to work my hardest to get this new novel complete and be back to steamy, sensual, sinfully sexy billionaires in no time!
Meanwhile, to get you ready for what’s in store… check out this sneak peak of the first part of Bound by the Viking.
Happy reading, and thank you so much to everyone who voted! You’re fabulous!
SIZZLING SNEAK PEAK:
The big man pulled her out into the light. At first, she still squinted, adjusting her eyes as she was pulled along, but the sound of waves, working men’s grunts, and the cry of sea fowl circling overhead let her know soon enough she was on an ocean vessel. Her eyes stopped watering as she was dragged to the front of the ship, past what she now saw were rows of men pulling oars, their wide-shoulders sweat-drenched in the hot midday sun.
He dragged her to the bow and yanked her hair again, forcing her to stare straight ahead.
“See that, little one? See that strip of land up yonder? That will be your home from now on. Welcome to Paaviken, and your new life. If you please the chief, you could have a place here.”
Tears streamed down her cheeks now, chilling her as she shivered in nothing but ropes and her torn shift, facing what she feared was now her destiny. Up ahead, she saw a scattering of wooden buildings surrounding a great hall, all nestled on the icy banks of a wide bay. They would be on shore any minute, and for the first time, she wondered how long she’d slept in the darkness of the ship.
How long had it been since her home burned? Since she was taken?
Not that time mattered when each second sped her toward some new horror.
Determined to cry no more for these brutish men, she let her last tears dry in the harsh sea air, setting her jaw. She would face whatever was to come with all the bravery she could muster. It’s what her father would have wanted.
Once on shore, she was taken by several large-boned women with hard faces into an outbuilding and scrubbed unceremoniously in a half-barrel full of warm water. She felt like a mule standing there naked before these strangers, getting her skin rubbed raw with coarse cloths, until she was clean and glowing. They removed the ropes, and she winced as the hot water touched the raw skin, but was glad for the kindness nonetheless.
They chattered softly among themselves, ignoring her even as they dressed her, laying out clean garb for her to wear, obvious finery compared to their own homespun and furs. They brushed her wet hair, touching it and commenting on its color and softness, so much different than their own. Compared to their muddy blonde, her red must have been something special, especially the way they fawned over her appearance, braiding it artfully in a way that made her feel like a princess. Either that, or a whore.
She’d never dressed this well or fussed much over her looks, much less lain with a man, but as the hours passed, it became increasingly clear that she was being prepared as a gift of sorts for the head of this village. The thought made fear coil inside her stomach like a snake, the anxiety biting at her as she thought of who might be waiting for her in the long hall.
“Are you a maid?” One of the women glared down at her, hands on her strong hips.
Tears threatened to sting her eyes again, but she squared her jaw and nodded. “Yes.”
The woman frowned at her, then grabbed her with calloused hands, digging under her skirt before she could fight her off. An index finger worked its way between her squirming thighs and invaded her tightness. Aislin clapped a hand over her mouth as a sharp pain ripped through her. Her muscles clenched around the woman, and to her horror, a wetness grew as the blonde woman examined her.
Finally, she removed her hand and gave a sharp nod. Apparently, she’d passed the test. Her cheeks burned with humiliation as her sea blue gown was pulled roughly back down and smoothed down over her bare body. She would have given anything at that moment for a stitch of undergarments, but she knew that barrier would do no good. She was completely at these barbarians’ mercy. There was nothing that could stop them, not with so many of them in one place, and her stranded on this icy stretch of unfamiliar land.
She couldn’t run, or she’d surely freeze to death, if she didn’t starve first, and if she tried to wrestle a weapon away, she’d be overcome. For now, she knew she needed to be brave. And the bravest thing of all would be to let them do what they wished with her, if only to keep herself alive. Her moment would come, and in time, God willing, she would escape.
Raucous laughter met her ears and she cringed, dragged along by the strong hands of the blonde women. The cold bit into her in a way she never experienced back on the emerald isle–her former home. She shook, her small frame trembling as she was pushed along, as if she weighted no more than a leaf.
The door slammed open and she was pushed inside, feet barely skimming the floor in the leather shoes they’d given her, her linen gown swishing around her as she stumbled along as best she could. The smell of cooking game meat filled her nostrils, and her stomach rumbled painfully. How long had it been since she’d eaten a real meal?
Men filled the long benches of the hall, their long hair rippling down their backs in waves, some bearded and some clean-shaven. They laughed and hit one another as she passed, each eating a rich-looking stew out of a trough of crusty bread. She had the almost overwhelming urge to drop to her knees in front of one of them and beg for mercy–Let me eat! Help me, and I’ll be yours!–but there was no opportunity as she was pushed roughly forward, past the stink of stale sweat and ale, and the clamor of drinking horns slamming down on rough-hewn wood.
She looked up then, to where she was being taken, the dais at the end of the hall. Her breath caught in her throat. A man sat on an intricately-carved wooden chair, above the rest of the men, laughing with a man standing nearby, but possessing an undeniable air of authority. His hair was like bright wheat, falling down his shoulders, longer than the others and shining in the light from the flickering torches on the walls. His tunic was held at the shoulder with an intricate silver brooch, his cloak of fine dark wool. His close-trimmed golden beard accentuated the firm line of his jaw, masculine and yet altogether beautiful juxtaposed with his soft lips and piercing grey eyes.
Aislin tried not to stare, but at that moment, he turned to regard her, his eyes focused on hers, hard like iron, but as arresting as ice on a winter lake. Heat blossomed in her breast as she met his gaze, and saw the first flicker of approval.
“What have you brought me?” His voice was rich and silken, his accent rounded and flowing.
“This girl is the fairest of the thralls we took. The men wanted to make a gift of her.”
The tall woman at her right curtsied, and the others released her, making her stumble before the great wooden chair. They left and suddenly, she felt alone and exposed, standing before this great man. Warriors surrounded him, staring down at her slender body, their eyes sliding down over her delicate curves.
The chief dismissed them with a wave of his hand, and soon, despite the crowd joking and eating around us, she felt her world narrow to just her and him–the only thing that existed was the dais and the beautiful man radiating power and male potency in a way she couldn’t deny.
“Come here, girl.”
TO BE CONTINUED SHORTLY! 😉