Later that afternoon, after Hilda and Kolga had escorted their guests to the longhouses, Kirsten decided to join in among the other women. It would give her the chance to learn more and possibly guard her tribe from any threats. There were only three women, which seemed unusual. One was Irish, and she could not understand the girl's language.
The other two women were grateful when Kirsten showed them where to fetch water. They didn't speak to her, but she sensed their hesitancy. Although she had no answers about whether they were merely here as guests, she watched their body language carefully.
Unfortunately, one of the men started following her. Kirsten was careful never to be alone near him, but he was physically a large man with shoulder-length blond hair. Once or twice, she caught him staring, and his mouth curved in a knowing smile.
She decided it was better to get away from him, and she left the longhouse, searching for Jorund or Alarr. Neither was nearby, and she was strongly aware that the man was still watching her. She joined in with the other women in preparing food for the evening meal, but there was no denying the invisible threat.
It did feel that an attack was imminent, though she could not say why. Perhaps it was just her feelings of suspicion and distrust of strangers. In the sky above them, a harvest moon had risen, an ill omen of what was to be.
The warrior followed her again, and she saw him watching as she cut up vegetables. It shouldn't matter, but she couldn't quite let go of her intuition. She surrounded herself with the other women during the meal, but the warrior always seemed to be close.
Later that night, after the meal was over, he approached her. She could smell the ale on his breath, and he spoke at last. "Come."
His voice had a heavy accent, and she suspected he did not understand her language much at all. But she shook her head and met his gaze squarely. "No."
He laughed at that and tried to take her hand, but she pulled back and unsheathed her blade. "No," she repeated. She never took her eyes from him, fully aware that he was under the delusion that he could claim whatever woman he wanted.
Within moments, she spied Alarr and Jorund returning. With her blade still present, she walked toward the men. The warrior dropped back when he saw Alarr, but she didn't miss the annoyance in his gaze.
"I need your help," she said to Jorund. "One of the men keeps following me. Will you stay by my side?"
"Yes," he answered. He glanced in the direction from which she had come and spied the man. He moved his arm around her waist in an unspoken act of possession, and she was grateful for it. "But I'll do more than that. I'm going to take you home, if you're finished."
She nodded. With his hand in hers, he led her away to her brother's house. She couldn't let go of the feeling that the warrior had followed her somehow. After she opened the door, Jorund stood at the threshold.
"Will you come inside?" she asked.
He ducked his head and entered, closing the door behind him. He lowered the heavy wooden bar behind him. And suddenly, the air seemed charged between them. She had wanted him here as a means of protection, but now she realized that she didn't want him to go.
Log in or create an account to read the next chapter of "The Viking's Redemption"
Every month we select a new title from one of our authors so that you can discover new stories, locations and genres for free.