The swish of the lash reaches my ears before its soft leather tresses caress my skin. I arch against the impact, my body yielding to the intensity as the pain washes over me. My mind free-falls as he swings the leather at me again, my skin coming to life with each of its agonising kisses.
“Do you need the taste of the lash, my sweeting?” Anders’ voice vibrates next to me.
“Oh, yes, my Lofðungr,” I reply breathlessly. “I have missed you.”
All at once he appears at my side, his breath hot against my cheek as he gazes into my face. “Missed me?” Anders repeats. “Why, Aurelie, it has only been a couple of days since I last punished you.”
I bite my lip, unable to stop my hips from rolling forward in response to my Viking’s words. “I know,” I whisper, lowering my eyes as I answer him. “Yet I find that I need your discipline more and more, my Lofðungr.”
He grins at me, snaking his hands around my back and drawing my bound body forward. My Viking conqueror has me bound and spread-eagled, each limb stretched and held in place by his coarse ropes. My arms strain against the binds, but my torso moves as he commands, my beading nipples grazing his naked chest as they make contact with him. “My, my, Aurelie,” he growls. “You are so exquisite.”
I mewl at him, desperate to be free of my binds, yet never wanting my captivity to end. “Please, Anders,” I beg him. “Make me yours.”
He smiles, tilting his head to assess me. “All in good time,” he purrs. “And you, my sweeting, should remember yourself. How do you address your Viking master?” His tone has taken on a deeper timbre, and the sound makes me clench the wet muscles at my core.
“Yes, my Lofðungr,” I reply. “My apologies…”
My voice trails away, and I am left mesmerised by the look of his hypnotic pale blue eyes.
“A few more, my love,” he declares, raising the lash in the air even before he concludes.
The strike lands on my exposed behind, and I yell out as its resonance floods through me. The sound of the impact echoes around the room, and instinctively I lurch forward against my binds.
“Yes,” he tells me sensually, as he flails the lash at my reddened bottom a further three times. “My little captive must mind her manners and remember her place.”
I shriek at the latest impacts, dancing in the ropes at my ankles and wrists. “My Lofðungr,” I call, uncertain as to what I expect him to do or say. Do I want him to stop my penance, or would I prefer he kept me here, the source of his undivided attention for all time?
My eyes fall closed at the contradiction, the weight of it just too much to bear. All at once I feel his taut body behind me, the rough fabric of his trousers scraping my tender skin as he moves into position.
“Now, my sweeting,” he purrs, caressing my throat with hot kisses. “Now you shall get what you need.” He tips my body in the bondage, drawing my hips backwards with his large coarse hands, so that my wet seam is hopelessly exposed. Running a digit over my sex, he pauses as he assesses the extent of my arousal.
I groan, the intensity of the desire in me threatening to overflow as the head of his manhood slides into my slick entrance. “Oh, Gods, yes,” I moan. “Take me, Anders. Make me yours…”
He fills me up in an instant, my channel engorged with his large length. “You are already mine, Aurelie of Donrose,” he replies from behind me. “And soon, nobody will ever be able to doubt it.”
Chapter One: Serenity
Pale pink light breaks in the east, heralding the beginning of another new day. Summer has arrived, but our journey takes us north, and with each new sunrise, the world around is a little colder than before. I clutch my longsword, swirling my digits around its intricate handle, and unexpectedly a memory of Aurora, my brother’s favourite weapon, fills my mind. Squeezing my eyes shut, I catch my breath. I’ve not thought of Aurora for some weeks, and the depth of my emotion catches me off guard.
“Aurelie, are you well?” The sound of my master’s voice stirs me from my private memories, and I open my eyes to find him gazing down at me, concern etched into his handsome, weathered face.
“All is well,” I assure him, offering him a small smile by means of reassurance.
“It is not,” he replies firmly, taking a step toward me. “What troubles, my sweeting—tell me?”
Blinking up at this giant of a Viking, I smile again, and this time I mean it. Thrown together by bloody and gratuitous circumstances, Anders has transpired into my greatest friend and protector in recent weeks. I simply cannot imagine my life without him now, which seems odd when just a few months ago, we had not even met.
“I was thinking only of Donrose, my homelands,” I explain. I glance away for a moment, absorbing the majesty of the rising sun.
“Of course,” he says. “The memories are painful, but give me time, I vow to make new memories for you.” He pauses, pressing his tall and powerful frame against me. “For both of us.”
I rest my temple against his doublet, breathing in the earthy scent of him. “Thank you,” I murmur. “But I must counter one point, my Lofðungr.”
He towers over me, eyeing my expression with obvious fascination. “So, the lady wishes to counter me already, and the sun is not even risen in the sky? Is it time perhaps, for your next trip over my knee, to remind you who is the prince, and who is his lady?”
I watch his expression intently, and I can see that he speaks only in jest, and yet his words produce the usual effect on me, heat and moisture pooling at the apex of my thighs. “No, no, my Lofðungr,” I reply. “I mean not to provoke you, but only to say this—I am not sad at the memory of my home. I have made my choice, and I do not regret it.”
His face softens at the admission, and in a flash one of his long, muscular arms snakes around my waist, pulling me tight against his body. “That is exactly what I want to hear,” he tells me with a dazzling smile. “I am pleased that you do not regret the path you have chosen, and I swear I will never rest a day to ensure things remain so.”
I crane my neck to appraise him, enjoying the way the light bounces from his blond locks. “I am sure of so little these days,” I murmur. “But of this, I am certain—should I have my time again, my Lofðungr, I would make the same choice that day in castle Donrose.”
He looks down on me smiling, and I swear I feel my heart swell with joy at the way he appraises me. “You saved me, my sweeting,” he says, his voice a virtual whisper. “Take a look around you, Aurelie. See all of these men, my men—the knights of my people. Not a single one of them has ever sacrificed for me the way that you did when you cut me from the gallows.”
My glance follows his hand as he gestures to the scores of men who are packing up camp around us in the early morning light. The frenzy of their activity all the starker compared to our sensual moment of stillness.
An unexpected wave of emotion washes over me, and my eyes tear before I can halt the flow. “Anders,” I whisper, wanting so much to tell him again why I made that choice, and how I will—always—stand by the decision. “I…”
His right hand is at my face in an instant, the huge palm resting against my left cheek with care and precision. “Hush, my love,” he says, leaning down to plant a firm, yet gentle kiss against my mouth. We are eye to eye as his thumb strokes my cheekbone, his expression intense and powerful. “You need not say the things which are on your mind to speak,” he continues. “I know them already to be true.”
My eyes fall closed again, and one large teardrop escapes down the length of my face. I don’t know why I cry. I mean what I have told him, and I do not regret my choices. And yet, the consequences of those decisions have ripped me from the only land I’d ever known. Everything now is foreign to me, and the thought fills me with trepidation. Anders’ thumb moves, and I feel him collect the tear and wipe it from me. “Remember what I have said,” he tells me. “You are mine now, Aurelie of Donrose, and nothing and no man can ever come between us again.”
I take in a deep breath of cold, northern air, feeling my strength return. “I will remember,” I tell him as I open my eyes and take in the look of his handsome face.
Chapter Two: The Interlude
Our progress north is slow and tedious. The upheaval of recent months bears down on me the further I ride from Donrose, and I never can seem to stay warm, despite the great many furs Anders has provided. It’s been several months since Anders had ridden from my homelands with me as his prize, and since the initial turmoil, things between us have settled into a new and burgeoning dynamic. Yes, this Viking is my master. There is no doubt about that, and I do not query it, but he is much more than that. Anders is the man I have given up everything to save. I have left my home, my family, and my titles to grant him the liberty he, ironically, refused me when he kept me as his prisoner.
However, since that day in Donrose, the connection between us has changed. He may be the master still, but I am no longer his foreign slave to parade and display. I am now quite literally his most cherished prize—his fondest possession—and I have welcomed and revelled in the comfort of it. This change, though, has not been so universally well received. Many of Anders’ soldiers and advisors were sceptical of the news upon our arrival back to what remained of their camp. Yet, their joy at seeing Anders alive and well has quelled their obvious distrust of his growing fixation with me.
And so it has been for weeks now. What remains of his armies and peoples travel north, back to the Viking homelands, retreating from their war with the lands of the south. And with them they take me, the princess who betrayed her own family to save the life of their prince. We travel first on horseback, and then by longboat, the journey no less arduous by sea than on land. Once docked again, the endless days of riding have blurred into one, punctuated only by the sensual warmth of the nights spent with Anders in his private pavilion. Here, he has sought to ravish and dominate me, the way he always has, but now, I receive him with an open heart, as well as lusty fervour.
“We should reach my home this day.” Anders’ voice is gruff in my ear as we ride his stallion at the head of his progress, and I twist right to meet the sound of it.
“Yes, my Lofðungr,” I reply, smiling to meet his insistent pale blue eyes. He is clearly excited at the prospect, but it has been so long that I am unsure how I feel about the revelation.
“Are you pleased, my sweeting?” He leans forward, depositing the words into the side of my face as a whisper.
“Of course, my Lofðungr,” I reply unthinkingly. And I am—pleased, but also racked with insecurity about the notion. A knot of nervous energy rises in my belly as testament to my point.
Anders kicks at the stallion, riding him hard as we make our way onward. “Come now, my love,” he calls to me over the sound of the hooves. “Do you forget that I know you better than this?”
I still, tension rising in me, but his left arm has already abandoned the reins and holds me steadily at the midriff.
“I do not forget, my Lofðungr,” I call back, feeling the heat of his breath at my hair.
“Good,” he answers me. “So, tell me honestly, what do you feel about our imminent arrival?”
My mouth dries at his question, knowing that he will be able to sense any sign of concealment or deceit in my voice. “I am excited,” I begin, turning my head to meet his face. “Yet I must concede I am also nervous about it.”
Anders laughs softly, the sound catching on the wind behind us. He slows the stallion, though his grip on my middle does not lessen. “I had presumed as much,” he replies, reaching down to kiss the nape of my neck.
I groan at the welcome sensation, my body whirring into life at the touch of his lips. “Anders,” I moan, the word sounding more like a gasp than a statement.
The prince at my back chuckles darkly. “Watch your tone, my Lady,” he responds at once. “Remember the time, and the place. I am not Anders when I am with my men.”
I press back into his taut body, twisting to make out his expression. Though he looks more amused than angry, I am rueful at once. “Apologies, my Lofðungr,” I answer him. “It is just when you kiss me so, I seem to forget myself.”
“Evidently,” he chortles. “Yet you are forgiven, my sweeting, although please do not make the same error of judgement in the presence of my father.”
My body tenses again. The king. He is the primary reason we are making this progress at all. Anders seeks the monarch’s permission to take me as his betrothed, and see me ultimately the queen of his people. Since the day he proposed the venture, the thought of it has riddled me with anxiety. How can this northern king ever accept me as his son’s choice, let alone as the mother to his heirs? And then there is the matter of my maidenhead, already taken by Anders when I was his willing captive. I am no longer a virgin, and where I come from, that makes me entirely unsuitable for marriage at all.
“Stop fretting about the king.” Anders’ tone is hard and unforgiving as he senses my insecurities. “We have had this conversation. You will leave the king to me, do you understand?”
“Yes, my Lofðungr,” I gasp, the strain of my concern etched into my voice. “I just worry…”
“You worry too much,” he barks back at me. “Your place is by me, and that, my little sweeting, is where you shall stay.”
His arm pulls me tighter against his groin, and I smile as I feel his growing hardness at the thought. The fact that he wants me is comforting, and I wish for all the world that we could unsaddle the horses, and I could ride my Viking for an hour or two. Sadly though, that reality is not forthcoming, and there remains a great many hours of travelling still to conquer.
By nightfall, our pace finally begins to slow, and the torches of a large settlement loom large on the horizon.
“Valhalla!” cries Anders from behind me. “It’s Lundborg. We’re home, men!”
A great cheer rises from around us as the north men realise their journey nears its end. I peer into the darkness, surveying the grounds that are now to become my home, my belly churning with weeks of growing fear and anxiety. What if the king rejects me? What if the people here despise me? I know enough of people to doubt that any would choose a foreign princess over one of their own…
Several guards from Lundborg ride out to meet us, delighted beyond belief to see their prince return.
“My Lofðungr!” exclaims one as he sets eyes on Anders. “Sæll! Praise the Gods, how wonderful it is to see you! When we heard news of the attack on your camp, I must admit that we feared the worst.”
Anders slows his horse to a leisurely trot, advancing toward the guards as he replies. “The Gods were watching over us,” he shouts back, eliciting more cries of triumph from his men behind. “And now we have returned, seeking warmth and good cheer.”
The one who had addressed Anders catches sight of me in his torch, his eyes narrowing at the vision. Still, he is clearly not foolish enough to contradict his prince, and hearing Anders’ words, he bows low on his horse. “Of course, my Lofðungr,” he agrees. “We shall ride on ahead and let the castle know of your arrival.”
Anders nods, his face lit by the large torches. “Good,” he answers. “But before you go, how is the king?”
The guard smiles as he replies. “The king is in good health, my Lofðungr,” he says earnestly. “Though I am certain news of your return will make him all the happier.”
“Indeed,” muses Anders. “Go now—ride on and bring news of our return to Lundborg!”
The riders depart, and we continue the short distance to the perimeter walls, the spirits of Anders and his men lifted by the sight of home.
Chapter Three: A New Reality
Once we reach the perimeter, Anders rides his stallion hard until the walls of his father’s castle loom high above us. Coming to a halt, he drops from the horse in an instant, and is met by yet another guard, elated to see him. He waves him away once instructions have been given in his Norse tongue, and then comes to help me down from his horse.
“Come, my sweeting,” he says, guiding my leg over the girth of the stallion, before offering me his hand as I jump from the saddle. I have become used to riding this way in recent months, although it was not so long ago that I used to ride side-saddle. Being stretched over a horse this way would have been considered outrageous for a young princess back in Donrose.
Anders’ large digits lace between my own small fingers, and he leads me on in the dark. We pass a number of his kinsmen, all equally tall and well-built in stature, and excited exchanges transpire in front of me. I have mastered a little of their Norse tongue over the last months since my capture, so I understand some of the interaction, yet I say nothing. Instead, I stay behind Anders, watching the interplay with fascination.
“Anders!” The booming voice of one Viking overshadows all of the others, and instinctively I spin to face its owner. “Heil, brother, Velkomin! I am so glad to see you alive and well!”
The two men embrace, Anders using his left arm to pull the unknown ally into a bear hug. All the while our hands remain intertwined, his reassuring grasp never leaving me.
As the men pull apart, the stranger looks over Anders’ shoulder and spotting me, he smiles appreciatively. “Are you going to introduce me to your friend, big brother?”
I assess his large blue eyes and long slender face, and all at once I can see the familial connection. Anders turns, pulling me forward in front of his body. “Certainly, Olaff,” he says with genuine enthusiasm. “May I introduce Princess Aurelie of Donrose.”
Olaff’s eyes widen at the introduction, yet he smiles again, offering me a courteous bow. “Lady Aurelie,” he says softly. “Velkomin to Lundborg. I trust my brother here has been looking after you?”
His eyes flit to Anders, and the two exchange glances. I shift my weight awkwardly, certain that I am blushing despite the plummeting temperatures. “Good day, sir,” I reply, falling into a small curtsey. “It is good to make your acquaintance.”
He laughs, a kind and hearty sound, and turning to his brother he replies, “Come now, both of you. Let us get in from the cool summer night. It seems, Anders, that you have much to share about your campaign. I heard about some losses, brother?”
Anders nods, leading me on gently as the three of us resume the path to the castle. “Indeed,” he replies. “Certainly it is not all good news, brother. Perhaps you heard about our setbacks outside Donrose? I’m afraid we lost a great many good men.”
My belly twists at the name of my homeland as I listen to the exchange. Anders goes on to paint a picture of the campaign for Olaff, in which nearly all sympathy is awarded to his people—the aggressors who had stormed Donrose in the first place. I tense at the discussion, my mind heavy at his words. All of this talk of my homeland makes me sombre, my thoughts returning to my brother, Bowen, and how I betrayed him by sparing Anders’ life. My eyes flicker closed, and an unexpected sense of patriotism fill me. I may have fled, but I am still of Donrosian blood, and I owe it to all those lost to defend their honour. I draw in a breath, trying to compose myself, but Anders’ biased portrayal of events continues to rile me.
“There were losses on all sides, my Lofðungr,” I mumble, finally unable to suppress my irritation any longer. “Many of Donrose’s men were also slaughtered.”
The two men stare at my interruption, Anders’ expression hardening. “Of course, my Lady.” His tone is stern, sending a wave of anxiety coursing through me. “War is a bloody and brutal business, and yet, Olaff asked me specifically about the losses on our side.”
I blanch, my heart pounding as he counters me. “Yes,” I reply, “and I know there were a great many, but please be fair, my Lofðungr,” I continue. “It was not Donrose who invaded Norse and started this war.” I can hear the indignation rising in my voice at Anders’ partisan description of his campaign, and I know he will not approve, yet still I speak, apparently unable to stop myself. “My father’s land has lost more than its share of good men, because of the choices Lundborg has made.”
For the longest time there is silence. Anders’ gaze drills into me, his complexion hard as he muses on my outburst. Eventually, his expression breaks into a malevolent chuckle. “Aurelie.” His tone is firm, leaving me no room for doubt. I have overstepped an unspoken line between us, and now I am in trouble again… “I do not recall my brother asking for your opinion.” He hesitates, and the look in his pale blue eyes makes me gulp. “We will speak of this later, when we are alone.”
He turns back to his brother’s sullen face, and explains something in their native tongue. Nodding slowly, Olaff answers, so that I will better understand this time. “I have heard something of this grave news, and yet I am beyond thrilled to find my elder brother alive and well. We had received reports that you were executed?”
Anders glances in my direction, our eyes meeting in knowing silence. “Yes,” he agrees. “My execution was certainly planned, and yet—there is time enough for this. Let us get inside the castle and see our father. Then I can explain a little further.”
Satisfied for the time being, the two men lead me inside the giant fortress of Lundborg.
Like most princesses, I have never stepped foot in the castle of a foreign power before, and as we enter, I’m absorbed by the indigenous sights and smells. The walls rise high above us, the stone reminding me a little of castle Donrose, but the colour is lighter and each slab larger. They lean into archways, which open into grand rooms, and narrow hallways lit by small thin candles, the cold stone present everywhere I look.
Olaff leads us out into some type of open courtyard, the ceilings even higher here than elsewhere. The space is filled with servants, all busy with their duties until they glance up to see their two princes approaching. They bow low as we pass, but I’m aware of curious eyes studying me as I weave my way past their bodies. We reach an archway to the west, and at last the two men pause.
“The king is in his quarters,” Olaff announces, glancing to his brother. “Why don’t you go and get your guest settled, and then come to meet me there?”
Anders blinks at him, and answers with a smile. “Good thinking, little brother,” he says. “I shall join you there in a short while.” He nods as he concludes, drawing me back from Olaff.
“It has been my pleasure to meet you, Princess Aurelie,” the younger of the two remarks, dipping his head as I scurry after Anders.
I turn, offering him a small smile, and as I appraise him there I am amazed at the resemblance he has to his brother. He is equally tall, lean, and looks just as powerful. His eyes are a similar blue, and his blond hair is drawn back behind his head.
“Come, Aurelie,” Anders commands, his voice dragging me back to the direction he is now taking us. “There will be time to meet my family, but that time is not now.”
I run to catch up with his large strides, glancing up to query him. “But your father, my Lofðungr,” I say, breathless from the exertion, but more from the low-level anxiety that Anders’ chastisement always produces in me. “When will I be introduced to the king?”
He throws me a contemplative smile, squeezing my fingers as he replies. “All in good time,” he says. “First you must rest. It has been a long day of travelling for us all.”
On that point at least I agree, and not wanting to displease him further, I say nothing more, allowing him to navigate the dark corridors until we finally reach a large wooden door.
“This is it, my sweeting.” His voice sounds triumphant as he presses his free palm against the dark wood. “These are my private quarters.”
Something about his tone makes my insides quiver, the resonance taking on that authoritative edge that has driven me wild since he first enslaved me back in the Viking camp outside Donrose.
I blink up at him, feeling my emotions surge as my heart pounds faster and faster within the walls of my chest. “Is this where I am to stay, my Lofðungr?” My question sounds small in the shadows, my voice bouncing off the stonework and disappearing.
The corners of his lips turn at my words, and I swear I am almost panting by the time he speaks. “Well, of course, Aurelie,” he murmurs, pulling me toward him with two powerful arms. One hand rises to my dark hair, and slowly he tugs my head backwards, so that my face rises to meet his eyes. “You are mine now, and you will stay wherever I am.”
I swallow hard at the intensity in his tone.
“I trust you will be happy here,” he continues as his thumb strokes the edge of my chin with gentle caresses. “I am a prince after all, so I can keep you in the manner to which a princess should be already acquainted.”
That makes me smile, and I lower my eyes despite the hand at my face. Anders tuts at me, his hand pushing my face higher until my gaze returns to him. “You know better than to look away, Aurelie,” he warns me.
I pull my lower lip between my teeth, anxiety at the soft admonishment stirring within me. “I apologise,” I reply. “I will be happy,” I assure him. “I am happy with you.” And I mean it, his mesmerising blue eyes holding my gaze steady.
All at once the hand disappears, and he jerks the strong door beyond us open. We both move forward, my steps tentative as I peer into the darkness.
Anders drops my hand for the first time since we arrived, pacing into his old room. The musty scent of the air hits me as I follow after him. Evidently, Anders has not been here for some time.
“We’ll need a little light,” he announces, already striding past me to one of the lit candles in the hall. I stand in the middle of the space as he returns, armed with two candlesticks, now both aflame. He proceeds to light each torch in the vicinity, and soon enough the flickering lights reveal his large private quarters.
“That’s more like it,” he smiles, shifting the door closed with his left hip, as he paces back toward me. “It’s cold, and full of cobwebs,” he explains, looking around, “but it’s home.”
I look around me, taking in Anders’ private space. “How long has it been since you were last here, my Lofðungr?” I ask him, as I remove my longsword and prop it against a nearby piece of furniture.
He tilts his head as he shakes off his large furs, thinking on my question. “It has been some time,” he muses. “Several seasons have passed since I left Lundborg.”
I glance around, taking in the ornate furniture in the room. At the far end is an oversized four-poster bed, and when my eyes fall over it, Anders chuckles next to me.
“Ah, yes, my sweeting,” he agrees with a dark laugh. “That is the place where I shall have you bound and splayed.” He closes the distance between us in one stride, his large, muscular frame towering over me once more.
I look up to him, fighting to push the air in and out of my body. “My Lofðungr,” I murmur, but there are no more words. The swirling mix of panic and arousal makes me giddy, and I reach for his forearm to support me.
His face softens at the gesture, and within a moment his full lips come crashing down onto me. His kiss is demanding, possessing me and leaving me ragged as he pulls away. Now my head is spinning, the caress of his lips a temporary reprieve for my mind, which is still trying to make sense of all the changes that have occurred in my life of late.
“I understand, my love,” he purrs, spearing me with the dark intensity of his gaze. “This is all new, and it will take you time to feel settled—to belong—but belong you will, my sweeting.”
He pushes his groin into me, the evidence of his arousal clear at my belly. A reflexive groan escapes my lips at the sensation. My body, unable to resist my Viking prince, moves even closer to him, my hips rolling against his hardness.
Anders smiles, his blue eyes sparkling. “Oh, Aurelie, yes,” he murmurs. “I want you too, but first…” He pauses, a wicked grin spreading over his handsome face. “First there is the matter of your transgression in front of Olaff.”
My anxiety, so recently calmed by our rising passion, resumes full pelt. “But, my Lofðungr?” I ask, hearing the tremble in my voice.
“Aurelie?” His response is fast, and one of his dark blond brows arches as he repeats the enquiry back to me. “Do you protest?”
“I do, my Lofðungr,” I implore him. “Please, I did not mean to offend. I wanted only to offer the other side of the story?”
He nods as his large palms collect both of my hands between us. “On this point I am clear,” he replies, never breaking eye contact with me as he speaks. “Yet you spoke out when you did not have permission. You interrupted us, and were defensive, arguing against my account, and contradicting me in front of my brother. Do you know how that makes me feel?”
I hesitate, seeing the genuine feeling in his gaze. Is that what I had done—contradicted him? Yes, I muse, I suppose that I did, and yet I meant no ill by it. I had only wanted to defend Donrose, and speak for those who are no longer here to defend themselves.
He towers over me, motionless, waiting for me to think on my behaviour.
“I see I have undermined you,” I say finally, the notion clear to me for the first time. “I am sorry to have caused you embarrassment in front of Olaff.”
Anders leans in, his lips grazing my mouth again as he trails kisses over my lips. “So, now you understand?” His tone is even and I know he is not angry, and yet still my core liquefies at the prospect of what he may have in mind for my penance.
“Forgive me,” I whisper up to him as his hot mouth draws away. “I am still not so used to this submission you ask for, my Lofðungr.”
He laughs at that, the sound warming me in the half-light of his private quarters. “But how can that be so, little sweeting?” he enquires. “Is this not what I have expected from the very start? That you yield to me in all things?”
I blink up at him, my heart threatening to race into my throat. “Yes,” I reply, certain that it is the case. “Yet you forget, my Lofðungr, that I was a princess in Donrose. I was a lady with power and influence. You have plucked me away from that life, and now…” I pause, the words ahead unknown to me.
His large fingers fly to my chin again, and gently he brings it north to meet his gaze. “I plucked you?” he repeats, and his tone sounds almost amused. “Are you sure, my brave little Aurelie? As I remember it, you cut me down from your brother’s gallows and saved the life of your Viking. Is that not how it was?”
I close my eyes at the image he describes, my breath catching as the memory and the reality collide. “Yes,” I reply, my eyes fluttering open. “Yes, that was me, and I’m sorry if I presented the tale any other way. I must also take responsibility for my actions.”
He chuckles, and the sound draws my attention back to his hot, insistent gaze. Those eyes, so blue and intense. They capture me, the way they have always captured me. I am his… “You are too hard on yourself,” he purrs, brushing the stray strands of hair from my face. “And you have no right to do so. I am your master now, my little sweeting, and only I have the right to punish you.”
I swallow hard as he vocalises what I have been thinking. “So, will you?” My voice is tentative as I ask for what we are both contemplating.
His lids are hooded and dark as he surveys me. “Do you think that is what you deserve?”
I blink at him. So, he is to torture me further, by making me say the words aloud. “Perhaps,” I respond. “I, I did not intend to be disrespectful, and yet I see now that I did undermine you. It is just…” I run out of words, my internal struggle between the lady I once was, and the one I must now become, ever present in mind.
“You shall be spanked for this transgression, my sweeting,” he tells me, his voice low and foreboding. “I will bare your delicious behind, and I shall tan it with my palm. Do you understand me?”
The aforementioned palm resumes its place at my face. Anders strokes my left cheek with feathery light touches, the contrast stark compared to his ominous words. His question hangs in the air between us, and for the longest time my trepidation paralyses me. I know that look in Anders’ eyes, and I dread the spanking he has in mind. His expression hardens, waiting for my response, forcing me to react.
“Yes, my Lofðungr,” I whisper eventually. “Yes, I understand.”