Ingrid set aside her rabbit—she’d eaten most of it. She tightened the fur around her body and stepped up to her clothing. The base of the pelt rubbed gently on her knees and the inside of it was cozy. She’d be glad to get her clothes back on, though, so she wouldn’t feel so vulnerable to the elements. But they were still damp even though the fire was doing its job.
Gunnvar leaned forward and threw a chunky log on the flames. Sparks showered upward and she was appreciative of the warmth.
“You finished your meal?” Erik asked her gruffly.
“Good.” He tossed his chicken bones into the undergrowth. “Come here.”
“You heard.” He tilted his chin and sat up straighter on the log. With his palms flat on his wide thighs, fingers spread, he set his attention firmly on her face.
A flicker of uncertainty trickled through Ingrid, but even so she took a step up to him.
“You lied to me,” he said, his voice low and decidedly dangerous.
“For that I’m sorry, Jarl Erik.”
He tipped his head. “You don’t seem it.”
“I am.” She tightened the fur. “I could never have known this was going to happen.”
“Surely you knew you’d anger the gods with your actions?”
“I believed it was for the best.”
“Because…” She paused. “I couldn’t stay in Ravndal, my fate there wasn’t… wasn’t tolerable.”
“You mean it wasn’t to your liking.” He reached out and curled the fingers of his right hand around the base of her fur covering, beside her knee.
“It was more than not to my liking, it was worse than death.”
“Worse than death?” He raised his eyebrows. “Surely death is a good thing, it is when we get to meet our gods and dine with them.”
“When the time is right, Jarl Erik. But it wasn’t my time.”
“How do you know this?” He tugged the pelt, just a little, enough so she had to grip it tighter to keep it up and around her body.
“I visited the seer in the months with the shortest days,” she spoke quietly, “and he told me change was in my future, and I had to be wise and brave.”
“And so you took it upon yourself to instigate this change by slipping onto my longboat as a boy? That may have been brave but it was not wise.”
“It was that or marry a hideous man. A man I could never have laid beside without revulsion in every one of my bones.”
He twisted his mouth as though thinking about her last words.
“He was old and ugly and smelly,” she blurted. “My father’s choice for me, not my own.”
“And why did you not tell your father how you felt?”
“I tried, but he would not listen to me. The deal had been made.”
He nodded. “But he is a good man, your father?”
“And your mother?”
“She has passed to the next life.”
He didn’t reply, instead he yanked the fur so hard she staggered as she attempted to keep hold of it.
On his next pull it slipped from her hands and landed on the ground.
She stood before him utterly naked and acutely aware of Tali and Gunnvar staring at her. “What are you doing?”
“I told you I’d punish you, Ingrid. That time is now.”
She frowned at him. “No, you can’t do that. I said I was sorry.”
“You also said your father was a good man, and I’m sure he would approve of his wayward daughter being taken in hand by a Jarl.”
“Taken in hand?”
As she’d spoken he wrapped his fingers around her wrist and pulled her closer.
She was aware of the heat of the flames licking over her skin, and also the heat of Erik’s legs as her knees knocked against his thigh.
“Over you go, woman,” he said.
“You deserve a sound spanking, and well you know it.”
“Not from you.”
“Ja, from me.” He pulled her again, forcing her to stoop.
“Don’t you know who I am?”
“Ingrid Baardsen. A woman who has brought us the most inconvenient bad fortune of being stranded without a longboat and several good warriors down.”
“I am the daughter of King Baardsen of Ravndal, have you not heard of him?”
“No.” Erik paused and narrowed his eyes. “Gunnvar, Tali, what do you say?”
“Never heard of him,” Gunnvar said gruffly.
“No, not me,” Tali added.
“And I’d say a good red ass might remind this new woman of ours not to lie again.” Gunnvar’s voice was every bit as low and rough as Erik’s had been.
She glanced at him. His eyes reflected the flames and he sat forward, elbows on his knees, hands dangling between them as if eager for the show to start.
The show of her having her bottom reddened.
“You can’t do this to me. My father will have your entrails. Leave me be.”
“King Baardsen isn’t here.” Quick as a flash Erik whipped out his arm, encircled her waist, and dragged her over his knee.
Suddenly Ingrid’s world turned upside down. She flailed for purchase, managing to grab his leg with one hand and bury her fingers in the sand with the other.
His thick pants were coarse on her naked flesh, scratching over her stomach. “Get off me!”
“Keep still, woman, you’ll only make this harder on yourself.” He clamped one hand over her back, while trapping her legs with the other. Ensnaring her to him with all the strength of a wolf’s jaw.
He shifted his knees and she dipped further forward, letting out a gasp as she realized her rump was now the highest part of her body and was offered up and vulnerable. “Erik! I swear I will have you—”
“What? You’ll have me what.” He dragged her closer, so the side of her body molded up against his belly.
“I’ll have you… I’ll have you.” The blood had rushed to her head. Her scalp wound throbbed. She writhed and bucked.
“I mean it. Be still or I’ll have you spanked every day we are here. And Tali and Gunnvar can each have a go at this pale ass. Let’s see how you like it then, three of us reddening your rump.”
“You wouldn’t dare…” She twisted and out of the corner of her eye she spotted Tali. Like Gunnvar he was leaning forward, anticipation etched on his face, his lips slightly parted.
They’d both spank me… happily. Tali and Gunnvar.
“You, I…!” She kicked up her heels, sending a spray of sand up to her ass.
A resounding slap landed across both her buttocks.
She yelped and jerked, trying to get away from the pain searing over her skin. But she could go nowhere. Erik had her trapped against him.
“Sweet little ass,” Gunnvar said then chuckled. “Cute when it wobbles.”
Humiliation swarmed over her. She knew what she’d done was wrong, disgraceful even but this… to be spanked over the knee of Jarl Erik with two of the crew watching on… watching on and enjoying her disgrace.
Another biting spank landed on her ass. Again she jolted forward, her body seeming of its own volition trying to escape the punishment.
Her ass was heating, reddening, but so was her face. Warmth bloomed there as she imagined what she looked like to the other two Vikings. Placed over Erik’s lap like a naughty child, and his hand coming down on her. She didn’t know what was worse, to be slapped or to be watched.
Another slap, then another.
She cried out and struggled to no avail.
“Be still.” Erik’s voice was gruff and commanding.
Also his palm was shockingly large, and it came down with breathtaking force and precision. The speed of it took her breath away, the sound of flesh on flesh screamed through her ears.
She bucked and fought, then found her face against his calf. She opened her mouth and sank her teeth through the material. She tasted suede and the salt of the ocean, also a satisfying wedge of hard flesh.
“Ah, wench!” He grabbed her hair and yanked her head up. “No more biting.”
“No!” she cried, staring wide-eyed at the shelter. “No more spanking.”
“I will say when I stop. And you just earned yourself more of this.” He thwacked the flat of his palm down; before the pain had bloomed, another searing slap landed over the last. On and on he went.
She cried out, her voice toppling into the forest. Tears of shame streaked from her eyes, flicking this way and that as she twisted her head within his grip on her hair.
Indignation roared through her. How dare Erik do this? She was treasured in Ravndal, the daughter of a powerful king. Food and wine brought to her. A servant to plait her hair and wash her clothes. Yet here she was, upended and being soundly spanked like an urchin child caught stealing apples.
“She’s a feisty one,” Gunnvar commented.
“Ja,” Tali said, as though he were watching a fish struggling in a net. “She is giving you a challenge, Erik.”
Their words made Ingrid fight harder. She would challenge this monster who was striking her ass. But her struggling was futile. Although she put muscle and energy into escaping she could go nowhere. Erik had her well and truly ensnared. He was simply too strong, and there was too much muscle for her to escape from.
And he wasn’t letting up.
This was a spanking that he truly believed she’d earned. That much she knew. Over and over his hand came down on her now hot, sore rump. Mortification swarmed with the pain. She was burning up and sweaty, her entire body alive with the discomfort radiating from her ass. She gasped and cried, wriggled and tried to pinch his leg, the sand, the log he sat on.
And then it stopped.
He smoothed his roughened palm over her ass.
She could hardly catch her breath. The embarrassment of what had happened was like a real living presence within her. She would never forget it.
“Do you accept that your deceit was wrong?” he asked a little breathlessly.
She was panting, her heart thudding and her buttocks sizzling with white-hot fingers of heat.
“Ingrid.” Again there was menace in his voice.
“Ja,” she managed. “I do. Please let me up.” She couldn’t stand the indignity a moment longer. She was a princess, a shield maiden, and yet here she was being spanked by a man who was neither her husband nor her father.
“What do you think, fellow warriors?” Erik said, still smoothing his hand over her smarting ass. With his other hand he held her shoulder-length hair in a tight ponytail, rendering her motionless on his lap.
“I think she is a wild one,” Gunnvar said. “And doesn’t know how to take a spanking she has earned. Seems to me she’s been allowed to get away with bad behavior in the homeland.”
“I agree,” Tali said. “Iron-willed and headstrong, plus her crime did deserve that.”
“And her lack of submission and lack of acceptance of a warranted spanking requires a further punishment?” Erik asked. “Not forgetting she bit my leg.”
“I think her ass is pink enough,” Tali said.
“No,” Gunnvar added quickly. “Pink is not enough, make her red, red enough so we can see it through the darkness.”
“Bastard,” Ingrid snarled, twisting to face him.
He shrugged. “You’re with us now. Get used to it and be glad that you’re here and not the bottom of the ocean. You have to know your place, woman.”
“I will whip your ass morrow, give me a sword, a dagger and I’ll have your…”
“Ouch!” she cried and kicked up her legs.
“Stop complaining,” Erik said. “Anyone who boards a vessel under false pretense must expect this stern punishment.”
“But I… ouch… I have taken it now…leave me be.”
“This is for biting me!”
Erik continued to slap her ass. She didn’t know how much more she could take. It hurt like a hundred bee stings. The heat was flowing from her buttocks to her pussy and up through her core.
She wished for her father, for Raud.
Slap. Slap. Slap.
She ground against Erik’s leg, her breasts squashed flat.
She wished for her mother. Oh, how she’d loved her mother.
Who’d also taken a spanking from time to time—from her husband.
“Get off me, you have no right.”
“I have every right. I am Jarl Erik, you are an imposter.”
“No, please. I am… I can give you silver… back in Ravndal I can—”
“I don’t want your silver.”
“And we aren’t there now.” Tali was by her head. He stroked her damp shoulders. “We’re a long way from home, Ingrid. Here it is our rules, here we obey Jarl Erik, and you obey us.”
“I will not, I… oh, stop, please.”
Erik’s hands were heavy but swift, continuing to land on her ass.
She struggled and kicked up sand again.
Suddenly it stopped.
All she could hear was the loud beat of her pulse and the air whooshing in and out of her lungs.
“Good girl.” Tali crouched next to her. “You’re doing so well.”
She studied the freckles she could just make out in the half-light of the fire.
“It will be okay,” he said, caressing her cheek.
She sniffed and tried to hold in a sob, but couldn’t. It burst upward, adding to her humiliation. She wasn’t a crier. Never had been.
But her ass hurt. It hurt and stung and was hot and she was hating this—being upturned over Erik’s knee and punished for the others to witness.
“Thor help me,” she muttered.
“He won’t.” Erik released her hair and the next thing she knew he was hoisting her upright onto his lap. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close. “Do you understand the error of your ways?”
She nodded. “I do.” She sniffed, her nose hurt, her eyes hurt, everything hurt.
He held her a little closer, tucking her head beneath his chin and wrapping his thick warm arms around her. Her ass was balanced between his thighs, the sorest patches of skin not touching his pants.
“Hey.” He used both hands to smooth her hair from her face. “No more tears.”
“You put them there,” she said, her words thick with emotion. “It was you. Your fault.”
“Ja, it was me. And now you understand the depth of my feelings.”
“Your feelings, you are a monster. Monsters don’t have feelings.”
He tipped her chin and raised his eyebrows. “Monster?”
She sniffed again and swiped at her cheeks.
“I’m no monster,” he said quietly, his breath breezing over her lips. “I am a man who demands respect from his woman.”
“I’m not your woman.”
He leaned closer still, his eyes boring into hers. “You will be.”
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