Fire And Ice: New Beginnings
Irritated, the woman swatted at the insects buzzing annoyingly around her head as she pushed through the overgrown foliage. She came to a stop and wiped the sweat from her brow. Good heavens, what was she thinking attempting this. Maybe she should’ve waited. She grinned suddenly. And miss the surprise on her lover’s face? No, way. She wanted this project to be done by the time she got here.
“Morgana, are you sure you still want to do this? Maybe we should come back when it’s a bit cooler?”
The amber eyes flashed as they come to rest on the burly man, who quickly held up his hands when he saw the irritation in her eyes. He quickly took a step back.
“I will keep my mouth shut, Captain.”
The woman’s eyes narrowed and she nodded curtly. “Good idea, Juan.” She turned to look at the dense growth again and took a deep breath. “Its not that far anymore. Come on, men. I want to be back at the tavern before nightfall.”
After an hour of slicing through the greenery, Morgana came to a stop. The men immediately pushed from behind to see what it was that had inspired their captain so that she had them up at the crack of dawn to traverse through kilometers of dense forest. Their eyes widened at the sight which greeted their eyes. They have reached a flat plain surrounded by high coconut trees, but that was not what had them staring. From where they stood they could hear the faint thundering sound of water as it plummeted downwards, a sure sign of a waterfall close by. Never venturing this far into the interior of the island, the men were stunned by their discovery.
“This is what I wanted to show you,” Morgana said softy, her tone dreamily. “So, what do think, Juan?”
“It’s magnificent, Captain. Definitely worth the trouble to get here?” He cocked his head to one side as he looked at the beautiful woman standing next to him. “How did you find this place?”
The golden gaze was warm when they met his and a mysterious smile was curled around her lips.
“Ah, Juan, telling you would make you blush.” She turned away from him and closed her eyes. Oh, yes, she can still remember it like it was yesterday. After their reconciliation in the Far North, almost a year ago, they had made their first appointment to meet at Sun Paradise within eight months. A shiver went down her spine as she relived their first encounter after such a long time apart.
Kris was insatiable and Morgana was humbled by the fact that the Viking was abstaining from sex as a token of her commitment at pursuing a relationship with her. Sighing deeply, she scanned the area again. They had packed a basket with food, a few blankets, and set out into the forest in their search for privacy. They stumbled upon this place by accident and quickly christened it as their favorite spot. Here they had made love until they were both too sore to move and had spent the night under the stars.
She felt a hand on her shoulder and swung around, ready to do battle. Stepping back quickly, Juan held up his hand.
“I was calling your name a few times, but you weren’t answering. The men want to know if they could stay over here and start in the morning.”
“I have no problem with that.” She walked over towards a huge tree with heavy limbs. Morgana could still see her Viking swinging on the branches to get to the succulent fruits hidden in the heart of the tree.
“Juan, if they have everything they need, then I suggest we try and get back before it gets dark. Don’t want to get lost out here.”
Juan nodded and quickly walked over to where the men were setting up camp. After a while he was back and they began the long, torturous journey back to the settlement.
Ragnor pushed his hand under the dress of the serving wench and guffawed when she playfully slapped at his hand. A few feet away, Kris sat, quietly sipping her ale and watching the interplay. The Lilac Crest needed to conduct urgent repairs after surviving a sound battering from a storm off the coast of Saxony a week ago. Lucky Ragnor’s longboat Hammerhead came by and with the help of his crew they’ve managed to finish the repairs in record time. Afterwards Ragnor invited her to join him on his journey. This small Portuguese seaside town was where they’d ended up. The shore time did wonders for her crew who had to suffer her ill-temper too many times over the past few months.
Ragnor laughed out loud when his hand reached under the girl’s dress yet again and she let out a yelp. Strange as it may sound but looking at Ragnor she was reminded of Morgana.
Since their little run-in almost a year ago when the feisty Spaniard robbed him of his cargo, Ragnor had held a grudge against her lover. She grinned into her cup. His attitude toward Morgana had only made her lover look forward to repeat her little stunt. Kris doubted if Ragnor would allow her to best him a second time around, but what was a little healthy competition between friends. Not that she could call the two of them friends though.
Oh, how she missed her feisty woman. The last time they saw each other was at Sun Paradise eight months after their meeting in Vellagrun. Since then, almost a year ago, she hadn’t seen the Spaniard again. They were supposed to meet at Sun Paradise six months ago, but on her way there, a message from Drusilla sent with one of the ships leaving from there, said that Morgana had to urgently sail for Spain. There were family issues that she had to attend to. Disappointed, she had turned sail and headed for the Americas instead. Sun Paradise without Morgana there would be too painful for her to bear. After a successful expedition off the far northern coast of the Americas and with her cargo hold filled with pelts and seeds, she’d set for home.
But even there Morgana haunted her. Her room was filled with memories of the two of them, making love, eating dinner sitting cross-legged in front of the fireplace dreaming about their future together. She only managed to stay a week before she took her horse and disappeared into the forest until she reached the place where the northern light set the sky alight. There she’d set up camp and spent her days missing her lover. It was weeks later when she returned to her village. Still there was no word from Morgana.
Almost immediately she had her crew assembled, the Lilac Crest readied, and they left for the East. Kris was hoping feverishly that she would bump into Morgana on their journey. A heavy storm battered them off the coast of Saxony , but because of worsening relations between the Saxons and the Vikings, she couldn’t afford to moor there for repairs and instead pushed her crippled ship to the nearest port on the Portuguese coast. That’s where she met up with Ragnor.
“Need some company?” asked a soft voice next to her and she slowly turned to face the newcomer. She grinned when she looked into the twinkling eyes of Bertha, the Dutch female pirate.
“Odin, Bertha!” She pushed out her hand and the big woman took it in a crushing grip. “What the hell happened to you? I haven’t seen you in ages.”
The Dutch woman lowered her bulk in a chair and stretched out her long legs. She whistled sharply, the unexpected piercing sound making Kris grimace. A serving girl quickly appeared next to their table.
“Bring me two ales, wench. Hurry too.” With her order placed the female pirate turned her light brown eyes on Kris. “I had to stay close to home for the past four months. Family business.”
Kris nodded and took a sip from her ale.
“I take it everything is fine now, seeing as you are your robust self again. What, if I may ask, are you doing around here anyway?” She scanned the interior of the tavern and frowned—Ragnor, Black Ben, Bertha, and Wild William. Strange, but the tavern was full of notorious pirates. What was going on here? She turned to Bertha, her eyes narrowed with suspicion. “Bertha, why are you really here?”
Two foaming tankards of ale were placed before them and Bertha reached for hers and drained almost half the contents before she burped loudly and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
“Ahhh …just what I needed.”
Kris’ hand on her own half empty tankard tightened at the pirate’s delay in answering her question. Knowing how stubborn the Dutch woman was, she took a deep sobering breath and instead drained the contents of her tankard. If Bertha was going to keep delaying her answer, she might just as well get drunk while waiting for her to get to it.
Two hours and almost six tankards of ale later, the two women came to their feet, both still looking sober and alert.
“Where you off to now, Viking?” Bertha’s voice sounded a bit slurred.
Kris shrugged. “Don’t have anywhere to be now. I might wander through the market to see what they have to offer.”
Bertha rubbed her eyes.
“I’m meeting my family for dinner. You want to join us?” she asked softly.
It took Kris a while to answer her, seen as she first had to pick her jaw off the ground. Bertha was married? Wild, heavy-drinking, fornicating Bertha was married. She nodded, speechless. She had to meet the woman who’d tamed this wild woman .
“Lead the way, Bertha.” She was about to be part of history in the making. Bertha looked a little indecisive before she shrugged her massive shoulders.
The inn where Bertha had booked in her family was quite nice and expensive-looking. At Kris’ incredulous look, the red-headed female pirate shrugged again.
“The other places are too noisy,” she said curtly and pushed open the door. The interior was unbelievable. The floors were made out of polished wood and the room was clean and airy. The faint smell of lavender hung in the air, adding to the warm atmosphere of the place. A grey-haired woman stepped into the room and smiled when she recognized Bertha.
“You are back. The rest are waiting for you in the private dinning room. I will set a place for your guest too.”
Kris swung wide eyes at Bertha.
“What is this place? I can’t ever remember having been in such a nice place, except of course Drusilla’s.”
“Eleanor found it. I was just warned to behave and clean my feet before stepping into the place.” She looked at the floor. “It’s kind of obvious why. Let’s go eat. I’m starving.”
They entered a small room which was furnished intimately with only a few tables sporting bright wildflowers. In the corner was a fireplace with a huge fire, warming the whole room. It was at one of these tables that Bertha’s wife was seated. A diminutive blonde came to her feet, her blue eyes worriedly sweeping the burly frame of the Dutch pirate.
“Darling, you made it. I was worried that you might’ve lost your way.”
Kris quickly glanced in Bertha’s direction and was shocked to find the pirate blushing as she looked at the petite woman. Her eyes swung back to the blonde and Kris saw the love in the blue eyes as they rested on the redhead. Then suddenly the blue gaze was upon her and Kris smiled weakly. As tiny as the woman was, she also radiated a subtle strength which went rather well with her refined nature. Oh Odin, Bertha is married to a noble woman. She turned to look at the tall pirate again and found the light brown eyes on her. What a mismatched couple, she thought to herself.
“You must be Kris the Viking,” came the soft voice and Kris nodded.
“Uh … just Kris will do.” She stepped closer, but faint panic in the small woman’s eyes made her stop. She threw a confused look in Bertha’s direction. The redhead shrugged and Kris felt like slapping her. What now? Why was the woman scared of her?
“I’m easily intimidated by large persons. My family is … was not very tall. You on the other hand are even larger than Bertha.” She took a few small steps forward and held out her hand. Kris warily eyed the small delicate hand, wondering if she will crush it if she took it. Concentrating hard, she gentle enfolded the small hand in her big one.
“It’s a pleasure meeting you, milady.”
Soft laughter greeted her ears and charmed she looked down at the gentle blonde.
“My name is Eleanor, no need for any formality.” She turned to her lover and reached for Bertha’s hand and tucked her gently behind her as she led her to table. “Come and sit, darling. You must be hungry. Kris, please join us. Asmara will quickly set a place for you.”
As if on cue, the innkeeper entered and placed a plate, cutlery, and a goblet on the table. With a soft smile she left them and Kris made her way over to the table. As they served themselves quickly, Kris noted the blonde’s eyes on her. Careful not to make eye contact she focused her eyes on her plate as she began to eat.
“You are truly as beautiful as they say, Kris.”
Shocked by the noble woman’s quiet remark, Kris coughed softly before she looked up into the amused blue eyes. She found Bertha’s eyes and noticed that the she too was amused by her lover’s bold statement.
“Uh … it depends who is saying that, mi … Eleanor.” She reached for her goblet and took a big gulp.
Eleanor picked up her fork and speared a small piece of meat. Bertha on the other hand was shoveling heaps of food into her mouth. Kris was once again astounded by how incompatible the couple looked. Bertha, though quite good-looking, had short cropped red hair, was six feet tall with big muscles, and piercing light brown eyes. Her partner on the other hand was a modest 5 ft 4 at the most, exquisitely beautiful with long golden locks and bright blue eyes. Whereas Bertha was hard and rough, Eleanor was soft and delicate. She wondered how they’d met.
“Morgana for one …”
At the mention of her lover’s name, Kris slowly dropped her fork and fixed her gaze on the small blonde. How did she know Morgana?
“You know Morgana?”
The blonde head nodded. Calmly Eleanor brought her goblet to her mouth and took a small sip.
“Yes, we’ve met a few times before.”
Oh, please don’t let them be ex-lovers. How was she going to compete with what this gorgeous creature had offered her? Eleanor had class and beauty. More than she had to offer Morgana.
“I see,” she croaked and reached for her wine goblet. She looked down at the food on her plate, her appetite gone now. “She’s a wonderful woman.”
“Yes, that she is,” came the soft reply.
Pushing her plate away, Kris planted her hands on the table ready to push herself to her feet. When she made eye contact with Bertha, she found the pirate grinning openly.
“What are you grinning at?” she almost snapped.
“You. Now sit.”
“I’m glad to know that you find my presence here entertaining.” She hated being the laughing stock of others and hated it even more when being ordered around. Bertha was pushing their friendship to the limit.
Bertha leaned back in her chair with her goblet in her hand, her sharp eyes studying her.
“Do you still want me to answer the question you’ve asked me back at the tavern?”
Kris’ eyes hardened.
“What?” she asked incredulously. “That was almost three hours ago.”
This time Eleanor chuckled softly. “You are terrible, darling. Did you really keep her waiting for three hours?”
Bertha grinned at her lover. “I’m very patient, my dear. You of all people should know that by now.”
Eleanor blushed prettily and quickly averted her eyes.
Kris lowered herself back into the chair.
“Ok. What are you and the others doing here in Santa Cruz ?”
Bertha took a long sip from her goblet and lifted her hand to wipe her mouth when Eleanor gave her a hard stare. Smiling sheepishly, she quickly reached for her napkin and wiped her mouth.
“I can only speak for me and my wife here, you know. The others … well … I’m really not sure why they are here.”
“By Odin, Bertha, are you going to tell me or not?”
“Ok … good heavens, Kris. Patience …”
“Oh, for goodness sake, Bertha,” a voice snapped and they all turned to face the door. Kris surged to her feet and within a few heartbeats her arms were wrapped tightly around the newcomer.
“I missed you, my heart. I missed you so much,” she whispered into the rose-scented hair of her lover. Kris tightened her hold when she felt the Spaniard’s lips nuzzling her neck.
“And I you, querida.”
They pulled away and stared into each other’s eyes. Kris knew she had a big stupid grin on her face, but she didn’t care. Morgana was back in her arms. Suddenly the anguish she’d felt during the year that they’ve been apart melted away.
“I love you.”
Morgana smiled tenderly.
“I love you too, my love.” She pulled the blonde head down and slanted her lips over the Viking’s soft ones.
They tasted each other gently as they pressed even closer against each other. They only broke away when a polite clearing of a throat sounded behind them.
“You two are actually in a public place,” came Bertha’s teasing voice. She yelped almost immediately afterwards and they turned to find Bertha favoring her side, looking at Eleanor with wide eyes. “Why did you do that for?”
“Leave them be, darling. Unlike us they don’t see each other that often,” she hissed softly before turning a brilliant smile on the other two women. “Kris, I believe Morgana will give you the answer to your question now. I apologize for Bertha too.”
Kris smiled and tightened her hold on Morgana who was still standing in the circle of her arms; her golden eyes fixed on her face.
Morgana was holding on to Kris as if her life depended on it. She had missed her Viking so much. The pale blue eyes found hers and held it captive.
“You are even more beautiful than I remember.”A red stain crept up Kris’ neck and charmed beyond words, Morgana placed a soft kiss on the blonde’s cheek. “It’s true, darling. You simply take my breath away.”
The strong arms tightened around her and she rested her cheek on the Viking’s wild beating heart. She had missed her too; it was evident from her passionate greeting earlier.
“Why are the others here, my love? What am I missing?”
Morgana placed a sweltering kiss on her lips before she turned away and walked over to the door. There she turned back and gestured for Kris to follow. Bertha and Eleanor also came to their feet and followed.
Kris took Morgana’s outstretched hand and was pulled into a bigger room. She came to an abrupt stop when she scanned the room. All the pirates and some people she didn’t know were packed into the room. Drunken grins from her crew met her questioning gaze.
“What is going on Morgana?”
The Spaniard looked deep into her eyes and Kris was surprised to find a flicker of fear in the golden depths.
“I want the world to know that we belong to each other.” She looked around at the people present. “I want these people to be witnesses of our love.” She swallowed hard. “I’m asking you to marry me, Kris. Please.”
Morgana was studying the blue eyes as they changed from a blue to an almost slivery color. The beautiful face was unreadable as she just stared back at her. Then suddenly Kris looked away.
“I … I don’t know what to say, Morgana. Can I speak to you in private for a minute, please?”
Kris saw the disappointment in Morgana’s eyes as she nodded and followed her out of the room. In the private dinning room she turned to find Kris looking at her with pain in her eyes.
“What’s wrong, my love?” She quickly stepped closer and was relieved when the Viking opened her arms. “Tell me what’s hurting you.”
“I don’t know what I can offer you, Morgana. You deserve so much and I have so little to give you.”
Morgana slowly pulled out of Kris’ arms and took a step back so that she could look directly in her eyes.
“You are all I need. You are more than I have ever dreamt of having. You, Viking, have no equal when it comes to what is to be offered out there.” She took a breath after her passionate declaration. “You are my life, my world, my hope. What more could I ask for.”
Kris stepped closer and folded her in her arms.
“Nothing, because that is everything I need. Please take me out there and marry me. Make me your wife in the eyes of all present.”
Morgana tried to drag her body from the floor, weakly holding onto the linen as she hoisted her shaking body onto the bed. She whimpered when she felt a hand clasp around her ankle. She was lifted and placed on the bed, on her back. Kris’ hard body slid over hers and she felt the Viking’s wetness searing her thigh.
She looked into her wife’s face and gasped at the wild look in the sliver-blue eyes. It had been like this for the past hours. It was as if Kris was possessed. She had taken her so many times that she’d lost count. She vaguely remembered their furious coupling on the floor. They’d started out on the bed, but due to Kris’ frenzied activities, they had landed on the floor. It hadn’t deterred Kris, who resumed ravishing her until her voice was too hoarse to scream any more.
Now as she looked into the wild eyes, she knew that sleep was a long way off for her. Kris slipped a long leg between hers and began to thrust into her. Even drained, she couldn’t help but feel her passion rise again. Kris was making soft grunting sounds as her clit glided against the smooth surface of her thigh and it was these little sounds which sparked her hunger again. But first she needed to find a way to rein in her Viking.
“Easy, querida, we have the whole night to ourselves,” she softly cautioned the heaving woman on top of her.
Kris slowed down a little, but increased the force of her thrusts, making her howl as she pushed hard against her swelling clit. They would have to reconsider their present arrangement. If Kris was going to be like this every time they failed to see each other for long periods of time, it could mean the death of her.
Careful not to wake her exhausted wife, Morgana worked her arms and legs to test if they were still functioning. Kris had pulled and bent her body in mind-boggling positions as she brought her to earth-shattering orgasms. Satisfied that everything was still in working order, she slowly lifted the heavy arm from around her waist and slipped out of bed.
She quickly had to grab the bedpost to steady herself, when her knees buckled suddenly. After having spent most of ten hours on her back, with her legs lifted and bent in strange poses it was understandable that her legs would need time to recover. After a few stretch exercises she moved over to where the water container was and quickly rinsed the traces of her wedding night off her body.
At the door she turned back to take a quick look at her sleeping wife. She was stunned to find the blue eyes open and looking at her warmly.
“Oh …” she exclaimed in surprise and quickly made her way over to the rumpled bed. Kris sat up slowly and Morgana noticed that she was wincing at the movement. Good to know she wasn’t the only one with sore muscles. “Good morning, love. You are up early.”
“Me? We fell asleep at the same time, wife.”
Morgana smiled as her eyes lovingly caressed the Viking’s face. Oh, she was too beautiful. If her body wasn’t sore and bruised she would’ve been sorely tempted to crawl back into bed and claim her marital rights.
“Yes, we did.”
The blue eyes traced over her and back to her face.
“I didn’t mean to be rough last night, Morgana love. It was as if I was bewitched by you, your smile, your touch, your scent, you. I simply couldn’t get enough of you.”
Morgana placed her finger on Kris’ lips. “I understand. Don’t worry about it. I truly enjoyed myself.”
Kris’ tongue snaked out and flicked over the tip of Morgana’s finger.
“I guess you will have to leave now, if you still want to escape.” She gently kissed Morgana’s hand. “I think I will sleep for a little while longer.”
Morgana softly stroked the wild blonde mane before coming to her feet. “Ok, you rest some more and I will bring you something to eat later on.” She placed a quick kiss on Kris’ mouth before she left the room.
When the door closed behind Morgana, Kris plopped back onto the bed. Her body was hurting everywhere. She’d noticed that Morgana was also moving gingerly. It really wasn’t her intention to overwhelm Morgana like that. But Odin, when she’d seen her standing in the door of the dining room, she‘d lost her mind.
Grinning, she relived the night. Yes, she had thoroughly enjoyed her wife. With a slow sensuous smile playing on her lips, she dozed off.
A few hours later, she woke, quickly scanning the room trying to figure out where she was. She felt another person in the room and slowly sat up; her hand under her pillow, ready to shoot her way out of a tight situation if the need arises.
She relaxed when Morgana deftly lit a lantern and sat back, looking at her wife. She had taken a short nap in the chair as she was watching over her sleeping wife. Not even the joyous occasion was reason enough for them to let down their guard.
Kris rubbed over her eyes and yawned. She felt rested, but her stomach was growling from hunger.
“I will go get our dinner. I’ve asked them to keep it warm for us.”
Kris swung her feet off the bed and grimaced. She’d forgotten about her sore muscles. Braving a quick look at Morgana, she found her looking at her with a teasing smile.
Kris nodded and slowly came to her feet.
“I need some exercise …” she faltered at Morgana’s chuckle. “Not that kind, woman.” She made her way over to the wash basin and smiled when she felt that the water was lukewarm since Morgana had kept the pitcher near the smoldering coals. She quickly bathed her body and got dressed. “Are you too tired or would you like to join me downstairs for dinner?”
Morgana came to her feet and taking her hand and followed her out of the room.
They were making their way down the hallway when a door suddenly opened and a blond haired boy of about three summers stormed out, passed them, and made for the stairs. Morgana moved quickly and grabbed the toddler before he reached the stairs.
“Whoa there, young mister. It’s dangerous to play on the stairs. Where’s your mother?”
The little boy stuck his thumb into his mouth and looked into her eyes with familiar looking blue eyes.
“Crispin …” An out of breath Eleanor came to a stop next to them. She took her son from Morgana’s arms. “Thank you, Morgana. The older he gets the more active he becomes. The child minder quickly left to run an errand and he took the chance to slip away.”
Morgana smiled teasingly. “And what were you and Bertha up to when he slipped out?” A soft giggle slipped through her lips when she saw a red-hot blush creeping up the blonde’s neck. Kris was grinning down at the mother and child.
“We couldn’t get much sleep last night,” she murmured softly.
Morgana’s grin widened. “Did that lusty gorilla keep you up, Eli?”
With a deepening blush, Eleanor shook her head slowly.
“Not really. There was the most awful howling noise during the night. This morning at breakfast most of the guests were talking about it. Funny, you two didn’t hear …” The blue eyes grew wide as they took in the embarrassed looks on the newlyweds faces. “It’s … it’s almost time for Crispin’s … uh … uh … bath.” With a mumbled greeting she rushed down the hall to their room. Just before she entered the room, Crispin let out a loud howl, prompting Eleanor to hush him sharply.
“Madre!” Morgana exclaimed, burying her face in her hands, mortified. She slowly dragged her hands off her face and looked at the silent woman next to her.
Kris can’t remember the last time she’d blushed so much. Maybe going down to the dining room wasn’t such a good idea after all.
“Do you still want to go down to the dining room, darling?” she asked softly, taking Morgana’s hand in hers.
The amber eyes still looked a bit shell-shocked but she nodded.
‘Yes. Asmara has gone through all the trouble of keeping our meal warm, we might just as well not let her efforts go to waste.” She bit on her lower lip. “By the way I’m sure not everyone will be down there.”
The moment they stepped into the dining hall eight pairs of eyes stared back at them and Kris heard Morgana groan under her breath.
The swells of the ocean were soothing as Kris stood at the helm, skillfully maneuvering her ship across the dark expanse. Next to her was her second-in-command, Soren, who patiently stood by her side. Careful not to make it too obvious, she cast a quick glance over her shoulder.
“The Esperanza is still behind us, Captain,” he said in a formal voice, but Kris could hear a faint hint of amusement in his deep voice.
She was glad that the lantern was pointed away from her so that her blush was not visible. Since leaving the Port of Santa Cruz a fortnight ago, she had spent every night in Morgana’s arms. They alternated between each other’s ships. Tonight she was hosting Morgana and although her wife was supposed to be on board already, there was still no sign of her.
“Your wife should’ve been here already, Captain. Do you want me to send someone over to go see what’s keeping her?” Soren asked softly, still trying to keep their encounter professional.
Surprised that Soren had picked up on her thoughts, she shook her head.
“No, it’s probably nothing.” She steered in silence for a while. “Thank you for offering, my friend.”
Not fully convinced herself, she cast another look at the Esperanza . They were keeping course and everything looked fine. Then why was she feeling that tell-tale prickle down her spine. She’d never ignored it before. She turned to Soren.
“Take the wheel. I will go see what’s keeping her. Draw us closer, Soren.” She quickly rushed down the stairs to her quarters to arm herself.
The golden eyes were hard as they moved over the faces before her. She felt hurt and betrayed by what had happened. She was packing her overnight bag when a bloodied Juan was pushed into her cabin. Behind him a tall, rough-looking man with hard eyes held a gun against his temple.
“We are relieving you of your duties, Captain.”
With a calm she hadn’t felt, she had pushed a small derringer into the sleeve of her shirt as she dropped her bag on the bunk.
“What is this all about, Ramos?” she had quietly asked the mutineer.
“The men are tired of answering to your every whim. We are pirates and we are supposed to plunder and become rich.” He had pushed Juan away and had trained his pistol on her. “When last did we ambush a ship? All we do is sail around so you can have sex with that Viking bitch.”
“Don’t you call her that,” she had growled at the man.
“What are you going to do about it, Captain?” he had sneered at her. A second man had entered the cabin, his eyes flitting between the Captain and the man with the pistol. He had made quick eye contact with her before going to stand with the mutineer.
“Everything is arranged, Ramos. Or should I address you as ‘Captain’ now?”
“Soon. Please escort Morgana and Juan to the brig. In the meantime I will look through some of the maps to see what course we can take from here.” The use of her name was a clear indication to all present that she was relieved of her role as captain and the fact that he was deciding on the new course to set, elevated him to captain of the ship.
The second man stepped closer and roughly took her by her arm.
“Maybe we can have a bit of fun with her first before we throw her in the brig. What do you say, Ramos?”
The man’s eyes swung to him, they were ice-cold. His hand shifted slightly until the pistol was now pointing at the man.
“What did I tell you to do, Sebastian?” His voice was dangerously low and Morgana saw the murderous intent in his eyes. Before he could pull the trigger, she’d quickly dropped her arm and shook the derringer loose until it fell into her palm. She’d pushed the man to the floor as she dived the other way, pulling the trigger at the same time.
After the explosion the cabin was cast in an eerie silence. The door to the cabin had burst open, but her eyes were fixed on Ramos as he was looking down at her, an expression of total disbelief on his face. He slowly crumpled to the deck; his pistol skidded over the floor until it came to a rest at Juan’s feet.
Only then did she look to see who had entered the cabin. She almost cried with relief at the sight of her wife, eyes wild as they rested on her. Two strides and she was in the Viking pirate’s strong arms.
She had gently pushed out of Kris’ arms and was glad when her partner understood that she couldn’t afford to show any weakness in front of her men, especially at a time like this.
Now here she was looking at the men who had been in cahoots with the dead mutineer. Some of the faces were well-known to her. Others just faces she vaguely remembered. But her heart was aching for what they were willing to do. Her heart bled for what she was expected to do. She had to get them off her ship and fast.
“Take them to the brig. I will deal with them tomorrow. Juan, make sure that you bring the key to me when you have secured them.”
She turned and entered her cabin with Kris following on her heels. With the door closed behind them, she fell into the welcoming arms of her wife, soaking up her unyielding strength.
“I know some of them very well. We come from the same village back home,” she mumbled into the Viking’s chest. “I know their families.”
The strong arms just held her as she mourned for the families of the men she had to punish.
“Come, my love, let’s go to bed. I’m sure we will have an answer by tomorrow.”
Like a zombie she allowed Kris to undress her and tuck her in. When the tall blonde slipped in next to her, she reached out and held onto her as if her life depended on it.
“I love you, Kris. Thank you for being here.”
She felt Kris’ lips on her crown. “There is no place I would rather be. Can you try and sleep a bit? I will watch over you.”
“I love you, darling.”
The second she’d set foot on the main deck of the Esperanza and found the men armed to the teeth, she’d known that it was a wise decision to come over. Drawing her pistol and cutlass simultaneously, she made for the man closest to her only to have the man throw down his weapons quickly.
“Please, have mercy.”
“What’s going on here?” Her voice had sounded hollow even to herself. She even frightened herself. But she was more scared for Morgana.
“This is a mutiny in process. But … but we … we are on the captain’s side.”
Looking deep into the eyes of the man to see if he was telling the truth and assured that he was, she turned to look over the rest of the men. Her pistol still aimed at the chest of the first man.
“Are you all on the captain’s side?”
The men nodded and she slowly redirected her pistol to the deck.
“Good. That means you will all live another day to tell of how close you came to being slaughtered by my men and me.” Her eyes were ice-cold as she made eye-contact with each of the men. “Now, where’s your captain?”
“She’s in her cabin with the leader of the rebel group. We overpowered his collaborators and locked them all up below deck,” the first men quickly offered.
She was on her way to the cabin when she’d heard the gunshot. It had taken her but a few seconds to burst into the cabin.
Now, as she lay in bed next to a sleeping Morgana, she was glad that her wife was unhurt. But how long, until she was too slow and was seriously injured or even worse … killed? Just the thought of Morgana dying made her tighten her hold causing the brunette to stiffen.
“Too … tight …” she murmured sleepily and turned onto her side, pulling Kris’ arms with her. Morgana only settled again once Kris’ body spooned hers. “Better …”
Smiling Kris kissed her gently on the ear. She would have to do a lot of thinking on how they could be together without any of them relinquishing their position as captain and or deserting their crew. She will have to speak to her parents. They might have a way they could work around this.
The small patch of land looked barren and was completely surrounded by water as far as the eye can see. Standing on the soft beach sand, Morgana quietly looked at the group of men standing before her. She was once again struck hard by the familiar faces among them. What had happened? Was she such an incompetent leader that even childhood playmates had turned against her? She suddenly realized that she needed to know the answer.
“Santiago, tell me why you turned your back on me and our friendship?” she asked almost tenderly, still trying to reconcile the betrayal of the burly, bearded seaman with that of the lanky eight year old boy she used to climb trees with. As they’d grow older, she’d told him about her dream of sailing the oceans one day and retiring young and stinking rich. He was the first to remind her that he would be by her side all the time. But two weeks ago, he broke his promise. For the first time in almost twelve years they’d found themselves on opposite sides.
The bleary eyes of the seaman looked at her calmly as he answered her.
“Greed, Morgana. I fell victim to it. With a growing family at home I was easily convinced that under a new captain I could make more than enough to buy a patch of land and build a beautiful home for Con …”
She had her answer. She didn’t want to hear him speak his wife’s name. Consuela was a good friend too and she knew it would be very difficult for her to go through with her punishment for him and the others if he’d spoken her name out loud. “You have betrayed me and the rest of the men when you decided to side with Ramos. How many times did I have to rein him in and have to remind him that we were not killers and that the only time a life was to be taken on my ship was in self-defense?” Her eyes hardened. “You threw away so much just to become a killer while you plundered and raped innocents just so you and … your wife and children could live in a hacienda and grow wine. That is unacceptable.”
She turned away from the men and walked back to the rowboat where Kris was waiting for her. She’d asked the Viking to accompany her in a separate boat than the one used to ferry the rebels to land. She needed to have time to compose herself before returning to the ship and she wanted her wife with her. She craved her cool and steady presence, the solid comfort of her love and her understanding.
“For the sake of your families back at home, I pray you are saved. Just know that if we meet again it will be on opposite sides and you will all be looking down the sharp point of my cutlass.” She pulled two pistols from her waistband and dropped it in the shallow water. “You have food and water for a week. You know what to do when it runs out.”
She stepped into the boat and without a backward glance; she nodded to indicate that she was ready. With strong, even strokes Kris rowed them back to the Esperanza . Behind her she could hear the men splashing around in the water looking for the pistols. She’d dropped the pistols in the water on purpose. It would’ve been stupid to have handed them over to the men; they could’ve used them against her and Kris. Wet, the pistols were useless until they were dried out.
Alone with Kris, she allowed the tears to fall. Knowing that they were being watched, Kris continued her rowing but her ice-blue eyes were tender as they rested on the face of her wife.
“Sometimes we are forced to do what we don’t like, my love. I know it must hurt very much leaving Santiago , Alfredo, and Ramon behind,” she said softly, her eyes moving over the beautiful face. “I love you and I promise you that it will not be easy but it will get better.”
Morgana’s face was wet with tears as she looked back at the Viking and nodded.
“How am I ever going to look their families in the eyes again, Kris, knowing that I consciously condemned their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons to death?”
Kris’ blue eyes were dark as they looked at her weeping wife. If only they were in a private place where she could fold her in her arms. Her heart ached as she had to look on helplessly as Morgana cried quiet tears of sorrow.
That night Morgana made love to Kris with raw passion. Knowing that it was the only outlet available for her grief, Kris allowed her fiery wife to wrenched orgasm after orgasm out of her until she blacked out from pure exhaustion.
Kris’ sacrifice paid dividends when after a few more nerve-numbing sexual sessions with Morgana, the Spaniard slowly returned to her usual cocky self. Wiping off her sweating brow, Kris’ broad shoulders heaved with a deep breath as she lifted the heavy barrel of water onto her shoulder. The sleeveless t-shirt strained over her muscled back as she walked through the shallow waves to the rowboat. Heaving the barrel of fresh water into the boat she walked back into the thick foliage of the small island to retrieve another barrel.
On her way to the fresh water stream she came across some of her men transporting more barrels of water to the rowboat. Hell, it was hot, she mused, her eyes looking longingly at the cool stream. It would have been nice to take a quick swim, but only once the men are gone. She lifted her t-shirt, exposing her washboard abs, to allow a cool breeze to cool her heated flesh. She lifted another barrel onto her shoulders and trekked the short way to the rowboat. She came through the trees and rocked back on her heels at the sight that greeted her.
Standing in the middle, surrounded by a bunch of semi-naked natives, were her men. Their faces pale as they stared at the sharp spear-like weapons which were thrust in their faces. She slowly put the barrel down and stealthily came to her feet, slowly turning around to re-enter the thick protective foliage of the jungle. A sharp whistle made her turn around, her eyes widening when she saw that she had been spotted. Odin, she was in deep trouble now. A group of five muscled warriors broke away and came charging towards her. Turning around, she thrashed through the thick vegetation.
With practiced ease, the Spanish captain landed onto the deck of the Lilac Crest . With long strides she walked over to the captain’s quarters, slowly pushing the door open. Her face fell when she didn’t spot the tall, bronzed body of her wife. She turned back, searching the deck for the lanky frame of her Viking. Her gaze fell on a burly soldier.
“Hey, you over there, where is your Captain?”
“They are still on the island, Captain.”
Walking over she peered at the spot of greenery on her right. Soon after leaving the island where she had marooned her men, they sailed into a storm and the two ships were separated. The Esperanza was thrown almost three days off course and was delayed by another day completing repairs to the ship. She was extremely excited when they spotted a sail on the horizon early this morning and found it to be the Lilac Crest . She was so excited to see her wife again that she failed to check the coordinates of the island where the Lilac Crest was moored. A frown marred her brow as she studied the island.
“How long have they been on land?”
“We arrived a day ago and have managed to hunt and stock our cargo hold. This morning the Captain and a few of the men left to collect fresh water.”
The amber eyes flashed at the news. She nodded and walked over to the side of the ship. Her eyes met Juan’s where he stood on the deck of the Esperanza .
“Juan, get three rowboats ready. Fill two of them with our best men and the last one with ammunition.”
Juan nodded and walked away barking curt orders. Morgana walked over to the bridge in search of Soren, Kris’s second-in-command. She found him with an eyeglass pressed to his right eye.
The giant turned to look at her, a worried look on his face. “I have been waiting for you catch up, Captain. We have a problem.”
“I have readied three boats. We are leaving in a little while. You keep watch on the Lilac ,” she added quickly when she saw the question in Soren’s eyes.
“What do you know of those people?”
“Not much, expect that we lost three men on our last meeting.”
“What happened? Were they killed in battle?”
The amber eyes were dark. “No, they were eaten by them.” She left Soren standing there, his face a mask of pure horror.
Soft footfalls sounded to her left and Kris fingered the handle of her pistol. She only had one chance and should make it count. She was outnumbered and out-armed. She felt a soft brush against her thigh and saw a large patterned snake lifting its head to taste the air with its forked tongue. She jerked up from her sitting position and heard a soft cry to her left. They have found her! Not waiting to see if they were after her, she tore down the narrow the pathway. She rounded a dense curve and came to an abrupt halt. She slowly raised her hands as she studied the painted faces of the men before her.
She was immediately surrounded and a hard blow to her head had her falling to her knees. Lifting her hand to the throbbing pain, it came away bloody. She raised cold eyes to her captors, but was stunned by what she saw. They were all looking at her bloodied hand, their eyes burning with hunger. By Odin, they were cannibals. She had heard of these tribes but had the fortune, until now, to never cross swords with them. She lowered her hand and sighed. Well, for what it’s worth, she was tough and hopefully they will find out first hand. They will have to reconsider their menu.
She was roughly pulled to her feet and it was with great satisfaction that she saw the warriors taking a step back from her as she towered over them. They lifted their primitive weapons threateningly. One of the warriors pushed her in the back, prompting her to move.
They had been trekking through the jungle for close to two hours and Kris felt herself becoming from dizzy from blood loss and the impact to her skull. The blood had caked on her neck and back sticking her shirt to her back. Insects packed on the open wound, making her skin itch. The few times she’d waved them away only added to sapping her energy. Her sudden movements also made her captors nervous resulting in them binding her hands together to lessen the threat she posed. She studied the warrior before her and was shocked to find that underneath all the paint on its tall, muscular frame, he was relatively light-skinned. She had also noted that the warrior had only joined them halfway.
They approached a dense part of the jungle, guarded by big, old trees and Kris immediately picked up the smell of wood smoke. She turned to look back and was pushed hard in her back, making her stumble into the back of the tall warrior in front of her. The warrior spun around, a wickedly carved primitive weapon was pushed into her face. Kris’s eyes travelled from the point of the short spear to the face of the warrior.
Her eyes widened when she met cold green eyes staring back at her. The surprise was evident on her face as she stared at the warrior, noting the short leather-breast plate covering his chest. Upon closer inspection she noted the soft twin padding on the warrior’s chest and she stumbled backwards in shock. The warrior was a woman! She slowly raked the female warrior’s frame with her eyes again. But how was it possible for a European woman to be on this island and be part of this man-eating tribe? She stepped closer to the warrior, but strong hands pushed her away.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” Her blue eyes were intense as they stared into the warrior’s eyes. She saw the green eyes darken, before the warrior raised her hand and punched her hard in the face.
Kris’s head jerked back with the force of the blow, making her head explode with pain. She felt the coppery taste of blood in her mouth and she spat it out. She took deep breaths to dispel the dizziness. She swayed a little, but miraculously managed to stay upright.
The warrior grabbed the woven rope binding her hands together and Kris was roughly pulled forward. Stumbling a little, she followed the warrior. She was dragged for a few yards and pushed to the ground. Her head was swimming and her body weakened by the lack of nourishment and pain. A fist curled into her hair and her head was jerked back. She held back a groan of pain as she looked up into the face of the warrior. She saw a bunch of small children peering at her from behind the warrior’s broad back.
A wooden bowl with water was pushed at her lips and she greedily guzzled it down. She closed her eyes at the sensation of the cool liquid going down her parched throat. When the bowl was empty it was pulled away. She slowly opened her eyes and looked up into the cold eyes of the green-eyed warrior.
A group of warriors stepped closer and grabbed her bound hands. She was dragged through what seemed like a small village with woman and children gawking at her. An isolated hut came into view and she was pushed into its dank darkness.
Pushing her back up against the sturdy wall of the hut, she sighed deeply. At least her thirst had been quenched now all she had to worry about was getting out of this place. She closed her eyes and moaned when flashing amber eyes appeared in her mind. Morgana, my love, I wish I could have looked upon your beautiful face one more time before I die. She was shocked to feel a slow trickle down her cheek. She never cried, because there was never any reason to in the past. She felt her heart jerk in her chest at the thought that she might die here in this forsaken place, never seeing her beautiful wife again. Never kissing her soft lips again and falling asleep in her strong arms. Oh, Morgana, why now. Why now that I have found you and now that I want to live an eternity with you by my side?
She lowered her head until her chin came to rest on her chest. The events of the day caught up with her and she fell into a restless sleep.
Morgana looked down at the bloodstained leaf in her hand, her hand shaking with fury. Kris was injured and someone was going to pay for that. She rubbed the blood off the leaf and tossed it away from her. She looked up to find her men looking at her with anticipation. They too have a score to settle with this tribe after the loss of their mates two years ago. She will grant them their revenge, but she would not condone a massacre of innocents. She had told them that in no uncertain terms and emphasized that the failure to heed her instruction will result in death for anyone who murdered or raped women and children.
“They came by here. Let’s spread out now for we are not sure if they left sentries.”
She pushed through the dense jungle, her eyes darting around her, making sure she didn’t miss any tell-tale signs. But every now and then her mind would dart back to the fate of her beautiful Viking. Was she seriously injured or have they killed her already? What was she going to face when she caught up with the natives? She remembered the sickening sight of three of her men, still alive as they were burned over a huge pile of wood. She closed her eyes. If Kris was gone she was not going to leave a single warrior standing.
“Captain, I think we are getting close to their village. I can smell a fire.”
At the mention of a fire, Morgana stiffened. Please, don’t let her be too late. She had only just found Kris and she couldn’t think of living without her.
“Let’s not rush in. I want for us to bide our time and take them by surprise.” She quickly checked her pistols. She was ready for whatever had to be done. “Send out a few men to scout the area. I want to know where the captives are held. We will make a temporary camp here and wait for nightfall. It looks like it will rain tonight and hopefully they will not risk making a ceremonial fire in such weather.”
Morgana reached for her water container and took a swallow. She grimaced at the taste of the tepid water. They had been walking through this hell-hole for hours and the once cool water had turned tepid. She spat out a mouthful and put the container away. She looked up at the sky or what little was visible through the dense vegetation. It was still a while before nightfall. How the hell was she going to keep herself together until then? Just hold on, my love, I’m coming for you. She felt a warm feeling settle in her chest. She loved Kris so much, maybe even more now than before. The tall Viking was such a gentle heart. She recalled the night in Vellagrun when Kris had come to her room to declare her love for her. They had spent the whole night talking as they lay in each other’s arms. She recalled the first night waking up in the strong arms of Kris. When she lifted her head, it was to meet soft, loving blue eyes. They had lain there staring at each other. There were simply no words to describe the feeling that had coursed through her as she had looked down into those beautiful eyes. She eventually extended her stay and had spent every single moment with Kris. They took long horseback rides and made love in the most scenic places she’d ever seen.
A sob escaped her lips, but she quickly got to her feet and stomped into the jungle. She couldn’t cry in the presence of her men.
Kris woke suddenly. She was not alone anymore. She pierced the shadows of the hut as she pulled herself up, bracing herself against the wall of the hut. She saw a soft movement to her right and slowly turned her head in that direction. Her eyes filtered through the shadows and she could make out a tall figure leaning against the wall of the hut.
She looked around for a weapon or anything she could use to defend herself if her unexpected guest had ulterior motives. She was surprised to find a wooden bowl of water a few feet away from her. She looked back at the faceless person and back to the water again. She was unbelievably thirsty and from the copious amounts of sweat trickling down her body, she was sure that while she was sleeping she had begun to run a fever.
“Drink …” A voice suddenly said and Kris jerked in shock. The dark figure stepped into the dim circle of light exposing the strong features of the female warrior. Kris stared at the painted face for a while before she crawled towards the water bowl. She greedily drank from the cool water. The warrior’s hand reached out and grasped the bowl. “Slowly … drink slowly. You sick.”
Kris leaned away from the woman and nodded. The woman’s speech was stilled as if she wasn’t used to speaking English often. Intrigued, she studied the woman again as she held out the bowl again. This time she took small sips and found her empty stomach gradually absorbing the liquid. Once she had drunk her fill, she sat back and held out her bound hands.
“Will you untie me?”
The warrior grinned, but shook her head.
“You big and strong. Bad idea.”
Kris sighed and closed her eyes. Yes, she was right. The short nap and the fresh water had charged her strength a bit and Kris knew that once she had a chance she would try to escape.
“What are you going to do with me?”
This time the woman’s eyes darkened and Kris wasn’t sure if it was the play of the light from the small crude torch, but the warrior almost looked sad.
“You will feed village.”
She had expected such an answer, but was wondering if the warrior was also going to partake in this grizzly ritual.
“You too?” The warrior looked away and came to her feet. “No, don’t leave yet. What are you doing here?”
“Too many questions. I bring food.” She left the hut abruptly.
Kris laid back and closed her eyes. Her mind immediately wandered back to Morgana. She wondered what the Spaniard was doing right now.
The tall warrior sighed once she was outside the hut. Was this her chance? Were the gods finally smiling down on her? She walked over to a large hut in the centre of the village and ducked in. She smiled at the woman sitting around the fire pit, turning ashcakes.
“Do we have enough to feed the prisoner too?”
The dark woman came to her feet and walked over to the tall warrior.
“What are you thinking, Seweeka?” The woman’s dark almond-shaped eyes were sharp as they took in the cold countenance of the warrior. “Is this it?”
The warrior looked down at the petite woman in silence, the emerald gaze piercing. She sighed and walked over to the fire pit and grabbed a cooling ashcake in her hand. Biting into it is found solace in the familiar taste of the small treat. She had always liked the crude little breads even as child. She felt a presence settle next to her.
“I do not want to talk about it, Manena. Just prepare some more so I can take it to the prisoner. I will also need something for the wound on her head.” Her green eyes swung to the quiet woman. “Do you think you can do that for me, please?”
Manena nodded and placing a soft hand on the muscled shoulder of the warrior came to her feet to rummage in the corner of the hut. She returned with a small wooden bowl with fatty ointment.
“This should stop the bleeding and ward off any infections.” She rushed over to the fire and placed a few ashcakes on a large leave. “Here is the food.”
The green eyes were tender as they looked at the smaller woman. “Thank you.” She popped the last bit of the cake in her mouth. She reached out and took the package from Manena. She walk towards the entrance of the tent, but stopped suddenly. Turning back her green eyes probed the other woman’s dark eyes. “I will come for you. Be ready.”
The dark woman rushed over to the tall warrior and took her in a crushing embrace, her dark eyes swimming with unshed tears. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
The warrior smiled faintly. “I need to go now.”
With long strides she crossed the open space towards the prisoner’s hut. Just as she was about to duck inside, she heard someone calling out her name. Stiffening, she turned and scanned the village. Coming towards her was her nemesis, Kilabi. The strapping warrior had always competed against her. As soon as she was old enough and decided to become a warrior, Kilabi had tried to get her ousted from the village. He hated her white skin and light eyes, calling her a demon that will bring down the village. She had worked hard to pass the grueling rituals, beating the villagers’ favorite, Kilabi, in every challenge. Her revenge was sweet when she was pronounced the head of the chief’s personal guards, affording her the honor of choosing a mate from the most beautiful maidens in the village. She had chosen Manena for two reasons. First, because she and the small native were friends since she arrived on the island and secondly, because she knew that Kilabi was a cruel man and had his eye on Manena for many years. Of late Kilabi had been following her around the island. She knew he was waiting for her to make a mistake so he could pounce on her.
“What do want, Kilabi?”
The warrior was a few inch shorter than her, but made up for it in brawn. Not that it had helped him much during their regular mock-battles staged as part of the village festivities. The dark man grinned, exposing stained yellow teeth.
“I have noticed how you took care of the prisoner. I could not help but wonder why you neglected your duty as a royal guard to serve her. You do know that she is doomed.” He stepped closer to her, but she reached out and pushed him away.
“You haven’t bathed in a long time, Kilabi. Keep your distance.”
The warrior’s face contorted in anger. He reached for his dagger, but a slight lift of her auburn brow, made him hesitate.
“On the contrary, it is good that you feed the prisoner. I will make sure that I am the first to cut out her heart and consume it.” He laughed out loud and licked his lips. “You know what else I will do? I will make sure that you get to take part in the feast too. I believe that everyone is tired of your excuse that you do not eat meat. I will have them prepare her head for you to feast on.”
Sickened by the mental image, Seweeka, kept her face expressionless. “If you are done, I would suggest you go take a bath. You really smell bad.”
It was with great satisfaction that she saw anger explode in the warrior’s dark eyes. She turned away from the seething man and ducked into the hut. She found the big woman lying on her side, her face ashen. As she stepped closer she found fresh blood on the woman’s face. Confused, she looked around, noticing fresh footprints around the woman’s body. She rushed forward and gently lifted blood-soaked hair from the woman’s face. A soft groan sounded and she gently helped the semi-conscious woman into a sitting position.
She heard a soft chuckle coming from the entrance of the hut and she surged to her feet. She moved so fast that Kilabi only realized the danger too late. She pulled him into the hut, her knee making hard contact with his crotch. A high-pitch sound escaped the man’s lips as he cradled his bruised anatomy. She pulled her leg back and kicked him hard in the head. She saw his eyes roll back and he went limp. She quickly walked over to the back of the hut and using her hands pulled the woven reeds apart until she had a big enough hole to crawl through. She peered through the hole. She estimated the distance to the thick foliage and looked back at the tall woman. She was shocked to find pain-filled eyes looking back at her.
“Is he dead?”
“I don’t know.” She walked over and grabbed Kris under the arms. “It will hurt, but no choice.”
Kris moaned when the warrior dragged her through the hole across a short open space and through thick, soggy vegetation. The dragging movement was jarring her injured ribs where the man had kicked her and she knew that if they did not stop anytime soon, she was going to lose consciousness. As if the warrior read her thoughts, they came to an abrupt halt and she was rolled under the large, overhanging leaves of a tree.
“I go back now. Will come for you. You be safe here.” With that the tall warrior disappeared into the thick greenery.
She laid there taking a mental stock of her injuries. She definitely had a few cracked ribs and the wound at the back of her head was hurting like a pounding from Thor’s hammer. She lifted her head and gagged. She rolled onto her side and expelled the last bit of water she’d drunk earlier. She heard a sharp cry coming from the side of the village and tried to sit up. She had to do something to help the warrior. She struggled until she was on her knees, but her head swam so much that she had to lower her head, taking deep breaths to dispel the queasiness in her stomach. Frustrated by her lack of energy, she felt warm tears mix with the rain on her cheek. No, no, no! She was a Viking. She was a warrior. By Odin, she was not going to lay here hidden away like a weak babe.
She clenched her teeth and strained her limbs until she was standing upright. She swayed dangerously and tried to reach for a tree to steady her. Instead she found strong arms holding her upright. She quickly swung around and groaned when her head felt like it was going to roll off her shoulders. She waited until the dizzy spell was over before she opened her eyes.
“Hey, fancy meeting you here, love.”
At the unexpected sound of her beloved’s voice, Kris almost burst out in tears. Through her one good eye she could make out the figure of her wife standing very close to her.
“You came for me. How did you find me?”
“Of course I did.” A soft sob escaped Morgana’s lips. “You are my life, Viking. I refuse to let you go.” She wrapped her arms around her and Kris groaned as she felt her ribs scream in pain. “Oh, querida, I didn’t mean to hurt you. Here, sit down. The men are not far behind.”
Morgana helped her into a sitting position and Kris almost laughed at the absurdity of the act. Just a few minutes ago she had tempted death to be able to stand up straight and here she found herself right back where she was – flat on her butt.
“You didn’t tell me how you found me.”
Morgana knelt down before the battered woman. “We have been camping outside the village waiting for it to get dark.” She cocked her head to the side. “How did you get away?”
“I got help from one of the warriors. She attacked one of her own and brought me here.” Kris held on to Morgana’s hand. “Please, don’t hurt her when you go in there.”
“What makes you think we will attack the village?” Kris heard a smile in Morgana’s voice.
“I don’t know about you, but I will want to take revenge if anyone tries to take you from me. Also, five of my men are still in captivity.”
Morgana leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on Kris’s forehead. “You know me too well.” She placed another kiss on Kris’s cheek. “I want my revenge and of course I need to get your men out of there too.”
A sharp cry sounded and Morgana surged to her feet. She reached for her pistols and with a final look at her wife, she melted into the shadows.
Seweeka managed to reach the hut, where she found a very nervous Manena crisscrossing the interior of the hut. She jumped when Seweeka ducked in, her hair plastered to her scalp and the paint running in colorful rivulets down her face.
“We have to leave … NOW!” Seweeka grabbed the smaller woman by the hand and dragged her to the entrance of the hut. “Stay close to me and do as I say.”
She saw the smaller woman nod and together they stepped out of the hut only to come to an abrupt halt. Seweeka’s eyes hardened as she looked at the group of warriors before her. Her eyes fell on Kilabi. He was dragged between two men, his face still contorted in pain. She saw a flash of fear in his eyes when they met hers. He saw that he had twelve other warriors on his side and almost immediately his bravado returned.
“That demon tried to kill me when I tried to stop her from freeing the prisoner.” His eyes gleamed maniacally as he sought out the eyes of the Chief. “Weillika, I told you that she was going to be our downfall. She conspired with that other demon woman. I tell you, I have been watching her.” His eyes darted back to her and she pushed Manena behind her. “She tried to kill me and that other demon’s bride helped her to overpower me.”
Seweeka grinned at the lie. “I can not deny what you’ve said, Kilabi, except for the lie that the prisoner helped me to overpower you. Everyone knows that I can overpower you with one hand tied behind my back.” She turned to the meet the expressionless eyes of the Chief. The skinny man just stood there, looking at her. “Weillika, I can not deny that I have helped the prisoner escape. You have been very good to my mother and I when we were left stranded on the island.”
The Chief stepped forward, his beady eyes never leaving her face. “Then why did you betray us, Seweeka. Your mother became one of us. She married my son and he raised you like you were his own child. I loved you like my granddaughter. Why, Seweeka? Make me understand.”
Seweeka loved Weillika. Her mother was on a slave ship bound for the East when she was found to be with child. Knowing that she was of no value to them anymore, the slave traders dumped her off on this island, scared and alone. She was found by Weillika’s son and he took her back to village. She was born a few months later. She never wanted for anything, Kilipinio treated her like she was his own child and he loved her mother with all his heart. He even went as far as to forbid them to take part in the man-eating rituals. She found out later that her mother had fainted dead away at the first sight of a human sacrifice.
With the blessing of Kilipinio, her mother taught her all about European customs. She taught her how to speak English, to read, and to count at a very young age. She was devastated last year when both her parents were killed when a fire broke out in the village. Their hut was burned to the ground while they were asleep.
“She is evil. There …” Kilabi screamed. “… you all see now that she has nothing to say to the Chief. She did it just because she wanted to. I am sure she was also responsible for our Prince, Kilipinio’s death.”
A hushed silence fell over the village. The only sound was the tip-tap of the rain as it fell around them.
“Kilabi, I do not want to hear from you again.” The Chief’s eyes were cold as they looked at the warrior. He turned back to the green-eyed warrior. “What do you have to say for yourself, Seweeka?”
Her eyes softened as she looked at the small, wrinkled man before her. How was she going to make him understand without making him feel as if she was deserting him, throwing his love for her back in his face?
“Grandfather, my parents have taught me so much of what lies beyond our home. They wanted me to be able to survive anywhere in this big world that Uukulu had created. My father had taught me all the skills to defend myself so that one day I could claim my true destiny – a destiny he and my mother told me awaited me across the great wall of water.” She took a step closer and slowly came to her knee before the Chief. “I am ready to claim my destiny, Grandfather. I am ready to search for my place in this life and to claim it.” She looked up, her eyes gentle. “I cannot explain to you why I feel the time is right now, but I knew the moment I looked into the eyes of the white-haired prisoner.” She bowed her head and remained like that, praying and hoping that Weillika would understand.
The silence stretched for a few seconds, before the old chief spoke, his tone reflecting his hurt.
“You were going to leave like a thief in the night, daughter of my heart. You were going to let me live out my life until the Great Uukulu called me to his feet, not knowing if you were alive or safe.”
Seweeka nodded slowly and when she lifted her head, her eyes were awash with tears. She never thought of it that way.
“I am sorry for causing you this pain, Grandfather. I have only thought about what I wanted and not of how I was painful my actions were going to mark your great heart. Please forgive me.”
Weillika closed his eyes for a few seconds.
“You are all I have left, Seweeka. It would greatly hurt me to let you go, but I knew the day would come.”
Seweeka’s eyes widened in shock. “You … you did?”
“Yes. Your father loved you and your mother greatly. He came to me soon after you became a lead warrior. He said that they had talked—your mother and him. You know how those two could spend hours sitting together at the water and talked and talked.” A faint smile formed around his thin lips. “They were a strange couple, always holding hands and smiling at each other.” He sighed deeply. “Kilipinio knew that as much as your mother loved him, she still yearned for the life she had left behind. She told him that she would never leave his side and that she would never ask of him to leave his home to go with her. They both knew then that they could not expect the same from you. My son wanted you to be happy, more than anything. He asked me to never try and hold you back when the time comes for you to go back to your mother’s people. He wanted that for you.”
As Weillika spoke, Seweeka felt the tears streaming down her cheeks as she though of her gentle father. Kilipinio was the father of her heart and the only father she had ever needed. She missed his warm embraces and quiet strength now more than ever.
“He never told me, Grandfather.”
“I know. He asked me to keep it between us. He didn’t want you to think that he wanted you to leave them. Now get up, warrior, and look at me.”
At her full height she dwarfed her grandfather. Weillika held out his hand and touched her face gently.
“I will fulfill my son’s wish and let you go, Seweeka.” His eyes darkened slightly. “But I cannot allow you to take the white-haired warrior with you. She is Kilabi’s prisoner and he can decide if she lives or dies.”
Seweeka’s heart sunk low in her stomach. What now? She couldn’t leave the island without the giant warrior. She didn’t know why, but her destiny was closely linked with that of the warrior. She turned her gaze to Kilabi and found him with a big smirk on his face. She was reminded again of how much she hated him.
“Grandfather, I wish to challenge Kilabi in exchange for the life of the warrior.”
Before Weillika could answer, Kilabi interrupted.
“No. I will not accept your challenge. The warrior will be sacrificed and her warrior spirit will be equally shared amongst the villagers.”
Seweeka’s eyes hardened and her hands itched to grab him by the neck and shake him. Taking a deep breath she turned to her Chief.
“I do not want the woman to die.”
Weillika nodded. “I know, but I cannot get involved this time, child. You will have to find a way to make a trade with Kilabi.”
Turning to Kilabi, she noticed that his eyes were focused on something behind him and she stiffened. Manena! No! She was not going to leave Manena behind, no matter what.
“I am taking Manena with me. She is my mate.”
Kilabi’s eyes narrowed at her words. It still irked him that Seweeka had managed to defeat him and win Manena’s body. He had craved the petite brunette for so long and once had even considered taking her into the jungle and forcing himself on her until she was heavy with his seed. But knowing Seweeka, he knew she would have tracked him down and tortured him to death. Now was his only chance to win Manena from her. He would leave the choice with her.
“Then the white warrior dies.” He turned to the group of men behind him. “She is injured and cannot be far. Find her and bring her to me. As soon as the rain clears we will prepare for the sacrifice.” The last words he uttered with so much glee, that it made Seweeka take a step forward.
A small hand in her arm held her back. “No, Seweeka, do not.”
Seweeka turned to look down her height to the petite brunette. She saw the fear in the obsidian eyes and shook her head slowly.
“I am not giving you up. Never!”
Manena smiled sadly, her dark eyes searching the stormy green eyes.
“You need the warrior alive. I will not be able to live with myself if you have to give up your destiny just stay here with me.”
The green eyes hardened. “I … AM … NOT … LEAVING … YOU … BEHIND.”
Manena nodded and stepped closer into the warm body of the warrior. She sighed as the warrior’s arms encircled her. She knew Seweeka well enough to know that when she had made up her mind, there was no changing it.
Seweeka looked at her grandfather again, her gaze pleading. She saw the pain in Weillika’s eyes before he averted his gaze. She was not going to get any help from him tonight. She turned to Kilabi who was looking at her, his eyes gleaming with anticipation.
“You will have to choose, Seweeka. My men will be back soon with the prisoner.”
Seweeka rested her head on the soft hair of Manena. Leaving Manena was not an option. They have been dreaming about the day they would leave the island and explore the world together. She was seven years old when Manena and two other women were brought to the village. They too it seems were left for dead by a slave ship bound for the Far East . The women were mated to other warriors and Manena stayed with one of them until Seweeka claimed her as a mate. The two women were so integrated into the Meringini tribe that they never thought of leaving the island again. Manena, however, always wanted to return to the wide open plains of her homeland and search for her parents. Seweeka had promised her that they would do it together one day. The day had come for their great adventure, but Kilabi was standing between them and their dream.
“I am not leaving you behind, my friend. I would rather stay here with you than go and leave you here.”
“Thank you, Seweeka,” Manena murmured softly, humbled by the sacrifice this woman with the beautiful heart was offering her. She prayed that one day she too could make such a selfless offer.
Morgana’s nose wrinkled at the stench coming off the man standing a foot away from her. She had been studying the village, watching with keen interest as the warriors stood in the centre of the village. She couldn’t understand what they were saying, but from the raised voices, she knew turmoil was boiling in the village. She inched closer to the warrior all the while scouting the area to ensure she wasn’t surprised by one of his friends. Once she was close enough to him, she lifted her pistol high and brought it down hard on his head. The man crumbled at her feet immediately. She threw a quick glance to the tree where she knew Kris was hidden, only to frown. Kris was standing a few feet behind her, swaying slightly on her feet.
“What are you doing?”
“I cannot let you do this alone.” Kris mumbled, her hand gingerly touching the wound at the back of her head.
“You are not strong enough for this, Kris.” Seeing the stubborn look on Kris’s face she changed tactics. “Why don’t you wait here for me, please?” She gentled her voice and gave her battered wife a pleading look. It worked and Kris reluctantly nodded her head.
“There is one warrior who helped me escaped. She’s European. Don’t come back without her.”
“I promise. Please be careful, okay.” She stepped closer and gave Kris a soft peck on the cheek.
She crept closer to the village, using the shadows to circle the group standing in the centre of the village. Hidden in a shadow of a hut, she carefully studied the tense scene playing off before her eyes.
She saw a tall female warrior standing with her arms around a petite brunette. Before them stood another warrior his, painted face pulled in a sneer. Though she couldn’t understand what was said, she knew the tension was created by the female warrior and the other warrior. She wondered if that was the warrior who helped Kris escape. She crept closer still. A burst of agitated words stumbled from the tall warrior’s mouth and the man with the sneer stepped closer, his hand on the handle of the crude knife which was stuck in his belt.
She saw the warrior pushing the petite brunette behind her, shielding her from the rage of the other warrior. She looked around trying to see if she could spot any of her men nearby. She saw a slight movement to her right and flattened herself against the hut, not sure if it was one of her men or a member of the search party.
The figure crept closer and she sighed in relief when she saw an unkempt, bruised Juan stealing over to where she was.
“We ran into a search party and had to take care of them.” He saw her eyes widened at that and he lifted his hand. “They are unconscious, not dead. We heeded your warning.”
Morgana smiled at that. She was proud of her men. “That’s good. Now let’s see what we have here. There seems to be a big tension between the two warriors over there.”
Juan squinted as he followed her finger. He nodded after having taken in the scene. “This is a good opportunity for us to surprise them while they are distracted. What do you have in mind?”
Morgana’s eyes hardened. “Revenge on the one who put all those bruises on Kris.”
“Where is the Captain?”
“She’s hidden somewhere in the jungle on the other side of the village. She’s very weak. I think you’re right. We should take advantage of the opportunity. Where are the others?”
“We have surrounded the village.”
“Good. Let’s do it.” Pulling out her two pistols, she stepped out of the shadows and into light of a nearby torch. “Stand where you are.” Her voice was icy cold as she trained her pistols on the two warriors standing the closest to her. She saw the surprise on the faces of the warriors and almost laughed. What did they expect? They kidnap a captain and a group of her men and they do not expect their mates to try and get them back. Out of the corner of her eye she saw her men stepping out of the jungle surrounding the village, their weapons drawn. She pointed with her pistol showing the warriors to step back. The sneering warrior took a step back, but the tall warrior just glared at her. Morgana noticed the light eye color and raised an eyebrow. She guessed this must be Kris’ savior. The cold light colored eyes seized her up and Morgana cocked her head to one side.
“Do you speak English, warrior?”
A curt nod.
“Good. I need to know something.” She saw the suspicious look in the light eyes. “Who did that to my friend?” When the warrior just stared at her, she took a step closer and trained the pistol on the warrior’s chest. “Tell me.”
The light colored eyes were hard as they stared back at her, but still the warrior was tightlipped. She pulled back the hammer fully intent on pulling the trigger. Not to kill, but at least to injure. She altered her aim a little and pulled the trigger. Silence followed the deafening blast of the shot. Her eyes gleamed with satisfaction as she looked into the stunned face of the warrior as she clutched her arm. The rest of the warriors still stood with their hands covering her ears, their eyes wide in alarm.
“I ask you again. Point out the person who hurt my friend?”
She saw the warrior push out her chin stubbornly and Morgana couldn’t help but admire the warrior’s courage. She raised her pistol again and for a split second, she saw a tiny flash of fear in the warrior’s eyes. The warrior was unceremoniously pushed to the side and a petite brunette stepped forward, her dark eyes were flashing with anger as she looked at her.
“You are barbarian?” The seething woman said as she stood with her hands on her hips.
Morgana’s brows rose slowly as she looked down at the fiery woman. She spoke English too? Her eyes slowly roamed over the woman and a slow grin formed around her lips. What a spitfire? She looked directly into the woman’s eyes. “Me? A Barbarian? You must be mistaken. My friend was hurt badly by one of your people and all I want to know is who is responsible.”
The golden eyes turned blank. “I want my revenge.”
The brunette nodded, a small smile forming on her lips. She raised her hand and pointed to the sneering warrior.
“Kilabi. He hurt your friend. Seweeka angry and she beat up Kilabi.”
Morgana’s eyes were like chips of gold when they turned to the warrior pointed out by the brunette. Her eyes took in his muscled body and his large hands. Looking at his hands, she recalled the bloodshot eye of Kris, her smashed lips, and the fingerprint indentations around her neck. She wondered how much damage was still hidden under her clothes.
“Juan. Find Kris and take her to the ship. Let them see to her injuries.”
When there was no answer from Juan, she turned to look at him. She immediately made out the towering figure of Kris standing next to Juan. She quickly walked over to her wife, her eyes concerned as she examined her wife.
“What are you doing here? Let Juan take you to the Esperanza to have your injuries looked at.”
Kris weakly shook her head. “I am not leaving without you.”
Morgana smiled tenderly and gently caressed her lover’s bruised lips. “Ok. This will not take long.” She turned back to the small brunette. “Tell the warrior that I challenge him to a fight. We will use knives.”
The brunette was smiling broadly as she talked to the warrior. Morgana saw the man sizing her up for a few seconds before he sneered. Keeping eye contact he reached for his knife.
“He is ready to fight you.”
A feral smile came over Morgana’s face, her eyes bright with anticipation. No one would hurt her gentle giant and get away with it. She reached for her dagger, her body taut as she eyed her opponent. He was shorter than her, but powerfully built. Kris would’ve taken him and squashed him had she not been injured. She frowned at that thought, because it must mean that her wife was in truly bad shape if she couldn’t have taken this man. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed the tall warrior fidget with the flesh wound on her arm. She almost regretted having shot the woman, but she didn’t have any other choice. The man grinned and she winced at the large yellow teeth sticking out of his fleshy lips.
With a loud roar the man lunged for her and she gracefully sidestepped his attack. He snarled at her and stepped back, his eyes sharp as they studied her body language. She slowly came into a battle stance, her arms spread wide. She silently lunged at him, missing him by a few inches. The man stepped back, but she quickly followed up on her attack, feigning to her left, but quickly changed course. He quickly danced away and Morgana’s eyes narrowed. He wasn’t as stupid as he looked, she thought. But then he didn’t know that she was one of the best swordfighters in Spain . She had outmaneuvered many men, leaving their widows to bury their sorry carcasses.
A sudden burst of adrenaline coursed through her and she lunged again at the man. He side-stepped her flashing blade, but she reached out a long leg and watched in satisfaction as he stumbled over her extended limb and crashed to the ground. She was tempted to jump on him and finish him off, but then where was the honor in killing a man who was now looking back at her, his sight impaired by the muddy goo dripping from his face.
The man angrily wiped at the mud in his eyes and jumped to his feet. She watched him carefully as he began to stalk her. Knowing that he was getting ready to attack, she decided to attack him first. She rushed him, an unexpected battle cry on her lips. The man, having gotten used to her silent maneuvers, was momentarily stunned by her cry, allowing her to enter his personal space before he had even lifted his hand. Reaching for the hand which held his dagger, she opened him up readying him for her most favorite submission technique. She lifted her leg and kneed him hard between the legs. With a gasp he dropped his weapon and reached for his bruised anatomy. With a cold smile she quickly twisted him around, pulled back his head and pressed her blade against his throat.
Frowning she looked up at the tall warrior as she stepped closer. The petite woman stuck close to the tall warrior’s side.
“What is it now?” Morgana growled at the woman. “Do you want me to shoot you again?”
“Do not kill him?”
Morgana’s eyes hardened. “And why not? I have earned the right to take his cowardly life.”
Seweeka shook her head. “If you kill Kilabi, my family will not have protection. Kilabi a good warrior. He protects the chief, women and children.”
Morgana was stunned by the woman’s selfless request. Her eyes moved to Kris and she noted her wife’s pale face. She immediately pushed the man away from her and walked over to the blonde.
“Let’s go, my love. You are growing weaker by the minute.” She sheathed her dagger and wrapped her arm around Kris’s waist. “Do you think you will be able to walk all the way back to the beach?”
Kris nodded, but Morgana’s eyes were serious as they studied her. She noticed a flush come over her wife’s cheeks the longer she stared at her and Morgana smiled tenderly up into the bruised face.
“It’s okay, beautiful,” she cooed softly. “I will not make you walk back.” She turned to the petite woman. The woman was staring at them with wide eyes. “We need a stretcher.” At the woman’s vacant look she pointed at Kris. “We need something to carry her with.”
The dark eyes lit up and she nodded. “Yes, yes, yes. Seweeka find you something.” She looked at the tall, stoic warrior and cocked her head to one side. ‘Seweeka?”
The warrior nodded and walked away, still cradling her injured arm. Morgana’s eyes went back to the warrior she had fought and found him staring at her with hate-filled eyes.
“Why were you arguing with this man?” she asked the doe-eyed brunette.
“Seweeka … we want to leave with monster woman, but he angry because …”
“Monster woman …?” Morgana asked slowly. The petite woman blinked, a little confused, before she pointed at Kris. Morgana’s eyes swung to Kris. The blonde pirate was staring at the woman with a dark frown. “Ah … I’m sure she didn’t mean it in a derogatory way.”
“Kilabi he say monster woman is …”
“Her name is Kris. Please call her Kris.” Morgana quickly interrupted after hearing a soft growl from where Kris stood.
The brunette nodded; her eyes wide as she looked at Kris. “Kilabi say … Kris his captive and she not going to leave. He wants to kill her for village people. Seweeka wanted to fight for mon … Kris, but Kilabi say she must choose. He takes me if Kris goes with Seweeka. Seweeka ask to fight for Kris and me. Kilabi do not want.”
Morgana nodded slowly. “Good. Tell Kilabi that I spared his life because I am taking you and Seweeka with us.” When the woman just stared at her she raised a brow questioningly. “Come on, tell him already.”
The petite woman turned to the sulking warrior and in a quiet voice conveyed her message. The man quickly came to his feet, albeit a bit unsteadily, but before he could protest, Morgana reached for her pistol and trained it at him.
“Ask him if he would like to sacrifice his life for your freedom?” she asked in a deadly voice. The woman turned and translated quickly. The man looked at her, his chin pushed out stubbornly, before he slowly shook his head. “Good. Now why don’t you get your things? We are leaving when Seweeka returns.”
The woman nodded and quickly walked over to a hut.
Kris was sleeping restlessly next to her and Morgana held onto her. They had left the island a week ago, but still, Kris had not shown any signs of healing. She was very weak and was running a dangerously high fever. She had instructed that the ships set sail for the nearest settlement. She was worried about Kris and the fact that she hasn’t been coherent since they have left the island. A warm hand lifted and pushed its way under her sleeping shirt and came to rest on her breast. Morgana smiled tenderly and placed a soft kiss on the sweating brow. Oh, how she hated to see her strong Viking so weak.
“Yes, my love. I’m here.” She looked down into unfocused eyes. “Would you like a drink of water?”
The blonde head nodded and Morgana gently detangled her limbs from Kris’.
“No, don’t go. Please don’t go.”
Morgana felt her heart clench at the weak pleading and pulled Kris closer to her, kissing the warm forehead. “I am just walking over to the table to get you some water.”
“Don’t leave, Morgana.”
“OK. I’m staying here with you.” She rolled onto her back and accepted Kris’ feverish embrace. She closed her eyes and silently sent a prayer upwards. Please don’t let me lose her, Father. Please keep her safe.
There was a short knock on the door and she lifted her head. “Come in.”
The door swung open and Seweeka entered. The tall warrior walked over to the bed, a pail of water in her hand.
“We need to break fever. She will not get better if she stays like this.”
Morgana sighed deeply; she was desperate to try anything at this stage. She turned to look at the pail of water. “What do you want to do?”
“We wash her with cold water until she is cool again.”
Morgana nodded. It makes sense to use water to bring the temperature down. But the water was so cold. She looked down at her wife and seeing her flushed face, she nodded. Gritting her teeth in determination she steeled herself for the pleading that would come once she tried to get out of bed. Kris’s eyes opened and blearily focused on her.
“I am not going anywhere, my love. We need to get the fever down so that you can feel better. Please let me do this.”
The frosty blue eyes stared pleadingly into her, but Morgana steeled herself and detangled her limbs from underneath the heavy body of Kris. Once she stood next to the bed, she quickly unbuttoned Kris’ nightshirt. She quickly looked at the silent warrior next to her. She wasn’t very keen to have this warrior see her wife naked, but this was literally a case of life and death. The warrior’s eyes were expressionless as they stared back at her.
“This is important. She will die if we do not do this.”
Morgana nodded and pushed the shirt off Kris’ broad shoulders. Even in illness the Viking was a stunning specimen. She tenderly placed a soft kiss on Kris’ lips. “We will make this better, my angel. We will take away the pain.”
Seweeka stepped forward and dunking a sponge into the icy cold water, she methodically began to sponge the patient down.
Seweeka felt a tiny shiver go through her body as she roughly sponged down the golden body of the Viking captain. She darted a quick glance at the quiet Spaniard and found the amber eyes watching, an unreadable look in them. She quickly looked away and dunked the sponge in the bucket of icy-cold seawater. She silently administered another sponge bath, acutely aware of the woman who was watching her like a hawk.
A soft moan came from the bed and Morgana quickly stepped closer. Her hand reached for Kris forehead and she nodded as she looked up at Seweeka.
“She feels cooler. I think its working.” She reached for the sponge and quietly began to work on her wife. After a few minutes of working in silence, Morgana looked up into Seweeka’s eyes. “She is my wife, my mate, and my life. I will not give her up without a fight and nor do I plan to lose in a fight for her.”
Seweeka’s felt her heart jerk at the faintly veiled challenge. She had seen the woman in action and although they were almost evenly matched in skill, the woman would be much more dangerous, since she had so much to fight for. Her green eyes sharpened at the almost predatory look in the amber eyes. Her sudden attraction to the tall, golden goddess lying naked before her eyes, was unplanned and as she had just realized dangerous. As much as she was fascinated by the woman, she wasn’t sure she liked her enough to want to tangle with this black-haired woman.
A cool smile formed on the woman’s full lips. “Good. The water is tepid. We need more if we want to break her fever today still.”
Wordlessly, Seweeka reached for the bucket and left the captain’s quarters. As she walked over to the side of the ship, she spotted Manena leaning over the railing staring over the vast expanse of water. She slowly walked over to her, noticing with amusement how the men quickly stepped out of her way as she made her way towards Manena. And with good reason too. They were on the ship for less than two days when two men accosted Manena. She was taking a quick stroll on the deck before they were supposed to bunk down for the night. When Manena didn’t return after the said period of time had lapsed, she had gone in search for her. What she found was Manena trying to sidestep two burly men who were crowding her personal space. Without warning she had taken them both on, breaking one’s leg and the other’s arm, even before the commotion brought the dark-haired captain to the deck. The captain had calmly walked over to her second-in-command and was quickly filled in on what had transpired. On her orders, the two men were tied to the mast and each given twenty lashes as punishment. Now whenever she was on the deck, she was given a wide berth.
Manena noticed her coming over towards her and she smiled broadly. “How is the captain doing?” she asked in English and Seweeka grimaced. Since leaving the island Manena had made it a point to not converse in their native dialect, in a bid to perfect her command of the English language.
“It is helping, but we need more water.”
“Then what are you waiting for? We owe this woman a lot.”
Seweeka quickly tied a rope to the bucket and lowered it over the railing. Her mind on the short conversation she had just had with Morgana.
“What is bothering you? Is it the captain?” The doe eyes widened. “You didn’t …?”
“Nothing is wrong, because nothing will happen.”
“Oh, Seweeka, I’m sorry. It must be painful to not have her return your affections.”
The warrior eyes were hard as she looked at Manena. “It is in the past. Now let’s not talk about it again.”
Knowing the warning signs, Manena quickly nodded, not wanting to face the wrath of the warrior. “I’m sorry. Let’s get the water to the captain.”
Seweeka heaved the bucket over the railing, muscles bulging as she did so. Manena sighed inwardly at the sight. For years she had been in love with her best friend. At first it was the infatuation of youth at the strong, protective presence of her tall, light-eyed friend. As she grew into a woman, her infatuation turned to a deep, hungry passion for the flint-eyed warrior. She was beside herself with happiness when Seweeka won the warriors’ challenge and decided to take her as a mate. But still, even as they were sharing a hut and in some cases the same sleeping mat, Seweeka never made any amorous overtures at her. Many a times she had wondered whether the warrior would ever be able to show any emotion for another being.
It seemed the tall, blonde captain was the one destined to unlock the heart of Seweeka. She had cried silent tears at night, when she noticed how, in unguarded moments her warrior had looked at the ailing captain as they had carried her from the village to the beach. Several times she had spied a look of tenderness on Seweeka’s face when the captain was jostled as they passed over uneven terrains, making the blonde moan in pain at the rough treatment.
For the past five days as the captain was confined to her sickbed, Manena had noticed the restlessness about Seweeka. Many evenings she had found her staring at the closed door of the captain’s quarters with a longing look on her face. That was when she had first realized that Seweeka felt strongly for the beautiful captain. It all made sense then. She understood now why Seweeka was so eager to help the woman escape and her rage when Kilabi had hurt her.
She threw another quick glance in Seweeka’s direction and found the somber green eyes resting on her.
“I will be fine, Manena. You do not have to worry about me.”
Manena reached out and gently stroked a tanned cheek. “I know you will be fine, because I will help you.”
A warm smile formed on the stoic face. “Thank you, my friend. Now let’s go get the giant back on her feet.”
Throughout the day and long into night, Morgana, with the help of the two islanders worked diligently at breaking Kris’ fever. It was only when she couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer that Morgana ordered the other two women to get some sleep. She bolted the cabin door and undressed quietly. Before she walked over to her desk to review a few maps, she threw a quick glance over her shoulder to check on her spouse. She gasped when piercing blue eyes stared back at her. She quickly walked over to the bed. Kris had woken up a few times during the period that they were sponging her down, but her eyes almost immediately fell closed again. This time however her gaze was a bit focused. She bent over so she could look deep into the blue eyes.
“Are you in there?”
Kris smiled weakly and nodded slowly. “Yes,” she answered in a hoarse voice. “Need water.”
Morgana quickly splashed some water in a cup and lifting the blonde head gently as she waited until Kris had drained the cup. A soft sigh escape the Viking’s lips as she lay back and closed her eyes. Thinking she had gone back to sleep, Morgana quietly turned away.
“Don’t go.” The blue eyes were pleading. “The place I go to when I sleep is so lonely without you there. I want you closer.”
Morgana felt her eyes shoot full of tears. Even in pain and with this wretched fever wracking her body, Kris still missed her nearness in her unconscious state. She placed a soft kiss on Kris’ lips and quickly came upright again, her amber eyes wide.
“You feel so much cooler, my love.” She placed a hand on her forehead and smiled. “I believe the fever is finally broken.” She placed a soft kiss on the strong chin and smiled into slightly dazed blue eyes. “You will be back on your feet in no time. But you need to rest some more to aid with the healing process.”
“Sleep is okay,” Kris murmured and closed her eyes. Just as Morgana turned to walk over to her desk, hand slipped into hers. “Want you with me.”
Morgana placed the cup on a nearby table and lifting the covers, she slipped in next to Kris. She lifted the blonde head and positioned it on her chest so that she could run her lips over the sweaty brow when the need struck her. Kris moaned softly and threw a heavy arm over Morgana’s waist. Her breathing evened out almost immediately and after a soft goodnight kiss to Kris’ brow she too dozed off.
“Land ahead! Land ahead!”
Morgana’s eyes flew open and she was just about to sit up when a strong hand held her back, turning she was shocked to find Kris awake. She gave Kris a soft kiss.
“Go back to sleep, my love.”
“I want to come with you.”
Morgana blinked in surprise. “You are not strong enough to get out of bed yet, Kris. I promise not to be too long, okay.”
Kris closed her eyes and lay back, but before Morgana could swing her legs out of bed, she was caught in an iron grip once again.
“Just make sure you come back to me.” The blue eyes were soft as they looked at her. Morgana smiled tenderly and nodded.
“I’ll be back very soon, my love. Very soon.”
Morgana dressed quickly and with one last look at Kris, she left the cabin
She took the steps two at a time until she was standing next to Juan. Her second-in-command quickly handed her the looking glass.
“We are about a day away from land. We are not sure exactly where we are right now, but I will find out as soon as possible, Captain.”
“Good. Just make sure that we are fully armed before we reach land. I don’t want a repeat of what happened at the other island.”
“Aye, Captain. I will make sure we are properly armed.”
Taking one last look at the strip of land visible on the horizon, Morgana nodded and handed the looking glass back to Juan. She can’t wait to put foot on friendly soil again. Kris desperately needed fresh water and to spend time off the ship. She would like for them to spend at least a week on land if they were welcomed. She turned on her heel and briskly walked back to the cabin. Pushing the door open, she gasped at the sight. Kris was standing at the port hole looking out at the mellow sea.
“What are you doing out of bed, Kris?” she asked sternly. With quick steps she walked over to Kris, her eyes warning her wife that no arguments would be tolerated. With a soft sigh Kris allowed herself to be led back to the bed.
“Do you know where we are now?”
“Juan is working on that as we speak.” She gently brushed a lock from Kris’ forehead and kissed her gently. “How are you feeling?”
“Weak, but otherwise I am very well. Maybe just hungry.”
A brilliant smile lit up Morgana’s face, making the lines of fatigue and worry lines disappear.
“That is a very good sign. I will get you something to eat immediately.” Rising, she rushed over to the door.
Kris took a quick inventory of her body. She hadn’t lied to Morgana. Except for her lack of strength, she was really feeling much better. She vaguely remembered what had happened after they had left the island, but all was still really very hazy.
The door opened and her eyes widened when she saw the tall woman following Morgana into the cabin. It was the warrior from the island. She slowly lifted herself on her elbows and knew immediately that she was too weak to hold the pose. Morgana quickly stepped closer and pushed two more pillows under her shoulders as she lay back with a sigh of gratitude. Looking up at Morgana, she smiled slowly. She was so beautiful. Kris couldn’t wait to get well soon so she could make love to this spectacular woman again. She saw the concern in the amber eyes as they looked at her and she winked. She saw Morgana’s eyes widen in surprise. She grinned when Morgana’s eyes registered confusion and then amusement.
“You have a long way to go before you can indulge in that little fantasy of yours, Blue eyes,” Morgana said sternly, but Kris could hear the longing in the darkly sensual voice of her wife.
“I will get well eventually.”
Morgana nodded and turned to the quiet warrior. “This is Seweeka. She was the one who helped you escape. She was also the one who came up with the plan to break your fever.”
Kris studied the stoic woman and nodded. “Thank you, Seweeka. I will forever be in your debt.”
“It was nothing. Thanks to you I am in a position to go in search of my family again.”
“Where exactly are you going?”
“My mother told me that her family is from a place called Ireland . I was hoping you could tell me how to get there.” The green eyes were worried as they looked into her blue ones.
“For saving my wife’s life twice, I promise that we will take you there ourselves as a sign of our gratitude.” Morgana’s eyes were bright as they looked back at Kris. “She has given you back to me. I will go to the ends of the world for her to show my gratitude.”
Kris smiled. “And I am going wherever you go.”
Morgana turned to Seweeka. “Then it is settled. We have land in sight and depending on the reception I was thinking that we could spend a week on land to replenish stock and make repairs to the ships. We will then set sail for Ireland .”
Seweeka’s lips pulled in a soft smile and both Kris and Morgana were surprise by the change to the woman’s usual dour countenance. Her green eyes were twinkling as she stared back at them, the smile broadening at the stunned looks on the two captains’ faces.
“I am grateful to you. You are very kind. I will leave you now. It is good to see you are looking better, Captain.”
When the cabin door closed behind the woman, Kris held out her hand to Morgana. “Come lie next to me for a while, love.”
Morgana quickly kicked off her boots and joined her on the bed. Kris immediately snuggled up to her wife and laid her head on Morgana’s chest. She laid in silence, listening to the steady heartbeat of her wife. She still wondered how she could have been so stupid at first to reject this woman’s love. Lying here with her solid heartbeat in her ears, she realized that once this heart stopped to beat, she too would cease to exist. Morgana’s love for her was as dependable as the strong, sure beat of her heart. She lifted her head slowly and looked up at her wife. Bright, golden eyes stared back at her.
“What is it?”
“I love you. I love you so very much and I can’t imagine my life without you,” she said with a slight catch in her voice. She watched as Morgana’s eyes welled up with tears as she looked back at her and Kris smiled tenderly. “I belong to you completely.”
“I was so scared, Kris, so scared of losing you. The thought that you could have died still haunts me.” Morgana closed her eyes tight, but warm tears still leaked through, wetting Kris’ face. “You are everything to me. Everything. I wanted to kill that man for hurting you. I wanted to skin him alive for what he did to you.”
Kris placed a soft kiss in Morgana’s neck. “All that is in the past now and I promise you that I will be more careful in future. I don’t want to put you through something like that again.”
Morgana smiled weakly. “You better, my love, because if it happens again, I swear I will hunt down and wipe out the whole family of any person who dares to hurt you again.”
Kris knew Morgana was teasing, but she also heard the steely determination in the dark voice.
“You have my promise.”
“Good. Now how about a short nap? You are still not completely healed.”
Kris nodded while making herself comfortable against Morgana’s body, she closed her eyes. It was not long before she was sound asleep.
After securing a room at an inn, Morgana made sure that Kris was tucked into bed and fast asleep before she went in search of the owner of the Sea Siren. She had immediately recognized the ship when they had moored. She had met Lillian a few times, but had found the Englishwoman to be very bold. The blonde had tried to seduce her every chance she got and that had made her avoid the woman as best she could.
Coming down the stairs, she entered the tavern and called one of her men over to her.
“Miguel, make sure that no one disturbs the Captain.”
Miguel grinned at her and pointed behind her. She turned to find two large men sitting at a table, their eyes locked on the stairs.
“Those two are also under strict orders to keep an eye on the Captain already. It would be my honor to guard her for you, Captain.”
Morgana nodded and walked over to the two Vikings. “Where is Soren?”
“He is securing materials for repairs to the Lilac Crest , Captain. He asked us to guard both you and the Captain until he has finished his business.”
“I understand.” She turned and walked to the door, only to find one of the men rising out of his chair to follow her. “I thought you were to watch Kris?”
The Viking looked her straight in the eyes. “You too, Captain. We are under strict orders not to let anything happen to either of you.”
Morgana sighed, a bit irritated at Kris’ second-in-command to assume that she needed protection. From the look on the Viking’s face, she also knew that getting rid of the giant was not going to be easy. Inhaling deeply, she nodded curtly. Not waiting for her bodyguard, she stomped out of the inn with the Viking in tow.
The streets of Greenwich , as this settlement was known, were teeming with sailors and vendors. She was slightly surprised that she had never been to this place before. Her travels had taken her mostly around the Orient and Africa . It was rare that she would venture as far West as was the case now. Kris’ illness had forced her to find land as soon as possible and this was where it had led them. When they had stepped off the rowboat and onto land, Kris had looked around, her eyes hardening as she took in the busy market area. When asked if she was okay, the Viking had nodded distractedly. But she could see that her wife was bothered by this place. Maybe she would have to ask Soren about it.
They came to a halt before a loud tavern and she turned to look at the giant of man, standing behind her. Maybe she could ask him too. She looked up into the man’s hazel eyes.
“What is your name?”
“Petr, have you been to this place before?”
The Viking nodded and looked around, pure distaste on his face. “Yes, Captain.”
“Why don’t you like it here? Is this a dangerous place?”
“This is the place where all the flesh traders congregate. They sail to the Dark World and steal humans only to sell them here.”
Morgana nodded slowly. Now she understood. She had heard of how flesh traders sail to primitive lands and captured natives to sell to rich plantation owners. Kris hated flesh traders. No wonder she didn’t like the place.
“At least now I know why Kris doesn’t like this place. Well, I’m looking for someone. Let’s see if she’s somewhere in here.”
The place was even noisier inside and Morgana tried to block out the ribald singing as she looked over the patrons. She grimaced when she saw a tall woman sitting at table on the opposite end of the tavern, a petite serving wench sitting on her lap.
“No surprise there,” Morgana muttered to herself. She pushed her way through the throng of intoxicated sailors and came to a halt at the table which was occupied by the blonde pirate. She stood there for almost a minute looking at the blonde pirate. Lillian had her face buried deep between the giggling girl’s breasts. It was only when the woman noticed her and tried to get off the pirate’s lap, that Lillian noticed her. Looking up, Morgana looked into large blue-gray eyes which almost instantly warmed with recognition.
“Morgana, darling, what a pleasant surprise,” Lillian said in a slightly slurred voice. “Please, have a seat. It would be a great honor for me to buy you a drink.” She gave a sharp whistle and almost immediately a serving wench rushed over to their table. ‘What shall it be? Wine or ale?”
Morgana looked at Petr, lifting a brow. The Viking nodded and walked over to a nearby table.
“Wine for me and an ale for the gentleman over there, please.”
Looking back at Morgana she smiled warmly, her eyes roving over her chest area. She was suddenly glad that Kris wasn’t here with her. The Viking would surely have pummeled the frisky Englishwoman.
“You are getting more beautiful every time I see you.” The Englishwoman was trying to hide the lust in her eyes, but she was doing a very poor job. “The serving girl you saw earlier, she was just a distraction.”
Morgana fought the urge to roll her eyes. “I could see that, Lillian.” She noticed a twinkle in the hazel eyes and her eyes narrowed slightly. The stupid woman wasn’t drunk. She was just leading her on. “I need your help with something.”
A blonde eyebrow shot up. “I’m listening.” Having dropped her act, Lillian sounded very curt.
Morgana looked the woman over quickly. For her laidback attitude, Lillian was not someone to tangle with. The woman was an expert swordsman and a crack shot. She had been present once when a stubborn sailor tried to accost a girl that Lillian was hoping to take to bed that night. The sailor ended up with a third eye after he was stupid enough to pull a pistol on the English pirate.
“I am looking for a safe route to Ireland . With the English and the French at war, I don’t want to get myself caught in the middle of it.”
Lillian cocked her head to one side and smiled. “Now why would you want to venture into my territory, Senora Escobar?” Lillian’s voice held a slight bit of suspicion.
Lillian obviously hasn’t heard about her and Kris yet. She didn’t see the need to correct the woman. She would find out in good time.
“I am taking a friend to find her family.”
“Why don’t I believe you? I saw the Lilac Crest coming in with you earlier. Who is this friend of yours?”
Morgana’s eyes turned cold as she studied the other woman. “That is up to you if you believe me or not, Lillian. I guess it is also up to you if you want to help me or not.” She saw the serving girl coming over with her order. Taking her goblet of wine, she nodded at Lillian and walked over to the table where Petr was seated. She took a seat, facing away from Lillian. She took a sip from her wine and was surprised to find it quite pleasant as opposed to the vinegar she forced herself to drink at other ports. A shadow fell over their table and not waiting for an invitation, Lillian poured her tall frame into the chair opposite from Morgana.
“I’m sorry, Morgana. I know you wouldn’t have asked if it wasn’t important to you.”
Morgana gave the blonde a hard stare before she reached for her glass again.
“I do not beg, Lillian. If you’re waiting for me to do that, you are wasting your time. I could always find someone else to help me. Now if you would please, Petr here and I were having a private conversation.”
Lillian’s eyes flashed at the dismissal, but she managed to keep her cool. She took a long drink from her ale and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. Her eyes were unreadable as they rested on her.
“How about we have an evening meal together and talk more about this?”
“I told you before that I’m not interested. Nothing has changed since.”
Lillian smiled at the spunk of the woman. “It was worth the try, though.”
All through their conversation, Petr sat quietly and drank his ale. His eyes however never left the English pirate’s face. Lillian looked at him and frowned.
“What are you doing with the Viking? If he’s hanging out here, it is obvious that his Captain is having herself serviced upstairs.”
Morgana slowly put her glass down on the crude wooden table and came to her feet. Petr followed suit, his eyes cold as they rested on the blonde pirate. Morgana threw a few coins on the table and with one last look at Lillian she walked out of the tavern. It was only once she was outside that she took a deep, shuddering breath. One of these days, she was going to really hurt that obnoxious woman.
“I will help you. I will come by tomorrow morning so I can talk to you.”
Morgana turned to find the blonde lounging inside the door of the tavern. She turned her back on the woman and walked away.
Seweeka was lying on her back looking at the ceiling as she listened to the soft snores coming from Manena. They had opted at sharing a room instead of getting separate rooms. This place was so foreign to them that they had craved the familiar, craved each other’s nearness. After the evening meal they had retired to their room, but with all the excitement of the day, Manena had fallen asleep the moment her head had touched the pillow. She turned her head to look at the beautiful face of her friend. Her eyes caressed the beautiful face slowly and she shook her head, regret in her heart.
If only she could love Manena the way the young woman loved her. She had known of her friend’s feelings for her, but as hard as she’d tried, she couldn’t reciprocate the feelings. Manena was like a sister to her and she doubt she would ever be able to touch the girl with anything else but a platonic love.
She heard a soft moan and closed her eyes. She was twenty summers old and not once had she been moved by another human being like she was moved by the tall Viking pirate. Knowing that she was totally unattainable, she had suppressed the strange feeling. In its place had come the need to also be loved and to love like the Viking and her Spanish Captain. She craved that closeness with another person.
Another moan sounded and she slowly set up, cocking her head to listen better. The captains had the room on their right. The sounds were coming from the room on their left. She heard a soft creak and then a soft thump. A soft giggle sounded, followed by a drawn out moan. A rhythmic thumping sound caught her ear and she frowned at the foreign sound. She shook her head and slowly lay back. She had heard some of the warriors talk about the acts of love between a man and a woman. But she could never understand all the commotion about that. Some of the women she had overheard had been totally revolted by the act. But the woman next door sounded like she actually enjoyed what was being done to her, even if it sounded a bit violent.
She closed her eyes and willed herself to fall asleep.
Kris slowly lifted Morgana’s sleep shirt and with hungry eyes stared at her wife’s beautiful breasts. She licked her lips as she looked at the hardening nipples. It suddenly registered that if her nipples were hardening then Morgana must be awake. She quickly dropped the shirt and looked up. Serene golden eyes were looking at her.
“You are not ready for whatever it is you have on your mind.”
Sighing, Kris stretched herself out next to Morgana, the image of Morgana’s breasts still vivid in her mind.
“I miss being with you.”
Morgana’s knuckles gently stroked her cheek. “I know, my heart, but I’m not willing to take the chance of injuring you again. If we are going to sail up to Ireland , I want you in perfect shape.”
“How are we going to do that? Aren’t we going to sail right into a war?”
Morgana felt her ire rise again just thinking of Lillian. “I spoke to Lillian earlier tonight.”
Kris turned her head to look at Morgana. She encountered a hard golden stare.
“Did she behave herself?” Kris’ voice was calm, but the ice-blue ice looked like chips of white ice.
“She really made an effort.”
Kris sat up slowly and alarmed, Morgana sat up too. “What are you doing?”
“She is somewhere close by. I heard her voice earlier when she walked passed. I want to make sure she …”
Morgana placed a gentle hand on Kris’ broad shoulder. “No, my love. She behaved herself. She was just as obnoxious as always.”
Kris frowned. “Did she try to get you in her bed?”
“No, not once. I have told her many times before that I’m not interested in her.”
“Good. I think I will sleep now. If I have to fight that frisky devil, I will have to regain my strength.”
Morgana smiled at that. At least her meeting with Lillian wasn’t a total waste. She leaned over the blonde and looked into dark, questioning blue eyes.
“Am I not getting a goodnight kiss, my love?”
Kris turned her hulking frame around and opened her arms. Morgana rolled into the strong arms, her lips already seeking those of her lover. They shared a couple of deep kisses before Kris turned her head away.
“Anymore of this and I won’t be able to sleep.”
Morgana smiled and placed a soft kiss on Kris’ lips. “I understand. Goodnight, Angel.”
“Goodnight, my love.”
It was still very early when Morgana and Kris came down the stairs. Kris was still pale, but she looked much stronger this morning. She had taken a bath all by herself and had dressed herself. Morgana felt simply ecstatic to have her tall lover out of bed. They were holding hands as they entered the dining room only to come to an abrupt stop when they found Lillian sitting at a table nearer to the stairs. She looked up and smiled at them, her eyes going to their hands and back up again. This time there was a look of pure shock in her blue-gray eyes. She carefully looked at the Viking pirate and then back at Morgana.
“The cook just made a fresh pot of coffee. Please join me.”
They nodded and made their way over to the table. Kris pulled out a chair for Morgana and then seated herself. They were aware of Lillian’s eyes on them, but rudely ignored the looks. The proprietor peeked into the room and rushed back into the kitchen to get their food ready.
“You wanted to talk to me, Lillian,” Morgana began.
Lillian spent a few seconds longer to just stare at them before she shook her head, a look of total confusion on her face.
“Yes. As I was saying the war might hinder a safe passage through, but there are ways to get around it.”
Morgana frowned. “How?”
There was a short silence while Lillian took a sip from her coffee. “I have to go with you.”
Lillian shrugged. “I am the only one who has a safe pass. Without me you are not going to get to Ireland , if that is indeed where you are headed.”
Morgana looked at Kris. For a few seconds they communicated silently. If Lillian was the only way through then so be it.
“We are leaving in 6 days. Will you be ready by then?” Kris’ voice was curt as she looked at the Englishwoman.
Lillian’s face lit up, a broad smile on her handsome face. “I will be ready. Now that we have that out of the way, would you mind telling me about the two of you?”
“No,” Morgana said tersely and reached for her coffee. Footsteps sounded on the stairs, but with Kris and Morgana seated with their backs to the stairs, they couldn’t see the newcomer. But Lillian could and the look on her face made the two pirate captains frown. They both turned to face the newcomer. Their frowns deepened even further when they met the unreadable green eyes of Seweeka. Turning back to Lillian, they found the pirate captain still staring at Seweeka.
“Good morning,” Seweeka greeted curtly as she took a seat at the table. Her eyes wandered to Lillian and her eyes darkened as she stared at the woman.
“Good morning, Seweeka. Let me introduce you. This is Lillian Scarborough, the captain of the Sea Siren. She will be sailing with us up to Ireland .”
Seweeka smiled gratefully at the stunned captain. “Thank you for offering your help, Captain.”
Lillian nodded; her blue-gray were a startling bright blue as she stared at the woman sitting next to Kris and Morgana.
There were rushing footsteps from the side of the kitchen and two serving girls came over to their table. Steaming plates with eggs, biscuits, and ham were placed in front of them. As soon as Seweeka’s plate arrived they all dug into their food.
Kris and Morgana threw amused glances Lillian’s way as the usually unruffled pirate was struggling to get the food from her plate to her mouth.
“Are you okay, Lillian?” Morgana asked with feigned concern and blinked when a deep red blush spread across the English pirate’s face.
Lillian quickly came to her feet. “I just remembered that I have an early appointment with the harbor master. I will use the rest of the week to replenish our hold and secure my cargo.”
With a quick nod in their direction and a nervous look at Seweeka, the pirate rushed off. Seweeka turned to the two captains.
“Did I do something to make her leave?”
Kris shook her head. “No, not at all. On the contrary, I believe that she really likes you and would be very happy to help us.”
Seweeka calmly looked back at Kris, her eyes dark as they studied the Viking.
“Why is she so nervous around me then?”
Morgana smiled and looked up into her wife’s eyes.
“I believe she likes you.”
Seweeka frowned. “She likes me?”
“Yes. Her nervousness is a good indication of that.”
Seweeka shook her head and reached for her coffee mug. “I find it rather strange.”
Breakfast was consumed in silence, each of the women occupied by their own thoughts. Kris’ appetite had returned and she was swallowing the food on her plate, prompting Morgana to push her uneaten plate of food towards Kris.
“Eat up, my love. We will be doing a bit of sightseeing and you will need your strength.”
Kris’ ice blue eyes were almost white when she looked up from her plate. “I don’t really like this place.” She focused her gaze on her plate again. “Instead of going sightseeing, I think I would like to go and inspect the Lilac Crest .”
Morgana nodded and rubbed her face against Kris’ shoulder. “I know why you don’t like it here. If you like, I can come with you to Lilac Crest .”
Kris smiled. “I would like that.” She turned to Seweeka. “You can come with us if you like, Seweeka.”
The warrior shook her head. “Manena and I will look around today.”
Morgana nodded and reached for the pouch in the inside of her jacket. She placed it in front of Seweeka. “Here is some money, just for in case you see something you want to buy. Make sure you only exchange the coins once you have received the item you want to buy.”
Seweeka nodded her head, her eyes still on the pouch before her. “I will work on the deck to pay you back, Captain.”
Morgana smiled warmly at the woman. “No need at all. I will never be able to repay you for what you have done for me. Please, take it and buy whatever you like for yourself.”
Seweeka nodded. “Thank you.”
Morgana smiled at her wife who had resumed her eating with gusto.
The cabin smelled a bit musty as a result of having been locked up for almost a whole week. Kris looked around, her eyes bright at the sight of familiar items, the familiar squeaking sounds and the smells. She turned around to face her wife, only to find her looking back at her with hot desire. Momentarily stunned, she just stared back, before her brow slowly crawled up her forehead.
“The last time I was in this cabin was almost three weeks ago and we were making love on the floor.” The amber eyes darkened. “I want you so much.”
Kris swallowed hard and slowly walked over to where the tall brunette stood. Standing close to her, she lifted Morgana’s face so she could look into the hot golden eyes.
“I want you too.”
“Now? Here? Are you sure you’re ready to do this?”
Kris smiled. “Yes, to all your questions.”
Morgana stepped away from Kris and walked over to the door to lock it. Turning around, she stiffened. She had always wondered how such a large person could move so quietly. Kris was standing very close to her. Large hands reached out, followed by a hard tightly muscled body and Morgana found herself pushed up against the door. She growled when Kris’ mouth found her neck and gently nipped it. She raised her arms and threw them around Kris’ neck. The Viking lifted her head and brilliant blue eyes met hers.
“I have such a great hunger for you. After our wedding night, I can’t think of how I am going to survive without this.” Kris’ mouth found Morgana’s lips again and she tenderly sucked on the soft lips. “We need to find a way for us to meet more often, love. Maybe once every three months.”
Morgana nodded. She still remembered their wedding night and how Kris had kept her awake throughout the night. They definitely needed to rethink their arrangement.
“Good.” Kris swung Morgana in her arms and walked over to the bed. Their hunger for each other was so much that they tore at each others clothes impatient to feed their hunger. After a quick reassurance that she was still doing fine, Morgana attacked her with animalistic fervor.
Kris found herself flat on her back with Morgana’s sex grinding into hers. Morgana brought her to a quick, lusty orgasm. She tried lifting her hand, but found herself to be complete drained. All she could do was lay there, looking at a very cocky Morgana. After a few minutes had passed, she rolled over onto her side and sighed when Morgana immediately pulled her into her arms. Feeling safe in the arms of her partner, Kris quickly dozed off, leaving Morgana throbbing with need.
Finding it impossible to sleep, Morgana held onto her wife, her arms tightening slightly. She was holding her world in her arms and she wasn’t going to let her go. Never.
It was half an hour later when Kris’ blue eyes flickered open. The first thing her eyes fell on was the beautiful face of her wife. “I’m sorry.”
Morgana smiled. “You needed the rest, love. I am doing fine.”
“Well, I’m not.” Kris slowly lifted herself on her strong arms and shifted her bulk over Morgana’s. “I always finish what I start.”
It was many hours later that a trembling Kris pushed Morgana off her body.
“No more … please … no more …”
Morgana gently shushed her wife softly. “Rest now, my love. I will watch over you.”
Kris nodded and snuggling into Morgana’s sweaty body, she quickly dozed off again. This time Morgana followed suit, her body just as worn out as Kris’. They had taken each other over and over until Morgana had sapped the last of Kris’ strength.
Manena gently stroked the silver armband, Seweeka had purchased for her. It was an exquisite piece of jewelry. She looked up into Seweeka’s eyes. The light green eyes were smiling as they looked down into hers.
“Thank you, Seweeka. It is very lovely.”
“I am glad you like it, Manena. It is time for the noon meal. Maybe we should go back to the inn now.”
Manena nodded. They turned to leave but their path was blocked by two muscled sailors. A feeling of unease immediately settled in Seweeka’s stomach. She quickly pushed Manena behind her as she stared at the men.
The men stepped forward. “Go, Manena.” She muttered in their native language so the men couldn’t follow. “Go and get help.” When Manena hesitated, Seweeka threw a quick glance over her shoulder. “Go!”
Just as Manena turned and ran, the men attacked. With her dagger in her hand, she sidestepped the men’s grasp and slice at the arm of the first man. She heard a soft gasp of pain and smiled. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed the second man coming at her from the side. She dodge a beefy fist aimed at her head and kicked him hard between his legs. She felt a presence behind her, but before she could turn, she felt an explosion of searing pain and her world went black.
Hidden behind a vendor stall not far away, dark grey eyes flashed with anger as they watched the tall warrior crumble to the ground. A slow grin formed on the stranger’s face as one of the men heaved the unconscious woman in his arms and without a backward glance carried his captive in the direction of the harbor.
The hardest part was over. Now the fun begins.
To be continued in Fire and Ice: Love on the High Seas