Blaze of Light | Cats | Vikings

Blaze of Light By Robyn Crane Chapter 1 The endless highway stretched through the midnight desert landscape like

a huge black mamba. Candace Swenson tossed her mane of white-blond hair over her shoulder for about the hundredth time in the last hour. She stomped her foot in frustration, looking up and down the highway for any sign of life. There was nothing there, just darkness ad infinitum. Nearly growling in anger, she climbed back behind the wheel of her compact car and twisted the key. A click as the key slid to the side, then nothing, total silence. Candy hit the steering wheel, uttering a most unladylike curse. She spoke to herself to help allay her loneliness and fears. "You stupid car! Five years you serve me faithfully, not even a flat tire. Now, when I'm in the middle of the Nevada desert, not even a gold miner's shack in sight, you betray me. Bad car; bad, bad car!" She emphasized each 'bad' with another smack to the steering wheel. Then she fell back against the seat and gave some thought to her situation. She was stranded in the desert somewhere between Las Vegas and the Nevada/California border. She had half a tank of gas, the car had enough oil and water, she had the dirty hands to prove she had checked that, the battery was okay because the radio and lights would come on. So why had her car died? There had been no warning, just instant death. One minute, she had been driving along, singing with the radio to keep herself awake; the next, the car was slowing down and there was no longer any engine noise.

The last town she had passed was about ten miles away. If she remembered correctly the last road sign she'd seen, the next town would be about thirty miles down the road. With a deep sigh of resignation, Candy grabbed her purse and got out of the car. She double-checked the doors, making sure they were all locked, then set off along the stretch of highway she had so recently traveled. Candy tried not to think of all the things in the desert that were nocturnal. She wished there were more cars on the road. Even if she couldn't get a ride, and she wasn't too sure about accepting one from a stranger, she wouldn't feel so desolately alone. She pushed the button on the side of her wristwatch that turned on the little light inside. The tiny glow barely illuminated the LED display. What did she expect at 4 AM, rush-hour traffic? Oh, why hadn't she waited until morning to set off on this foolish trek? She started talking to herself again. "Because I couldn't wait to get away from that place, that's why. If I'd had to look at that pig's face one more time, I'd be in jail for murder right now!" The 'pig' to which she referred had been her fiancé up until two days ago when she'd caught him in bed with her best friend. Now she had an ex-fiancé and an ex-best friend. In her cooler moments driving through the desert, she had realized that she wasn't as devastated as she should be. If she were honest with herself, she had to admit that she was more upset over the loss of her friend than her fiancé. That boded ill for what would have been her married life. She sighed. Maybe they'd done her a favor, kept her from making the worst mistake of her life. But she still wasn't about to forgive them. She had waited until the next day to confront Brett because she knew she would have tried to do him serious bodily injury if she had talked to him too soon. Turned out, anytime was too soon.

Candy's thoughts drifted back to that confrontation. She and Brett stood in the kitchen of his apartment, a room in which she had spent many happy hours preparing meals for that slime. He was trying to rationalize his actions. "Honey, I wanted you so bad and you wanted to wait till our wedding night. That is so old-fashioned. I was hurtin', ya know, and Jenny came over to ask me something about your bachelorette party. It was no big thing, Candy, really it wasn't. And I was thinkin' about you the whole time, baby." Trying to hold back her tears, she wasn't about to let this cow turd make her cry, Candy glared daggers at him. Her voice was deceptively calm and rational. "Let me get this straight. It's my fault that you slept with my best friend because I wouldn't sleep with you before we got married. So you made believe she was me. Is that about right?" Brett smiled that seductive smile of his that had always made Candy's knees go weak. It didn't even cause a tingle this time. He stepped toward her as he spoke. "That's right, baby. You make me so crazy, I just had to have something. It won't happen again, I promise." The carafe from his coffee maker flew through the air, narrowly missing Brett's head, and smashed on the opposite wall. Candy screamed at him. "I don't give a damn if it does happen again!" A glass followed the carafe. Brett put up his hands to protect his face. "I'm out of here, you low-life slime!" His toaster smashed to the floor. "You can have Jenny, or any other bimbo you can get your slimy hands on. I couldn't care less!"

Seeing his apartment under fire sparked Brett's anger. He yelled at the termagant before him. "Great, that's just fine with me! If you weren't such an ice maiden, maybe you could have kept me. I'm better off without you, you frigid bitch!" Candy froze in the act of throwing a glass canister. The rage inside of her turned cold, freezing her heart mid-beat. She carefully returned the canister to its place on the counter. As she slowly turned back to face Brett, she spoke softly. "Frigid? How dare you!" Her foot caught Brett so unexpectedly, he didn't have time to protect himself. Her toe slid smoothly between his legs and connected sharply with his family jewels. Brett's knees buckled and he hit the floor like a rock. Candy stood over him, shaking with anger. "I hope I broke it! Did it ever occur to you, Mr. Lady's Man, that you don't turn me on? I didn't think so. Goodbye, you worm, and good riddance!" As she left his apartment, Candy spotted Brett's most prized possession, a black tooled-leather case full of the baseball cards he had been collecting since childhood, sitting in its place on a bookshelf. Without a second thought, she grabbed the case and carried it outside with her. As she passed the swimming pool, Candy opened the case, letting the contents spill into the pale blue chlorinated water. When it was empty, she tossed the open case into the pool and watched it as it sank to the bottom. Then she went to her car, drove to the nearest pawn shop, and pawned her engagement ring. Candy had cried herself to sleep the night she had found them in bed together. Now, her tears, like her relationship with Jenny and Brett, were through. She had to get on with her life, not let

she had jumped several feet into the road away from the voice." A masculine baritone came from the darkness at the side of the road. no one would be looking for her in the Nevada desert. Candy looked around for his car.. trying to ignore the pain in her feet.broad shoulders. She turned toward it and saw the outline of what appeared to be a tall man. She had decided the timing was providential. Candy believed she had truly jumped out of her skin. but as far as she could see. he didn't attempt to come any . "Who are you?" Seeming to sense her wariness. there was no sign of it. She figured she'd let her family and friends know where she was when she got settled. hoping it might get the attention of somebody up there. Frowning worriedly.. and that had to be miles in each direction. She instantly became wary. She couldn't make out his features in the darkness. She would have liked to do more to Jenny than tell her boyfriend about her boob job." Candy admonished herself. In truth.the sense of betrayal weigh her down until she wouldn't trust anyone ever again. expecting to see an empty shell of herself fall to the road beside her. Candy realized that no one knew where she was. slim hips. but Candy had seen an ad in the Las Vegas Sun at the library. He had a nice shape . It said that the Excalibur Hotel and Casino needed waitress help. "you're just scaring yourself!" She started humming a tune she had learned in Sunday School. Candy smiled. long legs. "Stop that. She'd thrown all her stuff into her little car and headed for Las Vegas before she could chicken out. she could be carried off by nocturnal predators and. "Don't be frightened. If she expired by the side of the road.

"No. Tone it down!" His angry words were closer to her. "You may call me Dolph. "If he's waiting for you back there. Dolph spoke a little louder. Candy uncovered her eyes . I suppose you mean where is my transportation. I'm enjoying the walk. She could see his teeth flash white in a smile." There was a chuckle in his voice. as if not speaking to her. Candy thought she must be going crazy because she could swear that masculinity oozed from this man's pores. that's okay. He's been known to bring the whole football team out just to look for me. Something was not quite right about this guy. but I really have to get going. let alone tell in which direction it was pointed. uh. She fought the urge to run from this strange man. my boyfriend worries so much when I'm late. She had the feeling she wouldn't get very far. "I need some light. I can't see her well enough to decide.closer. Candace Swenson. not blind her. pleasant sound." he pointed in the direction she had been headed. "why is your car pointed the other way?" Candy turned toward her car. See you. Where did you come from?" He laughed . It's been nice meeting you. What is your name?" "Candy. Candy was temporarily blinded." Suddenly. "That really wouldn't mean anything to you. "I want to see her. Are you in need of it?" The hair on the back of Candy's neck was beginning to stand on end. Suddenly. bright white light flooded the road from the sky like a midnight sun. anyway. all she wanted was to get away from him. She gave a little gasp and covered her eyes with her hands to shut out the almost painful light. She caught herself before she could start primping. She could barely make it out.a deep.

She'd never seen eyes that color. He was taller than any non-basketball-player she had ever seen.and looked up to see the most gorgeous man she had ever laid eyes on. but dark emerald green. clearing his throat. as did the rest of his perfectly proportioned body. His silver leather boots had designs that Candy didn't recognize carved in black down the front. with a small braid framing one side of his face. Candy looked into the eyes of this guy who called himself 'Dolph' and her breath caught in her throat. His eyes were green. He wore a close-cropped beard of the same golden blonde. His attire was strange. not even in the 'you can make your eyes this wonderful color with these contact lenses' ads. Thick as a down comforter. His shoulders and chest strained the confines of his dove grey jumpsuit. As Candy studied him. Not 'blah' green like Jenny's. looked up and spoke . His long golden blonde hair fell below his shoulders. her long legs perfect for wrapping around his hips and guiding him to ecstasy. Her bright. it seemed to have a mind of its own and it wanted to frame her high. five-foot-nine or -ten. Though she tossed it back often. at least six-foot-five. She wore tight black jeans and a form-fitting red shirt that emphasized her perfect curves. Dolph straightened and. They seemed to suck her into their depths and hold her prisoner there. but then so was he. Dolph examined his beautiful prize. From his ear hung a very large earring in the shape of a tiny Siamese cat reclining on a hoop. her face pale and very feminine. It was the color of a white-hot rocket flame. She possessed the most stunning hair he had ever seen. it rippled about her shoulders and hips like a live thing. Feeling a tightening in his loins. curious eyes were a soft grey-blue. taut breasts. Her body seemed made to form to a male's. She was tall.

When she relaxed against him. "Where is that light coming from. emotional trauma and exhaustion were all catching up with Candy. . childlike quality that made her seem very vulnerable. starting at her skin and moving inward until it filled her. pleasant hum. Continue on course and do not disturb me unless it is an emergency. Trust me. She covered her ears in a futile attempt to shut it out. She spoke slowly. He is going to transport us aboard.into the light. He spoke down to her as though she were a frightened child. then see to her vehicle. A lethargic warmth spread through her body. where we may get better acquainted. Her voice took on a high. finding she needed to think about each word. Strong arms came around her and pulled her against a hard body. A deep masculine whisper sounded in her ear. sending shivers up and down her spine." She looked into those beautiful green eyes and although she knew it was crazy. "The light is coming from my ship and I'm talking to my second-in-command." A buzzing started inside Candy's head and quickly grew to a roar. the buzzing quieted to a soft. His voice was soft and soothing. and who are you talking to?" Dolph stepped forward and placed his hands lightly on her shoulders. Candy watched as the Nevada desert that had so recently imperiled her shimmered and disappeared." Fear. when you are ready to accept the answers. "She'll do nicely. she had just met this man. she did trust him. Turning her head away from the solid wall of chest in front of her. All your questions will be answered eventually. "Don't be afraid and don't fight it. who is still on board. Transport us. dulling her senses. Felix.

The bed." Still too dazed to find her voice. Feeling her slow to study a particularly well-done painting. he spoke quietly. Out of fear and a sense of impending insanity she had turned her head back into Dolph's chest as the hum inside her head grew a bit louder. past and present. Candy looked around the room. "leads to the bathroom. Candy took his hand." As he stepped away. was covered by . my lady. It looked like a fairly normal man's bedroom. The walls were a pale tan. not that she had been in that many men's bedrooms." A door whooshed open in front of them. just yell and I will assist you. painted by crew-members. the carpet brown. then softened and disappeared completely. drawing Candy's attention to the room they were entering. If not. Extending his hand to her. others looked as though they had been painted by professional artists.Chapter 2 The next few minutes were a whirl of activity that made Candy wonder if she had lost her mind. "Come with me. Some looked like primitive cave drawings. Dolph chuckled as he gave her a gentle tug. That seemed like the safest thing to do. The basic wall was white but there were paintings all along the way. He lead her through a strangely painted hallway. Candy stared open mouthed as the blonde giant pulled her along. I think you will find anything that you might need in there. "That door." he pointed behind her. "Sagas of life and dreams. Dolph put his hands on her shoulders and gently pushed her away from him. She looked up at him and his soft smile and sparkling green eyes were very comforting. rather large by her standards.

some sort of dark brown fur. There was what she assumed to be a closet, although she couldn't find a handle to open it by; a chest of drawers, ditto no handles and it seemed to grow out of the wall, and even a mirror on the wall next to the closet. As she completed her perusal of the room, she came full circle to find Dolph in the process of undressing. He was sitting in the dark brown chair that stood against one wall, pulling his boots off. His earring was lying on top of the chest of drawers; his belt, she hadn't even noticed that he had been wearing a belt, lying beside it. As he stood and touched the top of his jumpsuit, panic gripped Candy. She had to find out what was going on before it rolled over her like a Mac truck. She stepped forward, put her hands in the center of Dolph's chest, causing him to arch a curious eyebrow, and pushed. It was like trying to push a boulder. He engulfed her cold hands in his warm palms. His voice held that chuckle she remembered so well. "What is it that you want, little one?" She pulled her hands from his grasp and tried to keep the fear from her voice. "Things are going a little fast for me. I have a few questions and I would much rather talk to you with your clothes on. I'd also like it if you wouldn't tower over me like some conquering giant." His quizzical brow arched higher. Nearly at the end of her rope, the loss of her ever volatile temper just around the next bend, Candy pointed at the chair he had just vacated and raised her voice slightly. "Sit down!" Dolph's chin slowly raised and his golden blonde brows drew together ominously, making it quite clear that he did not care for

being ordered. Candy lowered her voice. "Please. I'm sorry if I sound a little authoritarian. It's just that if I don't figure out what's going on soon, I think I'm going to lose it." She sat down on the bed, her shoulders slumping slightly. She wanted to take her head in her hands and let her jumbled feelings have their way, but she realized that she couldn't learn anything that way. Right now, she had his full attention and she planned to make use of it. Dolph nodded, letting his body relax back to normal, the anger at the woman's sharp tone draining away. She was rather saucy, this wench. He had better watch himself with her or they might both be spending some time in the Med unit. "As I told you, all of your questions..." "Yeah, I know, will be answered when I can handle it. Well, I'm ready now. I want to know what is going on. Who are you? Where do you come from? What are you going to do with me? And why are you taking your clothes off?" Dolph had frowned again when Candy interrupted him, shaking his head in frustration, the movement causing flashes of light to glint off of his long blonde mane. By the time she had reached the middle of her list of questions he was standing, his hand sliding smoothly down the front of his jumpsuit. The zipper, or whatever it was, started at one shoulder and ran all the way to the foot of the opposite leg. The grey material parted to reveal a chest liberally covered in golden fur. As he shrugged out of one sleeve of the suit, Candy stood, bringing her hands up in front of her body as if to ward off some attacker. Jumbled emotions caused each word to climb higher on the scale. "Stop it! We're having a conversation here. I don't want..." The big man took a quick step toward her. He grabbed her by

the shoulders and lifted until her feet dangled nearly a foot from the ground and she was eye level with him. His eyes looked like twin emeralds, sparkling even darker in anger. His voice was a deep, angry hiss. "Understand this, woman! I don't care what you want. You are to concern yourself with my wants, my needs. I have said that I will answer your questions and I will, in my own good time. Until then, you will suffer your ignorance in silence." He lowered her feet to the floor and pushed her toward the bathroom. "You have five minutes to prepare yourself for my bed. Do not waste them!" Candy stood staring at him, her mouth hanging open like a dead fish. He raised one hand as if he might strike her and yelled, "Go!" Candy jumped, turning in midair, and hit the ground running. When she reached the door, she realized that there was no knob. She was about to turn and voice a complaint when a large paw, she refused to think of anything about that man in human terms any longer, pressed a button at the side of the door that she hadn't noticed before. Without a sound, the door slid smoothly open. Candy quickly jumped inside and the door closed behind her. In the second before the door closed she could have sworn he growled. Again, this seemed like a normal, if somewhat small, bathroom. A basin hung on the wall to her left, the toilet next to it. There was a glass enclosed shower stall on the opposite wall. Candy sat on the toilet and stared morosely around the room. On second glance, a few important details were missing. There were no towels in sight, and no toilet paper. She thought Dolph was just a shoddy housekeeper until she noticed that there were no towel racks and no holder for the paper. Candy let her head

rest in her hands, the picture of dejection. "Great, I can't even go to the bathroom. I'll probably die of blood poisoning. After I'm raped and mangled by that...that man! To heck with it, I'll drip dry." Candy was about to lift the toilet seat when the loud boom of fist hitting metal echoed in the room. Her head flew up, frightened eyes flying to the door. Dolph's voice rumbled through the door. "Are you about ready, girl?" "That's it!" Teeth grinding, eyes flashing blue death, Candy stood and headed toward the door like a bull charging a matador. When she reached it, her Irish temper burst its restraints, exploding to the surface. She hit the button that she assumed would release her from this paperless prison. As the door slid open, she was already yelling. "No, I'm not ready, boy! I can't even use the can since you don't have anything as civilized as toilet paper in sight. I couldn't take a shower if I wanted to, ditto no towels. And I don't appreciate being intimidated on top of being kidnaped. I suggest you just shut up! You'll get me when I'm good and ready!" She was glaring up at him, ignoring the straining of her neck muscles. Dolph glared back, his senses keenly aware of how beautiful the little witch looked at this moment. Her face was flushed in her anger and her eyes had darkened to a near-sapphire blue. Her hands on her hips had captured several strands of the silver hair that framed her body. Lust and anger possessed Dolph as surely as any evil spirit might. Growling deep in his throat, he grabbed the girl by her shoulders. Lifting her into the air, he turned and tossed her to the bed. Her screams went unnoticed as he tore her clothes from

her sheath hot and wet. he attempted to release Candy's legs. He raised her legs till her knees nearly touched her chest. He cried out in triumph as he . Now. His shaft was on fire. The tension. The slight resistance as her maidenhead gave way sent Dolph into a fiery spiral of passion unlike any he had ever known before. Even her fists beating against him couldn't cool the flaming lust in his loins. the girl's attempts to fight him adding fuel to the flame. was quickly growing. No words known to Dolph in any of his many languages could ever adequately explain the pleasure he felt building inside his body. nearly a roar. violent thrust into her tight sheath of pleasure. Each thrust brought soul-jarring pleasure. his staying power was almost nonexistent. He was claiming this woman for his own. With another growl. he plunged deeply into her sweet body. With a deep groan. Dolph positioned his body to claim her. each withdrawal sweet agony. but he was feeling no pain. Like a youth. She writhed. He reclaimed her legs and leaned his weight on them. Wrenching her knees apart with his large hands. but as soon as he slacked off his pressure on them. no barrier stood between their bodies. While waiting for her to emerge from the bathroom. Grinding his teeth in an attempt to maintain his precarious control over his body. paying no heed to how many pieces they were in when they hit the floor. screaming and trying to claw the skin from his back. heightened by anger and conquest. he had finished removing his clothes. no other would ever know her sweet flesh as he did. he could not thrust so deeply into her if her legs were down. waiting for him.her body. His shaft unerringly found its mark. Dolph threw back his head and gave a last. He didn't want that. she tried to drop them to the bed.

She didn't even believe in UFO's. close encounters and all that mumbo-jumbo. shake or just contemplate the many ways available to kill a man. It was useless. An ironic little smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. a little sound that brought a slight grunt from Dolph. Every muscle in his great body seemed to contract at once. then release. wondering if it were over. cry. In her anger. At the moment. Unless they fell asleep. One more man-woman myth shattered. it would seem that anger worked as well as true love. any kind of breathing was a little difficult since she had what she was certain was a ton of man laying on top of her. Besides. Nothing made sense. completely spent. Getting all worked up again wasn't a good idea because when she got mad. Candy didn't know whether to scream. Finally. Candy sneered. then contract again. She had always thought the people who claimed to have been taken . it hadn't hurt nearly as much as her mother had warned her it would. his passion released him and he fell limply onto her body. She wondered if he might suffocate her. the pain of losing her virginity had been just one more annoyance. he wasn't done with her yet.felt the release of his seed into her womb. Candy tried to put the events of the last few hours into perspective. Candy had always believed that true love would dull the pain. No. Candy lay very still beneath Dolph's sweat-drenched body. She laughed. she settled on the last. They only fell asleep when you didn't want them to fall asleep. Since the others might disturb the hulk atop her. In this case. Besides. In an attempt to strengthen her tentative grip on sanity. she breathed hard. she had already done all of the others while the brute was having his way with her and none of them had helped. Once was never enough for a man.

The bulk above her shifted. She needed sleep. She had little choice but to lay her head on his arm. the barbarian had seen to that. She hadn't studied a road map of outer space recently. imprisoned on some sort of ship on her way to. Now here she was. Candy shook her head in confusion.where? She had no idea.aboard alien spacecraft were either nuts or very clever businessmen. Chapter 3 Candy awoke to find herself alone in the large bed. His arm snaked possessively around her waist and pulled her against his side. if you liked a rock for a pillow. she was pretty sure she wouldn't be any wiser. but she was still too angry. with the enemy within raping distance. No matter how much she tried. the 'brute's' even breathing had lulled her into a deep slumber.. Maybe it had an up side. not willing to give in to hysteria. it was comfortably warm. And even if somebody were nice enough to tell her where they were headed. rolling to his back. she couldn't come up with any answers. Five minutes later. Maybe she was losing her mind! As she laid there castigating herself for having let down her .. And she wasn't certain how bad this situation was. She could not believe she had just gone to sleep like that. There was a warm spot underneath her hand where the barbarian had been when she had fallen asleep. Candy put her hand under her face to pad it. There were so many thoughts dancing around in Candy's head she felt like a disco. but she was certain that she could never close her eyes with this brute nearby. She stifled it. She just had to gain more information. Fine. She just didn't know enough. Another giggle tried to sneak out. She would have started to cry. Even though she was naked.

it was a perfect miniature of a Siamese cat. she took several steps backward. Around its chest and front legs. now I'm getting paranoid. it wore a tiny black harness. Candy loved cats. The deep blue feline eyes stared at her. The tiny beast arched its back and hissed at her! Candy was so shocked. Turning his back to Candy. it was not a very terrifying sound. it moved from its sitting position to an all fours warning stance. It was a beautiful piece. Candy looked around the room to be sure she wasn't lying to herself. . That seemed to be where the cat was attached to the earring wire. all animals really. Out of the corner of her eye she thought she saw a movement on top of the chest of drawers. They seemed so real. the Siamese turned his head toward her and growled deep in his throat. About 3 inches long. Clutching the light brown sheet to her chest. all she saw was Dolph's earring. "Oh. She grimaced. As she reached toward the beautiful piece of jewelry. good." As she spoke. Mid-slurp. Candy couldn't imagine what medium had been used to make such real-looking fur. He must have decided not to wear it today. studded with what looked like diamonds. That seemed to please the little cat because he stretched in that languorous way that only cats can and walked to what looked like a bottle cap that sat near him. he dipped his head to lick up the white liquid inside the cap. The smallest cat she had ever seen had been a newborn kitten and it had been four times the size of this little guy. she suddenly got the creepy feeling that she was being watched. She stepped closer.guard enough to close her eyes. but keeping one ear facing in her direction at all times. Once there. She decided to pick it up and examine it more closely. There's nobody here. she got to her feet and began to make her way slowly and carefully in that direction. Considering his size.

She could see the back of the cat's harness. After several minutes of a strange dance between cat and woman. How the cat and the earring went together was definitely a mystery. Without warning. As long as she made no move to touch him. Then he laid down. He raised his hind end into the air and began to purr. then warily sidled up to sniff her skin. the cat came toward her. The Siamese perked up his ears at the sound. Candy moved to sit in the chair. Candy brought her other hand slowly within the cat's vision. on the top of the chest of drawers. After several minutes of lapping and preening.but Candy didn't want to upset him. claws semi-retracted. more show than true anger. It looked like milk. . She was accepted now. The earring was a round silver hoop. The cat didn't seem the least bit worried. palm up. being careful to keep her hand steady. Candy guessed that the substance in the tiny bowl was milk. Candy ran her index finger down the tiny cat's back. the kind that slips inside of itself to close. It had some kind of connection in the center. eyeing her as though she were a great curiosity. He must have decided that he liked the sound. tucking his curled front feet under his body and wrapping his tail around himself. Once settled. He watched the scenery of the room move by with that lack-of-concern look cats have perfected over the ages. he jumped into her palm. Candy laid her hand. and the kitty was definitely devouring it like milk. Very slowly. tipping his head to one side and then the other. he kneaded the tender skin there. Candy would be allowed to admire the haughty little feline. His whiskers tickled and Candy giggled. The cat arched a little. He paid it no heed. it seemed that they had come to an understanding. With his front paws.

He reached into the belt that seemed to appear only when he removed it or retrieved an object from it and pulled out something that looked like a large ballpoint pen. She needed information and she wasn't going to get it by irritating the big brute. the cat jumped to his feet. she pulled back into the chair. He will let just about anyone pet him. He quickly scanned the room. "Silky is a bit of a slut. "He's very beautiful. One golden brow arched in question. making that sound that Siamese cats call a meow. Then he pretends that he has been forced to suffer through another's attention while he waited for me. He gazed into her eyes as he spoke. The cat didn't rape me. She put on her best I-like-you-in-spite-of-what-you-did-to-me smile and looked up at him. climbing slowly upward until he was hidden beneath the golden hair at Dolph's shoulder. then nodded. Dolph gave a deep. exaggerated sigh.' Candy thought. What is he?" Dolph grimaced down at her. . 'forgive his rudeness. his ears and tail shooting straight into the air." 'That's rich. As he leaned toward Candy. then gave Candy a wary smile. Dolph tossed back his head and laughed. sound. He clung to Dolph's jumpsuit. the tiny feline leaped.With a sound akin to a vacuum-packed seal breaking. "Is Silky behaving himself?" Upon hearing the deep baritone. Forgive his rudeness.' She decided to hold her tongue. unless I happen to be present. He started jumping. a deep. As soon as Dolph was close enough. only this one was black. He was dressed in the same sort of jumpsuit. and surprisingly loud. He noticed her burden. the main door disappeared inside the wall and Dolph strode into the room.

" "I thought you said you had one. there was nothing there." He moved his hair so that she could see behind his ear. "You didn't mention that it would hurt. With a little inward smile. "Did it? I've never had anyone complain of pain before. then he stepped away from her and returned the 'pen' to his belt. of how truly massive this man was. she realized with apprehension. "May I?" Feeling defeated by circumstances beyond her control. and admittedly quite curious. A great illustration." Candy didn't miss the stress he placed on 'that'. But she hadn't asked to be kidnaped by aliens so she wasn't about to apologize for her less than friendly behavior. Candy nodded. It is implanted behind the ear. She pushed her silky hair away from her left ear and turned her head so that he could better see what he was doing. There was a 'pop'. "Once it is implanted." Dolph tilted his head. as though he had to bear so many irritations. you will be able to understand all of the known languages in terms that are familiar to you. He continued his explanation. Dolph placed the tip of the 'pen' against the bone behind her ear. Candy spoke in a slightly accusatory tone. a look of surprise on his face. This will save me that irritation. Although English is my second language."This is a Universal translator. Dolph paid her the supreme complement of asking her permission. she granted that he was probably dealing with a few more annoyances than he was used to. a sharp sting. As far as she could see. His palm went from Candy's temple to her jawline. there may be some terms for which it is difficult to find an English word. He gently laid his palm against the other side of her face. I would rather it be implanted before I begin attempting to explain things to you." . Holding the pen toward her and gritting his teeth.

She glared at him and yelled. woman. tossing her hair behind her shoulders. shook as though he had been defiled. "One more thing. I'm not deaf!" "Neither am I!" Dolph stepped to the chest of drawers so that Silky. "If you will try to control your temper. you low-life!" Dolph looked surprised again. then his brows started to draw together in anger.Dolph smiled. Dolph felt the anger drain from him. she almost fell into the chair. "You don't have to yell." At Candy's narrowed eye glare. Any language that I must understand. The small feline turned and hissed at Dolph. He explained with pride. He turned back to the girl." With a sly glance at Candy. by the ways' when they have to do with my body. You assumed. little one. "I have no need of a translator. "I said nothing of the kind. Candy stood. "Sit down!" Candy was so startled by the force of his voice. Dolph chuckled. I will do the ." Irish blood began to simmer. he continued. I will be able to locate you wherever you might foolishly choose to go. He pointed to the chair and nearly shattered her eardrums with his command. could jump to the surface. agitated by all the yelling. Smiling in spite of himself at the little beast's show of disdain. "You tricked me! I don't appreciate 'Oh. It is also a homing device. then curled up inside the hoop of the earring and covered his face with his tail. I must also speak. his words much calmer now. A dangerous habit. I merely showed you where it would be implanted.

I mean. I can see that Silky is a cat. she didn't have much choice but to ask and take her chances. His eyes were so beautiful. "Even the things that seem obvious around here. I took him. the land masses quite small. If we both make the attempt. Things do not grow so large there. aren't. sleeping soundly in his safe little circle of silver. But he must have gone on one heck of a diet. he is physically the same as your domestic cat. Her eyes were drawn to Silky. The gravity on his home world is very heavy. She wondered if she could trust him. he looks like a cat. Now. "Did you kill him?" ." Chapter 4 Candy's mind was so full of questions. they are very entertaining. He obviously loved the little critter. "Silky comes from a planet several galaxies away from your home. The natives of his planet harness his species as pets. making him look boyish and very handsome. She returned her eyes to Dolph. we may be able to converse for several minutes without yelling. Like. Where to start? Dolph sat on the edge of the bed and arched his brow at Candy in question. As you have seen. if he would tell her the truth. Shaking her head to get her mind back to the subject at hand. she started her questioning. deciding that looking into his eyes would help her determine if he were lying." Dolph grinned. one at a time. ask your questions." It was Candy's turn to arch a brow. Other than his size. When his owner was killed. Since he was the only port in her storm of ignorance. she hardly knew where to start.same.

wanting the truth. Candy leaned forward in her chair. When taken from their natural habitat and brought into that of larger creatures such as man. When friendly. Her words. Dolph laughed and winked at Candy." His affectionate gaze found Silky. I intervened and kept my friend from killing him. liked her. I admired that. the warmth spreading all the way to her toes. He was killed by one of my men." Candy giggled. then started bathing himself." Dolph brought flaring green eyes back to join with light blue."Nooo. His answer had the sound of avoidance. who seemed to sense that he was being talked about. poor little fellow can't get a decent day's sleep. He liked to watch the light dance about on her fiery hair. He sat up and gave them both a disgruntled look. feminine sound. "I did not kill him. When Silky attempted to claw out Bjorn's one good eye." Dolph shifted his gaze to Silky's perch. in a raid. they become very vulnerable. "I guess we're being too noisy for his highness. He tends to get into mischief. Dolph relaxed with the soft. He had made a good choice." Candy's open smile warmed him like a ray of sunshine. He liked that. this woman made him feel comfortable. as now. "I take him along with me when I leave the ship so that I will know where he is. but she felt herself instantly blush. the little beast was merely trying to defend himself. "not that he would appreciate that term. She couldn't imagine why. After all. Bjorn One-eye. "Convince me. He was not used to having his word questioned! He tossed his golden blonde mane like an angry stallion." he dropped his voice in mock conspiracy. .

that caught their eye. They had been ruthless. as am I." He laughed.full of laughter." Dolph nodded again and smiled. and anyone. but I love them. I believe you would call us 'Vikings'. They're so soft and cuddly. but. My father was a raider. But he had said that he would answer her questions and he would honor his word." a sudden thought brought her eyes back to his. She came from Arizona. that much is obvious. "I ask that like you're going to say Cleveland or something. She had read stories of Vikings. thinking that laying with her now would surely make him feel that way. were a balm for his heavy heart. "I believe it was somewhat of a contest between them which I would speak. "My mother was American. "you said that English was your second language. the great blonde raiders from the North that had descended upon Europe in the first century. Now she realized what he reminded her of. Cats can be a real pain. Petting them makes me feel like all is right with the world. stealing anything. I guess I really learned them simultaneously. My father found her on one of her outings and liked what he saw. "Where are you from?" Candy sighed and looked at her feet. destroying almost everything in their path. no matter how much pain it caused him. I didn't wish to hurt either of them so I learned both." Candy stared at him with wide eyes. "As for where I come from. you know?" Dolph nodded. if you mean where was I born--on a ship much like this one. She taught me to speak English as my father taught me Norse. she could easily believe that he . I know you're not from Earth. She liked to take long drives in the desert. "I'll bet he does. Looking at Dolph.

They found us to be the best this planet had to offer so they were going to enslave the whole fleet. especially if they were the ones telling it. Candy narrowed her eyes." Dolph leaned back on his hands. The Captain of that ship asked him what he wanted. but how could that be? "How? I mean. few as they were. from a long time ago. so they couldn't even have stolen it. a fleet of Viking ships was on its way to drop in on our old friends the English and see what gifts they might have for us. the sky was bright with strange lights. respected those who could outsmart us. "How could you be a Viking?" Dolph smiled somewhat apologetically and shrugged. They used wooden ships. my people were sea raiders from Earth. We preyed on all who were weaker than us. All Vikings loved a good story. a grin lifting the corners of her mouth. but I'm sure it's basically true." Candy gave him an exasperated look. enjoying the tale. "I can only tell you the story that has been handed down among my people.was descended from those thundering hordes. And nobody else was that developed. He returned her smile. the greatest race ever to grace that beautiful planet. let alone get to space. "Anyway. We were proud and strong." Dolph grinned. "A very long time ago. They surely didn't have the technology to fly. since the old ones sometimes tend to exaggerate a bit. as you mentioned. A man appeared on one of the Dragon ships. so the story goes. her expression one of trying to understand a great dilemma. I can't vouch for its truthfulness. Vikings come from Earth. . The man from the sky said that his people had been looking for specimens good enough to take as slaves. Suddenly.

then relaxed as he realized that she was joking with him." Candy gave him a dubious look. "Tis true! We're all related in some way. There was mead on board. they fall in love with us and eventually thank us for rescuing them from their hum-drum existence." Dolph ignored her interruption. "Do they indeed?" Under her breath she mumbled." Candy's eyes flashed mischief.The Viking Captain. but we try to avoid that by taking beautiful captives to marry and breed with. Candy felt that damnable blush start again. "So what did your 'distant relative' do?" Dolph was pleased that she had accepted the fact that he was related to the Viking hero. "The Viking Captain." To him. He laughed. that they were equal with their men. anything to keep the man drinking. somewhat hopeful expression lighting his face. she said. huh?" Dolph straightened indignantly. since we are so perfect. Dolph shrugged. Victor the Red. "I'll bet none of them were Irish." Candy snorted. asked the man from the sky if he would be so kind as to have a drink with him. Storytelling was one of his people's greatest joys. "Perhaps. where they would live. and that she was interested in his story." He looked sideways at Candy. He found out that there were women on board the flying machines. of course." . "Inbred. Of course. helping them to run the ships. This was his favorite part of the story. a comical. "Of course. "Victor asked what their duties would be. my distant relative.

They would go mad with lust. then they sent raiding parties to the other ships to take over. the man from the sky passed out. they settled their families wherever they took a liking to the area. he could not trust his men near women of any kind. He suggested to his very inebriated guest that he move all of the women to one ship so that there would be no difficulties. "After a few more drinks. many lives were lost. making sure he knew her opinion of his chauvinism." . "Will wonders never cease? Women actually using their brains. gathered their families.The incredulity with which he said this brought a sarcastic sound from Candy. Using his wrist radio. Victor the Red told him that his men would be honored to be the slaves of these great men from the sky. She smiled and narrowed her eyes. Once there. They took the spacecraft that had survived home. as Victor had known he would. he had watched carefully how it was operated. the sky man did so. ordered that the Vikings be taken to the women's ship. and. "Once his victim was near senseless with drink. and headed out to find new places to raid." Another snort from Candy. imitating the spaceman. "As had always been Viking custom. "They had the women instruct them in the basics of running the ships. he said that to his great embarrassment. but in the end the Vikings triumphed. they had little difficulty convincing the women to do as they wanted. He took the skyman's radio. He continued. What is this galaxy coming to?" Dolph frowned at her. However. No woman can resist a Viking. There are few planets today that do not have at least one Viking settlement. There was a great battle. running machinery.

Her tone was polite. forgive me. His anger hissed in his . Or anywhere else." She stood.. Vikings are nothing but thieves who steal from others because they're too lazy or stupid to. his whole body shaking with barely restrained fury. fear and hurt warring for space in her mind and eyes. for that matter! I think you have an extremely elevated opinion of yourself. you low-life Viking! And if you really expect me to fall in love with you. I wouldn't fall in love with you if you were the last man on Earth. "Please.. "We are considered the most fierce warriors in existence. Always the proud." he glanced slyly at her. Dolph stood to face her. "whoever we desire. her attitude icy. his chest puffing with pride." Candy stiffened. anger. We go wherever we please. Her growing anger was reflected in the slow raising of her voice as she spoke. head. you must be severely inbred. Tiny flecks of dark blue appeared in her eyes as her temper started to rear its ugly. and pretty much uncontrollable. warrior. not caring to give her the advantage of height. her fists clenching at her side.Dolph tossed his golden mane. Those who would make war hire us if they wish to win. take whatever or. causing her to strain back against the chair so as not to be touched by him. the palm catching Candy painfully across the left cheek and sending her crashing into the chair." His hand lashed out. As I have done with you. Candy raised her hand to her injured cheek. He shoved his index finger toward her face. And women secretly hope that a great Viking warrior will take them and make them his own. "Excuse me if I don't consider being wrenched from my home and family to be a great honor. He stood glowering at her. and cautious. feared and respected throughout the Universe. I guess I didn't realize what a great honor you have bestowed upon me.

then leaned over to speak directly into her face. You speak of things of which you know nothing. and by all the gods. "Hold your tongue or I swear to the gods that I will remove it! Your best course of action if you wish to remain alive and unbroken is to keep your legs open and your mouth shut!" He looked at the sheet that she had kept wrapped about her body through their conversation. "You are mine. Grabbing the ends of the sheet where they came together in front of her. I promised my father as he lay dying in my arms that I would produce a son to carry on his name within the year. Candy threw back her head and screamed at the ceiling. "You are the stupid one. Jumping from the bed. ready to battle to the death rather than be ravaged again. Fearing a repeat of his earlier performance. I care not if you approve. girl.words. he lifted her to her feet. He was gone. When she was finally free she came to her knees in the middle of the bed. I will keep my word! Hate me if you want. then tearing the bottom sheet off of the bed in her anger. she . You dare to insult my people? We were sailing the seas. Candy tried desperately to get herself untangled from the sheet so that she could fight him. the aura of his fierce anger the only remnant of his presence in the room. but understand this. and you will do as I say or suffer the consequences!" He tossed her onto the bed. tossing the pillows from the bed to the floor. I have chosen you to be my bride. His yell was truly terrifying. bitch! You haven't the intelligence not to anger the man who holds your very life in his hands. she could actually feel the chair beneath her vibrate with it. while your ancestors were still crawling out of caves!" Candy made a move to speak. masters of all we came upon. I am master here.

then peeked out to see if she were still watching him. Lazy? Every man was lazy on occasion. her silver hair wrapped around her pale body. he wriggled under a piece of her hair. thinking that it definitely . The woman was daft. Deciding her temporary insanity had past. one side of his lip raising to reveal perfect white teeth. then laid her head next to his furry body as her tears started. Silky would conserve his strength and rest. Having no luck. perhaps.tripped on one of the pillows and fell headlong to the floor. Candy laughed at his cute little face. but never stupid. Sobs tore through her young body as though her heart were surely breaking. looking for something else to decimate. he curled up under a piece of her soft hair and waited for Dolph. Easing into a deeply padded chair. Vikings no more than most. Thieves. sending its warmth to caress his tense muscles and bring him a bit of relief from the strain of dealing with that woman. she saw Silky cautiously approaching her. What he truly felt like doing was strangling the life from the contrary bitch in his room! The gall of the woman. Perhaps he should just take her again. Dolph took a swallow of the warm mead. It went down smooth and easy. He knew Dolph would know what to do with this wailing woman. purrs. The silver chalice filled with mead that he held in his hand went unnoticed. watching the stars stream by wrapped in the velvet blackness of space. calling Vikings stupid. Turning. and the rubbing of his body against her face. She lay panting. He didn't really feel like drinking. Dolph smiled at that idea. With quiet meows. Silky tried to comfort Candy. A small sound came from the floor beside her. Dolph snarled. Till then. Chapter 5 Dolph stood at the large window.

How men kept their emotions inside. Never had a woman been able to resist him for long. letting them out only rarely. she would be a wanton hellion in bed. If he could ever get her there of her own free will. 'Not when you take them like some rutting animal. sending him into a rage so that he had lost all control. Dolph slammed the chalice down on the table beside his chair. How men who had never raised their voice suddenly started shooting strangers on the street. yes. and she would want him again and again. She was a nice piece to bed.' he mentally chastised himself. True. his loins beginning to stir lazily. Dolph frowned. he took her. She should have known better than to defy him when he had told her that he planned to have her. He remembered his mother telling him how different things were where she came from. Ah. If he wanted a wench. His eyes took on a dreamy faraway glaze as the mead worked its magic. He dropped his shame-filled gaze to his own booted feet. He took several deep swallows of mead. the silver veil of her fine hair flying about her body as she punctuated her words with her hands. he had not been at his best. How women told men when they would make love. She had also admitted that those same pent-up emotions often made men ill in their body and mind. master of all? How could one little American girl resist him if he set his mind to winning her? Dolph made a sound of contempt. Was he not a Viking. Dolph could see the . his anger easily fueling it to explosion. The flare of her nostrils. How much better might their lovemaking be if she were willing? He remembered the fire in her eyes when she was angry. Even as a child. But the woman had provoked him. pleasured her. His lust had already been stirred. Suddenly. letting his head drop back into the chair so he could better see the stars.had merit.

His stride was confident and full of purpose. They would both have to make many adjustments to be happy. At this moment the likelihood of that was nonexistent. He wished his lovely mother were here to see his bride. Remembering the fire of her anger. told his mother that the woman would have adjustments to make. then stood and strode toward his room. Tossing back his head. His woman wouldn't terrify easily. but by Viking law. as he had said he might. Anger. Whatever was necessary to make her desire him. Dolph smiled a slightly sad smile. within reason. even grief--these were things a man felt. there would be many things that she would have to learn. by all the gods. he would have her for his own! . then warned him that if he chose an American bride. With a child's pride. she had to agree to be his wife. love. Why should he hide them as though they were something of which to be ashamed? When he was ten he had felt that he was old enough to start thinking about taking a bride. His mother had just shaken her head the way she always did when Dolph acted like his father. Dolph had puffed his chest and. His mother had smiled. he would do. Dolph's smile widened and his face glowed with pride. if at all. lust. He didn't wish to terrify her into submission. He was a Viking and Vikings did not make adjustments for women. Perhaps she would have some useful suggestions as to how to make the girl see reason. Dolph drained the last of the mead in one long swallow. He had chosen the silver haired beauty and. She knew it was useless to try to argue the matter. She had laid her soft palm along one of his cheeks and kissed the other. So how was he to make her submit? He could make her his prisoner forever. She told him that he would see when the time came.foolishness of their customs. resting his hands on his slim hips.

Candy sat in the bedroom chair. His expression was one of determination. Candy looked into his face and was again struck by his handsome features. With that in mind. She needed to do something. His golden mane was slightly disheveled. his large frame bathed in the soft. At least temporarily. She stood and surveyed the room for about the hundredth time. gauging the temper of the woman before him. He took up most of the space usually reserved for the door. The look in his eyes was carefully guarded. and possibly her mind. He remained in the doorway for several seconds. his lips slightly pursed. his square chin held high. Becoming increasingly depressed wasn't going to help her. find a way out of this predicament. As much as she hated to admit it. no escape route had magically appeared. mentally reviewing the last week of her life. Nothing had changed since the last time. She would just have to make the most of it. Against . Candy's gaze brazenly roamed over his body. He had opened his black jumpsuit nearly to the waist. she faced the door as it whooshed open. as though he hadn't been too sure of his welcome. nearly blank. determined to clear those thoughts from her mind. all in one short week. a stray lock having fallen forward to brush his forehead. taking in the taut muscles rippling beneath the smooth black material. Talk about rotten! She'd lost her best friend. Not to mention being kidnaped and raped. Dolph stood in the doorway. He stood with his legs braced apart. warm glow of the hall lights. she was stuck. she shook her head in disgust. It just wasn't fair! After several minutes of feeling sorry for herself. exposing the thick golden fur and smooth skin of his chest. fiancé.

He was in a very good mood." She motioned for him to sit in the chair. starting just below the knee. Candy realized that he hadn't taken a breath since she had started her perusal of his physique. I really want answers to my questions. I will try to hold my comments down. his blinking slowing sensually. businesslike. expanding his chest to its full magnificent proportions. intrigued by this new mood of hers. keeping her back straight. judging by the extra strain on the material in that area." She did her best to look into his eyes as she spoke. Now he inhaled deeply. although it became increasingly difficult as his eyes darkened. Candy decided that now would be as good a time as any to try to get on better footing with this barbarian.her will. He smilingly obliged. She intended to . her eyes were drawn to the bulge at the junction of his legs. Candy smiled and blushed a little as she remembered seeing him naked. "I'm sorry I lost my temper and insulted you. considering his height. Raising her eyes to meet his. He was one hunk of a man! Dolph stepped into the room and the door closed behind him. and his face lost its tension. Guessing at this woman's next move could become a full-time hobby. His feet were as big as one would expect. "If you would be so kind as to supply them. one he didn't think he'd mind pursuing. His thighs were as large as small tree trunks. She kept her voice level. Please. fit nearly as tightly as his jumpsuit. Candy sat on the bed. His boots. that old wives' tale about the size of certain other parts of the anatomy being reflected in the size of a man's feet had some truth to it. her arms at her sides and her hands clasped together in her lap. If this Viking were any indication. tapering nicely to equally powerful calves.

get her answers, all of them, before she lost her temper again even if she had to tear her own hands off. She dropped her gaze to her lap and asked quietly, "what is going to happen to me?" Dolph was surprised by the tug he felt on his heart. Her words were soft, tinged with the sound of fear. He wanted to take her in his arms and comfort her. Since Vikings do as they please, he stood, moved to the bed and sat beside her. In one smooth, easy move, he lifted her and pulled her onto his lap before she could voice a protest. Candy raised startled eyes to his. He smiled and wrapped his strong arms around her back, gently encouraging her to lean against his chest. She wasn't at all sure what he expected of her, what was going on in his mind now, but she found the warmth of his skin against her cheek pleasant. And the sound of his heart steadily beating in her ear was strangely comforting. Unconsciously, she snuggled into his embrace. His deep voice seemed to come from within his great chest. With his chin resting lightly on the top of her head, she could feel his breath softly caressing her hair as he spoke. "You needn't fear me, little one. Granted, I am fierce when angered. I know of few Viking warriors who are sweet-tempered. But I have no desire to hurt you. Just the opposite, sweetling. I wish to make you my wife, to give you many strong children to raise." His voice became softer, taking on a husky, sexy quality. "I want to give you pleasure, beautiful lady. I want to hear you scream my name in ecstasy." Candy felt a shiver run down her spine and settle somewhere south of her belly button. His hands were caressing her bare back above the sheet. She could feel his chest expand as his breathing became more labored with his building passion. With

slight apprehension she realized that the hard lump that was pressing against the back of her thigh had begun to throb. She sensed that she had better steer the conversation back to answering her questions or it was going to become more physical and less informative. A tiny part of her thought that she wouldn't really mind that so much, but her logical self wanted to keep him talking while he was in the mood. She leaned back a little so that she could look at his face. "Why me?" Dolph smiled somewhat sheepishly and shrugged. "I wanted someone from the area my mother came from. I had allotted five days to this quest. Today was the fifth day. I examined several others, but none stirred my blood as you do. I'm glad the gods chose to smile on me today." A smart aleck comment about God frowning on her came to Candy's mind, but she held her tongue. "What did you do, just wait for damsels in distress to come into your range, or what?" Dolph pulled her soft cheek to rest against his chest once again. He didn't want her to get angry, he was so enjoying her softer mood. But he had said that he would answer her questions. Maybe being held against his body would affect her mind enough to keep her from losing her temper. After all, she should be feeling the effect of having him so near by now. "Your cars are easily disabled from our ship." He felt her stiffen, then, with a sigh, relax. "When we spotted your car, we took readings as to what was inside. Your readings were in the desirable range, so we stopped your car and I watched you as you walked down the road. I liked what I saw. After a closer look, I chose you." As before, he sounded as though he were honoring her. Candy

sighed and gave her head a little shake. Holding her temper was becoming easier. She was starting to see things from his point of view, Heaven help her. He had been raised to see himself as an all-powerful being. Taught that stealing, even people, was a respectable thing to do. His own mother had probably been booty, for Heaven's sake! Telling him how wrong he was would be a waste of time, he would never see it her way. She needed to understand his culture if she were ever going to get back home. If she were going to survive. Dolph felt her sigh and his expression turned smug. She was finally realizing what a great honor he had bestowed upon her. There were many women throughout the universe that would gladly have given up all they had to become his bride. He was considered very desirable as a Viking husband. There would no doubt be many broken hearts when news of his marriage spread. Ah, well. They would recover. Besides, Viking custom permitted more than one wife, should the need arise. Looking down at the silver-veiled beauty in his arms, Dolph shook his head slightly. He knew that he would never want another. He let his hands slide beneath the sheet on her back, feeling the smooth curve of alabaster skin at her hip. She held tightly to the front of the sheet, keeping it covering her breasts. Dolph was glad of that. He knew if he caught a glimpse of those pink-tipped mounds, his control would become very difficult to maintain. Even now, he was throbbing as though he'd not had a woman for days. This wench stirred him as no other. "What will happen to my car? Am I going to end up one of those mysteries? 'Abandoned car found by roadside, owner wanders off into desert to be eaten by rabid wolves.'" Dolph chuckled.

"Vikings are thieves, remember? We brought your car on board. It has been torn apart for scrap by now. To your world, you have disappeared without a trace." His voice took on a concerned quality that surprised Candy. "Do you have a family, someone who will be worried?" Candy thought about her father. She hadn't seen or spoken to him for seven years, not since her mother's funeral. He hadn't come, hadn't even sent flowers. They had been divorced since Candy was twelve, but she didn't think that absolved him of the duty of coming to her funeral. He should have come if only to comfort Candy. She had called him and told him that if he couldn't have the common decency to say goodbye to the woman who had given him fifteen years of her life, he was not a man she cared to call 'father'. Then she had hung up the phone and cried for hours. She gave a proud little shake of her head. Her voice raised and she became more animated as she explained. "I disowned my father because he's an uncaring, insensitive slime-ball. My best friend isn't anymore. And I hope my fiancé, who isn't my fiancé anymore because my best friend is my ex-best friend, steps on some long-forgotten land mine in Europe, where we were going for our honeymoon, but he'll probably take her now 'cause he had to pay in advance and he's a cheapskate, and gets his precious dick blown off!" Dolph's voice reflected his perplexed state. "Does that mean no?" Dolph's confused expression was priceless. Candy burst into laughter. "Yes, that means no. So, do you guys have some kind of wedding ceremony, or do you just say 'You wife, me husband', and be done with it?"

You . Prisoner or not. "Battle. It will be a quick victory. kitten. at this moment Candy didn't care." He was leaning toward her. You are a being of fire. she wanted him to kiss her. my beautiful lady of starfire. "You are ill-named. his whisper caressing her face and making her want more. I will see that you are safe. one of my men will take care of you. "I will be back.Dolph narrowed his eyes in mock irritation. Candy. then smiled. sending little shivers throughout her body." "And what happens to me if you don't come back?" Dolph's lips rose in a soft sensuous smile.. realizing that she was very proud and not yet willing to admit her affection for him. "If I do not return. what battle?" Dolph tried not to notice how the sheet was sinking." She arched a brow in consternation. holding her captive to his desire. The other side has only their own soldiers. You and I shall have ours as soon as this battle is won. "We have a bonding ceremony. little one. though he was certain that her heart was already his. wanted to feel his lips crushing hers. He stopped within a breath of her lips. You are no bit of sugar to satisfy a man's appetite for but a moment." "I don't want to be left in this little room to starve to death and be eaten by a mini-Siamese!" Dolph laughed. the top of one rosy nipple peeking out. His voice showed the strain. "I am pleased to see that you are concerned for me. have no fear." Candy sat forward and gaped at him. We have been hired by one side of a civil war. He ran his thumb over her bottom lip. his hand on the back of her head. He chuckled. barbarian or not. "The battle we are on our way to fight..

memorizing her scent. she parted her lips. demanded. a kiss like no other Candy had ever experienced. An incessant beeping sounded somewhere. Then. "I must go. like the lights of the gods set the night afire. Afraid that was exactly what she wanted to do. Sighing with pleasure. Star. Have no fear. That is what I will whisper in your ear as I take you to heights the likes of which you have only dreamed." He caressed her cheek with one fingertip.set a man's soul ablaze with your temper and your perfect body. my Star. Star. His lips caressed. before she could get her head back together enough to say anything. He ran his tongue along her lips." The way he said it made it sound like the most beautiful word in the English language. His hand wrapped tightly in her silken hair as he brought his lips down upon hers in a kiss filled with passion. Candy knew that once she willingly let him inside of her in any way. possessed--and yet they also gave. he was gone. I will return. He pulled her to him and held her against his chest for a minute. That is what I will call you. Afraid that she was losing herself. That is what I will yell when I find my release inside your beautiful body. And afraid. Candy thought it might have been an alarm going off in her mind until Dolph pulled his lips from hers with a muttered curse. breathing deeply of her hair. She raised lust-brightened eyes to his in question. she would be lost. Then he lifted her off of his lap and sat her back on the bed. Chapter 6 . encouraging her to allow him entrance. So much passion came to her in that one kiss that Candy felt over whelmed. giving herself to this Viking.

When he stepped out of the closet and saw that she was still standing there. Dolph assumed that she would obey his order. putting great force behind his words. where. his temper threatened. The moment of silent battle between wills seemed to last an eternity. narrowing his eyes and flaring his nostrils in a very threatening gesture. she had managed to use the facilities. His arms were full and he tossed his burden onto the bed in disgust. didn't seem to bother him in the least. He pointed to the bed. Ending the senseless glare . "Don't you give me orders! I am not your servant. woman? Move!" Candy straightened. She now placed them on her hips. as she took a step toward the Viking. staring blankly at the clothes on the bed as she tried to make sense of this latest turn of events.When Dolph returned to the room. He practically stormed through the door. Candy could tell by the look in his eyes that he was in a fine temper. Candy tossed her own hair behind her shoulders and glared right back at him. Candy had just stepped out of the bathroom. I don't intend to do a thing until you tell me what's going on!" She realized rather suddenly that he was naked. anger flaming into her eyes like quicksilver. His state of dress. Rummaging in his closet. "Why are you not doing as I said. She had figured out a way to tie the sheet so that it would stay up and she could have her hands free. She gave him a questioning look as he strode past her to the closet. you know. the force of his anger making the room seem smaller. or undress. having taken off his jumpsuit inside the closet. We must hurry!" Candy stood dumbstruck. "Find something there that pleases you and get dressed. with a little experimenting. He tossed his hair.

All of him spoke of strength and determination. Candy assumed that Vikings didn't wear them. "Very well. A full skirt of some shimmery red material. Dolph explained the change in plans. hooded cape of indeterminate black fur. one red. The pile consisted of: Two jumpsuits like the ones Dolph wore. Candy nodded. Dolph snorted as he began digging in the chest of drawers for his battle clothing. "By the gods. now is not the time. who had been caught staring quite openly at his taut buttocks. . Blushing profusely at his smug smile.match.' she thought to herself. Rather. A long. Candy couldn't help admiring the lovely view of his naked back. 'less to get in the way. but under control. Dolph raised his eyes and hands to the ceiling in a gesture of supplication. "Though I do appreciate your interest. will you dress also?" That seemed reasonable enough. and gave one sharp nod of his leonine head. A transparent white peasant blouse. they didn't mar him. "I am not disagreeable! I merely want to know what is going on around me. Finding no undergarments.' As she selected the black jumpsuit. Is that so much to ask?" Dolph exhaled a sigh. they added to his attractiveness by illustrating what an experienced fighter he was. the other black. And a pair of black knee-high boots with silver designs down the front. her anger still hot. If I explain while I dress. Although there were several scars scattered across the muscular surface. she took a sudden interest in the clothes on the bed. 'Figures. why did I have to choose such a disagreeable wench?" Candy was indignant." His words startled Candy.

" a slight grin flashed across his lips. But the ship must stay in orbit in case one of my men is hurt badly enough to need its Med unit. she turned to look at Dolph. "I cannot leave you and Silky in this small room for that long. perfectly molded to his powerful body. The first thing that caught her eye was the broadsword that hung at his hip. the helmet framed his beautiful green eyes. "one of you would surely cause some mischief. making it impossible for any words to escape her lips. disappearing as quickly as it had appeared. With its nose protector. Silver snakes encircled his massive upper arms. A battle that would have lasted a few days at most. Dammit!" The explosive curse made Candy jump and drop the boot she had been about to pull on." He sounded sad. laced to form to his arms. glowing now with the beginnings of blood lust. A black suede loincloth peeked from beneath the armor. From wrist to mid-arm he wore carved black leather braces. Before her stood a true Viking warrior. "And cost many good Viking warriors their lives. a loop . The sight that greeted her stilled her breath. has now become a dangerous endeavor that may last months. thinking she might give him a piece of her mind for scaring her. But taking in the rest of his attire transported Candy back in time and made the ship seem out of place. and cost few Viking lives. making the bulges there even more obvious." His voice turned brisk. His chest and abdomen were covered in silver armor."The other side has hired Vikings to fight their war. It seemed so out of place on this spaceship. A carved dragon with ruby eyes glared at the enemy from the center of his chest. He wore an intricately carved silver helmet that held his hair in place behind his shoulders. From her position sitting on the side of the bed.

He hugged her tightly against him." Silky leaped into the box and settled himself on the pillow. "Yes. His boots came to just above the knee. He turned and held it out to Candy. he pulled a small box made of silver mesh with a braided black leather handle. "I do not want to endanger you. then brusquely released her and returned to the chest of drawers." he arched one eyebrow. his face reflecting his concern. you also get to come along. but I have no choice. he caught her eyes in his crystal green gaze. Candy could see a tiny pillow of black velvet. His voice was deep and sincere. my lady. Silky appeared at the side of the box. Inside. "unique personality.of leather holding his sword attached to the side of the skimpy garment. "I entrust him to you. Dolph stepped forward and pulled her off the bed and into his arms. Made of panels of silver. a small bowl and a tube." When she took the box from him. You must come with me to the planet and stay in our camp. all of which seemed attached to the box so that they didn't move. But you had better behave yourself or I'll feed you to whatever predators might be found on this planet. He sat it on top of the chest and opened the front panel. Dolph closed the front panel and secured it. rubbing the side of his face against the mesh and making little meowy noises. they resembled the scales of a snake." He held her at arm's length. I swear that no harm shall come to you!" He pulled her back against him in a fierce hug. In an amazingly quick move. Dolph chuckled. "By my life. From the top drawer. looking deeply into her eyes. I would have someone caring for him that appreciates his. I may be in the battle for days at a time. If they would even bother with such a measly snack. .

you will have no need for underwear. making her feel like a little girl." Dropping the bag. I'm fine. Other than that. Food. neither of you will starve or go thirsty. Dolph pulled a large leather sack from the closet and shoved the rest of her clothes into it. maybe a book or two. she retrieved her other boot and put it on. warm bed. "An Earth custom?" Candy smiled and playfully slapped his chest. "I will supply the warmth for your bed." Dolph smiled wryly." He looked at Candy's feet. They would only get in my way. "Have I got you figured out or what!" Dolph heard her and chuckled. causing a loud clang. and his eyebrow went even higher. you know. "A few things. Carefully sitting Silky's home on the bed beside her."I want my two most prized possessions together where I can appreciate them after a long battle. water. "Can you think of anything else that you might need?" Candy gave a sarcastic "Ha!" as she stood and lifted Silky's little box to cradle it against her body. some underwear. my lady. a very loved little girl. something to occupy my time while you're out slaughtering thousands to make the world a safer place for democracy. mumbling under her breath. "As for your other requests. and I shall endeavor to get you exhausted enough when I am present that . Had he expected a less complicated answer from his Star? "I assure you. His voice was a deep purr. a nice. He walked to the bedroom door and turned to her. the other bare. I will be sure that such needs are seen to. he took her face in his large hands and gazed down at her. one booted." Candy grimaced.

I will always have your best interests at heart. Star. and something else that she couldn't quite define. "God. softer. left the room and entered the same strangely painted hall that Candy remembered. speaking more of love than lust. "You must do as I say. but her wince made him quickly ease up. I hope they have the tents up by the time we arrive. The hands that held her face captive began to shake slightly. He meant to hurt her to emphasize his next words. And I'm sure that Silky will supply a great deal of entertainment. Star. he leaned down and claimed her lips with his own. Swords. As they walked. As he caressed her skin with his rough fingers. all were in sight. of protection than possession. bragging of achievements in prior battles. His eyes blazed with inner fire as he spoke." Candy laughed softly." He grabbed the leather bag in one hand and. Dolph dropped his hands to her shoulders and gripped them tightly enough to cause her pain. They all wore armor of one kind or another. She nodded. his words hard and unyielding. You must trust me. finding concern. Do you understand?" Candy searched his eyes. He returned his hands to her face. wondering if she would regret it in the future. he pulled away. your very life may depend on it. The Vikings jived each other good-naturedly.you shall welcome the rest when I must leave you to 'slaughter thousands'. when I say it. His voice was strained. Candy's knees were about to desert her when. This kiss was different. . and wore or carried weapons. anticipating the coming fray. Come. they were joined by other Viking warriors. with a ragged sigh. glowing in those emerald depths. double-edged axes. taking her hand in the other. knives.

For as far as the eye could see. Dolph dropped her hand.Candy was all but forgotten as Dolph joined in the raucous bull-session. The rays of the setting sun shone off hundreds of weapons. There were tents of every color and texture scattered about the field where the Vikings had chosen to make their camp. An ear-shattering war-cry rose to the roof as the Vikings roared in unison. But Woodstock had been peaceful. men prepared for war. sharpening their weapons. drew his sword and raised it into the air. As the crowd grew. When they entered the large warehouse-like room that Candy recognized as the first place she had ever been on Dolph's ship. had Dolph not had other ideas. and began transforming before her eyes into a formidable war machine. he took a firm hold on her arm and steered her toward a black tent with red markings above the door. the hippie music-fest of the seventies. After issuing several quick orders to one of his men. polishing their armor. Everything about this camp spoke of war. She didn't need to lean over to clear the doorway. "For the glory of Odin. The closest thing she could think of was the pictures she'd seen of Woodstock. He leaned down and stepped inside. to the battle!" Chapter 7 The Viking camp was like nothing Candy had ever seen. pulling Candy in behind him. The warriors from Dolph's ship joined with others who had arrived earlier. examining all the different weapons and other equipment of war. the feel of battle lust began to crackle in the air like static electricity. Once inside. Candy had a scant minute to take in the furnishings . Candy's curiosity would have taken her exploring the camp. testing the laces and buckles on their gear.

and tossing his helmet and sword to the ground near the door. He took the mesh cage from Candy's hand. brushing her palm with his fingers as he gripped the leather handle. He set Silky's traveling home atop the black box. and Dolph didn't seem to be in a talking mood. he arched his back and cat-stretched. Dolph wrapped his arms around her back and. In that minute. only this one was on steroids. After lowering the tent flap to protect their privacy. In the center lay something that resembled the black velvet pillow in Silky's cage. walking away as though jumping had been the furthest thing from his mind. Candy's head was still spinning from seeing all those men and weapons. It was probably some sort of storage chest. The little cat immediately jumped from his small velvet pillow and began exploring the top of the box. She wished that he would just slow down a little and let her get her bearings. "Silky!". brought his lips down on hers in a kiss that clearly spoke of his plans for the near future. His closeness seemed to take her breath away. This put Dolph far enough away from Candy for her to feel like she could breathe. though his eyes remained passion-fired. It must have been seven feet square. Silky came to her rescue. "What is that thing?" Dolph opened the tiny cage to let Silky stretch his legs. . Hearing a disgruntled growl. At Dolph's low warning. sending a jolt of pure electricity up her arm and down her back. Candy wasn't sure. Against one wall of the tent sat a large black box of unknown purpose. she saw that it was quite a large tent.before she was pulled tightly against a steel-encased rock-hard body. Dolph straightened and smiled. He walked to the edge and considered jumping to the ground. lowering his golden-maned head.

he looked sideways at Candy." She didn't realize how gently her words had come forth until she saw his eyes soften. the wary hardness replaced by a deep warmth. His lips slowly spread into a smile that lit his face like the sun. Viking!" .. You open it by. Dolph. "Can I trust you to know better than to try to raise a weapon against me? You would only get hurt and damage my trust in you. emotion. Candy realized how natural it was to take his hand. Dolph glanced sideways at Star and said in a playful tone. What would she do with it anyway. "I don't want to hurt you. she muttered." Candy hadn't even considered that she could take a weapon from the chest. No. then faced her. toward her. "This is my war-chest. and I will show you how to gain entrance. looking stern. of course--but she knew that she didn't want to cause him any pain." He lifted his hand. When she did.Dolph turned to Candy. "In your dreams. at least in Candy's mind. She still wasn't certain what exactly she did want from him--except to take her home. extra weapons & clothes. should I need them. "Then come to me. she didn't want his death. my lady. It contains my shield. try to kill him? The vision of Dolph lying on the ground bleeding flashed in her mind. It was scary. Feeling her small hand slip into his. "Perhaps you would do the same for me?" It took her a minute to catch the meaning of his lewd remark. sending a stinging pain through her stomach." He had turned back to the chest to demonstrate. beckoning her to his side. and Silky's battle rations. Instead. His voice was husky with some as yet unidentified. palm up..

She was sure the whole camp heard the yowl of fright as Silky was dumped to the floor. Dolph tossed back his head and roared with laughter. Dolph's laughter increased with the little feline's display of pride. Candy smacked him on the shoulder. The cat didn't notice. come here. his breath fanning her cheeks." His eyes turned mischievous. Dolph grinned and pushed on Star's finger. She could feel the slightest dip in the smooth surface. forcing a giggle from Candy that grew to a full-fledged laugh. tail fluffy. Candy murmured. She grimaced at him. considering jumping again. She gasped as the top of the chest sprang open. you mean man!" She was starting to smile as she hurried to the back of the box to make sure that Silky was all right. Moving quietly. He hissed at her before he realized who she was. When she suddenly appeared at the side of the treacherous chest. "Oh. I am certain it would be a dream come true. then turned away from her and walked around the box and into his cage with the dignity of an English aristocrat. Trying desperately not to laugh. he slipped Silky's mesh box to the floor. . "Are you going to show me or not?" Her words were much softer than she had intended. Silky jumped into the air and turned to face her. back hunched. landing on his toes. Dolph placed her hand on the top of the chest at the middle. He shook himself as though he had been defiled. "You poor thing. He looked into her eyes as he spoke. "Aye." The tent was becoming uncomfortably hot to Candy. "Feel the catch? When you press it. lady.Dolph smiled and whispered. since he was looking off the back of the chest." and reached for him. the top will open.

His happiness was so real. His large hands caressed her face. Gazing down into her beautiful blue eyes. Her eyes held by Dolph's. so innocent. and she never wanted to leave. Dolph brought his hands to her face. He turned their bodies in midair so that she landed on top of him. He wanted to protect her. In his arms. This time. making her feel younger and more free than she had since she was a child. It was warm and safe there. boldly . It filled the air like the smell of fresh-baked bread. picking on a helpless little kitten!" Still laughing. to keep her safe forever. Candy's heart seemed to take flight along with her body. Candy felt as though she had fallen into a deep green pool. emphasizing how small she was compared to him. then immediately rolled her beneath him. His hands completely engulfed the sides of her face. And to love her until the sun tired of climbing the sky. she chastised the Viking. twirling her around and around. Dolph pulled her off of her feet and into his embrace. wanting him inside her.Through her laughter. His other arm held her waist against his own. claiming her completely. If asked when she fell in love with her magnificent Viking. Candy would site that moment as the time her heart opened and let him in. cupping it firmly. He marveled at the smooth softness of her skin. holding her still so that his lips could find hers. He thrust his tongue into her warm mouth. she parted her lips instantly. Dolph's foot hit the corner of the pillow. tripping him and sending them both crashing to the velvet surface. His hand was beneath her head. Laughter turned to passion as naturally as caterpillar to butterfly. They were both smiling as their eyes met and locked. "You are so mean to him! You aught to be ashamed of yourself.

Candy didn't care. Had she been asleep all of her life? With the other men in her life. thrust his wonderful body into hers as he was thrusting his tongue into her mouth.exploring the tender flesh there. "I want to love you. I want to feel your sweet skin touching my own. only to thrust again. And gaining something so precious that she wondered if she were worthy to possess it. Candy arched her hips as he withdrew his tongue from her mouth once again. she would explode in an ecstasy the likes of which few had ever known. At this moment. I would know that you want this. In a moment of blinding clarity. But even with Brett. He withdrew. sending a shiver running down Candy's spine. to feel his hot skin beneath her hands. bringing a whimper from Candy. she thought--no. As she laid her hands against cold metal. Dolph raised his upper body to look into her eyes. something that was of no use to her. She wanted to touch him. Responding to a rhythm and desire as old as time. Candy knew that she would never want another man. That . She couldn't believe all that she was feeling. she had never felt such total abandon threatening to overcome her. I took you in uncontrolled anger before. Star. a small moan of frustration escaped her. She was losing something to this Viking. whom she had thought she loved. He sounded out of breath and there was a fine sheen of sweat on his forehead. Whatever complications the future might hold. Dolph growled deep in his throat. She wanted the paradise that Dolph was offering her with his kisses. she knew--that if this powerful man took her. His armor was a definite problem. to pierce you with my shaft and feel your spasms of ecstasy. which I sorely regret. sex had been a pleasant enough experience.

Now she realized that it meant something much more important than that. Say it. Or at least I feel something for you that I've never felt before." Candy sighed. almost literally. the way you talk dirty." Dolph tipped his head in curiosity. They might be worlds apart. but I think I love you. shining now with a combination of fire and yearning. her eyelids. Star. And you had absolutely nothing to say about it. this was the one she had been waiting for her entire life. And hers and Dolph's were bound together as surely as the sun rises. no matter how much logic was against it. Candy tried to keep the quiver out of her voice.you wish to open your heart and body to me for eternity. "Yes. Candy reached up and gently touched his cheek. but they could overcome the obstacles before . Love didn't care about logic. But I'm so confused. He was her man. frustrated with her inability to understand her own feelings. she felt in her heart that this was it. "Never mind. It meant giving your heart. you know. when it pleased. the way you touch me. It doesn't make any sense. it was a TV show. Dolph. I think I could have an orgasm just kissing you. It only cared about hearts. tell me that you are mine!" Candy looked into his eyes. Giving him a crooked smile. let alone speak them. and her confusion began to fade like dew in the morning sun. Although everything was happening at breakneck speed. You drive me crazy." Dolph leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose. I want you. She had always been afraid that love meant giving up your independence. "This is all crazy. because it went where it pleased. her forehead. I feel like I've stepped into the Twilight Zone.

With a jerk on the laces at his side. savoring the nearly painful sensations her touch evoked. half disbelief. The sounds of love tell all who hear them of your love for each other. I get the idea that isn't a problem around here. or do it?" Dolph pushed his body up and off the field-bed." She just couldn't bring herself to say 'from my planet'. He quickly unbuckled his armor and let it drop to the floor. You think of this as dirty?" Suddenly it didn't make sense to Candy either. "Okay." She shifted beneath him. "Why do you call talk of lovemaking 'dirty'?" Candy shrugged. Her voice was a sensual purr. "where I come from think of it. The joining of a man and a woman is nothing to be ashamed of. half sorrow. he lifted his foot and pulled off one boot.. the ends of his long hair tickling her neck. Dolph groaned and closed his eyes.them if they truly loved each other. . then the other. Standing proudly naked before her.. "Do you want to talk about it. Face to chest with the tall warrior. Standing with the perfect balance of a warrior. his loincloth joined the rest of his clothes on the floor. He wore a curious expression. It's something to be done behind closed doors. so we've got a lot of hang-ups about sex. He ran his eyes over her lovely body. "I don't know. "You have some of the strangest customs. I'm glad that my ancestors were wise enough to leave when they did. you know?" Dolph shook his head. to hide away as though you were committing some crime. tightly outlined by the black jumpsuit that he had known would look so good on her. Candy was certain of it. I guess that's just how people. Of your great pleasure in each other's bodies. Dolph offered his hand to help his lady to her feet. rubbing her leg against his upper thigh.

he continued until the hair became thicker and began to part. he placed her hand on his shoulder for balance. . He felt her shiver when his finger came into contact with the semi-coarse hair on her lower abdomen. he raised his hands to her shoulders and gently pushed the material from her upper body to her hips.Candy let her eyes drop to his feet. something she had never before felt without at least being in physical contact with a man. Candy felt a strange fluttering in her stomach. leaning over him. Testing his control to its limit. loving the feel of rippling muscle beneath her flesh. His body ached with need as he let the back of his finger brush Star's soft flesh. He knew that the suit could be opened all the way to the back collar. but he had gone as far as he could without losing his mind. From his feet to his neck. And lower. The fine golden hair on his chest glistened with the sweat she knew she had caused. and lifted each foot in turn to remove her boots. Dolph dropped her hand and inhaled deeply. expanding his chest and further tensing his arm and neck muscles. Dolph groaned and stood. throwing back his shoulders. She brought her other hand to his back and. slowly ran both palms down to his waist. Lord. this Viking was dangerous. then. Enjoying the near-pain of waiting. revealing more and more of it to his eyes. and reveling in Star's attention to his body. Looking into her soft blue eyes. The feel of his steel-hard flesh beneath her palm made Candy's breath catch in her throat. his rigid erection reached out to her for release. slipping his finger into the closure of the jumpsuit and slowly sliding it downward. Dropping to one knee. lust-tensed muscles pulsed with energy. making her this hot just by breathing! Dolph brought his hand forward. then slowly caressed each part of his body with her gaze. raising her on his shoulder.

laving her teeth and tongue with his own. Dolph made love to Candy slowly. teasing her lips. breasts. he held her. He kissed her everywhere he could reach. tangling her fingers in his hair. Dolph spoke in a voice filled with passion and desire. Star. he had pulled her body tightly against his rigid flesh. As much as she wanted to fight it. He would allow his body to almost leave hers. Before she was even aware of what was happening. then slowly lower her to fill her completely. helpless to escape the volcano building inside of her. neck. the realization that this man was different than . Looking into her eyes. loved her. Each thrust seemed to take a lifetime. licking. possessed her. Lifting her body with his strong arms. back. leaning down to kiss him. exquisitely. muscles bulging with each stroke. driving her crazy. her lips. Candy did as he asked.gripping her bottom in his strong hands as she arched her back. He ran his lips and tongue over her stomach. the valley between. then combing them through. Consume me in your fire. Even though it would seem she had the upper hand. he that controlled the kiss. his own flashing dark green fire. Helpless to stop him. it was he that took her lips. he let her slide down his body. sliding easily into her excited body. nipping. even had that been her wish. put his foot on her jumpsuit and stepped down. And she was indeed helpless. Let us burn together!" Twining her fingers in his glorious silky hair. pulling it from her. As she ran her hands over his face. "Wrap your legs around me. He lifted his leg until his knee brushed the silver hair between her legs. His tongue trailed a path from her right ear to her left breast that continued to burn with his touch even after he had gone on to torture another part of her helpless body. Candy had never felt anything like it.

He was growling. I feel you squeeze me in your passion and it is as though I have been touched by the gods themselves. replacing it with the security and warmth of Dolph's powerful arms. physically and emotionally. She dropped her head back and screamed his name. releasing all the pain and loneliness of her life. and coherent thought escaped her. she didn't know. he started to talk in that baritone purr. the berserker of legend claiming his mate. Maybe one sparked the other. Upon hearing Star's whispered plea for release. declaring to the world that she was his . then yelling. Star. Candy was rising so high. Give me your heart and I will set your soul afire. Spent. lose yourself in me and you will be found. I burn within you as though I were ablaze. oh." In that second between fearing she was going to die. yes. it was almost frightening. Candy looked into his eyes and saw the universe waiting for her there. you naturally felt more in your body. And just when she thought she couldn't get any higher. Whatever the cause. Great shudders racked her body as she cried out again and again. In bliss and triumph. Dolph knew that she was his. then something inside her body snapped. Give yourself to me completely. Star. He was making her feel more than she had ever felt before. and she was lost. his thrusts gaining in speed as Star's muscles spasmed and caressed him with her release. my lady. his name falling like honey from his lady's lips. he let his control disintegrate.any she had ever known forced itself into her consciousness. Yes. Maybe when you started to feel something in your heart for a lover. "My beautiful Star. She whispered his name. and exploding in ecstasy. she fell limply against his shoulder. Her muscles clenched so tightly about his body that she was certain she would break his ribs.

her palm resting on his chest. Dolph sank to the velvet pillow. he wanted to tell her his feelings now. Dolph knew that Star. She placed one small hand beside her cheek. I pledge you my heart and my body. He was wrapped in it. your name that will touch my lips with my final breath. pulling her atop him.and his alone. before the morning light forced his mind to thoughts of battle. my Star." . her arms limp at her sides. as all Vikings desire. "Umm?" Even though she was nearly asleep. he dropped his head back and roared. brushing his shoulders. and beyond. Holding her close to his body. He chuckled . Star had gone limp. soft sound causing her to snuggle against him. now and forever. Should I someday fall in battle. surprised by the sheer force of his climax. he thought how the beautiful butterfly within was his. then a tiny bit of blue peeked from beneath them. he tilted her face upward. "Star. Star was still in the midst of her pleasure when Dolph thrust deeply into her body and filled her with his hot seed. She was barely conscious. Her hair of silver satin spread around him. you are my love. it is your face that I will see as I leave this life. Feeling his chest swell with pride. I will love you. like a silken cocoon. Dolph's legs were betraying him. He wasn't much more awake than she. her legs hanging loose. sides. till death claims me. the muscles shaking and threatening to give way. would remember his words.the deep. being a woman. Placing his finger under her chin. Still. Letting his great body have its way. Dolph looked down at the porcelain cheek pressed against his chest. even his back. and sighed with pleasure. "Star?" Her eyelids fluttered.

"I like the smell of breakfast to be my alarm clock. his actions . He was such a strange man. Then her smile returned. Just before the warm afterglow of their lovemaking had seduced her into a deep sleep. remembering all that had come before their night's sleep. Her voice was that of a sleepy child. she opened her eyes and gazed into the deep green pools that were looking at her with gentle amusement. too. One minute. she didn't regret one word or action of the night before. Dolph placed one hand on the side of her face. Dolph. Had she meant it? Could love happen that quickly? Looking at his handsome face in the light of day. His eyes." Smiling. Chapter 8 Candy awoke to a delicious aroma wafting past her nose. my sweet?" Candy replied in a voice still soft from sleep. "I love you. a fierce and frightening warrior.they all said that he spoke the truth. the only part of her he could reach without disturbing her. Dolph had told her that he loved her. bringing a deep chuckle from the body lying next to her. "Are you finally awake. She stretched like a happy cat. the next. Dolph's tender words warmed her like a caress. a warm and tender lover. Thus protecting her from any enemy. his voice. She smiled and snuggled. he allowed himself to fall into a light slumber. She knew she had spoken the truth . Smiling lazily. she had said that she loved him. too.Dolph kissed her on the forehead. her Viking. What's cooking? It smells great!" Candy ran her hands over the soft fur throw that covered their naked bodies and blushed. told her in a way that would have made any romance writer proud. the other around her waist.

" His voice lowered." he smiled at her. still being prepared. "'exploring' the outer planets." Dolph stood and walked to the door of the tent as he answered her. He was yelling at someone out of her vision. "Much as I took you. "Felix!" Candy barely had time to make sure the fur was covering all the parts of her that she didn't want seen when another Viking appeared in the doorway. "I don't care if he spent the night with twenty wenches. totally oblivious to his nakedness. He caught her away from her people and took her. where's your breakfast? The same place as mine. threw open the tent-flap and yelled out the door. My grandfather was. his handsome face breaking into an . Candy figured now was as good a time as any to start asking. "Why are your eyes such a strange color? I've never seen anyone with eyes that shade of green." He turned. He was several inches shorter than Dolph. Still. the wenches will have nothing to play with tonight!" He turned his attention to Dolph. "I know. there were so many unanswered questions. with dark hair that fell to a bob at his shoulders. He overslept and was late getting breakfast started. I want it done now. "My great-grandmother was not human." he looked pointedly behind Dolph at Candy. It seems that the men caught a couple of local wenches too close to the camp last night and Belan took part in the party. It should be ready by the time you. He reminded her of Prince Valiant. his teeth shining white in his deeply tanned face.from her heart. Tell him if he keeps me waiting much longer. his look making Candy flush with warmth. She came from a planet on the outskirts of the known galaxy.

After the sounds we heard coming from your tent last night. Dolph's voice was thick with concern. Though he lowered his voice. Does something trouble you?" Dolph motioned Felix into the tent. Candy gritted her teeth." Felix nodded. a Viking force joins the other side. trying not to get angry. there were no other Vikings involved. smile. If it is not. Now. "and your lady are ready to begin the day. you know. then decided she'd had enough of being ignored. Candy made a mental note to ask about it later." "Tell Belan that I will expect my breakfast to be waiting when I am dressed. "Who's 'Vierig the Merciless'?" Both men turned to look at her like she'd suddenly sprung from the earth beneath their feet. "You think it's Vierig the Merciless that we battle?" Dolph seemed to stiffen at the mention of that name. he will answer to me. I don't disappear when you're through with me like a well-trained dog! If you don't want me listening in on your conversations.appreciative. I thought that you would be lazy as an old horse. Felix frowned. "I don't like this. "I didn't think that you would be so quick to anger this morning. his brown eyes showing concern. as soon as word of my involvement could be known. Candy had the definite feeling that she had been totally forgotten. something feels wrong. Candy could still hear his words. When I took this job. dropping the flap behind him. my friend. if slightly leering. Felix. "I've been here all along." Hearing the hint of anger in Dolph's voice. have them . barely able to climb from your bed.

maybe under the earth. "And I believe I need to instruct Star on the manners of a Viking's woman. I would be more than happy to lend a hand. His voice lowered ominously. my friend. "If you wish any assistance. each word carefully pronounced. then caught the contagion of his mirth and started laughing himself. giving Candy a very obvious up-and-down look. Dolph's expression was leaning toward anger when Felix suddenly threw back his head and let out a loud guffaw of laughter. She gritted through clenched teeth. flipped his eyebrows at Dolph." Dolph turned his green glare Candy's way and she wished she were back on Earth. "I'm sure you would. Candy was quickly progressing from trying to keep a lid on her anger to thinking of possible ways to kill two Vikings at once. then. "What is so damn funny?!" Finally getting his laughter under control. or a very unlucky one. Their laughter increased.somewhere else!" Both men looked stunned by her outburst. She wrapped the fur around herself and stood. Now go see about breakfast. Dolph glared at him for a minute." . Felix smacked Dolph on the shoulder in a manly gesture of friendship. "You are either a very lucky man. You've reminded me how hard I worked last night. but are you certain that this one isn't too much even for you?" He wiped the back of his hand across his face. giving the warriors a look that was supposed to send them searching for shelter from her wrath." Dolph growled. I know you like wenches with spunk. Felix actually had tears running down his cheeks! Candy wondered if they realized how close they were to death at this moment.

What are you doing?" Her question echoed suspicion. "I hope you know what you're doing. "I don't know why you're glaring at me like that.. Star. and since she didn't like being scared. She just wanted to be included in their conversation. Candy caught herself starting to back away and forced herself to freeze . Using her free hand to toss her hair behind her shoulders. I have every right to be included. Still. but it will surely prove difficult to deal with at any other time. it made her angry." Felix smiled at Candy. He turned to Dolph. You don't get to change it just 'cause you adopted me from the pound. Though the heat of his glare nearly seared her flesh. Dolph was slowly walking toward her. "Pleased to meet you. she decided to defend herself. That blonde lug just kept glaring at her! "It's not like I was spying on you or anything. She hadn't done anything wrong as far as she was concerned. a slightly off-color smile that she didn't like one bit. shaking his head. all I did was ask a question. sighing heavily. Then he left the tent.. "I wouldn't mind a piece of the wench if you ever decide to give her up. And stupid." He nodded to Candy and said. Dolph had not taken his eyes off Star since his declaration of a need for her instruction in manners.." Her voice was rising with her growing distress and frustration.Candy was scared. Even though she was innocent. she was still angry.. she raised her chin proudly. and a bit of fear. pulling the flap closed behind him. "My name is Candy. Pride like that in a woman may be desirable in bed. Dolph." Felix slowly shook his head." placing an emphasis on the name that spoke volumes.

He tightened his hold till she thought she'd surely hear the crack of breaking bones. He was breathing quickly. Dolph's soul was a blazing inferno at this moment. I will not punish you for your outburst. Here.' she thought with a shudder. Since my lack of instruction is the cause of your ignorance." Her flaring temper sparking her eyes. fairly gently. forming a curtain on either side of his face that cast parts of it into semi-shadow.in her tracks. Dolph stopped in front of her and placed his hands. girl. His hair had fallen forward. to do with as I wish. straddling her knees. And his eyes. He towered over her. You are no longer on Earth. but. his seething anger so apparent that for once Candy was smart enough to be scared speechless. Candy opened her mouth to speak but never got out a word. the strain of controlling his temper . I am trying to be patient with you. "Understand me well. He stood with his legs apart. his hands on his hips. His lips were pulled back in the semblance of a snarl. Candy tried to wrest herself from Dolph's grip. I will not stand for disobedience from anyone. If eyes are the mirrors of the soul. on her shoulders. 'Never show fear to a vicious animal. He looked like a rabid wolf standing over his prey. "Silence.. Star. You are my property. Dolph yelled. even though she was becoming increasingly so the closer he came.. albeit with some difficulty. you have only the rights I give to you." then tossed her to the floor where she landed hard on her bottom and elbows. She absolutely refused to appear frightened. No one would come to your assistance if I chose to take you out into the middle of this camp and run you through with my sword. Though he kept his voice low. He looked intently into her eyes and spoke in a firm tone. the sound of each breath hissing through his clenched teeth.

She didn't want him to see the tears that had come to her eyes. again. At Candy's nod. If you want to ask something of me. She sensed him moving getting dressed. the rest of your clothes are in my war-chest.was very clear in his clipped speech. His breathing slowed to normal and he relaxed enough to let his arms fall to his sides. I will show you to the bathroom. "Come. any warrior. looking at it as though it were some slimy creature that had just wandered into her path. They do not concern you. is speaking. I will see that you are told. "The first thing for you to learn is that you are to hold your tongue whenever a warrior. She didn't care. And you are never to interfere in matters of battle. unsure which he felt more like at the moment: laughing or throttling the little wench. ask it in private. Dolph looked at the ground and shook his head. while we eat. "Should you wish to wear something different. he held out his hand to her. she guessed. "As soon as you are dressed. he stepped to the side and offered her his hand." He stood watching as she began climbing into the black jumpsuit she had worn the day before. Candy ignored it. she just wanted him to leave so that she could have a nice long cry. so she turned her back to him and set about looking for her clothes. preferring to gather her bruised pride along with her fur blanket and climb to her feet unassisted. leaving him only mildly terrifying. she walked out of the tent ahead . Then." Candy cast a vicious glare over her shoulder as she closed the front of the jumpsuit and pulled on her boots. Head held high. she ignored it." Again. If there is anything that you need to know. Do you understand?" As he spoke Dolph's anger cooled. I will explain your duties in this camp.

you just pushed a button on the side of the toilet and some sort of air flow cleaned and dried you. Dirty hair was such a turn-off.' she thought with a grin. 'Just like one of those automatic car washes. but what little they deemed necessary to wear was always clean. at that. Opening the lid. When you have finished here. It even smelled clean. She had yet to see one of them with dirty hair or clothes. He had made it very clear that she was little more than a slave to him. She hadn't expected a camp bathroom to be quite so clean.of Dolph. that toilet paper was one of the things that the crew of the USS Viking had replaced." Candy ignored him. she was met with a sparkling white surface that resembled porcelain. he motioned toward it. She had to admit that their way was an improvement. Frowning his annoyance. Well. none shorter than shoulder-length. she expected to see a dark hole in the ground. When you were finished with whatever necessity had brought you to this place. Stopping before a small tent. I will see to our food. Not that they wore much in the way of clothes. but these guys locks were always shiny. She knew she was keeping her mind on inconsequential things like cleanliness to keep from thinking about Dolph's words. return to my tent. quite by accident. Cleanliness was one thing that seemed very important to these warriors. Candy shook her head. A boxlike contraption which she assumed to be the toilet stood in the middle of the tent. A sex slave. They all had hair that she would call long. Instead. stepping into the tent in sullen silence. she . using semi-gentle pressure to guide her where he wished her to go. "This is the toilet. On the ship she had discovered. The bathroom was a strange place. he quick-stepped to her side and placed his hand in the small of her back.

leering down at her. and the sense from his mind. barring her path. A large arm was flung across her chest. But she wasn't going to lay down and take it. He was about to pounce on . Within seconds. Howling with rage. Dolph started delivering punches to his opponent's face and body in a blur of motion. which made her scream and let go. He sounded like he was belching when he talked. It didn't register to Dolph. "Keep out of it. as the war-cry of the Viking berserker. the Viking bear grabbed a handful of her hair and jerked her head back.and took his opponent's fist in the stomach. Wanting to get a better look at how badly Dolph might have been hurt. An inhuman scream of anger rent the air. Candy pushed her way to the front of the crowd and saw that Dolph was in the middle of a loose circle of men. She bit him. she pushed on his arm. girl. she didn't know what she was going to do about it. She finished with the toilet and left the tent. Glaring up at him.more blood. When it didn't budge. another battle. she started to step into the center of the circle. They'll decide who claims ye. a great red-haired bear of a man. Candy decided on the spot that she didn't like this guy. Of course. She looked up to find its owner. fighting with another warrior who was unknown to her. known to all present." Between the leer and the implication of his words. nearly unconscious. It knocked the air from his lungs. except Candy.had no intention of being some man's geisha for the rest of her life. she did the sensible thing. men yelling and cheering. Dolph raised his head. jostling each other. the man fell to the ground. planning to give Dolph a piece of her mind. the sound of his lady's distress bringing pure fire to his eyes . Near Dolph's tent there was quite a commotion. He wanted more . no pun intended.

Dolph spoke with contempt. some shaking their heads to punctuate their lack of disagreement with Dolph." Returning his attention to Belan. realizing that the hands holding him did so only to restrain." . the victory yours. And then there was the blonde. "Dolph. a sense of his surroundings slowly making its way into his mind. We prepare for battle and you insult me? Have you no wish to live?" He raised his voice. He nodded. Dolph softened his tone to one of friendship. Her breasts were mountains of firm flesh. The fight is won. "Belan. At his nod his friends released him. Gritting his teeth. it's Felix. He flexed his shoulders. trying to free himself. Belan took it and Dolph pulled him to his feet. addressing the gathering." Belan laughed. He had no idea it was his friends that held him.his prone opponent when a yell of. "Good. I couldn't miss out on her. More than that seems to addle your wits. "Are there any others who think that I was wrong to bring the woman?" No one spoke. not to damage. Belan. Looking down at the man on the ground before him. then blew the air out through open lips. Dolph raged." Dolph shook his head. maybe you're right. "Maybe you should stick with using only one woman at a time. "Aye. "Grab him if you want Belan to see another battle" brought several hands to hold him. you are a fool. But the one with all that red hair was just too juicy to resist. Belan?" Dolph offered his hand to the man on the ground. "Do you still fight by my side. smiling. he inhaled deeply.

" Dolph turned to Candy. tugging at his heart. Dolph turned to the man who had tried to restrain Candy. You never disobey a warrior! Now get in there!" He pointed toward the tent. more of a sting. "Ulrich.' He lowered himself to the bed beside her and. 'because you have not done a very good job of making it clear to her. 'No. Her sobs increased in strength and volume. ignoring her token resistance. She was opening her mouth to tell her version of the story when his palm connected soundly with her cheek. he lost the heart for it. getting back to whatever it was he'd been doing before the fight began. Dolph came in behind her and closed the tent. so I meant to keep her here. why did you touch her?" The big red-haired bear pointed to his arm. Candy didn't need any more encouragement. "You were warned. She didn't understand that these things could mean her life in the future. pulled her onto his lap and into his arms. "I didn't think you'd want her helping you with the fight. He rocked her in his arms. but she was so stunned and startled that she let out a little squeak. Dolph glared at her. She's worse than Silky.' he mentally admonished himself. but when he heard her sobs. whispering soothing words that she . she doesn't understand. She tried to take a piece out of my arm with those sharp little teeth of hers. It didn't really hurt.Dolph slapped him on the back. He had meant to chastise her further. She ran into the tent and flung herself onto the bed to cry her heart out. Belan started moving through the crowd. His tone was slightly ominous. laughing. where teethmarks were clearly visible.

His voice was soft and slightly wistful." He touched her cheek where he had struck her. I should have taught you everything that you needed to know before you were ever thrown into such danger. more from memory than pain. Though our ways seem harsh. You are my heart and I would die to protect you. I am sorry." he lifted her chin so she would look at him. Still. Her eyes were still drowning in her sorrow. My heart cries out at the injustice.couldn't possibly hear over her own wailing. You must always obey a warrior. love. Everything I said last night was true. the one that can make my life complete. my sweet Star. my Star. he spoke his heart. and his heart tightened at the pain and betrayal he saw there. my love. but I have no time to be gentle. We went on our first raid . "My heart. Know this. "I love you. Dolph placed a gentle kiss on the slightly pink spot. they will keep you safe while I am not here to protect you. When he thought she might have calmed down enough to understand him. And believe me. he continued speaking softly. This battle has forced my hand. Leaning over her. but my duty awaits. his comfort must have started getting through because her sobbing slowly quieted. "I have finally found my mate. We are all there is between you and the enemy." his lips curled slightly in a sheepish smile. Belan's right. I know I have been too harsh with you. I should not have brought you here. Candy winced. You must heed my words. I have failed you. "though I suppose you find that a little difficult to believe after the events of this morning. "Vierig the Merciless was my friend." He pulled her head against his chest and rocked her as he spoke. and I must leave you. you do not want to be taken by this enemy. His breath fanning her brows. but my choices were limited.

As the battle came nearer their camp. everything. "Even as we took up our swords to take our vengeance. "They decided to remove our manhood a piece at a time. continued." Dolph shook his head. They were about to turn the blade on me when our forces broke through and we were freed. He never cried out. "And we were captured together.together.beatings. children. "We won the war and gained great wealth from it. just watched as the hot knife cut through his flesh." Disgust. He is not a berserker like me. they grew desperate for any bit of information that might help them turn the tide in their favor." He gave a small snort of humorless laughter. then sarcasm. He became vicious. "In their desperation. then cast her aside and look for more prey. I could no longer fight by his side. earning the name 'Merciless'. the dark memory shadowing his face. no food or water." a slight chuckle. with a sigh that wiped all emotion from his voice." Hearing the pain in his voice. He knows exactly what he's doing at all times. all the time saying that I could stop it just by telling them anything that might prove useful to them in battle. He tightened his hold on her body and. the battle lust does not overpower his senses. a man I had called brother. Women. "had our first women together. they lost their honor. I could see that something in Vierig had changed. Candy forgot her anger and wrapped her arms around Dolph's chest. Yet he kills everything that crosses his path." Dolph nearly spit the words. The enemy tortured us both ." His tone darkened. Vierig was a strong warrior. Many of his victims have bled to death from his tender . they removed half of the sack that holds his seed. tinged his words. but neither of us would tell them anything. "I have seen him savagely rape a young girl repeatedly until her blood ran freely. Forcing me to watch. but Vierig was never the same.

He failed. but we came to blows many times before I left. Words would have to do. his pride giving him the need to appear unaffected. He was my friend. They probably would have killed you both if you'd talked. She let her hand drop casually to his shoulder. as I had made his. "When I told him I was going to fight with another raiding party." Candy had to say something. "That was when I realized that he blamed me. He spoke with anger." He paused. Dolph. "You couldn't have stopped them.lovemaking. but we both nearly died from our wounds. It was just the luck of the draw that they did it to him first. drew steel and tried his best to kill me. he vowed that he would do everything in his power to make my life a living Hell. "I would gladly have changed places with him to save him. then continued in the soft tone of memory. I loved him as a brother. since he had made it quite clear that he didn't want to be touched at the moment. The time for ending this is close at hand. Dolph's words reached the center of Candy's heart. he said that I saw him as only half a man and could no longer stand to fight beside my creation." . to offer him some comfort that he would accept. It is not the Viking way to interfere in such things." Candy raised her hand. Now he commands a force against me. I would have found a way to beat the enemy before they had destroyed him. That if I had been half the warrior I thought I was. I would have laid down my life for him. I'll bet he wouldn't have talked to save you. echoing his pain and surprise." Softer still. "He tried to stop me." He spoke in an emotion-choked whisper. meaning to place it on his cheek. Before I left. but he stiffened.

"If he were to capture you. "'Harsh?' Is that your word for it? You obviously have a penchant for understatement. fear. smiling at her anger. her hair a silver cape flying about her shoulders.. she didn't want her to get hurt either.He leaned back and lifted Candy's face. silently commanding her gaze to meet his own. but she would have to accept them anyway. Dolph heard them and smiled.." He hugged her so fiercely that the breath left her lungs. and took several steps in his direction. 'Slavery' is more like it! Dogs . he might learn that you are mine. Though her words were muffled by his chest. Okay. her eyes flashing blue fire in her anger. If anything happened to you. "Okay. He didn't want her to get hurt. He would take great pleasure in using you to take out his vengeance on me. His words were a passionate plea. "I warned you that our rules might seem harsh. my Viking warrior. Maybe knowing all the rules would be a good idea. He would have to try harder to keep his mind on the conversation. and love. how about a crash course in the etiquette of a Viking's woman?" Chapter 9 "You've got to be kidding!" Candy was pacing back and forth in front of Dolph. You must be very careful. or he would lose control and pull her beneath him. my love. Candy understood a little better his motives for being such an autocratic bastard." She spun toward him. she was so beautiful. He had known that she wouldn't like the rules. who lounged on the field-bed. His eyes shone with anger. with her hair flowing down to the sweet curve of her backside. Ah.

Pushing aside the urge to strangle him.feed him. And last.' His answering grin showed that he was not suitably impressed." She held her hands in front of her. he knows more about everything than little ol' me. but not least. She started pacing again. I am an intelligent woman of the nineties." this through gritted teeth. She was nearly yelling at him now.have more rights!" "Dogs are better armed and able to protect themselves. gracing him with her 'glare of death." Candy narrowed her eyes. Did I forget anything?" Dolph shook his head. counting off the rules on her fingers. I can even walk and chew gum at the same time. "any warrior in this camp. making sure that all of your gear is ready at a moment's notice. You're treating me like a two-year-old!" Dolph stood and grabbed hold of her shoulders. "I obey. Candy's voice had risen with her ire. I get 'punished'. "Second. if I disobey or if I don't do any of the things that I'm supposed to. trying to keep the smile from his face. whatever that means. see that he has water. I do so without question because. Fourth. but Candy wasn't finished and she was not in the mood to be interrupted. I'm supposed to keep this tent spotless. I take care of Silky . "Let me see if I've got this straight. effectively . I can read. you wanted a Cocker Spaniel. I should be available for your entertainment any time of the day or night that you choose to stop playing warrior and come home for a little R & R. of course. unspoken. I graduated high school. Third. but definitely implied. she continued." Dolph started to speak. "You're completely out of your mind! I think you picked up the wrong species.

he tossed the Bible to her. Exasperated." Dolph raised his hand." Candy frowned at him and threw the book onto the bed. if you ask me. She caught it. His eyes flashed green ice." He raised another book. pointing at her face. from the bed and began reading. her hair brushing the length of him as she spun away. read that to me. she saw pictures. this one bound in fine leather. You are as a child in this camp. trying not to anger her further. "Right. woman!" Candy glared right back at him. And the earth was without form. can't get me. "Woman of the nineties. so the big. . he walked to his war-chest. He kept his voice level. She glowered up at him. paintings and something that might have been words. I'll bet you couldn't read Cosmopolitan either." Candy slapped his hand from her shoulder. "None of your independent woman trappings matter here. God created the heaven and the earth. It looked like a book. and void. which he placed on the bed. bad Vikings. she caught it. now there's a mind-boggling concept. as opposed to the good Vikings. she took several steps. Surprised. Dolph's irritated tone brought her attention back to his face. "That's not fair and you know it. Then he tossed something to her. opened it and removed several items. then turned and threw her hands into the air. Opening it. "Do not take this lightly. Tell me what it says. With her back to him. "In the beginning. and darkness was upon the face of the deep." With a superior smile.stopping her pacing. It sounds like a typical male plan to keep the little woman barefoot and pregnant. You know next to nothing. You must do as I say to keep safe.

she jumped to the bed and pulled the dagger." She threw the Bible back on the bed. "I'm sure that I could learn to read your language. Looking sly. if the people we fight use other weapons. a practical situation. I think I can handle the practical stuff. I doubt the enemy is going to demand that I compete in a spelling bee. On it were the books that they had dealt with earlier. "Vikings generally fight with blades because we prefer the personal touch. What would you do?" Candy looked at the bed." Candy raised her chin. "Very well. "I thought you guys were strictly in to sharp metal material. Quickly regaining her feet. Candy sighed. An unarmed . Dolph walked to the door of the tent and turned toward her. We have taken the camp and I have a gun.glaring at him. tossing her hair and." Dolph's expression changed from that of instructor to that of antagonist. "What? What did I do wrong?" "You must never pull steel on a Viking warrior. we will take them as booty and use them if we desire. "I am the enemy. Besides. Dolph's shield. she held the small blade in front of her. I don't think this is exactly the kind of situation that will require much reading. I am an enemy warrior. and a small dagger. What do you do?" Candy arched an eyebrow sarcastically. if possible. French." Dolph shook his head. If 'Cosmopolitan' can be found in any of those. "My mother taught me to read and speak English. I have a laser weapon. looking exasperated. deepening her glare. I assure you I would have no difficulty reading it. Dolph was shaking his head. Spanish and a little German. However.

You must obey the rules. "Lasers cannot penetrate a Viking shield. my love." Dolph stepped back a little so that he could see her face. That'd make you sit up and take notice. she placed her forehead against his chest." Candy stamped her foot. He was so warm. You know very little of the world you find yourself in. I and my men will protect you while you learn the ways of your new home and people.woman will be taken and put to good use." "Then you would have a very angry warrior. Giving in to the urge to giggle at herself. She looked up when Dolph moved. She realized how childish she sounded right about the time he started to chuckle. "You Viking warriors are all cocky as hell. desiring nothing more than to hurt you. enjoying the hard thud her knuckles made against the steely muscle. depending on the patience of the warrior. . tossing the dagger back on the bed. narrowly missing his." He put the shield back on the bed and pulled her into his arms. what good would that be against a gun?" Candy grinned. When you tried. armed with blade and gun. only as an attempt to protect yourself. You wouldn't shoot me. With a mumbled. "You see. I'd let you have it with my knee. Not a very clever battle strategy. and she didn't like it. Besides. She felt very much the child. so hard. And a Viking will not see it as a threat." He had her there. but an armed woman will be hurt. His smile was very humoring. Candy hung her head dejectedly. and might be killed. "I hate rules! Especially your rules. you are a great deal like a two-year-old. He came to the bed and held up the shield. "Oh!" she balled her hand into a fist and hit him softly in the chest. You'd have to prove your manhood by taking this little knife away from me.

did sensual battle with her own. sending the most delicious chills down her spine. a quizzical expression on his face. realizing what was taking place inside. when she parted her teeth. And here in his arms. He took the hint. wrapping her arms around his back. she was going to kill Felix. Candy could see the gleam of silver. He is in his tent. wanted. . She felt herself being lowered to the bed. Was it worth obeying all his stupid rules. He paused. when he least expected it.so very sexy. then continued into the tent. Heaven was just around the corner. The tip of his tongue flitted over her teeth. Once again." "What news does he bring?" Felix held out his hand to Dolph. raised her face to his. Seeing Felix. Candy was a nonentity. coaxing her with his tongue until she parted her lips. then. Dolph took it. This was one war that Candy didn't mind losing. he quickly stood and faced his friend. Candy shivered and. His hands were beginning to make little circles on her back. allowing him entrance. Or at least maim him! Dolph raised his head and scowled at the intruder. performing all his mundane tasks to have this feeling? Maybe. The jury was still out on that one. There was some sort of pouch resting in his palm. she felt safe. Dolph raised his eyes to his second in command. Candy decided at that moment that some day. Dolph sounded alarmed. loved. "One of our scouts has just returned. slowly caressing her lips with his own. The tent flap was suddenly thrown open and Felix appeared in the entrance. Dolph's strong arms holding her safe and secure. opened the pull string and poured the contents into his hand. "What is it?" Felix's tone was equally grave.

A look of horror spread slowly across his face. "Will the man live?" Felix shrugged. When he spoke again. wanting the denial that he knew would not come." "I will speak to him.. He will fight by my side and claim his vengeance from the enemy tenfold! What is their troop ." Dolph looked at the small leather pouch that he still held in his hand. He told the scout that the thirty pieces of silver are in honor of your Christian mother.. Dolph threw back his head and roared." he shook his head. "I don't know. But his pride. running his hand through his deep brown hair.' They wanted no information. his voice boomed like thunder. Felix dropped his eyes to the ground and gave one sharp nod of his head. throwing the pouch. He began pulling on his armor. He raised his head and looked Dolph in the eye. "The scout was captured. he lost very little blood. "Tortured? What information did they seek?" Felix's complexion grew darker with his anger. "Vierig is their leader. gathering his weapons. 'By tomorrow's sunrise. his discomfort apparent. so hard against the side of the tent that the whole structure shook. Vierig said that he would send his most prized possession to you and replace it with one from your man. tortured and released. his anger building with each passing moment."Has this some meaning?" Felix sighed heavily. "The wound was closed. The message was. grabbing Felix's arm." Dolph stepped forward. He was given a message to give to you. He cast eyes filled with agony to Felix. the torture was part of the message. and the small pieces of silver. one of us will pay for their crimes..

even if she had to wait forever. "I love you. And it is I who go to fight the devil.strength?" "As far as we can tell. his warrior's eyes softened and a gentle smile tugged at his lips. Star. She could feel the edge of his shield against her back. equal to ours. Say all those mushy things like he did. He was so open with his words. my love. until I thought of life without you. still told of all the love and devotion he pledged to her. She returned it with equal passion. pinning her in the metal cage of her warrior's arms. He hadn't grown up learning to be diplomatic. "You know the rules. His whispered words touched her heart as his breath touched her lips. He was every inch the fierce Viking warrior. His tone softened the tiniest bit. Candy looked up into his face and was suddenly struck with the realization that she might be seeing him for the last time. How she wished she could tell him how she felt. Never!" His lips came down on hers in a kiss that." Dolph had claimed all of his armor and weapons. wanting him to know that she would be waiting for him. he turned to Candy. If you get yourself killed. How she looked to anyone but him didn't matter a damn. Obey them!" In two great strides he came across the tent and pulled her hard against his armor-plated chest. Your love will help . "I swear he will never touch you. "I never believed in Hell. worrying about sounding stupid or being rejected. Slipping his left arm through the leather strap of his shield. who had risen to stand next to the bed. I will love you forever. I swear I'll follow you to Hell and fight the devil to get you back!" For just a minute. Dolph. though anything but gentle.

And wondering where Dolph might be at this moment and what danger he might be facing only brought to her very imaginative mind visions of his body. "My name is Star.Odin to guide my sword. Chapter 10 After lying on the bed crying her eyes out for an indeterminate amount of time. I will return to you. "I will guard his back. then released her. He and Felix both turned. taking one last look at her Viking warrior. around here? Perish the thought. a smile on his lips that didn't quite meet his battle-ready eyes. lying in a ditch somewhere. Candy ran to the door and yelled. I stand corrected. as you guard his heart." He followed in Dolph's footsteps out the door. stepped back into the tent so that he wouldn't see her cry. Dwelling on the strange turn her life had taken in the space of a couple days would only make her crazy. That brought a smile to her lips. Sniffling." Star nodded and. Candy decided she was not going to wallow in her misery. she could see his eyes grow cold and his back stiffen. Normal. Felix bowed his head to her. sweet Star. If this place even had ditches. Candy smiled. I swear it!" He kissed her once more. his smile reflecting his respect for his friend's woman. she wondered if there were any Kleenex to be found . milady Candy. Viking. Felix bowed his head again. trying to ignore the pain of unshed tears tearing at her throat. "Milady Star. and don't you forget it!" Dolph seemed to stand a little taller. broken and bleeding. As he turned to leave. "Star!" Dolph was still within hearing distance. Enough! Maybe she could find comfort in order and normality.

the only place would be in the war-chest. gritting teeth . proud of herself for performing one of her primary functions in this camp . The memory of Dolph teaching her to open it almost brought on another bout of waterworks. The logical place would be in Dolph's war-chest. Noticing the empty spaces. Candy disgustedly wiped her nose on the sleeve of her jumpsuit. She returned the unsoiled handkerchief to its place on the top shelf. Candy chided herself out loud. some empty spaces. The inside of Dolph's war-chest was very orderly. Candy sighed. and a man at that. several doodads the function of which Candy had no idea. She would have to remember to complement Dolph on his taste in accessories. and what looked to be a stack of handkerchiefs. Whenever that would be. Another round of clenching fists." Since it had reached critical mass. The jet-black cloth felt like silk and resembled very finely woven cotton. Shaking . She took them from the bed and replaced them in the chest. but she managed to get herself under control by imagining how her face looked when she cried.around here. She pulled one from the top of the pile and quickly blew her nose before it could drip on anything important. Those weird symbols that Candy assumed was the Vikings' writing were scattered in red on its surface. "Dummy. surprised that a Viking.keeping his tent neat and tidy. holding breath. rose from the bed and walked to the chest. The top shelf contained Silky's rations. and was determined to be looking her best when Dolph returned.crying jag abated. Then she folded the handkerchief and put it in her pocket so that she could examine one of the others. She knew she looked awful at this minute. would have something so logical as a handkerchief. It was actually quite pretty. Candy remembered Dolph's dagger and books.

There was some kind of symbol carved or stamped in the center of each. At the moment there wasn't much there since Dolph had been wearing his armor and carrying his shield. Just a couple extra jumpsuits. "Typical man. It fit in the palm of her hand with room to spare. Remembering what had been implied by Vierig. Maid service was not one of the things she had planned to do with her life. Men!" She knelt by the side of the tent that Dolph had assaulted with the leather pouch. he figures he can do anything he wants and let her repair the damage." Candy's eyes were drawn back to the discs' original container. I'd be worried if I did recognize it. a spare loin cloth. Candy wondered what the little silver discs were. Candy touched the button and watched as the top shelf slid quietly into place.her head. Candy wondered if she had already lost her mind. The leather was soft and supple. Candy noticed the gleam of silver against one wall. a very light pinkish-tan in color. Holes had been cut near the top . They looked like sterling silver BB's that had been flattened by a car running over them. but she had no idea what it meant. By pressing the button on the side of the top shelf. she gingerly picked up the small pouch. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that he had been telling the truth. He has a woman to pick up after him. It lay where he had thrown it. the tiny pieces of silver scattered all around it like guards that had fallen in the act of protecting it. and the rest of the clothes that Dolph had given her. she made the shelf raise and shift backward over the open lid to reveal the large compartment below. She smiled and threw her hands into the air in a gesture of mock frustration. "Big surprise. Looking around.

blushing a deep red. He smacked his legs and backside with his hands. She stepped forward and offered the boy her hand as she stammered an apology. . then returned it to her pocket. wiped her hands with it. The top edge was jagged and looked like it had been burned. all thirty of them. nestled next to the pile of handkerchiefs.. Just holding it made Candy feel slightly queasy.. knocking the dirt from his sleeveless forest green jumpsuit. Realizing about two seconds too late that that was not a great idea. and dropped them into the pouch. but she was happy just to have someone to talk to. Looking more closely. she dropped the pouch into the chest. gosh. Feeling somehow defiled.and a leather drawstring threaded through to close it. What kind of person would keep his own body part as some kind of change purse? She didn't want to think about it. Candy could do nothing but watch as the flap hit the boy in the face. Candy decided some of that color was caused by anger. She couldn't keep from shuddering as the smooth leather slid from her hand. And if the kid was calling her Star. he must know Dolph. He regained his footing quickly. That might mean a chance to get to know more about the man she loved. "Star?" It sounded like a young boy. Candy ran to the tent entrance and threw up the flap. "Oh." The boy ignored her outstretched hand. He looked at her with eyes. Candy pulled Dolph's handkerchief from her pocket. I'm sorry! I didn't think. knocking him backwards into the dirt. She must have been a little spooked because she jumped when the tent flap wiggled and someone spoke to her from the other side. Quickly pulling the drawstring tight. She quickly gathered the silver pieces together. Candy didn't recognize the voice.

He looked about thirteen." There went the Irish again. that nearly matched his suit. though his attitude was thirteen going on forty. He wore an earring in one ear. His shoulder-length strawberry blonde hair was tied in a ponytail at the base of his neck. and silver armbands on both arms. woman? Can't you even leave my brother's tent without causing someone damage?" Candy smiled and gave the kid the once-over. before you interrupted . Oh. too-young-to-shave little pimple like you! I am neither 'useless' nor 'a bit of fluff'. he was Dolph's little brother all right. I'll have you know that I just finished cleaning your brother's tent. but I sure as hell do not have to take it from an undropped. Candy smiled. yes. crossed his arms over his chest and deepened his glare. and. little boy. he drew himself to his full height. a small silver dragon. you Viking runt. an inch or two taller than Candy. Except perhaps the sense to find a good woman to fulfil his promise to our father. "Do you ever think. "I am not a little boy! And there is nothing lacking in my brother. lack of manners being the first thing that comes to mind." A typical boy approaching manhood. periodically punctuating her words with a poke to his chest.narrowed now in anger. His insolent stance reeked of male pride and arrogance. his words were adult enough. and the look. "You listen to me. Candy stepped forward and angrily pointed her finger at him. that this boy was related to Dolph. instead of some nearly useless bit of fluff. His black boots had green symbols down the front. Though his voice still had the high timbre of youth. Candy knew instantly from the color. "You have a lot in common with your brother. I may have to take that crap from 'warriors'.

I was on my way to explore this camp so I'll know where things are in case he needs something." He nodded as though he had just solved some great dilemma. "Get out of my way.?" A blush spreading across his fair cheeks. His voice softened." Candy rolled her eyes heavenward. and raised her flexed palms to the sky. She narrowed her eyes at him. "What are you smiling at?" He shrugged. twerp. "I now understand what Dolph sees in you." Attempting to step around the boy. You will please him in bed and give him strong children. for that matter? I bet you're not even old enough to see R-rated movies without your mommy. What is your name. Exasperation rang in her tone. or women. Well. kid. I know. you haven't the foggiest notion what I'm talking about. anyway?" "My name is Kirk. Candy snarled. full of passion. I sound like Suzy Homemaker." She held her hands out in front of her. a combination of embarrassment and affec- . "As in James T.me. Lord. he looked at the ground." She cast her eyes heavenward. that's about how much you know about passion. as though to ward him off. "Oh. "My brother chose wisely. "I know. "And what do you know about passion. You are a fiery woman. the boy's arrogant smile nearly cost him a bloody nose." Candy's temper having already been tweaked." Candy could not believe what this little boy had just said to her.

Dolph's full name is Randolph Roarkeson. She gave him many scars. She thought it was ironic timing and she liked the name. as though he were talking to an unschooled child. Candy wanted to reach out and . Roarke 'The Tamer'." He raised both eyebrows." Candy spoke in a near whisper. realizing if she really wanted to know these things she would have to put up with Kirk's patronizing attitude. "Satisfied?" "Why 'The Tamer'?" Kirk smiled. looking very proud. She did not wish to be taken." Pain softened his voice. "Our father's name was Roarke Thorson. assumed that he just didn't want to answer." "So who's Dolph named after. mine is Kirk Roarkeson.tion coloring his words. "A new television series had begun the year my father took my mother. Candy knew he'd heard her. He sniffed and looked up. "No. For a minute he said nothing. which he displayed proudly. and his eyes took on a faraway look." "You guys only have one name?" Kirk placed his hands on his hips and his tone became humoring. "Father earned that name after he captured my mother. not wanting to increase his obvious pain. "Was?" Kirk lowered his eyes to the ground. "Mother was a great lady. Adolph Hitler?" Kirk looked up at her with narrowed eyes. Dolph is named for my mother's father. so she called me Kirk. Candy gritted her teeth. His beautiful green eyes were swimming in tears.

she didn't have to take that chance. Dolph tried to interest him in raiding. anything. Dolph heard news of someone wanting to hire Vikings to settle some little disagreement. You . hunting. She'd already had seven children. Dolph pulled him from the battle and guarded him as he died. He fell on the field." He kicked some imaginary rock. He said Dolph was worse than an old woman. It was just too early. "Father's dying wish was that Dolph would find a woman to give him the years of pleasure that our mother had given our father. "After mother drew her last breath." He shook his head. then looked back at the ground. but she figured if she tried he'd get embarrassed and bite her head off." Anger. father took the little one. "Father was never the same after that. Father joined in the battle. "The doctor's told her that she was too old. Dolph was so happy to find something that father wanted that he quickly arranged the trip. "She bled to death in our father's arms while trying to give birth to our little sister. choked with emotion. he continued his story. held her close. Dolph gave his word. She was dead by morning." He looked at her with calculating eyes. trying to give her the strength from his own body. On the way. He was more than content with the seven sons she had given him. His young voice was quiet. His eyes had lost the fire of life. hurt and confusion gave his words more strength. With a heavy sigh. and they had all been difficult for her. He wanted his sons to see their mother's homeland. but he no longer had the spirit. The only thing Father showed an interest in was returning to Earth. and father went to Valhalla in peace. Foolish woman. But she insisted on one more try to give my father a daughter.hold him.

Kirk straightened and pulled away from her. Candy pulled him into her arms and held him. He looked thunderstruck as his eyes met hers. holding two corners. She could feel his chest heaving with great sobs. were such strange creatures. Men. and that made her cry harder. She didn't think so. Candy reached into her pocket and produced Dolph's handkerchief. Tears were running down her own face. just acting on instinct. "I thought you might need a handkerchief." She brought the cloth to her nose." He sounded so forlorn. trying to straighten it." Sadness won. Tears gathered at the corners of his eyes. I know I do. As she reached forward to wipe Kirk's face he grabbed her hand. "What are you doing?" Candy gave him a questioning look. letting their pride tell them exactly how much emotion was allowable. and she wondered if there had been anyone there to hold him while he cried out his grief for his lost parents. "I miss her.are to be that woman. then flooded over to streak down his cheeks." He clenched his fists at his side. Candy saw a younger Dolph in Kirk. His voice was full of amazement. shook the cloth in the air. Without thinking. Kirk quickly tore the 'handkerchief' from her hand and. . "Why did she have to try again? We were all content with the family we had. wiping the back of his hand across his face. even very young men. sadness fighting with anger for space in his eyes. intending to blow into it. Though he tried hard to be a great Viking warrior. staring at the handkerchief in horror. yet no sound came out. he was really just a little boy who had lost so much.

woman?" Candy shrugged. he is given the flag of that ship to signify that she is his. a regretful smile touching the corners of his mouth." She thought for half a second. crap. whatever you use to wash things? You must wash. ocean. then lifted to meet Kirk's stern stare.Oh. you guys don't have a gentle cycle.. In a whisper. she asked. "Do you know what this is. no!" She grabbed the front of Kirk's jumpsuit. imploring him to confirm her supposition. right? You don't even have a damn washing machine.Where it was still wet. it stuck together. 'Like at a funeral. I blew my nose on one of Dolph's ships?" Kirk nodded. "Oh. a feeling of dread beginning to creep into her heart.' Candy thought morosely." Candy's eyes slowly dropped to the black cloth. . you're all so damn clean. "Where's a washing machine? I'll toss it in the gentle cycle. unable to keep from smiling at her choice of words. her eyes taking on a slightly wild appearance. His tone returned to that of a Viking warrior.. "You mean. usually in his war-chest. then the light of a thought flashed across her face. nodding as she made her plans. He spoke softly. "Where's the nearest stream." She looked down. "When a Viking warrior becomes the commander of a ship. riverbed. The flags are small so that he can keep them with him always." He held the handkerchief in front of Candy's nose. "And I was starting to like you a little. He moaned and turned to Candy. "A handkerchief?" Kirk slowly shook his head. Her voice was unnaturally high.

"You must tell Dolph what you have done. "I speak from experience. then. The flag must be tended in a special way. little one. And who's fault was that? Not hers. you must tell him what happened." He thought about that for a minute. and waddled like a duck. She wasn't psychic. Why are you shaking your head?" Kirk pried Candy's hands from his suit and took them in his own. hang it on a tent pole or something to dry. Heck. Nobody had told her it wasn't a handkerchief. believe me. He'll always find out."I'll wash it. All Candy could think about was Dolph's face when he saw his flag." He rubbed his jaw. but. He spoke in a gentle voice. "Not very angry. We will return to the tent and replace it in Dolph's war-chest. Her temper began to assert itself. a disgruntled frown on his face. amended his words. He was not going to be happy. to Candy's discomfort. I don't think he'll be angry with you. she didn't know everything. he was beginning to like her. around here. she didn't know more than she did know..Was she supposed to just know these things? Candy's chin began to rise with her spirits." He placed his hand in the small of Candy's back and turned her toward Dolph's tent. How was she supposed to know it wasn't a handkerchief? It looked like a handkerchief. You must always be honest with Dolph. . "he'll never know. If it looked like a duck. And he'll get angrier about the deception than about anything you might have done. This woman might be a bit headstrong. When he returns from battle.. You cannot do it. Never try to hide anything from him. as he had said. They walked in silence." she looked up. and quite unknowledgeable about their ways.

he was in command of five ships." His manner and voice brightened. But she was so used to being a worrywart she couldn't very well rid herself of a lifelong habit in a day's time. We have not been able to obtain information on his current armada. "My brother commands the most formidable Viking armada in the universe. Star." His youthful enthusiasm buoyed Candy's heavy heart. There were six in all. "The last time we crossed swords with Vierig the Merciless. She was about to slam the lid when curiosity got the better of her and she quickly counted the neatly folded flags.Let him get mad! Yeah. Giving herself a mental shake to rid her mind of all those negative thoughts. Kirk shrugged. And Dolph meant so much to her." Candy's look turned hopeful. nor do they have my brother as their leader. "But his men are not as well-trained as Dolph's. Of course Dolph would win. She didn't want to go back to her life before him. It may have increased. She walked to the war-chest. Kirk nodded. opened it and tossed the flag in on top of its mates. a life filled with dating. just let that Viking say one angry word to her and she would give him a piece of her mind that he would not soon forget! Candy was in a fine temper when Kirk escorted her into Dolph's tent. Candy was starting to close the war-chest . She turned a surprised look on Kirk. "More formidable than Vierig's" With a heavy sigh. have no fear. dead-end jobs and loneliness. The battle will be ours. "Dolph commands six ships?" Glowing with pride.

Maybe he got into the chest?" With visions of squashed mini-cat flashing in her mind. It was empty. would you like to come out and see our visitor?" Whenever Dolph had spoken to him. their dread growing as each space was revealed to be empty. "No. That's strange." Never had he sounded more like Dolph. On hands and knees. Dolph says Silky knows a sucker when he sees one. did you see Silky when we came in?" Hearing the concern in her voice. Kirk fell to his knees beside her. He did neither now. The sharp edge of fear began to cut into her consciousness. "Kirk. No angry meow met their hopeful ears. Silky had either come out of his cage to see who sought an audience with him. he said. Candy rose to her feet and spoke in a voice that resembled a . Silky usually comes running when he hears my voice 'cause I bring him treats. or meowed his displeasure at being disturbed. Kirk stepped closer and gazed around the tent. Pointing toward the bed. they searched the tent inch by inch. I'll take the front. She knelt and spoke toward the little cage that still sat on the floor next to the war-chest. She pushed the button and both she and Kirk watched with dread as the top shelf lifted and slid back. desperate to see a furry paw. Finally. "you take the rear sector. Candy pulled the door of the little cage all the way open . Silky. Candy riffled through the top shelf of the chest.and leaned down to peer into the cage.it had been about halfway open because Dolph said that Silky hated being locked in and could raise a heck of a ruckus . Wondering at his lack of response. "Hey.when she noticed Silky's rations and decided she'd better check on the little guy. Nothing. He saw no little furry body scampering about.

as she turned into his embrace. And poor little Silky. her eyes filling with fear. don't. She had thought all her tears had been shed when Dolph left." She began wringing her hands. No such luck. Listening to the woman sob.. Kirk. Something awful might happen.. I will let Dolph know. He'll never forgive me. Please.!" She sat on the side of the bed and dropped her head into her hands." Candy's grip on the front of his jumpsuit cut him short.. If he's worried about Silky. "He's not here. Kirk wasn't certain what he should do." Once again. She looked so small and pitiful. "There is nothing that we can do. As she imagined Silky out there all alone and vulnerable. "Oh. His male instinct overtook his embarrassment.funeral dirge. don't you?" . Kirk gently pried her fingers from his clothes and held her hands in his. a whole new motherlode broke the damn. She raised swimming blue eyes to his. all alone in a strange place. Oh. please don't tell him until he gets back. Kirk. and I lost him. He was trying to come up with a better course of action when she began to quiet. sending him to sit beside her and wrap his arms around her quivering body. and she was trying so hard to be brave and swallow her sobs. "What are we going to do?" Kirk shook his head. her sobs increased.. "You truly care for my brother. "No. Her voice shook. he might not fight as well. what am I going to do? Dolph trusted me to take care of his sweet little kitty. and he could see the silent plea shining there. He wasn't sure that he had done the right thing though because.

woman! You are my responsibility and Vikings . I don't want to take any chances. "I want to help. Dolph was very protective of Silky. Kirk turned to leave.. with such little legs. Should you require anything before that. "Very well. "Don't worry. She might be right. She loved Dolph as he did." he emphasized the word. Upon his return would be soon enough to tell him about Silky. I will not call him." Kirk held up his hand and spoke with that authoritarian tone that Candy was quickly beginning to hate. You will remain here until I return. how far could he get?" A sad attempt at a smile was all she could manage. "Dolph left you in my care." He shook his head.Candy nodded. His concern for his pet might shadow his judgement." He set her from him and stood. Though we have no reason to believe that the enemy is anywhere near our camp. "Men.. "Kirk?" He looked at her with brows arched in question." Her questioning look reminded him of her newly arrived status. Star. He may have just taken a stroll to annoy us. "who have yet to gain the muscle and skill for battle tend the camp while the warriors fight. Maybe we can find Silky in camp somewhere. smiling. but the look in her eyes spoke more clearly to Kirk than any words or gesture ever could. his eyes and voice full of youthful confidence. I will enlist the aid of the other camp-tenders and we will search the whole camp." "But. "No argument. open the tent and tell whoever you might see to find me.

they were all too involved in whatever they were doing to pay much attention to a woman. Scanning the ground from side-to-side. He was quite handsome. The man stood as tall as Dolph so Candy had to strain her neck to look him in the eye. too. Candy could smell food cooking. Candy carefully lifted the tent flap. but his parting words had made her good and mad. Not just black in color. He wore shiny . he was just being a typical Viking man. she slowly walked where her nose led. Sleek black hair feathered about his shoulders to the middle of his massive torso. "We Americans take our responsibilities very seriously. She walked right by them without incident. There were a few Vikings milling about. his square jaw covered by a close-cropped black beard. but black to the core. She knew Kirk hadn't meant to make her angry. You will stay here until I return. Candy felt as though she'd gone at least a mile when she walked headlong into a hard body blocking her path." Candy could see that it was no use arguing so she sat quietly until Kirk had exited the tent. She figured if she were a cat. She guessed that the days were a bit shorter here than on Earth. she'd head in the direction of the kitchen. When she did. She spoke to the air as she went to the war-chest to get Dolph's dagger.do not take their responsibilities lightly. The sun was setting. she found herself gazing into the blackest eyes she'd ever seen. Typical men. Viking! Silky was entrusted to me. Then she stood and clenched her fists at her sides. and I am going to find him if I have to crawl on my hands and knees across this whole damn planet!" Securing the dagger in one of the invisible-until-you-need-them pockets of her jumpsuit. darkness quickly approaching.

" Candy blinked. I only regret that another has claimed you before I had the pleasure of driving you wild with desire. which he showed now as he looked down and smiled. Inexplicably. I'm sorry I bumped into you. "No. I'm with someone. like a king cobra in full hood." There was the slightest tightening of the man's dark features. "I'm not. When he spoke. his voice flowed like warm honey. "I mean.. Though she meant to sound strong and unafraid. "My name is Candy. Candy blushed. He was positively magnetic.. He brushed her cheek with the back of his hand and goose bumps instantly answered his touch." His smile widened. What is your name. little one? And who is the lucky man that holds such a treasure?" This man was hypnotizing. The gold sword that hung at his side was the only bright thing about him. Something inside Candy warned her that he could be just as deadly. Have the gods smiled upon me and made you available to any warrior who wishes to claim you?" In spite of herself. It happened so quickly that Candy thought she might have . "You are much too beautiful to be wandering about camp unprotected. coming out weak and almost sorrowful. He wore no jewelry and no helmet. I'm not available.black body armor that made him look like a giant roach. That. and he reeked of man and sex and. Even his boots were black metal.she shook her head. Her words were stronger. but Dolph calls me Star. her voice betrayed her. Candy felt like a bug under a microscope. momentarily breaking the spell this mysterious man had cast over her. and his perfect white teeth.

he said. and around her back to pull her into his embrace. her sixth sense telling her that this man was dangerous." He narrowed his eyes at her.imagined it. I'm sure he would forgive his old friend a taste of forbidden fruit. give Dolph my regards." Before she even realized what was happening. he caught her bottom lip between his teeth and bit down hard." He started backing away from her. In a minute. His lips descended to caress hers ever so lightly. Still. Candy sincerely wished she had the nerve to follow him and give him a piece of her mind. but the shock of the sudden unexpected action held her still long enough for her to realize that this man was a great kisser. or he will be questioning the parentage of his children. but every warning signal she had developed in her young life was blaring inside her head. . A trace of sorrow tingeing his words. his smile predatory. Candy yelped and wrenched herself from his grasp as she tasted blood. He chuckled deep in his throat. Star. She raised her hand to slap him. Who was this Viking? "When you explain the damage to your lip. As the pressure on her lips increased. Warning bells were going off in her head. Suddenly. down her arms. "Dolph has always been a very lucky man. Beauty. She raised her chin proudly and yelled contemptuously at the retreating Viking. his hands slid over her shoulders. she found herself responding. "Dolph had better keep a closer eye on you. I see his luck continues. Candy knew she should pull away. Perhaps his luck has run out after all. Then he nodded. Candy was planning to heed them. but he stepped back out of her reach. and Candy felt true fear. parting her lips.

Candy started off into the darkness the way Vierig had gone. But she sure as heck wasn't going to sit back and watch as he walked out of Dolph's camp with Silky in his villainous clutches. anyway?" Though his body had melted into the darkness. screeching. Dolph was all right. Surely Vierig would. The darkness quickly closed in around Candy."And just who the hell are you. Vierig! A million questions jumbled about in her mind: How had he gotten into camp? Were they under attack? If so. "Vierig. Sudden panic gripped Candy so hard she nearly doubled over. his silky-steel voice found its way to her shocked ears. she was certain that she was being watched. my sweet little prize. or the order. hooting. Candy . She began to hear weird noises. Candy shook her head. rustling. She was not going to let that terrible thought take root in her mind. Silky was just an innocent little kitten. He had to be. to pounce on her. That the bad guys were waiting just out of her sight for the right moment.. Had Vierig taken Silky? That had to be it! Where else could the little rascal have gone? Determination stiffening her almost non-existent resolve. with nothing to hide an approaching intruder. Even though the ground was flat. Maybe she could reason with him. I am Vierig the Merciless!" Chapter 11 Candy stood in stunned silence as the echo of Vierig's words in her brain slowly died down.She didn't want to bet much on what Vierig would do. where was Dolph? The last question frightened her the most for she was certain that Dolph would never let Vierig near her if he were still alive to prevent it.. She hadn't realized just how dark it would be once she left the illumination of the camp.

bands of which closed around her. She had tripped over a Viking. and fell onto a hard.' she thought to herself as she once again slowed her pace. Candy screamed and tried to get loose. She just . Slipping and sliding on the Viking's wet armor. "How do you know they're weird noises. trapping her arms against her sides. 'Call me crazy.' Candy giggled at the picture her thoughts had just painted. maybe not. 'but I have this aversion to breaking my neck on some distant planet while running after the enemy of a space Viking to beg him for the return of a cat that fits on an earring. In a blind panic. Candy ran. she tripped over something in her path. Hysterical. lumpy surface. sending it rolling away from the body. Rolling slightly so she could see what had tripped her. Candy decided she had better run a little if she were going to have any chance of catching up with Vierig. just in case something were trying to sneak up on her. Candy tried desperately not to think about all the moisture. uncomfortable with the edge of terror she heard in her own voice. Looking behind her.laughed and spoke softly to herself. After what seemed like hours." She looked around. but the darkness kept her from seeing more than three or four feet in any direction. Then again. She didn't need any medical training to know that he was dead since she had actually tripped over his head and fallen on his body and the two were no longer attached. Candy brought her hand to her mouth just in time to muffle the scream that escaped. her feet found solid ground. That lasted about two minutes. Maybe they're perfectly normal noises around here. Straight into a wall of unyielding steel. She kicked out and felt the sickening thud as her foot came into contact with the severed head. to concentrate on getting up.

but he pulled back from her. "Vierig got into the camp and I think he took Silky. but she was so glad to see him that she couldn't care less. until whoever held her placed a foot behind her legs and lowered them both none too gently to the ground. It was like trying to move a brick wall. her explanation sounded. "Ow!" "Quiet. She stopped fighting and surrendered to the rush of safety and lust that his embrace brought to her being. she'd know that kiss anywhere. She brought her arms up around his neck and tried to pull him down to kiss her again. Candy knew this was no undead warrior. Each word was carefully pronounced. She writhed in this unknown embrace. Candy realized how lame. Dolph spoke so quietly that she could barely hear him even though she could feel his breath on her cheeks. Quietly.knew that it was the fallen warrior." he hissed into her face. I was going after him to try to reason with him. As soon as his lips covered hers. angry at her for disturbing his resting place. and stupid. "What are you doing here?" Candy knew she was in trouble. kicking and screaming. She started to put her arms around his neck. The muscles in his neck were tightened to the breaking point." As she said the words out loud. His hands gripped her shoulders and squeezed. even in this darkness she could see his eyes shooting green sparks. His teeth bared in a snarl of rage. but the way his body stiffened told her it might be better to keep her temper in check this time and just answer his question. As usual. It had to be Dolph that held her. As close as he was. "or by the gods I'll silence you permanently! Answer my question!" Candy glared at him. she hadn't given her . she explained.

she would regret at leisure. girl. She had been so worried about Silky that she had let her emotions be her guide. Leaning down. he shook his head. he raised his sword . Felix spoke almost into her ear.' she thought as she got to her feet. but it was for a good cause. When she raised questioning eyes to him. ironic smile. Candy sat glaring at his back for a second. she had to admit that maybe she should have given a little more thought to her actions. She really wanted Dolph to understand. his back and neck stiff as a ruler. does he look to be in an understanding mood?" Candy looked at Dolph. issuing quiet orders to the men who waited nearby. As she watched. so she'd plunged right in. his shield in the other." Felix lips curved in a slight. He was watching as his men gathered the body of their fallen comrade into some sort of tarpaulin. Thinking over all that had happened since he left her in camp. 'He could at least help me up. It had sounded good at the time. "You are a foolish bitch! I told you if you disobeyed a warrior you would be punished and I meant it! Get up!" Dolph stood and walked away from her. Candy defended her purpose. His shoulders were straight. Her mother had always told her that if she acted in haste. He held his sword in one hand. The look on Dolph's face gave Candy the uncomfortable feeling that regretting time had arrived. Star. "Look at him." Keeping her voice equally quiet. She started toward him but Felix blocked her path. "I want to explain. He stood with his back to her. Maybe she had acted a little rashly.plan a lot of thought. "He is best left alone right now.

Kirk stepped past him. I have failed my brother. Kirk came running. She'd keep track of all his infractions and speak to him later." Dolph then proceeded to speak with several warriors who had come with Kirk. He started to speak to Dolph. I'll wait till we get back to camp and we can talk alone. Dolph was being totally unreasonable. When they entered the camp. yet he made no sound. No one spoke. Because of you. Dolph led the way. But she knew that he was in no mood to take getting yelled at right now. "Take Star to my tent. Candy bit back her temper. Dolph instructed me to care for you and . Candy and Felix walked behind the body and two men brought up the rear. Kirk held the tent-flap for her. Turning back to Felix. Four men carried the body of the fallen guard. Once more. "So what's your problem. His whole body shook with anger. She went straight to the bed and sat down disgustedly. He led her toward Dolph's tent. and you are my problem. Stay there with her. kid?" "I am not a kid. she smiled sheepishly. a look of censure on his young face. "Maybe not. She would probably have had more luck trying to talk to Vierig! Kirk stood in front of her. casting a wary glance in his direction and giving him a wide berth. but Dolph cut him off with a voice of unarguable authority. and took hold of Candy's arm.to the sky." The walk to camp was solemn. The way Dolph had dismissed her without even a sideways look in her direction had almost done it. Candy glared up at him. Should she try to leave you have my permission to restrain her in any way you feel necessary.

" Candy took one look into those pools of green ice and sat on the . Besides. glaring down his nose at her. "You are unbelievable. You told me to stay here. Don't look so glum. I think you can handle it. so you might get KP for a week or two. I didn't." again that annoying emphasis.I let you get away. I made the mistake of trusting you. You gave me an order and expected me to follow it. My brother was crazy to bring you here in the first place. at least a dog is smart enough to follow commands. "No kidding. "You will sit. Wrong! I never said I would and I didn't.. He stood to his full height and pointed at Candy. tossed her hair behind her shoulders and stood to face the arrogant teen. "I don't need you to defend me. I intend to tell Dolph that it was all my fault." he emphasized the word. "on the bed and stay. He is very angry." Candy rolled her eyes." "Silence!" The two combatants had been so totally involved in their argument that they hadn't noticed Dolph quietly enter the tent.. I will make no excuses and take my punishment like a Viking. I didn't listen. And after that stunt you pulled with Ulrich you should have been beaten!" "Why you little. woman. You have yet to be properly trained. His yell shook the canvas walls and made them both jump. You make it sound like I lied to you." Candy snorted. I'm not some dog that you can tell to 'stay'. kid. Maybe he'll go easier on you." Kirk straightened. "No. you know!" Kirk's voice raised to match hers. "there while I deal with my brother.

"And what punishment do you feel is justified by your lack of success in carrying out your duties to your commander?" Kirk stiffened. shifting to exasperation for the flags and finally ending with anger. even when telling him about getting knocked to the ground by the tent-flap. starting with humor at the tent-flap story. woman!" From the corner of her eye. You will receive five lashes first thing in the morning. Now Dolph turned to point at Kirk. never flinching. "Very well." Candy started to come to her feet. with no embellishments. it was gone. then turned and left the tent. but Kirk pushed her back down onto the bed. Continue with your duties for the rest of the evening. Candy watched the fascinating play of emotions across Dolph's face. "Do as you're told. Candy felt sorry for him. His next words shocked her. who was looking slightly apprehensive. but his words were tough. . When Kirk finished his 'report'.bed. His report of the day's activities was very succinct and to the point. After a moment. Candy thought she saw a tiny smile steal across Dolph's lips. fuming. When she looked." Kirk gave a sharp nod. He was trying to be so mature. I would give five lashes to someone who failed as I have. when hearing of Silky's disappearance. he nodded to his big brother. his face all business again. His look was pleading. "If I were in command. report!" Candy had to admire the young man's courage. but beneath it all he was still a scared little boy. and concern. Dolph spoke. "Kirk. He looked up into Dolph's eyes.

He maintained that tone now." "Wait a minute. He had taken on a somewhat businesslike tone for his last words to Kirk." His voice dropped to a near-whisper. She would have liked to stand so she wouldn't feel quite so much like a bug under a microscope. I was mistaken. yet you went out of this camp to follow Vierig. Are you a complete fool? Would you give him such a weapon to use against me? I had thought you intelligent enough to be left unguarded." He straightened and turned his back to her. Therefore." Candy allowed a little smugness to enter her voice. since he usually spoke directly to her face. "I believe that you were truly not aware of your folly with my ships' flags. "The boy is correct. which Candy had learned meant trouble. but he was too close to the bed to allow it. She thought this odd. your blatant disregard for orders to remain in this tent are another matter. I didn't actually disobey a warrior." Dolph interrupted her. I will be lenient in those matters. You can't tell me that little boy is a warrior. As for Silky. You must be taught the consequences of your actions. And as for. moving to stand before her. he can be very difficult to keep track of. However. "Before you learn them from someone who cares nothing for you. You said that I was to obey warriors. and he leaned over her until she had to lean back to see him clearly. "So.. woman. and I shouldn't have set you such a task.Candy stared up at Dolph in stunned disbelief. "Don't waste my time with games. you were well aware of the danger. He towered over her.. You never ordered me to remain in this tent." . His voice lowered.

" His voice returned to that businesslike tone she was learning to hate." . I will allow you to choose when your punishment will take place. do you? I would gladly trade my life for yours. "You really don't understand what it would do to me to have Vierig get his hands on you. Viking. stopping her in her tracks.Candy was riding the line between frightened and furious. If you had learned the consequences of your foolishness at his hands. you've got another think coming. "So what are you gonna do. She glared up at him. but he would never allow me to make that sacrifice." Now Candy did stand. "Wait just a minute." He smiled an ironic smile. give me a hundred lashes at sunrise?" Dolph turned back to face her and the tender look in his eyes caught her by surprise. it gets your attention. His voice matched his eyes. her eyes blazing sapphire flames as she stalked toward the Viking warrior. "You will do whatever I say. Never doubt that. whenever I say it. you archaic chauvinistic ass! If you think for one minute that I'm just going to stand by while you beat me. "At the very least. and with what was he threatening her? Her Irish bravado came to the fore." Dolph's hands came down on her shoulders. Vierig would have destroyed my soul in your body and won the battle he has waged for so long. and he did likewise down at her. Star. it would have been the last lesson you were ever given. How dare he threaten her. "Vikings believe that a lesson is best learned when accompanied by pain. now or in the morning.

I get to choose when I get it. retelling the story of the horrible day from her point of view. "You have got to be kidding. palms toward his face. no. I don't believe you. and a slight smile touched the corner of his mouth. drinking in her beauty. They were both surprised at what a good imitation of him she managed." Candy's mouth dropped open in amazement. you're the Marquis DeSade. to quench his thirst for the . I guess women are too stupid to even do that. or his brother for that matter. He had no intention of causing her. "Choose. He was enjoying the view. but Candy threw her hands into the air. "Silence!" Dolph arched one eyebrow. a beauty that had almost been lost to him because of her own foolishness. I don't get to suggest my own 'punishment'. and his loins began to fire with lust. You treat me like you love me dearly one minute. How the light played off her long. I forget myself. sometimes meaning the difference between life and death. bruising. Just enough to make it clear to them that he meant what he said. The black jumpsuit clung to the splendid curves of her body like a second skin. Oh. He remembered how those curves felt as they undulated beneath him. tilting his head to the side. yet lovingly claiming at the same time. As if that matters a darn!" Dolph started to speak. He knew he had little time before he would have to take her. silver-touched hair as she stalked back and forth in front of him. He kept quiet as Star continued her tirade.His lips descended onto hers. that obedience and duties were all-important to a Viking. asking me to pick my torture. any real pain. the next. Then he set her from him and looked down at her with his jaw set.

As the fire of the day's battle still burning within his body combined with the heat he felt for Star. he's your brother. I made a mistake. Dolph! Back home. really. I wish that I could close you safe within its walls forever. looking down into her eyes as he brushed a few stray strands of hair from her face. yielding mouth and plunged his tongue into the welcoming sweetness. You can't have him beaten. Candy felt a rush of emotion fill her heart as a flood of arousal drowned out her resistance. "Here. they put people in jail for that kind of thing.fiery vixen. They.. but haven't you great Viking warriors got better things to do than beat women and children? That's barbaric. His hand slipped around her neck to pull her forward into his arms." "This is your home. but the look of love in his eyes made Candy shut-up so she could hear him. With great effort." He stepped forward and stood in front of her." Dolph had spoken quietly.. but I was determined to find Silky. Placing his fist over his heart. Her moan as she wrapped her arms around his neck drove him to even greater heights. so that I could protect you with my life. Without thinking. But I cannot. but it made sense at the time. At the touch of his fingers on the sensitive skin of her cheek.just a little boy.. He tried to keep track of me. he thought they might both be consumed by the flames. Okay. in my heart. she let her head fall back so that his fingers would trail on down her neck. Dolph continued in the same gentle voice. okay. That sensuous show of surrender was Dolph's undoing. he shifted his attention to her face to listen to what she was saying. I admit it.. His body . so it wasn't the most brilliant thing I've ever done in my life. ". He brought his lips down on her soft.

Dolph felt a smile enter his mind. She was a temptress. the blond hair and pale skin revealed emphasized the ugliness of the blood. Candy looked away as she felt her stomach threaten to become her enemy. If the gods are willing. He stepped forward. then stood to remove his battle gear. As he dropped each piece of clothing to the floor.' she thought as she watched him undress. intense voice. and pulled until she looked at him. a sorceress who had surely taken his soul. He was a truly frightening sight. Dolph smiled as he quickly pulled her clothes from her body. and that was the kind of bargain Vikings liked. or as firmly. Star returned ten-fold what she had taken from him. From the top of his helmet to the toes of his boots he was caked with a near-black powder that Candy was certain was dried blood. for it means that your warrior has returned victorious and his enemies lie slain on the battlefield. His anger showed in his steely green eyes and quiet. One of the things he loved about Star was . but never let it touch his lips. Candy wished the lighting were a little worse in the tent. wrapped his fingers around the lower half of her face. It happened in about three blinks. Dolph saw Star turn from him in disgust and his anger returned. At this moment. 'He must have killed a hundred men to get that much blood on him. you shall see me covered in other men's blood many times in the future. You should exult in it. Star." It was fascinating to watch as the sultry dark-blue of passion turned to the ice-blue of anger in Star's eyes. lady. as it did with this woman. This was the first good look at Dolph that she had managed since he'd found her outside of the camp. He laid her on the bed. "You had better learn to tolerate the sights and smells of battle.had never flooded with the blood of passion as quickly.

a rather startled look on his face. Candy stood." If she had not been so beautiful in her naked anger. I think that's horrible! Those men may have wives and families. She raised her hand to pry Dolph's fingers from her chin. She paid no mind to her nakedness. "Let go of me!" Dolph released her and turned. temper. at least not and lived..her fiery. and we mustn't forget the greatest killer to ever walk a battlefield. I think the whole thing is just a typical example of men doing stupid things to prove how macho they are. some of them are probably even your cousins since according to you all Vikings are related.. you have no right to treat me like a child. Well. I do.oh. yes. And another thing. planning to place his armor outside the tent to be cleaned. He held firm. Glaring up at him. . you think you're God's gift to women. No matter how uneducated I am about your ways.. "Don't you dare walk away from me! I don't know who you think you are. Big deal! So you can whack parts off faster than any other man out there. You are not my husband or my father. You give me a lecture on how I should be glad that you went out and killed a bunch of guys and came back victorious. Heck. barely controlled anger evident in the shaking of her body. But that's beside the point. I am not impressed! Which is probably fine with you since you're so damn impressed with yourself. if a little quick. But all they are to you is another notch on your sword! Well I refuse to be happy that they're dead just so you can be alive. Dolph would have silenced Star long ago. grabbed his shoulder and pulled as hard as she could until he turned back to face her. Has anyone ever told you you're the most conceited man that ever breathed? I don't suppose they have. she spoke as quietly as he had. Viking..

Dolph smiled. I can see through your plan. And you're it!" Dolph shook his head slowly. The view was very enjoyable. forget it. exasperation clearly evident on his handsome features. though a tiny spark of apprehension showed in her eyes. and she might feel better if she got some of her anger out. you get to have your jollies. I'm not interested. I'm not a kid. I feel a terrible headache coming on.so I get to worry about it all night. which brought her up against the edge of the bed. Dolph slowly and deliberately untied his loincloth. ". He wondered who would eventually think themselves the winner. You're not really going to beat Kirk in the morning. she had not made her position . Candy smiled smugly. She was so stubborn. The look in his eyes was unmistakable.. the last bit of clothing he wore. and let it fall to the ground. He wondered if his spirited Star would ever understand that she had been thrust into a new world where the rules she had lived by all of her life no longer applied. or left to stew about it all night so in the morning you can tell me you've forgiven me. He doubted it.standing proudly before him. super-Viking. That battle would surely be the best he would ever fight. I know a little bit about psychology. "Hey. You knew I wouldn't choose to get 'punished' now . you just want him to spend a terrible night thinking you will so he won't do it again.anyone in their right mind would put it off as long as possible . Obviously. Meanwhile. tossing her hair and glaring up at him. Dolph advanced on her. Well. Candy straightened her shoulders defiantly. She took a couple of steps away from the Viking warrior.I will not be 'punished' like a two-year-old. Well." At Dolph's raised eyebrow.. she would fight for her 'rights' for years.

Holding her firm with one hand between her shoulder blades. She struck backwards as hard as she could." he dug his fingers into the tender flesh of her inner hip. causing some of the dried blood to come off and leave an imprint where her hand connected. Dolph's bellow of "Hold!" made her stop. forcing the air from her lungs. he used his powerful legs to force her knees apart and keep them where he wanted them. And 'no' is a word that I never wish to hear from your lips again. She was not going to be treated like some kind of plaything by this arrogant man! She slapped him firmly across the face. round breast. Candy continued to try to stop him. Before she could even get her wits about her enough to move. She screamed. "I said no. He made no further movement as he spoke to her. Anger and lust warred in Candy's body. striking him on the side. "never strike a warrior. Candy screamed in rage as she felt his hand slide between her legs. This time anger won. with a howl of pure rage. causing Candy to suck a sharp breath of pain through her teeth. hitting and trying to raise her head until she felt a familiar hardness begin to fill her. forcing her face and chest down to the bed. "No!" and tried to twist her body sideways. Viking. Dolph's voice sounded in her ear as he grabbed hold of her hips and lifted the lower half of her body into the air. "You never. Candy gave a little scream. Dolph reached out a hand to cup one firm. The sting in her palm had just begun to register in her brain when.clear enough. Startled. ." In answer. He grunted but didn't really seem to notice." Candy tried to raise her head but Dolph put his hand in the middle of her back and shoved. his weight came down on top of her. Dolph grabbed her and tossed her face down on the bed.

He leaned forward to place hungry kisses across her shoulders. Dolph was losing himself in Star's beautiful body. He brushed his teeth over the sensitive skin. love. you will do as I tell you. Dolph groaned and slid his hand across Star's sensitive upper thigh.but against the pleasure that his invasion of her body brought. but she was honest enough with herself to admit that this battle was over. You are my woman. Candy gave a brief thought to continuing the fight. and her sheath squeezed him so tightly he thought he might scream from the near-painful pleasure. I have no wish to hurt you. enjoying the feel of the soft skin and hard contents. Star arched. As he moved in and out of her body. then reached upward until she came into contact with Dolph. He held her firmly. inserted a very wet finger to prepare the way. but Candy.there was no real pain. Candy gritted her teeth. Candy. but I will not be denied. then down to lightly brush the tender bud of pleasure between her legs. was responding to her lover's caresses with increasing passion. the woman. Sensing no more resistance. she caressed him with her palm and fingertips. Star." He withdrew from her body. the intellectual."Fight me no more. Star slid her hand along the bed. crying out. She cupped his sac in her hand and squeezed gently. Her hair had parted and fallen forward to reveal the back of her neck. and the victor was Dolph. She moaned with pleasure. his slow strokes beginning to break down her body's resistance. Her bud had become slick with their juices so his finger slid easily. a soft bite of animal possession. He . was still seething with anger. then slowly eased his shaft of steel into her tight sheath. When his hand left her back to cup her breast. not against the pain . just pressure .

Dolph's teeth grazed the back of her neck and she fell. Come to me. Tiny sparks flared behind her closed lids as her body spasmed again and again until she thought it would never cease. Her body was on fire. protecting her as she surrendered to her body's needs. Suddenly. She wanted his caresses any way she could get them. Dolph continued thrusting. his shaft caressing the inside of her body as his finger caressed the outside. join with my soul as our bodies soar. the warm liquid filling her. It could have been days for all she knew. She didn't care how rough he was at this moment. "Star. He thrust into Star. Dolph's finger continued stroking her. her mind no longer running on human thought. screaming. Candy had no idea how long she had been laying there. Oh. my shining Star. my love.caressed her with quick firm strokes. squeeze me. throwing his head back and yelling as he reached a pinnacle of pleasure the likes of which he had never before experienced. Candy felt Dolph's sac tighten as he climaxed. Even though he was beginning to grow soft within her body. as his thrusts became more rapid. gods!" Dolph arched. Yes. I have never climbed so high." his voice was more animal growl than human word. "you bewitch me. Dolph covered her body with his own. all of Candy's muscles seemed to contract at once and for one blinding second she hung over the precipice of complete pleasure. where she lay on her stomach panting. into the abyss. releasing an explosion of seed deep within her womb. but rather animal instinct. or cared in her exhausted state. his caresses almost rough now. . I feel I am touching the very walls of Valhalla. He whispered words of love as he released her legs and let her sink to the bed.

I offered you the choice of time because I felt that you had had a difficult day and might not be strong enough to bear it last night." he smiled knowingly and Candy wanted to kill him on the spot. . pushed her blonde mane behind her shoulders and glared at the man who in the last 24 hours had become her nemesis. "Do you wish to eat before your punishment is carried out?" The day before." Candy threw the cover off and stood. he spoke to her in a soft. she was too tired. I do not wish to have you eat if it will be wasting the food. Right now. You have had a good night's rest. yet stern. When you deliberately defy me. She narrowed her eyes at him. relishing Dolph's audible intake of breath at the sight of her naked body. the good and the bad. Chapter 12 Candy woke to Dolph gently shaking her shoulder. Candy sat up in the bed.She was completely limp as Dolph pulled her onto her back and into his arms. and felt too wonderful. voice. She rested her head on his shoulder and refused to think about anything other than how good she felt. Dolph raised a hand as if to ward off her expected outburst. She'd remember what they had been fighting about later. Dolph kissed her forehead. but Dolph pulled it from her hands and instead gave her the red skirt and white peasant blouse that he had brought from the ship. for anything to matter. As she rubbed the sleep from her eyes and tried to remember the night before. "There is no psychology in Viking punishment. Since I know not how you react to pain. "and I feel you are capable of enduring it now. came back in a rush. tucked his other hand behind his head and drifted off to sleep. you are punished. She started to dress in her black jumpsuit. Star.

Candy muttered. "Fine. Mumbling to herself about 'dressing for the Neanderthal' Candy pulled on her clothes with all the grace of an angry woman. Since you are not a Viking and will doubtless not take your punishment with the proper attitude. "most people read the newspaper before they go to work. yanking the neckline of the blouse this way and that until it laid across her shoulders in a way that was almost acceptable to her. she could lead herself to the guillotine. Dolph led Star to a spot in the center of camp which had been cleared of all debris. be that way!" and stopped struggling. Realizing the futility of fighting with a man the size of Mt. honor and atonement. Candy graced several of the men milling about with a contemptuous look. It gave the person who had committed the error the opportunity to partially atone for his mistake by taking his punishment well. A circle had been formed by a hundred or so Viking warriors.but his crossed arms and the firm set of his jaw warned her that arguing would be fruitless. "Come with me." . "You will not need those. This was a Viking 'punishment circle'. Everest. Trust you to come up with something more interesting. obviously waiting for something. Dolph stepped in front of her. Any disciplinary action necessary was carried out in this way so that all who wished could view Viking justice." Candy tried to pull away. Viking justice was heavily based on pride. giving her a stern look. then she said to Dolph." His hand closed around her upper arm as he said with an authoritarian tone. I think I might fare better if you are barefoot. which most greeted with a smile. As she reached for her boots. most of them in full battle armor and carrying their weapons. but Dolph held fast. They stood talking amongst themselves.

Not sure whether she wanted to run to Kirk's rescue. waiting for just such a move. Their brotherhood obvious. They will receive their punishment at the hand of their commander. Dolph uncoiled the lash.Dolph allowed one corner of his mouth to rise slightly. which she doubted she could manage. which she didn't think the boy would appreciate. Nothing in her life could have prepared her for the drama that was unfolding before her. then his face became the warrior's mask as he released Star and stepped to the center of the punishment circle where Kirk stood. gritting his teeth and flexing his hand on the finely tooled leather handle of the whip. his upper body bare. Dolph's deep voice projected easily to the back of the ranks of Vikings as he pronounced judgement. then snapped it. . pride evident in his stance." Dolph held out his hand and Felix stepped forward and placed the handle of a wicked-looking whip in his palm. She could do nothing but watch. Kirk turned his back to Dolph and two men stepped to either side of the young Viking. He straightened his shoulders and took a deep breath. "Kirk Roarkeson failed in his duties to his commander. They took a firm hold on each of her arms. Candy stood spellbound. or quietly make her escape. Star disobeyed a warrior. She had come from a world that considered not giving convicts a television set to be inhumane punishment. And the kid stood his ground ready to take it! This was too much! As soon as Candy tried to take a step toward Dolph. He is sentenced to five lashes. Dolph did the same. she found that there were two men guarding her. Now she watched as a man prepared to snap a whip across the back of a boy. and one of them looked down at her and shook his head. startling Candy into jumping and biting her tongue.

"I can walk by myself. But . Dolph handed the whip back to Felix. Kirk jumped as it struck. but held his ground. The lash returned quickly to do its damage. She also heard several chuckles from the crowd. They admitted their failure. took their punishment. he spoke to the crowd. "I would never scar such a beautiful body. some raising their swords or their shields into the air in a salute. she saw concern mixing with determination. Candy walked to stand before Dolph. And yet. The two men holding Candy started to pull her.Dolph pulled his arm back and let the lash fly. who had stood by his side the whole time. careful not to touch any of the welts. Taking a deep breath. and it was done. saying. she couldn't help admiring the Vikings. and pulled him against his chest. Could she do the same? Kirk stepped to the side of the clearing. He placed his hands on his young brother's shoulders. she was starting to lower her blouse when she felt Dolph's hands on her shoulders. yet never breaking the skin. Dolph spoke in a soft voice. and as my brother. At this point Candy was certain that they were all crazy." The Vikings cheered. As she looked into his eyes. She turned and walked to the place that Kirk had stood to take his lashes. And I would never expect a woman to take the punishment of a warrior." They released her. The loud 'crack' echoed through the air as a red welt appeared on Kirk's back. then walked to stand in front of Kirk. Star. "Kirk has taken his lashes like a true Viking. Again. Looking over her shoulder. I am proud to have him in my command. raising five neat welts down the boy's back. watching warily to see what this strange Earth woman would do. she was a bit incensed to see that he was smiling at her. but she resisted.

" she quickly forgot her anger. Felix had come up behind him and was placing something on the ground. However. "How could you?!" Dolph smiled as several warriors roared with laughter. pulling her to her feet. let alone react. "What is it. he carefully schooled his face to reveal nothing of his feelings. After striking Star five times. Candy knew something was wrong. Stepping forward. "She's a handful" and "You've got yourself a fine woman. Dolph sat. Stinging pain brought tears to her eyes as her posterior was assaulted again and again. Dolph" resounded in the air as the crowd broke up and the Vikings headed off to their duties. As the cool morning breeze brushed over her bare backside. when someone yelled. She returned to Dolph's side as the man who had spoken handed him a small black box with strange markings drawn on the side. a message from Vierig. Dolph?" . His body stiffened and. after a grimace of pain fleeted across his features. "Commander. She screamed as his palm came into sharp contact with her tender skin.I am proud that you would submit to it. reaching up and pulling Star over his lap before she had time to figure out what he had in mind." She turned to face him. Good-natured comments of. the 'smack' almost as loud as the whip had been. but she pulled away from him. Candy realized that Dolph had thrown up her skirt. Dolph lowered her skirt and stood. He placed his arm around her waist to steady her. She looked at him with eyes full of liquid blue fire. she slapped his chest in embarrassed frustration. not wanting to see or speak to anyone. The show was over. As Dolph examined the box. Candy headed toward the tent.

she placed her hand on Dolph's arm. "Oh. The muscles in his arm were flexing.Candy tried to give him her support with the soft empathy of her voice. said. the tension building and pumping till his arm resembled the Rocky Mountains. Commander. He could not let his men see how much the death of his little pet had hurt him. what a brave fight he put up. no camp-tender. "It claims to be Silky's coffin. "How was this message delivered?" The man was a full-fledged Viking warrior. I found this bit of fluff lying about when I visited your camp this evening. He unconsciously rubbed the tiny black box with his thumb as Vierig's words ate at his gut. Candy caught only a glimpse of bloody tan fur before the box slammed shut again. "It was discovered by the guard near where you found your lady last evening. Dolph read the letter. yet the look in his commander's eyes made him stiffen and swallow hard. "This was covering the box. "Dolph. My. keeping the sorrow from his face. nodding sharply to the man. all warrior. happy to no longer be the center of his commander's attention." The warrior walked away quickly." As Candy exclaimed. His answering tone was hard. He looked at the man that had handed him the box and asked in a quiet voice. It was almost a . "Return to your duties. would not risk his pain being related back to his enemy. As her eyes and throat filled with tears. no!" Dolph opened the box and looked inside. trying to comfort him." He held up a piece of parchment. just outside the perimeter of our camp." Dolph took the parchment and.

She nearly sprang up off of the bed when she felt the pain in her very tender backside. sat beside her and. His words were as sepulchral as his face. taking the coffin from her shaking fingers. I made sure that Odin heard his cries before I killed him. it wasn't even much fun to silence him. "Take these and return to my tent. Once there. I assure you. old friend. I will be there soon. With her full cooperation. That was how Dolph found Star. never fear.shame to end his worthless little life. she quickly read the letter. While I was in your camp. Candy ran to the tent. Almost. he turned and walked away from her. Star. I sampled your most beautiful lady. old friend. Her sobs conspired with the gruesome treasure he held in his hand to ." With that. Vierig" Dolph handed the box and letter to Star. He stepped silently into the tent. gripping the box and letter so tightly that the page formed to the shape of the box. She has lips that were surely designed by the gods to make a man mad. gathered her into his arms and held her to him. But. immediately wishing she hadn't. And it wasn't even half over yet! Candy dropped her head into her hands and cried. Tears running down her face. I will enjoy my conquest of her almost as much as I will savor piercing your coward's heart with my sword. That was the last straw in a day that had been an emotional roller-coaster ride. She couldn't bring herself to open that horrible black box and look at the mangled body of Dolph's poor little kitty. With such a small voice. Candy sat on the bed with the coffin in her lap. Till we meet on the battlefield.

his words muffled by her shoulder. muscular chest beneath her cheek. holding her tightly against his chest so she would know that she was safe. "This is foolish. Sitting the box on the bed. the sound lifting some of the pain from Dolph's heart so that he could release a small chuckle. He disappeared for two days. he pulled Star onto his lap. and smiled a sad little smile of remembrance. The fact that he gave no resistance told her that he wanted comforting. regaining control." He raised his head and Star looked up into his face. even if only in the manner that he would allow. Silky was just an animal.break his heart. He took a deep breath. He came out of nowhere and landed on my hand. He did not deserve such a vile death. a valiant warrior in his own way. "I'll bet you never forgot to feed him after that!" . A nuisance. It was rising and falling irregularly. the realization that Dolph was crying hit her. There were trails down his cheeks and neck where his tears had run once released from the prison of his eyes." Star laughed. I got a little too involved in drinking and wenching and I forgot to feed him on time. He held her thus until her deep sobs ceased. I thought him lost to me until I tried to put his earring into my pocket. "He gave me a great deal of trouble during our time together. Like a vise squeezing her heart. He spoke in a choked voice. Once Candy was over her own emotional cleansing. Instinctively she knew that trying to console him with words would only offend his pride. But he was a good friend. she became aware of the broad." His voice dropped to a whisper. Once. dug in with all four feet and sunk his teeth into my flesh as far as he could. so she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled his head down to rest on her shoulder. "I shall miss him.

Dolph yelled. The crying ceased abruptly. from the angry yowl of being ignored to a high-pitched shriek of fear. Seeing nothing. stuck his head inside to examine his food dish."Nay. Carefully. "That's Silky!"." His face grew solemn again. Dolph peered into the depths of the small pouch. Star shrugged and let her voice trail off. I know he was just a cat. With a shout of. then proceeded to jump to the floor. Dolph pulled the drawstring that held the bag closed. The silver pieces spilled over onto the bed as a sleek tan body fell to his palm. the tent was filled with the most eerie wail. the wailing changed pitch. Silky looked up. With a deep frown.." Unable to put into words exactly how she felt. Dolph flew up off the bed and began pulling things from the chest and throwing them to the floor. "I will burn the box. as is befitting a warrior. he shook his head bemusedly and tipped the bag. "Ow! You rotten little beast!" Silky jumped to the bed. spied who held him. Dolph's face lit slightly with a humor-the-little-woman grin and he nodded. As he lifted the bag that contained Vierig's silver. which had remained on the floor next to the war-chest through this whole ordeal. I mean." Dolph sat Star back on the bed and reached for the coffin. will you wait till I change.. I just don't feel like this is the proper thing to wear for a funeral. Star stared at the trunk as if it had bitten her. Laughing with pure delight. He walked sedately to his cage. Star opened the war-chest where her clothes were stored along with Dolph's. but he was your friend and. Jumping back. emptying the contents into his hand. As soon as the lid lifted. and promptly sank his teeth into Dolph's hand. I value my skin too much. shook himself as if he had been defiled. then glared back and forth between the . "Dolph.

they moved toward each other and met in the middle of the tent in a joy-filled embrace. Vierig's forces were well-trained and quite capable. Something more than it had ever been before. some in a flurry of activity. The captive and the captor became one. Dolph's men would push Vierig's troops back several miles. Chapter 13 Days passed. . imprisoned in each other's heart.two humans. Their kiss was deep." He stopped and turned. And so it went. "Dolph. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. giving Star one of his humoring looks. all night she tried to show him how glad she was that he had. On the battlefield. I don't need a baby-sitter. She thought it was ridiculous and wasted no time telling him her opinion of his protective gesture. Dolph made good on his threat to post a guard on Star. The passion that fired their minds and bodies was that of pure love untinged by lust. things were not going nearly as well as Dolph had hoped. Star raised her face as Dolph lifted her into his arms. some so slow and dull Candy thought she'd go out of her mind by the time Dolph returned from the battlefield. Seeming to think as one. Vierig's troops would gain back the ground. All day she worried that he might not come back alive. soft. warm. One day. Dolph graced Star with a smile she would never forget. one which she felt transfer itself to her face. the next. but serious wounds were abundant. He was on his way out of the tent and heading to battle when she caught his arm. Casualties on either side were few. with a few feet thrown in for good measure.

but he was all too aware of how the gentle touch of a woman could relieve the pain and frustration of battle. After some initial reluctance. After all. calmed by the Viking's gold. every time Candy left their tent. or sometimes even a slightly wounded warrior. After all. they were just doing as ordered. followed closely behind her. cantankerous commander in all the known universe! With that attitude. Candy sincerely believed that if he had stayed in that tent one more second. Candy decided to do her best to ignore whatever poor man had to follow her around today. Dolph reached out and patted her on the top of her head. "So you think. he smiled and kissed her forehead. his smile clearly stating that he knew exactly how annoying he was being. she thought. Dolph had doubled the perimeter guard. Since Vierig's visit to camp. "Why don't you pat me on the head while you're at it?" Ever the agreeable lover. the local women started visiting camp regularly. Though there had been . Little did she know that the men wagered for the opportunity to help Dolph control his little firebrand. but each of the hardened soldiers wanted to be the first to find out. And being near her womanly beauty made them all feel their oats mightily. His men needed that relief. she would have committed first-degree murder! From that day forward. it wasn't their fault that they had the most obstinate. He arched an eyebrow in surprise.the kind that never failed to make her grind her teeth. They didn't know what mischief she might get into." With that. Dolph knew that this was a security risk. She knew it made no sense getting angry at them. Boom! She pushed on his chest hard enough to send him back a step. it must be considered the most boring duty possible. a camp-tender.

Perhaps he should try to find something useful for her to do before her natural curiosity brought trouble. smiling down at the sleeping woman by his side. He knew that Vierig had left his message." Roarke had chuckled then. Vierig was not one to use the same tactic twice. That was the life of a Viking's woman. During the daylight hours Dolph saw very little of Star. Dolph thought she was much too likely to find something to occupy her time and. She . searching for something interesting to do. She had so much energy and vitality. Now he understood all the warnings his father had given him about American women. I think I have failed in that duty. made his attempt at damaging morale. boy. Dolph shook his head. Still." And as Dolph thought about it now. I guess the gods made it our job to set them straight. He knew that she spent a great deal of her time bored. Dolph didn't credit that to the increased security." he'd said during one of their many conversations about women like Dolph's mother. The gods only knew what his woman might get herself into in an attempt to stave off boredom. the thought made him cringe. knowing Star's luck. he realized that his mother had indeed always been involved in some village activity. but she would just have to get used to it. he worried about her. It seems your mother is always into something or other. "they think they should be doing something to help their man.no further incidents. But she has always been there when I needed her. "To tell you the truth. Can't get it through their fool heads that sheathing our manhood and bearing our children is all the purpose they need in life. "They're not good at being idle. Dolph. it was difficult to envision her sitting quietly and waiting for him to return from battle for the rest of her life.

But at least I get a wonderful baby out of the whole ordeal. Roarke had won the battle. Maddy had pulled Dolph to her quite ample bosom. as her family called her. Maddy had made it very clear that Roarke would be a dead man if he ever tried to make her go with him again. since I'm about to do it again. Roarke had replied that that sounded like childbirth to him and she seemed to want to do that.if you ever touch one hair on any of their heads you are a dead man. that's a good comparison. unwilling women . He had also won several new scars. and several chances to bleed on alien soil because everybody seems to want you dead!" Roarke had thrown his head back and roared with laughter. and he had to stay at home with his grandmother. "You're right. noisy. "It's a good thing I like my version of the Viking ordeal. or Maddy. Though Dolph's mother Madelyn. In her opinion it had been a bloody. turned a death-glare on Roarke and replied. nauseating ordeal. lifting her off the ground and swinging ." Roarke's great laugh cut mid-stream and he had looked at her in open-mouthed surprise. had protested vehemently. As Maddy enjoyed her own laughter Roarke had come to her. Roarke had decided that the boy was old enough to be left with Roarke's mother.had traveled with Roarke to a battle only once when Dolph was five years old. Dolph could remember how his mother had cried the day they left. Dolph could tell by the look on Maddy's face that she intended to have the last laugh. You get gold you already have more than you could use in three lifetimes. When they returned. His mother got to go a-viking with 'The Tamer'. He had thought his mother crazy for putting up such a fuss and not wanting to go. Dolph himself had felt more jealousy than grief.

If your wife couldn't give you children. Maddy had insisted on continuing to try for a daughter. pulling her to rest on top of him.her around. Not Roarke. He relaxed as she raised her body onto one elbow and arched an eyebrow at him. Unfortunately. So many feelings ran together in his heart. That look had been one of the things that had told Dolph how much his father loved his mother. A Viking warrior wanted children. he would battle Odin himself to reach her side. and if she needed him. even if it meant having less children than he would've liked. Possessiveness. "A little jumpy. He knew now how his father had felt. they were the greatest treasure. above all. annoyance. Even then. but you took another wife for children. you might keep her for companionship. Nothing would ever hurt his Star if it were within his power to prevent it! "Dolph?" His thoughts of doom joined with his warrior's reflexes to make Dolph start and reach for his sword before he realized that it was Star who had spoken. Dolph grinned. Worry crept into her voice. The same look Dolph had seen him wear every time Maddy became pregnant. That had been her end. He had found his one and only love. protectiveness. and. Dolph tightened his arm across Star's bare back and she snuggled deeper into his armpit. love and apprehension. love. aren't you?" Dolph gave her a self-deprecating grin and shrugged both his eyebrows and his shoulders. anger. . a continuation of yourself. a mixture of pride. He would love Star until Odin called him to fight by his side. he would watch over her. Dolph saw his father's expression. unwilling to wake just yet. Quickly moving out of the way of his mother's swirling body.

and nights. is there? You know." a darker expression fleeted across his eyes. Yes. her blue eyes blazing hellfire. without your assistance." As quickly as it had disappeared. Less odor." Dolph nodded. "as long as it didn't interfere with your duties to me. For your information. Before you throw a fit. "No. oh great observant Viking warrior. "may the gods see us far from this place by then. unimportant stuff like the enemy is making regular trips to our bathroom because it's closer than theirs?" Dolph chuckled and shook his head. I think that would be a good idea. "You arrogant. where are you going?" Star rose and stalked to stand at the foot of the bed. but Star wasn't finished. I was just thinking that you need something to do so that you won't get into trouble. I'm sure you could learn some of the simpler tasks in a short time."There isn't anything you haven't told me so I wouldn't worry my little woman's head over it. "Perhaps you could assist with the cooking. his great disheveled mane brushing his shoulders. I have been helping with the cooking for two weeks. more pleasant visit. his good humor returned. My idea. you might have noticed that your latrines have been moved into the shade. for that matter. why did you think I said 'thank you'?!" Dolph started to defend himself. nothing like that. "And. conceited piece of Viking pigflesh! I do not need you to find me something to do with my time. cleaned and reorganized. her arms crossed under her breasts. Star. I am perfectly capable of filling my days. I got Kirk to help so that things would be where you needed . At least until you are big with my child. Your war-chest has been completely emptied. blissfully unaware that Star was building an angry head of steam. When you complimented that bread we had the other night.

them. you Viking oaf. In short. Seems they do that better if there's a woman nearby. waiting for him to say something. a fact difficult to hide with just the covering of the thin sheet. True Vikings. I suppose 'thank you' would be out of the question. but it's a moot point since you didn't even notice. you better find a new line of work!" Dolph fought the urge to hang his head. of course. ok. Every time I get mad at you. you don't. He knew the food had been exceptional for the last couple of weeks. She was right. but a woman . but we made a deal that they would study for an hour. that thing rises to the challenge and I end up flat on my back wondering how I got that way. "Oh. I've organized an hour during the day for the camptenders to work on their schooling. I might enjoy it at the time. he had missed most of the things she had mentioned. but it had never occurred to him that Star had had anything to do with it. allowing the pewter triangle of coarser hair to just peak from its nest at her thighs. He had been a fool. Star stood tapping her foot. Star glared daggers at the tented sheet. God. especially not to a bunch of teenage boys who'd rather be killing somebody. His manhood responded instantly. no. it had slipped his mind. I haven't been sitting on my butt while you went off to save the day. she was beautiful. Later. He had noticed that she had done something with his war-chest but had been too interested in her lovely little body at the time to say anything. And if your fighting skills depend on your powers of observation. then looked back at Dolph's face. and then I would watch them try to kill each other for an hour. with her silver hair spread out over her firm breasts and torso. I never thought of myself as a schoolteacher. Ok. And believe me that was no easy task.

" He placed her palms on his chest. that beating would surely cease. he quickly decided that they were only to be understood by a woman. you know? I mean. I guess I'll let you off the hook.wants to know that her guy thinks more of her than just a place to get a little. What you have done for me is to help me find my own heart. Dolph stood and walked to stand in front of Star. feeling all the acceptance of the gods as she dropped her head back to receive him. my love. and they have given me many nights of pleasure. "Please forgive me. lady." He stood and pulled her into his arms. sincere voice. Though it beats in my chest beneath your hand. may Odin forgive me. slow kiss. he dropped to one knee before her. Taking her hands in his. is better than a thousand nights of the best wenching. "Boy. Star pulled back with a look of wonder. for my callous indifference to your efforts to care for me and my men. "I have had many women in my life. for it belongs to you. After a long. I assure you. Should you ever be taken from me. I will endeavor to notice them on my own. he looked up into her eyes and spoke in a quiet. are 'please' and 'thank you' in your vocabulary?" Ignoring the throbbing in his loins. She was aglow with the look of a well-loved woman. over his heart. just your arms." . you sure know how to say 'I love you'. Wondering at the tears filling her eyes. for having nothing of value left to fight for. One night spent in your arms. I am only its keeper. my Star. And thank you for those efforts and any others that I in my ignorance may have to have pointed out to me in the future. After kissing each of her palms. I would no longer wish to live. He brought his lips gently to hers. But none has ever come close to you.

Dolph was leaning over to pull on his loincloth when he felt her soft. Looking about for his lady. and right now he very much wanted to observe Dolph's little Star. tinkling giggle echoed throughout the camp. the open collar of her jumpsuit revealing a great deal of her firm assets. He gasped. Dolph released her. stood poised to run in the open flap of the tent. Vierig's lips tightened into a menacing line as Dolph emerged from his tent." As Star's light. Chapter 14 Vierig watched from his perch high in the hills above Dolph's camp as the silver-haired beauty leaned over to speak to the old warrior cooking breakfast. Star grinned impishly as she practically bounced into her red jumpsuit. "Pain helps you remember your mistakes so you won't repeat them. right. He hadn't been aware that his desire for the wench had grown so fierce. warm hand reach through his legs from behind to cup his manhood. When she threw back her head and laughed. and scanned the camp for his old friend. Dolph threw back his head and roared with laughter. He shifted his position. Viking? See you at breakfast. Now. A look of surprise fleeted across his hard features. straightened and turned all at once. . let me go. Vierig felt the blood explode into his loins. relieving some of the tension in his loins. "Just don't let it happen again.A smile crept into her words. completely dressed." With a heartfelt sigh. the blonde warrior moved to stand beside her. her look devilish. I promised I'd show Magnus how to make pancakes that don't have to be smacked on a rock to be eaten. His field glasses gave him a close-up view of anything he wished to see. Star.

Women were fickle. So. it was too early for . They gazed into each other's eyes with a look. sucking a breath through clenched teeth as he squeezed in an attempt to relieve some of the ache in his loins.Vierig released the field glasses and let them drop to the end of the cord around his neck. He chuckled deep in his throat. Star would be his! *** Breakfast was finished. And Vierig always got what he wanted. looking for inspiration. to hear her soft cries of pleasure. depending on what mood he was in at the time. There had to be a way to get Star away from the protective web that he was certain Dolph would have woven around her. he considered this new information. Was there a way to use Dolph's softened heart against him to turn the tide of the battle in Vierig's favor? Perhaps. How amusing it would be if the whole course of this battle hinged on the silver-haired vixen. Dolph had given his heart to the girl. and a devious plan took shape in his mind. He had desired the wench since she had blundered into him in Dolph's camp.. he wanted her as much to hurt Dolph as to feel her soft body yield to him. Their hearts went where the most comforts were to be had.wrapping his muscular arm possessively around her shoulders. And she appeared to feel the same about him. Rubbing his black-bearded chin between his thumb and curled forefinger. or pain. Vierig snarled.. Vierig's perfect teeth gleamed white in the bright morning sun as he spied the answer he was sure the gods had delivered to him. Now. a sound not unlike a growl. wanted to taste her. He lifted his clenched fist to the sky and silently made his vow to Odin: By nightfall. The dark Viking warrior scanned the countryside. Vierig rubbed a hand over his swollen crotch. the tent was clean.

her own piece of mind. Candy couldn't hear anything. "Return to the tent. her guardian warrior stood.hers not the Vikings'. "Come on." As Candy reached for the handle. Candy sat on the bed and watched Silky preen himself with a total lack of enthusiasm. and. There was something. She closed the door for his safety. It sounded like a fast. this place is so boring. little guy. they had none . Still the sweat trickled down the valley between her breasts and settled beneath them. isn't anything exciting ever going to happen to me again?" As if in answer to her prayers. the classic you-will-obey-me-without-question gesture that never failed to make her grind her teeth. and went outside. figuring nothing was really wrong. the warrior headed toward the center of camp. When she looked down and saw Silky panting she decided she'd had enough. so she leaned back on her hands and waited. Wait. we're gonna get some air. the idea of returning to that hot stuffy tent nearly nauseating her." Fully expecting his order to be followed immediately.school or starting dinner. That was fascinating for about two minutes. Silky. Candy sighed and leaned over to speak into the little wire cage. "Oh. Silky obligingly hopped into his little cage. deep heartbeat.would allow. tilting his head and craning his neck toward something. . It was so hot! She had opened her jumpsuit as far as decency . Sitting in the shade of one of the few trees that dotted the countryside. Candy decided she was comfortable right where she was. as if he were listening. I'll go see what's happening. she watched as the warrior whose job it was to baby-sit her today cleaned and oiled his sword. Her guard turned to her and pointed his index finger in her direction. Lord. if she were honest.

That notion lasted about two minutes. It seemed as though they had been running for hours. until the noise grew louder. nearly dislocating her . becoming a pounding beneath her hands. She had lost track of everything but Kirk. she would see the crazed red eyes of some hideous creature." Candy wasn't exactly clear on what was happening yet. Silky began mewing nervously. "Something is coming toward camp. She grimaced and poured on more speed. "What's the matter. He grabbed Silky's cage in one hand and her arm in the other and pulled her to her feet. Some hadn't made it. There had been a cattle stampede and people had run for cover. Candy's legs were about to give out. Naturally. Candy was about to open the cage when Kirk came to a dust-kicking halt in front of her. fast! We must find some kind of shelter. The pounding of unknown hooves was becoming louder and louder. what's going on?" Kirk started running and if she wanted to keep her arm Candy didn't have much choice but to go with him. and her young mind had painted visions of trampled. mashed bodies that had given her nightmares for weeks. She even imagined that she could feel its hot breath across the backs of her legs. Her driving force was to keep up with him and stay alive. Kirk suddenly jerked her to the side. Candy resisted such treatment. It felt as though the planet had suddenly developed a heartbeat. She did not plan to end her days under some rabid spacecow's hooves. He yelled to her as he ran. She was certain that if she turned around. Something coming toward camp? What? Visions of an old western she had seen on TV when she was a kid suddenly entered her head.

if necessary. Vierig felt a rush of victory that nearly undid him. you cowardly cur. there's no need to yell. the vixen was even . He flung her behind a fallen tree and tucked her beneath his body just as the crazed herd of large horse-like animals caught up with them. She could never forget that voice. boy. Vierig arched one jet-black eyebrow and lifted one corner of his mouth in sinister amusement. The sight that greeted his eyes was the one he had dreaded since Dolph had returned from that last fateful journey with his old friend: Vierig. It had taken her a minute to get her wits about her. "Vierig. tearing on by in a fear-fueled frenzy. Kirk jumped to his feet. His young voice cracked as he yelled in defiance. When Candy thought she couldn't take it any longer. prepared to sacrifice his life. The beasts jumped over the log. to protect Star. the thunder began to subside. come and get me. She wasn't sure she had heard him correctly until she heard that self-satisfied cat's purr of a voice.shoulder in the process. shaking his head. Kirk expanded his vision to include the dozen or more mounted warriors that surrounded them. if you think you can!" Vierig smiled and looked around at his men. and another to realize what Kirk had said. their hooves mere inches from Kirk's head. Kirk raised his head to see if the danger had completely passed. By the gods. holding the reins of one of the great beasts that had nearly run them down. He clenched his fists and crouched in a fighter's stance over Star." Candy chose then to stand up. He stuck one finger in his ear and twisted his hand. The black-armored Viking stood on the other side of the log. "I'm a sword's length from you. Vierig! When Star rose and stood before him. With a sinking heart.

Vierig stepped forward. She faced him with no fear in her lovely face. It was that fear that made her determined to figure a way out of this predicament. and felt his blood sing as he saw fear. If Vierig had been Dolph's friend once.. Vierig rolled his shoulders.. Candy picked up Silky's cage. her hands planted on her hips in anger. the frightened mewing coming from inside reassuring her that the little feline was okay. leering faces of Vierig's men. his sword pointed at Kirk's chest. and you probably scared several of those poor. wondering if the cavalry was going to make it in time to save the damsel in distress.. her creamy breasts straining the opening of her jumpsuit. The defiance in her eyes was enough to heat a man's blood. then her blue eyes flew up to lock with his lethal black orbs.whatevers. expanding his chest. She dropped her gaze to the sword. unwilling to make battle maneuvers so close to Star. maybe she could find a tiny thread of that lost friendship and weave their way out of this alive.. a thought struck her. Kirk pushed Star behind him. Vierig laughed and thrust at Kirk's .to death!" Vierig paid close attention to her face as he slowly slid his golden sword from the leather loop at his side.more beautiful than he remembered. "Don't you people have any rules? That was our camp you just trashed. She pressed the wire cell close to her chest. As she looked over Kirk's shoulder at the man who held their lives in his hands. the source of all power. For the first time since Dolph had appeared on that California road to kidnap her into this insanity. she felt true fear. The boy hit at the sword with his hand. shielding her from Vierig. Candy looked around at the battle-hardened. finally enter her expressive eyes. She didn't think so.

"Please. Star moved around Kirk and jumped over the log so quickly that Vierig had to lower his sword to his side to keep from slicing her. Vierig. and it would be a shame for you to be in the enemy camp when it is .. correctly.. fear and anger warring inside her mind. ".. "Very well. he brought visions of his own blood on the enemies hands to his mind and quickly squelched it. His features hardening. I will let the boy go. but it wouldn't win you any points with your warriors. he realized that achieving his desire where Star was concerned was going to be pitifully easy." Vierig tilted his head to one side." Candy smiled gratefully. She stood in front of him. At the last minute he twisted the sword so that it slashed the boy's palm.. This war will end within that week. a warrior who cuts down a kid without a sword is a coward. Star. It might devastate Dolph. but I do know that you abhor cowards. her hands up in a supplicating gesture. using her last weapon. Beauty. When he felt something dangerously akin to sympathy enter his heart. if you ever cared about Dolph." Vierig watched and listened as Star made her impassioned plea for the boy's life. anticipating. I may not know much about you guys. raising one eyebrow and lifting the corners of his mouth in a smile of sarcasm. "Vierig. that the boy would use the same defensive move. Kirk pulled his wounded hand to his chest and took an involuntary step backward. Candy continued. she dropped her gaze to the ground. please don't kill him.mid-section. what fun would it be to skewer him. but as Vierig continued. In my book.if you will accompany me to my camp and remain with me for one week. Besides. don't kill his little brother.

Candy nodded. nervous animals. Candy couldn't read what she saw there. slapping him hard across the face before he could discern her intent. She jumped back as Vierig raised his sword to the sky and yelled. Candy swallowed hard. "No!" Kirk stepped over the log only to take Vierig's fist square on the jaw. Her thoughts had her wound so tightly that she started when Vierig touched his fingertip to her chin and raised it so their eyes met. "Why did you do that? You said you wouldn't hurt him if I went with you. Unconscious. "Well." Vierig grabbed her wrists and pulled them behind her back. his face the mask of the victorious warrior. Lovely as you are. She couldn't let him kill Kirk. does the boy live?" Pulling her bottom lip between her teeth.taken. He slumped to the ground. and that frightened her even more. What was going on in this man's mind? Shifting his sword so that the sun glinted off its golden surface into Star's sapphire eyes. The thought cooled his temper somewhat. But there was no doubt in her mind what would happen to her in Vierig's camp. even as it fired his . you might be ill-used many times before I could control my men. He imagined how she would feel pressed so with flesh against flesh. Star. unsure what to say. With a cry of. the boy never heard Star call out to him. Star turned on Vierig. warrior's temper clashed with woman's outrage. bringing her flush against his hard. Ebony black met flashing sapphire. black body-armor. Vierig pressed. a tiny trickle of blood coloring one corner of his mouth." There were several throaty chuckles from the warriors who still held them within a circle of stomping. I would protect you from that.

"If you wish me to leave the boy unharmed. Narrowing her eyes. "I said that I would not kill him. When Candy decided she'd had enough. Just as Candy thought the . He chuckled deep in his throat. Beauty." Star's eyes flew wide open and Vierig knew that Dolph had told her of his torture. with nothing between him and this madman's torture but her. He chuckled. Vierig took her head in his large hands and held her still. I shall have to amuse myself in some other way. He turned her head so that he could reach any part of her that he wanted. he spoke quietly. grinding his lips against hers. she nipped at his tongue. then withdrew his tongue. the sound vibrating through his tongue and into her mouth. she glared viciously into Vierig's face. Star shook her head and tried to pull away but he held her fast. enjoying the feel of her small hands pushing on his chest. tangling them in the black hair that feathered down his back nearly to his waist. If you refuse. she brought his lips to her own. He forcefully pushed his tongue against her teeth until she had no choice but to open her mouth and allow him entry. A man can lose a great deal without losing his life. Star lost control of the kiss." Candy looked at Kirk lying there so helpless. And her weakness. Beauty. lighting the depths of his hard. as he slid his lips back and forth across her lips. As soon as their lips met. His smile was truly evil. She slid her hands around his neck. He moved his tongue about in her mouth. and pulled his face down. convince me. Swallowing back the urge to gag. Since the gods had been so kind as to give him the boy. Glaring down into her angry face. he might as well make use of him one last time.lust. gauging her strength. cold eyes with sinister glee. Give your lips to me with the passion of your anger and the boy lays as he is.

be sure to kill me. again? Disgusted with herself for such weak thoughts. Vierig's teeth grazed her ever so lightly. Vierig jumped onto the 'horse'." Candy gasped as he swung her into his arms and placed her on the back of the horse-beast he had been riding. come Hell or high water! Chapter 15 The sight that met Dolph when he returned to camp that evening turned his blood cold. Debris from their camp littered the countryside. protecting and caging at the same time. his expression so ablaze with lust. Vierig sucked her bottom lip into his mouth and Candy remembered how he had bitten her the first time he had kissed her in Dolph's camp. visions of broken bones dancing in her head. She stiffened. I will make you suffer the tortures of Hell before I allow you to die. With one last look at the unconscious boy and Silky's little cage lying by the log. Would she ever see them. If you do not. for lack of a better word. Beauty. or Dolph. "If you ever strike me again. Candy wondered how he was still standing. Candy stiffened her back and made a promise to herself: She WAS going to make it out of this and back to Dolph. Of the twenty men that he had left to guard the . She wrapped her fingers in the prancing animal's mane.ordeal over. behind her and wrapped his arms around her. He raised his head and gazed into her eyes. Vierig held the reins as he gave orders to his men to return to camp. waiting for the pain. Candy took a deep breath and forced herself not to cry. Candy gave a sigh of relief as she realized that Vierig was going to keep his word and leave Kirk alone. sending involuntary shivers down her spine.

gladdened his heart. The rest had not returned to camp as yet. Dolph quickly went to Kirk's side." A blade to the guts could not have devastated Dolph as much as those three words. victims of the stampeding animals that had destroyed everything in their path in their panic to evade Vierig's ground-aimed blasts. calm voice. Seeing no blood. Dishonored? Leave? What was he talking about? "To go where?" Kirk stood straight. nor any sign of a body. Feeling his heart clench painfully in his chest. he spoke in a stern.camp. Dolph. And he had lost the beautiful Star to a fate that would surely be worse than death. "Where is Star?" Trying to be brave. Dolph heard his brother's words. I will leave immediately. The bodies of four lay in the center of camp. He searched about for Kirk. He had failed again in his duty to his commander. "Vierig has her. swallowing back his tears and raising his . He was relieved when he saw his little brother limping into camp. he had no idea where Star might be. I have dishonored myself and our father's name. When Kirk looked into his eyes. He stepped back as though he had been struck. or in what condition. fearing the worst. Kirk ignored his blurry vision and stood straight to face his commander and brother. cursing himself for the tears that came to his eyes. three were still standing." Through the haze of his sorrow. "I am sorry that I failed you again. Kirk interpreted that movement as censure. Who knew how far they might have had to run to get out of harm's way? Dolph went straight to the remnants of his tent. He hung his young head. Dolph knew something was very wrong. Still.

then you must have been with her. His voice was full of the passion of youth.chin proudly. but his grimace showed that he thought he should have done better. his eyes sought the ground in shame. I would have fought him still if he hadn't blind-sided me. If you know that Vierig has Star. his eyes blazed with remembered anger. Dolph pulled him into his arms. squeezing until the boy felt some concern for his ribs." . they were gone. Dolph spoke as he held fast to his brother. Star was not dead." Kirk cast his eyes to the ground and shook his head. Kirk. glad that he was safe. "You did not fail me. "Did you not?" Kirk nodded. The very fact that you still draw breath shows that you did well. "Star saved me. Taking Kirk a little off guard. Vierig agreed. Dolph placed his hand on his little brother's shoulder. "I will go to Vierig's camp and reclaim the lady Star from that bastard! I will make you proud of me. but I never got the chance." Again. "Vierig is a seasoned warrior. His voice was very small. "When I came to. with the condition that she go to his camp with him and stay there for a week. Dolph. As long as she lived." Looking up. He breathed deeply of the evening scents in an attempt to bring his world back into perspective. there was hope." Dolph set the boy from him with a questioning look. And I know that you fought valiantly for her. "I would have fought Vierig." Dolph dropped his head back to stare at the waning sun. Star stepped between us and begged him for my life.

alone now with the enemy. women's pitiful wails coming from behind their canvas walls.Half-a-dozen emotions crossed Dolph's face as he listened to Kirk's narrative of his run-in with Vierig: Anger at Star for interfering in a warrior's battle. "Dolph. The anger of the gods flashed in those green spheres! Dolph's handsome features took on an unnatural glow. His rage was building to near-berserker force. When Kirk touched his shoulder. His jaw flexed. His mind clouded with visions of Star in Vierig's bed. Kill Vierig!" *** Candy was a little surprised to find that Vierig's camp was almost a twin of Dolph's. beneath him.black tents dripping with the blood of their victims. What did he think to gain by this? Or did he just want Star for his own amusement? Dolph closed his fist around the hilt of his sword until his knuckles whitened. and breath. Then I will do as I should have done long ago. When he spoke. his voice was soft. his nostrils flared and he ground his teeth together in animal rage. crying out in agony as he viciously took her again and again until her struggles. as though they had turned to some brilliant stone. She wasn't sure exactly what she had expected . "I am going to free Star and see that she is safe. yet filled with so much menace that Kirk pulled away from him to be sure it was still his brother talking. what are you going to do?" When Kirk looked into Dolph's eyes he knew why his brother was a respected and feared commander. curiosity at Vierig's tactics. Maybe even a blood-stained altar for sacrifices to their violent . fear for her. ceased. his lips raised in a fierce snarl. and for trading herself for Kirk's life. Dolph nearly slammed the young man to the ground before he could stop himself.

Was he alright? Had he returned to camp? Was he furious with her for going with Vierig? No. a large bank of cooking fires in the middle. and a lot of average. there were neat rows of normal-looking tents. Still holding tightly to the mane of the horse-critter. remembering how Dolph had stolen her from her home and dragged her off to science-fiction land. reminded her why she had given away her freedom. Candy shook her head in mild disgust at herself. Candy gave a soft giggle. Oh. She looked up into Vierig's smiling face and. Beauty?" . in enforced sleep. Her musings were cut short as strong hands wrapped around her waist and she was pulled from the horse and set on her feet. well. Vikings roaming about the camp. Women had been justifying their men's actions for as long as there had been men and women. feeding on the flesh of innocent babies. and vulnerable. Instead. Seeing them as human would make it a little more difficult to cheer Dolph on each day as he sallied forth to murder them. Sure. if there were such a thing. distorted ways. They laughed and joked with each other just like the men in Dolph's camp. his young face so peaceful.gods. for about the thousandth time. The memory of her last sight of Kirk. "What troubles you. she had hardly joined an exclusive club. Wouldn't he? Men thought in such strange. it was easy to imagine the enemy as some sort of monsters. She hadn't exactly had her freedom to give away. he would understand that she had done it to protect Kirk. Never logically like women. wondered what insanity had invaded her mind and caused her to promise him a week. had she? The thought of Dolph caused a slight lump to form in Candy's throat.

"I mean you no harm. Vierig gave her an indulgent grin and held his hands. 'Why fight'. No matter what lies Dolph may have fed you. her mind asked. scowling up at him. Beauty. as Vierig's lips descended to engulf hers. As he forced his tongue between her slightly resisting lips. and much better armed than you.Vierig raised his large hand and brushed Candy's forehead with his fingertips before she could pull away. Candy started to take another step away from him." His voice dropped to a seductive purr. 'you know he'll win. What he has shown you is only a teasing taste of ecstasy. Since Vierig was rather close to those flailing limbs. she was pulled up hard against Vierig's black armored chest. in front of his chest." As he spoke. Candy pretended to submit just long enough for him to think he had won. but his hard-as-steel arms wrapped around her like a hungry boa constrictor who's just found lunch. he closed the distance between them. and as usual. palms toward her. "I wish to give you pleasure as only a man can. he had to step out of the way quickly or risk getting his . the same seduced-into-submission lethargy trying to settle over her. The horse was not very happy with the fact that she grabbed his tail to steady herself. as before in Dolph's camp. meaner. Vierig made a strangling sound and shoved her away from him so hard she stumbled and nearly fell. her little voice was right. "A brow as beautiful as yours should never know such furrows. Candy bit down as hard as she could.' As usual. Once again. that she was totally in his power. This time." Candy did pull away now. He's bigger. Dolph is soft. The beast screamed in protest and raised his front legs into the air. Candy didn't listen. I will give you a full meal. hurting you is the farthest thing from my mind.

the furious animal ran off in the direction they had just come." Candy lowered her voice. She held her hands before her in supplication and yelled. She was not going to stand by and watch an innocent animal murdered by this madman. Candy was recovering from the shock of the whole display and thinking about laughing when she realized with a shock of horror that Vierig had pulled a gun from somewhere and was leveling it at the horse. With a curse. who wasted no time in giving the angry beast some space." Vierig's black eyes still watched the retreating back of the beast that had defied him. It promptly bit Vierig's hand. to hear its screams of agony as it died! The fire of vengeance that burned in his blood was a pain that he welcomed as an old friend. his narrowed eyes blazing Hell's fire. Without thinking. "you can get another one. Silence had never been one of Candy's strong points. Candy jumped in front of the angry Viking. Besides. The pounding of his heart in his ears was building to a crescendo. dangerous situation was no different. A visitor that Vierig knew would leave only when the scales of justice had been balanced blood for blood. Kicking up its heals. temporarily reining in her anger and softening her tone to better defend the horse. "Vierig. Vierig grabbed for the beast's reins. the horse was no longer in the mood for human companionship. However. and this tense. He wanted its blood. "No!" Vierig stared at her. Not if she could help it. . then loudly snorted its disgust with these creatures that had invaded its turf.head busted. He looked as though he might shoot her and then the horse. Candy didn't care. don't you dare shoot that horse! He was just upset because I pulled his tail. whipped its head and neck around to glare at Candy.

a dream of adventure gone bad. That sudden shift in altitude. was all that her body was willing to tolerate at the moment. She might have convinced herself that the whole nightmare with Vierig had been just that. She realized that the slap Dolph had given her the day she had bitten Ulrich had been barely a tap. some remark that would bring him to his knees. "you will now learn the fate of one who defies me!" Candy had never been hit so hard in her life. except that one side of her jaw was very sore and there was no little wire cage full of curled-up Silky in the corner.His blazing eyes zeroed in on Candy. Other than that." Vierig spoke to the dazed girl lying at his feet. she jumped when he reached down and grabbed her shoulders. With what could only be described as a snarl. barely missing Candy. Did the woman have no sense? She dared to interfere? The hand that held the gun shot out with a life nearly of its own to connect soundly with Candy's jaw. Trying to think of something witty and gritty to say. coupled with the blow to the head that she had just sustained. the huge black-clad Viking warrior pulled her quickly to her feet. Vierig's glowering countenance was the last thing Candy saw before she slipped from consciousness. As she flew to the ground. He cursed vehemently as he realized that the horse had made good its escape. She was mentally questioning the soundness of her jaw when Vierig loomed over her. Furious. he threw the gun at the ground. Chapter 16 Candy awoke to find herself lying on a field-bed. Vierig drew the weapon back up to eye level to regain his shot. turning in its flight and putting the row of tents between Vierig and his intended target. as the lust of battle and vengeance shifted from his mind to his loins. Vierig's . Beauty. "Very well. who now caught his full attention.

so much more hostile." Candy jumped as Vierig ducked through the tent door. like a turkey waiting to be stuffed! She started to sit up but the pounding in her head made her think better of that move. He had not meant to strike her so hard. He compared the campwomen to her and found them all lacking. She laid back against the pillows. with a short pause at her breasts and the juncture of her lovely thighs. He heard her voice in his sleep. but lying on a bed. letting the heavy flap fall to the ground behind him. she was now a believer in that theory. Beauty. he allowed his gaze to peruse the girl from her glorious hair to her pretty little feet. Candy remembered reading a magazine article that had hypothesized how the atmosphere in a house was heavily influenced by the person or people who lived there. The heights to which she had taken him in his dreams were awe-inspiring. smiling to himself. By the gods. He had never envied another as . "Okay. 'Not such a difficult task. The room suddenly seemed to shrink as she realized that she was alone with Dolph's enemy. his field-bed taking up most of the rest of the tent. giving the dark Viking a glare meant to melt steel. Not just alone. he had been unable to rid his mind of her image. now you know you're being stupid. she was a prize a man could be proud to possess! Since the first time he had seen her in Dolph's camp. This is my tent. but the stupid chit had made him lose his temper.' Vierig thought. like any other tent around here." "Not quite. Vierig noticed her wince of pain and gave an answering grimace. This is just a tent. His closed war-chest sat in one corner. Lying here in this tent that was physically almost identical to Dolph's but felt so very different.tent was the same as Dolph's. Placing his hands on his hips. This place scared her.

she narrowed her eyes and looked ready to bolt at the slightest provocation." Slowly. Vierig raised an eyebrow in response to Candy's glare. Beauty? I have no desire to hurt you. he brushed the back of his hand over her sore jaw. she gave him a withering smile. he unfastened his armor and tossed it toward the war-chest. "Good guess!" As he headed to the bed. "Aye. and could now bask in his triumph. she would have to admit that she was terribly curious about this man who had once been Dolph's friend and was now his most hated enemy. as though he were taming a wild filly." Pointing to the side of her face that he had struck. Like a mongoose staring at a cobra. He had vowed that he would have the beautiful blonde wench. Candy didn't have any choice but to let him fondle her. "Why do you fear me. Candy's eyes widened as the wide expanse of coarse jet-black hair on his chest was revealed. Since she was already pressed as far into the pillows as she could get. If she were to be honest with herself. At least. "Are you angry with me.much as he had Dolph. Vierig's smile was predatory. Was he some kind of an ogre who would turn on her if . paying no heed when the heavy black gear missed the mark and fell to the floor. He wore no shirt beneath the breast-plate. Beauty?" Candy's mouth dropped open and she shook her head in disbelief. "That hurt." Vierig surprised her with the richness of his laugh. I suppose it did. had plotted her delivery into his hands. Wearing only black leather pants and boots. he strode to the bed and sat beside her. that was what she told herself.

Finally his palm came to rest on her shoulder. She was in the process of swinging her feet over the side of the bed when Vierig's hands on her shoulders stopped her. Giving her a little shake that made her stomach think about mutiny. The only thing that's attacked me around here is sitting on this bed. his voice held an edge of steel. She sat up. His eyes darkened from their usual deep brown to the shade of black that Candy remembered from Dolph's camp.she let down her guard even a little? Or was he just a man who had let a violent. He followed her jawline down. "Away from you. It's only logical that I would want to get away from it. Candy decided her period of bed rest was at an end. Candy narrowed her eyes and scooted up the bed to a sitting position. As though it were the most natural thing in the world. The eternal optimist." "Excuse me. You might fall and injure yourself." He chuckled. That either meant she was healing quickly. traumatic incident warp the rest of his life? His hand was warm and surprisingly gentle. he reached for the front of . or she was too scared to feel the pain. "Where do you think you're going?" Candy met his ebony eyes with blue fire. glad that her head didn't spin quite as badly as it had a few minutes ago. "I don't think you're ready to be up and about just yet. Vierig nodded his approval. don't you think?" She pushed at his hands but he held fast. she voted for quick healing. sending shivers through her spine as he lightly caressed the side of her neck. "I said stay!" For once swallowing the smart remark that came to her lips. As it started to slide downward.

Your duty is to see to my needs. He was a prisoner just like you. he snapped.Candy's jumpsuit. he released her and stood. but I never agreed to be your whore. but he didn't have Kirk to hold over her now. Beauty. "Did Dolph teach you nothing? What purpose do you think you serve in this camp. Vierig. Candy decided to take the chance she might not get again. he would have to educate her. and quit trying to feel me up.. "You're just doing this to get back at Dolph for something he didn't even do. as you were Dolph's. She knew she was supposed to bow down and do his bidding. In a blur of motion. "You are my woman now. She didn't bow to anyone! "Look. someone you see as his property. Vierig." . Obviously. anymore than you proved it by mutilating one of his men.. I won't be so tempted to smack you!" With a snort of disgust. She slapped his hand away. "Ow!" "I warned you never to strike me. he grabbed the offending hand and twisted just enough to let her know he meant business. Throwing caution to the wind. He had no control over the situation. He looked as if he wanted to kill her." His eyes were truly blazing now. Did the little fool have no sense? He knew he must put some distance between himself and the defiant woman or he would surely start breaking bones! Turning back to her. If you fight me. Beauty. I might have agreed to stay with you for a week." "If you stay out of my reach." The threat was very clear. You're not going to prove what a great man you are by abusing me. how do you earn your food and lodging?" He could see that his pause for effect was ineffective in her continued glare.

I mean. or Dolph wouldn't have been your friend. "Women?" His voice was low.. Candy had no chance to move. Snarling. you seem to have recovered from your wound just fine. he rose to his knees.Taking heart from the fact that he hadn't ripped off her head yet." His grip was not so punishing now. "until I shut them up. He caressed her breasts almost absent-mindedly as he examined his memories aloud. she might even be able to get them back together. If you weren't so mean." His eyes met hers. you know. As he gripped her breasts in his calloused hands. Candy reasoned that he might just want to hear what she had to say. to get out of his way. "Women ran from me in horror. Maybe she could appeal to the old Vierig. Dolph's friend. . straddling her. the raw pain revealed in their depths sending shivers down her spine. Candy was on a roll. he was right not to talk. with his knees on her hands. Candy screamed in spite of herself. nice hair. Bolstered by that thought. he pulled her jumpsuit open to the waist. squeezing hard. knocking all the air from her lungs and making her wonder if she were going to pass out again.. She was helpless to do anything more than squirm beneath his weight. Yeah. almost a whisper. well built. Before she could recover. You could be again. "Do I blame Dolph? No. He landed with his full weight on her. "You must have been a nice guy once. I bet women would." His voice became more husky. I would have done the same. What worthy woman wants a warrior who cannot give her children? And whores laughed." His angry roar shook the tent walls as Vierig launched himself at the bed. You're a good-looking guy.

"I did not make a sound. He like a statue carved from human suffering. Dolph whispered. "I showed the fools that I was stronger than all of them. defending our ground until the battle was over. Like she had a choice. came to me. my friend. She gritted her teeth and decided she could stand it a while longer. to know why he had gone bad. When I opened my eyes. his voice hard as diamonds." His voice lost its hard edge for a heartbeat. "That was when Dolph. She wanted to hear. not looking away even when the pain made his image blur before me. his eyes ebony stones. rotting in his eyes. His features looked as though they had been carved from granite. It was the same with any warrior who knew of my loss." The edge returned to his words. They made sure that Dolph had an unobstructed view. Then their leader ordered them all to silence so he could better enjoy my screams. he realized that I had not reached Valhalla. and breathing was in danger of becoming just a memory. He stood over me. "When our men broke in and freed us. I held his eyes. every time he looked at me I saw that same wretched emotion. He looked away. but Candy didn't want to stop him. Then he knelt down beside me. I . the muscles in his chest and arms tensed even more."They tore off my pants while six of them held me. 'Brother'." If possible. "And from that day forward. mixed with guilt." The pain in her hands was intense. His eyes were filled with pity!" He nearly spit the word. I grabbed the first sword I found and fought till the blood loss from several minor wounds claimed me and I fell to the ground. to a place that existed only in his mind. "Just before the hot blade found its mark.

But Dolph was a good fighter. I will . We pounded on each other until the inevitable clash of steel ended our association. hardening to a nub beneath his finger. Shifting easily. "I will use your body in ways that you can barely imagine. or was it a trick? "All this talking has given me a powerful thirst. Was this some kind of temporary reprieve." He smiled slightly and Candy caught a glimpse of the friendship he had once felt for Dolph. I destroy anything that stands in the way of my desires. if you choose to fight me. "I will have you. loudly & often. Beauty." He seemed to focus on the present once again as he looked into Candy's eyes. He chuckled as her nipple responded." the smile turned hard and Candy felt her throat tighten as he continued in a hard voice. He wanted an excuse to hurt her and Candy wasn't feeling stupid enough to give him one. "And a good friend. Beauty. or. and found a way to inspire the respect of all. I will take you gently. I called it good riddance.became 'The Merciless'. He brought one fingertip to his mouth. Except Dolph. Anyone with any sense fears my wrath. No woman denies me. his eyes dared her to resist." He stood and stepped back from the bed so quickly that Candy thought she was imagining things. It is your choice. reminding Candy that he was truly a handsome man. he released her hands and gave her a little more breathing space. then traced her nipple with the wet tip." His voice dropped to an introspective whisper and Candy realized that he had all but forgotten her presence. licked it. Very painful ways. All the while. "He disapproved of my actions. it is foolish to resist." he grinned. "as gently as my lust will allow.

Candy tried to control her breathing. mad as hell!" Hearing her own voice was reassuring. she tried to remember exactly what had transpired when Vierig had taken her from Kirk. "When I return. calming breath. Candy was no fool. It got her mind away from the fear and back to the problem at hand . But she had done it successfully once before. ignoring her aching jaw and head. She realized that it was easier said than done. a triumphant smile splitting her face. "Ha! I never agreed to his stupid deal. Had she ever made that promise. or had Vierig just assumed she had? The light went back on behind Candy's eyes. Pulling her jumpsuit closed. "Wait a minute!" Concentrating with all her might. Dejectedly. relieved he was gone. I will have you. she would just meekly accept her fate." He gave her a look of steel. when she snuck out of Dolph's camp to . She took a deep. I'm outta here!" Even in her excitement to leave. "I'm mad." With that. Candy hit the bed with her palm. Didn't I?" Candy sat up. he turned and left the tent as quietly as he had entered it. her face lit with an I-just-had-a-great-idea look as she exclaimed. Vierig had decided that because he told her that was the way it was going to be. leaving a Viking camp without the knowledge of the Vikings. Candy reminded herself of her promise. She didn't know which she was more . "I said I would stay in this horrible place for a week.give you some time to prepare yourself. Raising her fist with the index finger extended. or terrified that he would get back before she figured a way out of this.angry.how to get out of here. In his typical male fashion.

one that none of the enemy knew was taking place until it was successfully completed. Star's life would depend on the stealth of Dolph and his men.go in search of Silky. having gotten to know his lady Star. he would kill her rather than let Dolph win. Dolph could see in the solemn expressions around him that his men knew this and. anything that related to Star. They had gleaned everything they could from the scouts. "There is barely enough sun left to light our way to Vierig's camp. to put it mildly. Military intelligence was the key to such a mission. He felt that if Vierig ever thought he might be going to lose his prize. his sword raised. If they launched an all-out attack on the camp. Dolph. She had every confidence in her ability to do it again. Finally. night fell. They had to know exactly where Star was being kept. how many guards were watching over her. welcomed the honor of being included in her rescue. sitting and waiting for such information to be gathered had never been one of Dolph's strong points. He wanted to charge into the camp.. This would have to be a covert mission. No. darkening their hair and faces with ash. Holding his temper in check while he made the necessary preparations to retrieve Star from Vierig's camp was difficult. Still. Dolph's jaw clenched. Dolph had to keep his head.maybe. As he and his warriors sat around the campfire. he sent his best scouts to reconnoiter Vierig's camp. time moved as slowly as an old warrior fighting the ghosts of his past. To that end.. his war-cry striking fear into the hearts of all who heard it." . *** For Dolph. she might be hurt before he could reach her. Final preparations for the rescue began. But he knew he couldn't allow his temper to rein at the price of harm to Star.

to protect Star and keep her safe until he could . the god of his mother. now stood with their swords raised in salute. He stood.Dolph turned to Ulrich and nodded. Her strength and resilience. to battle!" A chorus of "To Star!" rent the air with such force. his black long-sleeved jump suit. even those who were not to be involved in this raid. along with her ever sunny smile and sweet words. The seasoned. As the six warriors set out into the dark surrounding the camp. Dolph. Star is mine! Tonight. Still. Felix. he yelled in defiance. and Star. grizzled warrior had requested his inclusion in this mission. Dolph saw that all of the warriors in the camp. at least for his men. Dolph feared it might be heard in the enemy camp. Raising his sword high above his head. Dolph felt they were the best men he had. and ash-blackened hair blending into the cloak of the darkening sky. One of the first lessons Dolph had ever learned as a warrior was that you must always believe in yourself. said a silent prayer to Jesus. For the glory of Odin. he wondered if there were some detail he might have overlooked. "Odin. The gods would surely hear and lead their way. had endeared her to many of his warriors. never let doubt weigh on your mind or you would be doomed before you ever began. Shaking his head in anger. he cast the poisonous doubts from his mind. Choosing only five to go with him had been difficult. some important bit of information he hadn't found yet. black boots. just to cover his bases. and Rain completed his squad. hear me. Victor. Garth the Strong. as almost all had requested the honor. she will be returned to me. A slight smile curved one corner of Dolph's mouth as he wondered if Star would ever understand that her bite had brought on Ulrich's respect. With the absolute knowledge that they would succeed in tonight's endeavor fueling his words.

Still. the knife was sharp. she turned her attention to the bottom of the war-chest. she put it into her pocket. And even if I did. Candy was still not going to miss this opportunity to take a little revenge on Vierig. "I don't consider Vierig much of a warrior. There she found what . Chapter 17 The first thing Candy decided she should do in her plan of escape was to find out what was at her disposal that could be used as a weapon. Candy first spied a square of colored silk. She figured Vierig would want the pleasure of doing that while she was awake to suffer through it. its sheath a heavily jeweled masterpiece of overdone. Besides. retrieving the blade from the floor.free her from the threat of Vierig's vengeance. She was about to shove the dagger into another pocket when Dolph's wards from the past came to her loud and clear: "You must never pull steel on a Viking warrior. I'm not about to take on a whole camp of Vikings unarmed. However. She stuffed the flags into her pocket for later mutilation. Not willing to waste any time at the moment.. Pulling them out. sharp was useful. she counted five. thankful that her clothes had not been taken while she was unconscious. She carefully climbed from the bed.. as Kirk has said. Boy was Vierig going to get a surprise! Opening his war-chest. then quickly kicked her thoughts back to her imminent escape. Her decision made about the dagger. if you asked Candy." Candy dropped the dagger as if it had bitten her. She shivered with the notion. In an escape. On the tip shelf of the war-chest was a dagger. Vierig's ships." Candy gave a little giggle as she realized she was arguing with herself. her stubborn pride recovered quickly and.

Dolph's woman. "I'm gonna die!" *** The six warriors crept stealthily across the dark countryside. Dolph moved ever so slowly toward the man. Candy fell back onto the bed with a heavy sigh. her jaw set with stubborn pride. they all stopped as if of one mind. Felix rolled the man face down on the ground and they all awaited the few tense . Candy raised her head. Remembering Vierig's face as he slapped her . Candy wore an expression of fear mixed exactly fifty-fifty with determination.she decided she would find a way. his eyes on fire with the sure knowledge that he would return triumphant. using their knees and elbows. Her voice growing stronger with each word. slicing his throat from ear to ear before the man could make a sound.Vierig's shield. knocking him to the ground. As they neared the perimeter of Vierig's camp. focusing his acute senses on any sound or movement. It took nearly all her strength just to pull it out of the deep chest.the anger. He never knew his fate was so near at hand until Dolph's fist crashed into the back of his knee. Dolph was at his most alert and lethal. When a sentry neared their position. "I can do this! I'm a Viking's woman. she repeated. "I can do this. the promise of worse to come . seeking the cover of the sparse trees and bushes whenever possible. she wondered how she was ever going to pull off her plan. identifying the source. they dropped to the ground and. She remembered how Dolph looked when he went into battle.she had hoped to find . As heavy as it was. began crawling toward the tents." She didn't sound convinced even to herself. then quietly moving on. I'm Star!" With that. Instantly. Felix pounced on him from the other side.

seconds that seemed an eternity to see if anyone in the camp had heard or seen anything. No alarm was raised. With a slight move of his hand, Dolph signaled the others to fan out and continue the plan which he had outlined earlier in the day while waiting for sundown: Vierig's camp was in a prime location, the north boundary being a mountain and thus pretty much impregnable from that direction. Garth the Strong and Ulrich would move to the west end of the enemy camp. Once there, they would cause a distraction. Dolph and Felix would come into the camp from the south and spirit Star away to the east, as that was where Vierig's tent was located. Victor and Rain would take up positions on the east side of the camp, to guard their backs as they retreated. They would regroup at a spot about 2 miles south of Vierig's camp, a small pond, partially hidden by bushes, that Dolph had chosen as their rendezvous point. From there they would return to their own camp. Once they had given the others enough time to find their position, Dolph and Felix stood, threw their arms around each other's shoulders and let their heads droop together. Singing, loudly and off-key, a bawdy drinking song any Viking warrior would recognize, they boldly walked right into the camp of Vierig the Merciless. *** Candy had been listening in disgust to the Vikings outside the tent. They were getting very drunk. She recognized Vierig's voice among them. His words were not quite as slurred as the others. She hoped he's keep drinking, like the Viking pig he was, so he wouldn't be too together when he decided to come to bed. She had heard him boasting about what he intended to do to here when he retired for the evening. "I'll have that white-haired beauty howling before the night ends,

on that you can bet your lives. She looks well ready to be ridden miles without rest, don't you think?" This was met with guffaws and encouragement that let Candy know she wouldn't find any help in this camp, not that she had held any delusions that she might. Fine! She could handle this on her own. As she sat on the bed, willing herself to relax so that she would be ready when the time came, she thought about Dolph, hoping he wasn't too worried about her. Candy tossed her beautiful mane and snorted, reminding herself of a horse. "Poppycock! I hope he's worried sick about me. You only worry about people you really care about. I'm worried sick about him, and he isn't even in trouble. Oh, how much can one man, even a Viking, drink?!" Candy sat up suddenly as she heard footsteps near the front of the tent. This was it, she was on! She stood beside the tent door. Using every ounce of strength she possessed, she lifted Vierig's battle-shield above her head. As that loathsome man stepped foot inside the darkened tent, she brought the heavy metal weapon down on his head as hard as she could. The large black-clad body slumped to the ground at her feet. Candy let out a soft squeal of delight. She hoped she had broken his rotten skull, she really did! She wasted no time waiting for Vierig to come around. She planned to sneak out of the tent by crawling out the front door and around to the back where she hoped no one would see her, or pay any attention if they did. Then she could get out of this camp and head back to Dolph's. She wasn't exactly positive in which direction Dolph's camp lay, but she'd cross that bridge when she came to it. 'Or drowned under it,' Candy thought with a worried frown. She was just about out the door when the big lump on the floor

groaned. She cursed herself, wishing she were meaner, more ruthless. But she wasn't. She was just certain that she was a failure as a Viking's woman. Sighing, Candy tried to comfort herself. "Ok, so I happen to be a nice person. This is a sin? I just have to be sure the big oaf isn't going to bleed to death before somebody finds him. Then, I'm outta here." She knelt by his side and rolled the heavy man over from his stomach onto his back, no small task. "I mean, it's not like I hate the guy or anything. He and Dolph just have this little disa...Oh, no!" She was sure the sight that met her eyes would haunt her for the rest of her life - which was not a big threat considering the fact that she figured at this point if she didn't die in Vierig's camp, she would certainly be murdered when she got back to Dolph's. She recognized the face before her, even though it was covered in some kind of black stuff - not to mention a small trickle of blood on the forehead - as not that of Vierig the Merciless, her vicious enemy, but that of her beloved Viking warrior, Dolph. *** Dolph woke to find his enemy rolling him onto his back, no doubt to expose his heart or throat for a killing blow. Dolph reacted with his warrior's training even as his berserker instincts took over. He brought his knee up onto the enemy's midsection and lifted, throwing him over his head. With a roar of near-animal rage, he raised his back off the ground, kicked out his legs and sprang into the air, drawing his sword as he landed on the balls of his feet ready to battle the Hounds of Hell. Candy wasn't quite sure what had just happened. One minute she had been leaning over Dolph's prone, and unconscious, she thought, body; the next, she was gasping for breath and playing

flying nun over the floor of the tent, landing face down on the field-bed. She whispered a quick "Thank you, Lord!" for the placement of the bed, then turned onto her back just in time to be scared out of her wits. Not only was Dolph roaring like a wounded bear, but he was standing in the middle of the tent with his sword drawn, looking at her as though he had just discovered she was pregnant by his best friend and was determined to remedy that situation with a quick slice and dice. His eyes were wide open, blazing with some inner hatred, his beautiful lips pulled back in a snarl. Candy gasped at the sudden realization that he wasn't seeing her at all, that he was doing his Viking berserker thing. She knew she had to do something. She clearly remembered that it had taken several strong men to pull Dolph off of Belan the last time she'd seen him like this. As Dolph bore down on her, his sword arm rising, Candy used the only weapon at her disposal. "Dolph, it's me, Can...I mean, Star." 'It isn't working, he's still coming.' Candy was not happy to hear her mind's voice becoming distressed. Panic was not good. 'Try again, louder this time.' "Dolph, please don't kill me!" Through the haze of rage brought on by the throbbing pain in his head, Dolph heard his enemy pleading for his worthless life. The demon warrior coursing through his blood reveled in the destruction of the enemy. And yet...Dolph shook his head in an attempt to clear his thoughts. Candy took heart at that motion. She must be getting through. Still, he hadn't lowered that razor-sharp weapon of his yet. She better keep talking. Not that shutting up was much of an option, as scared as she was. She lowered her voice, trying to sooth him.

" "You life. sword in hand.Damn the feminists! . Vierig stood in the doorway. He doubted Vierig would have much . How was I supposed to know it was you?" The big blonde warrior tilted his head from side to side. Candy saw loving recognition glowing in their depths. I thought you were Vierig.fulfilled in her life. none too gently pushing Star behind him.. her warrior. His lovely emerald eyes closed in a long. His mouth ground against her tender lips. Star might be hurt." Chapter 18 Dolph quickly turned to face the tent door. sheathing his sword at his hip. trying to tell him with her body what she was feeling. was crushing her ribs and bruising her lips with his passionate kisses. calmed by her soft tone. though he maintained enough control to keep from hurting her.. Dolph knew he could not draw his sword before Vierig would be upon him. His lips descended onto hers."Dolph. She returned Dolph's ardor with equal intensity. gently at first. "Thank the gods you are safe! My life would surely have ended if you had been taken from me. I'm sorry I hit you. She had just been rescued from certain death and her Viking warrior.barely. You have to admit. old friend. Dolph stepped forward. slow blink. If he tried. you didn't give me any warning. Candy had never felt so completely possessed and . This had to be Heaven. his voice was rough with emotion. and swept her into his arms. is most surely near its end. Then he released all of the pent-up anger and fear that had gathered in his heart and soul since he first discovered his Star had been captured. When he opened them again. When he raised his head to look deeply into her eyes. Measuring the space between them.

She had realized that perhaps now was not the ideal time to chastise him for that treatment. his mind smiled with the certain knowledge that Star would have her word with him." her sweet voice seemed to lesson the tension in the tent somewhat. she said. as she listened to his speech to Vierig. "And will it be you that ends it? Vierig. a whole man. vibrating with anger and scorn. Still. Resisting the urge to sigh in frustration. "Ah. To that end. he was surprised at her next move. Dolph slid his arm between himself and Star and shoved her back away from him." Candy had been none to happy with being unceremoniously shoved away from Dolph. Dolph. Then he pulled himself to his full height and glared at his old friend. Dolph's gut clenched as he realized that Star may have now become expendable to Vierig. on the battlefield. one way or another. she thought her Viking lover desperately needed to be apprised of the situation. Obviously he was going off on his macho trip without a clue about their predicament. "may Dolph and I have a minute alone?" Candy peeked around Dolph's broad back to see the leader of the . could I have a word with you?" Dolph heard Star's softly spoken request. the Merciless. In a quiet voice so Vierig would not hear.of a care as to what happened to her now that he had accomplished his goal of capturing his most hated foe. he put his hand behind his back and motioned for her to back away from him." he gave Vierig a scathing up-and-down look. His eyes never leaving Vierig's. "aye. she took a step toward him and tugged on the back of his jumpsuit. Even as he did it. However. "Vierig. His voice sliced the air. who makes war on women and children because he fears meeting a man.

I have intelligent thoughts. I'm likely to sustain big time injuries!" In her anger. you might learn something. but not today. Take a look around us. but I think I have a big part in this. "And while we're at it. be still! You have no part in this. Dolph's eyes never left Vierig's face but his stern words were directed at the obstinate female that stood far too close to his back. Candy forgot all about Vierig. it is between two warriors.three a day.enemy camp raise an eyebrow and tilt his head to the side. I'm not an idiot. Quickly raising his eyes to clash . I hate it when you tell me to shut up without first hearing what it is I have to say. a comical confused-man expression on his handsome face. If you'd pay a little attention once in a while. The thought flared in his mind that as soon as he removed Star from the lethal clutches of Vierig. you know. Someday. Dolph. He couldn't believe the little fool was giving him a lecture now. Believe or not. This is a small tent. not trusting the cagey Viking not to use any distraction to his benefit. completely ignoring his look of surprise mixed with anger." Dolph listened to Star's tirade in total amazement. she promised herself. "Star." Someday." sarcasm tinged her voice. Other than a quick glare into her face when she stepped in front of him. excuse me. "sometimes two. he kept his eyes on Vierig. If you two great warriors start swinging those overgrown Ginzu knives around in here. "Well. he just might kill her himself! Vierig spared a glance at the beautiful silver veil of hair that cascaded down Candy's back. Candy would figure out how to control that temper of hers. She stepped in front of Dolph.. She jabbed the tip of her finger into the center of Dolph's back.

that Dolph was not paying attention to her. you could probably be friends again. He shook his head in masculine sympathy for his one-time friend. "That was very rude.once again with Dolph's green scowl. Keeping his inner warrior's sense tuned to Vierig. forcing Dolph to lean down a bit to hear her. I'm down here. You just have to make the first move. Why can't you guys talk about this. censure clear in every plane of her lovely face. and talk. This is the perfect opportunity. This beauty was a handful. gave him a little push toward Vierig. he felt the corners of his mouth lift in the slightest of smiles. he crossed his arms over his broad chest and brought his eyes down to Star's face." Dolph took a deep breath to quell the urge to strangle Star right here and now. She poked him in the chest. you both have a lot of unresolved anger and hurt over that prisoner-of-war thing. do you really think now is the time to pick on this guy? I mean. "Hey. however." She cast a glance behind her at Vierig. "Thank you. without weapons. being much too involved in venting her spleen. She did notice." Candy moved to Dolph's side and. then moved closer to Dolph. Candy noticed none of this. She lowered her voice. really Dolph. placing her hand on his elbow. She tilted her head and raised her eyes to his face to find him gazing down at her with a look that clearly stated he thought she had lost her mind. I think if you two would just sit down. Candy stepped away from him and threw her . She seemed temporarily placated by that. He didn't budge. which had risen to a near shout. "Dolph. You know. 'a whole man'?" She tipped her head to the side. She lowered her voice to a near whisper.

old friend. for eternity. Perhaps I will even teach her some manners. just for good measure. Dolph. She had never seen such hostility in a person's face. To have it directed at her was one of the most terrifying feelings she had ever experienced. I would pity you. From that position she treated the men to her sullen glare . "Okay. though I doubt her capable of learning much. "If I thought you had many more years to live. "Once I have stopped the breath in your throat. She stomped to the bed and flouncing down. the furniture. This man hated her. so kill each other. I will use your bitch till I am sated. see if I care. then. my men may take their turns inside her lovely body." her voice was rising again.hands in the air in disgust. "and the little woman! Is that so much to ask?" With an angry toss of her head and the back of her hand. When I no longer have a use for her." Candy gasped. The latter tossed back his head and uttered a loud shout of laughter. enclosed space where you'll inevitably cut up the tent. To her utter . Vierig spoke with the remnants of that laugh still coloring his voice. Candy sent her hair flying to its place behind her shoulders. fine. You would surely spend whatever time the gods allowed you chasing that wench from one disaster to the next. Just don't do it in this tiny. placed her elbows on her knees and her chin on her fists. at Vierig. And he wasn't just blowing smoke. Lowering his eyes to once again clash with Dolph's. she could see it written in his eyes." His eyes hardened and the very air around him seemed to grow thick with his hatred. That should silence her wicked tongue. along with the rest of her.directed first at Dolph. He really intended to do all those awful things.

"Star.disgust. for once. but now didn't seem the best time to give it too much thought. Gauging his strength to avoid excessive injury to his beloved. trusting Dolph. just a little. The clang of metal . In the next instant the clang of sword against sword sounded above her head. failed her. All she wanted to do was get closer to Dolph. Beauty. Remembering the old war movies her father had watched when she was a child. She was pretty sure Vierig had sliced her back. She stood and stepped to Dolph's side. Once there. began crawling for the tent door. Then Dolph did the one thing Vierig would not expect. roll!" brought an immediate reaction from Candy as she did as she was told. he flung Star toward the black-armored warrior. Though he kept his eyes on Vierig. but she was definitely shivering and it wasn't at all cold in that tent. using her knees and elbows. Candy only had time to squeak a protest before she found herself flat on her back on the ground. but kept rolling until she hit the tent wall. no. tossed there by a back-sweep of Vierig's arm. she turned to face the combatants. He hoped she would forgive him some day. she started to shake. I am not finished with you. Candy rolled to her stomach and. Dolph gently wrapped Star in his arms. much too close for her liking. Beholding that glaring visage words. She felt a searing pain across her back." Dolph's yell of "Star. With her back against the side of the tent. "Oh. Candy didn't need further encouragement. Candy watched in awe and fear as the two Viking warriors fought. run!" Hearing the unmistakable whoosh of air being cut inches from her head. She heard Vierig's voice. Dolph yelled. However. she had no intention of standing up. who he knew was zeroing in on his prey. That did not seem prudent at this time. trying her best to ignore the moisture pooling on the ground at her side.

would end what had begun so long ago with Vierig's mutilation at the hands of the enemy. Candy realized with a tightening in her throat. With a roar of fury. As Dolph stepped back to avoid the thrust of his enemy's sword his heel hit Vierig's bed. Catching it by the blade. his own dagger protruding from the thigh. She could only hope and pray that Dolph would win this pivotal battle. Only the death of one of the combatants. He shifted his balance to stop the fall. a force that no human could hope to stop. looking smugly pleased with herself. The smile that tilted Vierig's lips at the thought of Candy's death froze on his face as Dolph's sword pierced his back. He fell full-length across the field-bed. these were the sounds that met her ears. Vierig sprang to his feet and turned to see Candy kneeling a few feet from him. Knowing that Star was nearby.If Vierig's leg had not collapsed beneath him. And the hatred in the air was a palpable force. his sword knocked from his hand as it hit Vierig's war-chest. He dropped . Shifting his sword to his left hand. Dolph would not allow his senses to leave so the demon berserker could enter his mind. his opponent raised his sword for what would surely have been a killing blow.. Then fate reared its head. the grunt of men straining their muscles and skills trying desperately to end each other's lives.on metal. Still. She could smell sweat. he prepared to throw the razor-sharp knife and put an end to the bothersome interference of Dolph's little bitch once and for all. their great bodies straining equally. he was a great warrior without the madness. blood and damp earth.. She could feel the vibrations beneath her body as their feet hit the ground. he pulled the dagger from its seat with his right and tossed it into the air. He matched Vierig parry for parry. but not soon enough. Even as Dolph rolled to attempt a retrieval.

All present realized that the battle was at an end. with all her might. She decided she didn't want to stand up. "Valhalla awaits you. With no thought for any danger to herself. With the understanding of a fellow warrior. dripping with the blood of the man he now used it to salute. She took a couple of knee-steps forward and. then pitched forward onto the ground. Then she remembered Vierig's dagger in her pocket. maybe even a lethal one. Gasping for breath that would not come. His voice was barely a whisper. Dolph took his old friend's sword by the blade and placed the hilt in his outstretched hand. She had realized that Vierig had Dolph in a bad position. his hand barely covering the gaping wound there. not with swords still in action. sending him to his knees.. His sword fell from numb fingers. Candy was amazed.Brother.. But then when had . Candy forced her aching body up onto her knees. She certainly hadn't expected the man to be able to regain his feet so quickly. Vierig turned to Dolph and extended his hand as though reaching for something.the dagger and grabbed his chest. He tried to take a step but his injured leg betrayed him. above his head and echoed Vierig's words. It took Candy a minute to grasp all that had just happened. only Dolph's impending death or dismemberment. howling like a wounded bear. As blood trickled from his lips." With the last of his life's force Vierig roared his defiant battle cry. "To Odin. jabbed the knife into Vierig's muscular thigh." Dolph lowered his eyes to meet Vierig's dulling gaze. She had anticipated his falling. "To Odin!" Dolph raised his own sword. Vierig smiled and raised his sword to the sky. She was quickly moving away when he seemed to levitate to his feet.

When he stood and handed Vierig his sword. Candy moved slightly so that she could see Dolph's face. black eyes. she figured he meant to toss it aside out of her reach. her little voice screaming that she was in trouble. She saw the anger drain away as the realization that Vierig was dying made its way into his battle-fogged brain. And for a fleeting second she would have sworn she saw sadness. confusion. He was dying. Surely he wouldn't actually use it on her. What if Vierig decided he wanted to greet Death with an honor guard? But when he made no violent move toward Dolph. She was gathering her muscles to make what she knew would be a futile attempt to throw her body out of the path of the deadly missile.triumph. she thought he had lost his mind for sure. Would he? The back of her neck suddenly tingled. When the vicious warrior's fingers closed around the blade. One look into Vierig's eyes told her she hadn't. Iron filings. She winced when she saw the bloody wound on his back. The look in his eyes confirmed her suspicion. back to Dolph. Candy realized that this was one of those . Tiny bubbles dotted the surface of the wound. sorrow.these Vikings ever done what she expected? And then the crazy guy ripped the dagger out of his leg like it was nothing! Candy made a mental note to herself to find out what these Vikings were fed as they were growing up. Then he was turning away from her. In its place was a strange mixture of emotions . giving testimony to the fact that his lung had been punctured. regret enter those cold. when a blood-drenched silver blade-tip sprung from Vierig's chest. Dolph's sword retreated as quickly as it had appeared. making her wonder if she had imagined it. Candy realized his intent. maybe? When Vierig threw the knife into the air.

A place teaming with the three B's that seemed to rule these men's . Like most people from twentieth century America. their great god Odin would take them directly to Valhalla.'Grandmother has passed away. Dolph had absolved Vierig. Still. the air in the tent seemed warmer. She realized with a sick feeling that she was waiting for him to get up.from her mother. Lord knew she had a very active one. a brother. But he just laid there. The closest she had ever come to death was when she was eight years old and her grandmother had died. raise his sword. She had known Gram was gone. that she would never see her again. And. then a chill descended. his body completely still.lives: battles. she understood. their version of Heaven. and continue the fight with Dolph.warrior things. hot essence that had been . Candy had cried for hours. For just a second after Vierig fell forward. Candy knew it must have been her imagination. Candy' . and saluted him as a fellow warrior. she chose to believe that the fierce. forgiving any animosity between them. to make some disgusting comment. Death had seemed like a plane that quietly took your loved one away and never brought them back. It smelled like rusty steel. Now the reality of death was staring her in the face. Tears welled in her eyes but she didn't notice. booze and broads. Shock held her immobile in it's grip. Candy had never actually seen someone die. most men's .who was she kidding. all Candy could do was stare. When Vierig fell forward. In their last minutes together. But that had just been words . Blood soaked the ground beneath Vierig's body. seeping out as if from some underground spring. though she questioned her mental stability. She knew from her many conversations with Dolph's warriors that these men believed if they died with their swords in their hands.

Shifting Star to his shoulder like a bag of grain. not with this barbarian. thank the gods!. I really do. carefully. She had no more time for thought as Dolph pulled her into his strong arms. however. then said through gritted teeth." she kept her voice low to placate him. Haste was never a warrior's first choice. he turned her in his arms till her back was in his view. I love you. but. against her better judgement. He wondered why no one had yet entered the tent to take him prisoner. A quick return to camp would be necessary to leave Star's beautiful body unscarred. "Dolph.Vierig had left his body and headed for whatever death held for him. Dolph's lips drew into a narrow frown. "Be still!" Candy could feel the blood rushing to her head. Dolph smacked Star on her rump and whispered toward her head. shallow slice ran from Star's shoulder nearly to her waist. He should have known that wouldn't fly. to try logic. "don't you think if a thundering horde were going to come running in here . He wasn't about to wait around for anyone to realize their folly. A wicked. it led to many a speedy demise. Had he saved his love just to have her die in his arms? Gently. but if you don't take your arm off my back. there was still the retreat from the enemy camp to consider. This man was unbelievable! She decided. Fear gripped his heart. Dolph prepared to stand. It had never worked before. She took a deep breath in an effort not to scream. Dolph had forgotten seeing Vierig's sword draw her blood. An outraged "Hey!" preceded a knee to his solar plexus. and she didn't think it was entirely the fault of her position. "Dolph. but there was always a first time. I won't be responsible for my actions!" In his haste to reassure himself that Star was alright.

"I feared that loss of blood might have dulled your senses. wondering how quickly he would regret that action. "I probably shouldn't ask.she did have a point. frustration furrowing her brow. they might have noticed you and Vierig howling like wounded bulls and come to check it out? And don't you think it might make more sense for you to take the lead. but as soon as his flesh touched hers she leaned into his caress. Candy blinked. but why did you do that?" Dolph smiled down at his lady." His smile widened. "And just how much blood have I lost.because they heard a little noise. letting her head get used to right-side-up for a minute. Star started to pull away. but it was . He reached out and brushed a lock of silver from where it had fallen over her right eyebrow. Then she looked up at Dolph. He gently lowered her to the ground. while I slink along three paces behind you like a proper woman. warning Candy that she was about to be annoyed. "But I see from your quick response to my effrontery that you have not been overly affected.to himself at least ." An unwilling smile raised the corners of Dolph's mouth. Her tone was somewhere between accusing and worried. making it difficult for you to walk. anyway?" She twisted her head to try to get a look at her back. he had to admit . Though the scorn in Star's voice spoke more clearly of her opinion of him than her opinion of the situation. ready to do battle with your trusty sword if any dragon's cross our path." Candy tilted her head to one side to cast a squint-eyed questioning glare on the big man.

She just arched an eyebrow as if to say. Candy leaned down to retrieve Vierig's dagger from the floor of the tent. Do whatever I tell you immediately. He frowned down at her in an effort to make her aware of his displeasure. but we must return quickly to camp so that it won't scar. Besides. as he spoke. Still. You-Jane. He asked in an incredulous tone. but this is not setting any kind of precedent. Viking! Other than in extreme situations. Dolph's fingers closed around her wrist and he pulled the dagger from her grasp. Dolph's finger under her chin brought her attention quickly back to his face. but this was not the time to correct Star. I will protect you. 'Yeah. almost fierce. but he held it above his shoulder out of her reach. the no-nonsense warrior shone once again in their depths. liberated woman response that had come to her mind. it just wasn't her way to lay down without a little fight. "It's not that bad. "What do yo think you're doing?" Candy glowered at him and reached for the dagger.' Understood?" Dolph's nostrils flared. do you understand?" He had grown serious.useless." "You need no weapons. I don't do 'Me-Tarzan. love. As she started to put it back into her pocket. Candy decided now was not the time to make the witty. When he opened them once again. "Okay." . "I thought I'd take that along so I could protect myself if I have to. You must follow closely behind me and keep very quiet. not when she was still in danger from someone other than himself. so!' Dolph closed his eyes for the briefest of seconds to let pass the urge to strangle the woman he loved.

"Is this going somewhere?" Candy pulled herself to her full five-foot-four-inch height and glared into his face. and I might get into a situation when you are otherwise occupied. do you hear me. She took a step back from him so that she could yell into his face. impervious." Dolph raised an eyebrow as if insulted. "Yes. world-weary sigh. ". Candy sighed.. "As it did with Vierig? You could have been killed. a great warrior.." Dolph waved in the direction of Vierig's prone body. you know. impossible-to-wound." Dolph cut in on her tirade with a dramatic." As he realized that she could indeed have been killed."Of course. you little fool! You should never have interfered. You can't be everywhere at once. You're the one who brought me to Tatooine South and expected me to sit and stay until you had some time for me. invincible.. I just thought that dagger might come in handy. omnipotent. The great. Dolph's voice raised with his emotions.. you brute.okay.. how foolish of me.. and if I like taking the scenic route. you can just wait for me!" She was working herself into a good Irish temper at this point and she really didn't care who heard her. this is going somewhere. never!" Candy threw her arms into the air in front of Dolph's face to make him release her. "You are never to put yourself in danger. Just because I decided . mindful of her injury. "Put myself in danger? The most danger I've ever put myself in was driving to Las Vegas in the middle of the night. I still might have occasion to protect myself. He grabbed Star by the shoulders and gently shook her. "Even if you are a pretty good warrior.

Dolph opened his mouth to speak. unarmed. sapphire-blue fire. you talk like I walked up to Vierig and asked him for a tour of his camp. hers. She poked her finger into his chest to punctuate her next statement. At least he might have given me one himself. Dolph. I'm not going to sit around and wait for you to come to my rescue for the rest of my life. instead of turning me over to his little brother. with his sword headed for your chest. Their faces flushed with the same hue of anger. It was at this point that those of Vierig's men who were not too sotted to do so . I'm going to explore and have fun. I guess it would be too much to ask that you thank me for saving your life. Viking.to explore my surroundings. I can take care of myself. but she wasn't done yet. It seems to me you needed my interference. "And by the way. His eyes were shards of emerald-green ice. and when Star's scream of 'You stubborn ass!" followed. and you're just too damned proud to admit it! Now give me that stupid dagger!" They stood so close together that Candy could feel Dolph's hot breath on her face. You didn't need the distraction I provided by sticking said dagger into Vierig's leg. with or without you. But I would love to hear your explanation for how you could've beaten Vierig lying flat on your back. Those of his warriors who heard it swore that Dolph's shout of 'No!' loosened the hold of several stars on the sky. I have a healthy curiosity and if I have to live in this weird world of yours. and then beating the poor kid because he couldn't handle me. I am not a shrinking violet. I'd get bored out of my mind. I'm sure you had the whole situation under control. Dolph." As Star took a breath. Oh. the unlucky celestial bodies were knocked from the heavens.

His warrior's instincts quickly identified Felix.started to stir in response to all the noise. he thought with a smile. that he was. Felix would have laughed out loud at the look on his friend's face. It looked more like the snarl of an angry animal. she didn't figure Vierig's men would be calling Dolph by his name. Candy had recognized Felix's voice. Felix had seen Star trip over Vierig's body as Dolph put himself between her and the unknown danger. Felix gently pushed the flap aside and eased his face through the opening. she turned back toward Dolph. being the brave warrior. Once she was sure she wasn't going to take a header onto the field-bed. and loyal friend. and Felix felt it necessary to intrude on the lover's quarrel. and even if she hadn't. "Dolph. The crack sounded unnaturally loud in the quiet tent. at the same time bringing his sword to bear on the as yet unknown intruder. If the situation had not called for haste and silence. As his . In telling the story later. After a bit of flailing. But. she regained her balance. and Felix wondered if Dolph realized what peril he faced from his back." Dolph grabbed Star by the shoulders and pushed her behind him. and he lowered his sword and gave his friend what he thought was a welcoming smile. and slapped that great Viking warrior soundly between the shoulder blades. she decided Dolph had used the opportunity to manhandle her. this was one battle his friend would have to fight alone. What Felix saw was anything but welcoming. he would shamelessly admit he would rather have taken on ten men with nothing but a dagger than stepped into that tent. But. he had been losing the argument. Therefore. carefully stepping over Vierig. After all.

Had he forgotten where he was? She was about to ask about 'the plan' when three obviously drunken Vikings came staggering toward them. "Dolph. and he shrugged his shoulders. manhandling her buttocks and pulling her tight against his hard crotch. almost pleading expression. Felix. "If you ask me. his lips rising to match. not to mention confused." Felix gave one crisp nod of his head.lady made her displeasure with him known in her ever gentle manner. . you're already off. "Hi. he held the flap open so Dolph and Star could pass. that she just went with her instincts and brought up her knee. Before she could emit more than a squeak of protest. Dolph was kissing her. Then his eyebrow slowly arched. which brought an answering chuckle from one of the warriors passing by. After a quick glance outside to see that all was clear." Star was immediately surprised by the fact that Dolph was walking right through the middle of the enemy camp as if he owned it. Felix had come up behind her and slipped his hands around to cup her breasts. As she walked past him. Dolph closed his eyes and slowly shook his head. "Hello. Dolph side-stepped and laughed." A mumbled. Keep Star between us. Way off!" told them that Star's temper was simmering down. We had best be off. He looked at Felix with a comical. Dolph spoke to his second-in-command in a quiet. Before she knew what was happening. Star. authoritative voice. Vierig's men stir. which nobody ever does. We follow the original plan. Star gave Felix a slight smile and whispered. "I'll take the lead. Candy was so outraged." He responded with a smile.

"was that really necessary?" Felix grinned impishly. "Probably not. unable to resist the opportunity to fondle a woman." Dolph shrugged and smiled down at her. a not altogether jesting look. you need a good ride to calm you." he gave Felix a frown that held little malice."Need any help with that wench? She looks to be a bit feisty. "You'll have to forgive him. And you. As soon as they were gone. Victor and Rain were waiting at the . The three enemy warriors staggered off." she turned on Felix. Garth the Strong and Ulrich started a fire near the horses which caused a lot of snorting and rearing and made most of the camp that could still walk come to their rescue. Star. Come on. Walking as though she were a little perturbed. drunken laugh and grabbed his crotch. wench. He was relying on the theory of 'hide in plain sight'. It seemed to be working. Candy thought she understood Dolph's plan now. "You could have filled me in on the plan beforehand. drawing her attention back to his slightly scratchy square jaw. should he ever give in to it again where you are concerned. "he is a Viking. His words were slightly slurred." Felix smiled and shrugged. she was. you know. Felix took his position on her flank. and beautifully formed lips. mumbling obscene comments and suggestions for how Dolph should handle her. "It's a genetic thing. One which. in fact. which. a lewd. Candy looked up at Dolph." he glared at his friend over her head. "I've the cure for her spirit right here." Dolph laughed again. "will surely cost him his life. The rest of the plan went picture perfect." She felt Dolph's strong arm wrap possessively around her shoulders." Crazy as it was.

honey. maybe even angry. so she turned over and thought about going back to sleep. She was going to protest. Candy was dog tired. he felt a fissure beginning to form. expression. She decided to test the waters carefully. Chapter 19 Candy awoke tucked cozily in Dolph's bed on board the ship. She remembered snuggling into Dolph's arms after he played He-man when she complained about being forced to walk across half a planet while she was wounded and probably getting infected by some alien fungus. for he knew what he must do. She knew she was safe here. His chest clenched. but she fell asleep before she could think of the right words. Deep in that heart. "Hi. She had a vague memory of that light-headed feeling she always got when they beamed aboard the ship. As Dolph looked down at the beautiful woman sleeping so innocently in his arms.east edge of Vierig's camp to cover their backs as they left. She didn't think she could walk another step and she told Dolph so. Candy immediately wondered if she had done something to make him mad that she couldn't even remember. although there was really no need. He just smiled with that indulgent look that made her want to slap him and lifted her into his arms like a baby. even as he pulled Star closer to the heart she surely owned. By that time. well. she really was. She was a bit confused as to how she had gotten there. Oh. What's going on?" . he knew that he had a decision to make. Dolph came into the room with a determined stride and a rather sour. They all regrouped at the pond. her small hand resting on his chest.

her beautiful face reflecting her concern. he tried not to look too concerned as he asked.Dolph's eyes snapped to her face as soon as she uttered a sound." he was so matter-of-fact Candy was really starting to worry. "How do you feel?" "I'm fine." Star squinted at him as though she were trying to see something far away. Sorrow? Pain? Whatever it was. it would have severed your spine. then turned and looked down at her with such a detached expression that Candy sat up in the bed. Candy decided to shut-up and give him his way this time. be quiet and listen. This time. She wasn't sure what it was that she glimpsed in that unguarded moment before the veil of manly pride slammed shut over his eyes.. brooding one.? Dolph held his palm toward her in an unspoken request for silence. "There will be no scar. He made the decision to come out and tell her rather than endure her merciless questioning. He took a deep breath. what is it. You lost so much blood that you slept for 16 . He came to her and sat on the edge of the bed. As he continued. The doctor informed me that if Vierig's blade had gone an inch deeper. "Star. no lasting effects of your adventure. Even though that was one of the autocratic things he did that made her crazy. Taking her hand in his.. How are you?" "Your back healed well. Dolph stood and stepped away from the bed. his business-like attitude gave way to a quiet. either killing you instantly or crippling you for the rest of your life. Dolph correctly guessed that she was trying to peer into his mind and figure out exactly what was going on in there. "Dolph. what happened while I was asleep? Did they attack? Is Kirk alright? Why are we. it made her slightly uneasy.

Whatever was hurting him. "In my arrogance." He looked at the ground and spoke as if to himself. . a wordless sound of anguish." The ghost of a smile touched his lips. Being my woman. My heart will be your trophy till the day I draw my last breath. I was wrong. And here. "You thirst for excitement like a warrior thirsts for battle. "I should never have taken you on this campaign. Most. You've shown courage. Here. "My father took my mother from a time on Earth when women were just beginning to feel their independence. bearing and raising my children. "you are all a man could wish for. caring for their husbands and children." he spread his hand to indicate the bed in which Candy lay. This time. unshed tears of emotional torture shining in his eyes. Star." His eyes glowed now with so much love that Candy felt a lump forming in her throat. like Maddy. he yelled at the ceiling." He lifted his eyes back to hers and once again she saw that indescribable look that he had worn when he first realized that she was awake. even a bit of bloodthirstiness.hours. I thought that I would be enough adventure for you. she was sure she could help. cunning." he brought his clenched fist to his chest. were still content to stay at home. Pulling both fists to his chest and throwing back his head. If you were a man. even if she just put her arms around him and told him it would be okay. she had no desire for adventure. Candy started to get out of bed. Though mother had spirit. I would be happy to have you fight by my side. he couldn't completely blank it out. He turned back to her." Suddenly Dolph spun away from the bed. "you are a conqueror. that would be all the life you would need.

her feet dangling inches above the floor. Before she knew it. was highly overrated. she decided that thinking. But as his lips descended to her breasts and his tongue laved the distended tips. this was all that existed in the universe at the moment. each in turn. trying at the same time to think. his lips were devouring her. taste. her breasts. Candy knew what the romance novels meant when they said the hero worshiped the heroine. Then he raised himself onto his knees above her and. taking her with him. His knees pushed her legs apart as his hands caressed her breasts in a just-this-side-of-rough fashion. never letting the contact of their bodies be broken. grasping the neck of his jumpsuit. everything he could reach. Dolph seemed to be trying to take her into himself. Those bands of steel that passed for arms tightened and he lifted her off the ground. Candy gasped as his hands gripped her thighs and thrust them apart. and breathing for that matter. Candy barely noticed. He quickly rolled her beneath him. Dolph held her molded to his body.As soon as her hand touched his chest. while he kissed her lips. to catch her breath. A scream of surprised pleasure escaped her throat. her neck. he fell back onto the bed. to smell. each flick of his tongue Heaven and Hell combined. Before she met . Sensation was all that mattered. She reached for him. It could barely be called a kiss. Feeling Dolph's massive chest expand against her fingertips. touch every inch of her body. tore the interfering material from his body. Dolph pulled her into his arms so hard she heard the smack of her chest hitting his. When he got frustrated because he couldn't reach any lower. She didn't have time to even try to get herself under control before his tongue plunged into the dense fur between her legs and she was arching her back to give him better access. his lips moving lower on her torso.

Dolph, she might have been embarrassed by that show of abandon, but she knew he would find it exciting, that it would increase his pleasure to know that she was losing control. Knowing that, Candy didn't try to remain civilized, she just let go. With that release of control came an explosion of pleasure that released a liquid fire where his lips and tongue were coaxing her to life. Moaning in ecstasy, she reached blindly for him. His glorious hair filtered through her fingers, the silky strands fluttering against her palms and giving her one more sensation to add to all the others that were threatening to overload her system. She could feel the pressure beginning to build inside her, but she didn't want to experience it alone. At this minute, she wanted more than anything to be connected to Dolph, to feel him losing his mind while she lost her own. When Star grasped his head between her palms and pulled, a sound that vaguely resembled his name slipping from between her lips, Dolph couldn't resist any longer. His throbbing erection had long ago reached the point of pain, but he still wanted to prolong this moment, to listen to Star's moans and screams of ecstasy just a little while longer. He wanted to memorize every inch of her, every smell, every taste. He couldn't get enough of her. His slid his finger into her wet warmth and felt the spasms that drove her ever closer to her climax. His warrior's control snapped. He thrust himself up her body, raising his chest on his elbows to keep from crushing her. Star's beautiful legs wrapped around his hips, her back arched. Dolph closed his eyes and held his breath as his shaft slid easily into her welcoming body. Focused as he was, he felt every inch of himself being consumed and ignited by his magnificent lover. Her muscles tightened

around him and he exhaled in a growl. Dolph flattened his palms on the bed and lifted his upper body into the air. From here he could watch Star. As he thrust deeply into her, Star arched and dropped back her head. She was so beautiful, so responsive, matching his every move with one of her own until he thought he could see the gates of Valhalla opening before him. He heard her breath catch, felt the strong spasms of her climax begin. Star lifted her head and their eyes locked and held, sapphire blue and emerald green clashing in aqua pleasure. She grabbed his hips, her nails digging into the hard flesh, her legs seizing him in a nearly painful grip. A scream of pure pleasure started deep in her throat and eased its way upward until it filled the air with sound, shattering his control. For the first time in his life, Dolph felt the demon berserker enter his mind and body when he was not on the battlefield. And he welcomed it, somehow knowing that it presented no danger to Star, perhaps because she was possessed by one of her own. She was surely a Valkyrie sent to take him to Valhalla. As he wrapped his arms around her and plunged his last into her yielding body, he released all control. Nothing touched his mind but the pleasure. His massive body shook with the power of his climax, and his seed exploded into Star like molten lava. Keeping her wrapped securely in his arms, Dolph rolled to his side. Other than tightening her arms around his back, Star was as limp as a rag doll. They lay like that for an untold time. A beeping forced Dolph to untangle himself from Star so that he could answer the intercom. She let him go with a little mew of displeasure, her smile radiant. "Commander, we're orbiting Earth." Dolph felt as though he had just been punched in the gut. He

took a deep painful breath. "Maintain orbit until further notice." Star gave a lazy, quizzical tilt of her head. She sounded a little sleepy. "Earth? My Earth?" Dolph smiled. "Yes, love, your Earth." She turned onto her back and stretched like a contented cat. "Um. What are we doing here? Don't tell me, I made such a great impression on your guys that there's gonna be a run on Earth women." Dolph wondered how much truth there might be to that. His men did like Star. Her spirit and way with words would be the stuff of many songs, he was sure. Pulling on another jumpsuit, he prepared to leave. At the door, he turned and drank what he knew would be his last of her smiling face. "Star, I can't leave you at my home and make a prison of my love. I can't take you with me to have curiosity and boredom lead you to die in my arms on some godforsaken planet. You were right, the time might come when I was not there to rescue you. I love you too much to see you hate me, or to see you hurt or killed because of me." Sudden terror gripped Candy in its steely jaws. She sat up. "Dolph..." Dolph shook his head. His tone brooked no opposition. "My decision is made. The clothes you came with have been repaired. They are in the closet. Put them on and I will return for you shortly." With that, he turned away from her and left the room. ***

Candy sat and stared at the closed door for several minutes, too stunned to move. Her thoughts were a jumble of emotions pain, anger, confusion. Dolph was throwing her back, like some fish that he had suddenly decided was too small to keep. He said he loved her; then, in the same sentence, said goodbye. Did men have any feelings, any real heart? Or were they just rutting machines that used women until they got in the way of their future plans? Though tears were flowing freely down her cheeks, anger was actually winning in her heart. Candy would be damned if she were going to be tossed out of Dolph's life like yesterday's garbage! Not without a fight that he'd remember for the rest of his miserable life! She found her clothes in the closet, just as he'd said she would. Candy couldn't find any evidence that they had ever been torn. They looked good as new. With the beginnings of a downhill slide into melancholy, Candy remembered how Dolph had torn them from her body the first time they had had sex. Though not a particularly pleasant memory in itself, it led to other, more agreeable memories which Candy didn't wish to ponder right now. Her anger returned and a growl escaped her when she saw that those were the only clothes available to her in said closet, unless she wanted to wear his. Dolph wasn't taking any chances that she might dare to disobey him. Which, of course, she would have done if the circumstances had been different. But since she didn't want to face him naked, she dressed in her black jeans and red shirt and waited for him to return. Dolph stood on the bridge, his black mood clearly visible in his deeply furrowed brow and tight-lipped frown. None of his men wished to cross him while his temper simmered so close to the surface. They all knew why they were here and most of them

Dolph took the opportunity to speak. as he had feared. they didn't wish to see her go. his crew would be sad to say goodbye to his beautiful. You do realize that doesn't make a lot of sense?" As she stopped for a breath. the next you never want to see me again. They had enjoyed Star's presence. Surely that would settle her down. He left the bridge as though he were going to the toughest battle of his life. laughing Star. you men make me so angry I can understand genocide. One minute you love me. one that might not take well to life as a homebound warrior's wife. "Hold our position. not teary eyed and pleading. rolling his shoulders and squaring his jaw. Perhaps someday. when you are less emotional. he knew that he was going to lose this one. She was waiting for him when he opened the door. You are definitely another species." Fire blazed anew in her sapphire eyes. we're over Las Vegas. the rough draft. empty." Dolph inhaled deeply. "I have explained myself as thoroughly as I intend to. Whatever Dolph's reasons. they wondered why he didn't just take Star home and give her children. They knew that Star had a wild. Star. Women are the improved model. Only the few warriors whose women had claimed their hearts could come close to understanding. Her voice rose as she . "Commander." Dolph's tone was hollow. untamed spirit. but pacing with fury. In his heart. "You know.were unhappy themselves. He was barely through the door when she turned on him like a bull charging the matador's cape. You don't make any sense. you will understand. Most were puzzled by Dolph's actions. Notify Oleg that we will be dropping Star in ten minutes.

She was fighting for the most important thing in her life. It would be very difficult to deny her. Candy took a deep breath and used both hands to place her hair behind her shoulders. "Because.spoke. you do not. and quieter. and she didn't want to lose because her temper got the best of her and led her to try to brain the arrogant man before her. You know how I hate it when you tower over me like some gargoyle. back to Earth. so he didn't try. He silently asked the gods for the strength to do what his mind knew was best. then turned the same finger to the sky in a 'see' gesture. "Dolph. but his heart fought at every turn. Candy decided she was going to keep her calm if it killed her. I'm not crying. It must have worked. Do you see a tear on this face?" She touched her cheek with her fingertip. sit down. tone. trying to let some of the anger drain out with the breath." She sat on the bed near the headboard and motioned for him to take a seat near the foot. "No. Dolph sat. reasonable tone of her voice. "Don't you dare pull that 'is it PMS. My home is with . Please. Continuing to glare at him. especially when his heart wasn't in it. And do you know why?" Dolph knew by this point that he was not supposed to answer these questions. I am a little upset. I'm going to try to have a civilized discussion. I mean. She was pleased with the calm. but I have absolutely no desire to go home. But I am not emotional. "Okay. I never thought I'd say this. for once in this interesting relationship. dear' bull on me! I am not emotional!" At his arched eyebrow. With a sigh of frustration. Star was going to try to talk him out of sending her home. She spoke in a more controlled. she exhaled slowly.

I always figured as long as I'm alive.you now. Dolph. I was just there when it came to visit. thinking maybe she had him on the run." Candy rolled her eyes and flipped her hands toward the ceiling. it was fun. It isn't easy. We beat Vierig. And. "I love you. I didn't really cause any trouble.his loving. Her voice was a low caress that Dolph found difficult to resist. I didn't get killed. not even by you in a bad mood. And. closed his heart to Star's pleading. "I know. I know." "You could have been killed. "Your men like me. if you think about it. I have to drop back several centuries in women's thinking." She was so beautiful. It's like 'Star Trek' meets 'Leave it to Beaver'. But. But. I'm ahead of the game." she held up her hands." The corners of his mouth tipped upward the tiniest bit. a vision of her magnificent mane coated in blood from the wound given to her by Vierig's sword came to his mind. everything came out okay. "That is such a man thing to say. you know. If we've got that we can handle anything. that's what worries you. He would not see her dead . I know I've had one or two adjustment problems." she moved closer to him. vibrant mother . aside from a few minor problems. roared in his head. that's beside the point. Personally.cold and dead because she had wanted so much to please her husband. Candy smiled inwardly. And the memory of his mother . taking his hand in her own and gazing into his eyes. her silver tresses shining like the stars he had named her for. or worse. 'another inch would have plucked this Star from the sky'. but I'm working on it. Dolph. The doctor's words. And you say you love me. Unbidden. Whenever another man gets near your woman there is suddenly something worse than dying. and forward who knows how far in science.

"What about your promise to your father? You promised him that you'd find a wife. it's not going to work. Kirk told me. her heart breaking. near hysteria. but she could feel him slipping away. Argue no longer. I'll hate you till the day I die!" ." He reached for her hand.because he was not strong enough to let her go. He stood like a marble statue. clenched tightly into fists. She prayed to find the right thing to say. I will find a woman who will be content to be my wife and the mother of my children without quarrel. "If you make me leave you. "I have decided that I am not ready to take a bride as yet. cruel." Candy stood and faced him." His voice was cold. woman. you begin to get on my nerves." Dolph looked down at her with an imperious frown. no emotion showing on his face. She didn't like the determined look on his face. and slammed them against his chest. but Candy stepped away from him. When I do. "I will keep my word to Roarke in my own good time. Dolph pulled his hand from her grip and stood so suddenly that Candy wondered if something had bitten him. Well. She didn't think it boded well for her. "No! I think you're full of it. her chest near to exploding with the pain. Desperation colored her words. I'll go to my death-bed cursing your name!" She raised her hands. Come. do you hear me?" She was screaming now. I'll never forgive you. you bastard. "You have not proven to be acceptable as my wife. making no move to stop her abuse. or some such crap that your male mind has come up with. "I'll hate you. Dolph! I think you're trying to hurt me so it will be easier for me to forget you.

trying to come up with some way to make Dolph keep her here. "Dolph. he spoke to the air above her head. "So be it. She felt like she had been put through an old wringer washer.Sobs wracked her body as she collapsed against him. her body and mind squashed out flat like some unfortunate cartoon character. The expectant note in her voice dispelled that hope. In a voice of soft command. Looking down at the piece of cloth she held in her hand brought a sudden idea. but he didn't want to believe her mind was slipping in her distress. he allowed none of his pain to show. He wrapped his arms around her just tightly enough to keep her from falling to the floor. Candy blew her nose and dabbed at her eyes. Star's eyes shone with more than tears when she suddenly lifted her face to look into Dolph's eyes. Though his heart had shattered into a million pieces when the first tear had coursed down her cheek. Still. When the torrent had finally subsided. She hung limply in Dolph's arms for what seemed like an eternity. He knew Star was upset. her mind working feverishly. Dolph gently lowered her to the bed and handed her a handkerchief. she rarely made sense to him even when she was making sense to herself. her broken heart spilling tears down her face until the front of his jumpsuit was drenched. how important are those flag things you guys lug around with you?" Dolph's eyebrows arched in surprise at this seemingly left-field question." Chapter 20 Candy couldn't remember when she had ever been this exhausted. He hoped that she had accepted her fate. so he .

"Very important.. The victor commands the ship. If I get killed it'll be because it's my time to die. Dolph. animation lighting the eyes that had so recently lost their warm glow. I already know the answer. "Star. Candy shook her head at his show of stubbornness and continued. Right?" Dolph crossed his arms over his chest and gave a curt nod. "But. that's a kind-of dumb way to think." Star smiled cautiously. What if I could offer you a bribe to let me stay with you. You don't want me getting killed on some battlefield because I was tagging along with you 'cause I'm your woman. we'll play by your rules for . "Just give me a minute. it'll make sense. What was the little minx up to now? "Any warrior can challenge his commander to battle. The warrior who holds the flags commands the ships. plead the fifth.decided to humor her. since you don't see it that way.. Star?" She raised her hands." Though he doubted that would ever happen. Dolph remained patient. "Hear me out. "If you ask me. something you would really like?" Dolph started to shake his head. "Even if he got the flags in a less than honest manner?" She extended the word in a sly manner that piqued Dolph's curiosity. Why? What is this about." Star jumped to her feet. right? Never mind. "You Vikings are greedy." He opened his mouth to defend his belief but she raised her voice to avoid the interruption she had anticipated.

the moment." Star's excitement showed as she warmed to her subject. The silken caress of her voice . And I'd take care of Silky. Dolph. avoiding the moment when he would send her away." the hurt that comment had caused closed her throat for the briefest of seconds. Kirk has a lot of other things to do. causing her to swallow hard before going on. trailing her fingers through the exposed hair on his chest. Her tone was smug enough to make Dolph narrow his eyes." 'Like someone else I know. and you would trade this knowledge for another week with me. Just suppose that I had something to offer you in return for another week in your illustrious presence. right?" Dolph sighed. and Silky needs a full-time babysitter." Star's eyelids lowered seductively as she reached up and stroked his neck. "Because you don't know where it is. "Come on. Even if you did. "for that long in order to profit big-time. even as he continued to pursue this elusive prey. "Very well. surely you could stand an unacceptable woman. let us say that you know the whereabouts of something that I would like very much to get my hands on. "Star. "You wouldn't have to worry about me. the result would be the same. Why? At the end of the week. Not as your woman. just as a guest in your camp. I would return you to Earth. you have nothing to offer me. what would stop me taking it from you?" A triumphant grin lit her pretty lips as she placed her hands on her hips." Dolph wondered if he were merely stalling.' Dolph thought with a slight smile. I'd be on my best behavior. For the moment. an observer. Dolph felt his loins begin to tighten in response to the promise held in that touch. one week.

his ships? Is that why Vierig's men will follow him?" Dolph gave a sharp nod. she could work on seduction later. Do we have a deal?" Dolph's voice lowered to match hers as other parts of him raised in response to her closeness. "I intend to make it absolutely impossible for you to let me go. "What do you offer. To prove to you that no other woman will ever do it for you like I can.k. He pushed her back so that he could look down at her. Star's train of thought escaped him. "That's right. Fine. Dolph sighed. "I left Felix in charge. What do you offer?" Candy stretched up onto her toes and pressed her lips to his.a. Candy had to fight the urge to slap his face. "that I cannot take?" Between his arrogant tone and the implication behind the question. "That depends. his brow furrowing with curiosity. I will return. She ran her tongue lightly over his lips." his voice took on an edge of steel. For now. feeling quite pleased with herself when he shivered slightly. Her self-congratulations were short-lived however. So much for seduction. a." . As soon as we finish here. Right now." "Does this second-in-command get Vierig's flags. "What happened to your battle with Vierig's men?" Once again. greed was the way to this man's heart.heated his blood even further. if she could pull this off. She stepped away from him and narrowed her eyes. Vierig's men will follow his second-in-command. thinking he would need more than one lifetime to understand the workings of her mind. resume command and finish it. she would be all business.

"that is what I'm offering . Raising her finger toward the ceiling. He sighed exaggeratedly. you don't. her countenance growing steadily happier. "Oh." Dolph kept to the basics. to make her glad that he had returned her to Earth and left her there alone. With a determined mind." He extended his hand. figuring a more detailed answer would keep him tied up in her questions till the stars burned out. no. "If no challenge were issued.Candy took a deep breath.Vierig's flags!" Now that he had decided on a course of action. she said with a flourish. zeroing in for the kill. Dolph had never felt less of a man than he did at this moment. Dolph could play the game as a Viking warrior. "If you would cause me no difficulty. do as I say and stay out of my way. He arched one eyebrow. he demanded his due. and a heavy heart. his tone sly. Do we have a deal?" "A week?" She bobbed her head. That was the only way to keep her from suffering the pain of their separation. but his expression showed nothing. And he knew how to send her away hating him. Candy grimaced. I could endure another week. I would assume command of his warriors without further bloodshed. "What if he couldn't? What if you had the flags? Wouldn't that end the fight?" Dolph allowed his eyes to momentarily lower to the ground as comprehension dawned. He knew what his lady was up to. With his imperiously cocked eyebrow. wondering why she felt as though she were not . palm up. "And where might these flags be?" Candy shook her head. he lifted his eyes to once again meet her hopeful countenance.

He retrieved Star's tattered jumpsuit and held it out to her. shadowed by long golden hair. that held his head at a proud. arrogant slant. covered in blonde fur. Dolph grinned. Broad shoulders that looked like they could easily hold the weight of the world sculpted up to the heavily corded neck. The tight crotch of his jumpsuit revealed that her seduction hadn't gone unnoticed. After one firm shake. did I forget to show you how to open your drawer?" The glare that Dolph actually found rather endearing slitted her eyes and compressed her mouth. And his eyes. A drawer slid silently into the room. She extended her hand to Dolph. drinking in every inch of him. Looking into those eyes." His mouth raised in a smile that did not reach his eyes. surprise clearly evident in her slack-jawed expression. "Where are the flags?" "In the pocket of the jumpsuit I was wearing in Vierig's camp. those beautiful dark green pools. he dropped her hand and placed his own on his hips. His patience was obviously reaching its end. . she thought with an inner growl. was it the prospect of adding Vierig's ships to his roster that caused him to strain the material? His massive chest. His soft-peach lips were pulled thin with determination. He took her hand in his. daring her to refuse him. "It's a deal. expanded with a deep breath in response to her perusal. No deal in history had ever been so sweet. glowed with an inner fire.getting the good end of this deal." Dolph stepped to his chest of drawers and pressed a small indentation on the front panel. "Oh. his palm warm against her skin. Or. Her eyes dropped to Dolph's feet and slowly lifted. She snatched the suit from his hand. She looked at the drawer. Candy smiled.

Candy raised a questioning brow. when he left me alone in his tent. In response to Dolph's supposition that she might be nostalgic she mumbled. With a look of rebellious triumph. When you showed up." Dolph shrugged. I figured I'd do it when I got a minute. she handed it to Dolph. "What are you doing with these?" "Like another arrogant Viking I know. I immediately checked out his war chest for weapons. After what had happened the last time. she pulled out a bundle of crushed cloth." Dolph mumbled under his breath. Vierig assumed that I would be too frightened of him to dare touch anything. "Why'd you keep this thing? It's seen better days. of course." Reaching into the pocket. She laid her folded jumpsuit inside." "I thought you might be nostalgic. 'Not to mention my back. . he couldn't help but wonder why she would ever touch another flag. not wishing to examine his reasons too closely in the fear that he would find himself the sentimental fool. then pushed the drawer closed with a satisfied grin. He recognized the material as that used in the flags of Viking ships. things got a little hectic and I forgot all about them. "I took those because I wanted to dunk them in mud or something but I was too busy planning my escape." "Of course. "not bloody likely.' she thought with a grimace." Noting the wretched condition of the garment. Candy looked at the rend that Vierig's sword had made in the material. The crinkling of her nose told him she'd heard. then pressed the magic button and smiled like a happy child as the drawer did its automatic thing." Candy pushed the drawer shut."I guess you forgot that little bit of information. So.

they belonged to Vierig. One quick flash of memory. She shrugged. Straightening. One minute they . blood stained silver strands. nearly lifting her off the floor as he propelled her toward the door. She was trying to plant her feet. running his hand over them in an effort to remove some of the wrinkles. "Hey. He gathered the flags together." He wrapped his hand in a grip of steel around her upper arm. Besides. Dolph considered changing his mind. a look that didn't concern her in the least because by now she knew his real frowns and this wasn't one of them. you know. This was one of those man expressions that meant he really thought she was cute. folded them and pushed them into his pocket. He sighed and frowned. They were out the door before she protested. but against his persistence it was like an ant trying to stop a tiger. but knew he should be mad so he was frowning. I didn't really care if they got so wrinkled they looked like raisins. he raised his chin. Candy didn't understand what was going on. He almost smiled as he realized that her feet were sliding along the corridor. She was too stunned to even stand her ground. and he was not on my 'A' list.Dolph laid the flags out on the bed. are we going back to the battle now?" For one weak moment. where are we going? And do you mind if I arrive with my arm intact?" Dolph lessened the pressure on her arm the slightest bit. directing another glare in Star's direction. "I am returning to the battle. his attitude and tone that of the triumphant warrior. He knew he must play this to the hilt. keeping her and letting the fates fall as they may. So. "Well I couldn't exactly bring along their carrying case. then. chased that thought from his mind. even if it tore his soul from his body.

angry hiss. She felt she recovered well. woman.were making a deal. . though. "Thank you very much!" Dolph crossed his arms over his chest. "Excuse me. We had a deal!" Dolph's lips spread in a predatory smile she had never seen before. indignant." Candy felt the fear returning full-force. pulling her onto her toes to bring her face closer to his. Women are the most double-dealing creatures in the universe! You are to be used when the need arises. His voice was a low." He pushed her away from his body. "I have wasted enough time with you. "You little fool! Vikings don't make deals with women. the next she was shoe-skating down the hall. insuring that she hit the wall with just enough force to let her know he was serious. by fair means or foul." He grabbed her by the shoulders. it doesn't matter. placing her palm against the wall to steady herself. One who will be a proper woman. then cast aside if you become too troublesome. You are a nuisance that I am about to be rid of. She glared up into his face. We take whatever we want. Would you mind cutting the 'silent tough-guy' routine long enough to tell me what's going on?" Dolph stopped and released her so suddenly that she almost fell down. "You are too troublesome by half! Your performance in bed is passably pleasant. "Wait a minute. The pain in her tear-shimmered eyes brought an answering agony from somewhere deep inside him the likes of which he had never felt. but I can easily find another to replace you. Had she missed something? She wasn't sure whether to panic or get mad.

I will not. I won't bother putting you on my Christmas card list then. Randolph. If he didn't get her out of his sight soon. she straightened. You're gonna miss me. Her voice was a little stronger. treacherous son-of-a-bitch! I hope you die in some horrible dark place with just your warrior's pride for company! And I hope your sword is so far away you can't get to it. her eyes clearing and regaining their focus. Give everyone my best wishes. and turned her toward the transporter room. fear and. she flinched as if he had struck her. shock. Candy. he knew he would never be able to let her go. most of all. As he started to step away from her. "Will you ever come back?" Dolph marveled at her indomitable spirit and optimism. more gently this time. emotion-choked whisper held all that she was feeling: confusion. Dolph. Dolph!" . she grabbed the sleeve of his jumpsuit. he did his best to tell her he was through with her. staring straight ahead as they entered the room and he placed her in position to return to her home. as she tried desperately to regain her dignity. He took her arm again. an outer reflection of the tightening of his inner control. "No. As he pried her fingers from the cloth." Hearing her given name from his lips. and her voice rose several decibels. She offered no resistance. It was great playing Star Trek with you. her voice was still woven with a tiny thread of hope." Her eyes suddenly flared with sapphire flames.Her soft. "You lying. Taking a deep breath. "But I love you. Even after all the horrible things he had said to her. "Fine. She walked as if in a daze. He had to strain to hear her whispered question. pain. Please!" The great Viking warrior clenched his jaw.

She still couldn't see far beyond the tip of her nose. trying to narrow her vision but it did no good. that's what I'd do. Star. Whatever path she was following twisted and turned. The strain of holding back sobs showed in every line. if that were possible. never! Oh. Dolph was only vaguely aware of the transporter shutting down and Olaf leaving the room. She glared at Dolph when he gave the order to drop her. she took several cautious steps forward. confusing her even more. She reached out and her fingertips hit something hard and damp. My love. that bottom-dwelling cretin! She never wanted to see him again. My lady. As his own tears finally escaped his hold. "Goodby..Dolph! That slime. As the light-headedness of the drop began." The sound of her own voice was as comforting as ever. She squinted..Tears streamed down her face. and she felt as though she were inside the stomach of some beast. who was she kidding? If he were standing in front of her right now she would probably. His hand fell limply to his side. "Kick him.. Star's tear-streaked face remained in his vision long after she was gone. every move of her face and body. She . It was very dark. but she just brushed them away with a quick move of her hand. he reached out to the specter in his mind and moaned as it disappeared. Keeping her hand against the unknown surface. his whisper for his ears only." Chapter 21 Candy wasn't sure where she was. The last thing she remembered was. he could see her control break.. and he knew that she would enter her world sobbing her heart out from the pain he had caused her. he closed his eyes. Dropping his head back.

Candy took a faltering step toward her love. The paralysis only lasted a heartbeat. She rounded a corner and entered a room that was filled with light.. As it was.never had been able to make her mother understand that talking to herself wasn't a sign of mental illness. Was this a ship malfunction or had Dolph sent her to a cave? Why? Had he really been so thoroughly finished with her that he wanted her to rot in some desolate cavern? Stepping into the large room. She had heard of caves being lit by phosphorescent deposits on the walls. Then she was whirling around to confront the bastard who had broken her heart. she desperately needed to feel as though she had a friend beside her. Candy was not at all certain of her own mental stability. If the situation had been different. I'm sorry. Carrying on a conversation with the air was just a way to keep from getting too lonely." . Candy grimaced with annoyed confusion as she realized she was inside some kind of cave. as her mom had feared. "You son-of-a. She guessed that explained the light here. "Star?" Candy's breath caught in her throat as that familiar voice shocked her immobile. Feeling her world narrow to the small patch of dirt and rock where he lay. she might have found it beautiful. And right now.. blood spilling through the fingers of the hand he had pressed to his abdomen. at this point. her annoyance and threatening fear made her a tad indifferent to the splendor of nature. Candy marveled at the light that seemed to be coming from the walls." The condemnation died on her tongue as she saw Dolph lying on the floor of the cave. though. "Star.

His voice. "weakling to kill me?" His hate-filled glare returned to her. His voice lowered to a hiss. my sword. the greatest Viking warrior that ever lived? You sought to dishonor me and take from me the symbols of my leadership. Did you think I would allow this. he held up his hand to stop her. The only logical explanation came quickly to her mind. She gasped and stepped backward. was now barely a breath. "You're dead!" Vierig's long black hair flew as he dropped back his head and laughed. For that. love. Candy raised her head to find Vierig standing within inches of her. As she began to kneel beside him. Please." . "You thought to steal from me? Vierig. "Dolph. a black-gauntleted fist closed around the hilt and lifted. the all-to-real stinging pain bringing renewed clarity to her foggy brain. I brought you to watch the disgrace of this worm you took to your thighs." Candy followed his pointing finger to where his sword lay on the ground several feet away. As she bent to retrieve it. this must be a dream. His ebony eyes trapped hers in their vengeful gaze. "A dream? Or dead? Which is it. once so strong and vibrant. She wondered why she hadn't noticed it before. Beauty?" He brought Dolph's sword slicing across Candy's forearm.. blood slipping from one corner of his mouth..?" He coughed in answer. Beauty. "A dream. "Viking medicine is beyond your meager understanding." She pointed an accusing finger at the black-clad Viking warrior. Candy's throat constricted as sobs and words fought for superiority." he pointed the sword at Dolph and sneered. "Star.

he pointed again with Dolph's sword. pleaded with her. Candy knew deep in her heart that no one could bleed that much and still have a long life expectancy. Throwing herself to the ground next to Dolph." As Candy stood helplessly in Vierig's grip.. she screamed. Grabbing his shoulders. her screams echoing off the cave walls. dark place without his sword. Vierig's arm snaked out to grab Candy around the waist and drag her up against his body. "I didn't mean it. Dolph's hand fell slowly to the ground. An anguished scream tore its way from her throat and. dull now with impending death. "Look away. Holding her secure with one massive arm.Like a cobra. "You got your wish. Dolph!" . Beauty. No sword. a weak gesture. "Let me go!" his laughter filled the cavern. "Watch. for what she wasn't sure. Vierig was so strong! In answer to her screamed. He smiled. she felt the painful impact with his rigid body-armor. He hadn't heard her. "See him there. Candy remembered her wish that Dolph die in some cold. please come back. she started shaking him. His neck and shoulder were stained with the blood that ran from his mouth. she pulled herself out of Vierig's hold. "Dolph. love. His beautiful green eyes. She struggled with all her might but to no avail. All along her back. no glory.Dolph." An obviously painful cough interrupted him. Dolph. watch as your great Viking lover dies like the coward he is. Beauty? See his blood spilling out onto the already soaked ground?" Dolph stretched out his hand to Vierig. Star." She stared down into lifeless pools of the deepest green. with a strength she hadn't known she possessed.. I love you." Suddenly.

Anger-at herself for continuing to have the same stupid nightmares for weeks. She vaguely remembered the Nevada Highway Patrolman finding her there. her screams filling the empty apartment. she told them that she had been abducted by a roving gang of bikers. Unable to get much of an intelligible response from her. frustration getting the better of her.Candy awoke clutching her tear-soaked pillow. With a shouted. sending her into a collapsed heap on the side of the road. The clock on the bedside table said 6 AM. as she thought of them now-in the hospital. she had tried the truth. Big mistake! Most of those two days had been spent trying to convince the doctors that she wasn't having a psychotic episode. Candy spent two days-or daze. and was just too embarrassed to admit it. Candy pulled the covers over her head and willed herself not to think about Dolph. Her thoughts obediently flowed to the memory of her return to her home. at Dolph for destroying what they had. Finally. trying to explain what had happened to her. she realized that she was standing on the side of a freeway in bright sunshine. the harsh light of day quickly drained her spirits and left Candy feeling lost and abandoned. As the lightheadedness of transport left her. She had never before appreciated the sunshine as much as she had the morning she stepped onto the sidewalk in front of that hospital. The pain of Dolph's betrayal swelled inside her chest and quickly spread to the rest of her body. spouting a textbook full of psycho-babble about not blaming herself and extending all the offers of therapy that she could use in two lifetimes. At first. without even a backward glance-flared inside her brain. like a runt-of-the-litter kitten . Rolling onto her stomach. he called an ambulance. or what she thought they had. Still. That they accepted with ease. "damn it!" she flung the pillow across the room.

Candy just couldn't forget Dolph. Especially with travel and room and board thrown in. Sometimes she wanted to shake those children. Using what she thought of as her 'ill-gotten gains'-the money from the Vikings (she refused to think of it as having come from Dolph)-she rented a small apartment in West Las Vegas. Candy shoved her hands into her jeans pockets and found a folded bundle. Thankfully. no doubt. she kept herself under control. and an occasional trip to the grocery store. twenties & fifties. "Stolen. Day and night. A bitter laugh escaped her. she found $5. Which wasn't much of anywhere." Resisting the angry urge to throw the money into the nearest garbage can. She bought a used car that was a disgrace to the word 'automobile'. but it got her where she needed to go. Pulling it out. to tell them that it wasn't a game. children ran through the casino carrying play swords won in carnival-like area in the basement. With a lie about experience and a short dress that she bought at the thrift store. Lots of cash." Counting it. she shoved it into her pocket and began the long climb back to a normal way of life. There didn't seem to be much of anywhere she wanted to go.000 in tens. . she got a job as a cocktail waitress at The Excalibur. Candy remembered Dolph and Vierig engaged in the real thing. "Five thousand. No matter how hard she tried. Everything she saw reminded her of him. The dragons that decorated the hotel brought sharp-edged memories of Dolph decked out in his ruby-eyed-dragon-adorned chestplate. she saw that it was cash. Wondering what she was going to do now. other than to work and back. Not bad wages for a few weeks work. As they parried in play.dumped by the side of the road.

she realized she still had an hour to go on her shift.' she promised herself. she finally turned on him. 'After all. She wondered if anyone would notice if she surreptitiously slipped into the nearest 'employees only' hallway and rested her feet for a second. to them or herself. As the fiftieth flatheaded ape of the evening patted her behind. I've been out of the country for a while. but she just couldn't help it. 'Someday. 'someday. her boss. Of course. Not yet. they all came up lacking. would throw a surprise hallway inspection tonight. Looking both ways in an ineffective attempt to be .Then there were the men. Chapter 22 Candy groaned as the pain in her feet began to command her attention in earnest. 'Someday' showed no signs of arriving.' Candy backed into the shallow indentation that led to the hallway entrance. a neanderthal if ever there were one. "Look. She knew she wasn't being fair. Grimacing.' she thought with an evil grin. She glanced at her watch. After a particularly obnoxious guy had hounded her half the night. Candy's temper was often just a whisper away.' It had been six weeks since her vision of rock-hard muscles wrapped in a golden mane had been reality and not just in her dreams. I'll be over him. With her luck. Two in the morning. she decided to risk it. Did the word 'no' change meanings while I was gone? I can see by the stupid look on your face that it didn't. Candy compared each to Dolph. a seemingly endless stream of them propositioning her. 'that would be better than buying a gun and heading for the top of the convention center. he had lots and lots of like-minded brethren. Or is that just the way you always look?" Though that had taken care of him.

"Get up. even as she suffered more agony in the doubly-taxed foot remaining on the floor. He was not the kind of man you wanted to get caught alone with in a dark hallway. He had a dark. gravelly voice of her boss brought Candy's head snapping up. she could reach both feet at once to massage the tenderness away. the wisps of hair peeking out beneath it. He was slightly overweight. He wore an awful toupee that didn't quite match. sending her back to her rump like Bambi on the ice. "And just what the hell do you think you're doin'?" The harsh. he was always hinting at the 'ways' a girl could get a raise. oily complexion that tended toward crimson when he was angry. She put the soles of her feet together and pulled them upward. mostly in vain. With a sigh of relief. Rizzo's ham-hock hands closed around Candy's upper arms . Even though everyone knew he was married. She shifted from foot to foot. he was approaching a nice shade of scarlet. enjoying the respite from pain in each lifted foot. causing a sharp pain to generate down her spine. Candy forgot that she had slipped off her shoes for her foot massage. Placing her back flat against the wall and slowly bending her knees.nonchalant. She grimaced. doing a pretty good imitation of a human frog. she sat down her tray of empty glasses and stretched her hands toward the ceiling. Candy slid to the floor. The soles of her nylon-stockinged feet slid across the bare floor as she tried to rise. trying. in color or texture. Who was she kidding? He could take a blue ribbon for ugliest pig at the fair. That way. she backed through the doors. At the moment. you lazy bitch! I ain't payin' ya ta sit there like a lump o' crap!" Mr. This was not working. to force the tension out of her muscles. Trying to jump quickly to her feet. Mr Rizzo was not a particularly attractive man.

her neck had a crick in it. in a flash. he brought his wet lips smashing down onto hers. Candy. she didn't see Rizzo's huge hand clench into a fist as he pulled it toward his shoulder. Not even pausing to let the prospect of unemployment cross her mind.and squeezed painfully as he lifted her to her feet and pushed her against the wall. But the punch was never thrown. and now this obnoxious lump of jiggling Jello was giving her the mother of all headaches! He actually thought that she would stoop to a quickie in the hall for a lousy fifty-cent-an-hour raise?! His weight effectively pinning her to the wall. She probably wouldn't have known what hit her. Candy resisted the urge to retch as his soft belly pressed against her and his garlic-tinged breath cleared out her sinuses. damn it. what little there had been. Candy? Is that why you're trying to get off alone with me?" He closed the distance between their bodies. isn't it? Yeah. grabbing his crotch as though he needed reassurance that it was still there. you want a raise. "Maybe that will teach you not to try to take advantage of helpless women. He switched to his version of a sexy purr. That was the straw that broke the camel named Candy's back. she brought her knee into direct. Candy smiled and narrowed her eyes. She was trying to control her temper and handle this situation with the aplomb of a lady. But. The look in his beady little eyes shifted from anger to lust in one fell swoop. her butt hurt." Bending to retrieve her shoes and tray. The look on the man's face was priceless as he lunged away from her. uncompromising contact with Mr. Rizzo's family jewels. . So. her feet were killing her. Candy thought he sounded like a pig grunting through its swill. "Candy.

the least she could do was let him play out his macho game.. "You were going to hit me?! Why you. Strong hands closed on her arms and she was firmly pushed behind an unyielding back ." Only now did Candy see Mr. at this moment. His battle armor gleamed with blood and other substances Candy didn't want to think about. fully meaning to give the man a piece of her mind. A quiet."Hold!" The command reverberated in the small hallway like a sonic boom. She had seen him cleaner. Rizzo. Rizzo's fist raised into the air where he had dutifully frozen when Felix had arrived. the Viking warrior stood before her in all his Prince Valiant glory. Felix gave the loathsome Italian another softly menacing command. too heavy with dirt or sweat to pull itself up into its normal bob. stern 'Go' was . And the look in his eye boded ill for whomever it was turned upon. which.. "Felix?" Sure enough. Candy clamped her mouth tightly shut. Candy was trying to place that familiar voice as she stood and turned toward it. She was about to protest when she noticed several fresh wounds on the warrior's back.a position she had been in too many times in the last few months for her liking. She never got the chance. Resting his hand on the hilt of his sword. The memory of a whispered 'Dolph' reached her brain at the same time as did the visual reality of Felix standing in the hall. His dark hair was stringing about his shoulders. "Leave.you despicable worm!" She spun around. She wondered if this were just another of her masochistic nightmares. One had opened anew with the exertion required to put her into this position of protection. was Mr. figuring if the guy were willing to shed blood for her.

He must tell her the truth quickly to avoid causing her senseless pain. why are you here? How did you get here? Can you beam into a building? What's going on? Are you alone?" It suddenly dawned on her that Felix might just be the advance guard.followed by the opening. Star. "Felix. of the hall door. her eyes shining with hope. he used the other to press a button on the device hanging on his belt. She didn't want to open her mouth and have some jumbled nonsense fall out. the questions all came out sensibly." Keeping one hand on her shoulder. "Lady Star. As it was." Candy tried to organize all the questions bouncing off the walls of her mind. She looked up at Felix." his smile faltered. Some of the tension left Felix's shoulders as he turned and grinned down at her. "Forgive me. for interfering in the man's being flayed alive by your tongue but. his heart rarely touched by what went on around him. Candy recognized the transporter signal beacon that let the ship know where they were and that they were ready to come aboard. Perhaps shifting her attention to something else would stave off the inevitable. Felix did not wish to see the disappointment that would surely dull her beautiful eyes when she saw that Dolph was not with him. just at Mach 2 speed. He might not be alone. but the hope in that softly asked question caused a clenching in his chest. I will answer your questions as best I can while we get on our way. He faced her fully . "time is short. Candy quickly scanned the hallway for another large masculine presence. and quick closing. He placed his hands on her shoulders. Her heart leaping into her throat. "Did Dolph send for me?" Felix was a seasoned warrior.

and once again placed both hands on her shoulders.. Felix thought it best to complete the tale quickly." . Though our perimeter guards saw them coming. It took me a few minutes to find another warrior in good enough shape to help me pull him from the ground. we had little time to prepare. "The cowards attacked while we slept. He was barely conscious.. to cover his back." His tone became softer as the memories grew more painful. I found him because his sword was lying on the ground beside the entrance. "He had fallen into a cave that opened onto the surface." His jaw clenched and his nostrils flared angrily at the memory. Star. but he went looking for another." Star's eyes widened.. but Felix didn't miss a beat. He was wedged into it like a babe leaving its mother. Vierig's second." Candy jumped slightly as the transporter tickled her vision and deposited them aboard ship. becoming full moons of cobalt.Since he sent you away he has not been himself." Regret shone in his deep brown eyes.. "The sea quickly dwindled to a few useless drips beneath his sword. and another. launched an unexpected attack while we were waiting for their response to Dolph's assuming command of Vierig's ships. "The space was small. "." A smile flitted across his features. spreading across the land like wildfire. we saw that he had a leg wound. In that position.. "I tried to keep Dolph in sight. "Dolph has been injured. The battle was fierce. his arms above his head.I began searching for him. The berserker took him quickly and he disappeared into a sea of the enemy... he had been unable to staunch the flow of blood. Once we had freed him. When the battle was through. barely big enough to hold Dolph's bulk. but. Kiarr.

She shrugged her shoulders out of his grasp and stepped away from him. But he is no longer fighting for life. ". I'm thinking!" Felix gave a curt nod. not letting his smile show until Star had stepped away from him to begin pacing. her complexion nearly matching her silver-blonde hair.. No. and such love for him. "Star! This is no time to become weak and hide behind your womanly tears! Dolph needs you!" Star blinked up at him and he watched in wonder as the fires of anger were stoked behind her eyes. just tell me he's not dead. anticipating her curiosity. tears beginning to blur her vision." That slight smile touched his lips again. Surely a woman with such fire.Star went pale. "Tis a curious oversight on Dolph's part that it was not removed before you left. but I would do anything within my power to keep my friend alive. Kirk said that Dolph is suffering from a genetic weakness.. this couldn't be happening. her eyes glazed with shock. He didn't speak much louder than her whisper. "Don't yell at me.. "Felix. please. Felix had to strain to hear her whisper. It made no sense to me. he is not yet dead.. lady. Felix grabbed her by the shoulders and gave her a hard shake." Felix sighed and pulled her into his arms to comfort her. "Do you have any idea what foolishness the boy speaks?" Candy shook her head. would bring Dolph back from the threshold of Valhalla! .which I did by tracing your translator." He pushed her gently away from him and tapped his ear. I came straightaway to find you. "Nay. Dolph dying? No! She shook her head again." Confusion and fear showed on his face as he stared into her eyes. that he needed his woman to find the strength to live.

What had he said about his father's death? Father. A genetic weakness? She ran the story Kirk had told her about the deaths of his mother and father through her mind. deep fortifying breath.. 'Viking version . He looked nearly dead already. With one quick. Chapter 23 Candy.' Candy thought wryly. He was lying on his bed.. Felix. take me to see Dolph. could not believe the sight that greeted her as she entered Dolph's room. she adjusted the light in the room to its brightest. "That's it! There's a romantic inside that sweet kid. dressed in full battle armor with his sword by his side and his shield leaning against one hip.ready to greet Odin and enter Valhalla.' Her throat tightened as she saw the pallor that tainted his usually beautiful golden skin.no longer had the spirit. had Dolph lost the spirit to live? Candy spun toward Felix as she snapped her fingers in the air. His head propped up on pillows. the deep brown fur spread beneath him resembling nothing so much as a funeral shroud. Was that what he meant? Without her. caught somewhere between dismay and fury. the Viking warrior wondered if he had truly done his friend any favors. Candy strode determinedly into the room ahead of Felix. Dolph's eyes squeezed more tightly shut and he . I'm not about to let him die without giving a him a piece of my mind!" As Star headed toward the door out of the transporter room with Felix hot on her heals. he looked ready to fight the Devil himself. Flipping the control on the wall beside the door.Candy pushed all thoughts of Dolph lying in a pool of blood from her mind and concentrated on what Kirk had said to Felix. 'Wrong religion.

Then he recognized the silver-blonde mane and a soft smile touched his lips. "Perhaps the Christians are right about angels. Dolph sensed a presence in his room. sending it crashing to the floor on the other side of the bed. "What are you doing. For a moment. woman?!" Candy stood at the side of the bed nearest his face and glared right back at him. She slid her fingers under the edge of Dolph's shield and pushed. "I'm kicking you in the butt. He was ready. he thought perhaps the Valkyries had come for him. Viking!" . With a slight bow to Star. When the light flared. He had brought her here to help Dolph. She was happy to see Dolph's eyes narrow. he growled. It was so heavy that was about all she could do with it. His voice a little stronger. and a worried glance toward the now immobile figure lying on the bed. he didn't want to watch the torture she would surely put his friend through. he thought it was indeed a Valkyrie that stood before him. Felix took his leave. a sound more of disgust than pain. Just like he had sounded in her dream right before he died. eyes flaring.turned his head to the side as if to get away from the light. who was he to question her methods? Still. He groaned softly. full of too much air and not enough muscle. A fleeting terror seized his bowels and he forced his eyes to open against the bright light. ready for battle. His fist began to tighten on the hilt of his sword just as it was yanked from his grasp. Have you come to take me to your Christian Heaven?" His voice was weak. but the look Star gave him made him rethink that move. Felix began to protest what seemed the senselessly cruel treatment of an injured warrior. Anger and determination flared behind sapphire eyes as Candy dropped Dolph's sword to the ground.

"I mean. dummy?'. Sensing the beginning of one of his beloved's speeches Dolph sighed and smiled. "Actually. He gave an exasperated sigh. Until now. can't see?" Her voice began to rise. in all the time I've known you. one with a more definitive answer." Her tone said. Kirk is the one who asked for me." Star's voice lowered as she spoke to herself. Or maybe he's just the only one who refuses to take death lying down!" She stepped away and threw her hands into the air. "Am I missing something here? Is there some opponent in this room that I. "I have not given up! A warrior welcomes death if he knows he has lived a good life and died fighting. Time flies when you're having fun. I have never seen you give up. it just seems like forever. his shoulders straining back against the pillows. I've known you for quite a while. he opened his mouth to continue his interrogation." Star turned her angry gaze full upon him. 'what else. maybe not. in my womanly stupidity. but she interrupted him. his chin rising. his mouth quirking into a half-grimace. How did you get here?" "Felix brought me. she returned to lecture pitch. "Anyway. Dolph. . one eyebrow raising." With a little shake of her head. With a curt nod. "well. look at you. He should have known that answer had been too succinct for his talkative lady.Dolph's glare turned to a look of comical confusion. "Maybe if I ask an easier question." Dolph's spine stiffened. He seems to be the only member of his family with any brains. and Dolph realized that had been rather obvious.

. Death!'" Desperation. "'Welcome home. "You're not that sick. another slight back step. Dolph!" She smacked her palm against the breastplate of his armor hard enough to make him take a stumble-step backward. as close as she could get and still glare up into his face." A sweep of her arm encompassed the room. but you guys are too tough to ever admit you've made a boo-boo so you decided that death would be the easiest way out. you know. he swung his feet to the floor and stood. the bed and the warrior before her." she moved her hand in the air as if following some unseen words. "just. "You practically put out a party banner:. ignoring his screaming muscles. love.they all combined to make her shout into his stubborn face."I don't think so. I think you just gave up after you got wounded because you knew you had made a mistake in sending me back to Earth. "You dare call me a coward?!" Candy stood directly in front of him." ." Another smack. fear. "Yeah. bracing himself on his arms for a minute as dizziness spun the room inside his head. For the first time in weeks she felt like she might be winning. that is the worst kind of cowardice!" Dolph sat up.. Look at this. As soon as he thought he could do so without embarrassing himself. If you ask me. Candy liked that. "You're... you bet I dare! There's a difference between accepting death and welcoming it with open arms. His fists clenched at his side. You didn't want to live the rest of your life without me. his bellow shook the walls.

perhaps . stumble. The gods themselves couldn't cause as much trouble in a lifetime as you can wreak in one day. woman! If I reneged on that decision. In an angry whisper. he would have been proud of the way she kept the fear from her eyes. . If he hadn't been so angry. "That is love. unsuspecting people back at my home." He lowered her feet to the ground and gently pushed her away from him.. ripples of silver punctuating her disbelief." Whack! Uh-oh. glaring right back at him. but Dolph had had enough." His voice began to rise as irritation set in. He gave her a little shake. That time he held his ground. He grabbed her by the shoulders and lifted." His tone softened slightly. That is neither stubbornness nor cowardice. I didn't want to see you die because I had allowed you into one dangerous situation too many. he chastised her. His balance had definitely seen better days. I would be putting your life in danger for my own selfish desires. holding a hint of wonder . "I couldn't leave you with the poor.Smack. "I am neither stubborn nor a coward. "stubborn!" Star pulled back her hand in preparation for another assault on his person.as he concluded. "And if you ever again call me a coward I will give you a beating you will not soon forget!" Candy shook her head.realization. I made the decision to send you back to Earth to protect you. "unbelievably. pulling her off the ground till her feet were dangling helplessly in the air and she was eye to eye with him.

" The memory of long. my logical mind knew . dark nights suddenly flooded her mind. hoping to cool her temper with distance. then glared in triumph as she found it. perhaps even needed. No good.K. leaving your lover to do the same. to hear her out. "You call that love? Dying alone and lonely. Dolph felt an inward cringe as her beautiful blue eyes flooded with pain.Her voice dripped with incredulous scorn. 'for my own good'?" Dolph crossed his arms over his massive chest and nodded. a look of condescension on his face that made Candy's blood begin to boil! With an angry flip of her hand. A. Dolph?" She gave a little self-deprecating laugh so full of pain that Dolph suddenly had the urge to take her in his arms. he wanted. Every night I would tell myself I wasn't going to look into the sky.A. "You have got to be kidding!" She raised her hands. just because she might get killed if she were with you? Mister. "Now let me get this straight. a vision of outraged female. "You stupid. You sent me away because you love me and want to protect me. After all. She spun on her heel to face him. And for some reason he could not yet fathom. palms down. "man!" That was the worst insult she could think of at the moment.. you have got one distorted image of love.. "Did you really think that I would just get on with my life as though nothing had happened? Did you really think that I could just forget you. lonely days and unbearably cold." she squeezed her eyes shut as she searched for just the right word. She turned and walked away from him a few paces. "I had this little ritual. He knew she would not welcome the interruption. platinum strands flew into the air to land behind her shoulders..

"You son-of-a-bitch." Tears began their slow descent down her beautiful cheeks. Beautiful pools of sapphire spilled their diamond tears down her cheeks as she raised her confused gaze to meet his eyes. Emotion softened her words to barely a whisper. but oh-so-important. to tell her how much he had wanted. lay there for an hour or so. to be with her. "You were never there. had I turned off the oven?. I was hungry.there wouldn't be anything there. Her tone had become that of an injured child trying to explain some unfathomable. Dolph wanted to comfort her. Dolph started to raise his arms. I'd go to bed. as she lowered her eyes to the ground and slowly shook her head. "Where were you?!" Sobs tore at her throat as she struggled to speak. when he stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her. I had to go to the bathroom. pushing him away so hard he stumbled and nearly fell onto the bed. her palms flat against his armor. She slammed both fists into the breastplate of Dolph's battle armor as she shrieked at him. "I love you. "I would rather die in your arms on some horrible little rock of a planet tomorrow than live to a ripe old age in my safe little world . where were you?!" She collapsed against him. whatever." Seeing Star in such pain. deep down in his soul. thing. Yet. just so I could get up and look out the window into that empty night sky. but Star pushed away from him once again. tossing and turning. then come up with some excuse to get back out of bed." Strength slowly returned to her words. She refused to wrap her arms around him. she sprang to life like an erupting volcano. She seemed so vulnerable.

. She raised her eyes to his and made a desperate.. she knew she couldn't afford to let him think too much.what? . Her head was full of the romantic ideas of a woman. Dolph arched an eyebrow in question but wrapped his fist around the hilt. Dolph. Don't you understand. then held it toward him. I just exist. .. then kill me. her words touched something. Yeah. "If you don't want me anymore.. Dolph's warrior instincts made him take a step backward as Star leaned down and grasped the hilt of his sword in her hand. plea. deep in his heart. a little hold-in-your-hands demonstration of her determination to stay or die trying. He needed to think this through. How good it felt to hold steel once again! Star dropped to her knees before him." She splayed her arms wide. She could raise barely half the length of the blade off the floor." Dolph shook his head. without you I don't live. It's just not worth the effort.. not the reality of a warrior's existence. something he. Dolph. Maybe all he needed was a little shot of her dramatic flair. that was what these guys understood best. Besides. He might come up with another stupid man's reason for sending her away again. And yet.wanted? . exposing her chest to his sword. She was getting to him.needed? Was she right? Would loving her and taking the chance of losing her in the future be better than the living hell of losing her now to his desire to protect her? Dolph frowned. and very dramatic. his resistance definitely waning.. She dragged it the short distance to his side. making it clear that she wanted him to take it.without you. I go through life like some kind of automaton. Candy saw the deep thought in his eyes. Something they could see and touch and relate to on a personal level. He had to make her understand that his concern was for her safety.

His soft tone combined with the double entendre' made the hair on her neck rise and other parts of her body begin to sit up and take notice. sweetling.' her heart practically sang in her chest. I'm not willing to spend the rest of my life without you.. you were laying there waiting to die so that you wouldn't have to live without me. 'He wants to protect me? Okay..What? Dolph wondered. I'm sure they'll poke me and prod me and ask me questions till I'm blue in the face. If you try to send me back. let's try a threat!' She placed her hands on her hips and let the fires of determination that shone in her sapphire eyes speak to the stubborn warrior before her. Dolph placed the point of the sword against the flesh of her breast. they'll probably dissect me!" . Her sharp intake of breath and startled. Dolph lowered the sword tip to the floor as he softly reprimanded her. she dared to challenge him! Heeding his wicked desire to teach her a lesson." Star narrowed her eyes and stood. Then. 'He's smiling.' An idea grabbed her. never worked before.a dare?! Was she actually daring him to do something other than that which she expected him to do? The little minx had either developed a death wish or she was so sure of herself. I'll go straight to the FBI or CIA or whatever part of the alphabet is interested and tell them I've just spent a few weeks aboard a spaceship. Now what? Logic?' Candy smiled to herself. "Whether you'll admit it or not. when I've answered all their questions. Well. Was that fear or was it. Dolph. "Never try to predict what a warrior will do with his sword..Her azure eyes shone bright with.. wide-eyed expression were ample reward. 'we've got him on the run. Smiling broadly. 'Nah.

It would take them years just to decipher her responses. Dolph realized that he had indeed decided somewhere in his stubborn warrior's subconscious mind that to die would be preferable to living without Star. Did I just lose track of this conversation?" Remembering all the times he had done just that because of Star's convoluted thinking. She was certainly tenacious when she set her mind to it. "Wait a minute. Dolph tossed back his golden head and laughed. enjoying her slight resistance. A Viking took what he wanted and damn the consequences! Dolph clenched his jaw. looking every inch the fearsome warrior. he chuckled and slowly lowered his lips to hers. what the future might hold? That was not a warrior's way. By the gods. . reveling in her eventual submission. What the hell had he been thinking. Dolph plundered her. But she was right about the one thing that really mattered. He pitied the agents of any organization that tried to ask Star questions. worrying about what might happen. his inner self. If they waited until all her answers made sense before killing her. he would correct that immediately! Wrapping his arms around Star.Dolph smiled at her threat. she would surely die a very old woman. Star squeaked a protest as he rolled her beneath him. my lady Star. She had such a creative way of answering. "How does it feel. to have the tables turned?" At her confused scowl. Star pushed as hard as she could against his armored chest. The nectar of the Gods could not have tasted as sweet as her mouth. He had temporarily lost sight of his heritage. stiffened his spine and rolled his shoulders. As his hand slid under her skirt to caress her thigh. In true warrior style. a sound that was absolute music to Candy's ears. he brought her down on top of him on the bed.

" Dolph engulfed her face in his hands and gazed deeply into her eyes.Needing a breath anyway. He marveled once again at her beauty. Her eyes had darkened with the beginnings of passion to deepest sapphire. He rolled onto his side. Breathlessly. "I know what's actually happening right at this minute. gathering her into his arms." Candy sighed and relaxed for the first time in weeks. "I love you. Your love is my life. you sure can weave a spell with your words. Her silver hair flowed all about her in complete and glorious disarray. She ran her hands over his intricately carved breast-plate. Star. "I swear to you. tracing the fiery dragon with the tip of her finger. smiling down at her. by the way. or is this another goodbye lovemaking session? Which. And the Valkyries themselves will have to pry you from my arms. I shall bathe in my Star's warmth till the fires in the heavens are but a vague memory. Viking. Her smile was content. Star grimaced." Dolph's expression turned serious. What I mean is. smiling seductively. and. for I have seen the brightest of all the stars. "Would you mind explaining what is going on?" Dolph arched an eyebrow. "A pleasant image. As I look into the night sky. then wrapped her arms around Dolph's neck. and she is mine. I did not appreciate. she asked. Dolph gave Star her way and raised his upper body onto his elbows. am I staying here. "Boy. that I will never leave you again if it is within my power to stay. ground his erection against her." . Star." Star grimaced again and mumbled under her breath. I am no longer impressed by the spots of light that pepper the heavens.

Dolph knew he had better answer her question quickly before she had time to think up ten more to go with it. enjoying the fight almost as much as the victory. "But did you just say that you're going to keep me here without a fight?" Dolph smiled. or the gods themselves. I thought that it would make me weak and foolish. "Our future will hold many blazes of passion. He pulled back and raised both eyebrows in exasperation. "I fought my love for you as an enemy. "Just try to get away from me. reveling in her touch. . amused at her slightly disappointed tone. His Star was such a warrior. releasing his hair and smoothing it down the back of his neck. robbing her of what little breath his seductive words had left her. And I will always win!" His tone full of import. the elements. Dolph arched his neck. the warmth of his words tingling Candy's neck.Her eyes clouded slightly. the curiosity would surely kill her. "And you call me arrogant?" Star's lips puckered and her eyebrows pulled together in a pout." Candy couldn't resist. "some loving. Whether it be your stubborn self." His expression became fierce. he tightened his arms around her. "That is not a handle. They would be talking all night and that was not what he had in mind for the evening's activities. He kissed the tip of her nose. I will always fight to keep you. As Dolph lowered his lips to plunder her again he felt a tug on his hair." his eyes darkened. "What exactly did I say that convinced you?" Dolph laughed. woman!" Candy giggled. some fighting.

furry menace jumped from his bleeding ear to the pillow beside Star's head. slightly tinged by a hidden purr. As Dolph spied his prey and slowly moved in for the kill. "Silky. Silky gave a sharp meow. he was alive! Just as he felt her sweet breath across his lips. made me act stupidly. absolutely glorious in his battle armor. she giggled."Love did not make me weak! My fear of the softness I thought it would bring. "I don't want to play with you right now. He felt full of life again. I was a fool to let you go and I thank the gods for another chance. "Don't you think you're a little overdressed to do battle with a . yes. His loins flooded to a near painful state in seconds. I will never deny my love for you again! I will love as I fight--with honor and passion and pride!" Seeing Star's eyes shining with love and pride was all Dolph needed to let him know that she felt he had made the right decision. his tail swishing back and forth. you little beast! Can't you see that I have other more pleasant things on my mind? Come here before I feed you to a goldfish!" Candy leaned up on one elbow and enjoyed the view as Dolph stalked around the room. and jumped to the floor. and my attempts to deny what I was feeling. as she raised her face to his. He dropped his chest to the floor and raised his butt into the air. A tiny. a sharp pain in his earlobe brought his head flying back up. Ah. Her arms tightened around his neck. Dolph could hear his warrior's blood singing in his veins. more so than he had felt since Star had faded from his view to return to her world. I am a Viking warrior! Let the gods toss us as they may. Dolph swore with a vengeance." Dolph roared his frustration. Silky stared up at him with censure in his Siamese-blue eyes. He rose from the bed and reached for the little feline.

Speak of the Devil. Shaking her head. Her slinky movements and sultry purr were nearly Dolph's undoing. Star laughed. prepare for battle. she strutted to the little wire cage that sat in one corner of the room and placed the cat on his pillow. he ordered. Silky jumped into her outstretched hand and proceeded to curl up as if he were planning to take a long nap." Star tossed her hair." When she turned to Dolph. remove your clothes and get in my bed. Her eyes took on a sultry heat as she rolled onto her back and stretched like a cat. "Woman. the fierce look on his face was almost frightening. a sound that both pulled on Dolph's heart and gave a tug on his tightened loins. "He seems happy to have me back. defiance etched in every plane of her beautiful face. buttons flying about the room. he pointed toward the bed. He began unfastening the straps that held his armor in place.mini-Siamese?" Dolph stopped and turned a fierce glare on Star. With an imperious nod. As his chestplate fell to the floor. As she pulled open her blouse. THE END Blaze of Light by Robyn Crane . and a tone that brooked no opposition. a battle he knew he could not lose." Reveling in the battle of love. Dolph pulled his heavenly blaze of light into his strong arms and held on for dear life. He reached for the cat but Star sprang from the bed. With a few turns and fluffs he made himself comfortable. taking her prize with her. she started slowly toward the bed. "Warrior.

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