This eBook is published by Fictionwise Publications www.fictionwise.com Excellence in eBooks Visit www.fictionwise.com to find more titles by this and other top authors in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, and other genres.

This eBook copyrighted. See the first page of this book for full copyright information.

LTDBooks www.LTDBooks.com Copyright ©2005 by Kate Hill

NOTICE: This work is copyrighted. It is licensed only for use by the original purchaser. Making copies of this work or distributing it to any unauthorized person by any means, including without limit email, floppy disk, file transfer, paper print out, or any other method constitutes a violation of International copyright law and subjects the violator to severe fines or imprisonment.

CONTENTS Prologue Chapter One Chapter Two

Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Excerpt from Nobody's Angel Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Excerpt from CRAIG LEGACY CHAPTER ONE CHAPTER TWO About the Author ****

Prologue Britain, 900 AD Eadred raised his sword to deflect an overhead blow before his own blade found its mark in a wash of blood. The dying soldier sank to the muddy ground, his eyes wide and his mouth streaming blood. Panting, Eadred pulled his sword free of the body, an action he'd performed more times than he cared to

remember but had never before demanded such effort. He blamed his fatigue on the fever that had plagued him for days, rising and dropping, interspersed with bouts of vomiting. It was the stomach pain that bothered him the most. Sometimes the agony was so severe he could scarcely walk, let alone raise a blade in defense. Yet fighting was not a choice. As second in command of his chieftain's fleet, he needed to set an example for the men beneath him. If he showed any weakness, his leader would most likely run him through without waiting for an enemy to do so. Sweat mingled with rain on Eadred's face. He blinked his vision clear. Everywhere he looked, mercenary soldiers from his ship pillaged homes and burned anything that wasn't worth taking. He glanced at a slash across the sleeve of his armor. Blood turned the leather dark. His wound would either have to be burned or stitched when he returned to the ship. Such a waste,Eadred thought as he walked across the dirt road, stepping over several bodies, one belonging to a young warrior he'd known for years, the only son of a widow. News of his death would not be delivered easily. Eadred paused outside another strange Christian temple. Someone had kicked in the door and it lay on the dusty ground. He leaned against the wall, one hand pressed to his side as he braced himself for the pain that had grown all too familiar, and glanced inside. Two of his companions had stolen several statues and goblets. One of them kicked over a chair, revealing a tiny man cowering beneath. Not much larger than a child but with fine lines about his eyes that revealed his age, the man appeared too terrified to scream. Laughing, a tall blond warrior Eadred knew as Olaf grasped the man by the back of the robe he wore—an odd garment of glistening white—and dangled him in the air. The small one struggled, his face tinged blue as the hanging position cut off his breath. Eadred understood battle—he'd been trained to fight almost as soon as he could hold a child's wooden sword—but he'd never understood some men's fascination with cruelty. There was no profit in torturing children, raping women, or toying with a weak creature like the strangely dressed little man. "Drop him.” Eadred stepped inside as the pain passed. Olaf glanced over his beefy shoulder and scowled, revealing chipped gray teeth. “What for?" "Because I said so.” Eadred lifted his blade. “We have to work fast. The storm is getting worse, and we're supposed to be back on the ship already." Grumbling, Olaf lowered the man and pulled a dagger. Disgusted and already in a bad temper over his illness, Eadred flung one of his short blades across the room, striking Olaf in the arm. Olaf bellowed and dropped the man, who scrambled off. With a battle cry, Olaf took his sword in his good hand and charged at Eadred. Eadred was tall and sleekly muscled, but Olaf was at least twice his weight. Each of the blond's strikes felt like a pounding from Thor's hammer. Still, Eadred fought with speed and intelligence. Within moments he knocked the sword from Olaf's hand.

[Back to Table of Contents] . as Eadred raised his weapon for the deathblow. Too rapidly. he plunged the weapon into Olaf's chest. most of the warriors had already retreated. wincing. Pain flared across Eadred's stomach. Eadred leaned against the tree trunk and laughed. This. He was losing his mind. Through a haze as hot as a forge. but now he knew he was dying. Whatever disease hindered his body now claimed his sanity! Through half-closed eyes. he leaned against the tree trunk and closed his eyes.” he murmured. how his sons and daughter had fared the winter. Glancing skyward. Feeling a slight pressure on his shoulder. He wondered what his wife was doing now. The little one sat back on his heels and pulled a shiny silver square from a pocket in his robe. He sheathed his sword and made his way to the shore. "Gods!” Eadred gasped. "Stop it!” He gently pushed the man away. He pressed a hand to his abdomen and cursed under his breath. terror such as he'd never experienced—even in the worst of battles—flooded his feverish body. Instinct alone allowed him to block Olaf's blade before it ran him through. his limbs sprawled awkwardly in death. but fell back. examining his wounded arm. He dropped to his knees. He clutched his sword tightly in a useless attempt to distract himself from the hot pincer that seemed to claw through his stomach.The blond stood. he heard Olaf laughing. The rain had slowed to a drizzle. None of this was real. He stumbled over a fallen tree and landed on his knees in the mud. he drew a sharp breath as a solid black mass descended from the sky. Outside. His new and unwanted friend nudged him against the tree and touched his stomach. He touched Eadred's forehead as his wife sometimes did to him and his children when they were ill. panting... Random villagers scurried through the ruins. "Freya. The blond flopped over backward. of that he was certain. "What do you want?” Eadred demanded. but by the look of the sky it was dusk. Drawing a steadying breath. he saw darkness falling rapidly. strange visions. but it never fell. he opened his eyes. After several moments. Uncomfortably cold rain pelted his feverish skin. The man's large blue eyes held his. Eadred jumped from the pain. Eadred tried standing. He'd been guessing his illness was serious. The mercenaries had been gone several months with no news of home.Eadred told himself. The tiny man in the white robe squatted beside him. Pulling a dagger from his boot. How could he have fallen asleep? The ship had left without him. scarcely noticing his surroundings. he stood and left the church.is death. Unbearable pain. He needed a minute to rest before continuing to the ship.

" "It's all true. But for him to actually be alive—" "I still don't understand how it's possible. "You're not looking again?” Ann smirked." "I don't give a damn about Bunker Hill Monument when my life's in danger.” Portland shook her head. “Thank you for talking those in charge into letting me communicate with your ice man. “I still can't believe what you're telling me. Richard's expedition uncovered artifacts up north dating back to around the year nine hundred. There's Bunker Hill Monument." Portland decided not to argue with her sister and switched to a more interesting subject. The government scientists studying samples of it have said it's definitely not water. You hardly ever get to Boston. This guy was literally frozen inside a glacier. “We don't know." "You mean you and your highbrow associates can't explain this?" "Highbrow?” Ann laughed. 2002 "Tell me when we get there." "Obviously whatever substance he was frozen in kept him alive." "All I know is there's no explanation—at least that we've yet discovered—for how he's survived." "Twelve." "If you hadn't called me. “You're the one who speaks ten languages. and you're missing all the great scenery.” Portland gazed down at her hands twisting on her lap. I would have thought it was some fraud story reporters blew out of proportion.Chapter One Boston. and you're the one with the MD." "Sounds like something out of classic sci-fi. I know there are others they could have chosen—someone more directly related to the project." "Then what is it?" Ann glanced at her. This guy was really frozen in ice?" "We thought it was ice. Discovering a body in such perfect condition would have been enough to make Richard—as well as the rest of us involved—famous. not to mention the intellectual satisfaction. You drive like a nut!" "And you've been stuck in Vermont for too long. “Come on." .

right? I imagine you don't know what color his eyes are yet. Probably blue. two-hundred-thirty pounds." "You said by his clothes and weapons he was a Viking." Portland's brow furrowed. or else the feds involved will go crazy. They're grayish blue. What does he look like? A man over a thousand years old must be really short and scrawny." Ann shrugged. Our Viking John Doe had numerous scars." Portland couldn't explain the chill that crept up her spine at the tone and implication of her sister's words. “I've never seen work like that. “I'm supposed to remain professional. since he's not awake. I drive in here every day. Dark brown hair." "So someone back then had really steady hands?" Ann raised her eyes to heaven. Neither have any of my colleagues. and that's totally off the record. as if she feared someone overhearing even in the privacy of the car. “What else?" ." "Causing accidents and drumming up business for your hospital?" "That's not funny. Most of his injuries had been cared for by the crude methods of the time and had healed awkwardly. I've always read about how small people were in the dark ages. let alone the finest of suturing. Her sister had always appreciated male beauty. Even the many disgusting physical ailments and filth her career exposed her to daily hadn't changed her carnal appetite. “And it's really important that you keep this quiet." "I won't ask you to compromise your ethics—" "The man is a stud and a half. but that's not the strangest part. though he's not yet awake. and we have examined his eyes." "Really?" "He's six feet three and a half inches."What are sisters for?” Ann glanced at Portland and winked. understand?" Portland laughed. Not unusual for a man who'd obviously been a mercenary or raider. After all. I am his doctor. "I'll tell you something else that's off the record." "Sorry." "Not in this case. so he must be blond. "Keep your eyes on the road!" "You have to calm down." "You're half right. So tell me more about him. except for a few which looked better than the results of any laser I've seen.” Ann lowered her voice. “He doesn't sound half bad.

" "I speak Danish. I really hope you can communicate with him. I know you like to have your facts straight before you form an opinion." "I told you to come to the role-playing parties I have with my old friends from college." "I know Latin well enough. The items surrounding him have eroded. but everything on his person was perfect. that's where that inexplicable liquid came from." "That clique you associate with is very strange." "No appendix?" "Portland. “Do you think he was just born without one?" "I don't think so. it will probably sound like a foreign language to him." "You must have an idea—you. though. hardly what I'd call typical college buddies. Do you think he wasn't actually frozen back then? Maybe it was only a matter of weeks. "Yes. appendectomies weren't performed by Scandinavian mercenaries in the year nine hundred. and we don't believe he was frozen recently." Ann shook her head. How many people spend a couple of weekends a year dressing. I like speaking Latin better. Tests were performed on his belongings. I keep thinking I'm going to snap out of this and find I'm hallucinating from lack of sleep after so many nights on call. and his brain functions normally. It also seems like the only real answers we'll get are from this man himself. “but it's not like I carry on conversations. Richard. especially with no scar at all in the area of incision." "I realize that. That's the closest I'll get to communicating with him.” Ann smiled. If I speak to him in Danish. and eating as if they're in ancient Rome?" "A few of us did feudal Japan one year. We can only hope he speaks Latin. What—or who—do you think this man is?" "I hope we'll find out when—and if—he regains consciousness. It could be a hoax—or maybe another country has already discovered a method of freezing a human being for later revival. Our toga parties are the real thing. and the government. but it's modern speech. Ann. and you're avoiding the subject. “It's not a hoax." "Ann. Languages change over the years. it does." "This really worries you?” Portland gazed at the grim line of her sister's mouth. “People just don't thaw like a frozen dinner." "What do you think?" "I'm not sure. Thawed?” Ann sighed deeply. They're genuine. talking."He has no appendix. but can you at least tell me what you think about him?" . It's been close to twenty hours since he thawed.” Portland snapped.

A possible alien. I don't speak Martian. She tore her gaze from his body long enough to study his face. His chest was lightly dusted with dark hair. By the look of him. Ann was right. glancing at the monitors attached to the object of everyone's interest. Portland had always been uncomfortable in hospitals and never understood her sister's desire to work in one. from my examination and the way he revived. he hadn't deteriorated in the least. a tall. her heart pounding. Wavy dark brown hair fanned out on the . Ann joined the other doctor while Portland stood at the foot of the bed. His very existence was a miracle. He's about to awaken. Ann had always been the social butterfly and Portland the shy one. than Richard White. shaved in places to accommodate the tape from the monitors. It had been over a thousand years since he'd lifted a weapon or sailed a ship. Within moments. As Ann had described." "Let's go. he's definitely human. His hawklike features shone with excitement as he approached the women. he was tall. A Viking man." "You think he's an alien? That's why you called the government so fast!” Portland slumped in her chair. If this story had come from anyone but Ann. "No." Smiles flickered across both women's lips before they erupted into laughter. Tell me about it. she'd have thought it was madness.Portland thought as she stared at the hospital looming in the distance. studying dead languages. “All I can tell you is.” Ann strode into the room where one of her associates stood by the bed. burst into the corridor. **** No sooner had Portland and Ann reached the nurses’ station just outside the Viking's private room. he's like nothing I've ever seen in this world. Ann. “I just don't know how he's alive.Portland reminded herself. She much preferred the seclusion of her Vermont home. the power of his lean body shone in the curve of each muscle. lanky redhead. Portland knew her life would never be the same again.Ann pulled her car over to the curb. she'd encounter a man whom her sister—a woman who lived by the laws of science and medicine—called a miracle. "You're just in time.” Ann said as she pulled back into the street." "Oh my God. Broad shoulders and thick biceps revealed an active life of seamanship and sword wielding. her gaze fixed on what had to be the most attractive man she'd ever seen. Even with the wires attached to his bare torso and the IV dangling from his arm. I can't explain those scars or how he lost his appendix. and running her jewelry business. From that moment on. his limbs impossibly long. "This really isn't funny. At least a once active life. tutoring occasionally. The sisters stared silently at one another for a full minute before Ann said.” Ann touched Portland's shoulder.

wiry beard—almost black in color—covered half of his face. stay away from him!" Richard's eyes bugged as he clawed at the Viking's hand and kicked him hard in the leg. Blood sprayed across the white bedsheets. Her heart pounded and her mouth went dry. to his elbows. he took a step closer to her. . His captor grunted from the blow and used one of his own long.” Portland continued.bed. ripping away wires and tearing the IV from his arm as he grasped Richard by the neck and shoved him against the wall. and she repeated. the muscles of his legs pressing against the thin white hospital pants. He held her gaze and swallowed before releasing his hold on Richard. It took only seconds for those eyes to completely snap open. but as she'd guessed. and Portland tried to break their guest's grip on the archaeologist. but he leapt from the bed. "Please sit. His limbs were so long. who dropped to the floor. Ann shouted for the nurse to call security while she. The Viking growled in a language Portland recognized as Danish. bleeding. “Portland. rubbing his neck and choking. "Stop hurting him!” Portland ordered in Latin. “Stop hurting him. Rushing to aid her associate. "What is this place?” the Viking asked. disheveled. white teeth. "It's not easy to explain. Wild and refined. The other dodged the Viking's fist and reached for his arm in an attempt to restrain him." His gaze darted around the room.” She extended a hand toward the bed. The guard's actions would have worked on an untrained person. the second doctor. Standing. a stunning combination. One of the guards sailed through the window and landed. The back of his fist smashed the guard's face. We want to help you. hoping he understood because she doubted he'd comprehend her Danish. The Viking's head snapped in her direction. muscular legs to pin Richard's body immobile against the wall. His slightly parted lips revealed the tips of even. the thick shape of his manhood and shadow of wiry pubic hair visible through the cotton. taking a step closer. "Just relax. beautifully shaped cheekbones lent an almost noble quality to his face. A short. Portland watched the rise and fall of his chest and the fluttering of his eyelids as he struggled to wake from a thousand year sleep. an offset to his broad. How would he react? Would she be able to talk to him? His eyelids parted. Sharp. but the Viking was obviously a veteran of war. revealing dark blue-gray eyes. He flung Ann into a chair and knocked the male doctor backward over the bed. The monitor's beeping quickened with his heartbeat.” Richard tried to place a comforting hand on the Viking's shoulder. the method of speech had changed over a thousand years. The fragile shred of communication Portland had created was broken. Ann shouted. he seemed even bigger. Hospital security in the form of two tall young men sprang into the room and lunged at the Viking. his fear apparent in the frantic rise and fall of his chest. Instead. on the flat roof. The glowing light leapt to frantic zigzags. rather primitive forehead.

" "Did you see how I got him to calm down before the Kung Fu twins dove on him?" Ann grinned and shook her head. It seemed difficult to believe that moments . no one could drag me out of here. At least until he trusts us." "His mind also seems to be working properly." "If you let me talk to him for a few minutes." Ann raised an eyebrow. are you okay?" "I think so. I've never been this curious in my life. "Did you see that?” Ann glanced at Portland. the room was empty but for the sisters and the Viking." "You're going to tie him up?" "We have to. I have the feeling he'll be manageable. “After a thousand years he hasn't lost any strength or coordination." "Go get a cup of tea while I get him settled. The guard recovered himself enough to attempt a second attack. “Richard. sagging against the wall.” Richard's voice sounded strangled." Portland glanced at the Viking. he appeared almost refined again with those chiseled cheekbones and sensual mouth." "He was scared?” Ann ran a hand through her hair. "Wow. You were talking to him. “I'm just glad no one was seriously hurt. That's a start. Five more men raced into the room and finally managed to pin the savagely struggling Viking to the bed while Ann administered an injection that put him to sleep in moments. “I guess I'd feel the same way if I woke up a thousand years from now. Come back in a few minutes. With his eyes closed and his breathing even. You're sure you still want to stick around for this?" "Ann. In minutes. I'm going to have him secured to the bed so we'll be prepared next time."Stop!” Portland shouted. We must have looked like something out of a TV space series to him." "He was scared. He's dangerous right now." "The shot I gave him should wear off in a couple of hours. "No one move!" The Viking's blue-gray eyes glared into hers.” Ann sighed.” Ann told one of the guards. “It is? Look at the mess he made. "Help him down to the ER. The second doctor was already helping the guard who'd been knocked through the window. though.

” Portland said in Latin. We're peaceful. learning the pattern of his hair and each mark on his flesh. [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter Two Portland turned pages in the magazine on her lap. Unable to resist a glance at the rest of him.. Her mind wasn't on drinking her tea. I wonder how much better he gets when stimulated? He uttered a soft moan and she released his pants." "I'm Portland. “You're tied because you tried to hurt people. His eyebrows knitted in an angry expression as he pushed against the bonds fastened across his chest. and legs. particularly when she didn't understand it herself.” Portland couldn't think of another way to make him understand what had happened to him. "Where are my clothes and my weapons?" "They're safe. He seemed unable to find adequate words to describe a setting that must have been completely alien to him.but I only want to look at the rest of the tattoo.” she continued. "Don't be afraid. She left her sister to her job and walked to the cafeteria. “This is not Britain. "Don't struggle. though her eyes remained fixed on the unconscious man strapped to the hospital bed beside her. she noted the impressive size of his male appendage emerging from a nest of dark spirals. just visible above his pants." He narrowed his eyes. She pulled down the pants a bit and found the bottom half of the tattoo was identical to the top. then his gaze fell upon her." "What do you want with me? Where am I ?" "You were asleep for a long time.” His gaze swept the room. You won't need weapons here. This place is. A blush crept into her cheeks. Her gaze kept returning to the top half of a tattoo on his hip." "You talk strangely. She really had no business peeping at his privates. His eyes opened. It churned with thoughts of the handsome.she thought to herself as she leaned closer and slipped a finger into the waistband of his pants. She studied his face and form. however. Be calm.Goodness. I know this is so wrong. “I know nothing of America. arms. What's your name?" . It appeared to be the tip of a triangle surrounded by several circles of different sizes. if he's this big sedated." "This is America. dark-haired man who had just stepped into the twenty-first century.before he'd been flinging people around like a maniac.. and we'll release you. unfocused at first.

” Ann stepped into the room and approached Eadred for examination. “Eadred. “What does she want to do?" "He wants to know what you're going to do. This won't be painful. “He's agreed not to act up any more if we untie him. Portland touched her arm and said. She pulled it away." "I'm not going to hurt him.” Portland said to Eadred." Portland translated. “This is my sister. "Tell him I'm going to take his blood pressure. I just want to examine him.” Portland told him. and Eadred snapped. “in his ear." Portland turned back to Eadred. He'll feel some tightness on his arm." "Ah. and Eadred shook his head. as long as no one hurts him. positioning the thermometer in spite of how he struggled." "Eadred. "How will I know what to call you?" After a moment. will you give me your word you won't try to harm anyone else?" "As long as they don't try to harm me. he's awake. if I ask for you to be released. “Keep her weapons away from my ears. Ann.” Portland assured him. “See. “I'm not a woman or a child that you have to keep saying there's no pain!" "Then sit still." He shifted beneath the bonds." "Eadred." Portland explained. He's normal—at least his temperature is. He watched as Ann continued with the tests. he said. She's a doctor—a healer." "Healer?" "Yes. . but no pain." "Tell him I'm going to take his temperature by sticking this. testing them. Ann sighed and stepped closer.He didn't reply and his stare remained hostile. Finished. Ann. She's been taking care of you and she'd like to look at you now that you're awake. "That's all." Eadred glared at both women. it won't hurt.” she held up the white instrument for him to view.

“This is the year 2002." One of the guards unfastened the bonds while the others stood watch. His shrewd eyes again swept the room. slim and silver-haired." "For your king?" "We don't have a king here.” Portland placed a hand on his forearm." His face paled and his expression changed to one of mild shock before he laughed. unless you have another explanation about why you're here. "How long do you think?” Portland asked." "How long can a man sleep?” Eadred's voice dripped with sarcasm. Ann pointed to the taller and shorter in sequence. so she tried a different approach. language expert Portland Ellis. you've been asleep for over a thousand years. Richard followed. I found you several days ago. “Do I look like a fool? A thousand years!" "I'm telling you the truth. the muscles beneath hard. stepped into the room. “This is an odd room." "Eadred. Gentlemen."Untie me then. His flesh felt pleasantly warm and slightly roughened by hair. as if trying to comprehend Smith's foreign words. “We have questions for him and we want him to look at a few pictures. “These men work for our country." . two men wearing suits. You've been sleeping for a very long time. both fascinated and apprehensive." Ann called in security. fixed on Eadred. one tall. “According to what we believe. this is my sister. considering Eadred was his “discovery. the other shorter. "Who are you and what do you want with me?" The archeologist spoke through Portland's translation. “Murray Smith and Robert Jones. watching his visitors. Our leader is called the president. He didn't shrink from her touch or shove her away as she'd expected him to. darker.” Agent Smith stated. Once free. his gaze. What's the last thing you remember?" Before Eadred could reply. Eadred stared at them calmly.” He looked blank. Both Eadred and Portland glanced at them in question. “My name is Richard. focusing on his hosts’ strange attire and medical equipment." "We've been going over the reports on him as well as the photographs. and this is Eadred. and heavier-set. They're government agents. Portland knew how curious the archeologist must be. he sat up in the bed." Eadred narrowed his eyes. Portland translated.

These men would like to ask you some questions. and they want you to look at some pictures. “I was in battle and I was sick." "That places him around the year 900.” A smile tugged at Richard's lips. Ask him where he's from." "Wounded?” Portland asked.." "Ask him why he was alone when we found him. “He's never seen any of this stuff before. fascinated not only by the story he spun. Then there was a great darkness overhead. Jones and Smith exchanged glances. "Where's he from?” Agent Jones asked." Eadred replied to Portland's Latin. towering over the dark-haired agent. Soon after. beautiful voice. I had very bad stomach pain. “Where are you from? Who's your king?" "Harald Finehair. I helped a small man in a temple. but by the play of muscles in his body as he moved and the sound of his deep. He raised his hands and formed a circle." Eadred nodded and turned his attention to the agents. bigger than a fleet of ships.” Portland stifled a giggle." Upon hearing Portland's translation. tugging a pen from his ear and a notebook from the inside pocket of his jacket."President." "Eadred. an enormous black shield. .. and Jones said.” Smith told her." "So we think. When I awoke.” Portland touched his arm and beckoned him to sit beside her on the bed. and stared at the writing on the pages. I collapsed on the way to my ship. drew her deeply into the corners of his mind and the memories he now shared. I thought it was a dream from my fever. No matter who or what he was. Jones flicked the notebook shut and stared up at Eadred. “Do you mind?" "He can't read it. Eadred compelled her. “Ask him what he means by a great darkness. “The artifacts we found close-by him dated back to then. “Not badly. all right. I'd been sick for several days. “I'm going to need more hard evidence before I believe he's actually a thousand-year-old man. Maybe the little man was too." Eadred listened to Portland's questions and squinted in thought. shadowed cheekbones as chiseled as master sculptor's finest work. Eadred stood. “It was like ." Portland watched him intently as he spoke. The lights in the room played off the angles and planes of his face." "That's right. the small man was with me. He looked at my injuries. "What did the little man look like?” she asked. Harald Finehair was king of what we now call Norway. He shrugged.

” Portland said. “Ann. In a waiting room at the end of the hall. a white tunic that glistened like sunlight on water. I don't believe a thousand years have passed. “You say you found me. unblinking. A test. Eadred's eyes widened as he stared at the patients on stretchers. She glanced at her sister. her stomach suddenly heavy. “I discovered only you. No hair.” Eadred tilted his head and sighed.” Portland said. and we're telling you the truth.” Portland said. Eadred. The agents looked as skeptical of Eadred's words as he did of the stories he'd been told about the modern world.” Jones stated. at the scene below. look out there. wait!” Smith stepped closer to Eadred. Billboards flashed colorful signs to passing traffic. not so much as glancing at the agents. “You're the only one."Pale skin. white-clad health professionals. “but I think he's asking about us. He drew a deep breath. is there someplace with a view of the city?" The entire group followed Ann out of the room and down the corridor. Large blue eyes. It's not possible. This is a trick of the gods. You were the only one found. “What would you like to know?" "Are there others from my ship here?" "No. She could only imagine how empty he must feel.” Smith stated without a shred of compassion. From the position of the room. and buses. finally focusing on Richard. Is this what I must endure before entering Valhalla?" "We have more questions for him. His expression seemed frozen. maybe. trucks. Eadred was completely alone." He approached and stared at the enormous buildings and streets lined with cars." "No one? You're lying. His clothes were strange. nothing could be seen of the city below. a small window overlooked the city. Portland and the others watched Eadred carefully. Where are they?" Richard. but keeping her attention focused on Eadred." "I'm not lying. Portland couldn't tell if he remembered to release ." "He has questions too." Eadred stood and walked to the window. “I've answered your questions. as he stared. and high-tech monitors at the nurses’ station. "You're not dead. Answer mine. seemed to share Portland's sympathy for the Viking. I know I was dying. Dozens of people hurried down the sidewalks. There must have been others. waxlike. “I don't believe you. “What are you two talking about?" "My Latin's not as good as hers. Portland stood by it and said. upon hearing the question." His gaze moved from her to the others in the room." "What would you like to know?" "Wait. only the flat rooftop. “Eadred.

but I don't want Ms. The consequences for breaking the rules will be severe. he looked at her with unfathomable confusion in his eyes. or even to those in the hospital not directly involved with Eadred." "Look. Ms. any more than you'd make a diagnosis without examination. we've agreed to let her translate for him. After all. Ellis talking to him without us present." "A thousand years. “A barrier. "There could be all sorts of explanations for why he was frozen.” Jones pressed.” Jones nudged his partner's arm. and you want to seclude him? That's cruel. "Eadred. Jerking away." "Oh. "It's our job to investigate." "That's ridiculous!” Portland glared." "Speaking of this outside of the hospital. Ellis?" "Yes. Do we all understand each other?" "Yes.it. “This is all a shock to him.” Ann folded her arms beneath her breasts." "Glass. A pane. we still have some photographs we want him to look at.” Ann snapped. he's unable to answer any further questions at this time." "If he is what he claims he is.” she touched his arm." "It's all right. “However. ." "What the hell else is he?” Richard demanded. I'm sure. "I think it should wait. but the doctor refused to back down. dozens." "You really have no say in the matter. “We'll come back later tonight and talk with Eadred again. In the meantime. there's no harm in allowing her to stay. and she understands the importance of secrecy in this matter—don't you. Of course. not to believe every story we hear. “We'll give him a rest for now.” Ann stated." "Understood. is strictly forbidden. then placed his palm against the glass. Ellis's presence. “What is this?" "Do you want to go back to your room?" He looked out the window again. Doctor.” Smith's dark eyes bore into Ann's.” Ann said to the agents. “He doesn't understand a word anyone else is saying. in my professional opinion. if he's more comfortable in Ms.

" Portland glanced at Eadred's sleek torso and thought what a genuine pity it was to cover a body so beautiful. “It's just a chopper. scarcely able to repress her fury and disgust at their implication. Oh. who nodded curtly. Good luck giving him the grand tour." The loud. We'll start with simple stuff. "Wagons don't fly! This world is . his eyes wide as he spoke in the old Danish Portland didn't understand.Portland stared at the agents..” Portland told him. “There's no one from my ship? No one from my home? I'm alone.” Portland said." "TV?" "I'll show you. Eadred continued staring out the window. and if you're going to wander around." "Only the goddess Hel could forge such a thing.” He turned to Portland. Richard chucked. “I have to go. “What is that sound?" The doctor turned off the device." "You will. Eadred." "Good. Eadred backed away from the window. "It's okay." The agents glanced at Richard. While Portland and the others had been speaking to the agents.” Jones said as he and Smith left. guys. beating sound of a helicopter floated. If all Viking men looked like Eadred. their women must have had few complaints. “Let's go back to your room." "What in the land of Hel is that?” he demanded. the initials of a local television station painted on its side. I'll tell one of the nurses to give him a johnnie.” she said.” Portland touched his arm. “We can be friends. Moments later the aircraft. "This can't be real. We'll be back later. “You know both me and my university have agreed to keep silent until you give the word. appeared from behind the building and wove through the city. “Actually." "It's like a flying wagon." "You're not alone. “Perfectly. I have no words. Ann's beeper went off and Eadred look around the room. it's called a helicopter.” Portland smiled. [Back to Table of Contents] . through the window. like the TV. muffled.. his brow furrowed.

yet there was no sun. And those flying wagons! What sort of evil spells were at work in this America? America! He still wasn't sure he believed there was such a place. rock. Picking up a black-tipped wooden stick. he probably should be.” She reached on the table beside him for a piece of odd white parchment decorated with black symbols.” she continued. are you hungry?” she asked." Portland looked as if she was biting back laughter. He couldn't care less about food at the moment. Eadred sat on the bed and glanced around. yet there was nothing masculine about her. what would he do here? And more important. dirt. his children. their gray walls riddled with windows." She smiled. "You must be. If what she had said was true and he was the only one left of his kind.Chapter Three Back in the white room." "I'll send for something. This world was so strange. They looked like ugly castles. There was no wood. “Now we're getting somewhere. and his village? "Eadred. He might be caught in a fever-induced nightmare. Her large blue eyes held his with such gentleness and honesty that he found himself believing the tales she'd woven about him being asleep for a thousand years. she glanced at him. “We don't have goat. You might want food when it's brought to you. what had happened to his wife. Poor defense. "Eadred. the sky had been distorted by buildings taller than he'd ever imagined. She was very tall and dressed in trousers. Everything was hard and glared brighter than the sun. “Salad?" What in the name of Hel was salad? "Vegetables?" He shrugged.” The woman. he'd seen the horrors and heard the noise of this world. glossy as a horse's freshly groomed mane. especially now that there was no pain in his stomach—at least not pain like before. What was the black box suspended from the ceiling? "What do you want to drink?" "Milk. sat in the chair near his bed. After a thousand years. Chicken or fish?" "Goat. anyway. like a man. or trees. then?" . "No. Perhaps they weren't tales after all. He felt sick with grief. Even when he'd looked out the window. Outside the window. Portland. either." "Pig. He shook his head. Such emotion left no room for something as trivial as food. Her dark blonde hair hung past her shoulders.

eating brown rocks out of a big red bowl." "It's true." He narrowed his eyes.” She paused." Eadred stared at the pictures. It felt smooth. Tiny people moved across the surface."Pork and red meat. "It's called television or TV. It can kill you. for example." "Most places have airplanes. but chicken cannot?" "As long as it's cooked properly." Richard. we wouldn't have been able to loot from them so easily. Suddenly there was a picture of a clear. we've learned that such meats harm the body as we get older. There was a dog too.” He pointed to the black box.. “A helicopter. Eadred started. Buildings and iron vehicles flashed into view only to be replaced by women in loincloths running across a beach..” Portland lifted ." "Do you want bread?" "I want to know what that is. It gives you." "I know about warfare." "That's an airplane. Eadred. “It makes your blood thick and hurts your heart. We look at the television for fun. Eadred stood and touched the box. "Is it a window?” he asked. then searched his memory. and laughed upon hearing Portland's reply. who had been silently observing.” She picked up a smaller box from the table and touched her thumb to the top of it. Britain has them too. “That's ridiculous. chicken is fine. The pictures tell stories. “Pig can kill you. are not good for you. "He said wait until you learn about modern warfare. Imagine firing a crossbow from one of those.” Eadred said. "A flying wagon. blue sky." "If Britain had airplanes." It was Eadred's turn to laugh. like cows or cattle." "America is a strange place. asked a question." "I'm sure you can tell us a lot about warfare in your time and about life in your homeland. In our time. eyes widening as sound erupted from the big black box. Do you want chicken?" "Fine. as if groping for the right words to translate. “A trick?" "It's a machine with moving pictures.

After that. blue and white shirt with two ties. warriors. Richard showed him how to put it on. darkness descended. "My clothes are not like yours. Eadred?" "Everything. rousing him from his thoughts. I think it too—that the little man had something to do with saving your life. Sigyn had loved making clothes. You were frozen in ice. causing him to jump from the pain. who tossed Eadred a friendly wink before leaving the room.the small black box in her hand and the television stopped its pictures. or craftsmen? Had his daughter married a good man? Portland touched his arm. then blushed. She murmured something in her language. Eadred. “Am I wearing prisoner's clothes?" "You're not a prisoner. "I can't. either. I don't belong here. She exchanged words with Richard. Those are clothes for the sick." "I don't feel sick. thinking about his wife. "Did you have a family." Portland's gaze swept over him. snug-fitting attire of his companions. The little man had nudged him back against the tree and touched his stomach." Eadred nodded and sat on the bed." "It makes no sense to us. but the way her gaze lingered over his chest and legs was most flattering. or what appeared to be ice." . She would have enjoyed seeing the incredible fashions in America. my sister thinks—and after hearing your story. If a thousand years really had passed. “This is so hard to explain. he wondered what had happened to his wife and children. Eadred? You must miss them. He'd been groggy with pain when it happened. "He's going to buy you some clothes. Had Sigyn married again? Had his sons become farmers. You should be dead." She drew a long breath. His eyes snapped open. soft fingers touched his hand. A nurse entered the room and offered Eadred a soft. do you remember anything at all?" Eadred tried to remember. Eadred closed his eyes. "What's wrong. The woman was attracted to him. After the sky went dark." "It's all right. forcing himself to search his memories." "That makes no sense. the ice preserved you. “Like ours." Warm. of that he was certain. but for some reason. but they ended in darkness. How did I get here? No one can sleep for a thousand years.” she said.” Eadred looked at the heavier. She might have been amused by his ignorance of her world.

You press the numbers here. Though his expressions changed little. **** Portland studied Eadred's face. “What is this?" "It's called a phone. but she had no way of explaining it to him." "I mean you can talk to someone a great distance away. He moved away. You can talk to people through it. Can he hear me?" "If it was a real person.” She stood beside him.” he stated. she could only guess how lonely and confused he must feel. "It's a machine that captures the voice." "I hear a voice. pausing beside the telephone. picked up the receiver and held it to his ear. before leaning closer and placing his ear to the phone." "Why do you need to talk through it? I can hear you." "He is not real?" Portland had dialed her bank's customer service line so he could listen to the recorded message.” he said. but he was sensible. Whether he missed his family or not. "It is making noise. so you can leave a message even when you're not home. "These symbols mean numbers?" "Didn't you write?" He looked at her in question. they were gone and he was stuck in this world that made no sense whatsoever. but she truly seemed to care. Someone else in his situation might have been panic-stricken or uncooperative. Portland dialed. His hand slipped from beneath hers as he stood and walked around the room. "I understand if you don't want to talk about it. “Why did I send Richard away to get clothes? I know nothing about Viking culture. his expression apprehensive." . but already she liked him." "Every person has a number. She scarcely knew him. even though they'd only met a short time ago.” Portland sighed. He wouldn't even know what a bank was. “It works. let alone a recorder.How did she know what he was thinking? Of course. anyone would have felt the same.” She pointed to the buttons." "Nothing matters now. "Damn.

He spoke simply in Latin. shaving cream. socks. “Hello." The phone jingled. His dark brows needed plucking badly. modern hygiene." "Tell him hello." "Hello. His Latin should be good enough for that. Portland? We have an untouched. deodorant—" "Reek. We've got to do something with all that hair. “It sounds like Richard." Portland thought for a moment then picked up the phone and dialed Richard's cell number. I got him some T-shirts. Richard. Eadred." Portland giggled and took the phone. Portland smiled. She asked the archaeologist to call them back at Eadred's room." "I mean for him. “Get tweezers."I don't understand. “Richard will call us and we can talk to him." "I'm shopping for him." "Get some black hair elastics. but we might as well teach him good. How's the shopping going?" "Not bad. “No. does he?" She laughed." Eadred held the receiver to his ear and looked at Portland. and pants." "What are you trying to do. How are you?" "Amazed." Portland leaned closer to Eadred and strained to hear Richard's response. Oh." "Tweezers?" "Just do it. then she hung up." "Anything else?" Portland stared into Eadred's lovely blue-gray eyes and realized something was a bit off. not you. it will take far more than a little deodorant and eyebrow-shaping to turn him into a . Richard. “Pick it up. I think I'll get him some jeans and sneakers too. “Thanks. rugged Viking man and you want to turn him into some sissy pretty-boy?" "Believe me. and get him some razors.

“I want to learn. I'll teach you how to call my number. I'm staying at a hotel across the street. and Eadred asked. mashed potatoes. who bent and examined the numbered buttons more closely. chopped carrots. His brow furrowed at the odd container. Teach me?" "Of course. processed patty. what does he think of the phone?” Richard's amusement was audible. A small yellow and white carton of milk rested beside a small container of raspberry gelatin. We write just about everything.” She playfully brushed the white square across his mouth. I study languages. We speak English here." Picking up the knife. His lip curled. "Eadred.” He sat on the bed and picked up the pencil. She smiled at Eadred. Eadred. "Napkin." She hung up. "Where's the chicken?" Portland pointed to the round. He tossed her a look that might have been teasing and continued with his meal. and the dinner roll on the side. slice of broiled chicken. This is good." She took the impaled patty and showed him how to use his utensils appropriately. it's chicken. "How does it taste?" "Not bad. He stared at the salad. he chewed with his lips closed and didn't speak . Let me show you. he plunged it into the center of the patty and raised the whole thing to his mouth. “Can I talk to you with this?" "Sure. “we eat with this. Portland noted that in spite of his ignorance regarding modern eating habits.” She wrote the number on a piece of paper and showed him how to match the symbols and dial the phone.” Portland picked up the fork. wiping the back of his hand across his beard. “That's chicken?" "Not the way you're accustomed to seeing it.” He took another forkful of potatoes." "English. “Is there something to drink?" She opened the carton of milk and handed it to him. "You write everything?" "Yes. That's why they asked me to talk with you. “I think he likes it." Before they could discuss language further. holding it rather awkwardly. Eadred's meal arrived." "By the way. but he swallowed the entire contents in a gulp. and we don't speak Latin. but yes.sissy.

“That depends on the woman. No battles. “Shouldn't it be customary to take off all your clothes?" A smile played around Eadred's solemn mouth. take him to the shower. Now. either. “And it's also one of the most incredibly tacky gifts ever invented. She held it across her chest and smiled at Eadred.” Portland folded her arms beneath her breasts and shook her head in Richard's direction. “There are no wars in this time?" . Easy for relieving oneself and making love. As he dipped his fork into the gelatin. Next time she'd have to order him the brownie and see what he thought of that." "Richard." "I don't want to shave. Eadred. “Make sure you translate that. “I think so. We can trim it." His eyes widened.” She glanced at Eadred. Apparently even mothers a thousand years ago had raised their children with table manners. After several tries with the fork.” The archaeologist grinned as he held up soap on a rope." "And there are no leather skirts. I like my beard." "Makeover? Portland. and a bottle of cologne. "I don't think it will fit over my head. stepped into the room. then we'll get started with the makeover." "Look at the rest of this stuff." "What do you mean ‘making love?'” Portland looked aghast. he stuck his fingers through the front flap.with his mouth full. He'd just finished eating when Richard. Unfolding a pair of white briefs. “Perhaps this necklace is made for a boy?" "You don't wear it. I like it too. “And thepièce de résistance ." "No way.” Eadred took the soap." "What's this?” Eadred pulled out a package of plastic razors. pulling out socks. I can't wait to see how he looks." Portland studied him. “You know. he picked up the spoon and raised it to his lips. you've been watching too many of those trashy talk shows.” Richard said. making an odd face at the dessert's texture on his tongue. take him to the shower. carrying several shopping bags. You don't have to fight anymore. “Ready to become a modern man?" Eadred peered into the bag closest to him and tugged out a stick of powder-scented deodorant. the slippery food split and rolled back into the dish.” Richard picked through the other bag. "They're to shave with. underwear. It will go well under a leather skirt in battle. You wash with it. “This garment is well made for a man." "It is not! It's sensible and convenient. Portland reached into the bag and tugged out a blue T-shirt. who was absorbed with his new gifts.

The man has been through enough and you're already thinking below the waist. she took a walk to the hospital's gift shop and bought several newspapers and magazines. but I have the feeling you could give lessons in hand-to-hand combat." "Perhaps. or he has to learn English. because I have about a billion questions to ask him. he grasped her wrists gently. The soft cotton clothing draped his hard. her stomach fluttering with desire. I can help. Portland! You must be crazy. Eadred would probably be interested in seeing what his homeland now looked like. Before she touched his hair. Eadred was easily the most attractive man she'd ever met. beckoning Eadred to follow him down the hall. first." "He asked me to teach him English. lanky frame to advantage. and sneakers." "Great. She chose the scissors and comb and approached Eadred."There's still too much war in the world." "You might find you want to try a different trade. Portland arranged the items Richard had bought for Eadred in the night table drawers. He smelled of the herbal cologne Richard had chosen. Afterward. Richard grinned. my skills would probably be inferior.” Richard snorted. “But not everyone has to fight. With the men gone. “Either I have to brush up on my Latin. Freshly washed hair hung in damp spirals down his back. and Denmark. His beard had been trimmed and cut with the razor." "Let's get him dressed. Eadred was seated on the bed wearing loose-fitting charcoal colored pants.” Portland told him. “Took some convincing to let me show him how to use the razor. The magazines would also be a good way to start teaching him about the world. "Do you still have the scissors?” she asked Richard. She looked forward to becoming his friend and perhaps more." "Very nice. There's so much for you to learn and so many other things for you to do. who looked impressed. “What are you doing?" . You'll see." "I was my jarl's second in command." "Maybe your weapons. Stop it." "I am a mercenary by trade. further accentuating the beauty of his sharp cheekbones.” Portland approached. He handed her a plastic bag of grooming instruments. From all I've seen. By the time she returned to the room. Sweden." Portland translated this piece of information to Richard. a black V-neck short-sleeved shirt. including an issue of a travel magazine featuring Norway." "Women.

Portland. “Thank the gods. “Are men supposed to stink?" "After a few months in the field anyone will stink." "I wouldn't know about that. turning to Richard. he muttered.” She switched back to Latin and asked. shampoo-scented hair. look at this. and fastened it with a black elastic. his jaw set. “Eadred." "That is all!” He stood. “I only want to cut a little. she took the tweezers in her other." Grasping his chin in one hand. “What guy cares about that?" "The rest of him is too attractive for a unibrow.” Ann stepped into the room and stared at Eadred. considering he probably spent little time caring for them. "You know. “Very nice." "Why?" "I'm removing some of your eyebrows. please?" He tapped his fingers on the table. When she finished." "But it looks like a cat's tail is sitting straight across his forehead." "No you're not. She squeezed some into her palm and smoothed it through his hair. “He's gorgeous. soft curls felt wonderful through her fingers. then reached in her handbag for a bottle of travel size conditioner. It's not my area of expertise. “I can't understand him completely. she set to work shaping his thick. Trust me. Do you know how long it has taken me to grow this?" "A thousand years?” she teased. She trimmed off a few split ends. before he sat back on the bed and sighed. tucked it behind his ears." Richard curled his lip. Smiling. The thick. She ran the comb through his wet. but didn't try to stop her." She brushed his hair back from his forehead. "Everything in those bottles smells sweet and men use it?" She placed a hand on her hip and stepped in front of him." Casting her a warning look."Cutting your hair. he released her hands. He blinked several times as she plucked. I wonder how the agents are going to take it?" . What is wrong with my eyebrows?" Richard folded his arms across his chest and shook his head. dark brows." "Well. “This will pinch a bit. amazing. but I think he's upset about the eyebrow thing. “This world is mad." "Not bad?” Portland exclaimed. “he's not a bad-looking guy.” Richard cocked an eyebrow.

"All right. She smiled.” Eadred replied to Portland's translation.” Ann raised her eyes to heaven." "I have patients to see. I'd say what I really thought of them." He took her hand and guided her in front of him. "How is he feeling?” Ann asked. The sisters exchanged feminine glances before Ann left the room." "I'm a mess." "That's understandable. who shrugged." . “It smells good in here.” Eadred repeated in his accented voice as he lifted the article out of the plastic bag. I guess so.” Portland fired a disgusted look at Richard." "It's the soap on a rope.” Ann's brow furrowed as she sniffed the air." "I'd like to see your wares. “But I still can't believe this is real. Just wanted to check up on him. “So do you. "Very well. “What do you think?" "I look good. “Who gave him that tacky thing?" "Give you one guess. The warmth of his body penetrated her back and the gentle weight of his hands on her shoulders sent ripples of desire through her.” Richard rubbed his hands together. Ann rushed me out of my house to get here." "A craftswoman?" "Yes. but it looks like you have everything under control. I had to leave behind my work—" "What kind of work?" "I make jewelry.” Portland muttered."If I didn't think they might have bugged this room. Something about this man aroused her in a way she'd never experienced. Hey.” Richard said. "Oh. where's he going?" "Eadred?” Portland followed him to the bathroom where he stared at his reflection." "Very good. God. "Soap on a rope. “Let's ask him some questions before those two agents come back. His deep voice echoed in her head as he said.

She admired his apparent strength regarding all he'd lost." "No. What else do you want to know?" For the next hour. will you tell us about your life?" "What do you want to know?" "Anything you want to share. how she'd love to show him her wares! "Excuse me. “If this conversation upsets you. God." "Don't be a wise guy. where you traveled. Like his father.Portland's pulse raced. ready to scribble notes. what your home was like.” Richard stuck his head in the door.” Eadred said. “do you think I could join in this conversation? If it's some sort of Viking mating ritual I don't know about. Eadred had become a skilled warrior and often went to sea." "Who cares about that? Ask him about his work. He'd lived in a small farming village several miles from the northwest coast of Norway. I never imagined surviving when all of them have been long dead. Three of their children died in infancy before they had two sons and a daughter." "There were books in the Christian temples. we can talk at another time. My daughter learned many legends from her and told them nearly as well. I'm interested in learning. Where you lived. all under the age of thirteen when Eadred left home for the last time. "I can't comprehend that everything I know has been gone for a thousand years. My grandmother told wonderful stories. And we passed stories from parents to children through the ages. Eadred told about his life. trading and looting to support his family." He walked back to the bed and sat. Portland touched his hand. “but I never imagined waking up here." "For a man of your intelligence and reputation. pen in hand. Richard. correct?" "Yes. "Is it a custom here to write down whatever people say?" "Richard studies history and he's probably going to write a book about you. "I knew death could come at any moment." "Just ask him some questions for me before I explode!" "Eadred.” His brow furrowed at the mention of his family. Richard tugged a book out of his pocket and stood. “He was asking me about my work. yet wondered if he wasn't still a bit numb from shock." . He'd married at fourteen to a young woman from his village—a marriage arranged by their fathers. It won't matter when we talk." "This must be very difficult for you." "Your people wrote with runes. you have absolutely no tact.” Portland snapped at the archaeologist.” Portland couldn't help feeling sympathy for him.

Richard. “You know. His life has been ripped away and all I can think about is picking his brain." "Or maybe this is all a clever hoax. Smith stepped closer to the bed. Triangles and circles in the exact pattern of Eadred's tattoo had been imprinted in a field. “I don't like them at all." . captured by an aerial shot. her belly churned.” Jones tugged some photos out of an oversized envelope and offered them to Eadred.” she stated." "I wonder why this has happened?” His gaze held hers with such sorrow and genuine confusion that a lump formed in her throat." "Where did you get that mark?" "I thought you marked me. "My God. I almost feel guilty for being so damned curious about him. “And he seems very willing to talk to us. “Are those what I think they are?" "I want him to tell us what they are.” Agent Jones said as he and his partner entered the room. Who made them?" "They're called photographs." "What's a camera?" Jones and Smith stared skeptically at Eadred." "Me either. "I wish I had answers for you. Maybe he feels better discussing things familiar to him." "Eadred. “They must look familiar to him. As Portland glanced at the image on top of the stack. “What are these? They're not moving pictures like the television."Yes. Eadred flipped through the photos then looked up at Portland.” Portland said.” Richard murmured. “I don't think I could comprehend that either. images captured by a camera." "Me too.” Portland held his gaze." "We have some pictures to show him. Eadred.” she murmured. “Is he ready to talk?" Eadred glanced at the agents and he said to Portland. “do you know what these shapes mean?" "They look like the mark on my hip.” Richard murmured. “I see you have him looking like a modern man." "It's natural curiosity. Jones said.” Smith pointed at Eadred.

Her brow furrowed. “Us? Why would we mark you?" "I don't know, but it wasn't there before." Upon hearing Portland's translation, the agents exchanged glances. "These are crop marking or crop circles, aren't they?” Portland asked. “I saw them on a UFO documentary." "Where did you find them?” Richard demanded. "This is classified information and we're not free to discuss it at this time,” Jones stated. "Classified? We're right in the middle of this case—or whatever you want to call it!” Richard shouted. "If you don't lower your voice, we'll have to ask you to leave,” Smith said. Richard's jaw clenched, but he sat quietly in a chair across the room. "We need to know the exact location of the last battle he described earlier,” Jones said. “We want to know where he was when he supposedly sighted the UFO." [Back to Table of Contents]

Chapter Four "I cannot believe them!” Portland's fist clenched on top of the table in the hospital cafeteria where she sat with Ann. "I've seen cadavers with more emotion,” Ann muttered. "They know a hell of a lot more than they're telling us." "No kidding.” Ann munched her salad. “Makes you wonder how much crap governments everywhere are covering up." "I can't believe the tattoo on Eadred's hip matched those crop markings in Northumberland. It's almost like they're using him to send us a sign." "Maybe they are. I have no doubt they were the ones who took out his appendix and cared for those wounds on his arm and legs. And who else could have frozen him? I'd love to get just a glimpse of their technology. Can you imagine what we could learn from them? If they possessed such advanced medical techniques over a thousand years ago, imagine what the same race must have discovered by now." "I wonder why they marked him, Ann?” Portland leaned closer. “Do you think they wanted to come back for him?" "Seems to me if they wanted him, they could have just kept him."

"Why didn't they send him back to his family?" "I don't know." "I feel sorry for him." "I know. It must be difficult." "I'm glad you got me involved." "Oh no.” The doctor placed her fork aside and stared hard at Portland. “I remember that look. You've got it bad for him already." "I just want to be his friend." Ann raised an eyebrow. "Look, at this point anything else would be taking advantage of him,” Portland said. "He might be on unfamiliar ground, but he's still a man. He was a Viking warrior, for goodness sake! I hardly think you'll be taking advantage of him." "You're making it sound like he'd want me." "What's not to want? Any man would be lucky to have you, especially one who's backward a thousand years." "I know you think he's gorgeous too." "And no sister of mine is chopped liver.” Ann's lip curled. “Brains and beauty run in the family, my dear." Portland grinned. “Does modesty?" "I know you've always been a little shy with men. Not that I blame you after that freak you ended up with, but not all men are like Cort." The mention of Cort sobered Portland from her passion-drunk state. “I'm not anxious to get involved right now." "I'm not telling you one way or the other what to do. Just be careful, but don't miss out on a good thing because of one bad situation." "That situation was enough to ruin me for life." "Not by the way you're looking at Eadred." "He was married and had three children. I'm sure he's still in love with his wife, even though she's dead. He needs time to mourn everything he's lost before he can start thinking about the future." "He does need time, but his situation is different than most men's. He has a thousand years of catching up

to do as well as facing the possibility that he was abducted by aliens. And he's living under the third degree from those agents. If you want to back out of this, Portland, now is the time to do it, or else you better mean what you say about wanting to be his friend, because he's going to need one badly." **** When Portland returned to Eadred's room, he was seated on the bed, still looking through the magazines she'd given him earlier. "Portland, look at this.” He beckoned her to the bed and flipped back several pages, stopping at a photo of a cruise ship. "That's what ships are like now." "War ships?" "It's called a cruise ship. People travel on it for fun." "For no other purpose?" "Well, they visit different places and while they're at sea, they eat, dance, and play games." "With all that dancing and playing, when do they have time to row? Or do they use slaves?" "We don't have slaves, Eadred, and no one rows cruise ships. They have engines." "And what is that?" "It's a machine that powers the ship. Engines run many things, like cars, trucks, and lawn mowers." He stared at her blankly. "Airplanes have engines,” she said. He nodded. “How do they work?" She sighed. “I don't know the details." "So ships are only used to have fun now. What about war and fishing?" "There are ships for those. And if you want to row, some boats are still man-powered. Rowing is a sport now, rather than a necessity." "What's this?” He pointed to an ad for a sports car. “I saw these outside the window." "It's called a car. People travel in them." "Like a wagon." "On that idea. They travel faster, though. Once it's okay for you to leave here, I'll take you for a ride in one. You'll probably want to learn how to drive."

“They probably have this place wired or something." "Builders? Farmers?" "Of course. “Are the agents gone? Good. What do you do for work? Your men. his mother?" ." "You do much for pleasure here. People ride them for pleasure now." "I don't want to hear it!" "What are you.” Richard glanced at her as he took a sip of coffee. I don't exactly know why he's able to earn a living just by doing that. I don't see why he can't have a camera. You said the past was important to your people."It's safe to guess there are no horses anymore?" "Sure there are horses. “Don't say that!" "He can't understand me. What's he want one for?" "He's curious about how pictures are taken. That's why you told stories." He looked thoughtful. we have military." "So many things have stayed the same.” Portland held up a finger." "You better watch what you say. History is important. “Sure.” He glanced back at the magazine." "Plenty of people earn a living through study. “True. but I suppose it will all make sense in time. and Richard studies the past." "So screw them. You think they'd lighten up since I think they're convinced Eadred's the real thing. just more advanced." "Do you think that cheap university of yours would spring for a camera for him? It's the least they can do. Portland elbowed him so hard coffee splattered the front of his shirt. I mean? I've seen healers. “You said a camera made these? What does a camera look like and how does it work?" Richard stepped inside carrying three coffees and a bag of bagels. When do you think the government will let us take him out of here?" "They'll probably have him rubbed out for fear someone might discover aliens really have visited Earth. You still have an army?" "Yes.” Richard's voice dripped sarcasm. Richard digs for ruins so we can understand how the world used to be." "You're in an even better mood than usual.

he'd be carrying on conversations in no time." He nodded. He . He wants to learn the important stuff first. Pausing in the hall." "What is it?” Portland glanced over the top of the magazine—Eadred had opened it to an ad for condoms.” Richard looked a little sheepish as he pulled out his wallet and removed a condom. “Let's see if he says that when he finds out people don't get married at fourteen anymore. “I'm curious and maybe. All he is to you is the ticket to a best-selling book and maybe even the movie rights. It was dark outside when Richard left. “It covers the male organ. she glanced back at him. it covers the.." "I see. but I'm not heartless!" "Richard. “Thank you for your help." "No. Portland guessed with his intelligence and determination. "Perhaps in this world." "It's my pleasure." Richard sighed.” She smiled. it stretches. it won't." She felt his gaze on her as she walked to the door. Richard looked skeptical.” Richard teased. I admit. "You see." Eadred laughed. and Eadred winced. a little bit greedy.” she said. "Good night. "Eadred. I'll see you in the morning. He opened the package and held up the contraceptive. “Oh brother..” Portland felt herself blushing. He pointed to the page and shrugged in question. A man after my own heart. "Explain that one." "No."Shut up. it's best to abstain until after marriage. “it's used to prevent babies. Richard grinned. “Not mine. use the phone. She shot him a deadly look. “And if you want to talk to me.” Portland stated. I'll be up late." Richard and Portland spent the remainder of the day teaching Eadred basic English.” She took the condom from Richard and yanked it wide. Eadred. It snapped back." "I think that's probably best in any world. He had an excellent memory and learned quickly. Some kind of herb. teacher. Soon after Portland gathered her jacket and bag to go to her room in the hotel across the street.” Eadred stood and brought one of the magazines to the archaeologist. Richard.

"Good. Freja and Horik rushed out of the woods. She only hoped Eadred would eventually regain some kind of normal life. Situations and occurrences that seemed impossible had happened. they raced toward Eadred." The boy grinned. As Erik disappeared beneath the sea. [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter Five "Father. Horik. but strength flooded from his body. As Portland walked to the elevator. Odd emotions washed over her when she realized she felt like she'd known him much longer than one day. if allowed. or even of well meaning. "It's bigger than yours. look. The world was on the verge of a breakthrough between past and future. though his daughter Freja usually wandered off to pick wildflowers and his oldest son. Eadred tried pulling his son to safety. panting as if he'd run for miles. When he was home from the sea. Instead of heading for home." Eadred glanced at his youngest son. Two small. It would be so easy for him to become a victim of people like Agents Smith and Jones. At least not yet. a hint of loneliness in his eyes. silent cocoon. Erik. white hands reached out of the creek and grasped Erik. he's not a child. like Ann said. revealing the spaces where his front baby teeth had been. she exchanged greetings with one of the nurses. swallowing Freja and Horik. He reached for Erik and shouted for his eldest children to run. since she was his translator. the dark sphere swallowed Eadred in a cold. **** Eadred jerked awake.smiled slightly. left to practice with his bow. She almost didn't want to leave him alone for the first night in an unfamiliar place. But not in her world. . God. his heart pounding. Portland. Erik loved fishing and would spend all day at the creek. Eadred was about to help him with the fish when a dark shadow blocked the sun. but career-driven individuals such as Richard. and Portland was lucky enough to be a part of the discovery. who held up the fish he'd just pulled from the river. She could still scarcely believe the events of the past day. Your mother will cook it tonight. The earth lurched and split. He nodded in her direction before sitting on his bed and picking up the magazine again. Ann had left word at the nurses’ station that Portland was to be allowed to see Eadred at any time. He's a grown man able to take care of himself. Eadred often went fishing with his children. Eadred looked up at the gray sphere descending from the sky.” Erik continued.

They were long dead. He was second in command of a fleet of . His own life—at least life as he knew it—had been stolen from him. Don't be a fool. To Eadred it felt more like a punishment. asleep. matching the numbers Portland had written on a piece of paper to the numbered buttons on the phone. He wouldn't be alone with no one around who understood a word he was saying. surprised to find his face damp with tears. a language he'd learned during his travels. It has been an exciting day. Eadred wondered how such a thing was possible. A glance out the window revealed the darkness of night. If he were home now." . where he had family and friends and could speak in a language natural to him. he could always put down the crazy contraption and she'd never know he'd been the one to disturb her.." "So do I. at least they understood one another. placing his palms to his eyes. Only Portland could communicate with him using Latin.. They made it seem like this being had done him a service. You're acting like a woman! He'd taken care of himself for as long as he could remember. Though her accent was strange. Eadred. I have much to think about. Eadred's heartbeat quickened. she and the others believed the little man he'd helped in the temple had been a person from the stars—or from another world. What's wrong? Can't you sleep?" "No. he'd be in a longhouse full of people and animals. ghost ships. Why? From what Portland had explained to him. No. The phone! He could call her. “Portland?" "Eadred? Trying out the phone?" "You weren't asleep?" "No. She said she'd be up late." "That's one way to describe it. for over a thousand years. "Hello?” Portland said. but he could think of no other explanation for the object he'd seen descending from the sky. He laughed humorlessly as he sat on the bed and picked up the phone. She was probably asleep.” he whispered. and he had no idea what sort of life they'd had."Odin. If her voice sounded sleepy. It had been a horrible nightmare and he hadn't even the comfort of knowing his children were alive and safe somewhere. He stood and paced the room until his pulse returned to normal. Portland and the others believed this creature had cured him of the illness that had caused him so much pain and had enabled him to survive. He wanted nothing more than to go home where everything was familiar.

" "Eadred. After a moment.” She sounded amused." "I would think one would rather participate in it than watch it." "I wouldn't want to dishonor you—or perhaps rouse suspicions in your husband?" "I'm not married. Eadred laughed at the expression on the man's face. Do many women perform like this?" "Some do. As he listened to them talking. growling like animals. blond fighters while the dark-haired wrestler crawled to the ropes. I also saw many noise sticks.” She reached into the bag. One of the women grasped him by the hair and dragged him back inside. They appear to be some kind of powerful weapon. Two women. “They probably make a lot of money too. but the men acted so ridiculously." "Noise sticks?" "Like this." "Good.” She paused.” he chuckled. “Wrestling. Eadred."Do you. nearly as tall and muscular as the men. that he decided it must be some sort of farce.. and flaunting their prowess.” Portland sat on the chair beside the bed. they're very powerful weapons. no!" "This is not wrestling.. leapt into the ring and attacked one of the big. I can understand what is being said. guns. if you can believe it. “Do you want company? I'm only across the street.” He held up his hand. I can come over there. "What are you watching?” Portland stepped into the room. as Portland had shown him. They fire bullets." "Too frequent for my taste." . Good-bye. he became more determined than ever to speak English. “This is an entertainment. At first he thought the fight was real. “And I think a woman's sense of honor is a little different now than it was a thousand years ago." He put down the phone and sat on the bed. He found the button that changed the scenes and flipped until he saw two men in colorful loincloths wrestling with each other in a ring surrounded by screaming onlookers. Yes. Oh. placing a large cloth bag at her feet. I'll be there in a few minutes. Then when I watch television. Look." "Perhaps they will pay me? I could teach all the ones I've seen how to fight. “I brought more paper and pencils. but everyone has his own opinion. he picked up the control and turned on the television." "They are paid for such antics?" "Yes. making faces. I noticed they show frequent lovemaking. glancing at the television. "Oh. I don't doubt it. his thumb and forefinger extended. You can start learning the alphabet and simple conversation in English. Men and women moved across the screen.

" "So. if you want to. Many average people have them." "Portland. What do you think I can do here? Should I find an army to join? Should I learn a new trade? What do you think?" "I think you should learn English and go to school to see what you'd like to do." "You can still study fighting. "What do you mean?" "I thought a woman as old as you are—" "As old?" "And with so many good qualities would be married. When it strikes the victim." "It's not old! Like Richard said. Even here." "Eadred. but not all of them possess them legally or pay enough attention to gun safety and education.His brow furrowed in question. “You're not as old as that." "I meant no insult." "I can't tell if I've just been complimented or insulted. "A little piece of metal is pushed through the gun—a metal tube—very fast. your warriors are armed with guns?" "Unfortunately not just warriors. but that doesn't mean you shouldn't learn something new. thirty-one isn't all that old. starting with why you're not married. in this time. You're very smart. I'm a soldier. Intelligence goes a long way in our world. most of the time farther than physical strength." "I want to learn all I can. most people don't get married at fourteen anymore!" . death. Eadred. men must want to defend their property and their families." He smiled. it causes severe injury and most times." "Similar to a bow and arrow?" "Only more accurate. stunned by his question." Portland stared at him." "I don't want to lose my skills." "Why would a person want a weapon he could not use properly?" "A very good question.

but she was different. and I can't give you one simple answer. she interested him more than anyone else. or significant others. That was a selfish question.” She rested her hand on his forearm. “I know plenty of women who would like how you think. Marry for love? Interesting idea. It left his soul too raw. . Inexplicable! That was a lie." "Can't you love a man with money as much as a man without? It would be more beneficial. not only her face and form. he noted how his hand dwarfed hers. of what was proper and improper. “I'm sorry. Her hands were slimmer than Sigyn's had been. "What's this from?” He ran his fingertip over the calluses. what was it like to have someone else arrange your marriage?” She sat in the chair beside the bed. The sudden urge to kiss her nearly overcame him. "I'm sorry. “We've been questioning you since you woke up. The nails were dyed pink." She laughed. "I'm sorry. yet he couldn't figure out what he'd done wrong. He found her beautiful." "So you're free?" "Eadred. and not only because a thousand years of progress stood between them. “Your father doesn't select a husband for you? You won't marry for money or land?" "Some people still marry for money.” He wasn't sure if he told the truth or not." She glanced away. but her manner. and for some inexplicable reason. but strangely. why do you want to know about me?" He held her gaze for a moment before sitting on the bed."You must be keeping many suitors waiting. this woman's palms were nearly as callused as his wife's. The dream of his children was still too fresh. He'd been attracted to women before. She was obviously upset with him and his questions. We call suitors boyfriends now. She was kind and seemed genuinely concerned for him—at least she had. He knew nothing of this time. but many people also marry for love. I'm not married because I haven't found a man I love. He glanced at her slender fingers. He wanted to know a little about someone in this time." "I'd think it would be simple for you. Not really. a slight blush staining her smooth face." He glanced at her. He took her hand in his and examined the smooth flesh.” She touched a hand to her temple." Her gaze was filled with skepticism combined with pleasure. Probably the last thing you want to discuss is your family. but it's an illusion. I'll never find it. “No." "But not you?" "I really want love." "I don't mind. Maybe he'd insulted her and damaged the fine thread of understanding that had been woven between them. "Eadred. Placing his palm against hers.

though.” He paused. He swore Erik had had such talent for swimming that he was part fish. she taught him the alphabet. heat. building—" "What did you do for exercise. and in the ocean. "It's a form of exercise. She always wondered how I went to sea so much." . Keeps one in shape for battle and other kinds of work. as was training with other weapons. other than sword fighting?" "I rode my horse often. I hate to waste a good night." "Are you sure you don't want to get some sleep? After all that happened today. “Are you tired?" "Oh. no." "Exercise is good. wrestling and such. Swordplay was important." He glanced at her."It's from not using enough hand cream and being too cheap to buy new weight lifting gloves. We had no light like this. remembering the last time he'd taken the children to the ocean. Farming. We used to swim in the lake near our home. What kind of weight do you have to lift?” he asked. Important for your health. I also liked to chop wood. We trained in hand-to-hand combat. Horik was my oldest son. taming horses. "Not too pretty. He didn't want to keep her from sleeping.” she said. I guess." "No.” Eadred pointed to the ceiling lights. I do. So did my children. and I loved to swim. cooking. “We had to use fire for light. Sigyn hated the ocean. more numbers. “You learn very quickly.” The last thing he wanted was to return to the nightmare." "Would you teach me more English?" For the next hour and a half." She tugged her hand from his grasp and hid them in the pockets of her baggy blue trousers—jeans. Oh. "Richard will be surprised tomorrow. "They must have missed you too. "You must miss them so much. Good thing too." "And Sigyn was your wife?" He nodded. “Yes. and some simple greetings and sentences." "Sigyn used to say I always wanted to know too much about everything and Horik took right after me." "Just shows you're not lazy. Richard had called them. you must be tired.

“You are helping. "You didn't get along well with her?" "We liked each other. You are being a friend. I hope she and our children were happy after I left. I had no complaints. Ann said you'd have died. She smiled and shook her head. such as his desire for knowledge and his love of travel. "What's on the television?” Portland reached for the control." He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. slaves. I feel like I failed them. and reached for knowledge beyond tradition. you would have left them anyway. I'll have to train you to put the seat down."My duty took me away often. Some fools had even ventured to think him soft for sparing the lives of women. but I think my children missed me. Backing his convictions had caused him more than a few scuffles." "You can't blame yourself." "What can I do to help you? How can I make this easier?" He turned to her and brushed a strand of hair from her cheek. at times I'm not so sure. She was a good woman and a caring mother. Though he and Sigyn were compatible. but we often had different views. “Typical. I had a feeling my illness was fatal. I had few." "Maybe if I hadn't gone on that last raid—" "Eadred." "I'm sorry. “I know. there were some things she never quite understood about him. But before you pick up one of the worst habits of modern man." Eadred had always walked his own path. Sigyn had commented on his stubbornness many times. From the symptoms you described before your abduction and because your appendix was removed. Eadred never considered mercy a fault or cruelty a power. Not knowing is driving me to madness. if any. What happened was completely beyond your control." "It's not your fault." "Down where?" "We'll talk about it. and Christian monks. Sigyn. even if you stayed home. children. but Eadred already had it in his hand.” He smiled slightly." "It's true. thought his own thoughts. Other than Sigyn." **** . Others thought him haughty and arrogant even for a warrior." "I find that hard to believe.

" "What is that?" . Eadred?" "The sword is cheaply designed. I would not have paid for it. "I hear a word often on television. realizing her mistake. Eadred." "How do you mean?" "Most of them wear little.” He watched the screen intently. She thought he might have picked up the slang from listening to conversation between the hospital employees. “What is it?" "Okay." "Christians." "You don't dress like most of the women on television. now.Portland thought." She smiled." "I agree with you on that." "What is it?" "Okay. and many are part of what is called New Age religion.” He studied her. I'm almost afraid to ask what. wondering what he thought of the variety of people and programs he saw without yet understanding them. You don't worship the gods?" "There are pagans left." "To Odin. Many other people believe in just one God." "Wasn't he the most important god?" "He's the most powerful.Portland watched as Eadred switched from channel to channel. “What do you believe?" "I'm Wiccan. "Those are familiar to you." He stopped flipping channels and pointed to the screen." With the garbage they show on TV. "It can mean yes or good. “What is being said?" "Something about those broken daggers being used as offerings to the gods. They look like whores. The camera focused on several old swords and daggers while the voice of a male narrator described weapons used during the Viking golden age.

She found it hard to believe that he had once engaged in the horrors she'd learned were commonplace to his people. He'd only just learned that his wife and children were forever lost to him. the program seemed lifeless. Shaking his head. He and Sigyn were close friends. She'd heard so many stories of Viking brutality from Richard.She glanced at his face with its male-model cheekbones and blue-gray eyes. then brushed his knuckles across the soft skin. "Pagan. just as he sensed Portland's attraction to him. He brushed a lock of dark blonde hair from her cheek. neither had ever craved the other's physical attentions. he sat in the chair and gazed at the wall across the room. She'd be terrible on watch duty. so the least he could do was give her his." "How about animals? Did you sacrifice animals?" "Of course. They enjoyed making love. He knew Sigyn felt the same. Of course. except you made human sacrifices. Even when he placed her on the bed and covered her with the blanket. She'd fallen asleep in the most uncomfortable position. Portland listened with interest. A woman like her should be married. Her vision dimmed as she drifted to sleep in the middle of the show. Already he was entertaining thoughts of intimacy with this woman whom he scarcely knew. she leaned her head back. He felt a little guilty about calling her from her bed. neither had refrained from sexual relations with someone they found more appealing. after talking with him. but Eadred had not felt the all-consuming passion some men spoke of when referring to their lovers." Together they continued watching the documentary. He didn't care what she said about how the world had changed since his time. partners in the work of raising a family and securing a household. **** "Portland?” Eadred turned to her and paused. He stood and picked her up. His expression was strong yet kind. to Eadred it wasn't brutality. Folding her arms across her chest. didn't you?" "Not personally. but a rich culture he'd spent his life immersed in. bunched up in the small chair. Still. or at least swarmed by suitors. Guilt forced him to move his hand from her face and let it drop to its place beside him. Though he and Sigyn had gotten along well. but the truth was. What better way to ensure good fortune in battle?" She assumed her distaste appeared on her face when he raised an eyebrow and said. “I assume you no longer make sacrifices?" "No. He missed his children . she scarcely stirred. She was seated beside a real Viking while the makers of the show merely pieced together remnants from the past to discover details of a world she could turn to the man beside her and ask about. but many did. No sacrifices. but she's very pretty. Sort of like you. wanting to learn as much as she could about Eadred's culture.

terribly. He glanced at Portland. He'll have little trouble living in our time.” Richard told them. Jones at his side. We can't keep Eadred here forever. looking slightly frazzled. Smith and Jones showed up and went a little crazy because I brought him out of his room. . she jumped out of the bed. yet he couldn't help his body's response to this American woman. He inhaled deeply. listening to the sound of her even breathing. “He'd like to visit the city.” Eadred said. it seems like they can do whatever they want. Portland turned to the agents. “We can't just let him walk around. Jones was about to answer when Ann rushed in. Though his pulse quickened with curiosity and apprehension when he thought about it. “Coins would last longer. When she stepped out of the bathroom. She remembered falling asleep in the chair. **** Portland squinted against the sunlight. watching the rise and fall of her breasts and the tendrils of hair spread against the pillow. but how had she ended up in Eadred's bed? And where was Eadred? She reached for her bag. that he could smell across the room. She carried a pleasant scent." "Why not?” she asked." "Portland. He wanted fresh air and exercise.” Eadred said in English. "I think he's adjusting much better than we would if the roles were reversed. A nurse walked by the door. momentarily disoriented. Those guys have got to ease up.” Richard said. She smiled." "Do you really think it will be easy for him to live in this time?” Smith stepped through the door. and he wanted to know everything about it." "I couldn't answer most of his questions. he wanted to step into the outside world he'd seen only through the window. enjoying the aroma. “Good morning." "This isn't about what he'd like. "When can I go outside?” Eadred asked. “Took him to the cafeteria for breakfast. Her heart pounding. sweet and fresh. and Eadred tore his gaze away from Portland long enough to watch the hallway. After washing up and brushing her teeth. “My Latin's not that good. glad she hadn't yet unpacked most of her toiletries. but he's picking up English fast.” Richard told her.” Smith scoffed. "Good morning. some money is made from parchment. this was his world now. and he missed Sigyn too. He was growing tired of the room's confinement." "He's a fast learner." "Unfortunately. she applied light make up. she noticed Eadred and Richard standing by the window. Whether he liked it or not.

and let him begin a new life. “We told you and your university to keep this under wraps! Someone's going to be in more trouble than he can handle!" "I didn't say a thing!” Richard's eyes flashed. as long as he and the rest of you keep his secret. “It would cause worldwide panic. He'll be a Viking man in the modern world. There are others." "Reporters?” Smith's eyebrow jerked upward." "Look. damn it!" "Well.” Jones stated. and Smith said." "I agree he doesn't belong here. I certainly wouldn't tell a group of reporters!" "What do you mean disgusting?” Richard glanced at her. "Don't look at me." "Or—and this is the alternative we think your university will find most agreeable—we'll simply say his survival was a miracle. and I want those reporters out of here! Look. “We'd educate him enough to survive on his own. "It would be very simple.” Portland took a step closer to Eadred. Give the guy a break!" "Look. Either the government or the university will have to find another place to keep him. at this point I don't give a damn about what any of you want!” Ann told them. “That's one alternative. “Eadred is not sick."Listen." "Away where?” Portland demanded. “We had plans to take him away. “I think it's disgusting how everyone wants something from him. security is holding a bunch of reporters downstairs.” Smith said. this is a human being!” She pointed to Eadred. "Oh right. “They all want to see the Viking.” She folded her arms across her chest. even had him on a lie detector yesterday afternoon. “This is a hospital." "So what are you going to do with him? Lock him away forever?” Richard asked. The agents exchanged looks.” Smith continued.” Smith stated.” Richard mocked. offer him citizenship.” she turned to the agents. He glared at Richard. but no one will ever mention his .” Ann said. who was watching the agents and listening to the conversation intently. “You think I want reporters hounding him now? He hasn't even been awake for two whole days." "We're listening. "We pretend none of this ever happened. "I'm not at liberty to say. What more do you want from him?" "We can't have his story made public. He's in perfect health and doesn't belong in a hospital. somebody spoke!” Jones turned to Portland. You've questioned him. folding his arms across his chest. These agents want to pick his brain for a UFO story. "I mean your university wants him to make them famous. “Ann told us you had all kinds of scientists and doctors from Washington examining him.

I live in Vermont and have plenty of room for guests. "Finding a place will be no problem. Smith raised an eyebrow." "You're sure that's what it was?” Ann asked. None of you—I mean none of you.” he stared at each one hard. inviting a Viking she'd known for less than two days as well as a couple of government agents to live in her house for heaven knew how long? "Your home?” Smith glanced at her.” Jones told them.” Portland spoke the words before she could stop herself." "I don't know. "We don't make threats." "Are you threatening us?” Ann demanded. It's secluded.” Richard's voice sounded tight. but we'll be bringing in our own translator. we have one alternative left. “And thank you for your help." "I'd suggest my place. "Yes. ." The agents exchanged looks. “I think it would be best if you allowed Portland to remain with him. The agents ignored her. you'd better seriously consider telling us.” Ann stared hard at the agents." "Until we decide exactly what we're going to do. “will like it. Doctor. “If you won't agree to any of these terms. Only the dean and my associate.” Richard said. we need to get him out of Boston and into protective custody. Jones repeated. Was she crazy." "Unless you want to inflict psychological damage for some official reason. and Smith went on. correct?" He was met with silence. "Only a handful of people from your university know the details about Eadred.” Portland said. "If you do.abduction by aliens. “Obviously one of them leaked the story to the press. “He's comfortable with me." "You can use my home. if you want. Do you have any idea who it might be?" Richard shook his head." "But he knows me.” Jones stated. Jake Phillips. “We all do understand each other. know Eadred is actually alive and not just a corpse. but everyone knows it was my study that discovered him. “CORRECT?" "I'll need to discuss this with my university. right?” Smith asked. He turned to Portland.

As cities go.” Jones said." He raised an eyebrow in her direction. they could exit the hospital undetected. “We leave immediately. Smith and Jones behind them. "Our car is on level two." They finally reached the agents’ gray four-door car. The agents decided that with Eadred dressed like everyone else. Ms. He leaned down a bit in the seat in an attempt to see the tops of the buildings. “When it's red. Portland walked beside Eadred down the brightly lit corridors." "Good.” he murmured. Portland could almost sense his excitement and apprehension." Portland turned to Eadred. I'm bored with this place. "You should see London." Portland smiled.” Portland grasped his wrist and tugged him toward the stairway. Smith paid the parking attendant and the car slipped out of confinement and into the heart of the city.” Smith told her.” Jones told her as they stepped into the parking lot. "Why are we stopping?" She pointed to the traffic lights. See? There are people crossing. "Horseless wagons. Boston is small. "All right. “Not really."Doesn't sound like a bad idea. "Gods. Eadred gazed out the window as the car rolled forward and headed toward the exit. he'll move into your home. You're going to stay with me for a while." "I've seen London. In spite of his calm appearance." "It's changed a little in a thousand years. “Such a big city. “We're going to my house. For the time being.” Eadred stared in wonder at the rows of cars. you have to stop. Only a slight widening of his eyes revealed his wonder at the world around him. Ellis." . While Smith and Jones slipped in the front seats. She glanced at Eadred. “How do they move?" "Engines. “We have to hurry. Portland and Eadred sat in the back. since he might be recognized as the man who discovered the frozen Viking. and it's nothing like this.” He gathered his belongings into the plastic bag Richard had brought him." Smith slowed the car. Richard would remain behind.

“His hair is blue. potbellied redhead murmured. restaurants. “What's he want?" "I think he's interested in the construction process. Again the car slowed due to construction. He's from an underdeveloped country and they don't have anything like this. her heart pounding as he stepped across two lanes of traffic. She and Smith bounded out of the car after Eadred. "Eadred!” Portland called. “Hard to say. He lit another. and Jones muttered. “Just youth. what does he want to know?" "Hey." "It's dye. we don't have time for this!” Smith folded his arms across his chest. Portland pointed out shops. All three of them stared at him.” She smiled." Underdeveloped. He doesn't express much. Eadred began talking to the men in Latin.” Eadred motioned with his head toward a skinny teen walking a dog. and other places common to her but new to Eadred.” The man who'd dropped the cigarette laughed. “Damn! I wonder if this road work is ever going to end?" "Hey!” Smith shouted as Eadred opened the car door and stepped out. "Excuse us. Just seems to study everything. who walked to a group of men near a backhoe working on the roads. "What the hell is this?” A scruffy-looking." "And his face is pierced. unmoving. Is it some sort of clan ritual?" "No. "So what's he think of it all?” Smith glanced at the Viking. banks." Eadred pointed toward the backhoe then at the men's tools.” Smith muttered. Thank God everyone was stopped at the light. don't ya speak English?" "What's he talking about?" "Beats me. "That boy. gas stations. One man's mouth opened slightly and his cigarette tumbled onto the tar.if that's not the year's biggest understatement! "Well.she thought.” Portland stepped close to Eadred. “Buddy." "No shit." "I'm not sure that's a trait I like." As the car continued down the street.Eadred studied the group of men and women passing in front of the car. . Portland stared at Eadred. “He's from out of town.

" "I wonder what it is lately about Scandinavia.” the redhead said to Portland. I think I'm starting to understand him. “This guy is from—where'd you say he was from?" "Scandinavian backwoods?” Portland asked hopefully.” Portland forced a laugh." "We are going to discuss who's in charge and who's not as soon as we get back to the car. "He has a strange dialect." Smith grasped Portland's sleeve and tugged her aside. and get this—they claim he's still alive! What a hoot!" "Yes. you're okay. “He's never seen anything like this before. “You know."You can take five lousy minutes. "Funny. “Don't swallow that! Spit it out!" . The burly redhead punched Eadred in the arm. "He's a European hillbilly! Wants to get a look at some modern road construction. “What a waste of time. can't you?” Portland said. "What is that?” she asked. his eyes widening." Portland gasped and clutched Eadred's face in one of her hands. Eadred watched the men and communicated with them through hand signals. she watched him pop something into his mouth and chew. His village is very secluded. but that didn't sound like Swedish he was speaking. "Tastes lousy. I just heard on the news some crazy story about a thousand-year-old Viking they found frozen in ice. Charlie!” the shortest worker. Want to show him the truck?" Smith rolled his eyes and sighed. “We have to leave. and the redhead said. Do you gentlemen mind?" The workers shrugged. squeezing his cheeks. “Just a little tobacco. The redhead laughed. buddy.” Eadred muttered. “You don't know your own strength there. “A real hoot. For the next half hour.” The short man grinned. bellowed to the man operating the backhoe. who just about reached Portland's shoulder in height.” Eadred punched him back." "Okay.” Smith snarled close to Portland's ear. "You know. “Why not?" "Hey. Now!" Turning back to Eadred and the workers. and the man staggered a bit." Portland ignored him as the men motioned for Eadred to join Charlie in the backhoe.

Halfway to the car. [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter Six The car stopped in the long." "How about teaching him what no means?” Smith cast them a furious look." Eadred tossed the tobacco aside before turning to his hosts and saying in his accented voice. they rolled along the quiet Vermont road toward Portland's home. people don't realize what's bad for them. Jones nudged his partner's arm and the two glanced at the farmhouse across the road. “Throw it away! It's bad for you. It makes you very sick.” Jones snarled. “Very good.The men laughed as Eadred spit the wad into his hand. "That is so nasty!” Portland's lip curled at the site of the saliva-coated brown lump.” Portland said to Eadred. stretching. “Tasted worse than bark." "Hey." "It's tobacco and it's bad for you. Several hours later. "I have to use the can." "Then why do they use it?" "It's a bad habit. A For Sale sign ." "Is that ever true.” Smith said. "See ya around!” the redhead called as the others waved their good-byes. "I don't think this is funny at all. Portland started to laugh. not bad English." The remainder of the ride continued without event.” the short man grinned. “Do you know how hard it is to park on a main road in the middle of Boston?" "You remembered some English." "Have a good time in the US!” Charlie shouted form the backhoe. narrow driveway of Portland's colonial style house. "What was that he gave me to eat?” Eadred said to Portland." "Too bad in a world with so much knowledge. All four passengers stepped out. “Thank you. Just like those things some of them were smoking. “You'll do okay.

"What?” Portland asked." While the agents jogged up the steps. It would look too suspicious for the people who know you to have three strange men living in your house. you have many conveniences. Everything seems more complicated now. It would have made building a village so much easier. Still.” Smith told her. refrigerator. I especially liked that backhoe. She prayed Eadred continued to be as decent as he seemed. Portland smiled. you can accompany them in the house. Instead. examining her bookshelves filled with dozens of volumes. She was anxious to go down and finish the orders she'd been filling when Ann had called her to Boston. and dishwasher.” he said. "Where's the bathroom?” Smith demanded. "We can't just leave him here with you." Portland wondered if her relief showed on her face. "Perfect.” Jones said. "My wife would have loved that machine. First door to your right. “I bet. “Smith. Jones and I will make other arrangements." "Not really. the living room to the right. Her heart pounded and she knew she'd made a mistake. Life must have been difficult in your time.” she replied more sharply than she'd intended. "I'll make the arrangements.was planted in the overly long grass in front of the house. The kitchen was directly through the hall. Upstairs were two bedrooms and a bath." "You're staying?” Portland curled her lip at the agents. “What's wrong?" "Nothing. it suddenly struck her that she'd invited a strange man to live with her indefinitely. For a moment. and the staircase to the left. She showed him the kitchen cupboards.” Smith nodded. "Upstairs. How many live here altogether?" "Just me. both relieved to be home and apprehensive about what she'd done. As she walked to the front door. “But don't worry." . “This is a nice home. The last time she'd had contact with a man had ended in absolute disaster. Eadred at her side. Portland motioned for Eadred to follow her. she almost wished the agents were staying with her. Was she insane asking Eadred to stay with her? He touched her elbow.” He stepped into the living room. she began a short tour of the house. She opened the door. the last of which amazed him. Portland had turned her basement into a workshop.

Sometimes her sister or parents slept there when they visited. shoving her hands into the back pockets of her jeans.” she said." "It'll be fine.He raised an eyebrow. “All right. “Only you? And there's even an upstairs?" "Come on. all you ." In the kitchen. She took his bag and placed it on the bed. When he'd finished. here's the deal. Ann got on the line. I have to go. but nothing got out of hand." "That's what I love about this house. Portland hurried to her room and answered." The phone rang. I'm probably safer with a couple of agents around. right?" "I had to call the cops about a month ago." Portland hung up and stood. Richard inquired about their trip and said he'd drop by in the morning. stacking boxes of beads and completed jewelry on the bed and in the closet. she was accustomed to keeping her problems secret.” she explained. Jones and I are moving into that farmhouse across the street. If you need anything at all. Smith joined them. Talk to you soon. Two teddy bears in fairy-tale clothing leaned against the mirror." "I'll do it for you. A cherry wood vanity table stood across the room. “I don't like chopping wood. Basically. are you sure you want that man living in your house? Now I'm getting worried. Portland took some frozen dinners from the refrigerator and showed Eadred how to heat them in the microwave.” Portland told her. Though he couldn't understand English. “Ann. I'll show you your room. Smith sat at the table talking to Jones on his cell phone. "Portland. Looks okay." He glanced at the pink flowered curtains and matching quilt. Portland used it for storage. I'll leave you our cell numbers." He followed her up the steps to the guest room across the hall from hers. On the other end. “Cort hasn't been giving you trouble since the restraining order. "I have to clean up a little for you. “Want something to eat? I'll teach you how to use the microwave." Jones clicked off his phone and said." "I guess so. “And I think Smith and Jones will be close.” Ann still sounded concerned." Her gaze raked over him and she murmured. “Sorry it's such a girl's room. “I think I might like to see that. Actually. though. "Tomorrow I'll cook some real food.” Portland lowered her voice when she saw Eadred standing in the doorway. “I checked the place out.” she said. “but these dinners are okay in the meantime." "You have a fireplace downstairs. Other than that.

have to do is keep this guy under wraps." "How about going out?” she asked. Oh." Of course not. “I have to go to the store and the post office to send orders for my business. His gaze followed the gentle curve of her buttocks in her jeans. but whatever you do. the agents left for their farmhouse.” She sighed. they walked up to the guest bedroom. lush trees formed the border to a forest. "Would you like to unpack your things?” she asked. **** Eadred sat on the bed beside Portland and dumped the contents of his plastic bag on top of the flowered quilt. If he was so inclined. She had such pretty hands.” she said. Crickets chirped. Thick. and a warm breeze blew in . He can go. glossy tendrils of hair brushed the center of her slender back. his gaze fixed on her. clarifying for what seemed like the thousandth time how carefully they'd be keeping watch over Eadred and Portland." "Sure. He walked to the window and gazed out at the open field bathed in the reddish light of the setting sun. He sensed Portland's apprehension. She really was completely alone with him. He should come with me so he won't be stuck here all the time. In the distance. Not that he blamed her. Olaf for one. Her stomach fluttered. Say he's a boyfriend or something. As long as you use common sense and don't get people too curious. since Smith and Jones had left. as if she was suddenly wary of him. leaning against the door she had just closed behind Smith and Jones. He watched her small hands fold his shirts and jeans. She was a woman alone with a man. Jones is having him tell his superiors that any discussions with the Viking are to be conducted in this house and kept quiet until we figure out what to do with him. Eadred stood in the kitchen. "Okay. Many men he'd known would have taken advantage of the situation. For some reason. Portland carried the clothes to the closet and placed them on one of the shelves. The word was actually starting to sound natural coming from him.she thought. "This week we'll do more shopping. don't arouse suspicion. He resisted the urge to touch one. overpowering her would be easy. and your friend from the university.how could I possibly arouse suspicion by having a six feet three and a half inch Viking living in my house? By dusk." She smiled. Together. "Finally. an odd intimacy had settled over the house. Women had appealed to him before. but why did he have to travel a thousand years in the future to find one who aroused him so completely? And why did she have to be out of his reach? He had nothing to offer a woman in this time—at least not yet.

” he said. I never was much for the city. and I occasionally tutor language students. If I could carve like that." "You promised to show me your jewelry." . Reminds me of my village. all carefully designed and crafted by Portland. I have my work to keep me busy." "My workshop is downstairs. Very much. it would open up a whole new business for me. and anklets." She touched the bird.” he said. Below the window were two machines that reminded Eadred of the upstairs dishwasher." Eadred picked up a necklace of hemp adorned with a carved wooden hummingbird. Other boxes contained earrings. “Yes." "Do you need a knife or something? Tell me what you need. but not as well as my uncle could. I sell at dozens of shops all over New England as well as run a mail order business from my computer. "Did you carve this?" She grinned." "I like quiet too." "But are you ever lonely living in this house by yourself?" "Sometimes. a plush rose-colored carpet covered the floor. "I've been lucky to make enough business to live on. revealing several necklaces of silver and crystal. I just liked the bird. and I'll buy it for you. rectangular table." He followed her out of the room and down the stairs to the kitchen where she opened a door leading to the cellar. wires. A basket filled with folded laundry rested between them. A long. She motioned for Eadred to have a seat at the table as she chose several boxes and placed them in front of him." "Computer?" "Something else I'll have to teach you about. laden with bins filled with colorful beads. In her workshop. “I like it. A tiny window at the far corner of the room revealed blades of grass and the base of a slender tree. She removed the lid from one." "I can make you more.through the half open window. if you want. bracelets. “I can carve better than this. stood in the center of the room. and bits of metal. Sometimes I also teach evening classes at the local high school. “You can carve like this?" He turned the bird over in his hand. "You do lovely work. "It's very quiet here. Boxes stood piled along the walls. Would you like to see it?" A pleasant warmth washed over him as their eyes met. “I'm not that talented.

Also we'd eat berries. goats." "No. This society isn't as accustomed as you are to using the natural resources around us. What did you eat at home?" "Geese. He took a sip."Just a small knife will do. “I can't imagine what it would . and backhoes. I have to learn more. “I feel the same way about it. helicopters." "Aren't you tired. Eadred retrieved his notebook and pencils from his bedroom. he wouldn't have time to think of the past. wonders. Food cooked in moments.” she said. We can study if you want to. remembering to switch off the light behind him. now he was clinging to the company of a woman he scarcely knew because he feared his dreams? "I wish I could say something to make everything easier for you. beans." At the mention of his wife. Portland had placed glasses and napkins on the table. I missed it when I traveled. The thing called electricity and all the machines it powered were miraculous.” he said. A grown man shouldn't fear his dreams. When he returned. "Some of the food here is good. I don't want to keep you awake. She walked past him and jogged up the stairs. she cast him a sympathetic look that he found both irritating and comforting." "What about wood?" "You have a forest behind your house. What was wrong with him? He'd spent most of his life in the thick of battle. "And some of it stinks. "No. her expression a combination of desire and apprehension. placing the cakes on a plate in the center of the table and pouring the pungent smelling pinkish drink. horses. I'm not tired.” She smiled. had been wounded and near death on more occasions that he cared to remember.” She replaced the lids on the boxes and stacked them against the wall." He recalled the nightmare and chastised himself. My wife made the best porridge in the village. The irritation was more focused on himself because he wanted her comfort.” she said. Eadred followed. We fished. yet the thought of retiring filled him with dread. Every man's dream. but if you're tired.” She brushed her hair behind her ears. "Lemonade and corn muffins. Eadred? You scarcely slept last night. She gazed at him. and fruit. As long as he concentrated on the new life he needed to build. Especially the microwave. It was a pleasant combination of sweet and tart. "Practice English with me. Her attraction to him was obvious. A stubborn strand fell back across her cheek. and he reached out and swept it aside. but he wondered what caused the touch of fear reflected in her eyes. He wanted someone to understand how completely lost he felt in this world of noise." "That's true enough.

Ignorance was dangerous. Several hours later. “Why not? I'll change my clothes. **** "You're nuts. unwilling to put on the sleek new one-piece bathing suit she'd bought a few weeks ago during a shopping spree with Ann. “Eadred. I've had it. "To swim?" "The lake is very peaceful to look at during the night. Portland stood and stretched." "What?” he asked in English. She took a deep breath and said. let's go to the lake. Eadred undressed and stepped into the half-size blue and white trousers Richard had bought him. feeling a touch of pride." Fear crossed her face but vanished in moments." He nodded.be like losing my entire world. but already she'd invited him into . None of this was her fault. Shorts." He didn't feel courageous. Let's do something else." "It's also dangerous to swim alone. "I'm doing well?" "Very well." "You're not alone.” she murmured. He bit back the urge to lash out at her. telling her she couldn't live the rest of her life in fear. Then he walked downstairs and waited for Portland at the landing.” she suggested. Her hands trembled as she tied her long hair into a bun on top of her head and shoved her feet into black thongs decorated with pink flowers.” Portland muttered to herself as she slipped into shorts and a tank top. Still." "Why not? It's fun to swim in the moonlight. He needed to learn quickly in order to make a new life for himself. Better than I've ever done with any language I've studied. Her sister had convinced her to buy the swimsuit. I think you're very courageous. "Tell me if these words are right. Portland wasn't ready to stick on a swimsuit in front of a man she scarcely knew. He felt ridiculous. Eadred was a complete stranger to her. She was an attractive woman with her whole life ahead of her and had to stop allowing a loser to determine her actions.” He took a pencil and began writing words she'd taught him the previous night. and he had no intention of relying on her—or anyone else—forever." They disappeared into their respective rooms. but I don't think I'd go swimming so late. "It's such a hot night. the archaeologist had called them. “Do you want to walk outside?" "I can't believe how fast you're picking up this language.

made for physical labor. her heartbeat quickening with an emotion strong enough to replace her previous fear. You just haven't seen a woman for a thousand years. water splashing her calves. "You don't want to swim?” he asked in his accented English. barefoot and bare-chested. she stared up at him. When she reached the landing. muscular legs covered with sparse dark hair. In the middle was a small island with an old weeping willow tree. The smooth rocks massaged the soles of her feet as the water cooled them. even if he had once been a Viking warrior. His wrists looked strong. Portland reached for the railing to steady herself before descending the stairs. Outside. She blushed. Anything probably looks good. “No. Halfway down.her house and was going swimming with him alone at night. curling hair grabbed at his well-defined shoulders. she realized he was staring at her in a manner both flattering and unsettling. In the hallway. she paused at the top of the steps. she knew part of him must long for his old. They walked for about half a mile in comfortable silence before reaching the lake. leading to the longest forearms she'd ever seen. familiar world." "You'd be surprised. Had it not been for the humidity. Yet she'd immediately sensed trouble when she'd met Cort. Maybe inviting him to stay with her hadn't been such a bad idea after all. "You're very beautiful. He was as different from Cort as Jekyll was from Hyde—at least she hoped so. seeing that sleek. She wondered what he thought. She watched Eadred swim. Funny how he seemed even bigger when half naked. His arms were folded across his broad chest that looked as hard as a knight's armor. exposing most of his long. powerful. I am guessing the ways of men and women haven't changed much. Eadred stood. Dark. Portland fell into step beside Eadred. Eadred strode into the water without hesitation while Portland slipped off her shoes and lingered on the edge. The same kind that had gotten her into trouble a year ago. .” he said. his skin glistening and moonlight casting shadows on his lean. drove her temperature to the boiling point. how he felt. disgracefully male body slick with the lake's water.” She brushed past him and out the door. With Eadred she sensed nothing but complete honesty and decency. Why did he have to be so damn gorgeous? The thought of watching him swim. Though his powers of adaptation amazed her. at the landing. Floating on his back. He swam closer to shore and stood. Stupidity. Thick biceps curved sensuously. her heart still throbbing. he gazed up at the star-speckled sky. muscled frame." "Though I am a novice in your world. A pair of blue and white checkered shorts hung to his mid-thigh. The full moon bathed the field in light. it would have been a perfect summer night. Suicide.

Panic momentarily gripped her. The night was so hot." "I intend to. but one of his arms slid gently around her waist. she tried swimming away from him. Chastising herself for looking like an ass. Eadred swam close beside her. and he looked perfectly content lounging in the water like a merman from her most carnal dreams. enjoying the lake's coolness." "It's not cold. and she wanted him to! "Do you want to swim to the island?” he asked."I'll stay here. “Why not? Just stay close to me. Unconsciously. Droplets of water clung to his dark eyelashes. She hadn't lied when she said she wasn't a very good swimmer. "You don't like to swim?” he asked. the branches of the weeping willow fanning them as they gazed at the moonlight dappling the lake. but she tugged away from him as they swam toward the island. She blinked dumbly before muttering.” That was a partial truth. he brushed a wet strand of hair from her eyes and leaned his face closer to hers. What they hell were they doing? With his free hand. When the water reached her neck. Eadred reached for her and tugged her against his chest. but found herself stepping deeper into the black water. Apparently they weren't in as deep as she thought. She began to relax. "I've lived here for years and never swam to this island. “I guess I didn't know what I was missing. It was then she realized he was standing. until she tried standing and water closed over her head. and her heart raced. His breath warmed her lips. "I'm not very good at it. she slid her arms around his neck. she folded her arms across her chest. tugging her gently." His words made her belly flutter. As he approached. sending a flash of warmth through her entire body. they sat side by side. her gaze never moving from his. she swam a little. His body felt as hard as it looked." "I won't let you drown. and it's dark. Amusement shone in his eyes. smiling when she glanced at him. He was going to kiss her. as if she could defend herself against the raw masculinity that was luring her out of a year-long shell. She knew she should resist.” His hands rested on her shoulders. Her breasts pressed against his chest. His hands slid down her arms and grasped her wrists. On the shore. damn it." "You like it?" .” she said. the skin of his neck and shoulders cool and smooth." "I just don't feel like it.

She raised a hand to her mouth and yawned. her eyelids heavy. brushing grass and dirt from her arms and legs. He was completely alone in a foreign world. She turned in her sleep. they hadn't swum out there just to race back." "And notebooks. Finally. She could rest for a moment or two." "Yes. a retired gentleman. her legs touching his. When he awoke. Neither spoke nor moved. She wondered if Smith and Jones were somewhere in the trees. he closed his eyes. Though she'd been kind enough to invite him into her home. if you want to. Placing an arm around her." "Notebooks?" "It's a nice place to study. He lay on his side. she slipped from his languid embrace and stood. it could have been a thousand years ago. “We should go back to the house. For several moments he slept. yet he obviously had no intention of allowing anyone to witness his vulnerability. comforting.Probably was her last thought before she drifted off. We can come here again. Perhaps he really had none. He had been a soldier in the dark ages. and trees seemed familiar.” She smiled. Other than when he'd first awakened. he'd managed to keep an enviable hold on his emotions. After all. spying on them. the water. Glancing at Eadred from the corner of her eye. he found himself gazing into Portland's eyes. fields. her eyes slipping shut. but he didn't." She stretched out on her back. The touch of another body was pleasant." "My neighbor. he sensed apprehension in her that bordered on fear. she noticed he looked as alert as he had in the morning yet retained an expression of calmness that was beginning to irritate her."Don't you?" "Yes. Maybe we could bring lunch. [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter Seven Eadred glanced at the woman sleeping beside him and for the first time since awakening in the new world experienced a moment of peace. her face so close to his chest he felt the warmth of her breath and the tickle of strands of hair that had escaped from her bun. Tomorrow after Richard leaves." . we'll come back here. Perhaps one day she would confide in him. close enough to touch her if he reached out a hand. “That's a good idea. The sky was clear. has a rowboat he'd let us use. On the island in the middle of nowhere. Surely he'd seen enough horrors on the battlefield to have dulled any strong feelings that dwelled in a normal human being. He wasn't sure if her concerns were completely directed at him and sensed many secrets behind her lovely blue eyes. She must have been more tired than she realized." "I do.

really. "Eadred. I'm a little tired. it might have been easier for him to accept a loss that seemed so sudden to him. I dream of them. happy lives." "It's stupid. "My children. This society wrote down everything. He only wished he could show her some things from his. but I get the feeling you're withholding something. What would it take for him to build a new home for himself? Inside. they swam to shore. “I think of my children often. “What are you thinking about?" "It doesn't matter. Association was easier to comprehend than the books Portland had given him. It wasn't you. how their lives had turned out." "Sleep well. He hoped his wife had found another husband who treated her well. “We're almost home." She didn't speak.” he said before she closed the door. Portland glanced at him. He hoped they'd lived full. . We can't change the past. irritated with himself for such unintentional rudeness. Finally she said." "It won't do any good. Adjusting wasn't easy. During the walk home. her face resting against his chest. She paused and glanced back at him." Home. “I'm sorry. I just thought you might feel better if you talk about whatever's bothering you. “No wonder you couldn't sleep. I didn't mean to sound—" "No. He missed his children terribly and even felt guilty about the bit of fascination stirred within him about the new life he might build. just embraced him. If he'd known what had happened to them. though he knew in time books would be his most valuable source of learning. raising her chin to gaze into the distance." She nodded." "Can a man not have privacy?" She glanced away." "We haven't known each other very long. blushing in the moonlight. but there were things he liked about Portland's world. “I'm sorry. Eadred practiced English by pointing out objects they passed and asking for their names. I'm going to bed.” His voice was gruff with self-disgust. they changed clothes again and met in the hallway." He shook his head.Without further conversation." She offered him a smile and turned back to her room. Information about every subject was readily available. Her arms slid around his waist. Whatever you're thinking is really none of my business.

He sensed most of the problems would surround Smith and Jones. Portland." He nodded." "Horror movie?" "Yeah. “You've lost everything and are stuck in a foreign place. When he spoke to them. At least according to Portland. He picked up the remote control and switched channels. Grasping the control. Now he had no reason to lie or withhold information. Eadred. Tell me the truth. Some of the words he recognized. They asked questions constantly and treated his replies with skepticism. and the scent of flowers from the bushes below wafted inside. Once he'd mastered more English. “Wait there! It's an old horror movie. It was difficult to comprehend that they weren't alive somewhere. Eadred. More cars." ." He waited until she closed the door to her room before retiring to his own. offering her a slight smile. Sometimes." "I'm glad you feel that way. A warm breeze fanned his face. He was glad they weren't staying in the house. but he still had so much to learn. He opened the window and gazed at the moon. no one worth protecting or no one to whom he could pledge loyalty." "Why?" "Because it's fun to be scared. Actually. “There are some things in this world that already make me happy. he most likely would have lied or refused to speak at all. He'd learned that eggs.” She sat beside him on the couch and watched as he flipped the channels. his fingertip tracing the shape of her mouth. "Eadred?” Portland. There was nothing left of the world he knew. he'd have to ask Richard about it. he'd watch the moon and wonder what Sigyn and the children were doing. she turned back to a black and white movie. he felt like he was imprisoned in an enemy camp. so the language barrier didn't concern him—other parts of this world would be far more troublesome." "Good night. like red meat. “Good night. he didn't mind the cereal very much. filling the room. her hair disheveled and her feet bare. on similar nights after guard duty and before falling asleep. More packages of breakfast cereal. descended the steps. what do you think of it here? Do you think in time you can be happy?" He drew a deep breath and searched her face. "Did I wake you up?" "No. he wandered to the living room and turned on the television. If he had been captured by a rival kingdom. Instead of lying down. either. He'd always been a very quick learner and possessed an excellent memory. I couldn't sleep very well. You watch it to get scared. He glanced over his shoulder at the bed. dressed in rose-colored shorts and a matching sleeveless top."Why?” She tilted her face up to his. could kill you too. More half-dressed women. It tasted pretty good.

Richard's voice—as well as a voice she didn't recognize—joined his in conversation." He muttered to himself about not understanding the female sex. He stretched out on the couch. “How do they do that? It looks real." She cast him an incredulous look. He wore jeans. having just awakened and needing a shower. I saw those on television in the hospital. I'm dying to see what you think of spaceship—” Her hand flew to her mouth. Sometimes I think it might have been better if I had. but opted for the truth. and pulled an emerald green sleeveless sun dress over her head. "Where are you going?” Eadred shouted after her. She bolted up the stairs. **** "What the hell is that?” Portland rubbed sleep from her eyes and pushed herself off the couch.Her gaze swept his torso. and clicked off the television. By the time the movie ended. and a slight man of late middle age with balding red hair sat at the table drinking coffee. applied some light makeup. God. Eadred?" She looked so interested he was tempted to make up a story to amuse her. “I remember nothing of it. Wait until you see a modern one. I lost consciousness soon after seeing the disk. She shifted position slightly so that their legs entwined. That was so dumb of me. still holding her. The way the stranger stared at Eadred with blatant curiosity annoyed Portland. she hurried to the kitchen where Eadred. I could get used to this. no shirt.” Eadred grinned as the actor on the screen transformed. Still. She washed quickly. he wore his usual calm expression. Suddenly she felt conspicuous. She could only imagine how Eadred felt. Richard. and he held a cup of coffee in one hand." She touched his forearm as they continued watching the movie in silence. I wasn't feeling well at all." "Not really. They're not so different from the black disk. “Richard's here. and axes. Slipping on sandals. . swords. “I'm sorry. The couch felt pleasantly crowded as he joined her in sleep." "Then let him in! I need to dress. I thought I was dying. he'd been up for a while. His hair was freshly washed. she yawned and leaned back in the seat. he felt sleepy too." "And this is an old movie. Covering her mouth. Eadred was already on his feet and looking out the window while the pounding on the front door continued. Moments later." "You must have been afraid."Then go into battle with a few thousand men charging each other with maces. “I didn't say I was crazy." "You don't remember what it was like inside the ship. By the look of him. and about a case full of makeup. and to her visual pleasure. her toothbrush." "It's a man-wolf. She drifted to sleep with her head on his shoulder. her body half draped over his." "It's all right.

Eadred stood and did it for her." "Just what we need." "What's it like being so popular?” She smiled in an attempt to make light of the situation before she opened the door. “It's Smith and Jones." "Maybe we should ease up. he'd still be frozen in ice drifting north somewhere.” Stevens said. “I'd like you to meet Paul Stevens." Portland greeted Stevens. but Stevens ignored him and continued. While his command of the language was good." "Doesn't feel like talking!” Stevens bellowed. "And good morning to you too. Portland squinted through the peephole and sighed. I tried calling him several times.I had something to do with finding him. "I don't understand you or that little fool Jake Phillips. who nodded in her direction. about to pour herself coffee. and most of them were what I'd consider personal.” he muttered.” Richard explained. “If it wasn't for a project funded by my university. “I just want a few basic answers. Richard?” Stevens turned to the archaeologist. The agents brushed past her toward the kitchen." "But he is the one who leaked Eadred's story to the press?" "Yes. "Maybe he doesn't feel like talking. you just asked him about thirty questions at once. it wasn't as conversational as Portland's.” Portland saluted after them. dean of our university.” Richard lifted his mug to her. he's out of a job. you know. He began speaking to Eadred in Latin. then disappears."Hey. "He does. "My assistant. except to stare at Stevens as belligerently as the dean watched him. glancing at Eadred. “He didn't show up for a scheduled appointment. Eadred made no reply. Portland." Richard raised a finger as if to say. but he's disappeared. “At least now I can talk to them all at once. And when he does show his face again. The doorbell rang. Portland.” Richard suggested. what's going on?" "Well. "But you're sure he understands me?” Stevens pressed. . He's the only other person besides my assistant who knows about Eadred and he flew out to meet him." "Who?” Portland asked. "I thought you said he spoke. I don't know what's wrong with him. catching her gaze and motioning toward Stevens with a disgusted look. He blurts the whole story to the papers without having the authority to do so.” She approached the counter. Together Portland and Eadred went to answer it.

” Stevens placed a hand on his shoulder. wait until some of this blows over. craning his neck to meet the Viking's gaze.” Stevens stood. We don't want to draw a lot of attention to this house. "He learns fast. Grudgingly.” Richard said. “Don't speak too quickly. "Like a slave?” His eyes sparked with fury."What are you doing here?” Jones demanded of Richard and Dean Stevens.” she said simply. "So did we.” Richard stood. “Am I a dog?" "I thought he didn't speak any English?” Stevens said." Stevens's lip curled. The university is willing to pay for you." . they obviously landed at some point. and he might understand some of what you're saying. he still needed a stronger grasp of the language. casting his partner an annoyed look.” Smith stated. "Yet. “Right now. his short. "No. Stevens agreed. and paying for the hospital stay. “Look. “I'll call you two later. and we just want some information from you in return. We're paying for his upkeep—" "Upkeep?” Eadred said in English.” Jones narrowed his eyes. This project is costing our university top dollar.” Portland said. Though he was able to decipher basic ideas." "Look. “Fine. “All I'm saying is. and we're going to have to show some results to justify that kind of spending. but Eadred shrugged it off." Eadred glanced at Portland for translation." "Amazing. “Our university spent a lot of money transporting him here. tugging car keys from his pocket." "But it's only been two days!” Richard exclaimed. Portland shrugged. "But no one has to know that!” Smith said." "Well. we need discretion. He's going to be worth a fortune. “Unbelievable. he's our discovery." "We'll go. What if someone tracks you here? We'll have a herd of reporters on our hands as well as every freak who wants to believe spacemen have landed." "No one's getting anything from him until we hear from our superiors about what's to be done with him. causing the entire room to fall silent and stare at him. Having you two from the University around doesn't help. Richard whispered to Portland. you're going to need help adjusting to this world. "They want to make money off you.” Jones added. Eadred. Then you can resume your studies. not a slave. thawing him. “We're trying to be as discreet as possible. But we won't wait long. slender frame dwarfed by the agents. On his way out the door.” Stevens approached Eadred. “So he has an excellent memory.

Tugging it over his head. As she neared. She jogged downstairs. she followed the sound of chopping and paused in the clearing where Eadred split logs. she snipped. “It seems people are as annoying now as they were in my time. ." "Then be my guest.” Smith told them. and sat at the table. bracelet. he left through the back door in the kitchen. she went to the kitchen. we're there. The door closed. gathered her tools. strung beads. But. a spiral of brown hair dangling over one eye. but upon checking her computer when she'd gotten home last night. Deciding a break was in order.The archaeologist and Stevens left. we have you under twenty-four-hour watch. There's an ax in the shed outside. You don't have to bother cutting it. Portland sighed and watched through the window above the sink as he headed across the field toward the wood. Everywhere you go. She really needed a drink of that lemonade! "Eadred. I'll be fat as an ox. Eadred swung the ax with strength and precision. dirty from his work.” Smith said as the agents headed for the door. The last thing she wanted to do at the moment was make jewelry." "Just a few logs from last year. and she leaned against it. I didn't use the fire as much as I'd have liked. Eadred." He nodded and reached for one of his T-shirts tossed over the back of the couch from the night before.” she called. bent wires. Wearing only his jeans and boots. if just to drop in on her handsome woodcutter. two beautiful silver and tigereye necklace. her jaw set in anger. we can always buy wood. her throat dry. but this afternoon we can visit my neighbor and see about the boat. and headed for the woods. I'll replenish your wood supply. You have little stacked behind your house. "We'll be next door. Eadred. For the next several hours. Only Smith and Jones remained. "Oh. Eadred stood in the kitchen entrance. His hair clung to his neck and arms in damp spirals. Portland swallowed." "It would be cheaper for you and give me something to do. and adjusted clasps. and earring sets lay before her. both hands curved around the coffee mug. I have some orders to complete this morning." Portland bit her cheek to keep from clobbering Smith. prepared a thermos of lemonade. When she finally sat back in her chair and stretched her fingers. “Have a nice day. Maybe we can have dinner on the island?" "In the meantime." "I don't think that part of human nature will ever change. He shook his head." "That includes your jaunts to the lake. Her heartbeat quickened and her body heated from more than just the humid weather. Each movement incited a sensual play of muscles beneath his sweat-slicked skin. she'd found several new orders in her email. and remember. If all I do is sit around and eat your food.

perfect body for another moment without attacking him in a carnal frenzy. and smelled of expensive cologne. His Adam's apple moved sensually in his throat as he swallowed. drinking the next one more slowly. a woman who'd always dreamed of warriors of old. His appearance had attracted Portland the night they'd met at the club she'd agreed to . brushing sweaty hair from his forehead. Clean. A black tank top scarcely covered his athletic torso. See exactly what the government is planning for you." She poured lemonade into two plastic cups and offered him one. Stepping inside. I thought you might want a drink?" He placed the ax aside and approached." "You're going to need citizenship. "Portland. but I'll remind them about it. I've been thinking about what you said about education. he rested one foot on the log he'd used as a chopping block." A hint of anger flashed across his eyes. thickly-muscled form filled the doorway. there's nothing you can't do. His hot. She watched him for several moments. well-groomed. chewing her lower lip between her teeth. Just taking a break. He emptied the cup and poured a refill. and her pulse leapt.” he said. moist fingertips brushed hers as he took it.He paused in mid-swing. but dissipated along with the remainder of the lemonade which he finished in a long sip and handed the cup to her. Are you finished work?" "Not yet.” she pondered aloud." "I don't trust them. The house! He was living with her! How in the world was she going to keep her hands off him indefinitely? Portland walked to the back door and pushed open the screen. Cort Dunner's tall." "Excellent idea. His long legs were encased in jeans. “Smith and Jones mentioned it. "So who the hell is he?" Portland spun. fury glistening in his pale blue eyes. “Good guess. but unfortunately they're in charge. His arms folded across his broad chest. glanced at her. She sipped her drink and watched him gulp his. she placed the thermos and cups on the countertop. Once I master English. I'd like to go to school. black leather boots covered his feet. "I don't either. To her. and smiled. Blond hair was styled around his classical features. Taking a sip. You learn so fast. “Hello. she trudged back to the house. her heart pounding with fright at the sound of a voice she'd hoped to never hear again. He picked up the ax and placed another piece of wood on the block. he glowered down at her." "I'm going to need a job. Rivulets of sweat trickled down his lean chest lightly dusted with hair. It struck her how much she wanted to sleep with him. he was like a fantasy come true. When she felt she couldn't look at his powerful. Cort was handsome.

Cort Dunner terrified her." "I don't owe you any explanations! If you don't get out of this house. knocking the Viking into the wall. his leg snapping out in a powerful kick that landed square in Eadred's stomach. Red drops splashed on the floor.” Cort strode across the room and grasped her shoulders hard. She'd gone across the street and shared dinner with him. Why the hell am I even wasting my time with you?" "So there's the door!” She pointed. Portland tasted blood from her split lip. she'd politely refused. He grinned wickedly and shoved her into the counter. Then the phone calls began. For some reason. he rang her bell and asked her to lunch. Still. but Cort was a martial artist and had won tournaments worldwide. She'd managed to convince Cort to leave. He grasped Cort's shoulders. stop it!" "Think you're going to have my woman?” Cort growled. Blood leaked from Eadred's lips onto his chest. “I'll kick the shit out of you!" . The screen door nearly flew off the hinges as Eadred burst inside. but the martial artist rammed his elbow backward into Eadred's stomach and spun. One evening. When he tried to push himself on her. Though Portland was a strong woman who worked out often. but you have somebody else living here. "I said. She could only guess he'd learned where she lived by following her home that night. He lingered around her home every evening until she called the police. “who is he?" "Get your hands off me!” she snarled. jabbing her knee at his groin. "I didn't come here to listen to your mouth!” His hand cracked across her face. The following day. You fucking little slut. Though she'd gotten the restraining order over a year ago. Don't bother denying it! I saw him. her fighting experience was limited to punching matches with Ann when they had been teenagers arguing over who hogged the most space in the room they shared. you're going to jail!" "You women are all so full of shit. She'd also taken self-defense classes. it was only recently that she'd been able to sleep at night without worrying that he'd show up at her door. By the end of the evening. he forced his way inside. he wanted Portland and wouldn't take no for an answer. promising to consider dating him again. He called so much she had her number changed to a private listing. When he'd asked her for a second date. back-fisting him across the face.” Cort unbuckled his belt and Portland glanced at the knife soaking in her sink. she'd hired a lawyer and filed for a restraining order against him. Blood splattered onto the while cabinets. She reached for the thermos and flung it at him. The next day. she'd realized he was a shallow egomaniac and simply not for her. "Cort. “You wouldn't give me the time of day when I asked you out.accompany Ann and some friends to. He shifted his stance so she caught him in the thigh instead. she fought him. “Get the hell out of my house!" "Not until you give me some of what you're giving him. Cort wasn't accustomed to refusal. Again she refused. Portland screamed.

they left the house quietly and without approaching Eadred. Cort blocked his punches and jabbed. As Smith opened the screen. He might not be a martial artist. Eadred attacked him. The agents bellowed for the fighting to stop. the police had arrived to take Cort away. examining an ankle that swelled by the second. his foot level with Eadred's face. “What the hell was going on in here?" Portland wet a dish towel in the sink and held it to Eadred's mouth. but Eadred was part of a case that couldn't be discussed. She knew Cort's reputation in the ring. but before she could strike Cort. The sound of cracking bone echoed in the room. limping." "Damn!” he hissed. Smith lunged through the door. . “Back off. Jones jumped out of the way. clutching his leg from where he lay on the floor. Cort punched him in the face. By the time she'd finished. She glanced at Smith who sat in a chair. As soon as the cops come. but because he got in our way. "You son of a bitch!” Cort snarled.” she replied. Cort's leg shot out. Eadred dodged the blows from Cort's fists as well as his feet. and he didn't seem in the least upset about a fight that left Portland trembling. their weapons drawn. “You better tell us exactly what happened. Though the police didn't seem pleased by the agents’ interference. She pointed at Cort. clinging to the railing. Eadred caught the leg and kicked Cort's knee." Portland explained. Do you both want to get checked out too?" Portland shook her head and translated for Eadred. Cort screamed with pain. “You busted my leg!" Eadred kicked him in the face. I'm taking Smith to the ER. “Looks like you might have broken it. "Well this jackass won't be!” Jones squatted beside Cort.Portland reached for a heavy steel pot and raised it above her head. "That's it!” Jones aimed his gun at Eadred. then at Smith. His split lip had nearly stopped bleeding. She brought him an ice pack. He gently ran his finger across her bleeding lip.” Smith said. “Are you all right?" "I'm fine. Jones behind him. “He's not only in trouble because of going against the restraining order. "Cops are on their way." "It wasn't his fault!” Portland stepped in front of Eadred. The agents explained to them that Portland could be questioned. who also refused. but had almost forgotten Eadred was a professional soldier trained in a time when the main means of fighting had been hand-to-hand combat. To Portland's relief. who stumbled inside. “I have a restraining order against this guy! He broke into my house!" Jones glanced at Cort. knocking him backward down the stairs. but he was accustomed to fists and steel flying in his face at close range. Cort sprawled unconscious on the tile.

" If Cort was a champion. enjoying the warmth of her body pressed against his. He's an expert in what we call karate." She shook her head." "He's not much of a man. imagine what Eadred would be like if he began studying martial arts? She grinned to think about it." "If Cort is any indication of what your town is like. he fights in a ring for money. Just good practice." . not once plagued by nightmares of his past." "You're right about that. Portland turned to Eadred. Once they were alone. but it does have advantages. Last night.” she said. Thank you again. "That is. "Let's go. at least not in our town. if you feel up to it after that fight. “How did I know that would interest you? We can look at some schools this week." "He is an exception." "Was that the man you'd told me about?" "Yes. “Some things about you are going to take some getting used to." He raised an eyebrow. He hugged her."You two try to stay out of trouble until we get back. but not too many people could have gotten the better of him like you did.” She slipped her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. “And this time I'm locking the door behind me. [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter Eight No sooner had the agents pulled out of the driveway than Portland suggested visiting her neighbor to ask if they could borrow the boat. He fights for a living. with her in his arms. “What fight? A little scuffle like that's nothing. Fighting isn't commonplace anymore." "He's a soldier?" "No. but I get the feeling what happened here today will do more to keep him away from me than the restraining order ever did.” Jones said as he and Smith left. Eadred. I suggest you take another look around. “Thank you so much for helping me." "I thought his method of fighting seemed strange. Where can I learn more about this karate?" She smiled. he'd slept better than he could've imagined.

"A wise idea." Together they stepped outside and walked across the fields toward her nearest neighbor's farmhouse half a mile away. She slipped her hand into his. The closeness between them seemed natural, even though they'd only known each other a brief time. A short rock wall confined her neighbor's cows, so she and Eadred climbed it and headed for the house behind the tall brown barn. The cows paused in their grazing to glance at them. They looked much different from the cows Eadred remembered. At the house, an elderly man sat on the porch listening to a radio perched on the windowsill. A shaggy gray dog snoozed at his feet. The animal lifted its head as Eadred and Portland approached. "Hello! How are you, honey?” The man smiled, extending his hand to Portland who grasped it with a smile. "Hi, Pete. I'd like you to meet my friend Eadred. He doesn't speak much English." "Nice to meet you.” Pete pumped Eadred's hand. “Ain't from America, eh?" "I'm from Denmark,” Eadred told him. Portland nodded her approval at his English. He was doing well, yet he wished he could pick up more words faster. “Pleased to meet you." "We were wondering if we could borrow your rowboat to have dinner on the island?” Portland asked. "Of course. Glad to let you use it. If this young man of yours will load it on the truck, I'll be glad to give you all a lift to your house." "That would be great, Pete. Thanks." "You know, I've been meaning to clean up that boat—” Pete stopped as a crash sounded from the barn. He jumped to his feet and ambled down the steps, the old dog plodding at his heels. “Gosh darn stallion! I never should have taken him!" "What stallion?” Portland called as she and Eadred hurried after Pete. As the three rushed to the barn, Pete explained, “You know how my oldest boy raises horses for a living out there in the Midwest? Well, a few months ago, he told me about this horse he bought but had to get rid of because the animal couldn't get along with anything else in the stable. He said it was a darn shame because if he had more time to spend training the animal, he could probably break him of the bad habits. Just so happens, several of his hands quit and moved out of state and he didn't have extra time to spend with the stallion. Like a fool, I said to ship the horse out here. I didn't want to believe I'm just too old to handle a horse like that." They'd reached the stable and found one of the stalls kicked in. A sleek blood bay stallion loped around, unconfined. "He's beautiful,” Portland said. "Just stay out of his way. One minute he's calm, the next he's kicking like a riled up zebra. I just—Hey!

Be careful there, Eadred." The Viking approached the stallion slowly but with confidence. The horse watched him with wary eyes, moving away as Eadred approached. He spoke softly to the animal in his own language, the version of Danish even Portland couldn't quite comprehend. His hand slipped inside the stallion's halter. After a brief struggle, the horse followed Eadred into one of the empty stalls. "Not bad.” Pete folded his arms across his chest. “You must have worked with horses." Portland grinned. “Oh, where he comes from horses are more common than cars." Eadred closed the stall door and stroked the horse's neck before turning to his companions. “This is a magnificent horse." "If I thought you'd take it, I'd offer you a job helping me out with him,” Pete said. “But I'm sure you have much more important things to do." Portland translated the offer to Eadred who said, “I'd like that." Pete's eyes widened. “You sure? I can't pay much." "He's in a precarious situation right now,” Portland explained. “A part-time job would be perfect for him." "Well then, consider yourself hired.” Pete grasped Eadred's hand and shook it. Eadred agreed to come by the farm each morning and every evening to look after the blood bay and train him as a riding horse. Pete would pay him a weekly cash fee. After leaving the stable, they retrieved the rowboat from Pete's shed and loaded it into the old man's pickup. Then the three piled into the front seat. Eadred's big-boned frame and long limbs took up so much space, Portland felt squished in the middle of the two men. Pete whistled from where he drove, wedged close to the door. “How tall are you, fella?" "He's six-three-and-a-half,” Portland replied, lifting Eadred's arm and placing it around her shoulder to make more room, “and lanky." Pete dropped them off at the house and politely refused Portland's offer to stay for lunch, as his brother and sister-in-law from Boston were due to arrive any time for a visit. "Keep the boat for as long as you want to.” Pete waved to them out the window of the truck. “I don't use it much anymore." "See you in the morning,” Eadred said. "Let's pack some food, grab our bathing suits, and go to the island,” Portland said. The idea of the outing excited her. Just being with Eadred thrilled her. She wondered if he felt the same. Most likely any attachment he felt for her was because she was the most familiar person to him in a new world, but she

hoped once he grew accustomed to his surroundings, he'd still care for her. No. I want more than for him to care for me. I want him to be attracted to me. In the house, Eadred made sandwiches while Portland stirred up a fresh thermos of lemonade. She popped a bag of microwave popcorn and poured it into a plastic container, then filled her cooler with the sandwiches, two slices of chocolate cake, and several pieces of fruit. "I haven't been on a picnic since I was a kid,” she said. "Picnic. I like that word." She gazed at him through her lashes. “Why am I not surprised?" Together they placed the food in the boat along with two towels, a blanket for their picnic, and Eadred's English books. "Don't you ever get tired of studying?” she asked. "I want to master English." "Overnight?" "If possible." "Well it's not, but I admire your energy." Eadred grasped the rope attached to the front of the boat and dragged it as they walked to the lake. Once in the water, Portland sat opposite Eadred and watched the play of muscles in his arms and shoulders as he rowed. He had such powerful arms, the muscles so well-defined. They felt so good around her. Once on the island, she planned to find a way to get herself wrapped in those arms again. It didn't take much. No sooner had they dragged the boat onto the island than he took a book in one hand, her hand in the other, and tugged her beneath the willow tree. With his back braced against the trunk, he placed an arm around her, holding her close as he balanced the open book on his knees. "Aren't you hungry?” she asked. "Let me read another page first." She cuddled closer to his chest. “Go ahead." As he read, she corrected wrong pronunciations and explained unknown words and phrases. At the end, she quizzed him and was again impressed with his memory. "Have you always learned so quickly, Eadred?" "Yes." "You're lucky."

Portland. and it's not because we slept together last night." "It matters to me. His soft. and then I will ask you to kiss me. I know I must have seemed forward. Unable to control the pleasured sound that escaped her throat. you will be protected. most women in my time will never get a promise like that. "Well. I believe a man would be a fool not to want you and an even bigger fool to mistreat you." Her heart fluttered. It was like meeting an actual knight in shining armor—or a Viking in shining chain mail. I mean. In my world. Portland melted against him. I would have anyway." "About that. Right now. Portland closed her eyes and buried her fingers in the sun-warmed curls at his nape. staring into his eyes." "No." "He had no right to touch you. but you are also beautiful.. explored her mouth. I would have killed Cort for his conduct. If Jones had not turned his weapon on me. firm lips were a gentle pressure against hers. Eadred." Her pulse leapt as she edged even closer to him. his thumb stroking her lips before his mouth covered hers. His mouth opened slightly." "As long as I'm with you. I'm not sure what to say.. but—" "You need not explain." She paused. With her . he didn't. I see intelligence and kindness." "But I thought you just asked?" "I said I wanted to. “That doesn't matter much anymore—in this time. his palms open against her back." "No." "We can't just kill like that. I will make my way in this world. “What?" "Did I say it wrong? I want to kiss you." He reverted to Latin. pressing her close. it's just . When I look into your eyes. as that man Cort did. “I'd rather have you kiss me now." His lips curved upward slightly as he cupped her face in his hand. I can tell you are a woman of virtue. That is different."I want to kiss you. “I meant no offense." She smiled. His tongue traced the shape of her lips. His arms slid around her. but that will change. I have nothing to offer a woman." "And I won't ever insult you by forcing my desires on you.

Her pulse raced.breasts crushed against his chest. but I feel like I've always known you. She giggled and said. “You have to use this when you go in the sun. but let her smooth the lotion over his face. They ate under the shade of the tree then opted for a swim. "Eadred. When she reached for his face.” She grasped his wrist before he waded in. she scolded herself for asking such a silly question. noting the fullness of his kiss-swollen lips and the rise and fall of his chest as he regained control of his breathing. the sun is bad for your skin. He slid the strap back up her shoulder and pulled away. "I don't know what it is about you. he grasped her upper arm and pulled her to him for another quick kiss." A flush of pleasure crept into her face. Opening her eyes a crack. "Not until I woke up three days ago. he caught her wrists." "What is it?" She squeezed the white lotion into her hand and rubbed her palms together. The fresh. her voice remained steady as she asked. or was it hers? Once he'd thoroughly tasted every corner of her mouth. she pulled away and began unpacking the cooler. As she stood on weak legs to retrieve the food from the cooler. “Are you hungry now?" He nodded. it's possible. masculine scent of him filled her senses and she longed for another kiss. “You have such a nice nose. his lips trailed across her cheek and along her neck." "I suppose you're going to tell me the sun can kill you too?" "If you don't protect your skin." "Everyone I ever knew spent their lives in the sun." "Do you believe in love at first sight?” Though dying to hear his answer. he buried his lips in the hollow of her shoulder. Somehow. her arms tightening around him. Portland tingled from head to toe. "Wait. Portland.” she whispered. marvelous. she felt his heart pounding. She tugged him back to the blanket and pulled out a tube of sunscreen from her beach bag. Looks like a nose job. she watched him. "Eadred. causing his eyes to cross as he followed the motion. She ran her fingertip down the length of his nose. Lost in sensation." "Huh?" .” he muttered. she wondered if she'd ever open her eyes again. Brushing the strap of her tank top down her arm. Moistening lips that had suddenly gone dry.

It was dusk when they returned to the house. his arms slid around her waist. dragging the boat behind them." He flashed her one of his rare smiles. put this on. His tongue tickled the sensitive flesh behind her ear. If anyone had told her a week ago that she'd be falling in love with a gorgeous man from the tenth century." Her heart pounded as she turned her back to him. but you think ignoring them makes you look more manly. "Really?” she murmured. she enjoyed the sensation of his large. I am. Here. "Men must hate them too. arms. and legs. He did the same. she passed him the bottle. “I thought you wanted to go swimming?" He dropped a final kiss on her shoulder.” After squeezing lotion for herself. The hot day seemed to jump up ten more degrees as she rubbed the sunscreen across his shoulders. “Cold water's a good idea right about now. "I hate all the bugs out at this time of night!” Portland ran for the back door as soon as the house came into view. his breath warm against her face. A shiver of desire ran down her spine. The sensation of his hand sweeping her hair from her nape made her giddy inside." She couldn't suppress her smile as he released her and walked into the water. She rubbed it over her shoulders. After several moments." A half smile on his face. there's a name for what we're doing. “Your turn.” She glanced through the screen door at his sleek body. squeezing the solid muscles beneath smooth skin. Closing her eyes. Spending time with Eadred was just too wonderful. Her palms slid down his back and over his ribs. “I don't have to try to look manly. Sighing with pleasure. He glanced over his shoulder.” she said. rough palms. “I'll get your back. the word can be translated as foreplay. Perhaps she was being a fool. She had to admit she wished it was her hands running all over those gorgeous arms and that perfect chest. caressing his forearms that were folded just beneath her breasts. "Why do women hate bugs?” he shouted after her. she'd have thought they were playing her for a fool."I'll explain it later." "I won't argue with that.” His lips brushed her shoulder. "Turn around. he obeyed. “And what is that?" "From what I've learned. she leaned into his chest. . slick with lotion. still wet from the lake. running over her back. but she didn't care. pressing her body to his. "Back in my time.” He spoke close to her ear. though he paid more attention to her body than to where he applied sunscreen to his.

Portland picked up the receiver. Not only that. lady?" "How long do you want to keep him cooped up in this house? He's a person. sugar. While Eadred gathered their belongings from the boat. “What is your problem." "You're wrong there. Portland shouldn't have been surprised to discover he was listening on another line. The phone rang. What's wrong with that?" "It should be all right. and I thought you might like to know you don't have to worry about that guy Cort. “Thank you.” The endearment dripped sarcasm. not a—" "I suppose you told this neighbor of yours the whole story about where he came from?" "No. Only the people who might have contact with you. so his martial arts career is over. He thinks Eadred's visiting from Europe." He hugged her close before they walked to the living room. Eadred's going to help one of my neighbors with his horse. “Oh. “Hello?" "Thought you two were going to spend the night on that island. she slipped her arms around his neck and kissed him." "For what?" "Being you. He's going away for a very long time. Ann had called. At least in the ring. I keep forgetting we're under scrutiny.” Jones continued. his arm draped over her shoulder. They sat on the couch and listened to her phone messages. “By the way. Smiling. she had a right to feel relieved. dumping the cooler and her beach bag on the table. honey. She hung up the phone just as Eadred stepped inside. and Richard too. Eadred did a nice job on his leg. He won't ever be able to compete professionally again." "Oh. After all the sleepless nights she'd spent worrying about Cort's threats.dressed only in shorts. so he'll be gone for a few hours every morning and every night before dinner.” Eadred said. It wasn't often a man like that actually got what he deserved. He planned to visit tomorrow. “Is it that old man up the street? Pete Dawson?" "Have you guys already checked out the whole state of Vermont?” Portland didn't try to control her disgust. "He means he wants to ask more questions.” Jones said. "No. "Not that it's any of your business." Portland couldn't suppress her smile.” Smith's voice sounded on the line. ." "Did we not tell you to keep him hidden?” Smith roared.

Was she crazy? She was a modern woman. Neither spoke but communicated by look and touch." "Do you—” She paused. warm body. Portland had very definite ideas about what she wanted in a man. he swept her into his arms and kissed her. greedy men were apparently as prevalent in her time as they had been in his. but Eadred wasn't like most men. Then why didn't you become a farmer? You wouldn't have blood on your hands. His tongue sought hers. taking care of a home. He was a stranger in her world. "Let's go upstairs. but strangely. but also her apprehension. How could he even consider sleeping with a woman when he'd just lost his . unsure of how to ask for what she wanted without ruining his illusions of her virtue. her heart pounding. Ann often called her. he kissed her forehead and lips. overcome by feelings more wonderful than she'd ever thought possible. not really. They'd taken as much pleasure in terrorizing as in collecting riches and goods. Cupping the back of her neck in one hand. She liked the idea of marriage to one man she adored. Things like virtue didn't matter much nowadays. tasting and stroking her with more tenderness than she'd ever imagined. he stroked her bare arms with his fingertips.Portland thought. I like the idea of discovering the past."Do you mind?" "No. and having his babies. her hand in his. His soft. She'd always considered herself decent." He stood. he was surprised she trusted him at all. If he was. They'd just met. Eadred had fought. Right now. He sensed her desire. Violent. Her blue eyes fixed on his and she swallowed. For a few moments he could lose himself in sensation and forget the pain that slashed his soul every time he thought about his children. but rarely enjoyed seeing blood spilled. She rose. She saw none of the male ego and amusement she'd have expected from most men. Suddenly her feet refused to move. or whatever Smith and Jones called it. and you'd have spent the rest of your life with your family. Only the present matters. especially since it's really not the past to me. Prudish. wanting to taste her again and bury himself in her soft.Now. and gently tugged her to her feet. He broke the kiss only long enough to carry her up the steps to her room where he placed her on the bed. it did to her. she never would have asked such a question in the first place. He lowered his face to Portland's. You never would have met the little man or been abducted in the black disk—UFO. Portland's heart throbbed. If Cort was any indication of the sort of men she was accustomed to. “Do you want to sleep alone tonight?" His gaze fixed on hers. She didn't know him well enough. words would destroy the delicate cloak of perfection that sheltered them from past and future. Eadred gazed at Portland as he caressed her face and traced her hairline with a fingertip. let alone invited him into her house. As he gazed into her eyes. His profession interests me. Still. vulnerable and ignorant of— In a fluid motion. Cort reminded him of Olaf and many of the other mercenaries he'd sailed with. knowing at that moment. "Is that a no?” she murmured as his mouth roamed over her throat and shoulder. moist lips opened and hers mimicked the action.

" "My body is ready.” He closed his eyes and embraced her as she cuddled against his chest. “I understand. but there had never been passion between them. How could he think about bodily pleasure? "Eadred. even in their most private moments. but not tonight.” He smiled tenderly. “But maybe my mind has yet to be freed. but—" "What?" "It's my children. Meeting you has made my existence in this world not just endurable. We were good friends. his fingers brushing the tops of her breasts above the neckline of her black tank top. “I like you more than any man I've ever known. I sometimes wonder if I can ever grieve enough." "Your wife. If I think of them. A sexual relationship between them was inevitable." "We choose how to handle our lives every moment. He hadn't lied when he said he'd cared for his wife.” She closed her eyes. after a thousand years.” She lifted her head to face him." "Will you still sleep with me tonight?" "I hoped you'd ask.” She squeezed his hand.” She took his face in her hands. but I want all of you. I just wish you could have known my sons and daughter. “I cared very much for Sigyn. "That I've never felt for a woman how I feel for you. like last night." "Of course it doesn't seem like madness.family? To the world. “Not that I've had much choice." He nodded. I was just wondering how I could desire you so much while I'm mourning my family. he wanted the comfort of her presence. but this seems so fast. “I'm sorry. but pleasurable. I won't lie and say I don't miss her.” He settled onto the bed beside her and gathered her against his chest." "That's one idea. “Eadred. I know she felt the same. He sensed she wanted the same. but to him it was just a few days ago. nor had he ever bared his soul to her as he so often found himself doing with Portland. I guess I'm greedy." "Portland. they had been dead for a thousand years. but I never felt for her the way so many men describe the excitement of their lovers. They were your family. I don't want to rush either of us." He uttered a wry laugh. Many people wouldn't have been so strong." "You're not greedy. “Just human." . Tonight. Eadred?” Her legs entwined with his as she rested her cheek against his shoulder. I admire how well you've adapted. She was a good woman and will always have a place in my heart. I don't think either of us are ready to consummate this relationship. "What are you thinking. It must seem like madness to you. You loved them.

" She nodded against his shoulder before they both fell into a light sleep. “Good morning. He'd endured enough hardships in the past. How have you managed to pick it up so fast? I wonder if something was done to you on the UFO?" ."Eadred. she slid her arms around his waist. "How did it go?” she asked. “Yes. staring into her eyes. he hadn't thought about having more children. "Do I have a choice?” Eadred asked. I wish my cousin Svein was here. each pondering their own thoughts." "You mean good afternoon. not that I'm suggesting your family could ever be replaced. It will take patience. He was the best horse trainer in the village. “It's safe to guess you're all right?" "Fine. He and Sigyn had even lost children before. Portland tried to pull away. "Okay. The past would always be a part of him and old love would never fade. The archaeologist's eyes widened." She raised an eyebrow. but would you consider starting another one in this world?" He drew a deep breath. One day. your English is getting pretty good." Not bothering to dry his hands." As he washed his hands in the sink. clapping his hands. with the right woman. Eventually. but he'll be a good horse. life would truly begin again for him." "Ready to talk more?” Richard asked. Her eyes slipped shut and she stood on tiptoe to better reach him. by the way. he took her in his arms and kissed her. The horse only threw me twice. break it up!” Richard said as he strode into the kitchen. "Fine. [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter Nine When Eadred returned from Pete's farm. He let himself consider it and felt a fresh spark of love for the woman in his arms. not when his mind still mourned the ones who'd slipped through the fingers of time. her fingers sifting through his hair. “Hey. “When did he get here?" "Half an hour ago. his grief would be more manageable. I would consider it. Portland stopped her jewelry making for a late morning coffee break. but Eadred held her for another moment. In truth.

" Eadred nodded.” Eadred said. Portland sensed he was about to speak. Most of it is a result of my research." "I've asked Smith and Jones about getting him citizenship. he's completely in the care of the university." "You should appreciate the opportunity to practice English. Eadred. I realize you want to make a life for yourself. but it is better than sitting here answering questions all day." Richard shot Portland an annoyed look. “That's not what I meant. but if you miss something—" "If he's going to write a book for you. but I'd like to be your friend. That way he can go to school. Instead. “If anyone's writing a book around here." "Thank you. I thought you and Portland might like to see it." "As long as it's all right with Smith and Jones. he shook his head and said to Eadred.” Eadred sat at the table." "Yes. "I'm not saying I don't want to write about everything I've learned from you."No. “Are you picking up writing as fast as speaking?" "Why?" "I thought you might keep a journal for us. And besides. "I understand you have a job?" "Not really much of a job. get a real job—" "What the hell is he? The world's oldest teenager?" "You'd prefer I remain your creature?” Eadred's gaze fixed on Richard." . I'll do everything I can to help you adjust. maybe we should get a lawyer to discuss his legal rights. I always learned fast. Richard looked uncomfortable at the mention of the agents.” Portland said." "I would. “True. Again the archaeologist looked uncomfortable. it's going to be me. “Sounded pretty selfish a second ago. like they had mentioned. didn't I?" Portland nodded." "In a couple of months a Viking exhibition is coming to the art museum.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Very much." "Why? I tell you everything.

Both needed time to decide what they truly wanted. He asked details about the past she never would have imagined. conversation had focused on gathering and preparing food. Eadred slid his chair closer. leaning back in her chair and rubbing fingers. He'd been there all morning. "Just checking my facts."So what did Smith and Jones say about making him a citizen?" "They're working on it. she wondered what more Richard could ask. Portland. He clung to her as something familiar in a strange world. Eadred and Richard conducted their interview in the basement. It wasn't that he minded discussing the past. stiff from stringing tiny. I suppose that's why he's an archaeologist. and she understood why.” Richard said. No . For the first time. She was glad they'd decided not to have sex the night before." Eadred exchanged glances with Portland. Richard. “Your healthy living would kill me. when are they going to let the university come forward with Eadred's story? And another thing I'm worried about is my missing assistant. “lunch sounds like a good idea. Portland didn't even care if Richard watched. "None. Cort.” Portland stood. but I know he wouldn't just disappear on his own—not after we just discovered Eadred." "Any word on him at all?” Portland asked. Finally he looked up and grinned. The day before. She was also beginning to understand his attachment to her—the one person who considered his well-being and didn't want anything from him. They exchanged smiles. One day of privacy might be nice." "Not only that. and made her feel like a heroine in the legends that had captivated her since childhood.” Portland folded her arms across her chest and shook her head. “How about I buy you two lunch? I've been freeloading off you long enough. Each day. She just thought they should be sure. “You spend months digging up deserts and you call Vermont a burg? How about eating at The Tavern. “I'd like to know what the government plans on doing with him if they don't let him become a citizen. Thanks. she didn't mean to imply that their infatuation with one another couldn't last. an emotionless fountain of information. and she looked to him as a physically beautiful male who had slain her dragon. My friend Susan runs it with her daughter. "Don't you know most of this stuff already?” Portland sighed. and massaged her fingers.she thought as she listened to Eadred review in detail the training methods used by his warriors. crystal beads. so Portland could translate complex questions and replies while she worked on her jewelry.” Richard was too busy scribbling notes to concern himself with whether or not Eadred massaged her hands or any other part of her body." "Where's a good place to eat in this burg?" Portland raised an eyebrow. She knew the constant questioning was beginning to annoy him. Of course. The food is much better than the fast food joints in the center." "You know. took one of her hands. but he disliked being treated as an object. but his curiosity seemed boundless." "Good thing I'm not the one who has to stay here.

bad food whatsoever. Eadred, did she give you any chocolate yet?" "Yes,” he said. “It tasted very good, but too much of it will kill you." "Maybe I should have given my ex-wife more of it on holidays,” Richard muttered as they walked to the car. "Hey!” Smith limped across the street and joined them. “Where are you going?" Portland sighed. Maybe she should have slept with Eadred last night when they had the chance. It seemed they rarely had a moment's peace. “To The Tavern for lunch. Want me to give you our agenda now and get it over with?" "Sure." She folded her arms across her chest. “I was being sarcastic." "Well, I'm not,” Smith said. “Where else to you plan on going today? The island?" "Your job seems very boring,” Eadred told Smith. “Spending all your time following us." "Are you kidding?” Smith mocked. “It's a barrel of laughs." "Tonight I planned on taking him to a movie,” Portland said. “Why don't you and Jones just come with us?" "Not a bad idea,” Smith admitted. “I'm sick of watching reruns on the tube." "First movie, huh?” Richard glanced at Portland. “Give him a break and don't take him to a chick flick." "As if you needed any more romantic ideas like that,” Smith muttered, and Richard looked curious. Portland didn't bother keeping the disgust from her face as she slipped into the back seat of Richard's car. "I don't know what a chick flick is,” Eadred said to Smith, “but I don't like the way your comment sounded." "Do I look like I care?" "You look like you might want your other ankle broken." "Don't threaten me.” Smith stared up into Eadred's eyes. “Buddy, you have no idea who and what you're dealing with. You're a relic from a thousand years ago whose life can be cut short like that.” The agent snapped his fingers. “So don't push me." "Yesterday I saw how skilled you are at cutting short lives, like that,” Eadred mocked, snapping his fingers. “You landed on your—what's the word?—ass?" Smith's face reddened with anger, but to Portland's surprise, he kept his cool and spoke calmly to Eadred. “Don't make enemies out of me and Jones. Trust me."

Smith turned and hobbled back to the house. Once in the car, Richard snapped at Eadred. “Don't mess with them!" "He's right, Eadred.” Portland reached for his hand. “They can make our lives miserable—or worse." "Look, I wasn't going to say anything about this, but I have to.” Richard paused, drew a deep breath, and released it slowly. “I think the agents had my assistant killed." "What?” Portland shouted. “You mean Smith and Jones? Oh, God." "I don't know if it was actually Smith and Jones, but Jake wouldn't have just disappeared like that. He was overzealous about the whole story, which is why he ran to the papers. The government wanted us to keep quiet about Eadred's abduction, and Jake didn't listen." "You really think they killed him for that?" "Yes.” Richard's pale blue eyes stared at her from the rearview mirror. “I have a gut feeling they did." "Someone was killed because of me?” Eadred said. "No.” Portland shook her head. “It wasn't because of you." "It was because he couldn't keep his big mouth shut,” Richard stated. “Damn fool. He had his whole life ahead of him." "If your friend was killed, then both of you could also be in danger because of me." Portland's heartbeat quickened. He was right, of course, but she'd known and accepted the risks from the beginning. The longer she knew Eadred, the more she believed she'd made the right decision. "Don't worry about that,” Richard said. “You had no choice in any of this. The best thing the three of us can do is stick together." Suddenly Portland didn't mind Richard's company so much. It wasn't that she didn't like him, she was simply tired of people constantly around, not giving her or Eadred a moment's peace. Richard was a good man, however. A little eccentric at times, but trustworthy. "I don't want—" "Eadred,” Richard said, “as long as we don't mention your contact with the UFO, we'll be fine. If they wanted to kill us, they'd have done it already. They're just trying to figure out what to do about your story." Portland gazed out the window at the fields rolling by, but she didn't really see them. Her thoughts focused on all Richard had just told them. She prayed he was right about their lives not being in danger, but she also knew the controversy surrounding UFOs and extraterrestrials. Arguments had ensued on both sides for years with no firm proof either way. Now Eadred was here. He was proof. One way or the other, she knew Smith and Jones's duty would be to keep that truth silent.

By the time they arrived at The Tavern, some of the bad feelings were buried beneath pleasant conversation. Portland's friend, Susan, owned the restaurant which served a variety of dishes, including several vegetarian meals and homemade bread. Susan greeted them as they stepped inside. "Portland! When is that new necklace going to be ready?" "I'll deliver it in the morning,” Portland said. “I had to search around for the right color crystals, but it's nearly finished now. I'd like you to meet my friends, Richard and Eadred. Eadred is from Europe and is just learning English, so bear with us." "How do you like the US?” Susan asked, her appreciative gaze raking Eadred from head to toe. The few times Portland had taken him out in public, he'd garnered more than a few lusty stares from women. Not that she blamed them, but she couldn't help feeling a twinge of jealousy. "It's very different,” Eadred replied. "Tell you what, Portland, as a welcome to your friend, lunch is on the house.” Susan winked. “I owe you for all those free earrings." Portland smiled and took the menus from Susan as the three sat at a table near a picture window facing a meadow. "What would you like, Eadred?” Susan asked. “Anything you want is free." He searched the menu. “Soy dogs, please." "You want soy dogs? The prime rib or steak is wonderful." "Red meat can kill you." Susan raised an eyebrow and wrote on her notepad. “Soy dogs it is. Portland?" "Soy dogs sound good. I'll have the same.” She turned to Eadred. “How about garden salad and honey oatmeal bread too?" He nodded, and Susan filled in the rest of the order. “Exciting crowd. What about you, Richard?" "I'll take the prime rib,” Richard said. “I'm no fool." "Tell me that when you end up in Ann's ER with a heart attack,” Portland muttered. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather live at my house, Eadred?” Richard teased. “She's a nice kid, but she'll drive you crazy." "I'm very happy where I am.” Eadred's gaze met Portland's. They exchanged a smile that spoke a private message that heated her from the inside out. After lunch, Richard dropped them at the house then returned to the city.

a shiver racing down her spine as his touch and the knowledge that they sat. His lips moved to her cheek and temple. aching flesh. And—” He tugged the paper from her hand and placed it on the coffee table as he drew her closer and kissed her. but her desire banished all thoughts except how to satisfy their ever increasing need. her knees clasping his lean waist. Need built inside her. He seemed to relish her rough embrace as he whispered endearments in his own language. he raised his arms. Eadred laughed. She tingled from the look of passion in his beautiful blue-gray eyes. she held him so tightly her arms ached. hair-dusted chest. Running her palms over the steely plates of muscle. Closing her eyes. Portland whimpered in reply. His hands slid down her arms and around her waist as he tugged her onto his lap. Portland's breathing deepened as she gazed at his hard." "There's comedy. she responded with enthusiasm to his stroking tongue until she lost awareness of everything but his touch.” Portland said. He took her face in his hands. picking up a newspaper and sitting on the couch. Suddenly she wanted more of him. kneading gently. Slipping her arms around his neck." Eadred dropped beside her and slid his arm around her as he glanced at the paper. sensual sound escaped his throat. callused palms slid up her back then stroked her ribs. teasing her soft. . clutching handfuls of hair at his nape. Portland smiled. Warm. Briefly. Instinctively. Tenderly. allowing her to tug off his shirt. It seemed he was as lost as she. How about action? A bunch of guys beating the hell out of each other."We have a few hours before Jones and Smith join us for the movie. her legs against his hard thighs.” Eadred said in a husky whisper and tugged her close. She wanted to feel his skin against hers. her lips and tongue devouring his flesh with licks and kisses that dragged a groan from his throat. and you'd probably be bored out of your mind too. half naked. “Smith and Jones aren't interested. Humor is almost always a good thing. Murmuring his name. Her pulse quickened as she rocked against him in an attempt to satisfy passion that was fast slipping out of control. he cupped her breasts. The steely bulge of his manhood pressed through their jeans. sultry smile on his lips. She moaned softly and gasped against his open lips when he cupped her breasts. "Portland. she straddled him. his callused palms warm against her skin as his thumbs stroked her cheekbones.” She shook her fist in mock enthusiasm. Her breasts crushed against his chest. Portland sighed. his thumbs teasing her nipples to rigid peaks.” Portland said. His hands slipped beneath her soft cotton T-shirt and encircled her waist. A slight. she wondered what he was saying. Suddenly her gaze met his. “Come here and we'll decide what we want to see. she resisted the urge to squirm with desire. A deep. She buried her face in his neck. his fingertips tracing her nipples that strained beneath the soft cotton material. “I've already seen enough of that. in each other's arms excited her more than she dreamed possible. "No love stories. Portland's body turned to hot liquid.

” Portland said quickly. Portland's stomach tightened with fear. “Just be nice to Smith and Jones. his expression frantic." "It does. she was beginning to understand the real difficulties of easing a Viking into modern society. He didn't yet understand the hidden dangers of the modern world. "What do you want it for?” she asked. “Don't say that! God.” She tried standing. reaching for a long. he didn't take shit from anybody. "If it's those agents. and their expressions soft with passion. Lucky they didn't get killed." "Why?" "Just promise!" "All right. As the saying went. navy blue scarf on the coffee table." .” she whispered. For the first time. “I'm sorry to bother you two. I promise.” he muttered. "Do you need this?” he asked Portland.Knocking sounded on the door. Someone pounded on the door again before Portland opened it. I might kill them. Eadred. but he held her for one last kiss before releasing her. their noses touching. "To blindfold the horse." "What happened?” Portland asked. their breathing heavy. if it makes you happy. We've got to get him back before he does any real damage. They paused. "Couple of kids broke into the barn. Now she told him he had to put up with guff from two men he could tear apart with his bare hands. the way that horse busted out of there. Pete stood outside. She knew he was certainly intelligent enough to comprehend them." "Take it. but would his old-fashioned male pride—something she found incredibly attractive in spite of its potential for disaster—stop him from using common sense? Eadred tugged on his shirt as Portland glanced at herself in the mirror by the door and combed her hair with her fingers. but the stallion's gotten loose." Portland explained the details to Eadred who had already gotten the idea of the problem by Pete's words and expression. what if they have this place bugged?" "Bugged? What's that mean?" "I'll explain later. His very place in society had been secured by his ability to defend what was his. dropping a kiss on his cheek. "I have to get it. Promise me.

” Portland warned. Where you came from they would probably cut off their hands or something. “I'll walk him back. Portland relaxed as Eadred waved to them. Portland tensed as she stared at Eadred. ." "That might not do much good. The stallion had also stopped moving and watched him with a deceptively calm expression. She didn't trust the animal at all. if that's what you mean. How about some rope?" Portland watched as the men gathered the items which Eadred used to rig a trap over the barn door. “What kind of a barbarian do you think I am. his front hooves pounding the grass.” Eadred said. We have police that take care of this stuff now. The animal pranced." At Pete's barn. "I'll have to get new locks. she knew he spoke softly to the stallion. he stood outside with Pete and Portland." "Good. After several anxious moments. I have a better idea." "I'm not going to cut off their hands!” He raised his eyes to heaven.” Pete shook his head. woman? I'm just going to give them some of the excitement they're looking for when they break into places they don't belong. "I know it will. “Got some cans of red paint.” he said to his companions and walked slowly and steadily toward the stallion. “Damn kids. Though she couldn't hear." "Eadred. Pete stopped the truck and Eadred stepped out." "How?" "I just know." When Eadred finished. "I didn't get a really good look at them. "Stay here. “I'm almost afraid to ask. his large brown eyes fixed on Eadred.They jumped into the old man's truck and drove along the edge of the field until they spotted the blood bay trotting along the fence of another farmhouse. Meet you there. Eadred returned the stallion to the stable where he spent several moments talking to the horse before inspecting the damage done by the trespassers. "Don't tell me you think that will work?” Portland folded her arms across her chest. Do you have any dye. Pete?" "Dye?” Pete squinted. or else I'd complain to the police—or at least their parents. he moved close enough to stroke the horse's neck and tie the scarf across his eyes. Eadred paused as the horse reared then dropped to all fours." "They'll be back. I'm sure.

As Portland waited in the refreshment line with Jones." "I think you're both crazy. tickets in hand. "Sure we do.” Jones shook his head in Smith's direction. following Smith to the arcade games that took up one corner of the lobby. Smith's smile turned to a look of irritation. "Wrong time and wrong place."Don't forget it is here and get yourself stuck in the trap. his dark blue eyes reflecting his contempt for the agent's attitude. come. Eadred. He and Portland found seats across from the arcade games and munched popcorn while Eadred and Smith continued playing. his arms folded across his chest.” Smith told his partner." **** Less than two hours later.” Portland said. Pete smiled and shook his head. she glanced at Eadred and Smith. “He can't even beat his kids. "He'll probably remember that. “I want to show this guy how to play video games. we don't have time for this." "That's crap and you know it.” Smith said to Portland. they decided on a fantasy adventure centering on the King Arthur legend. "Sometimes he's worse than a kid.” Jones raised his eyes to the ceiling.” Smith glanced at Eadred.” Jones said." "He just wants to find someone he can beat.” Smith told Jones and Portland. Smith and Jones will be waiting for us. “He's not a dog. "Tell him I want to show him how to play. This will be a hoot. it was obvious the games were completely foreign to him. I've got to see him try to play. and the agents stood in line for their movie tickets." Portland looked disgusted. He banged on the buttons and swore softly. “And we'd better be getting back to the house. “He's Danish. and Eadred shrugged. ." Smith waved his hand in dismissal and glanced over his shoulder at Eadred who remained still." "Smith.” Portland said. not Celtic. “Anyone else?" "You two go get some snacks. By Smith's happy expression and Eadred's furrowed brow. After about twenty minutes.” Eadred told the old man. After a lengthy discussion." The four stepped into the lobby.” Portland said. She translated. Portland. “I almost wish I had a video camera hooked up in here. “Eadred. "I want some popcorn.

He took it.” Smith snarled.” Jones said." "Damn!” Smith struck his open palm against the plastic top of the game machine. regardless of what happened on screen." Portland switched off the machine and grinned. Still muttering to himself. Walked around the village stained green for weeks. “I can't enjoy a movie if I miss the opening credits. When I was that age. muscled arm slipping around her and tugging her close. “We're going to miss the movie." "Just one more game." She smiled at him. his long. Smith cursed louder than before. I wish I had a camera so you could see the looks on their faces! Couldn't believe they were only eleven years old.” Eadred said. holding it to his lips." "Come on. “It's a custom. When I was their age. his tongue licking her finger in a flirtatious gesture. “I knew you'd like it. This was sure to be the best movie she'd ever been to. "I won. but the owner outsmarted me with a few buckets of dye. "I hate talking into these damn things. Eadred." "Borrowed?" . Those kids ran out of the barn covered in red paint and the police had no problem picking them up while they were still trying to wash off in the lake. **** When they returned to the house after the movie. even on the television. I swear. I did the same thing. "Put your arm around me. You take a woman to the movies and you put your arm around her. Eadred whispered to Portland." His gaze focused on the screen.” Eadred shrugged. As the lights dimmed and the previews began. See you tomorrow. Kids these days. He glanced at her. “Your trap worked great. but I got to tell you. Her belly fluttered as she snuggled closer.” she whispered in his ear. Smith followed. my father would have given me such a lickin’ for breaking into a barn.” Pete chuckled. “This is exciting. fascinated by the size and sound of the movie. Tried to borrow the fastest horse from the barn across the glen. “Again. and she said."Are you two finished yet?” Portland stood. a message from Pete awaited them on the answering machine." They began a new game and moments later. The group chose seats in the back row. “How did you know that was going to work?" "Experience. joining Portland and Jones as they headed for the theater. She rested her head against his shoulder and reached for a piece of popcorn. She knew it was like nothing he'd ever seen before." He obliged. “One more. "Beginner's luck.

You're acting like an easy woman. I want you so much. his fingers tracing gentle circles .” He shrugged. he placed her on the bed. You're taking advantage of his vulnerability. she closed her eyes as he stroked her through the satin. he's a beautiful man who has stepped out of all your fantasies of the ancient world. His vulnerability! She moaned as his hands slipped beneath her shirt and his thumbs found her nipples." "It was fun. her heart pounding. smiling. he's completely disease free. graceful fingers unbuttoned her shirt. His fingertip traced the curve of her face before he swept her into his arms and carried her up the stairs. She craved his closeness." "Eadred. According to Ann's barrage of medical tests." "Not if you handle him right. Portland. Not with Pete's stallion. his breath a warm caress on her lips. That simple touch quickened her heartbeat. His long. He placed his hand on the front of the satin panties scarcely covering the thatch of dark hair between her thighs." "That horse is dangerous." "Do you?” she whispered before his lips devoured hers. She shivered with passion. teasing them to sensitive peaks. He's the stuff of dreams! "By the gods." Portland slid her palms up his chest and around his neck." She shook her head.He winked. he pressed her close.You haven't known him long enough. His beard was a sensual scratch against her flesh. his palm kneading. he unzipped her jeans and tugged them off. Her body screamed for his. and she entwined her fingers in his hair.Go for it." Wrapping his arms around her waist. kissing every bit of flesh as it was bared. Portland! You care about him.” he murmured. you were a horse thief!" "I was just a boy." He gazed directly into her eyes. “I think I'm getting the hang of handling stallions. Sighing. “But it wouldn't have been so much fun for those boys. merely clung to his neck. “Stealing a fast horse. Eadred. Common sense told her to stop him—and herself—but she didn't want to. She didn't speak. revealing her smooth legs.she told herself. his tongue soft and wet as he tasted every inch of her mouth and lips. A Viking joyride. “Of course. In her room. "No one's ever made me feel like you do. While she slipped her arms out of the sleeves. Stop it. “I think you have the potential to become quite an able rider. The soft curls grabbed at her wrists. his expression revealing his emotions. Portland's eyes slipped shut.

her breath quickening. Chiseled abs tapered to strong hips and long. he shifted upward. His tongue trailed between her breasts and down her belly before tasting of her womanhood. His fingers slipped under the corners of her underwear and tug them down her legs. she turned her head restlessly on the pillow. but instead of entering her swiftly as she expected. Lost in his touch. deep strokes before the inevitable. pink nub. thick arms. and straining with desire. steady circles where she was most sensitive. Her arms and legs squeezed him in a final embrace as . licking and caressing until she exploded in a climax so intense that for a moment she lost all conscious thought. he bent his head and captured one of her nipples between his teeth. then dipped between her legs and gathered moisture that he spread in slow. As his thrusting quickened. watching him roll on the condom. This time her body responded more slowly in spite of her craving for him. His deep voice sounded raw against her ear as he panted endearments in his own language. staring as he stood by the edge of the bed and undressed. he was still hard inside her. His hand danced over her breasts and belly. He eased his body over hers. Closing her eyes. Moaning. She cried out. her heart pounding as his rhythm increased again. To her surprise.” she whispered. He captured one nipple and teased it until the touch of his tongue was sweet agony. He licked her ribs and the sensitive flesh where her hip joined her thigh. muscled legs. He held her steady. Delicious sensations built in her lower body. for showing him some of the conveniences of being a modern man! She smiled. clutching handfuls of his hair as his lips and tongue awarded her another climax even more gratifying than the first. Gasping into his mouth. She stirred when she felt him move and glanced at him through half open eyes as he stretched one long arm toward the floor and tugged a safe from the pocket of his jeans. "Eadred. Still caressing her feminine bud. Her eyes flew open. when the blissful moment ended. he slipped down so his mouth was level with her breasts. setting their rhythm.over her stiffening flesh. His hips took control of their pleasure. Thank you. As her body still throbbed. Portland drew a deep breath. Immediately. and lean chest. she dug her fingers into the heated flesh of his shoulders. her legs tightened around him. Clinging to him. "Eadred!” she called. his touch ceased. Most captivating was his manhood. She gasped. slipping into her with almost frustrating gentleness. taking as much time as he had with the first. Laughter rumbled deep in his chest. he kissed the tops of her feet. desire flooding her body at the sight of his broad shoulders. gasping as she neared the peak again. then he moved to her other breast. Richard. Tossing the panties aside. breathless. she relished the sensation of his wiry beard brushing the flesh of her inner thighs. Portland closed her eyes. even when her body caught fire and wriggled wildly beneath him. holding it tenderly as his tongue swept over the hard. The waves of pleasure broke over her hot flesh. She tried to control her breathing as his lips and hands traveled over her calves and thighs. her body melting into the bed. As the tip of his tongue circled her naval. so thick. then turned to a groan of desire as her body moved sensually beneath his. hard. He never ceased his steady motion of hand and mouth. she shuddered with passion. She wondered how long he could sustain such fast. she shuddered and tightened her fingers in his hair. he kissed her so deeply she nearly lost consciousness as she exploded a third time. He stretched out beside her on the bed. Suddenly.

he returned to the bed and lay beside Portland. He flinched with arousal as her tongue traced the outline of each rib. He caught the scent of her shampoo from the soft locks of her hair tickling his face. her palms caressing his steely thighs. She caught on quickly. Standing under the shower with his eyes closed as warm water soothed his muscles. He remembered so many unpleasant mornings and evenings bathing in the frigid stream that ran behind his home village. and he allowed her to take the lead. he thought this had to be one of the best inventions in the modern world. he tugged her to his chest.” His hands warmed her shoulders before one of his fingertips traced her breasts. She turned to him. Toweling off his hair. "Well. She kissed the pit of his throat and said. feeling his heart slam against his ribs." "Why wait?" She shifted position. In spite of her enthusiasm." "That was only the beginning. every muscle in his big body tense. When she found the right place. It was fine in summertime. smooth body pressed against his. Eadred stirred then lay still again. Her palm rested against his side. washing had been an uncomfortable experience. **** After several moments. Portland's warm. She closed her eyes and nestled her head against his shoulder. “That was the most fun I've ever had. he guessed by her actions she was new to this particular kind of lovemaking. his breath grew ragged and he closed his eyes. The idea thrilled him. a signal that she wanted him at her mercy. Careful not to disturb her.” She grasped his flaccid manhood and felt him harden in her fist. her lips grazing one of his hips. his fingers tightening on the pillows. teasing her nipples to hard peaks that tantalized his body. Still. When her warm. enjoying contentment and relaxation such as he never thought to feel in this world. Eadred had disliked dirtiness. They simply enjoyed the feeling of each other's lust-dampened skin as they drifted into a light. judging what sparked his passion by the rhythm of his breathing and the tension in his body. her lovely eyes opening halfway as she smiled. his breath a harsh and carnal rasp. pleasant sleep." "I can hardly wait. then soaped his body and stepped out of the shower. His eyes slipped shut. brushed aside freshly washed hair and kissed his neck. This time he joined her. the right motion. His flesh brushed against her breasts. When he reached for her. Eadred couldn't abide a buildup of filth and continued to wash often. wet mouth found the heart of his desire. “There are a few things I'd like to try with you too. While her fingers stroked and kneaded the muscles of his shoulders and arms.she soared to heaven once again. Opening his eyes partway. Neither spoke. When many procrastinated washing for as long as they could during the winter months. Rolling onto his back. He squeezed some of Portland's sweet-smelling shampoo into his palm and lathered his thick hair. she uttered a soft sound of triumph and made . she grasped his wrists and guided his hands above his head. her lips traveled across every inch of his chest and trailed down his flat stomach. he gazed at her as she smiled and moved lower. he slipped from the bed and walked to the bathroom. but in the winter.

.” he said against her lips. "Who the hell is that?” he snapped. Instantly. I just don't like interruptions now that I really have you all to myself. “Were you like this on the battlefield? All gruff and take charge?" "I was worse on the battlefield. His mouth plundering hers. “Go have your shower. her sexy bottom swaying as she hurried to the bathroom and closed the door. "Didn't you like—" "Quiet. Eadred raised an eyebrow." She grinned and blew him a kiss. Crying out. her legs entwined with his. Grasping her shoulders. her legs locked around his waist and she moved against him. he kissed her then cradled her head against his chest. but didn't bother answering.” Burying his hand in her hair. "I'm coming!” he growled as the bell rang yet again. Smith stood outside balanced precariously on his good foot. Eadred smiled to himself as he jogged down the stairs. I'll answer the door. Smith brushed past him and into the living room where he dropped to a chair and opened the box.love to him with such enthusiasm that he nearly lost complete control of himself. Her body pulsed and sensual mewls escaped her throat as she climaxed. It was absolutely none of Smith's business what he was doing. he dragged her up his body and kissed her. snapping his fragile thread of control. he rolled her onto her back. a box in his hand. Again the bell rang. steady strokes until her breathing came in helpless sobs and her fingers bit into his shoulders with almost painful intensity. He remained still. He kissed her deeply as his body slipped into her liquid heat. he waded in a climax so strong that he forgot everything but the drives of his body and the warmth of the woman beneath him. and he moved in long.” She clung to him. the flesh of her supple breasts gleaming in the lamplight. the doorbell rang. "I have to get cleaned up. "Where the hell were you?” the agent snapped. but he used his weight advantage to press her into the mattress. The moment passed. When he opened the door. “Would you mind—" He sat on the edge of the bed and pulled on his jeans. "I think I like this side of you. his heart thumping against his ribs as he sought to control his breathing and postpone the inevitable long enough to ensure her pleasure as well as his. Almost as soon as they recovered.” She stood. his gaze never leaving her. his voice almost a growl.

In this age when there was so much to do and learn." "Are you nuts? I can't give you a gun!" "I'm not asking for one. Eadred never remembered being bored. Look. or cars. carving. it will help pass the time while we're up here in no man's land. I'm going stir-crazy over there." "I thought you liked it? You seemed to be having fun at the theater. There was always riding. movies. "What is that?" "Video game." "Why?" ." "Okay.” Eadred muttered. "What do you say?” the agent pressed. The agent was bored. There was always something to practice or learn. “You got a problem with that?" "What if I don't feel like playing. I just want to learn how they work. Just an hour or so after dinner—or when you're finished working at that old man's stable. are we?" Smith glanced at him. "Huh?" "Nothing. What do you want?" "I want to learn how guns work. “Excellent. he got the general idea. he was bored. What would he have thought about life in Eadred's time? Even without electricity." "We are." "Look. "Okay. Though he didn't understand every word. “I'm a city boy.” Smith looked genuinely desperate. thinking about Portland upstairs in the shower." "There's fun and there's fun.” Smith grinned. I can't take this quiet life." Eadred listened to Smith's rant.removing a black and gray contraption complete with several wires and plastic plates with assorted buttons. I'm hooking this sucker up and you and I are going to play until I figure out how to beat you. All Jones does is read and watch TV. swimming." "There's a condition. warm water cascading over her nude body. “There's always something in this life. One thing he'd never been was bored." The agent shook his head. I'm bored.

" "No. I guess we can show you how to shoot.." [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter Ten The next morning Eadred stood in the field behind Pete's barn working the stallion on the lunge rein. I realize you can't give me any weapons."I was a soldier. their eyes cast down. “But you're not going to win at this. you're not. Like an obstinate child. Eadred paid careful attention to the animal's paces. I've been playing this game with my son for over a year.” Smith nodded to the couch." Smith raised an eyebrow and shook his head." "I've always learned fast..” Smith turned on the game and handed Eadred his control. “and show me how the hell you picked up these games so fast. so how can I possibly. the stallion had really wanted guidance." "Just play.” Smith rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. since I am your prisoner. “What the hell? I'll talk to Jones. but needed to be handled as an individual. He noticed Pete approaching. I can get all the way to level ten. "Now park it. two skinny boys at his side.” The agent raised his eyes skyward. I'm getting so used to looking at you I almost forgot you're from. their tanned skinned ." "Buddy." "How many levels are there?" "Twelve." "And what is this game called?" "Alien Demons. “Damn. Weapons interest me. There are worse nuts on the street who have guns. but you'll never get to the last one. noting there were times when the horse seemed to enjoy his education. "I'm only from Denmark.." "So I see." "I'm not a free man. You're like an electronic card shark. Living with Portland ain't exactly jail." "Not from what I remember of them." Eadred nodded.. you're no prisoner in the real sense of the word.

In five long strides. The stallion trusted Eadred but didn't appreciate the company of strangers. “This is Tommy and Chris. "Some of the kids at school say he's a killer or something. "Sir.” Pete's expression remained somber. Eadred slowed the horse and grasped his halter. Nodding. Pete and the boys stopped a safe distance from the horse." Chris's green eyes sparkled with mischief as he noted Eadred's long hair.” said Tommy. and powerful frame. “but I think he's pretty cool. Eadred. "Of course. “Are you like a wrestler?" "No." "We just wanted to see the horse. "Yeah. “Our parents made us come. "We've got ourselves some extra hands for the next month. As soon as the pickup truck rolled down the road." "Where are you from?” Tommy asked Eadred." "You were sent here to work." Pete left them alone. but his eyes betrayed his amusement." "I'm from Denmark.stained with red paint. “but I do not think it means what the dictionary says. a round-faced blond. . There was no doubt about who these boys were. added quickly.” Tommy explained." "Is that so?” Eadred's gaze fixed on the children. They looked up. one eyebrow raised.” Eadred said. "Stop. a freckled redhead." "I hear this word ‘cool’ often. Eadred tied the horse to the fence as the boys loped toward their bicycles. thick beard. “The stalls need to be cleaned. stroking the sleek neck as the animal snorted with agitation.” Chris said. “The old man's gone." "Think you'll be all set with these boys while I go into town?” Pete asked Eadred. They'd like to make up for busting into the barn a few nights ago. staring at the size of his battle-scarred biceps. Eadred bit back a smile. “You talk different. Chris laughed. Tommy and Chris headed back toward the house.” Eadred commanded." Tommy turned." Tommy extended his middle finger in what Eadred had learned was an obscene gesture.” Chris." "What you did was dangerous. The boys froze in their tracks.

you know. A little less than an hour later. “That's a cool name. "What's his name?” Chris asked." "That's not a good name.” Eadred told them. on the verge of tears. "I think Pete is still undecided. "Hey!” Tommy shouted." "How about Death.” Eadred said. He seemed to be in a quiet mood and calmer in the boys’ presence.” Tommy said. grasping each by their belt loops on the backs of their jeans and toted them to the barn." He left the muttering boys to their work and returned to the stallion to finish his training. "Okay. Eadred took a step toward them.” Chris said. Eadred released the boys and shoved them toward the stalls. “I don't know that word. They leaned against a stall door and watched Eadred brush the horse. noting the boys had just about finished their work. “It stinks." . “I'm going to tell the police!" "I didn't mean to break in!” Chris squealed." "You were the ones who were so interested in horses." "Or else what?” Tommy's voice cracked in spite of his attempt at defiance. “How about calling him Chief?" Eadred narrowed his eyes. a chief was like the leader of an Indian tribe. “I'll clean the horse shit." "Can we pet him?" Eadred glanced at the boys then back at the horse. “And what's with this ‘cool'?" "It means when something's great." Tommy and Chris stroked the horse's neck. “See what it's like to take care of one.Eadred caught up to them. "We really have to clean this?” Tommy's nose wrinkled. he brought the horse back to the barn. Put me down!" In the barn." "Years ago. but not where I come from. but move carefully. “Don't they have a word like that in Denmark?" "Maybe in places. “Clean. The boys reached for shovels. Chris said.

Eadred turned his full attention to grooming the horse then paused. Dean Stevens would accompany Richard for their talks.” Eadred stared hard at the boy.Eadred nodded. Lots of times. Tommy and Chris continued working." **** The following two months passed with unprecedented swiftness for both Eadred and Portland. who was more than halfway through the first draft of a book about Viking life from the viewpoint of a man who'd actually lived it.” Tommy shrugged." "Did you train horses back in Denmark?" "No. I was a soldier. . for." "But someday?" "Probably. training and caring for Chief. Tommy shrugged. an idea striking him. I'll talk to Pete. He's still very hard to handle. “Just askin'. Though dreams and memories of home still plagued him. “I like that game. “Tell me how to beat it. "Yes. to everyone's surprise. He spent mornings and early evenings at Pete's farm. he'd spend the afternoon talking to Richard. After leaving Pete's in the late morning. but he seemed no fonder of Eadred than the Viking was of him." "Are we really going to have to shovel out this crap for the next month?” Tommy raised an eyebrow in Eadred's direction." "Have you ever gotten to level twelve?" "Yeah. They were more helpful than Eadred could have imagined with the horse's training." "Can we watch you train him?" "Sure. even after their month of forced duty was fulfilled. “That's a good name. his life fell into a progressive rhythm.” Chris said in a matter-of-fact tone that almost made Eadred laugh again. “Have either of you ever played the video game Alien Demons?" "Sure." Eadred grinned. the stallion preferred children to adults. Can we ride Chief?" "Not any time soon. Occasionally." "I figured that. Accepting her affection had provided him with unexpected comfort regarding the loss of his family and his old life.

” Portland grinned." "It's because you're already a dangerous fighter." To Eadred. In his world.” Portland pressed her body closer to Eadred's. He squeezed her. he could get a job. an education. She'd opened up to him like no one ever had. He wished he had something substantial to offer her. he'd been considered a very good provider. Cort never paid attention to the philosophy." "Cort was lucky he could spell his own name. combined with his diligent study." "At least you have an excuse. And he and Jones did show me how to shoot." "But I'm impressed with the philosophy behind karate." "And pizza. With help from Portland and the archeologist. it's saving me a bundle on landscapers.” she told him one night as she lay in his arms. Not even his freedom. a life. It's really not about violence. but Smith still eats it almost every night when you're playing those damn games. “It's not like you're my slave. so I should do something. She seemed to have completely forgotten about that disturbing part of her life. They have been giving me difficulty about those martial arts classes I signed up for. and he realized he'd fallen quite deeply in love with her. "You don't have to do this. “I think you paid for the delivery boy's new sports car. regretting his mention of Cort. Portland and Richard had been pressing the agents to allow Eadred citizenship. Eadred spoke fluent English in record breaking time. but I think you're keeping the soy dog companies in business." "Yes. let alone understand the philosophy of martial arts. damn it. I wonder if he'll ever tire of those?" "I doubt it.” Eadred raised his eyes to heaven. But since he got over you beating him at that Alien Demons or whatever it's called. "You can't keep him in limbo forever. but here he had nothing. “Give him a chance to live." "You can wipe out a fruit stand. Then.Richard also helped Eadred practice English." "You can't understand how good pizza is to someone who's never had it before. he could finally." "What I eat alone makes up for it. though. citizenship was like a glowing jewel in the horizon. “The games. Eadred would work around Portland's house. Once Richard left for the day." "Well. ask .” Richard had argued with Jones one afternoon. It's a method of training the body as well as the mind. with that piece of paper. According to Portland and Richard. he's been almost nice. chopping wood and gardening. with pride." "I'm living in your house." "He's not so bad." "Ah.

All things from my time." "Can't they? According to Richard they're very good at hiding and covering up. “Ever since I was a little girl. her eyes glistening with humor and desire." "I would have loved to see your time." "I want to know. He told me crop markings have been found all over the world. I am a man of the past.Portland to be his wife. “The government will have to do something about you. He'd pull me into his arms and tell me I was going to be his wife. “Childish fantasy. That's why I learned to speak so many ancient languages. I feel like I'm living lies. You are a fantasy come true for me. yet I must disguise this fact. I can see it in your eyes. They can't hide you forever. I always had this silly fantasy. It's like my life in the past. Eadred." "I know how much you want to make a life for yourself.” Portland placed a hand to his cheek. Greek. “I used to picture this warrior in chain mail and leather riding up to me on a war stallion." "You excite me. I've been interested in the past." "Especially when they're not given the opportunity to learn.” Portland ran her fingertips over his chest. Killed." "What do you mean?" "I was a mercenary. “I'm anxious to see it. I fought and killed." "So am I. Do you have any idea how many men lost their lives at the end of my blade?" .” Portland said. What about Roswell?" "Roswell? What have you and Richard been talking about?" "Only things that might be. The tattoo on my hip is a symbol from a crop marking." "It still excites you. But I have also had contact with an alien race. her gaze holding his.” She drew a deep breath and released it slowly. “Tell me. That much the government will allow me to say." She smiled and turned away." "People fear what they don't know. "Richard's exhibition at the museum begins next Saturday." "Okay." He tilted her face up to his and kissed her forehead. like Latin." "I can be no woman's fantasy without my manhood." "You dreamed of this?" She shook her head. He told me about other UFO sightings that all governments have concealed. Chinese. “It's too silly.

” Smith cocked his head to one side. I earned more for my family that way and I had been trained since childhood to become a warrior. stealing a roll off the basket in the center of the table. Yes. I've seen the battles on television. “I know it sounds incredibly selfish. I could have built ships. Eadred. “Smith and I have gone through hell convincing our superiors to allow this. her voice a whisper against his lips. We've really stuck our necks out for you on this one. Little has changed when it comes to people fighting for power. but I'm glad you're here. This is for you. He and Portland exchanged glances before he removed the contents. The agents seemed to be in unusually good moods. straddling his body. It was a different time. yet this world has so many good things too. “These are to help you practice for your citizenship test. **** Less than an hour later. "No. his expression serious." "Why?” he asked. Eadred." Portland brushed a lock of hair from his brow.” Smith said. but there were times when I knew what I did was wrong. I'd have never fully understood the magic of this world. yet I still did it. I would say I'm glad for a new start in this time—if I'm allowed it. If it hadn't been for the loss of those I loved.much more pleasant methods. Several books and a video. I'm just sorry for the loss of your family. not completely trusting his good fortune. Jones carried a paper shopping bag in one arm. Moments later. "We have a surprise for you." "If not for you. "You're letting him take the test?” Portland's face brightened. “That would be a surprise for me.” Jones held up his hand." "War destroyed lives then just as it does now. Smith and Jones joined them at the table.he thought as he took her face in his hands and explored a mouth he'd learned to know well yet would never tire of. “War was a way of life for you. "Not another video game?” Eadred wasn't sure he could take much more of those damned electronic toys." Eadred's gaze flew to the agents." "You have other methods.” She slipped her legs around his waist."You did what you had to. Eadred and Portland were just sitting down to dinner when the doorbell rang." Jones handed the bag to Eadred. Was he really going to be allowed a normal life? Or at least as normal as life could be for a thousand-year-old Viking who'd been abducted by aliens? . I can't express my gratitude in words. “That's wonderful!" "There are conditions." Portland rested her head against his chest. but I chose war. Yes." "I could have farmed.

” Smith said to Eadred. he wanted a life with Portland more. a job. must never mention it. "Eadred. Though confused about what had happened and curious about his abductors and why they'd chosen to freeze him instead of return him to his rightful home. "There's too much at risk to hint around. You've been saying you want a life.” Smith said.” Jones continued. Remember. Portland took his hand and squeezed it." "How long does he have to study?” Portland asked. There's a lot of history and governmental questions on that test.” Eadred said. please." "We want you to have this chance. Gazing into her eyes. "No. He could get an education. "Will you just zip it about what happened and take the damn test!” Smith stood. he knew what she wanted. Eadred. and marry Portland. What does it matter if you were on that ship or not? You can do anything you want now. the abduction never happened. Portland. pacing the room. but we're also affected by your decision. Simply by omitting a single fact. and I want you to stay—" "Alive?” he supplied." Eadred knew he shouldn't feel any conflict. "It's not about me. You don't need to wait the usual amount of time before applying. and Richard are also affected. Ann." "It did happen. if she'd have him." "Do you want me to do this?” he asked. immigration has made an exception for you. In other words. We got them to push up the process for you. "Okay.” Her soft. warm hand stroked his cheek. “I want you to be happy. “It didn't. “You. it's not just about you. “I know how you feel about what happened. We're giving you the opportunity to have one." "You're threatening us?” Portland breathed. his voice cool as his gaze penetrated each of the agents. I know you don't want to hide it. but you must cooperate or else this chance will be taken away. Portland's sister Ann."We think you deserve it. The offer Smith and Jones made was good. “Take it. We don't think you'll have any problem with the interview since you've picked up spoken and written English like wildfire. and the dean of that college have already been spoken to by our associates. staring into his eyes. "Here's the condition. “I know we're not supposed to get emotionally involved. “When's the test?" "Due to your special circumstances.” he said. and the few of us who know about your abduction.” Jones told them. .” Smith placed a heavy hand on Eadred's shoulder. he could have a new life.” She gripped his forearm. Your friend Richard. and don't be a jackass. which may or may not be a benefit.

we've got nothing to go on. “What people don't understand.” Smith called over his shoulder as he and Jones headed for the front door."Two months. Like hiding evidence. but not knowing what happened to his sons and daughter plagued him. She giggled and slipped her arms around him.” Smith said. “Confidence. Not until he had something real to offer her. the request to forget his alien experience would have been little bother. “never a word about the abduction." "I know how you feel. “I think they were considering killing you before. “Until one of those damn ships lands and the little green men get off and start talking to us. I like that. you know. I might have placed you in more danger. If it hadn't been for his children. he'd be a jackass not to take it." "Lots of time. At least she seemed happy. What had happened to them? The only ones who might have answers were the companions of the little man who'd saved his life so long ago." Eadred glanced at Portland and raised his eyes to heaven." "How will anyone ever understand UFOs and alien beings if the facts keep getting buried?" "We don't have many facts. and as Smith had so succinctly stated. And if I didn't agree to their terms. the words catching in his throat. What had he almost said? I love you.” Jones said." "I'll even help you. I—” He stopped. once the meal was over and he and Smith prepared to leave. Soon he would be an independent man again and could really please her in every way. If possible.” Eadred said. I don't want to do that. .” Jones said. [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter Eleven Eadred immersed himself in preparation for his citizenship test. "Fear of national panic. It was true. Maybe someday they could have children. “We can cut our game time in half and study. kept him awake nights long after Portland had drifted to sleep beside him." "Why does the government want to hide alien contact?” Portland ventured." "I know. Portland slipped into Eadred's arms. Once they were alone. "Just think about passing that test.” Eadred murmured. they fear. he practiced English even more diligently than before. kissing his cheek. Now he had the opportunity. Jones raised an eyebrow. but he wasn't ready to admit it.” Smith shrugged. "Remember.

“Maybe you should consider it. He'd adjusted well to the modern world.” Eadred told her.” Smith shrugged.” Smith said one evening over dinner. but I know they're not going to leave you alone. "Well. now you want me exposed." Portland looked annoyed. You think you two had no privacy with me and Jones next door. If you let them get it out of their system." "I'm not going on television. he sank into what the modern world called depression. “See you at the end of the week. I have to hit the road. I'll tell you." "First you want to keep me hidden. What would it be like. "All these tests. even for a little while. Even Richard put his book aside and spent most of his time practicing with Eadred. the agent spent much time helping Eadred study." With the Viking exhibition opening that weekend. “We can talk more with Richard after the museum closes tomorrow night. it might not be a bad idea. and he said." "You know. “People are bound to be curious. it's nice that we don't have to follow you so closely anymore. especially if they find out you're staying here. “What are you doing? For nearly a week you haven't even looked across the table at me during dinner. and Portland nodded. ." "How can I be bored with so much to learn?” Eadred replied without raising his eyes from his notebook. Eadred. As promised.” Eadred said." Eadred and Portland exchanged glances.” Smith said between mouthfuls of baked potato he'd stolen from Eadred's plate. “Don't worry about it. Eadred tossed him a hungry glare and jerked the plate away. Portland tugged it away from him. I hate the damn press. now that you've gone public. “I'm not so sure I like it now that he's gone public. what do you think will happen if reporters get wind the Viking is living here?" "Richard suggested I move closer to the university. The dean of that university keeps pushing for the newspaper and television interviews the press wants."I think you speak better than I do. seeing what had once been everyday items to him displayed behind glass walls. oddities to the people around him? "Do you really think I should move near the university?” Eadred asked Portland after Smith had gone.” Smith glanced at the pile of books on the table beside Eadred's half empty plate. “You must be bored out of your mind. If he dwelled too deeply in his memories. "They paying for it?” Smith asked. Eadred was both anxious and apprehensive about viewing relics from his time. mostly because of Portland. they'll eventually leave you alone." "The man's busy.” Smith stood. but partly because he forced himself to recall his past like a dream." "Look. You can't make up your mind. Portland and Eadred had promised Richard they would visit.

He stood. “Let's go upstairs. making a loud razzing sound. he slipped her T-shirt over her head and unhooked her bra. “I guess we can eat later. That's all you can do—Hey!” Ann snarled. placing her fork aside and reaching for his hand." "And you call yourself a doctor?” Portland snapped at her sister." "Drive defensively and pay attention. "Most people just don't use their brains. pretending to search through her pocket book. She truly didn't have the stomach to watch as her sister drove. "It seems simple enough.” Ann said. “It's nothing. We've been friends for years." Replying with a sensual growl. "Absolutely nothing to it. It sounds amazing. "Eadred. wonderful woman.” Eadred said." . as Ann wove through the Boston traffic at a frightening pace." Portland raised her eyes to heaven as they pulled into a parking lot across from the museum. he thought how lucky he was to have the chance for a new life with this sweet.” He buried his face in her neck. **** Portland sat in the back seat." "You and Richard have been on the phone a lot lately. tugging her into his arms. Ann grinned.” She stared at him through her lashes.” Portland tossed her sister a knowing look as they stepped out of the car and walked toward the museum." Portland closed her eyes and clung to him. she shrieked with laughter as he tugged her into his arms and blew his lips against her belly. but Eadred seemed to be having a fine time in the front passenger seat as Ann—of all people—offered him driving pointers. his beard tickling her neck as his soft lips caressed her flesh.” Ann told him. He carried her up the stairs to her bedroom. what if Smith or Jones come back?” Crossing her arms over her breasts." "Aren't you hungry?" "Yes. "I'm so glad I'm not working tonight."Only if you take me with you. jamming on her brakes as a cyclist peddled across the street. fragrant body. He's been telling me about it on the phone. Moments later. buried in her warm. “Idiots! Then they wonder why they end up in accidents. “And I want satisfaction. "I'm looking forward to learning how to drive. “Richard is so excited about this exhibition.

don't start. You must be particularly excited about this. Then we can say we heard it all from a real Viking." "Oh. and a bronze neck ring." "Portland.” Ann said." "Romance turns up in the most unusual places." Ann looked thoughtful. Imagine the happy reunions when he gets back from a dig." "I'm sure it will be very interesting." "You can tell us about everything.” Portland said. Not tonight." "They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. “I always picture Vikings as warriors. of course. “Of course. He approached the nearest one.” Portland said. “Richard would have given us a private tour first. silver brooches. Eadred scarcely heard her as his attention focused on the items beneath the glass. "A warship?” Ann asked. “Cargo."Friends. It could never work between us.” Portland said.” Ann searched through her pocket book for the museum passes. There were several gold arm rings. Eadred." "We traded often too. Sigyn gave it to me. Ann smiled at the couple. I'm tied to the hospital and he travels the world. "Did you wear that stuff?” Portland asked. Portland beside him. Eadred shook his head." They showed their tickets and stepped through a pair of tall black doors. “You'd be the expert on strange beginnings. “Besides. glancing at Eadred as he took her hand. Several long glass cases filled with artifacts lined the walls." They stepped through the tall glass doors of the museum and observed visitors milling around the enormous lobby or waiting in line to enter the exhibition hall. unsure of what he'd see and feel." "I couldn't leave the hospital any sooner. "I had an armband. An enormous banner depicting a Viking ship dangled from the ceiling. "I'm going to find Richard. Eadred's heartbeat quickened as he entered the hall. “You might have something there.” She smiled." . disappearing in the crowd." "I wish we could have gotten here sooner.

though. The bones were tiny. most of the artifacts stood in roped-off scenarios." Portland's hand tightened on his arm.” Richard guided them to the display. both on the battlefield and at home. his pale blue eyes shimmering with excitement." "A what?” Portland wrinkled her nose in disgust. He felt a touch of pride that even after so many years. Horik had a silver one. “It's very attractive." Richard shouldered his way through the crowd. I'm just glad other people can finally appreciate it. pointing to a detailed silver spoonlike piece fastened to a leather necklace. He forced himself to appear unaffected by memories.. "What's over there?” Portland asked. I brought it to him the last time I was .” Portland slid her hand over Eadred's thick biceps. You have to come into the next room. it wasn't so difficult looking at the artifacts. the others close behind him. “There are years of work in this hall. "Eadred! Portland!” Richard approached.” She pointed to another T-shaped item dangling from a piece of rope." "I had a lot of help. "No. "Thepièce de résistance . don't you think?" "There are many people."I don't blame her. "Thor's hammer. “It's going great. probably about six years old. his height allowing him to clearly view the display by looking over their heads." She laughed. rather than hidden behind glass.. Mine was silver. She leaned closer to the glass. Actually. The remains of a Viking child. A particularly large crowd huddled around a display in the center of the room.” Richard looked almost sheepish. not bronze. I had one. Ann strolled close beside him. I'm almost afraid to ask what that is. “You've got me there." "It's an ear scoop. much fresher than this dried old corpse. “None of us could believe it when we found this. . He was no stranger to death and had seen countless bodies. his people captured the interest of a modern age." "And you wore it around your neck?" "What else would you do with it? We didn't have medicine cabinets back then." They followed the archaeologist into an adjoining room where." "Maybe that was yours?” She winked. “You've done well. "It was used to clean out the ears. In spite of himself his head spun. replicas of life in an ancient Scandinavian village. Many wore such amulets.” Eadred said. There are displays of larger items like weapons and armor as well as farm tools and a ceremonial wagon. Eadred stood behind his companions. home.

almost disintegrated with age. What if it was him? I don't know if he or my other children grew up and had good lives. okay?" He nodded.” she said. It could be one of his.” She reached out to him. I'm sure Richard forgot to mention it too." "Eadred. something that had never happened to him before.” he muttered. “Please." Hurt shone in her eyes. He just wanted to breathe the smoggy air outside the museum. Sympathy glistened in her eyes and he wanted it. Let the pollution of the world drag him back to reality. . Freja. These historical displays were nothing more than a tomb to him. What was happening to him? Had this world robbed him of his manhood in every way? Not only was he a kept man. The serpent at the bow seemed to laugh at him. knowing he failed to hide what he felt.” he snapped. My time has passed. Portland caught up to him in the lobby and grasped his arm. If she touched him. He cursed himself for venting his pain and confusion on her. almost knocking a woman off her feet." Eadred shook his head. "Eadred!” Portland called to him. but he couldn't seem to help himself. supported by Portland and Richard's university. I didn't know about the body. and of loved ones who were forever a memory. “Wait! Are you all right?" He glanced at her. forcing his way through the crowded hall. I'm sorry. making the ship banner sway. The clothing. “I'll tell them we're leaving. The image of Erik. but he'd lost control of his emotions in the presence of another person. He couldn't face her or anyone else right now. "Excuse me. He never would have—" "It's not his fault. “Erik was just that age. a reminder of a world he could never visit again. We can go somewhere for coffee and talk. It could be any child. and Horik rotting in graves was suddenly unbearable. but he stepped back. his lips set in a grim line as she hurried back to the exhibition hall. Rather than wait for Portland. reminded him of an outfit Erik had so often worn. "Don't. fighting tears until his head throbbed. kissed him." "It's only beginning for you. but he ignored her and continued walking. The remains of a Viking child. He needed to get away. his fragile hold on his emotions would be destroyed. "Ann and Richard are waiting for us. He was a warrior! Placing feelings aside meant life or death! "Eadred. Eadred hurried out of the museum and stepped into the warm Boston night.What had once been a plump child's face was now a grayish skull. She deserved better. He turned away. A breeze wafted through the lobby.

Ann? We'll get out and walk for a while. I'm worried about how upset he was. “He couldn't have gone far and Richard is searching in the other direction." Ann parked at the curb. It's normal for him to grieve. “I hope he's okay." "He speaks English well." "Go ahead. Ann. He might have stopped for coffee or something to eat. it was only a few short months ago that he lost his entire family at once.” Richard had snapped. To him." Portland nodded. Portland said. but I have to get home and go to sleep. "I should have said something about the skeleton. Portland." "I'm not so worried about that—like you said. “Thank you for looking. he had left his own exhibition to search for his friend. I have a long shift tomorrow. "Why don't you pull over. He'll get back to the museum or call you. When Richard had learned of Eadred's reaction to the remains of the Viking child. The exhibition had long since closed for the night. why didn't I stay with him?” Portland snapped.” Portland sighed. "Will you for God's sake calm down? He's a grown man." "Good idea.” Ann murmured under her breath. “He'll show up and he'll be fine." "But he's not familiar with Boston. As the women walked down the dark streets. ." "Of course he's upset." It was close to midnight when the women met Richard at the museum. Ann glanced at her watch. Are you sure you don't want me to drive you home?" Portland shook her head." Ann placed a hand on her sister's shoulder. You'll see. “I wasn't thinking about anything except myself and my work!" Portland and Ann reassured him that it wasn't his fault before leaving the museum with the hopes of catching up to Eadred. so worried about Eadred's disappearance that she forgot to panic as her sister stepped on the gas and sped through a yellow light. or any city for that matter! What if he goes to a bad section and gets mugged?" "I get the feeling it would be the mugger's funeral.**** "Damn it. “I'm really sorry. he's not a child.

her head still pounded. "What?” Richard glanced at her over his shoulder.. Together.” Richard said.. "Where should we look now?” Richard asked. Loud music sounded from behind peeling black walls of a dive that oozed the scent of booze and cigarettes. Several people clapped for him and one woman dressed in a skin-tight black mini dress shouted for him to go on. “It's impossible!" "What?" "That guy singing sounds so familiar. you're right. "You know." Ann waved to them as she stepped into her car and drove away.” Portland pressed her fingertips to her temples. ash trays.” She pointed down a street where a few random lights glowed from restaurants and bars.” Richard stared at Eadred. A voice accompanied the music—a deep. "This is too weird."We're going to look a little more. Eadred ignored them as his gaze fixed on Portland. "No way. Eadred sang into the microphone attached to a karaoke machine." Portland grasped Richard's arm as the doors opened and a bald-headed." Eadred glanced in their direction and placed the microphone aside. grasped Richard's sleeve. “he sounds pretty good.” He shrugged." . Standing on a stage in front of tables littered with booze bottles. and dragged him inside." "Come on!” Portland paid the man collecting the cover. "What the hell are you doing?” she demanded as he approached. “We could try up that way again. In spite of the aspirin she'd swallowed. Something about his phrasing. male voice belting out the blues. Portland stopped for a moment and listened." Richard paused. staring in windows or stepping inside restaurants to check tables out of view. and you're having fun?" "I guess I was having a little fun. Several people glanced at them as they approached the stage. "I have no idea. “We have been going crazy trying to find you. “Scandinavian soul music. “You know. and leftover food. didn't remotely fit in among half-dressed guys and girls downing alcohol and groping each other in the dimness. I shouldn't have left like that. Portland didn't even care how she and Richard. giving a clear view of the tiny bar.” she muttered. they walked the stretch of road. dressed in yuppie casual. tattooed man stepped outside. “I'm sorry. “I'll give her a lift when we find him.” Richard raised an eyebrow.

her anger faded.” He shrugged. such things are fun. Just three or four glasses. I don't know how long it will take to mourn them. I'm sorry about the exhibition." "Boys and girls. let's have the little love chat outside. Perhaps the rest of my life. but I am alive. glancing around the bar.” The youths waved to him. Eadred. I don't want to talk about some of the things I thought about.” Eadred turned to a group of four young men and women seated at a table in a corner of the room. I would give anything to have my children back again." "Just a moment. but I can understand why you did. you shouldn't have." "Of what?" "It's called vodka." "I am?" . “And you're still coherent?" Portland raised in eyebrow. “They were telling me about their semester. Drinking. “It had nothing to do with you. Very informative. singing. thinking about the past and the present.” he said. “This is hardly the place." "I'm not. I just had to be alone for a while. “It reminded me a little of the men I traveled with." "You went drinking with those kids?" "They're college students. I miss them very much. eating." As she gazed into his eyes. I should have told you before I left the museum. Once in a while. but I do want you to know you're the biggest reason I want to remain a part of this world.” He stopped walking and tugged Portland close. “So how did you end up chumming around with those students at the bar?" "I walked for a very long time. “You never told me you were a drinker. “I'm very sorry. I must come to terms with my losses and my life."No." "But you don't drink regularly?" "Portland." "You had three glasses of vodka?” Richard's lip curled. And we hardly drank. “Thanks for the drinks. will you leave the man alone?” Richard snapped as the three walked outside. shall we?” Richard muttered. He picked up a tall glass and drained the contents before nodding to the group. cupping her face in his hand." Eadred shook his head.” He draped his arm over her shoulders as they continued walking toward the museum. "See ya around. Richard stayed a respectful distance ahead. and Portland silently thanked him for realizing she and Eadred needed a moment of privacy. “Eadred. "And?" "I loved my family.

Eadred beside her. I know."You must know that. Relationships are similar. The song I was singing is my favorite—at least in this time." . "Yes.” He glanced toward the car. For a moment." "Of course you can." "We can talk more at home?" Portland liked the way he said “home. Eadred brushed Portland's mouth with a kiss. I overheard their conversation about college and asked them some questions. “Where the hell did you learn to sing the blues?" "Old Viking tradition. some things have stayed the same.” Richard shook his head. "Yes. then chuckled at the half smile on his lips. “You must have some sense of how I feel." "I hoped you felt for me." "Just one question.” She smiled and slid into the back of Richard's car. You already are. but I'm learning." Portland stared at Eadred in surprise. People enjoy many of the same entertainments. We started talking.” He stopped several feet from Richard's car. “Don't even try to fake that one." Her heart skipped a beat." "I more than feel for you." "I bring the radio with me when I chop wood. “Richard is waiting. I realized that in spite of all the changes. the room was crowded. I was reminded of home." "Not quite." "Patiently. “I think it is. Portland. Richard smirked. When I stepped inside. "Is everything okay?” the archaeologist asked. The archaeologist slid into the driver's seat and waited." "What are you saying?" "I'm saying that for the first time I realized I can be a part of this world. so I got a drink and sat at a table near those students." "And singing?” A smile played around Portland's lips. “About the bar?" "I heard the music and the sound of people drinking and talking.” Portland said. but she took pride in the steadiness of her voice.

” Richard didn't bother hiding his sarcasm. Let her rip. Portland winced and shouted to Richard over Eadred's voice.” Portland said as she switched on the air-conditioning in their room. sure. I thank you on behalf of my people.” Portland murmured. I'd have asked you long ago." "So what's your favorite song from your time?" "Always the archaeologist. "My children and I sang it all the time. Your work is very important. “I see what he meant!" "This is culture!” the archaeologist shouted back.how many women can claim to be the girlfriend of a man who walked straight off the pages of a historical romance novel? **** To save Richard from driving them back to Vermont.Portland smiled. Richard." "And that was your favorite song?” Richard's brow furrowed. How many other archaeologists can claim praise from a genuine man of the past?" Portland rested her head against Eadred's shoulder and thought. "I did. “You know. but that is the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me about my work.” Eadred said." "Guess there was no Rock-a-bye Baby back then.” Portland teased. "Just natural curiosity. “Our songs are very different from what you're accustomed to. “I think. Eadred. “I didn't know that. If I'd have known you could sing. Richard. "Richard was pleased when you said you'd move nearer the university—at least for a while. “I told you. "Oh. I've won awards and done interviews all over the world." Richard glanced at the Viking." Eadred finished the song with a grin." . You ensure the past is not forgotten. "I want to get these interviews or whatever they're called over as quickly as possible." "That's the whole point. Portland and Eadred decided to spend the night in a hotel on the outskirts of Boston." Eadred looked at Portland and shrugged before bellowing out a song that made 1980's heavy metal sound like Gregorian chants. "I did appreciate the exhibition. Give us a little Viking serenade." Eadred looked skeptical.

very soon. “Eadred. That way they might get bored with me. Eadred was grateful for the agents’ help in ensuring that Stevens and the university didn't take advantage of his situation. Eadred. He moved to the other breast. "I wish I could freeze this moment. pounding heart. she kissed his cheek. licking and nipping gently until she mewled with desire. Portland. hair-roughened ones. As they lay. Soon. my darling! Yes!" Unleashing the hold on his passion. he drove her to a shattering climax.” he purred. When her panting breath. Until he was a self-supporting citizen.” Portland approached and placed her hands on his chest. sated. kneading tenderly. Eadred smiled. Portland sighed. He claimed her slowly at first." Smiling. staring into his eyes." "It might be better if they think I'm a hoax. “None of this might ever be over. “But maybe it won't be so bad. then focused on one breast.” Richard glanced at Eadred before fixing his gaze on the road. As he slid down her body. and mewls of pleasure told him she was on the verge climax. sensuous strokes that pushed her ever closer to the edge without allowing her to slip into bliss. Her fingers bit into his shoulders as she moaned with passion. At least this way I can answer questions about what life was really like for my people.” she whispered against the hollow of his shoulder." "Sometimes it's best for time to plunge ahead. the university probably did own a part of him. she gasped. Clinging to him. oh! Yes. his hands tight on the car's steering wheel. his body half draped over hers. Callused palms slid down her shoulders and covered her breasts. he thrust into her in a shorter.” He slid his arms around her and kissed her. her eyes slipping shut as she ran her hands down the length of his arms. her arms and legs vicelike. rolling her onto her back and looming above her. Eadred pulled her into his arms. tempting her with long. he joined her in bliss. that . Eadred raised his eyes to heaven. You're a topic of news and conversation. With his pulse racing and body tingling with ultimate pleasure." [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter Twelve "Don't be worried."Eadred. savoring the sensation of warm flesh and hard muscle. Ever since he—and Smith and Jones—had agreed to the television interview. The dean somehow felt he owned Eadred. Even if people think you're a hoax. Richard had been a wreck. “I love you too. “I love you. His fingertips traced her collarbone and throat." They undressed and slipped naked beneath the sheets. faster rhythm that stole her breath." "I suppose you're the wrong person to talk with about freezing time. you'll still attract attention and speculation. he whispered in her ear. Her smooth legs entwined with his hard. his mouth danced across her belly. you know. teasing the pebble-hard nipple. “Be careful what you wish for.

All right. And I was also thinking about you." "I just want you to be prepared. I know the truth of my existence—the whole truth. Smith and Jones still question me. and Portland's safety depends on us forgetting you were ever abducted. but remember how my assistant ended up. but no! He says this television talk show will be better for the university. Have you thought of a title yet?" "I was sitting at my desk making notes yesterday afternoon when it hit me." "My God. please. The hostess." "Forgetting? I don't think so. My safety. In a few days. not on national television. “Thor. That means the same group of aliens who saved my life are still in existence. I'm calling itRediscovering Thor . Janine. These people are like vultures! You know ever since we started releasing information about you. Isn't it a popular one?" "Are you kidding? It's one of the top shows in the country. your safety. I should have talked that SOB Stevens into arranging another magazine interview. has her face plastered all over the papers and magazines. maybe I want a little notoriety too. I know you don't like all this attention." "But in private. Huh. "You've asked me that twenty times.would be over. Eadred." . You're enough to make a man nervous. Most people don't really believe you're a Viking. He'd already passed the written test with flying colors." "I somehow thought you'd be happier about this talk show. there has been all kinds of controversy. I've worked very hard to gain respect in my field. I tell them all the same thing. Just last week they showed me photographs of new crop markings that match my tattoo. Let people believe what they want. please keep quiet about the alien abduction! I know it's a bug up your backside that you have to hide all the facts about what happened to you. What do you think?" A smile played around Eadred's solemn mouth. so going on the country's top talk show isn't exactly first on your list for enjoyment. huh?" "I thought you might like that. How do you think that makes me feel?" "I can't imagine. "You're sure you're not nervous?” Richard asked." "Isn't this exactly what you and the university wanted?" "I just want a record of the truth. I told you we already have a publisher interested in the book I wrote about you?" "Yes. on our own ground. Imagine me being involved in a hoax of any kind? Disgusting!" "Every reporter we've spoken to has mentioned the possibility of a hoax. Portland had been as excited as he was. he'd have his interview with the Immigration Department." "What are you so worried about? We've spoken to reporters before.

Eadred. I hope this interview goes well." "Odin. To me. You think I should have shaved off my beard for the show?" Eadred tossed Richard a skeptical look." "I haven't had alcohol since the night of the exhibition.” Richard pulled the car to the side of the road. No Odin." "Luck? Is that something based on fact? Can you really wish luck? I mean." "Oh." "Even worse. Besides.” Richard glanced skyward. There's no Valhalla."I don't mind so much. and—" "I think you're much more upset about it than I am. You have no faith or hope at all. but if it doesn't." "I've told you before." "Yet you believe in angels and a horned devil. “Does Ann know?" "Why should Ann care about Portland's religion?" "So she's telling you there really is an Odin?" "Who says there isn't? Maybe your God is Odin. The archaeologist glanced at the Viking's own dark. The cynicism of this age." "I'm not upset. No Valkyries. and the cameras in your face. I'm not going to blame God or the devil. all right. "Still with the Odin thing. “And here we are. religion is simply another part of past cultures to study. wiry facial hair. "She calls herself Wiccan." "And maybe you've had a little too much vodka again. “Okay." "She's a what?” Richard nearly sped through a red light. huh? Portland hasn't spoken in depth about Christianity yet?" "Portland's also a pagan.” Eadred muttered." "I don't believe in religion of any kind. Eadred. but this is different. Good luck. man. I've been in documentaries before. but managed to jam on his brakes in time. the beard makes my nose look smaller. so you're not the ideal guy to ask. give me strength." "I have hope. is it something you can touch and study?" ." "What about all those people looking at you. Just the facts.

when I spoke with you backstage I was shocked by how well you've mastered the English language in such a short time. and it will be over in a hour. disappeared around the time of Eadred's discovery and his body was recently recovered—apparently it was a suicide. Blackstone University released an amazing story. Joining us today is Eadred and the man who discovered him. your assistant. it was discovered the man was alive. The entire team was involved as well as my deceased assistant Jake Phillips." "It wasn't only me. Then he could live like a regular person again." **** "Just a few short months ago.he thought to himself as he sat. “Let's just get this over with. The idea of discussing his life in front of so many people was a bit unsettling. seated beside Ann. This was battle. spoke to the waiting audience in the studio. You almost sound like you've always lived in our time. “We're here to discuss Eadred. there were places Eadred would much rather be. hostess of the world famous talk show.” Janine. Eadred still sensed his discomfort. All he needed was wit and strategy.” Janine approached the stage. but Eadred noted the gesture didn't reach her eyes." Applause sounded as Eadred followed Richard onto the stage. Some people stared with wide-eyed interest. Though Richard had stopped fidgeting. Jake Phillips. Soon the novelty of his story would wear off and people would forget about him. Is there anything you can tell us about that?" "No. There was one in particular he was searching for. He noticed Portland in the second row center."You are such a wiseass. Suddenly his anxiety diminished.” Richard stated. He could handle this now that he recognized it for what it was. Tell us about how you first discovered him and what happened upon his awakening. you know that?” Richard grinned. “Richard. "Thank you for joining us. others an elaborate hoax. aware of the eyes upon him and the tiny microphone clipped to his sports jacket. What made this story so unusual was that once the body was thawed.Janine's Whole Truth . How did you manage to grasp so much so quickly?" . A Viking man had been found frozen in ice in an arctic glacier. Don't panic. His gaze swept the audience without truly noticing the staring faces." Janine smiled graciously.You've fought life-and-death battles. Just answer the questions." "In case those in our audience aren't aware. it's safe to say Eadred is here because of you. "A Viking man in perfect health after a thousand years." "Sounds good to me. Some call him a miracle of God. Knowing she was there somehow made him feel better. There was also the medical staff that cared for Eadred once he thawed. He glanced at the audience. There's been speculation about the relationship between Eadred's discovery and your assistant's suicide. Eadred and Richard watched and listened to the intro from a backstage monitor. archaeologist Richard White. not Jake's death. Truthfully. so this can't possibly affect you. "Eadred. but he figured he owed Richard and the university that much. others with skepticism and disgust.

" "Yes. and war. “The last memory I have is of a battle. I'd say this age. the archaeologist would be lecturing him about keeping his mouth shut. tired of cynics. Eadred. "We did speak to some of the medical staff who had initial contact with you. without fear or regard for himself. taking time to answer Janine's questions and those of her audience. deliberately tossing out several erroneous statements to see if Eadred caught them. What name have you decided on?" . With encouragement from Janine. that the thawing process was completely foreign and inexplicable to them. Still. Throughout the interview. “His memory is what some might call photographic." "Then you must feel as curious as the rest of us about how you survived?" "Right now I'm more interested in my future. he grilled Eadred on details from his age.” Janine said. the anger at certain questions. “However. Smith and Jones couldn't blow him away right on stage. his gaze riveted on Portland. and sick of being an object of curiosity. Others seemed anxious to catch him in a lie. One gray-haired man in the front row introduced himself as a history professor from a prominent college in Boston. is as dark as my own. Richard turned to him. you haven't discovered a way to diminish starvation. “These are highly respected professionals who would have no reason to risk their credibility by involving themselves in a fabrication of your origins. “I can imagine. and was almost sorry he'd asked her to come." "Tell us how you felt about this world when you awakened. “How were you frozen?" If it wasn't for the safety of Portland. I'll admit.” Eadred said." Eadred explained all he remembered from the moment his eyes opened in the hospital to his experiences up to that moment." Janine raised an eyebrow. Now was his chance. that if you really are a man from a thousand years ago—" "Eadred is highly intelligent. They refused to speculate on how this happened. murder. he'd have gone public with the complete truth long ago. can you enlighten us about how you were frozen? Can you tell us what happened a thousand years ago that preserved you until now?" For the first time.” Eadred said. Some people were straightforward. in its own way. "Eadred?” Janine prodded." Again Janine smiled. The man's attitude and interrogation might have amused Eadred had he not felt so damn furious. some might say it's unusual. Eadred knew if they weren't in front of the camera. and the others involved. "I don't remember what happened. He was tired of questions. He was on national television. He noted the tension on her face. You're becoming a citizen and I'm told you've chosen a last name. something unheard of in your time."Diligent study.” Richard interjected. Eadred paused. his eyes wide and his jaw working restlessly. “So in a way he's probably better suited for our time than the Dark Ages. Richard." "You're technologically advanced. They've admitted that they did little to keep you alive.

great." "I am aware and I recognize the coincidence. is he. "This is Portland Ellis.” Portland agreed. It's not Eadred's first language. Knowing him has been an amazing experience. Ellis. He wished they were alone so he could take her in his arms and pretend they were the only people in the world. an expert on body language. Ellis. “Either Eadred is the best liar in the world. Speaking of the truth. what was it like communicating with a man from a thousand years ago who knew nothing of our time?" "We spoke in Latin. isn't he?” Janine grinned. “Is it safe to say. but it was common ground for us. I understand you also live with her." "Like a brother?” Janine raised an eyebrow. “It's not often we see a man's man anymore. we're coming to the close of the show. Ms. Or at least he truly believes he is. did as the hostess asked." . but a hoax. but immigrants used to arrive in the United States on Ellis Island. Portland grinned. Janine's smile appeared genuine." "Can I have a guess?” For the first time." Janine nodded. at least for a little while. but I've found friends who are now like family. His methods of observation are nearly as accurate as a lie detector when it comes to proving if a person is lying or telling the truth. and I think I should tell you that in our audience is Dr. She walked to Portland's seat and asked her to stand. “My family is dead. I'm not sure if you're aware of this." Janine and the audience laughed. “Dr. in your opinion. great grandfather. Pines glanced from Richard to Eadred. “Somehow I don't think you're telling the whole truth. but I've chosen it for another reason. Pines. Ms. gentlemen. Mark Pines. looking uncomfortable but no less beautiful in a pants suit that matched the sky blue of her eyes. many people. in spite of assurance from the government itself. In watching and listening to him and Richard today. the real thing?" "I would say that both of them are sincere in what they've said. believe Eadred is not a real Viking. great. “I certainly consider Eadred part of my family.” Dr. Portland. "And he's very attractive too. or he is. in fact. “Interesting choice. Sorry."Ellis. a Viking.” Janine walked to the front row where a slender.” Eadred replied before Portland.” A smile played around Portland's lips as she glanced at Eadred." "Yes. Portland. you two are more than friends?" "More like family. a language expert who translated for you before you mastered English. middle-aged man with tawny hair and glasses sat on the edge of his chair." "So you're not saying he is a man of the past—" "I have no proof of that.” the hostess said to the men in the audience. “More like a great.

" "Maybe some of that health consciousness should rub off on you.” Janine turned to the camera. Ann with Richard. that could be due to genuine confusion." "Concerned about me. “And I can't think of a better way to spend a long weekend than visiting New York and watching two handsome guys do an interview. "Don't you wish. “You deserve that. Eadred. Richard." . “Fried food will kill you. the four had stopped for lunch at a restaurant a few blocks away from the studio. Portland shared one side of a booth with Eadred." "Two handsome guys. “You drink more coffee than I do on a double shift. taking a bite of her tuna fish sandwich.” Janine winked."But you are saying he is telling the truth—or what he believes the truth to be?" "Exactly so.” He winked. "Hey!” She playfully slapped his hand." "But Stevens thought you might—" "I don't care what Stevens wants." [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter Thirteen "I think you both did really well. "You handled those barracudas like a pro. “You're sure there's nothing you want to tell us about what happened back in the year nine hundred?" "I have no explanation. thank you for joining us.” Eadred stole a French fry from Portland's plate." Richard laughed. eh?” Richard winked at her.” Ann elbowed Richard. Perhaps we'll never really know. "This concludes our show for today. “The Viking iceman." "Just trying to do you a favor.” Eadred stated.” said Dr." "So the doctor says you were holding out on us.” Richard told Eadred.” Ann said. However. Eadred. I'm sure he has buried images about his experience. fact or fiction? Our body language expert says he's telling the truth about his past. “The only time he displayed a bit of uneasiness was when you asked what happened to him. after making him the Soy Dog King. "That's the last time I do a television interview. but there are some who still believe Eadred Ellis's story is nothing more than fabrication. “Stop stealing my food. are you?” Richard turned to Ann with a playful smile. After the show. Pines.

“Eadred. “Don't move!" "I'm a doctor. though." "I don't give a shit if you're God.” Portland glanced at Eadred. "I don't blame you at all about not wanting to do any more television. “some of us are trying to eat lunch without getting sick to our stomachs.” Richard said." "We tried to get to the restaurant in one piece too. wailing. Portland hoped they'd be as happy as she and Eadred. did you have to drag me into this?" "You're the one who did us the big favor by keeping him alive after he thawed out. and sit on the floor." "What's going on over there?” Ann nodded across the dining room. Ann stood and approached them. . would you?" Richard shook his head. get in the center of the room. two tall men in jeans and black sweaters beside her.” Eadred said.” Richard cast the doctor a flirtatious look. One more step and I'll blow your head off!” the gunman growled." "Excuse me. the other patrons and workers behind them. "You! Shut up!” The second gunman bellowed in the crying woman's face. I think I liked you better when you couldn't speak a word of English. Ann's lip curled. Something was definitely brewing between her sister and Richard. Several people screamed. do I. guns in hand. Eadred.” Richard said to Ann." "Not as beautiful as you did in the audience."Boy. you wouldn't have that fat book contract forRediscovering Thor . The tall man aimed his gun at Ann. you two. The second man kicked her to the floor where she sat. "Everybody on your feet!” the taller of the two bellowed. Suddenly the men spun. Not easy with you staring at Ann instead of the road. Portland and Eadred glanced over their shoulders to where the hostess was locking the door. “Eadred. “You could have pulled the plug or something. Now! Move! You in the kitchen! Get your asses out here!" Portland's heartbeat quickened as she." "If she did that. and a woman ran for the door. Portland thought she saw a hint of a blush on Ann's cheeks. “You looked incredibly handsome on camera. and Richard joined Ann in the center of the room. “Everybody else stand up. blood running from her lips.

“I'll do it. Portland resisted the urge to panic.” the archaeologist continued. "Lady. not you!" "We can see that. jumping to her feet. "Get it. he hung up. Moments later. you have a big mouth!” The shorter one took several steps toward Ann and slapped her. Eadred caught her and tugged her back down to the floor. then the shorter one waved her toward the injured man.” the short one shrugged. A shot sounded." "What do you want?” Ann asked. The faster they get here. "You're so smart. "If you tell us what you want. "What do you want?” The manager stepped from the back room. and aimed the weapon at him. noting his size. you pick it up and tell the cop on the other end that unless we get a hundred thousand in cash and a private plane full of fuel. “but she'll still need help. When it does. "At least let me help him!” Ann said. "She'll need help.” Richard stood. "Son of a bitch!” Portland snarled.” Eadred said." The man nearest Portland stood and ran for the kitchen. "I said everybody sit down and shut up!” the taller gunman roared. we're going to kill a hostage every ten minutes until we get what we want. Everyone jumped when the phone rang. they'd like you to talk with—" "I'm not talking to nobody! And they got ten minutes before we start blowing people away. you can make the arrangement. and the man screamed and fell. In the meanwhile." "We're running the show. He stared at Eadred. starting with . we can resolve this situation quickly. the faster we get what we want. “You call the cops back there?” The manager didn't reply. “He said they'll need time to get what you're asking for.” Tom pointed to Eadred who stood and relayed the message to the officer on the other end of the line. Tom. Pretty soon the phone is going to ring. “Good." "Let him go. The gunmen exchanged glances. “Money?" "Not the piddly little bit in this place. Let them come. and the gunman laughed.She whimpered.” the tall man snarled. wiping her cut lips on her sleeve. Portland's gaze followed Ann and Richard as they knelt beside the victim. clutching his leg. tough guy.

“That's three dead bodies. A man and woman leaped on him. who dropped to the ground. “Stay by the phone. Portland. stared at the round black and white clock on the wall above the cash register. “They'll need at least half an hour more. After seven minutes. As it approached the third. tried pulling away from Richard." Tom used his weapon to wave Eadred through the door. she considered tackling the gunman. He held out the receiver. holding her tightly. Tell them they got three minutes or we send your dead ass out there. Eadred and Tom disappeared behind the swinging metal door. blinded by tears. Hang up. kicked the gun ." "Half an hour. "Tom!” the lone gunman shouted." Eadred did as the gunman bid. clutching his arm and bellowing in pain. "Tom! What the hell's going on in there! Tom!" A single shot split the sudden stillness. Richard. How could he look so calm knowing in ten minutes he was going to die? Die. but knew it would do no good. take him in the kitchen and get it over with. finally free of Richard. Richard dove at her. “Answer me. studying his adversaries." "Forget it. “They want to speak with one of you. Portland watched the minute hand pass the twelve two more times. but Tom aimed the gun in his direction. Portland. the phone rang again." Eadred leaned against the register. "Tom. "No! Don't do this!” Portland leapt to her feet. and the shooting victim. Eadred picked it up.you. Eadred was going to be the first to die! He'd survived a thousand years only to be killed by a couple of greedy young punks! What the hell kind of cruel joke was that? He held her gaze and went to join her on the floor.” The tall one looked thoughtful. no! Portland didn't want to think about living the rest of her life without him. save Ann. Her head throbbed. tough guy!" Portland's stomach clenched so tightly it ached." Eadred relayed the message then said. "God!” Portland closed her eyes tightly against Richard's shoulder as crashing sounds echoed from the kitchen. Everyone in the room. damn it!" The metal door flung open as Eadred fired at the gunman.

“If anything had happened to you today—" "Happened to me? You were the one who went vigilante!" "They left me little choice. they flopped. Portland. She sat up." "Yes. walked out of the bathroom. “I thought you might." She giggled. including the two gunmen." He closed his eyes as her warm. Serves those guys right for trying to push around a Viking warrior. “Sometimes I think there's nothing you can't do." Gazing at her. “I'd like to show my appreciation for your uncommon courage. he grasped her waist and smiled. "Remind me to thank Smith again for teaching me how to shoot. moist breath teased his manhood with a prelude of the night to come. When Portland and Eadred finally retired to their hotel room. “I appreciate appreciation.” She smiled. I did what any man would have done to protect his life and his family. . a towel around his waist." "I love you. and squinted as Eadred. sustained fatal injuries. fully clothed. just like you were a guardian spirit over us today." "Just. most people wouldn't have had the guts or the skill to wrestle the gun away from a nut." "That's true.” she admitted. **** Portland awoke to knocking on the hotel room door. encircling his hardness in her fist and squeezing gently. “Still.” He kissed her. “You certainly do seem to have a guardian spirit watching over you." "You are so wrong about that. onto the bed. **** It took the remainder of the day to answer questions from the authorities and fill out paperwork. “how appreciative are you?" "Let's find out. "Did I tell you how much you amaze me?” Portland rested her chin on his chest and gazed into his eyes.” he sighed as her lips replaced her hands on his torso and unzipped his pants.” She sat up and straddled him as she unbuttoned his shirt." "You're making too much of it." "Or the luck. None of the wounded.out of the punk's reach and ran to Eadred.” Eadred said as Richard opened the restaurant door and called for the police to enter. running a hand through her hair.

" "Seems like you just can't keep a low profile. my butt looks huge! You're gorgeous. Whether or not that's the ‘whole truth’ remains a point of controversy." "You're a smart guy.” Smith said. nice job on Janine's show the other day.” Smith winked as he and Jones left the room. thinking how empty her life had been before a thousand-year-old man had stumbled into it. There's a picture. Eadred muttered to himself as he opened the door. “According to experts in the Archaeology Department of Blackstone University as well as government spokespersons." "Uhhh. Portland stood beside him. but Eadred was responsible for saving the lives of over thirty restaurant patrons and staff.” Smith said. and you can have the paper. The headline on the lower right corner read: Viking Man Saves Hostages." Eadred glanced over her shoulder at the black and white photo of him and Portland talking to police outside the restaurant. "What?” Portland shot out of bed. "Smith and Jones. “We were tied up yesterday.” Portland read." "We got here as soon as we could. though. Eadred had recently been revived after being frozen in ice since the year 900.” Smith winked and tossed a newspaper onto the bed. God. [Back to Table of Contents] . Eadred. "Two armed men who held up a restaurant late yesterday afternoon were captured by a man simply known as Eadred. "Heard you had some action last night. Eadred pinched her buttocks and grinned.” Jones shook his head. “Oh. "And I didn't mean that kind of action. “Look. “Don't tell me you have this room bugged too?" "We never had anything bugged." Portland flipped to the next page to continue reading the article.” Jones stated."Who is it?” he demanded. “I think your butt looks great and feels even better." Portland grinned.” Portland slapped a hand to her forehead and collapsed onto the pillows. “And by the way. Eadred picked up the paper. skimming the article. to keep your end of our bargain. clutching the sheet to her breasts. Eadred had just finished a guest spot on the talk showJanine's Whole Truth .

" "Vikings must have had slang. Just remember.” the archaeologist teased. you have another interview scheduled at the university Thursday afternoon. so I was thinking maybe we could go to the beach tomorrow morning?" He wrapped his arms around her and tugged her close. "We'll be going back to Vermont soon. "Save it for the next book. “Wonderful. At least let me be your coauthor. “It's okay. Better yet.” Portland smiled at him as they sat. sipping wine. Unfortunately.” Portland said." "He needs to get a life. Richard grinned. “It cracks me up to hear you talk slang." "I'll see what I can do." "Even after I promised to help you get into the university when you're ready?" "Why do I get the feeling being as smart as he is. maybe I will. Eadred." "You know. "So how does it feel?” Richard carried a pan of stuffed shells to the table and placed it beside the garden salad. The archaeologist had invited them over to celebrate Eadred's new citizenship. He wants to make sure his face is in the middle of all the press we've been getting. I love the beach. How about if I threaten to throw this down the garbage disposal instead. “Now I can get a job and go to school. did I?” Richard reached for his notebook.” Portland said. Eadred.Chapter Fourteen "Now it's official. he's not going to need any help?” Portland said. I never asked about that.” Eadred scooped some of the shells into his and Portland's dishes. picking up Eadred's plate of food before he took the first forkful. “and this vacation will be over. "Sure we did." "You're not going to write a book?” Richard looked crushed. but Eadred snatched it and placed it aside. Eadred winked in Portland's direction." After dinner." "Sounds like a plan. He'd taken the oath that afternoon after passing his verbal examination. "Can't argue there. you can't do it to me." . You used ricotta cheese. at the kitchen table in Richard's home. "It feels good. “Come on. Too much of that will kill you. Portland and Eadred returned to their hotel room and continued the celebration in bed.” Eadred said. Stevens will be there.

" "Much later." His hands tightened on her hips as she moved sensually upon him. he groaned with animal desire. she braced her hands against his chest and spoke against his lips. following her outside. so what?" . her heartbeat leapt. and she resisted the urge to close her eyes. His eyes slipped shut. but I think he liked the idea of writing a book together. Eadred's dark blue eyes fixed on her. “Someone might see!" "No one's around. Better than the crowds. Beneath her fingertips. Portland's body heated."Richard said we can use the private beach behind his house anytime.” Eadred said. His head arched back exposing the strong line of his neck. but for the first time she realized what she was missing by not watching. and besides. considering you've thought about archaeology as a possible profession. Usually. the lashes casting shadows against his cheeks. Her movements increased as the peak of fulfillment neared." "It's something to consider. His lips parted and teeth gleaming white in contrast to his beard. but I'd rather look at you in that bathing suit than read. Portland gazed at him as she guided the pace of their pleasure. He cupped her breasts. "Put me down!” She laughed. his chest expanded as he drew a deep. and then she could no longer see. and he'd told them to swing by before going to the beach and he'd give them a spare key so they could use the house to change. and she watched them soften as lust claimed him. "Don't tell me you'd rather read than swim on a day like this?" "Maybe. “I never thought I looked very good in a bathing suit. They'd phoned him at the university that morning." "Might be good practice for you. his thumbs circling her nipples. “Think about it later.” He swept her into his arms and carried her down the steps. only feel." Straddling his waist. satisfied breath then released it. "He has a great library." Portland glanced down at the black one-piece suit and matching sandals. As she exploded. thick manhood rubbing her in all the right places." "I was only joking. and she lost all semblance of control. The motion of his Adam's apple as he swallowed and the beating of his pulse in his throat aroused her almost as much as his hot. she preferred to close her eyes when she made love. his hips jerked upward and his breath grew ragged as he found his own climax amidst hers." "You were wrong. **** "What a gorgeous morning!” Portland squinted against the sunlight as she and Eadred stepped onto the deck in back of Richard's house overlooking the beach.

” The photographer grinned. When his lips touched her neck." Portland's lip curled with irritation. a shiver of desire ran down her spine. lotion-slicked hands on her flesh. she lathered the scented lotion over his back. he kissed her. muscled frame. My name's .” He stood and headed for the water. rubbing lotion on her shoulders and back. When he had finished. Portland closed her eyes and enjoyed the sensation of his big. Craft magazines. black-haired woman wearing baggy shorts and a tank top over her slim body stared at Eadred. a camera clutched in her hands. dark hair that littered his pectorals.” Portland stood and folded her arms across her chest." "Would you ask him to come a little closer? I'd really like to take some more pictures. then shook her head and smiled. “Nearly stepped on you. Portland spread a blanket on the sand while Eadred pulled out a bottle of sunscreen from her flowered beach bag." Portland glanced over her shoulder at the sound of a feminine voice. didn't I? Look at that.” She pointed at Eadred. and gold and silver chains. “I think I'll get some sun and look through some of my craft magazines. He must have been the most handsome Viking ever. Her fingers tightened in the sparse. A tall. She watched him for nearly half an hour before picking up a magazine and flipping through pages of colorful beads. if he wouldn't mind. it had been a favorite method of flirtation between them. Why are you taking his picture?" "Is he with you?" "Yes. tendrils of dark. irritated by the nerve of the woman. She shook her head. water gleaming off his tall. callused. "Want to go swimming?” he asked. Tugging her into his arms. Portland sighed. “I'm sorry. "Excuse me?” Portland said. crystals. nothing! Portland settled onto the blanket and watched him as he stepped into the water and swam. "Oh! Hello. curling hair grabbing at his shoulders. “He is. Ever since she'd shown him the sunscreen that day on the island. She raised the camera and snapped a couple of pictures. working her way to his chest. “Who the hell are you?" The woman narrowed her eyes at Portland. "Oh my God. He knelt on the blanket and tugged her between his legs. “Isn't he beautiful?" "Yes. imagining what he looked like a thousand years ago on a beach somewhere in Scandinavia. maybe find some new jewelry ideas.On the beach. He stood several feet out." "Okay.

I'm an artist.” Portland said.Stephanie.. “He has a very unusual face. His eyes are so deep. this is Stephanie. "Oh my God. stepping out of the deeper water. “She's an artist." Portland called to Eadred as she and Stephanie approached the shoreline. his body glistening with moisture and matting his chest hair against the solid plates of muscle. but I guess we could find out.” Stephanie breathed. Can't you just see him in leather with some big gold arm cuffs?" "Yes.” Stephanie said.. “Really?" "Really. Rivulets of seawater drizzled down his chest and glistened in the pit of his throat. then turned back to Eadred. Oh yes. Is he?" "What?" "A model?" "No. I do mostly romance novel covers. He looks like one of those knights or gladiators I have to paint for so many books. Portland understood her reaction well enough. "Yes. neither woman spoke. He joined them. his gaze drifting from Portland to Stephanie." "Why? Is she another archaeologist?" Stephanie looked perplexed. She sounded almost as silly as the artist! Eadred stopped in front of them. Let's get some over there. but with that body and those blue eyes . “I always think of them as big blonds. “He might not like it. then chastised herself. For a moment. “What?" "It's a long story." "How about a Viking?” Portland suggested. “Would you mind?" Eadred glanced at Portland and shrugged. She'd known Eadred for months and still felt the same knee-weakening lust each time she looked at him. She paints covers for books and likes to use real people as models." "Will he mind if I take his picture?" Portland considered how Eadred felt about the television and magazine interviews. Your friend—or husband—would make a wonderful model." Portland looked a bit skeptical." "I'd just like to get some shots of you. . She'd like to know if she can take your picture.” Stephanie murmured again.” Portland breathed. The photographer continued. "Eadred.” Stephanie pointed to some rocks gleaming with water and strewn with seaweed close to the shore. “Why not?" "Great. a grin playing around her lips.

" "A job?” Dean Stevens. It was Portland's turn for a bit of sarcasm. "You know. who had been watching in silence from a corner of the office. According to Stephanie.” Portland said. he has virtually no education."You won't mind if I watch?” Portland asked. "What?" "Eadred got a job." "I don't know about that. Portland. he was a natural. “What planet is he from?" "More like what age is he from?" "Huh?” Stephanie wrinkled her nose. Haven't you ever heard of them?” Stephanie turned to Portland." "He's got everything required for this job. “What planet areyou from. Eadred. I don't want to make any promises. .” Stephanie shrugged. but I have a connection who's in town I'd like to call. don't you watch Janine's Whole Truth or read the papers?" **** "Hey. raised an eyebrow. no skills. “Don't be shy.” Richard smiled at them over a pile of papers on his desk. "We have some things we wanted to talk to you about before the interview. She was probably more like a con artist. I think he'd like to meet Eadred. "Romance novels." She directed Eadred through several poses. You're early. "Not at all. "Come on. I'll take some of both of you together. “As a matter of fact." "What for?” Portland asked." "The what?” Eadred stood from where he'd been sprawled on the sand. waves crashing over him." "Well. “He's just about the most qualified man I can think of. don't keep us in suspense. unable to keep the half smile from her lips.” Portland blushed. even if she claimed to be a cover artist. still feeling a bit uneasy. “Can't be anything that good. "He looks like he could be the next biggest cover model in the romance genre. Stephanie. She wasn't sure she liked the idea of another woman ogling Eadred.” Portland replied.” Stephanie winked. I mean.” Richard said.

ran his fingertip along the bookshelves at the far wall.” Stevens stormed out of the office." "Does this look like a joke?” Portland unzipped her bag and pulled out a copy of a contract. so whatever this new job is can wait. “What's this about?" "Eadred was just hired as a model for a big-time romance novel publishing house." Stevens'sjaw clenched. “You've got to be kidding. I already have a photo shoot scheduled for the end of the week. If he starts doing something like this." "Fine. I say go for it. you wouldn't even be alive to do any modeling. “Damn.” Richard said under his breath. of course." Eadred. but if you can make that kind of money just by showing a little skin on a few women's books."Doesn't matter what it is. “The uiversity is making you a better offer.” Portland asked. “do you want to model?" "It's a lot of money. skimming the contents. isn't it?" "A helluva lot. He's not your experiment anymore. If it wasn't for us.” Richard sat back at his desk." Stevens laughed. eyes widening when he saw what Eadred was being paid. Everyone will really think he's a hoax. If that's how you want it. Stevens snatched it from her. "So. “But—" Portland folded her arms across her chest. slamming the door behind him. At times brawn really does pay more than brains—not to imply that you're stupid. They take my picture and pay me money. We need you for these projects." "I still say it's crazy. “He can do whatever he wants. it will ruin our credibility. “I'm afraid it can't. I want to model.” He snorted with mocking laughter as he turned to Portland.” Stevens stood. his gaze frigid and his voice even colder. “Does he even understand what's going on with this modeling business?" Eadred turned to him. “You owe us. "Take the job!” The archaeologist grasped the front of Eadred's shirt." "This is ridiculous!” Steven tossed the contract on the table. We'll continue paying for your room and board and we planned on offering you a fee as well." "Eadred." "Photo shoot?” Richard raised an eyebrow. Richard read over his shoulder. “are we still going to coauthor that book between photo sessions?" [Back to Table of Contents] . “It doesn't take an oracle. his back to the Dean. We want you at our disposal for the next few months for some projects. "Then.

" "Portland. "What are you reading?” he asked. She gazed at the lake where Eadred swam. and she was glad he hadn't taken absolutely every opportunity to work. He laughed. Portland gasped. he rode Chief and chopped wood as often as possible. Though she sometimes missed her quiet life in Vermont. powerful body still made her legs weak and her pulse race. Portland clinging to his arm. The past months had amazed her. and whoever dreamed I'd be dating one of the cover models?" Grasping her arms. spherical object looming overhead." Portland's thoughts scattered as Eadred emerged from the lake. "By the gods. she had traveled with him to New York for his shoots. "Eadred! You're getting me all wet!" He nuzzled her neck and wrapped his arms around her. he always wanted her close by. “Run to the house. running. she noted that his workout would be over soon. Portland wriggled. “Besides. When I hold a woman. I said—" . in spite of the glamorous female models he often worked with. a majority of his activity resulted from continued practice of his favorite pastimes. her belly fluttering at the thought. Six Months Later Placing her book beside her on the sun-warmed grass. his powerful strokes cutting through the water." "Yes. "Why would I want such women when I have you?” he told her. I want to feel curves. so much had changed. The sight of his tall. At Eadred's request. he dragged her atop his chest. Glancing at her watch. when home in Vermont." "No! I'm staying with you. clutching handfuls of his water-slicked hair as his beard tickled her. In addition to swimming. The sun seemed to hide suddenly and both of them glanced skyward. He pushed her away. dropping onto the grass beside her and glancing at the book. She grinned. Though he'd learned to enjoy exercising with free weights. and daily martial arts training. Portland sighed with contentment and stretched. they're like skin and bone.Chapter Fifteen Vermont. terror filling her at the sight of the dark. He was far more ruggedly handsome than most other models. “Another of your romance books. He and Portland loved spending time at home. it thrilled her that. He was satisfied earning a far better than average living and vowed that he would never again devote more time to a profession than to the people he loved.” Eadred breathed as he stood. Then they could start another kind of workout. Between Richard's book being released and Eadred's photo shoots for his new modeling job.

The door opened and two slim. It was refreshing to actually take photos for a book wearing authentic-looking armor rather than the silly horned helmets usually in demand. The mark on his hip was a tracking mechanism in the form of a peace symbol used by their kind for millennia. they decided to leave him in the suspended sleep in which they'd kept him while on the ship. Don't be afraid.We have been searching for you. and in repayment for his rescue. Portland remembered what had happened. who had finally learned what happened to his family. dressed in leather and chain mail similar to what he'd worn in his time. The alien beings had taken them aboard their ship where they examined Eadred and answered questions about his past. **** One month after Portland and Eadred's meeting with the visitors.His words were lost in the roar of the ship as it landed by the lake. but their ship was destroyed in a skirmish when they answered their comrades’ distress call. their descendents learned about Eadred. her heart pounding. **** Portland jumped awake. He clung to her as she shared his grief. The visitors turned to Eadred. the session would soon be over. They left Eadred with the intent to return for him. It wasn't until this past year that the remnants of their spacecraft was found and through old medical records. Portland could scarcely believe any of this had happened. Aerial photos taken later by Smith and Jones revealed these markings were identical to the tattoo on Eadred's hip. blue-eyed women stepped out and approached. Unsure of what to do with Eadred. gazing at her with an unfathomable expression in his eyes. “At least their deaths were quick. There were many things Eadred liked about modeling—the money for one—but he hated being cooped in one place and standing around like a . Their intent had been to return Eadred to his village which they had discovered through reading his thoughts in the same telepathic manner they communicated with him and Portland. As her mind cleared. gasping. Eadred had stumbled upon one of their explorers—the little man in the monastery." Thank the gods. hairless. "Turn to the side.a voice sounded in Portland's head.” she said. She approached him and slipped her arms around his neck. A thousand years ago. Upon arrival at the village. Seeing the Viking's illness. “That's great. An emergency call from their companions called them away from Earth for a brief time. the explorer had taken Eadred to the doctors aboard his ship where he was cured. Eadred. Eadred's wife and children had been killed by warriors serving a rival chieftain. they found it destroyed. She could only imagine the emotional turmoil raging inside Eadred." "I'm so sorry.” Stephanie called to him as the camera flashed. Eadred stood. Her gaze fell on Eadred who sat nearby. He drew a deep breath and released it slowly. tears springing into her eyes. Only when they stood to walk home did they notice that the grass around them had been burned into a pattern.

He'd pull me into his arms and tell me I was going to be his wife. What do you want it for?" "I can't go into detail. A smile tugged at the corner of Eadred's lips. He kicked the stallion to a gallop. “Sure. she laughed aloud. It was long past time he stopped dishonoring her. She wondered what in the world could prompt Eadred to shout so loudly that she heard him in the basement. What in the world had gotten into him? Stepping out the back door. He'd secured a career that would allow him to provide well as a husband. Her entire body tingled with excitement when she caught sight of Eadred. No one other than Portland and himself had witnessed the UFO hovering over the secluded part of Vermont. His questions had been answered." Stephanie grinned. "Get out here. woman!" "Woman?” Portland wrinkled her nose. brooding Viking warrior. Portland had supported him through all of it. Let's just say it's to fulfill a fantasy. Portland. “You're supposed to be a dark. This past year had been nothing short of madness. He had vowed that once he'd found a way to earn a good living. I guess. . As he held yet another pose for Stephanie. do you think you could arrange for me to borrow this costume for a while?" The photographer's brow furrowed. Most difficult of all was the meeting with his onetime saviors and the discovery of his family's horrible end. Now was the time to show her how much. I used to picture this warrior in chain mail and leather riding up to me on a war stallion. his powerful body draped in leather and chain mail. astride Chief who stood in the field behind her house. "Eadred. her heart pounding.statue." Eadred resisted the urge to smile again. not a happy one!" "Stephanie. it no longer mattered. “That's a good enough reason for this hopeless romantic. it would be a good enough reason for a certain other woman as well. he recalled the fantasy Portland had once revealed to him. He loved her with every fiber of his being. He'd started adjusting to the modern world while under the scrutiny of the government as well as the public. or perhaps the government had hushed that up as well. **** "Portland!" Portland placed aside the necklace she'd been working on and raced up the cellar steps. what are you doing?” Stephanie scolded. he would ask her to be his wife. With any luck. To Eadred. he'd get some exercise and make love with Portland. As soon as the shoot was over.

not when she and Eadred had a future filled with endless possibilities.” he said against her lips. my life won't be complete. Krista nudged her hip away from the stranger with the tummy-dipping voice. Tempting as his voice was she didn't bother to turn when a few moments later the man sat down next to her on the royal-blue enamel bench that faced the JC Penney department store. Eadred dismounted and strode to her. "You're mine."Eadred. what are you doing?” She laughed. The sensual expression in his blue-gray eyes staring at her through holes in the metal helmet made her shiver with desire. All her life she'd dreamed of a moment such as this and it was better than she'd ever imagined. Portland. "Yes. pressing her close to his mail-covered chest. “I love you with my heart and soul. [Back to Table of Contents] Excerpt from Nobody's Angel By Sylvie Kaye ISBN 1-55316-110-6 Copyright © 2003 Sylvie Kaye [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter 1 "I didn't think you'd show up." The man's voice rumbled low and slow.” His gaze.” She slipped her arms around his neck. he tore off the helmet and wrapped one arm around her waist. she realized she'd never again have to dream of the past. Without you. filled with love and desire. A ripple ran up Kristabel Lewis's spine. What she wouldn't give for that voice to say those words in that tone to her. Portland. "Say yes. inching over until the crunch of her shopping bags stopped her. approaching the stallion as he came to a stop. yes. I want you to be my wife." Her pulse fluttered. Oh." As his mouth covered hers. A real Viking—her Viking—wanted her as his wife. like thunder on a Nevada night in spring. She bent down and heeled the packages at her feet to further shove them under the bench. “I'll be your wife. held her captive. Even the . When he reached her.

His face shadowed hers. well-washed. Too bad she had nowhere to wear the hot outfit she'd gotten on sale today. She'd just chalked up another successful shop-till-you-drop Saturday at the Kramesward Mall. Krista crossed her arms and wagged her foot. About a size twelve worth. so she shifted her eyes upward. other than to the library where she worked. Krista had heard those tales about a man's manliness being judged by the size of his sneaker. His bare ankle and a few sprigs of dark hair flashed at her wickedly. After a moment her gaze drifted back to where she'd left off. she figured. So far as she could see. That's when she noticed a flash of red and yellow—up and down. was to the mall in hot pursuit of yet another designer delight. but she knew better. "You aren't sorry you showed up. Too bad she had nowhere to wear the last six outfits she'd gotten on sale. She smiled at his neck. which promised to be this season's hottest color and this season's hottest length. A few dark hairs flashed at her from its v neck and stopped her. Her hose matched her side-vented skirt. the man's ankle.large bag containing her new piece of luggage slid easily on the high-buffed. This man must be one manly man. A red sweater hugged his broad chest. which bobbed faster now. The only place she went lately. But that was about to change with her new luggage. She was about to tell him so when she faced off with him and her words froze. a case of mistaken identity. Another “Ahemm. well-fitting jeans that covered his long. The colorful sole of the man's long sneaker bobbed up and down on his knee. She sat up and crossed her misty-gray stockinged legs. Not a soul within hearing distance. Krista didn't know any man with a voice that could make her insides quake. The sex machine was talking to her. Her head wanted to bob in time with the dog. She closed one eye and tried to make out the red and yellow pattern on the bouncing sneaker bottom. . Her eyes darted about. Whoever he was waiting for had his jeans revving—his well-worn. up and down. or so the store clerk had assured her. There was no mistake. "Ahemm. the man was a lean. Obviously. Krista plucked at the sleeve of her red jacket. granite-colored tile. lanky legs." That attention-getting rumble seemed directed at her. She figured that age thirty was past time to get on with her plans for her much dreamed about tour of all of the states. mean. The man must've been talking to her all along." Curiosity uncrossed Krista's legs as she pushed onward and upward. The suitcase was her birthday treat to herself. are you?” The man leaned forward. sexy machine. The colors seemed to form a dog of sorts. It looked to be a blurred greyhound.

rumble of a voice. But for the date magnet sitting next to her she'd forego the skills and wing it. too. He grinned. "Yes. “I have no other hobbies. "You never mentioned the shopaholic part. She bought stylish outfits with matching shoes or jewelry to wear on romantic dates with men that she had yet to meet and on her adventure around the country that she had yet to begin.” she said at last. a big friendly grin that rippled through her also. Krista tugged at the lapel of her red jacket. "I. seemed wily and unpredictable.” His voice rippled through her. She found that compelling." Dull. shopping had become her social life. but friendly. “I found bargains galore. Of course. His lips were wide. that's when. No wonder her recent dates didn't ask her out after the third movie. dull.” His large hand crumpled a tiny bag. “You a bit of a shopaholic?” he asked in that low. One gray-haired woman with pumping elbows and very tight curls power-walked by. Not that she wanted to mention anything resembling the truth about the mix up just yet. “I hunt out great sales. orange hair and black lipstick. I forgot to pack them. Krista had. She snapped her fingers and skipped around in a small circle. Lately. Her red sweater dangled with purple bangles. I'm not sorry. what with her tongue and her mind doing flips over that voice of his. The man couldn't be considered handsome. The other was a teenager with green-streaked. by the third date. She couldn't mention much of anything. "No. I don't overspend. drawing her in further. Her flashy red-and-silver metallic jogging suit never slowed down a pace. She'd given up on dating until she perfected her flirting skills. Then she glanced again at his red sweater. She'd soak up a bit more of his mesmerizing voice and eyes first. He slid his arm along the back of the metal bench. although cut short. same with his nose. That pretty much ruled her out. His face had a compelling charm about it." "I'm not into bowling or darts myself. Was that the signal color? She scanned the crowd for other women wearing red. or rather her substitute for one.” His low rumble hinted of intimacy. just a monumental understatement. dancing to a beat that definitely wasn't the “Moon River” ballad playing over the sound system.His dark blond hair. . if they hadn't lost interest. she stuffed them into her closet where hanger space was becoming something to die for. although it was his hazel-brown eyes that held hers in a time warp. “I remember you saying you had no hobbies.” A bit wasn't exactly a lie." She had? When? Never. She spotted two. elbowing the packages on the seat beside her and pointing her gray suede toe at the large bags tucked beneath the bench. Krista talked on.” she mumbled. This situation reeked of a blind date gone awry. So did his hazel eyes. His smile was crooked. dull. Until then." "I bought socks.

"So are you saying you'll be stepping on my toes?” Again he grinned. His blind date must be a typist. what a dreamy hobby. biding her time. Between his voice and physique and his dreamy hobby. And if not glad. masculine voice teased at her ear. So much for the ladies in red.” he said. Of course. like she was capable of walking—no. the typist who'd stood him up. What to do? She was reluctant to reveal his error in identity and leave the intimacy of his arm and his mouth. "As long as there's no fancy footwork. "Are you a good dancer?” She almost sighed at the thought of being moved around a dance floor wrapped in his muscular. Where were the conversation skills she'd been brushing up on during her lunch break at the library? She'd have thought by page eighty-three ofFlirting 101 something would click in her mind or on her tongue. "Really?” Another clever remark she couldn't take back. from which his rum-tumble voice generated. at least Krista would have somewhere to wear the Donna Karan dinner suit she'd gotten on sale last month down in Reno. She waved her sleeve-covered hands at him. Krista smiled graciously. “A four-point-oh grade point average. Krista smiled back at him. make that dancing—on air. She'd be glad. Then he'd be glad. and the tips of her gray suede shoes. "Tonight then?" .” That reply surprised her.Then a boy approached. Besides that. your toes will be safe. when he discovered she wasn't his blind date he'd most certainly dance off without her. she couldn't remember one witty passage from one witty page of the book on flirting. From beneath his shaved head and pierced eyebrow. But with him looking at her like that.” Chalk up another brilliant statement for her.” he replied. and her stomach. "I took ballroom dance lessons for a phys ed credit in college. He shifted on the bench and drew her further into his masculine space. What could a little dinner and dancing hurt? He might like her more than his blind date. the man was nothing less than a date magnet. even white teeth smiled out at the world and the girl. It was almost witty. strong arms. "You have no hobbies at all?” she asked. she rationalized. An intimate smile came over his intimate mouth. "Just dining and dancing.” His low. "You type a lot faster than you talk. today was her birthday and she hadn't had a decent date in months.” He smiled again. then skipped across the polished floor into his arms. "I don't have a degree in dancing. Dining and dancing.

Out at the homestead we do some digital farming and ranching and provide stock for Nevada's semi-pro rodeo circuit. strong fingers. but turning thirty with only the cat for company was downright depressing. so to speak. the cat. That's when Krista decided to drop the night class. Maybe she'd bring a doggie bag home for Kitty. it doesn't.” He chuckled.” he repeated.” He held out a large.” He continued to hold her hand." "No. card catalog system. "Eight's okay. Any Saturday night would be fine. I'm an assistant librarian. she'd been opting to stay home and wash her hair. "As we agreed. A crowded restaurant and a crowded dance floor sounded safe enough. "I guess it's time to download. strong hand that had long. Dining and dancing beat out cat sitting for a thirtieth birthday celebration any time. she assured herself." Was the size of hands like the size of feet she wondered as the warmth of his long fingers and large palm engulfed her much smaller hand? She blinked up at Dirk. with the help of a very no-tech.She nodded and all but sighed into his hazel eyes. Turning thirty was bad enough. Ellie. Recently. Dewey decimal. "Eight o'clock okay?” the golden specks in his eyes asked. no nicknames now that we're out of the chatroom.” she said mesmerized by the specks and his voice. “All with the help of my Pentium-powered PC. Her instructor had bragged that her kick-to-the-nose was the best he'd ever seen. Computerization hasn't been allocated for the library for this year or for next. .” he said. Kitty was her neighbor's cat. Well. she wanted to confess that she'd never been in a chatroom. She'd known computers weren't for her when the teacher over at the high school instructed her to click on start to stop.” His hazel eyes sparkled under the mall lighting. Krista cat-sat Saturday nights whenever her next-door neighbor. "Interesting name. Looked like Kitty was on her own tonight. she wondered? "Rancher kind of speaks for itself. Download? What did that have to do with Kitty's bag and her happy-feet gliding across a dance floor wearing her brand new Aigner dress pumps? Download rang of computer lingo even to Krista's untrained ear. “Kristabel Lewis. “I'm Dirk Raynard. mostly bulls. her lingerie.” What did her chatroom nickname have to do with. went away for the weekend. Then he squeezed her hand and her heart skipped a beat and the confession. The way he said ‘okay’ made the notion of going out with a total stranger seem completely okay.” She hoped that curbed any further computer talk he might have on his mind. “It has nothing to do with your nick. If not. "Kristabel. trusting smile. For all of a heartbeat. Just what she needed was more awkward communication problems. with a lopsided. Most everyone calls me Krista. she'd show him a demonstration of the street karate she learned in the self-defense course at the YMCA this past winter.

But.” Dirk smiled.” His pen hovered over the square. lean. If only she knew. “But I thought you were satisfied after you emailed Pansy Potter and she vouched for my upstanding character. With a few flicks of her wrist." "Pansy Potter.” Krista said when she sipped hers. they each picked a gourmet coffee flavor. "Maybe I should meet you somewhere. “No apartment number?" "No. Dirk manhandled the larger of her packages while she scooped the smaller bags into what he called her ‘graceful arms.” She puckered her perfect red lips into a bow and gently blew on her steaming cappuccino. The tall. "Care to go for coffee before I help haul your packages out to your car?” He stood. delicate wrist while it sensually snaked back-and-forth and back-and-forth.Like an Animal ? I met her at a library book signing. The foam didn't moved but every nerve in his body did. This was going to be one birthday to remember. I own my home. "I'll need your address and your phone number. Dirk sat on the chrome chair across from hers and clicked a blue pen. the local chief of police. too.She laughed a nervous little laugh and crossed her legs. local northern-Nevada author. paper napkin. "That's the same Pansy. dancing machine was more than a head taller than she was and just the perfect height for dancing. "Hmm. she'll have a cow when she finds out about you. “Didn't she write the book.” It would certainly be good enough for Krista. then her fingers. Ellie—she's my best friend—she'd have a cow if she found out you came out to the house. Every single neuron twitched and . in case I get lost. hoping he didn't ask her to explain her nick. chrome table. She stood. Not that I don't trust you. She's a lovely person. “Then I'll pick you up at your house like a proper date should. her next call would be to her own old school chum.” Krista had heard many good things about the trustworthy. she intended to give Pansy Potter a call. Vet. Dirk's eyes followed her slender. my neighbor. she explained a tricky left-right-left turn. Gabe Hallinger.” Krista nodded. author and old school chum." Dirk ruffled his free hand through his hair. cinnamon. sexy. When she got home. After settling her and her packages at a small. Dirk nodded and Krista recited her address and directions.” He cleared his throat and squinted down at the tiny square. "I think I got the gist of it." "I'm sure Pansy's word will be good enough for my friend Ellie. those entrancing motions were wiping all sense of direction right out of his head. If Pansy didn't vouch for Dirk. Actually.’ He touched her elbow and escorted her over to the cappuccino bar in the food court where the aroma of coffee beans and spices lingered on the air.

He scribbled furiously on another napkin. Dishonest came to mind. Thankfully. too.” she mumbled. she stopped blowing. Nerves. She flicked at the lock with her flawlessly manicured fingertips. before any nerve damage set in. sexy. This first date grated on his nerves.” A dark brunette lock feathered down across her cheek while she read. Dirk supposed there were worse things Krista could be besides rich. "For your information? Online lingo?" "Right. though.” he said. He nodded and smiled. then held it out to her. He shifted on the chair. Dirk hadn't expected her to be so. his jeans were cramping his comfort. Big and average might not be her type. Although her lips looked anything but uptight as she sipped at her coffee. Suddenly. Was he ever glad. He and his brother and the bank did. Over on the bench.” She smiled a shaky smile. "That's nice." She took the napkin in her graceful fingers. Almost. even after six months of verbal foreplay on the computer.” She sipped at the foam on her coffee. he figured she'd changed her mind altogether. He had to admit. she'd been his first choice. or so expensively groomed. that's my address and phone number. She hadn't sounded the least bit over-priced in the computer chatroom. Is there anywhere special you'd like to go?" "No. Krista was proving to be one surprise after another. She was probably uptight over this face-to-face get together.” She shook her head. She was definitely chattier in cyberspace. He wondered how an assistant librarian could afford her own home and still shop till she dropped. "When I get back to the hotel. I'll make reservations for tonight. “This is very fair. You can call my brother Chad out at the house if you'd like. and your friend Ellie.twittered. so. That's why he'd given her plenty of time. He's the farming half of the homestead. As soon as . I suppose." She looked at him blankly. “FYI. he'd thought she wasn't going to speak to him at all. Of all the women he'd met on the web. They looked red and wet and sensual. "A ranch house. or thieves since their accountant disappeared with last year's profits. cheats. In the chatroom she'd been much more articulate and clever. Once she'd gotten a good look at him. “In the interest of fair play. He had little tolerance for liars. But she hadn't. this meeting in the flesh was daunting. "I own my own house. despite the hours they'd spent online laughing at the same jokes and exchanging snappy dialogue. His discomfort wasn't all in his jeans or due to her lips. He'd figured as much. In case she decided to bolt. too. too.

too. to the touch and to the smell. the plastic teeth bit into each other. then turned her in his arms. From where he stood.” Krista hopped up and down on one foot while gracefully manipulating her other into a high heel. Snaking tongues and other snaking body parts had flashed before his eyes during most of that distracting demonstration. Springville was about an hour drive from the city. The skin was heavenly there. the two-story house looked to be freshly painted and in good repair.” Her soft brown eyes met his for a second before she twisted in his arms and plucked her . He found her house easily. Slowly. She was not only bright and sassy—well once she relaxed he was sure she'd be bright and sassy again—but she was feminine and graceful and a knockout. Her skin felt silky smooth. he had an urge to yank it back down and start all over again. The scooped neckline of her dress no longer drooped. He savored the feel of her body beneath the movement. she'd become his only choice. When Dirk drew the two sides of her dress together. Now it merely plunged.he'd set eyes on her. callused fingers nearly snagged the soft. At exactly eight o'clock. Since when had zipping zippers become such a peak experience? He'd have to keep breathing to a minimum around her heavenly aroma. Against his better judgment he breathed in way too deeply.” He checked out his handiwork. By the porch lights. maple tree-lined street. With a slight tug. "I'm almost ready. ivory fabric. But he recalled her saying she was a punctuality freak so he punched the gas pedal on his way back to the hotel and again on his way out of town. His rough. When at last her zipper was up. enticingly. Then the oak door swung open. Who said this computer dating stuff couldn't be exacted into a science? **** After shuffling Krista and her packages into her tan Volvo. She nodded and he circled her. "Thanks. Another five minutes squeaked by. his knuckles grazed her backbone. It seemed a bit of exaggeration came along with this internet dating stuff. "Looks as if you need a hand. He couldn't contain his energy. So much for punctuality. he vaulted up the three steps to her stoop. the zipper edged upward. he blew out soundlessly. It was as soft as angel hair and smelled like heaven—or maybe hell because he was suddenly burning up. He had good vibes about their date. He palmed her bare shoulders. creamy mounds. He rang the bell again and picked imaginary lint from his black suit jacket. "There. The address she'd given him was on a shady. He trailed one hand down the length of her zipper to below her waist. Dirk rang the doorbell. Then he drew it even slower. he studied her eaves and her shutters. Five minutes ticked by. He kicked back an urge to plant a succulent kiss between those tantalizing. Dirk climbed into his black Bronco and adjusted the visor against the late day sun. She wouldn't have much time to get ready for their date. Geez Loueez. He watched moths gather near the lights while he sniffed in the smell of early honeysuckle from the nearby trellis.” He pointed to her droopy neckline. After parking behind her car in the macadam driveway. considering the snaking hand directions she'd given him.

She waved one of her delicate hands. She had pretty heels.” Her wispy breath teased his lips. they were off." "Prison. Krista smiled up at Dirk. not over anything as trivial as her smell anyway. She bent and flicked on the night light in the entranceway. while Krista gave brief. "Kitty's not mine.” Dirk followed her swaying hips into the cozy living room. gray cat perched on the back of a turquoise chintz chair. She had a very female fanny. Her round female bottom wriggled with each fluff. That's when he discovered she had very long.jacket from the newel post. like a contented cat purring at her heels. "Kitty? You have a roommate?” More surprises. female legs to go with her very round. “Nothing serious like murder. she tapped the remote until the TV clicked on and flashed through the channels to seventy-seven. He cracked the window open hoping for a whiff of sagebrush as they drove by the open countryside. And Krista and her friend had been worried about Dirk's character. the ivory dress stretched tight across her bottom. which was a bit of a stretch for her froufrou short dress. Once more he trailed after her high heels." She pointed one pretty pink nail in the direction of a scraggly. visits her boyfriend. Then thoughts of leather flew from his head. Ellie. tongue it. Only five more minutes untilThis Old Cat comes on. irresistible actually. “Night. He's in prison.” She nuzzled the scraggly. Kitty. The drive seemed to stretch on for more than an hour. that's Kitty. "No. Compared to the stink of bulls that he was accustomed to. expensive leather ones. He tugged at the collar of his shirt. ivory material crushed between them as she held it tightly to her chest.” Krista bent down further to fluff the pastel blanket in Kitty's wicker bed.” With a flicker of pink. He'd like to kiss it. Her heels clicked across the brick sidewalk and over to the driveway. She stays over whenever my neighbor. Finally. suck it. It's not as if she'd flung those legs or fanny at him. "Kitty prefers to sleep with the light on. With a swish. Dirk chatted. “I have to say good night to Kitty before we go. "You never mentioned you had a pet. The closeness of her heavenly scent had his blood pumping hot. when his blood shouldn't be pumping hot. her fragrance would boil any man's blood. He opened the button at the collar of his shirt. One thing a cattleman knew was leather. He blamed it on the bulls. He had one heady hour's drive ahead of him back into the city. The silky. female fanny. taste it. He helped her climb into the truck. “Ready?" She had a great smile. gray fur ball. general answers. Instead.” He could hear his voice rise. he trailed after her. and a great mouth. How long would it take her to get used to him? How long until she became chatty and witty like in . What he'd like to do to that ladylike mouth couldn't be put to words.

” Dirk shrugged.” She looked confused. I bought Kitty a cat bed as a birthday treat. if not yet witty. Through the candle glow. The maître d’ greeted them and showed them to a table draped in pink linen. “So how's." "RFD? I'm not familiar with that computer term. "Today's my birthday. Krista began loosening up. though." He crooked his head. A silver vase held a pink rose and candles flickered from a silver holder. “For the rural and farming areas. the looser she got. “I didn't tell you earlier because I didn't want you to feel you had to fuss. . they arrived at the hotel. Cancer." "Oh. I can never keep track of all those signs. Once dinner got underway. By the time the lobster bisque arrived she was downright chatty. “I tried selling him on a computer search. but he has criteria all his own." Dirk thumbed the silky skin between her thumb and finger. everyone?" "You mean my brother? Didn't you call him?" She shook her head no. “Romancing the countryside sounds like a big job.” He chuckled. The angel provoked hot urges in his manhood and warm ones around his heart? How could he not fall for her? The angel smiled at him.” Dirk reached across the table and touched Krista's dainty hand. not that her appetite needed teasing. a. That's what was in one of the large packages you carried.” She spooned up a mouthful of soup. The more she ate.” She nodded with a nervous laugh. Krista looked like an elegant angel seated across from Dirk.the chatroom? He hoped she'd loosen up soon. She started off with a shrimp appetizer. At last. He'd been one lucky computer nerd to run into her on the internet. Cleo . "Guess you didn't have time. “Chad's Chad.. His darling angel ate her jumbo shrimp with the gusto of a pregnant mare.” she said. He's still romancing the entire RFD Singles Club one at a time. “I thought you said you were a Capricorn?" "Capricorn. All too soon the menus arrived and Dirk let go of her angelic hand. "It's a postal term." "All done with slight of hand and no computer. The restaurant staff helped fill in the gaps in their almost one-sided conversation..

Between bites of food and small." Dirk figured she must have finished the dictionary because she hadn't mentioned it. "Leo?” Another spoonful of soup disappeared. I'm reading up on all fifty states. “After all we did meet in the Thirty-Something Chatroom. alphabetically. While she spooned chocolate mousse into her angelic mouth—her mousse and then his—he fingered his empty spoon.” he corrected. "Thirty-six. And he'd wanted to like her. Briefly. while she recited the library's bestseller list. “As of exactly twenty minutes ago. she probably couldn't move. up until now. What with all the food she'd chowed down.” She flipped her delicate wrist and checked her dainty gold watch. He wouldn't mind patting her down a bit.” he said. A swift ride swept them up to the top floor where dancing took place beneath a glass-doomed ceiling and the stars. A voracious woman. "Point taken. She finished her second cup of coffee while he paid the bill. "Still interested in dancing?” he asked. they waited in front of a bank of brass elevators. and I'm up to the Hs. By skirting a few tables. feminine finger at him. When he stood to help her with her chair.” Her spoon paused only long enough for her to release a puff of exasperation. "Thirty."You mean Leo. Krista nibbled down a steak filet. about being into books. a baked potato smothered with sour cream. Chocolate was his biggest weakness. I don't just read novels. “See.” Playfully. this was still technically their first date. The waiter cleared away the soup bowls and served their dinner. Although they'd known each other for six months. I assumed you were already thirty-plus. He passed on the idea.” he said. What was your age again?” she asked. "You're really into novels. But she'd never mentioned she was such a voracious reader. "How old are you again?” Dirk asked. "I think I need the exercise. I'm also reading the encyclopedia. she gave Dirk a synopsis on each and every book on the top-ten list. he swiped at the tip of her pointed pink nail. It was too soon. and a steamed vegetable medley. She'd said something once.” She smiled sweetly and patted her tummy. just not so much or so soon. feminine dabs of her pink linen napkin. He smiled.” She wagged one long. "Oh. he weighed the wisdom of assisting her with that pat. that's what I mean. anyway. or eater. he liked that. I'm up to the Os." "Never assume. online. they wove their way through the restaurant and out into the lobby. .

she was as close to an angel as he'd ever get in Nevada or on this earth. "And you dance divinely. Haloed in starlight and dressed in ivory. his black loafers dug into the plush rug. “Let's talk about your accommodations later and not waste this divine music a minute longer. White wine for her. "What do you think?” He figured the decor was a safe. She fit his body precisely. yet she seemed unscorched. He touched his hand to her waist and led her over to a burgundy.” The angel floated to her feet. How could such a heavenly aroma provoke such unheavenly impulses? She snuggled into him. Krista looked up.” he managed to mutter without sucking in too much of her scent. She had to be the sweetest thing he'd ever seen. with no body contact. "I think we shouldn't waste anymore time. Now he struggled not to inhale at all. "Yes. The food had unwound Krista. but they had nothing to do with dancing. The next song was faster. He answered automatically.” But she was what was spectacular. “It's spectacular. isn't it?” she breathed." That got his head out of the clouds fast. With a contented smile. let's dance. He never imagined heaven on earth could feel so soft. Maybe his seared thigh would get a chance to cool . His body began throwing off heat faster than an inferno. velvet loveseat. Couples swayed to the slow dance tunes the trio of musicians played. Bourbon should get his head out of the heavenly clouds and nail his feet to the ground nicely. grounded subject. Some dancers left the floor while others revved up. or round. He gulped at his bourbon and burrowed his leather soles deeper into the gray carpeting. After two sips. "You certainly are a smooth dancer. Her heavenly scent circled his head." His heart stopped. and anything else that was up went down. but this time it seemed tinged with fire and brimstone. or pliant. which had been straddling his loafers. "My room's on the fifth—" "Nice. his feet grounded. but notthat much. But his mind floated anyway.” He should've known better.As soon as they stepped out of the elevator car.” her silky voice whispered near his ear. When all her sweetness was put to music and encircled in his arms that floaty feeling engulfed him again all too quickly. They ordered drinks. she nestled her head beneath his chin. His thoughts exactly. After a bit the tempo of the music changed. She had to feel him burning up for her. He had other smooth moves he'd like to show her. a Jim Beam for him. He got a chance to cool his heels away from her expensive leather ones. “It is. and his tongue soon followed. He led her out onto the tiny dance floor where space was scarce. Starlight sparkled in her gentle brown eyes.

lazily. "I think we shouldn't waste anymore time. She looked up at him. She looked dewy and breathless and sexy. Her soft. The half a yard or so that separated them didn't do much good though. Krista's brunette hair swayed and her body swayed and his thoughts strayed. brown eyes. Or maybe the dreaminess was in his mind and not a reflection of hers. He wasn't falling for them this time.off as well. This time. white shirt. Was he ever? "Yes. Krista's body fired up his discomfort. the set ended and the band took a break. Then. Back on the velvet settee. or breathe. Krista snuggled against his chest and that took the starch right out of his hotel-starched. The baser ones just seemed to be growing faster at the moment. He could think of a better use for all that rhythm of hers. Forced closer by the increased number of couples squeezing onto the dance floor. he breathed easy until she leaned her head back against the cushions and fanned at her face with her hands. He looked down into her gentle. What was wrong with him? He'd barely just met the woman and his testosterone was snorting out of control like a horny bull during breeding season. "Yes. She could sway and smell all she liked. cuddly moves were melting his resolve fast. He grabbed her hand and was on his feet in a flash. In another flash. Her long. He wasn't going to think of her like some one-night stand. There were those words again. it was easier not to think at all. He continued to hold her small. delicate hand. He didn't want to grope her or scare her off. just in time. He had other feelings growing for her. The horizontal boogie came to mind. This was the woman he intended to get serious with. "I'm overheated. Body heat that radiated from the other dancers made the surrounding air hot and close. sort of give his big head priority over the little head. slightly. Are you?” Her eyes were closed so she didn't see him dabbing at his forehead with his hankie. Nope. "Should we take a walk outside to cool off until the next set?” She rolled her head sideways. he knew she didn't mean . He fought for control.” Cooling off was an excellent idea. She looked at him all dreamy-like.” That was all he could manage to croak out. dark lashes fluttered open. they were confined within the polished brass walls of the elevator.” she whispered. The ivory of her dress and her skin contrasted against the rich burgundy of the sofa and made his mouth go dry. She shook her fanny at his groin. Her pink lips parted. his firing inferno heated up even more. When the music slowed down again. he tried to put mind over matter.

The lobby loomed two stops away. His hands cradled her. Mentally. Warm? Who was she kidding? He was hot. she did. and coaxed her hips into a rhythm that matched the slow. [Back to Table of Contents] Chapter 2 The down button in the elevator glowed amber. she'd waited two full hours before getting up the nerve to come right out and ask him for a birthday kiss. Krista sensed the elevator car descending rapidly. but all she could squeak out was a small moan. Her breath tasted sweet. Her bottom fit nicely into his warm. He managed to shimmy his hip against a row of elevator buttons. Krista tried to tell him so. tenderly. so right. He was such a smooth dancer. She wrapped her arms around his neck. He tugged at her wrist until her fingers cradled his ear once more. and that she wanted him. The car pitched slightly and began ascending. With that. melodic. and kissed him. too rapidly. and obviously so did he. She peeped one eye open.” he murmured against her lips. It had been so long since she'd been held in masculine arms. so tender. Now. His room was on the fifth floor. She tasted better than chocolate. At about the same time. "Hit number five. All she'd wanted was one birthday kiss. suddenly erotic-sounding. elevator music playing overhead. Wanting him was not so outrageous. Krista reasoned. Even better than Almond Joy—and those were his favorite. pulled his head down toward her face. She had soft lips. His hips joined hers to the beat. she wanted more. but kept her lips sealed to Dirk's. Down. she aimed her finger at the up button. he pulled her close and got into the kiss. he took stock of how much she'd drunk—not more than a sip or two of wine. Dirk pitched his hips into hers and her hormone level ascended. they were heading down again. She wasn't willing to let this scrumptious kiss end just yet.what he'd hoped she'd meant last time. After telling Dirk it was her birthday. . And this man felt so warm. too. large palms. slowly. He kneaded her flesh. This more than made up for the dessert he'd missed out on after dinner. Her mouth tasted sweet. much more. but lower. Only this time. That meant she was sober. With a last stroking caress behind his ear. Her tongue tasted the sweetest. outrageous as it seemed.

" . She pressed the up button once again. Fingers stroked. then down. hers to his. up—at the last second she stretched out her palm and slapped at the button. Her head swirled and numbers flashed above the doors. Kristabel. Their lips seemed jammed as well. "Afterward. Every time she determined to pull away. Seven and plummeting. Up.” He sealed his words with hot lips and a silky tongue. Bodies melded. She peeked. She barely knew the man. sweetness?” Dirk mumbled between their locked lips. hers and his.” she mumbled into his mouth. Every ounce of longing drained from her bones and was replaced with the most incredible hormone rush. “Shouldn't we buzz or phone or shout?” she asked breathlessly between their clinging lips. "I think the elevator's stopped. When the car had jolted to a halt. "This is one wild ride. They were on the rise again. the car jerked and the overhead music died. "You're doing just fine. floors five and six were both lit up. hers and his. metallic5 imprinted on it. Although thoughts of his tongue working its magic there could have triggered the reaction.” his teeth answered. Krista gave up. sweetness. she couldn't bring herself to part with those persuasive lips. "Up or down. She couldn't make up her mind. Up. Hands roamed. and dips. Abruptly. Some of my championship bucking bulls are more predictable. The tip tickled the roof of her mouth and her gum line. His hot tongue did things to the inside of her mouth that she didn't know a tongue could do. my belle. His tongue stroked and tickled and teased hers. “I think we're jammed between floors. Krista hadn't known the gum line could be an erogenous zone until her woman's core tickled.” He wove his fingers into her hair and resettled his mouth over hers. and hips. Sure enough.” she murmured against his teeth. Then down. but little else was. "So it seems. She hit the Up and Down buttons. She gulped down his husky voice and it tickled her stomach. then down.Her fumbling fingers pressed the round button with the brassy. she hit the down button. This was too outrageous. they hadn't. "Shouldn't we do something?” she whispered. She tried once more for sanity.

the slinky material dripped over the hip-high handrail that Krista gripped for white-knuckled support. Her tight. Just as her jacket slithered to the carpeted floor and she was about to follow. white-hot sparks replaced the coolness. roughened fingers stroked her bare arms. Her tongue became quite clever all on its own. Her whole body blazed. Dirk was turning out to be quite the birthday present. She'd been right about her blind date and his tall. “my hard drive is about to crash. The same impulse must have driven him on. With soft swishes. The elevator bounced with a hefty bounce. A delicious decadence descended over her. His eager mouth continued to work over hers.Afterward. brass hand railing. sensual. Again Dirk obliged her. He assisted her." She didn't need a computer course to figure out his meaning. The metal walls all but smoldered with shadowy heat and the promise of what came beforeafterward . he bunched the fabric of her dress between his fingers. the elevator car dropped. Everything was lean where it should be lean and hard where it should be hard. a low moan echoed up from his rigid disk drive. He cradled her bottom in his hands and urged her upward. For a brief moment. Both the tingles and the hem stopped mid-thigh. Its newfound wit had nothing to do with theFlirting 101 volume she'd been reading all week either. and combustible against the beige nylon. She perched her knee alongside his hipbone. His body weight pressed into her and. His blazing hard core nestled tantalizingly against her melting core. Forget overheated. A low growl announced when they reached their goal. Impulse drove her to raise her knee a little higher and try to encircle his waist. She broke out in a hot flush. Dirk was ever so considerate though. ever so slowly. her back seared the metal wall while her cheeks perched onto the narrow. firm muscles. sleek body and his sinewy. Then sensuous. She gasped to suck in a bit of air. She could tell Dirk liked what it had to say. If he touched the combustible crotch of her beige pantyhose she couldn't be responsible for what happened next. Krista slipped off her shoes and they landed on the plush carpeted floor with muffledthunks . Her present caressed her beige-toned thigh with his large palm. She grasped the railing to keep her balance. did he ever feel good. cool air and his cool. hot air inside the elevator. With another soft swish and a slight pivot. oh. Restlessly. He peeled her ivory jacket away from her heated body. burn up just like a candle on a birthday cake. For once. She wriggled her hips and he thrust his forward. her tongue didn't trip over an answer. She figured they must have finally . The skimming fabric tickled her outer thighs. "Belle. His touch was gentle. sexy machine. He was one lean. gliding. It was an entirely new feeling for the entirely new thirty-year-old woman. With a toss.” he gasped into her mouth. She'd surely ignite. Her hem edged silkily upward. The word hung on the still. As she stroked the roof of his mouth with her tongue. straight skirt stopped her short of her goal and inches from the source of his steely heat.

**** Dirk guessed she was used to him now. Even in her overheated state. liked the look of her. But suddenly she wanted to be. Although her tall. 503 .” His hazel eyes held hers. He nudged the door shut and shouldered the light switch on the wall. she smoothed down her skirt and picked up her jacket and shoes from the elevator's carpeted floor. which was remarkable what with all she'd eaten. a lamp cast a golden glow. With a loud whoosh and a gust of cooling air. It was way too early in the relationship to allow her heart-melting privileges. and light as a feather. He liked the feel of her against his body. As soon as it swung open. Dinner. Pink. Krista bit back her disappointment and finger combed her hair in an attempt to look presentable before entering the lobby. perfectly put together. oh. He moved down the hall in long strides. He smelled of a musky aftershave. "Put me down.” she giggled. She returned his kiss with a tenderness that all but melted his heart. but this was going to be one outrageously romantic birthday to remember all right. Dirk swung her up into his arms. She watched their combined shadow darken the burgundy-and-gray stripes on the wallpaper. just like her nail polish. When he was satisfied with her placement.501. Instantly. she was one adorable package. Krista was perfectly matched. 509 . She cuddled up against his broad chest. She nuzzled her head under his clean-shaven chin. muscled birthday gift lacked glitzy paper and a bow. squirming in his strong arms. liked the smell of her. from across the room. No doubt about it. “What will people think?" He stopped in the middle of the empty hallway.” The words tumbled from his lips. shoeless feet skirted the carpeted hall for a moment while he unlocked the door. Numbers danced before her eyes. Quickly. dancing. Her shoes and jacket dangled from her fingers.507. he kissed her softly while he peeled off his jacket and heeled off his shoes. "We're here. She should tell him she wasn't the other-things-kind-of-girl. and being carried off to a man's room. not sounding the least disappointed. Doors with brass plates slipped by. . “They'll think you're saving your strength for other things. He glanced down at her flushed cheeks. she all but drooled over the idea of him doing a slow peel.hit the ground level. he scooped her back up into his arms. Squeezable and smoochable. the doors hissed opened. Dirk stopped on his way to the bed long enough for Krista to drop her dangling shoes and jacket onto the stuffed chair. She should tell him to shush up. He touched her down in front of the room marked511 . This was not the lobby. Then his knee sank into the mattress and he centered her on the swirls of the blue and green bedspread. Her dainty.

faded into the background and his testosterone plummeted. wrong word. weren't helping his racing testosterone levels one bit. black socks." "Extended. “Admire men's extended-size socks?” A twitch of a smile touched her lips. "Too much. “Achille's Heels were on sale. "Music?” he asked. A Kenny G. aching for them to form those infamous I-think-we-shouldn't-waste-anymore-time words. By her swift. “Nope. is that more than large?” Her twinkle brightened. He glanced at his socks and then at her. important.” He leaned over her and traced her lips with his tongue. He put an arm around her shoulders and crossed his ankles. small intake of breath he could tell that she was teased. geometric pattern that bordered the ceiling. They're what's called an extended size. do you?" Probably not ever. He tried to concentrate on the blue and green.Breast .Even so. “How much were they?" The titillating strains of Kenny G. "Uh-huh. breaking away from her tender lips. This relationship was heading toward something meaningful. He stroked her lips. Her stomach muscles flinched beneath the pad of his finger. "No. so many months that he'd forgotten what the wanting felt like.” He rolled onto his side and traced his finger across her tummy. He flicked on the radio next to the bed. Dirk sprawled out full length next to Krista. “Nine dollars. Music should calm the savage breast. "Nice socks. often. “Are they ‘one size fits all'?" He wriggled the toes of his orange-striped. tiger-paw.” he croaked." "You don't do this often. a nice handful. Not that he did.” she said. until tonight. from the looks of her innocent brown eyes. Her dark brown eyes searched his and twinkled. teasingly. It had been months and months. That and the gut-wrenching romantic chords of Kenny G. Then Krista unexpectedly whispered in his ear—about the price of socks. He needed to slow things down. dipping briefly into the indent at her belly button. instrumental floated across the room. Everything about Krista excited him. he wanted her to know that this was more than a race with lust. "Do what often?” she asked. She had nice breasts. This train of thought wasn't doing anything to slow his racing testosterone.” she said in a breathy voice. ." "Are those the socks you bought at the mall today?" "Yes. not too large and not too small. She toyed with his shirt button. This.

Her pale. His tongue danced with her tongue. "Neither dressed nor undressed. Dirk needed no further coaching. her neck. In a jumble of flying fingers and buttons. her chin. “I'd like another go-round at that zipper. “They only melt in my mouth while you. And he shut up. he had his shirt open and off . "You are the most delicious woman I've ever had the pleasure to kiss. “for a computer nerd." Her faint smile gave him hope. for a long while.” she said breathlessly. Krista. "Did I tell you how beautiful you look tonight?” he whispered. sweetness. When he turned her to face him. Somehow. her skin gleamed golden. Dirk had never kissed a woman this much before. stroking the tip of her pink nail against the collar of his white shirt. "It's a little late. He tugged on her hand and coaxed her up from the bed. "Maybe I should be the judge of that. He unzipped her dress. His lips kissed her lips.” she nibbled on his lip. When he reached her neck.” Was she ever? Basked in a halo from the nearby lamp." "And you're not very quiet. my belle. She didn't need a whole lot of coaxing. I like that. he planted small. He dipped his tongue into the cleavage that had tempted him earlier. he said. “You're better than M&Ms. to a beat way faster than the back-to-back Kenny G. sweetness." With a lithe movement. and her hose landed in a delicate pile on top of her pink-painted toenails. for a librarian. he kissed her collarbone and her throat. “In reverse this time.” Slowly. or wanted to. He worked his way along the enticing neckline of the dress he'd enjoyed zipping up earlier. “now that I'm undressed. He turned her in his arms. He nudged the ivory fabric away from her shoulders. The vinyl teeth slid apart a lot faster than they had bit together. melt in my hands.” He shook his head." "That's pretty romantic lingo.” he murmured absently. wet kisses. lacy bra. His teeth and fingers peeled away whatever lingerie stood in his wake. The small sound emanating from her throat was definitely a moan. even slower. He kissed his way back up. His lips slowly slid their way down the arch of her spine.” He combed his fingers through her silky dark hair and spread the strands across the pillow. she lifted her dark hair away from her neck. No. then followed the path the dress had taken with warm." "You're beautiful both dressed and undressed.When they didn't. she wasn't humming. she ran her index finger down over the front of his shirt. moist kisses along her nape and her shoulders. songs playing on the radio. Her nail grazed each button. he coaxed her mouth open. When he could stand it no longer. "And you?” she asked. too.” Then his kisses quieted her. she hummed along to the beat of the music. I like that a lot. her matching panties.

His movements became fast. then slow. She had the softest. The sexy. His belt buckle jangled when he flicked it open. brownest eyes that glazed over with the softest. Did she ever feel sweet in his arms." "Extended size underwear weren't on sale anyway. . and himself. you're very gentle. he'd have been even more creative. When he blasted clear off the moon. palm-to-palm and eye-to-eye they made slow. front and back. and then even slower. while still standing. it was all he could do to keep himself from crash-landing off the moon. He especially liked the way she purred and squirmed when he smacked tiny. with sliding. When those dainty fingers unzipped him. He tasted every inch of her flesh. That was all the encouragement he could stand. then take her to bed. she ran that same finger down through the hairs on his chest and around his nipples. lusty and tender. inviting and feminine.” she said in a wispy voice. he impaled her against the wall beside the night table. gliding moves. gentle touch. Her finger traced over his black leather belt. her dark eyes rounded and she gasped. and quick. against the wall. angelic librarian was just that. He teased her. He dropped his hands to his sides and held his breath while he waited for her to decide. Their kisses got hot. Dirk pulled her close and kissed her hard.. When she looked down. he took her heavenly body with him. If he'd had known she was going to return the favor and kiss every inch of his flesh. Soon she wriggled and thrust her hips. he lifted her up and fit himself between her legs. “I only bought socks because you see them and all. sexy and angelic. that simulated but never penetrated. exuberance overtook him and her.” He shrugged. She adjusted just fine. Surprisingly. Once they were upright again. “I packed in a hurry. "For a big guy. all naked and soft and fragrant. I forgot socks and underwear. “Want a go at my zipper?” he asked in a hushed. Such exhilaration over such a light. and finally on the bed. he thought he'd landed on the moon. In bed was the best. and hotter. He tried to control the shiver that ran down his spine and tickled his tailbone. brownest patina. Graceful as ever. He kicked his pants off. Ever so slowly. pink-painted nails assisted him.” She wove her arms around his nape and bit gently at his neck. With a slight adjustment. It was time for a real moon landing. husky voice. fluttering kisses right above the cleft of her buns. she wrapped her legs around his hips and snuggled onto him. He'd meant to tease her a bit. Afterward. He figured an explanation was in order. soul-shattering love. Dirk waited for her to adjust to his size. Then he nearly dragged her down while he groped through his pants pocket for a packet. then back and forth across the shiny. he unrolled the latex onto himself..in a jiffy. silver belt buckle. When her ladylike hands touched him there. Next. on the floor. Instead.

but he needed an excuse to make sure she was real and touchable and not some dream that evaporated in the early morning light. Anyway it had seemed like only a minute when the blare of the alarm clock jerked him awake. already." "Oh. “It's still dark out. But he had business to attend to this morning. He pulled her close and hugged her to him." She yawned and rubbed her eyes. it was only to find that he was head over heels. She thought he was handsome. She thought he was clever. He told her so. he stashed his gear into the cargo area of the Bronco and buckled Krista into the passenger seat. “It will be mid-morning until I get you home and me back out to the homestead. and vulnerable. and for a wife. After tugging the bed sheet up over her shoulders. after he got his head out of the clouds. With backward tosses." "They deliver bulls before dawn?" "No. She looked so darn cute. “The computer broke. he glanced at the clock on the dash—seven a.m. Gently. “Did you try rebooting?" "Kitty crashed it beyond reboot.” He slid out of bed and pulled on his pants. but a prize bull is scheduled to be trucked out to the ranch this morning. he kissed her temple and closed his eyes. No one had ever called him a hunk before. And that wasn't all." By the time he stood up. "Do you want the bathroom first?” he asked. He was both flattered and humbled.” Krista shook her head and what was left of her dark curls from last night bounced and swayed. he noticed how quiet Krista had become. Gone was the talkative. relaxed woman from the night before. Not that she needed his help buckling up. he picked up her dainty undies and other clothing from the floor and flipped them in the direction of the bed.The things she said to him were the most outrageous things he'd ever heard. Told her about his plans for the homestead. He dozed for a minute. she'd gathered her ivory clothing into a jumble that she clutched to her chest along with the blue sheet. Once they were on their way back to Springville." "A crash?” he asked. She thought he was sexy. Sometime later. He chalked her silence up to sleep deprivation. His heart flipped. It's . you can't. This relationship was going somewhere. little librarian. A bit later. fast. But Krista had fallen asleep in his arms. “I'll email you sometime this afternoon." "I hate to sleep and run. Yesterday morning she pulled the whole system down by its cord. Soon as they were within the town limits. She nodded. He turned and waited. he rocked her. He hated to leave the warmth of her tender body snuggled enticingly up against him. “Wake up.

he wanted another kiss. Instead." Dirk maneuvered the quick left-right-left turn onto her narrow. she slipped from the seat and was gone. What's a good time?" "Ah. She had quite a watchable walk." With that.in the shop. drove his mules across the property of the real Craig Knoll and kept it spotlessly groomed. "You don't have to see me in. he slid his arm along the back of the vinyl seat. a computer shop. Dirk made a quick stop at the bakery on his way out of town and then headed toward Interstate 80 and home. One just never seemed to do. When she turned and waved to him. He watched her walk up the sidewalk. tree-lined street. then. then pulled into her driveway. Ellie's coming by to pick up Kitty and who knows where we'll land after that. He liked watching her walk. “I know you're running late. Out of the blue. after retirement as a state employee. He backed out onto the street and waited until she unlocked the front door. he was a noble and good man who. The driver flashed a blaze of orange hair and a wicked wink.” He leaned in and locked his lips to hers. He'll always be remembered. She had the sweetest tasting kisses. As soon as their lips parted.” Krista jangled a key ring from her pink-polished nail. a bright yellow compact honked back at him right before it swerved into Krista's driveway. [Back to Table of Contents] CHAPTER ONE . he honked the horn and pulled away from the curb. would be his guess. He pecked Krista on the cheek. When he braked to a stop. [Back to Table of Contents] Excerpt from CRAIG LEGACY By Terry Campbell ISBN 1-55316-121-1 Copyright © 2004 Linda Campbell and Bobbye Terry Dedication To Barbara Rutherford in memory of her husband Billy." "I'll just keep trying then. I'll be in and out all day. Ellie. the. He was the inspiration for writing the book and was nothing like John Broady. “I'll call you.

The headline screamed: 21st Century's Financial Wunderkind. Being alone at Craig Knoll for the past one hundred and forty plus years had given him many hours to carefully design his battle strategy. he'd never failed at anything in his life. That. he guaranteed. mesmerized. He just knew it was true. she would turn thirty and would be too old to go back. How he knew this. Because on the eleventh day. then stood and moved toward her bedroom. This can wait. He frowned at an unwanted twinge of regret. Then there was her hair—strands of gold caressing one of the nicest asses he'd ever seen. Frankie flicked her hand over her ear as if brushing aside a bothersome gnat. Colonel Benjamin Craig's gaze drifted from the woman setting up her computer to a framed photo of her on the wall—this month's cover ofForbes magazine. a mere chit of a woman. he couldn't explain. she had a figure that turned a man's mind to mush. “It's late. He crossed the room. Minute by minute the clock ticked down. Too bad she hadn't lived in his time. his life—depended upon it. "Sweet dreams. He had only until the end of the year. His legacy—no. Virginia. After all. refusing to allow scruples to stand in the way of his correcting history. If he'd been capable of breathing. Then again. Ben pushed the fear of time and failure from his mind. even those in his time. Ben reared back and rose. he glared down at her. With Frankie's arrival. then knelt beside Frankie. she was short. returning it to its rightful course with him as the head of the Craig family legacy—not his younger brother Noah. He'd waited for the one person who could carry out his plan. he'd found his key. How much longer did she plan to work on that infernal machine? He glanced at the family's grandfather clock. when did she become immune to my suggestions ? Moments later. Frankie. he would have exhaled in a whoosh. Present Day Women! They were as unreadable as the wilderness and as ruthless as General Sherman.Damn. Frankie!" **** . Go to bed. shorter than most women. Four-thirty in the morning was time to get up.” he whispered. as Frankie removed her clothes. firm cheeks that would have filled his hands to perfection. Time was running out. But God help him. Yes. not go to bed. ten days to convince her she must enter the portal and travel back to when he had lived. all-woman wunderkind. And Frankie Matthews. Fists on his hips. was doomed to failure. He watched. before long she would. she rolled her shoulders. was about to be defeated.Goochland. No way she wouldn't do as he commanded.

. The gods. my love?” He gasped the words. A single tear traced his cheek. The next moment she was inside a man's head—a man named Ben. “Where are you.” he said. but the added part about not finding his true love was. It's already eight-thirty. the damned yellow-bellied Yank had shot him. She shook her head. a character in a dream. Uncle Henry. “Take care of Mama and the sisters. Masta Ben. If so. So what if that wasn't the way he'd really died. He looked down at his chest and saw the spreading red mark. then lay still. He bent and whispered in her ear. the dreams've started again!" Ben grinned at Frankie's reaction. your God." "Have faith Masta Ben. One moment she'd been floating above Craig Knoll.” She punched her pillow." Ben rubbed his hands together. Jeez. but the one she'd seen in photos from over a hundred years ago. “Get up and go to your thinking place. "Never should've come home." Frankie glanced at her bedside alarm clock. Not her Craig Knoll. He fell forward. barely holding himself half erect with the rifle. taking the rifle from Ben's hands and easing him onto the ground. So why did she smell magnolias in December? Frowning. True. felt his fear and experienced his feelings of inadequacy. then buried her face in it. “Hang on. Step one. Ben closed his eyes and grabbed the old man's hand. . a brilliant stroke of genius. It pulled every tender heartstring Frankie had. “I haven't found her yet.The moon pulled free of the clouds and shone down upon the carnage littering the yard.” His eyes drifted closed. in his humble opinion. what was it with her and Craig Knoll? Ben was a figment of her imagination. Frankie wondered if it were possible for a person to will himself not to die. There had to be a logical explanation. He'd killed all three. A thin sheen of perspiration covered her. She'd had dreams before. “Rats. **** Frankie jerked upright in her bed. self-recrimination and finally his howl of anguish and refusal to allow death to take him. “Damn." Ben shook his head. The trick would be to find it. I was supposed to find her. She's seen through his eyes. but nothing like this. he knows what he's doin'. You'll find her. The man's knees buckled. Scalding tears ran down her cheeks. “No!" An old black man ran forward.. Hang on. Ben Craig would have been the man to accomplish it. Frankie slid back under the bedcovers. as with all his plans. had been flawlessly executed. Good.

everyone except men. she had closed off a part of her heart. caressing it. In summer. making her nothing more than a marionette. Frankie opened her eyes. It was Craig Knoll to be exact. In full leaf. The mansion and this hidden sanctuary had created the woman she'd become. and being away too long left her feeling like an amputee suffering the phantom pain of a missing limb. “Oh. she'd only been six at the time. Until this time. No. Frankie sat frozen as an unseen hand tipped her head back and to the side. This time. A warm breeze brushed strands of her long hair back from her face. closing her eyes against the glare off the ice. only several hundred yards away. Yes. She was a portfolio manager for an investment fund for God's sake. nine days and six hours. Shocked. she'd swear she'd been brainwashed into avoiding romantic entanglements. It drew her.” she whispered at the sensation of lips searing a path down her neck. and Aunt Ginnie and Uncle Max had refused to allow her to stay in her self-imposed shell. Yes. Frankie sighed and. and it made no sense. Drew her? Hell. my God. she had retreated from people. bending her will to its own. She wasn't controlled by an outside force. Her gaze drifted over the surrounding countryside as she looked at it as she had the first time she'd seen it.Why not men? Her refusal to get involved was visceral. she had succeeded in staying away for thirteen months. it talked to her. What was wrong with her? All her life she had called the pond her thinking place. green rolling plains of land hugged the water. Yet today she sat blindly staring at the pond.**** Frankie settled herself comfortably against the blanket-covered antique wrought-iron bench. Even in winter with naked trees and ice-tipped grass. the trees hid this spot from the distant fields and the road. her problem was closer to home. The question was. . she'd never managed more than four months absence before returning home. This oasis of life sang to her. but she couldn't. With their unconditional love she'd relearned to trust. Someone was watching her. She knew the exact time because the house had told her as it whispered its welcome. then studied the icy four-acre pond. invaded her dreams. Then again. If she didn't know better. unable to figure out why coming home felt like a double-digit loss. afraid to let anyone too near for fear they too would desert her. She'd like to blame her inability to fall in love on her parents’ deaths. Frowning. looked deep inside herself. She chuckled at the absurd thought. its stark beauty had always spoken to her. why? Except for when she'd been away at college. Well. Its lapping waves were notes of a love ballad deep within her soul. Goosebumps covered her. Pride filled her.

then bit her lower lip. Frankie turned and smiled. Now. Now and forever. Frankie. then grinned. but I . Shame filled her. Frankie. beside her. When a low deep voice murmured.She tried to fight the lassitude overwhelming her. clean winter air. again . staring at the frozen pond. “I hate to inconvenience you. I'll be getting back. Her nightmare had arrived.. “I'm surprised you didn't come over in your truck instead of driving your mules.” Frankie pasted a polite smile on her face and met his gaze. still sitting on her quilt. Shaking.” she mumbled. it had seemed like. and Mrs. she hugged herself. you. not during the icy month of December. “That's impossible. She watched in silence as the man drove his team along the narrow path toward her. the distinctive scent she smelled couldn't be denied.” she said." "I drive ‘em everywhere I can." Frankie pulled the hood of her ski jacket up and hunkered down into it.” Frankie inhaled deeply. “I saw your car and figured it best to check on things. Two mules pulled a flatbed wagon toward her from the far side of the pond. maybe not. “I know for a fact Aunt Ginnie and Uncle Max are pleased you're so diligent. “You're mine. So why did she feel as if her dream lover were with her. Her gaze drifted slowly across Craig Knoll's landscape. then slanted him a glance. his bulk covering half of it.” Magnolias bloomed in late May and through June. Her longing for love and a lover no longer limited themselves to dreams. Moving further to her left on the bench. Its name: John Broady. “Where're Mr. Not to mention my overactive imagination. Frankie!" "Then again. “Good to see you home. Wasn't expectin’ to see you ‘til spring. if you'll excuse me. They now consumed her waking hours too. “I'm overworked. “Hi. “They're still in Richmond and will be down within a week." "You're right.. After tethering his mules next to her rider-mower. The fragrance of magnolias hung in the sharp. he squeezed." She stood and looked down at Broady.” Broady shrugged. For a few seconds. Hell. only to find herself enjoying the strange sensations flooding her senses.” He glanced at his hand. Frankie shook her head in denial. Spying with binoculars. John. You ought to know that by now. I should know better. Yet. Grabbing her right hand. Especially durin’ the winter. Craig? Haven't seen ‘em around.” she bolted upright. that's all." He plopped down beside her on the bench. Broady walked over to her. She shaded her eyes from the glare of the sun and squinted in the direction of the voice. waiting for her to acknowledge him? "Hey. then wiped it on his grubby overalls. Frankie. they're a whole lot more reliable than a car.

“She'd sure enough get an argument from them construction workers who remodeled the milk rooms. Why did he have to bring up her height? Damn and double damn." Shooting him a dark look.” Grinning. “I'll carry it for you.need the blanket. Your aunt." At the tractor. smacking the side of the tractor with a fist." "Wonders never cease. I noticed you still have trouble gettin’ up that old lawn tractor. a small. "Now don't go gettin’ your pretty feathers ruffled. Your uncle says you've hit the big time and are handlin’ the Craig Foundation investments. He was right. she stiffened her back. Like she needed to be reminded she barely cleared five feet. I didn't mean no harm. she jerked free of his tight hold." "A couple of minor incidents?” He hooted. He was doing it again. “Who'd've ever guessed. she lost lots of workers over that wooden closet. you ain't a bit taller than when you was fourteen. The one facing her bed. she climbed onto the tractor. “Ghost?" "Didn't your aunt tell you about the tricks he played on ‘em?" A tremor shot through her. Imagine that. Broady leaned against the vehicle and smiled.” Turning. "Your Uncle Max told me last summer you was talkin’ about movin’ that investment business of yours here to Craig Knoll. Surprised it took so long. little thing figuring out the big bad world of high finance. “Still can't believe how small you are. It's not as if it were a news flash . he jerked it off the bench and followed her. you being such a small. “Not really. Why.” Broady's gaze slid over her. “Let me help. “Have you seen the ghost yet?" Frankie's fingers froze on the ignition key. She said there'd been a couple of minor incidents and that's why people are claiming the house is haunted." "Really? I'm surprised it didn't take longer. At the gleam in Broady's eye." Frankie winced." "Why?" "It was that old wardrobe that spooked ‘em. I'd changed my mind all together and was going to stay in Richmond. he lurched forward to grasp her elbow. In fact. Get a grip." Frankie swallowed hard. little thing an’ all. telling her tales so she would turn to him for help. Frankie. She'd been rude. and why? Because he'd pointed out how small she was." "You love the homestead too much to go do a fool thing like that. .” The last thing she wanted was Broady's help." He lumbered to his feet. As she sat. There was only one armoire in the apartment. “I can manage.

" He pointed toward the backyard. “It's Ben Craig that's been hauntin’ Craig Knoll. I was right. Besides. then took a deep breath and slowly exhaled." Frankie blinked several times. has she?” Broady grinned. Heck. Everyone knows Aunt Ginnie loves anything to do with the paranormal.” Shoving the small tractor into drive. Kneeling. she nodded to Broady. that didn't explain why every time she had the men move it up to the attic and come the next mornin’ the dag-nab thing was right back where it started. but the living. Frankie. She wanted to swear on a stack of bibles her dream had been a product of old stories she'd heard in her youth. Once the motor sputtered to life. I'm tellin’ you true. trust me. Tall tales. it isn't the dead I have to worry about. She knew better. Although. Unlinking her fingers." "Don't you go frettin’ none." Broady grinned. And they have no basis in reality. Course. Frankie stared down at Ben's headstone. “I hear most of the time he appears downstairs in the old milk room. . then her dream man was Ben Craig. she's seenGhost over a dozen times." "I'm sure you will. The truth would sink her. Besides. Sometimes he's even around the yard or here at the pond.” she said. “That's what your aunt kept saying. She knew little of the history surrounding the original owners. If she swallowed Broady's story."The wardrobe is nothing but a piece of furniture. Happened every day for a week. she'd have told me about this business. staring down at him as if he were one of her assistants who hadn't completed the necessary research on a potential investment. Five minutes later. John. she traced the words craved in the granite. “Yep. Aunt Ginnie had only discovered some old family photos two months ago and placed them on display in the upstairs front room. then spit a stream of tobacco juice. "She probably didn't say nothin’ ‘cause she's afraid she'd give you the creeps and you wouldn't come home. “Thanks for the interesting tale. then pulled his knit cap off and scratched his oily thinning hair. John. not hers. in my experience. Make sure no one bothers you.” Broady patted her thigh. Your aunt still hasn't told you ole William Craig's oldest son was named Ben. Broady winked." "These are just tales. John." "And how many times did you see it with her?" Frankie knew better than to answer that question. then gave it a slight squeeze. They were Uncle Max's ancestors. They say his spirit still roams the family homestead ‘cause he wasn't supposed to die. them workers was gettin’ to the point they needed to bring an extra pair of shorts to work." "Give it up. she headed for the family cemetery. “I'll keep a good eye on you. John. she leaned forward and turned the ignition key.

Colonel Benjamin William Craig September 14, 1835—June 21, 1864 Murdered. His honor lives on. The man had died almost a hundred and forty years ago. Yet, until Broady had told her his sorry tale, she hadn't known he'd existed. So why did she feel like crying? **** Ben watched Frankie's fingers lightly touch the words on his headstone. He wished he could become corporeal again as he had when Frankie, a heartbroken child, had arrived at Craig Knoll. He'd known that night as he'd comforted the sobbing six-year-old that she was his salvation. From that day forward, he'd stayed at Frankie's side whenever she'd been home. Then again, maybe it was just as well he didn't materialize with a solid form. She'd grown into a beautiful woman. Keep focused on the goal. Her romantic soul was her Achilles’ heel. And he was a master at playing on another's weakness. How to reach it was another matter. Once she'd believed in true love. She'd thought certain souls were destined to be together, and neither time nor place could prevent them from joining. He chuckled, as he often had, over her naivete. Once he'd been like her, even through the bloodshed and incessant slaughters of the war. Through it all, he'd held onto his dreams. Dreams of comfort. Dreams of writing the stories within him that begged to be told. The only thing missing had been the perfect woman who would be his lover and the mother of his children. Then Beatrice had gotten her hooks into him and had begun to teach him the shattering truth. Her brutal lessons had murdered his spirit as surely as the bullet from the Northern traitor had extinguished his life. Love was for romantic fools. Now he was neither. Romance had been severed from his being as completely as the ligament in his lower leg. As for being a fool, he would never fall captive. Since Joseph's death and his ensuing betrothal to his brother's widow, he'd forbade himself the freedom of hope. Perhaps that alone had saved him on the battlefield. Yet, ever since his physical death, he'd known that his rejection of faith had left him withered and incomplete, never to be a fulfilled man. Not that it mattered. He had a more pressing problem to solve: John Broady's effect on Frankie. With his half-truths, the man had almost single-handedly ruined Ben's years of work—his gentle nudges and loving words. He now saw how instead of welcoming the idea of his existence, the thought he might have controlled her would repel her. And if she discovered the truth, she would refuse to help him just on principle. Unfortunately, finesse was no longer an option. The time for action had arrived.

He lifted her hair into the air, then let it drift down a few strands at a time while kissing her neck. [Back to Table of Contents]

CHAPTER TWO Frankie shook her head. It'd taken her an hour and three airplane size bottles of Scotch to calm down. “Some Ice Queen.” Praise the Lord that the foundation's board wasn't aware she'd turned to alcohol to calm down. Filled with self-disgust at her display of weakness, she inspected the provisions Aunt Ginnie and Uncle Max had supplied. The cupboards contained canned goods, including paté, tins of truffles and assorted condiments. She jerked open the refrigerator door, then laughed. Good old Uncle Max. He always thought in terms of life's necessities—she found two precooked marinated chicken breasts, a rice-mold and bowl of fruit salad. In contrast, Aunt Ginnie, believing life without romance was nothing more than existence, had stocked a shelf with French wines—Pouilly-Fumé and Avenay Champagne. Frankie removed the chicken, then winced as she read the note taped on it. “Nuking will dry it out. Reheat at three hundred and fifty degrees for twenty minutes. For best flavor, use the barbecue." She didn't need Uncle Max to remind her she couldn't cook worth a damn. Boil water, yes. Microwave something, yes. Call a five-star restaurant and have the meal delivered,oh yes ! But cook? Not in this lifetime. At least he'd provided enough precooked meals to last the few days until they arrived at the homestead. Frankie glanced out the window. In spite of the dusting of snow on the ground, she decided to try the barbecue. "Thank God, it's gas.” She wondered if she'd ever live down the humiliation of emptying a can of lighter fluid onto ready-to-start charcoal only to have it sit there—wet, black and dead. With a sigh, she jerked herself back from her one failed moment of domesticity and studied the sky. If the weather held another thirty minutes, she'd have the perfect summer meal during the dead of winter. Once back in the kitchen, Frankie put the plate with the marinated chicken breast on a tray. As she placed the other piece of chicken back in the refrigerator, her gaze lit on the chilled champagne. "Why not.” She removed the cold bubbly and grabbed a glass. After setting them on the tray, she headed outside. Moments later, she gazed out over the large open backyard and took a deep breath, inhaling the clean crisp air of the homestead. It was good to be back home. Once dinner began to cook, she reached for the champagne. Her gaze narrowed on the two glasses.

“I'd swear I only picked up one.” With a shrug, she filled both long-stemmed flutes. She'd pretend she was here with her lover. Not that she'd ever had a lover. Thanks to her shyness, love of horses and preference for books, she hadn't dated much. And those she had gone out with hadn't touched that secret place in her heart. Then later, when she'd finished college and had entered the workforce, she'd refused to get involved with anyone who didn't meet her demanding criteria. How and where she'd developed that criteria she'd still never figured out. The only thing she did know was that at twenty-nine she was that rare anachronism, a virgin. With eyes closed, Frankie sipped her champagne and fantasized about her soul mate. He'd be a gentleman of the old school—genial and good-hearted. He needed to be confident but not cocky. Someone strong enough in his own right that he wouldn't be overwhelmed by her, and perhaps most important, she wanted a sensuous lover, the kind her romance novels raved about. She clinked the glasses together. Leaning back against the brick stair, she saluted the deep rose light of the fading day. “To my lover. May I find him soon." The wind murmured by her from the south, rustling the few dry leaves left in the yard. Frankie bolted upright and sniffed. The scent of magnolias filled the air. As the heavy scent swirled around her, thoughts of Ben flooded her mind. His long dark lashes and Union-blue eyes, his strength, both of body and mind drew her. Suddenly, Frankie knew that if she couldn't have Ben, she wanted his modern day clone. A gust of wind once again brushed her face, lifting her long hair off her neck. Frankie shivered. She'd swear fingers, not the wind, had threaded through the strands and were slowly releasing them. A deep voice whispered next to her ear, “I'm coming soon, my love." Frankie jumped. Champagne drenched her blouse. As the scent of magnolias faded along with the breeze, she quickly scanned the yard. Fields of snow and bare trees stared back, mocking her. Rushing to the grill, she removed her chicken, then bolted back into the house. Entering the kitchen, she set the plate of chicken on the counter. “You're being a ninny, Frankie. Chill." She reached for the bottle of champagne, then bit her lower lip. “Damn!” Did she dare go outside and retrieve it? Of course she did. She wasn't a wuss who jumped at her own shadow. Damn it all, she was a hard-boiled businesswoman. A bottom-liner. Stiffening her back, Frankie marched to the front door and opened it. Then, through narrowed eyes, she studied the area as if it were a minefield. "Don't be a goose. Just do it,” she hissed. After taking several deep breaths, she rushed over to the bottle of champagne and glasses. With a speed unknown to Southern ladies, she placed the bottle on the tray, then her empty glass. Her hand touched the second crystal flute, and she froze. It was empty. "I drank it. Yeah, that's what happened. I drank it,” she said, lifting the glass.

she wasn't too sure how she felt about his roguish smile. **** "Don't leave me! Frankie!" She jerked upright in her bed. Frankie kept her gaze on him while she fumbled with the switch of the lamp next to her bed. real eye candy.” Frankie giggled." His voice reminded her of water washing over her naked body on hot summer nights skinny-dipping in the pond—cool. he was a beaut. It felt as if his life force was touching her soul. at least he isn't a pink elephant . But then." The fragile crystal crashed to the brick patio. With it came a whisper as soft and gentle as a sigh. Magnolias in December? Again? Frankie ignored the rest of the room and focused her gaze on Ben Craig. As aberrations went. She'd had the same dream for three nights straight. I'm in it. With a smile. the man had beggedher not to leave him. seated in her Queen Anne winged-chair beside the waning fire. he moved toward her. Directing what's happening. long while . Soon. Jeez. "Damn it. You. You are not frightened. it's a dream! Nothing more!” So why did she feel it was much more? With a shrug. You're just an alcohol induced dream. this one's got to be one of the all time greats. he even has the ruggedly chiseled features of the heroes in romances. are off the sauce for a good." Afraid he'd disappear if she glanced away. my love. He seemed to exude a vitality that transcended the grave.A breeze caressed her cheek. twirling the stem between his fingers. I knew you would not be. my dear Frankie. rose. Yet this one had been different. well. Whatever that means. Despite the slight limp that marred his gait.Oh. He was also studying her. "Frightened? Not a chance. I mean. You're not real. his movements were smooth. “Soon. soothing. "Good. Talk about a hallucination. in full Confederate dress uniform.Obviously drinking that entire bottle of champagne was not one of my brighter moves. Although. On the table beside him rested an unblemished white magnolia blossom. she stretched and inhaled. She also sensed that beneath its strength lay a gentleness waiting to be released. Tonight. Ben picked up the magnolia and. “Only this time. Frankie squeezed her eyes shut. He's still sitting there. he's one magnificent hunk. yet sinfully delicious. . She slowly opened her eyes.

do you not?" Frankie shook her head." Ben tried not to preen as Frankie slowly perused him. The world's darkest forces had made him what he was today—a splintered soul with no refuge.My God. He slowly pulled back. I have waited a very long time for you. including lust. because ghosts don't exist. They're Union blue. Not that I'm complaining. Forcing an indifference he didn't feel. He bent forward. Ben knew how he handled her now would determine his future.” His energy moved her hair from her face.He stopped beside her bed. “Boy. starting where his mouth touched hers. executing a small bow. Hisbody had gone on alert. A light electric current." "I know a dream when I have one. Colonel Benjamin Craig at your service. They'd never been shy about telling him of his attractiveness or their desire to have him as a husband. "My dear Frankie. “You already know that. And this is a dream. Over the intervening years he'd often wondered which of the two had changed him the most. Ben. Ben smothered a chuckle. even after Beatrice had made him hard and cynical. And I am not a dream.” Ben took a step back and looked down at her. how even after all these years the word “Union” brought him up short. Yet he had. “But you may call me Ben. Strange. "I fear it is time you learned that I am neither a dream. Ben laughed. This is not good. mind you. He needed. but it was hard. “They're navy blue. deter him from his ultimate goal. danced through him." Ben snapped backward. his lips firmed as they brushed hers. Yet. nor a hallucination nor an apparition. "What's amazing?" "Your eyes. He remembered the effect he'd had on women during his life. Or was that his past. The joke was on him.” she said with another giggle. to get his act together. as they said in today's world. Not even his second taste of desire in almost one hundred and forty years. He refused to let anything.” she muttered. “Allow me to introduce myself. Frankie. “I enjoy watching you . "Amazing. little one. To his shock." "Have it your way.” He found himself wishing he were more than mere mist as he cupped her head in his hands. Frankie looked at him with the same longing as women always had." "Hi there. what had happened? He wasn't supposed to feel corporeal pleasure. I'm now having waking dreams.” he said. Beatrice and the war were much the same—emasculating and irreversibly destructive. He felt a surge of old pride. he wondered.

In my time. aren't you?” she asked. he reached out and with a finger of pure energy traced her cheekbone. That is not what fate has in store for us. He appreciated neither her grim expression nor her rigid back. Yet here she sat defying him. Hopefully." "How? You're dead. "Your skin is as soft and delicate as this flower. then laughed.” Ben said with a chuckle. You are my salvation. A ghost.” His gaze slid over her face. How am I your salvation and what is it you need from me?" Ben frowned. "You aren't real!" "But I am.sleep. "I'm going to die. I need you. You're enchanting with your hair in disarray over the pillow. he removed the blossom from her lap and stood. inching away from him. “And soon you will join me. At least. She was supposed to drop at his feet and willingly do his bidding. I know your feel and scent. Smiling.” he said with a sigh. We were meant to be together. You will save me—soon. “Bottom-line it. How could he have forgotten that in the last six years she had gained the reputation as a financial wizard? As a result of this folly. "No.” He leaned forward. When had she turned into such a termagant? "You want my help. Ben paced the room. He'd worked on her for over twenty-three years. “You are mine.” His fingers left her face and stroked the large magnolia bloom. He waved his hand and the pillows returned to their previous position. his first true." Glaring at her. "I am still here. it would not prove fatal. you will know mine. And one day soon. aren't I? You're one of those guiding spirits here to help me make the transition. he had underestimated her. No offense." "M-my soul b-beckoned yours?" He sat beside her. Many times. lay out the problem. his body making a slight imprint on the mattress. Slowly. then slowly opened them again." Frankie closed her eyes. he forced himself to rein in his anger. heartfelt laugh since the war had come upon them. demanding that he answer her questions. While she was a hard-nosed businesswoman. “I have touched you before.” With a graceful movement. we will be lovers. Frankie. “I have waited for you. Ben faced her." Frankie pushed herself upright. she had also devoured romance novels ." Ben grinned. “One day soon. your soul has beckoned me. not for another sixty or so years. but I don't want to join you in the great beyond. Through the years. This time as his lips brushed hers he knew all she felt was a summer breeze.

God help her. “This is not a contract negotiation. It was critical he find and touch that young woman." Though she said the words. You want me to do something. With a sigh. It was one thing to fantasize about Ben. Frankie wished she did. “There's no such thing as ghosts. Tossing the pillow aside. I'm still asleep. "We'll talk later." A shudder of relief shot through Ben." "Always the businesswoman. It was quite another to be haunted by his ghost. just buried. “I am real.” Ben folded his arms across his chest. **** Frankie stretched and wiggled her toes. Soon. then gasped." "She discovered her degree in history wouldn't put food on the table. She reined in her rising panic. and got an MBA. Last night happened. it wasn't a dream. she didn't believe them. As she scooted up and leaned back against her bed's headboard. they would withdraw their money from her faster than Ben dematerialized.Oh. she reached for the magnolia. Frankie. Much as she wanted to believe her subconscious had reacted to John Broady's tale. she inhaled deeply. Her gaze slid to the right. Or what it'll cost you. She .”After I've figured out how to breach your walls . “I wonder where that romantic. For she was the one who would travel through time to save him." "Seems like it to me. history-loving young woman went. a whisper on the air kissed her ear. then winced.from her early teen years. Eyes squeezed shut. she scanned the room and sniffed again. She refused to open her eyes.No way. Slowly opening her eyes. If she could handle investing in volatile high-tech stocks without losing control. went back to college. She closed her eyes and swallowed hard. my God." Frankie dropped the flower. not this hard-edged piece of baggage. she opened her eyes. Frankie wrapped her arms around her middle and rocked back and forth. She grabbed the spare pillow and buried her sweat-drenched face in the dry cool linen case. white and unblemished. On the spare pillow beside her lay a magnolia—fresh. The impulsive. but she didn't. The blossom's real . As her fingers closed around its stem. She'd never lied to herself before and wasn't about to start now. accident-prone girl he'd watched grow up was not dead. The last thing she needed was to discover that last night's encounter hadn't been a dream. she'd be damned if she'd allow a ghost to unnerve her. Until I know what it is. she knew something important and real had taken place. Sunlight filtered into the bedroom between the drawn drapes. If the foundation discovered this new wrinkle in her life. I won't tell you if I can or will help. We will talk again. still dreaming .

Frankie stared in disgust at the sheet of paper.Given the last twenty-four hours. ‘my love'. When reduced to ashes. Frankie set her fourth cup of java on the dining room table beside a yellow legal pad and two pens—one red. The list on the left was short and to the point. much less see them. Ghost insists we will be together but I'm not dying. Slowly exhaling. she reread the list. no one could now judge her unbalanced. So how do we come together? Just as I thought. She quickly walked to the fireplace. She was in trouble. Frankie mixed them with those of the previous evening's blaze. career-oriented woman.” In red ink." Frankie tore the sheet from the pad. job. no boyfriend. she labeled “Sane/Rational. Make him understand that there was no way she'd make out with a dead man—or was that a vapor? No matter how solid he appeared he had less substance than an early morning fog. She studied the last entry. she'd have to leave Craig Knoll and never return. lit a match and touched it to a corner of the paper. and frowned. she jerked the glass container free and filled the largest mug she owned. **** . big trouble. **** Frankie stared at the coffeemaker. she drew a line down the middle of the paper. Failing getting Ben off her back. if not outright pressuring her to do as he wished. A quick glance at the red ink convinced her she didn't need another item on that side of the ledger. she flopped onto one of the needlepoint chairs. she'd rather take on Ben Craig's ghost than her aunt and uncle when she tried to explain why she'd left the homestead and recoiled at the thought of returning. And for some reason. I ought to rethink which column that one belongs in . Ah. Once the flames flared up the offending document's edges. Picking up the black pen. that didn't change the fact she knew differently. he'd chosen her as the vehicle to remedy the situation. As soon as enough of her early morning elixir had dripped into the pot. The left side. Two things were obvious: Ben Craig's soul was not at rest. After a quick glance around the room. her internet stocks had more stability." Twenty minutes later. Women like her didn't believe in ghosts. no answer. Hell. Frankie scowled. Unfortunately. Convince Ben he was wrong. and he seemed bent on persuading. Thirty minutes later. That left her with two choices. age. Yet. she pitched it into the hearth and watched as it curled and blackened. It contained her name. She was safe. lack of a boyfriend and nothing else. soon she'd have access to her lifeline—strong and highly caffeinated coffee. Heading for the mother of all breakdowns. “Drawn to a ghost.was a rational. Ghost calls me. Given the choice. the other black. she titled the right side “Looney Tunes. With the evidence destroyed. she'd met Ben.

she cleared the screen saver. she was back in front of her computer. She pressed. she needed an ice pack more. Other than how he'd died—gunned down by three Union deserters while saving the family—she'd found nothing to explain his haunting. With a wince. the bulk of his fortune had come from the shipment of goods and liquor down river to Richmond on bateaux. She clicked on the print icon. Her investigation of the paranormal showed he was atypical. Then again. she popped the can open and gulped the icy liquid. She'd found almost nothing on the family prior to 1866. . As the vise-like grip around her eyes lessened. She shoved her fingers through her mane of hair. forever. if only for her sanity. and she doubted a man of Ben's position would have used one. What was it he'd said? Something about having waited for her and her soul beckoning his. She opened the refrigerator and removed a can of diet cola. had owned several parcels of land throughout central Virginia. “What. “Time for another infusion of caffeine. Forget the kick from caffeine. she'd be pounding the pavement looking for a new job. None of her findings made sense. William Craig. then rolled the cold. He appeared as a solid being until she touched him. We belong together. unopened can against her throbbing forehead. there was even less information about Ben. She'd spent five straight hours researching the Craig family.. a nonbeliever of all people? Frankie propped her elbows on the table and placed her chin on her hands. He moved objects and people with ease. she leaned against the counter. If this were all she had to show for her efforts at work. If possible. Ten minutes later.” She headed for the kitchen. She pushed away from the computer and stood. Why had he suddenly appeared? And why to her. daring her with their message: You cannot fight it. The faint scent of magnolia preceded his materialization. especially one who was dead? Typewriters were only developed in the mid-eighteen hundreds." Two sentences glowed up from the seventeen-inch monitor. telekinesis and poltergeists with the same single-minded focus she used when researching a company for possible investment.The characters on the computer monitor blurred together. why should they? Nothing about the past few days made sense. Information on the Craig family made Howard Hughes during his final years seem positively voluble. Although he'd grown tobacco and other crops. Using her mouse.. ghosts. Ben's father. She needed proof that a ghost existed. How had a nineteenth-century man operated her computer. What little she did have postdated the Civil War.

but at least it's safe. At LTDBooks there's something for everyone: from Horror to Historical. Frankie glanced back at the screen. Suddenly her foot shot out from under her and she slammed onto the frozen ground. Frankie picked up the sheet. . Rediscovering Thor is Kate's first eBook with LTDBooks.com for information on additional titles by this and other authors. “Not comfortable. I'm outta here. Visit www. “You're reverting to old reckless habits. Biting her lower lip. then faded from view. Romance to Mystery.The paper slid from her laser printer print side down. leaving behind a momentary phosphorescent outline. Fantasy to Intrigue and everything in between. When she's not working on her books.com." [Back to Table of Contents] About the Author Kate Hill's work has appeared in publications both on and off the internet. Frankie raced from the house. Blank white paper stared back at her. Pushing herself upright. Kate enjoys reading. "That does it. The two sentences flickered. [Back to Table of Contents] Publisher Info: LTDBooks is the publisher of original fiction in a variety of electronic formats.kate-hill. Visit her online at: www.com. At LTDBooks the story doesn't have to fit the mold—it just has to be well-told.” Grabbing her jacket. frost-coated blades of grass crunched. Her breath fogged in the air. she wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her chin on her knees.” she ground out. As she charged toward the pond. working out. Selected titles available in trade paperback.LTDBooks. and researching vampires and Viking history.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful