Kroan, a warrior turned merchant ship owner and captain, is the first Viking I’ve ever written. Whew! I have to say, I’ve been missing out! Thick, bare chests strapped with leather and a battle axe. I mean, what have I been waiting for?
Here’s a snippet from my contribution to Conquests, Sweet Silk.
The Persian Empire, the North African coast, 820 AD
Shîrîn’s heart shuddered. What pleasure and pain that voice—or, more accurately, the memory of that voice—brought her over most of a decade. When a shadow large enough to accompany the man cast her in darkness, her hands faltered. The point of the needle missed the fabric altogether, stabbing into her finger.
“Angra Mainyu,” she cursed the devil and his destructive forces.
The piercing sting was restitution for turning her back on the hut’s entrance, beginning yet another bolt of silk in the obsessive pattern sure to put her family out of business. None of her countrymen wanted silk with a Viking astride a dark horse, his chest wide and bare with one sinewy arm brandishing an axe above his long blond locks.
“Are you hurt?” The voice and shadow grew bigger until both leaned over her shoulder. “Please, let me help.”
A hand, large enough to completely encompass her throat, gathered her smaller one and lifted it high. Though strong enough to inflict damage, his hand cradled. Heat radiated from roughened fingers.
Her breath lodged in her windpipe. Desire ran amuck in her mind, creating a desire for things she wanted more than all the silk in the land. She clamped her eyes shut. With a fast back and forth, she tried to shake away the absurdity of her thoughts.
An acute burn snapped her lids wide. Shîrîn rocketed from the woven rug, dumping the roll of expensive fabric and spools of vibrant threads to the ground. She turned, anger perched on the tip of her tongue.
“Have mercy on…”
A mountain of a man stood over her. It seemed his shoulders spread almost as wide as her arms could. She tilted her head and found her hand nestled inside his much-larger one, and snugged against the cleft of two bulging pectorals.
Shîrîn’s gaze locked there for far too long, mapping the thatch of light hair and tautness of the sun-kissed skin. In his other hand, the needle stood pinched between his thumb and forefinger. Crimson tarnished its point. Her cheeks suddenly grew hot, no doubt matching the vibrant red of the feather-light veil threatening to suffocate her.
She struggled to swallow, to speak, but her mouth grew as dry as the dunes. She should feel ashamed, ogling this man who conjured every fractured memory of her long-lost husband, as well as every carnal fantasy she’d entertained over the years. But she didn’t turn away, only continued the tour. This man’s jaw was wider than the man in her dreams. The scowl deeper. His nose sat proudly, if not a little crooked, between sky blue eyes flecked with cloud white fissures. Her palms slicked with sweat and her pulse stuttered.
She knew those eyes, would know them anywhere in the cosmos. “Kroan,” she gasped.
“You’re bleeding, Shîrîn.”
“I don’t care.” Her words were thin as Mand river reeds.
His grimace deepened still, but faltered with the rise of one brow. A smile played at the edge of his lips. He inclined his head and opened his mouth. Firm lips engulfed her fingertip in silk rivaling any she’d had the pleasure of experiencing. Chinese, Byzantine, Indian—none came close to the soft heat of the Scandinavian silk bathing the smallest bit of her skin. The rough give of his tongue caressed her pad, and then all too soon his lips dragged off her finger.
“I care,” Kroan said.
Oh, there’s more where that came from! Lots more! Interested? Check out Conquests: an Anthology of Smoldering Viking Romance!