This is a little different from what I have been posting up here. I'm actually writing a bit of a story here. Next portion will be up next week. I'll try to have a racy scene up at some point over the next few days. If you're curious about the world that this little story is taking place, read my book The Dragon's Daughter or my other blog.
They faced each other with weapons drawn. The man was taller then the woman and he seemed to have the advantages that went with being bigger. As some of their people leaned against the split rail fence around the sparring area, the woman sized her opponent. Green eyes narrowed as they looked over his lean body. Astrid knew that body as well as the back of her hand.
Just the night before, they had tumbled into bed and made love as though it were the last thing they'd do in life. Now, he stood before her with his long knife at the ready and his black hair falling into his hazel eyes. A wicked smirk curved his lips. It was clear that he had taken her rejection of his offer of marriage seriously.
“You can walk away,” she said. That smile turned into a grin as he leaned towards her. That grin unsettled her but she kept her expression dour as to not betray the way her heart lept at it. He took a step to the right, keeping his hot gaze on her.
“You can say yes,” he retorted. She ground her teeth. Astrid's rising temper washed away all thoughts of how pleasantly his mouth felt on her skin. The tall woman had sworn to marry none. When her father scorned her, she amended it to only one who defeated her. The wiry strength that she had inherited from Erik Shieldbreaker and the ruthlessness that she demonstrated had defeated many suitors.
At first, her would be husbands scoffed. Some thought to be 'merciful' and held back their blows. What ever weapons they used, she bested them. Some she had wrestled and choked into unconsciousness. Astrid the Maid was a terror on the battlefield and her suitors learned this to their embarrassment. Then came the dark haired man from out of the north.
He did not try to flatter her. When he chose to attempt to court her, he did not bring her gifts of finery or promise sweet words. Instead, he gave gifts of weapons and spoke of his travels and battles. Astrid, despite her efforts to remain cool, found herself intrigued by this man who spoke to her of bloody things. When the riders came out of the west, Astrid found him to be a worthy shieldmate.
In the drunken revelry following that bloody victory, Astrid took him into her bed. Now, almost a month later, he had tired of her refusals to wed him. Astrid was angry. He had counted on that anger to muddy her wits.
As he moved about her, his long knife glinting, she carefully turned, keeping him before her. She spat out her answer in a tone that would have made it an insult, if he wasn't so amused by the situation. “Make me,” she snarled.
“As you wish,” he said before moving. He seemed to flow like water. Astrid scrambled aside, the tip of the knife barely missing her right arm. They were to fight to first blood. As the experienced warriors danced about each other, people watching began to place bets. He made his second attempt and Astrid batted his arm away. She moved to strike with her own knife but he had slipped out of reach.
His third attack was different. His knife was held out to the side and his forearm struck her across the neck. Astrid's eyes widened as she gasped for air and fell back from the force of the blow. Before she could respond to striking the ground, he was upon her. His knees trapped her arms out beside her. He brought the knife down and delicately cut her lower lip.
Astrid stared up at him with hatred in her eyes. At first the people watching them argued amidst themselves if he had actually cut her. As he stood, Astrid moved quickly to attack him, blood dripping down her chin. The man who had defeated her by surprise moved far faster then any of them had expected.
He dropped down to his knee and wrapped an arm about Astrid's neck. He held her hard against his chest, his face a breath away from her ear. Quietly, he said in her ear, “Fight me and you'll find far more favor then any other who has come into my bed.” Astrid's eyes narrowed, his words cutting through her anger by their pure strangeness. He abruptly let go of her and she twisted before him.
Her knife flashed but met empty air. Her fiancee stood behind her, reaching a hand towards her in an apparent offer to pull her to her feet. Astrid made her way to her feet and glared at him. She wiped the blood off her chin with the back of her hand. The man before her arched his left eyebrow slightly in a silent question.
Astrid brought her knife up and threw it. It flipped end over end, striking her lover in the shoulder. Where any other would have screamed at the injury, he laughed. Fear snaked into the Maid's heart as he pulled the knife from his wound and held it out to her. Where the others could not see it, Astrid watched as his wound knit closed. She blindly reached back as she moved to the edge of the sparring grounds.
He slowly stepped towards her. Astrid shouted for a sword. One of the gathered dashed off for the weapon as Astrid's black haired fiancee approached her with a suggestive smile. “Come, take the knife,” he said. It became apparent to the onlookers that something about this strange man was inhuman when they realized that he did not bleed or seem to suffer from his earlier injury. An anxious hand pressed the hilt of a weapon into Astrid's grip.
As soon as her fiancee came into reach, Astrid swung her sword hard. Steel met steel and the black haired man laughed. Astrid rained blows down upon him, keeping him back by force of blows. They disengaged and he grinned with approval. “You fight as well as you fuck,” he laughed. Astrid glowered at him.
“What are you?” Astrid demanded.
He stepped towards her and the air grew colder. Astrid's breath frosted in the air as he approached. He reached forward and set a fingertip against the tip of the sword. The blue steel's sheen began to dull as ice collected on the metal. The cold burned down the blade and into the hilt, making Astrid drop the weapon with a gasp.
He stepped forward and dropped the knives that he held. As the metal hit the ground that was frozen beneath his feet, it shattered. “Your husband,” he answered before reaching forward and placing a hand against Astrid's cheek. The air about her grew terribly, terribly cold. His touch, paradoxically, seemed to burn her skin. Brilliant heat seemed to throb beneath his skin. As Astrid began to shiver with that unnatural cold, the man before her's smile turned tender.
“I have watched you for a very long time, Maid,” he said as hoarfrost crept out from where they stood and the people around them made signs against evil and backed away. “I have burned for you,” he continued, wrapping an arm about her. As that terrible cold settled around her like some kind of strange phantom cloak, his body warmed her. Astrid shuddered with cold.
He dipped his head and set his mouth over hers. Slowly, he kissed her. That heat that burned in him poured through his mouth and down her throat like wine. It pooled in her chest and then began to spread through her limbs. As they kissed, Astrid's golden hair darkened. Slowly it faded from the color of honey to that of old straw and then to the shades of dead leaves. Finally, it turned a deep almost blue black color.
Astrid found herself consumed by that warmth he kindled in her veins. Hunger burned through her and she ached to feel his body against hers again. He broke the kiss and smiled down at her. Astrid the Maid and her inhuman spouse stood in the center of what seemed frozen statuary. The entire encampment had frozen. People and beasts froze solid where they stood. Fires were extinguished by the pure cold that radiated out from them.
Astrid, however, didn't care. All she wanted was the taste of his kiss and the feel of his skin.