He grinned down at me, a lock of his dark hair falling into his chocolate brown eyes. My husband, the bold and faithful knight who had met each challenge I set before him, the most painfully handsome man I had ever laid eyes on, had managed to soundly defeat me in our bit of wrestling. As much as I hated to admit it, I wasn't really trying to win. Gunther wasn't above taking the advantages that I gave him.
Thus it happened that I was pinned to the mat and he was straddling my hips. It was a delightful place to be. His grin told me that the same thoughts were going through his head that were passing through mine. A captain scoffed at the doorway into the gymnasium. "You just gave that to him," the big man snorted, "Are you always going to roll over and give up when pressed, Sargent?"
Gunther's eyes flashed and smoldered. He didn't care what the captain had to say in that moment. He was more interested in the way my breath caught in my throat and how my eyes widened slightly as his amused grin subtly turned more wicked. "It seems that my lovely wife is short of breath, Sir," Gunther said, his tone rich with humor. The captain standing at the door thought about making some sort of comment and then shook his head with a noise of disgust.
"Thoughtful," I corrected him. The captain rolled his eyes so hard that I could just about hear it. "You don't approve?" I said mildly. This got another derisive snort. Gunther's eyes danced at the prospect of mischief and I gave him a warning look. He flashed the disgusted captain a quick look with an almost manic glint in his eye before he leaned down to attempt to kiss me.
I twisted in his arms and levered him off of me by brute force. As he slammed into the mat, his head struck hard enough that his teeth clacked together loudly. Our onlooker gave a sudden loud bray of laughter. "Women," he said between his loud, lusty laughs, "Always tricksy things, you are." He walked off, laughing.
Gunther's gaze, while suggestive, turned from mirthful and mischevious to watchful and still. My mouth went a bit dry as he rubbed his jaw with the back of his left hand. "Vicious little minx," he said, "Is that how we're going to do it?" I rolled my eyes. As much as I enjoyed the prospect of tumbling into his arms, I knew better then to do so in a public setting. I started to get to my feet when he suddenly kicked out.
I did my best to jump back out of the way but he caught my right ankle. I fell to the ground hard enough that the breath was knocked out of me. As he rolled up to his side and reached for me, I rolled away to my right. His hand met empty air and he laughed. It was a dark, sadistic little laugh that made things deep inside me quiver. "Come, Jordsdottir," he purred, watching me as I made my way to my feet, "give us a kiss."
"Oh no," I answered, "we're not playing that game." Gunther grinned and stood, moving with a panther's grace. He started to circle around me. I turned, keeping my gaze on him, waiting for him to move. Instead of feinting for me, as I had expected when he lifted his hands from his sides, he pulled off his shirt and threw it aside. The dark blue lines of the valknut over his heart seemed to be painted on with oil because of the sheen of sweat on his skin. Various scars from past battles and more then a few childhood adventures stood out like pale place markers over the sun bronzed plain of his chest.
Realizing that I was thinking more about the idea of tasting that drop of sweat running down his left pectoral then I was about being ready for him to launch himself at me, I caught the tell tale dip of his left shoulder a split second before he came for me. I twisted around on my heel, narrowly avoiding his grasping hand. As I sought to right myself, I was surprised a second time by his arm around my waist. Even as I thought to try to escape him, I found myself lifted off my feet and thrown to the ground.
Again, the air rushed out of my lungs. He dropped down over me, pinning my right arm to my chest with his knee. I swung at him with my off hand only to have my wrist mercilessly pushed back. The world went white as a blinding wash of pain rolled over me. The unexpectedness of it made me scream. I was dimly aware of my left wrist slamming into the mat as another shock of pain knifed up my arm as the lock got twisted.
His voice, low, primal, and hungry, cut through the haze of pain. "Do you yield?" he asked. I found myself torn between the raw lust that his voice evoked and frustration over the situation he had chosen to create. Deciding that not answering was the wisest course of action, I bared my teeth and snarled up at him. That wicked smirk which made me shiver inside answered my fiercest look as he drew the dagger he carried at his back.
He set the cold, razor sharp edge delicately against my throat as he released the pressure of the wrist lock. It was a deliberate act. There was no threat of harm there as much as his reasserting that he had defeated me. The choice to fight was mine to make but the stakes would be higher if I did. I looked up at him and my heart seemed to beat faster and harder then it had before. That amusement and promise of having my limits pushed seemed to make his gaze burn with intensity. I realized, if I didn't yield, the sadist in my life was going to make a point of using each and every tool at his disposal to push me to do so later. It was simply how the game went.
Considering that we were in a room with more then a few weapons at hand and that he had but recently reacquired his mystical control of flame's essence, I knew well enough that I'd have a harder time in this setting then I would in our bedroom. A part of me was curious as to what would come of trying myself in that setting just as another part of me warned that such games were for private. It was clear that Gunther didn't have quite the same sense of modesty that I did.
As he watched me argue with myself, his wicked smile became one of triumph. "Say it, Brynhildr," he said.
"Lufiend, I yield," I said, suddenly feeling as though I were utterly naked. So much more was behind that statement then mere surrender of a sparring match. In that moment, between him and I, the fact that I held higher rank then him didn't matter any more. I was surrendering control of the situation to him. I was surrendering authority over the next course of events between him and I.The sound of two hands clapping slowly caught our attention.
I was suddenly grateful that I wasn't facing the nameless person applauding Gunther's apparent victory. Gunther looked over, for a moment having all the seeming of a wild animal crouching over his kill. That still threat of danger passed away and sadistic delight returned. My eyes widened as sudden dread chilled me. Gunther usually kept this side of our relationship terribly quiet. While there had been a few rumors, our official stance of 'no comment' left those rumors be simply that.
"Lufestre," Gunther said in that honeyed tone which he used when telling me what torments and delights he had in mind, "Look who is here." I tried to master myself. I tried to keep the dread out of my expression and keep my appearance as banal as possible. Seeing the hooded form of he that had once lead our number standing in the doorway, I flushed deeply. I could feel the heat burning down my face and across my chest as he smiled.
Marion Saxon said nothing as he turned and walked away. I was too mortified by his very clear amusement with the situation. Of all to have caught me in a moment of surrender and submissiveness, he was the last I would have ever wished to witness it. Gunther smiled down at me. Suddenly, a terrible, terrible thought passed through my mind. "You knew he was there," I breathed.
"Just before I took off the shirt," he said, reaching back to slip the knife back into its sheath. My eyes widened and for a third time, I was breathless. "I won a wager," Gunther grinned. He took hold of my left hand and brought it to his lips. "All with your charming assistance," he purred. My eyes widened and he could feel my arm tense as I made ready to pull it back to strike him.
Fire that none could see poured down my arm. It at first felt cold and then it burned terribly. I gasped in shock. As that phantom heat spread across my chest, the stinging of the blush seemed to be nothing. It was as though a thousand lights burned beneath my skin. On one hand, it hurt terribly. At the same time, the hardness in his gaze and the breath of his mystic gifts sent a different, sweeter pain through me.
I threw my head back and I screamed. It was not the scream of shock or pain that came with bodily insult. It was of pure release as I was wrapped in invisible flame and pinned by the heat in his gaze even more surely then by his body. There were no words. Only pain and pleasure. And so, our dance had begun.