For those of you who have read Freya’s Gift and were intrigued enough to click over to my website, I thought I’d put up a short excerpt from Dinah of Seneca, which is a novel-length sequel set in the same universe.  This book is coming out at the end of May from The Wild Rose Press. (If you click on the tag to the right side, you’ll see the cover and the blurb.)

Gerhard from Freya’s Gift is the hero of the book but Sif also has a nice role in it, which includes one of my very favorite scenes but I can’t post that because it’s a huge spoiler.

Instead, I pulled out how Dinah meets Gerhard and how the cougars from the earlier story come into play.

To set this up, Dinah has been spying on the Viking camp for the Roman commander. (The Romans don’t show up in Freya’s Gift because they weren’t important and would have been distracting. 🙂

*******

Gerhard released her hair and knelt down to her. His hand reached out to her. She flinched, expecting a blow. But instead, he grabbed the belt knife at her waist and snatched it out of its sheath with ease. She bit back an objection. She should not have taken her favorite knife on this insane mission.

He held the knife up to the firelight and studied it, tilting his head in curiosity. He said something in his language. She shook her head, let the shivers take her body and the tears flow down her cheeks. She shrank back from the spear. I am small and not dangerous and most definitely not a Roman spy.

“Why are you here?” Gerhard said, in Latin. Her eyes widened. A Viking, speaking Latin? “Why are you here?” Gerhard waved his hand  and the spear moved away from her throat. She swallowed and curled into herself. “I, I, I’m sorry, I was hungry and I spied your fires and I tried to find some food. My master does not feed me properly.” She licked her lips, willing herself into a state that matched her words. Panic was not hard,  she was halfway there already. “I’m sorry, I become  lost so I hid behind the shields. I never meant harm, never meant harm.” She raised her head, so Gerhard  got a full look at her tear-stained face in the torchlight.

Gerhard took a breath in and let it out. He smelled like pine needles. He pointed the knife at her. “This is not the knife of a slave. It is too well-balanced, and it is Roman steel.” He traced the ivory carving on the hilt. “And this is intricate work. It captures one of Freya’s cats well.”

Freya? Who are Freya and her cats? “I stole it 1t from my master before I left,” she said. Idiot. She  should have bought a non-descript weapon, a basic Legionary belt knife, not a long-ago gift for a job well done. Sentiment will get you killed. Another one of Gracchus’ sayings.

“So you are twice a thief?” Gerhard asked.

“I have stolen nothing from you.”

“Yet.” He tilted his head, almost smiling. “You are saying you reached the center of our camp by accident? Interesting, since I know you followed me.”

So Gerhard had been playing with her. Cruel Viking. And very smart. “I did, I thought with you being the leader, you might help. But I got scared and hid.”

Gerhard stood and said something to the others in the group. There was a bark of laughter from behind and she twisted her neck to see the man. He was a small warrior with dark hair and a beard. He made eye contact and leered at her.

Gerhard stood and cut the air with his arm, snarling at him. He showed the other Viking her knife, using his thumb to point out the carving of the great cat. Dinah understood nothing of what he was saying, save for two names: Sif and Freya. But whatever Gerhard had said worked, because the other man stepped back.

He’d wanted to rape her, of course, and Gerhard had stopped him. Why would Gerhard play protector? To claim her himself?

“Gerhard!”

The warriors stepped back as another man joined their circle. This man was as tall as Mykle, he had flowing red hair and he held a long spear.

Red Hair took the spear and pointed it at her heart. Her heart beat so fast that it seemed to be jumping out of her chest.

He and Gerhard must be the leaders. No, Red Hair must be the overall leader because Gerhard had snapped to attention at his arrival, giving deference where he’d given none before. Something to tell Tabor, if she survived. Gerhard pointed at her. She couldn’t follow his words but heard the chief’s name, Ragnor.

Chief Ragnor’s shoulders relaxed when Gerhard showed him the knife, again pointing out the carving. The cat was beautiful, intricate work but the Vikings behaved as if they’d never seen a carving before. Perhaps they were unfamiliar with elephant ivory. Whatever the cause, the knife worked its magic on Ragnor, too, because he took the spear point away from her heart.

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