I’m happy to announce that my first published story, formerly known as Freya’s Gift, has been republished on Amazon as Carnal Blessing and is available on Kindle for $.99.
This is an unusual story for me. One, it’s erotica and I’ve only written two erotica tales.(The second is currently unpublished and seeking a home.) Second, it involves a menage, and that’s unusual for me as well, as all my other romances feature couples.
What do I love about this story? It features earthy, pagan-loving Vikings, much like in the Vikings television show.
Following up on the historical evidence that, yes, Vikings did indeed find North America and even had a settlement in what’s now Newfoundland for a short time, my Vikings are in the New World. They landed there three generations ago and ended up a little further south, in the area occupied by the Lenape tribes. They intermarried with the local people but they’re on their own again at the start of the story because a plague has killed nearly all the women.
I started this story with this one question: How would the women remaining handle the excess of men? Could they?
One of the answers came from Viking history. The general perception is that the Vikings were a patriarchal society but that’s not exactly true. Their women had more rights than is generally known, including the right to own property and many fought as shieldmaidens. The women of this tribe, especially since some of them were daughters of matriarchal Native American mothers, have forged an even more equal arrangement.
The second answer came, as things do, from the characters themselves, as they sort out how to recover from grief. Here’s an excerpt. I hope you enjoy.
Sif watched her husband swing the long ax, desire and grief warring within her. If only Ragnor would handle her again with the same easy skill and power that he harnessed for his weapon.
Bare-chested, his muscles gleaming with sweat, his long, red hair pulled back from his head, and, stripped to his leggings, he inspired awe in the young warriors surrounding his demonstration.
And in her? Awe and lust.
Once, Ragnor’s powerful hands had held her, gentle, loving and passionate. He would seize her, laughing, lift her off her feet and kiss her until she could not think. He would toss aside her clothes and run his mouth and his fingers all over her until she quivered with the need for him. They would take each other, and then they would do it all over again…
She hugged herself, chilled. That had not happened for far too long. It might never happen again. They’d lost so much this the past year.
Ragnor had held their tribe together through the sickness that had taken nearly all the women. He had been a rock of calm, settling them in their new home where they hoped to escape death’s reach. He had been all a leader should be.
But he was not the husband he used to be. Nor, she supposed, was she the wife she’d been.
His brother Leif’s insanity and grief had driven a wedge into their marriage. Why else would Ragnor look at her with such cold eyes and avoid their bed? Leif’s ghost dwelt between them.
Her husband finished his demonstration with the ax and ordered his students to begin their drills. Sif glanced to the left and noticed Gerhard, a grown warrior of great skill. He could have taught along with Ragnor. But he leaned against the large oak tree, arms crossed, as unknowable as ever.
While Ragnor was the symbol of their tribe’s survival, Gerhard was the symbol of what they had lost. He had lost his wife and the baby son she carried. Since then, he was more shade than man.
He needed healing. As did the whole tribe. That was her task, as chief’s wife. But how could she help Gerhard and the others if she could not even heal herself?
Sif heard tiny footsteps coming closer. Eric, her brother’s son, pumped his little legs hard across the square, running toward her. He reached her, gasping for breath, tugged at the hem of her deer-hide tunic, and offered her something held tight in his hand.
She scooped him up with one arm and hugged him. He giggled, his dark hair falling in front of his face. Eric was a blessing. Children were what her people needed.
I never will receive a blessing like Eric, a child of my own, if my husband does not return to my bed.
“What’s that?” Sif smiled, studying what was in Eric’s stubby hand.
“I made it, see!”
He held it up, almost too close to her eyes to focus. A crude carving but of what? “It’s wonderful. Tell me about it.” Some sort of animal?
“It’s a cougar!” he said. “Papa said cougars mean good luck in the spring.”
“Can I see it?” Cougars. The name for the great cats that lived in this New World, so far across the ocean from the Viking homelands.
Eric offered the carving to her with exaggerated care. She studied it, treating it like the precious object that it was to him. “I love the big ears and the claws.” The face was harder to make out. “And, yes, great cats are sacred to Freya, goddess of fertility.”
“What’s that mean?” He frowned.
“She makes plants grow.”
“Oh.” He squirmed. “Sounds boring.”
“She’s also in charge of having babies, both for people and animals.”
His eyes widened. “Will she make a baby brother for me?”
The grief stabbed her between the eyes, sharp and blinding. Eric’s mother was dead in the plague. “Perhaps. It is spring. But that would take time.”
“Don’t wanna wait!”
She laughed and put him down.
“You keep it!” he said. “I’m gonna go play warrior. So I can teach a baby brother to fight when he’s old enough.”
Eric danced away, back toward his longhouse, probably to search for sticks and rocks to make into an ax.
Sif clutched the wooden cougar it to her chest. An omen? Or perhaps she was merely grasping for any sign from the gods, no matter how slight, though their prayers had been unanswered yet. It could be they spoke to the gods in the wrong way. But how did one summon a goddess?
In the square, Ragnor handed his ax over to a student. The young warrior, fumble-fingered, nearly dropped it. Ragnor coaxed him to try again. The warrior gritted his teeth, spat and tried again, working hard to make up for his mistake. He raised the axe, his arms shaking and his body drenched in sweat.
Would that they all had the young man’s determination.
The young warrior kept at it and the others joined him, practicing with their own axes. This was no game. They’d moved to this place to escape the Lenape threats, but Ragnor was certain new enemies lurked, just out of sight. Gerhard’s wife had been from one of the tribes that lived near the Great Falls. They could not be pleased she’d married outside her people and come to an untimely end, especially in a sickness that the Lenape had considered a curse.
When the Vikings had come across the ocean several generations ago, the new world had seemed full of hope and promise. Now, it was full of danger and death.
Ragnor finally called an end to the lesson, clapping the young man on the back for his efforts. He pointed toward the river, where they could all cool off.
Ragnor walked to Sif, still clutching his axe. Hers. He belonged to her. He’d waited so long to take a wife but once he’d looked at her, he’d never looked at anyone else. In her ignorance, Sif thought their union unbreakable.
She clenched the wooden cougar and closed her other hand over the long scar on her forearm, a scar that was the physical legacy of Leif’s crazed attempt to rape her. If only the emotional scars had been as easy to heal.
Ragnor set the axe down carefully against the side of the longhouse. “Sif. You wake early today.”
“I am feeling better.” Sif almost reached out to lay her hand on his chest. He smelled so sweet, so musky, so much like he did after lovemaking. She still found him irresistible. He’d always welcomed her advances. But that was before.
“Good.” Ragnor nodded.
Behind Ragnor, men carrying spears, bows and arrows gathered in the square.
“A hunting party?” she asked.
“It will do the men good.”
Meaning that it would be something to occupy him. “Yes, it will.” Her tongue nearly caught in her throat.
He set his hand on her hip. “Sif.”
“Ragnor.” She felt her face flush and fought the urge to fall at his feet and beg for him to touch her, make love to her. Now.
A chief’s wife does not beg.