Dear Viking by Lori Soard
Rök Erikson comes from a long line of Viking warriors. The tradition of his upbringing, his new Christian faith and the code of honor that says he must protect his family at all costs wage war within him. He and his brothers go on a mission to kill Jarl Van of Colby before the man can make another attempt on their father’s life. The code of honor insists that they either kill or be killed, however, there are dark forces at work of which Rök is unaware.
Leani is the daughter of the jarl Rök believes is making attempts on his father’s life. When the eldest brother reaches her village ahead of Rök and the rest of the party, he kills her father and defiles her frail sister. Enraged, and fearing for her own life, Leani drives a silver dagger into his neck. Leani is captured by the vile Eriksons and forced to leave behind her broken sister as they take her to face a trial for killing the Viking who murdered her father.
Leani’s life hangs in the balance as she struggles with her guilt over taking the life of another and tries to find forgiveness where none should exist. Her faith will be tested to the limits as she fights a growing attraction to her enemy, tries to hide the truth about her identity, uncovers a treachery that runs deep within the Erikson clan, and sees how God can come to your rescue even when all hope seems lost…
…Bright twines of lightning lit the sky. Leani lifted her head, allowing the rain to saturate her face. If she could only wash the sin of murder from her soul. The thunder stopped for a moment, as if the angels held their breath.
Leani looked to the crest of the hill. Lightning spooned across the night, highlighting the dark figure standing on the mound. Leani’s heartbeat hammered in her ears. She rose to her feet, braced for another confrontation.
A leather tunic covered his torso and a red cape was clasped with a bronze brooch. With the lightning flashing around his head and his long golden-brown hair blowing in the wind, the man looked like the war god. Impossible. Leani didn’t believe in gods. Her family had converted to Christianity when she’d been in her ninth summer.
An inner awareness whispered that she knew this man, had always known him. Yet, he was a stranger. The night closed around them once again as the storm paused.
Leani pushed aside the stubborn hair that kept blowing across her face. Her gaze was unfocused on the blackness of the hill. The very earth seemed to hiss with the next jagged burst of lightning.
The man was no longer in sight, and Leani wondered if he had been real. A weight settled on her spirit, like water washing over the sides of a sinking ship. When the light came again, the warrior was twenty feet in front of her, taking ground-eating strides.
Leani’s knees trembled. Had she avenged her father’s death only to meet the same shame as her sister? She glanced around frantically for a weapon. She would not give up her life or her virtue without a fight.
With each step in her direction, the man appeared even more imposing—broader of shoulder, firmer of resolve. Leani took a step backward and another. Lightning flashed and she had the impression of pale silver eyes. Piercing. Cutting. Another bolt and she saw an angled jaw and firm chin.
Halting when her back hit the rough planks of the door, Leani resisted pushing her way inside. Another assault would kill what little essence her sister had left in a hollowed-out body. If she kept the Viking monster from her dwelling, he would never realize another woman was within.
Leani summoned all her courage into a tight fist of bravery, letting it sit heavily in her midriff. Her only weapon lay buried in the fallen man’s neck.
Fear dissolved as the man passed her by and dropped to his knees beside the dead warrior.
“Brother.” His voice cracked on the word.
Leani edged closer. The warrior pulled the dagger free and held his hands over the wound as if he could hold the blood in.
Vikings were cold, heartless warriors. She’d been raised among them. Never had she seen such a display of emotion on a battlefield. They did not stop to cry over those who had fallen. Dying in war was glorious. Brother… Father… It did not matter the relationship to the fallen warrior. Vikings didn’t lament the passing of life from this world to the next.
“May the angels of heaven escort you on your journey to Valhalla with the Valkyries.”
The man’s voice had the sharp timber of cracking ice. Leani shivered again.
“Angels?” The word slipped past her curious lips. Was the man a Christian? But, he’d also mentioned the lovely maidens sent down from Asgard to escort slain warriors to the great hall of Valhalla.
The man rose slowly to his feet and turned to face her. Leani’s heartbeat pounded in her ears. He had called the vile, murdering beast brother. Had he seen her plunge the knife into his brother’s throat? Would he now ram his sword through her?
“Murderess.” The words sizzled off his lips like steam.
Leani raised her chin, fighting her own conscience at having taken another’s life. She had killed to avenge two wrongs and to protect others from the same fate as had befallen her sister. If that was wrong, then she was a murderess.
“Your brother was the murderer.”
“Your jarl tried to assassinate my family. My brother was justified in whatever he did.”
“J-Jarl?” The bitter taste in her mouth must have been a premonition. Had these men come here to eliminate her father for political reasons?
“Jarl Van of Colby.”
Leani expected the words and yet they still stole her breath. “Jarl Van is dead.”
“It’s no less than he deserves.”
If Leani had possession of the knife she’d sunk into his brother, she’d sink it into his flesh as well. Her father had been a gentle farmer. Now he lay dead because of this man’s brother. What would he do to her if he discovered she was Jarl Van’s daughter?…
“Lori Soard has penned a unique tale of love and faith in the time of fierce, rampaging Vikings. If you’ve ever tried to imagine how the Vikings would have been different if they’d known Jesus, this story will illustrate it while developing a sweet romance between Rök, the Viking and Leani, his prisoner. This is another winner for Ms. Soard!”–Robin Bayne, award-winning author of sweet and Christian romance
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor’s in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she’s had several books published. She is a born and raised Hoosier, currently living in southern Indiana. She enjoys hearing from her readers.
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