A gripping romantic fantasy about a young woman's quest to discover her identity in a world of confusion in which she faces threats, passion and hope, and seeks the courage to save the man she loves.
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It had been many years since Norsemen raided her village and carried her off. Now, using her warriors lessons she learned in captivity, Asta escapes. While she does manage to arrive home, she is wounded by Jorund who, in her lengthy absence, had become laird of the land. As her wounds heal, Asta fights the emotions Jorund stirs within her, finally giving in to the love she has for him. But when Asta's past catches up to her, and Jorund turns his back on her, she is thrown into a whirlwind of chaos. What transpires is adventure, passion and surprising twists.
The lightning streaked across the sky, outlining the form that was crouched down beside the boulder. Knees bent, arms ready, Jorund pulled back on his bow, keeping his eye on his target. The storm above gave him light as the thunder roared through the trees. There was a movement in the distance, but it was too late. He let his arrow loose, missing its mark, and he stood watching as the great deer ran off into the forest. Cursing loudly, he looked back to where it had stood. His mind was playing tricks on him, for in that split second as the lightning lit the sky, he had seen a girl walking through the forest. He moved toward the area he had seen her in. The morning gray was creeping in, but the storm was keeping his surroundings dark. He spotted his arrow in the distant bushes and went to retrieve it. But as he reached for it he froze. The lightning once again illuminated the sky, exposing the women's still form. She was lying on the ground, her long, dark hair spread out around her, his arrow protruding from her side.
Jorund dropped to his knees, ripping open her shirt to get a better look at the wound. The arrow was in her side and he could clearly see the dark spot spreading across her pale skin. He removed his cloak, tearing it into several pieces and setting them aside. He lifted her to see how far the arrow had gone in. It was through all the way so he broke off the tip and pulled the remaining piece through. The girl opened her eyes and a low moan escaped from her lips. Her blue eyes stared at him for seconds before closing again.
He pressed a piece of the torn cloth onto her back to help stop the bleeding then did the same to the front. He wrapped the remaining cloth around her to hold the padding. Once done he picked her up and walked back to the clearing where he had left his horse. He carefully mounted with her in his arms and rode back to his village.
He rode through the village gates just as the rain started to fall again. It was still early and many were just rising, but he kept on toward the tower, ignoring their startled and curious faces. Once at the gates he demanded the guards to open them and waited impatiently as they rushed to do his bidding. His hand was moist on her back and he knew the wound was still bleeding. He growled loudly, kicking his horse into a gallop, and entered through the moving gates before they were completely open, scaring the boy who was loading a wagon. Jorund stopped and dismounted his horse all in one swift move, cautious not to cause anymore harm to his precious cargo.
"Ian! Take my horse to the stables, then fetch Gunnar," Jorund yelled over his shoulder as he made his way into the tower.
The boy jumped from the wagon and did as he was told.
Jorund entered the great hall, making his way toward the stairs. The fire pit was ablaze so he knew Dania had risen. She emerged from the kitchen, her short, plump frame dirty from cooking, her copper hair coiled high on her head, small wisps escaping the sides.
"What is-" There was a sharp intake of breath before she continued, "Jorund, what have you done? Who is she? Why is she-"
"I need hot water and towels. The doc is on his way. When he gets here send him to my room." He climbed to the top of the stairs, turning right, and made his way down the walk to the last door. He pushed it opened and headed for the bed, gently laying her on the furs.
Dania entered with the hot water and towels, putting them next to the bed. Together they unwound the makeshift bandages and undressed her, leaving only a blanket for cover. Dania retrieved one of Jorund's shirts and put it on the bed for later.
"One more thing, I need you to help me hold her. The doc will take to long and I need to stop the bleeding. We need to sear the wound closed."
Dania nodded her response and left to get the hot pan and iron rod.
Jorund took a clean cloth and put it into the water, then he took the dry ones and layered them on the bed, moving her gently to lay them beneath her. Reaching in the water he took the wet cloth, lifting the blanket to clean the wounds then inspected the first where the arrow had entered and the second where it tried to exit. The bleeding had slowed, but the wounds were open and deep.
As he waited for Dania's return, he took a moment to look over the girl. Her long, auburn hair was spread out across the pillow, curling up at the ends. Her cheek bones were high, her face smooth, with a tint of color from the sun giving her skin a slight glow. She was beautiful, every man's dream of a gorgeous woman. But she wasn't dressed like any women he knew. She wore trousers, a wool shirt, and a cape, as if she was trying to hide the fact that she was, indeed, a woman. No woman around here would be in the woods alone, which brought the question, where was she from? And as he rode with her he had relived her of seven daggers stashed among various parts of her body.
Dania entered the room and set the hot coals next to the bed. Jorund took the iron rod from her and set it in the hot coals. Then turning his attention to the girl, he cleaned the wound one more time before beginning.
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