Chapter 6 – Do I Have To Chose?

Tara Cox Literary Erotica logo

Kirsty bit her bottom lip and watched Bjⱷrn in the mirror. Their eyes met and held, something about the way he looked at her stole her breath as surely as his hand on her throat ever did.

He smiled as he lifted the flogger and ran its long strands softly across her shoulders and back. It was like he had grown extra fingers…dozens of them.

“I had them all made just for you. I wanted something that would never touch the skin of another. I picked them up while we were in your country. There is a man there that is a true artist, don’t you think?”

He ran the smooth wooden handle across her bottom lip as he held her gaze. “Tell me they please you. Tell me you want them to caress your tender flesh as much as you want my hands to,” his whisper was intoxicating.

The fact that he knew this was among her deepest fantasies, something she had wanted to try from the moment she read about it in her first book. The fact that he had bought them just for her – handcrafted. “Yes, Master,” was all she could choke out.

“This one will be thuddy. He has over a hundred falls of softest suede. Over twenty-eight inches long. See how they are tapered at the end. That gives it more impact, makes it feel even heavier. The man called him super chunky.”

“I call him Thor. The god of thunder. We shall begin with a gentle warm-up with him first,” he said as he ran his short nails slowly down the length of her spine.

She watched him in the mirror as he stepped back. She had seen a couple of videos of flogging on that site. They had thrilled and excited her. Done funny things to her tummy. But nothing like this.

With only the towel cinched about his waist, he began to twirl Thor slowly. She thought perhaps he had the wrong name – he was Thor, and the flogger was Mjolnir. She could almost picture it.

But when his mighty hammer connected at last with her back, it was not pain which she felt but pleasure. He was right. It was intensely soft, a gentle but firm caress on her skin that seemed like his massages to relax muscles, which she did not even realize were tense. She moaned and smiled. This was better…so much better than her fantasies. Better than the videos. Better even than those fucking books.

Her eyes were glued to the mirror. He was beautiful. Abso-fucking-lutely gorgeous in nothing but that towel, the wooden handle seemed almost to be an extension of his arm as he moved it with no more effort than the gentle flick of his wrists. He might think the maker of the flogger was an artist, but he was the true one.

She arched back to welcome and greet the next blow. It was a bit harder but still more of the kneading touch of a masseuse. The next came quicker but remained just as gentle.

“So fucking beautiful,” he smiled at her in the mirror.

She chuckled, “I was just thinking the same thing about you, my love.”

His grin widened, and he shrugged, “Yes, I am known for my skill with floggers. From the first time I watched it in the clubs, it was what I wanted. I bought my first pair the next day and have practiced ever since.”

He landed four blows then, in quick succession, lower this time. She bit her lower lip to stop from moaning at the sensual caress of stout leather fingers on her bottom.

“I am no sadist. I do not like pain for pain’s sake. I prefer the subtle mind fuck of pleasure laced with just the slightest touch…” the next blow landed squarely across both cheeks of her ass.

She jumped, “Touch of pain. Pleasure,” he whispered with a smile as he returned to solid but gentle strokes across her shoulders and upper back.

Her eyes glazed over a bit as she watched the flogger dance from hand to hand, it never stopped its sensual dance even in mid-air, the exotic rhythm of wood and leather in his hands. She could not move, she could only stare into the mirror, fascinated as blow after seductive caress warmed her upper back, bottom, and thighs.

He was beautiful; he always was. But the look of concentration, the way he moved as one with the flogger. It took her breath away.

“Pain,” was the only warning she got as another blow hit, this time her upper thighs.

The leather and wood stilled for the first time in his hands as he turned back towards the bed. She saw him lay Thor on the top of the quilt. She stifled a whimper. The damned thing had been so fucking amazing – he was incredible.

Then he returned, this time he held another in his hand. The handle was almost identical, only more delicate. There were way fewer falls too, no more than a dozen or less. And they looked shorter, thinner, and thicker.

He moved it over her bare back as he spoke, “This is Hermóður. He, too, is a son of Óðinn. A hero who died trying to save another. Do you know why I call this one Hermóður?”

She shook her head as he once more ran his fingernails down her spine. This time she moaned just a bit at the more intense sensation of them scraping along her flesh. “No, Master. Why?”

His massive body covered hers as he leaned in and softly kissed her cheek, “Because, my sweet Freya,” his next words were almost lost as her whole body tensed and hung right on the edge of another powerful release.

“Because Hermóður is very stingy. I will not break the skin, but I want to see the red welts he will leave on your pure white skin. Can you do that for me, Kirsty? Can you be my courageous girl?”

He ran the falls along her arm. They were rougher. She could almost feel their sting, and he had not even hit her with it. She swallowed back that tendril of fear as she whispered, “I will try, Master.”

He kissed her shoulder just above the stiff leather, “That is my good girl. But I do not want to hurt you. You know what a safe word is, yes?”

“Yes, Master. Red,” she replied.

He chuckled, “Is so unimaginative. Hlín, she is the goddess of protection and consolation. You will call on her, and I will be there to offer you those things, my beloved wife. Say it, Hlín.”

“Hlín,” she whispered with trepidation.

“Are you ready?” he asked as he stepped back.

It was not the pain which she feared, but his withdrawal again that left her feeling bereft. “Yes, Master,” she nodded, …and waited.

She saw him smile in the mirror, “Watch me, Kirsty. Remember, it is not the pain. It is who gives it to you.”

He drew his arm back and flicked his wrist. She jumped and squealed as the sharp falls connected with her upper back across her shoulder blades. She flinched, it might not be a tawse, and her back was not her cunt. But pain was pain. And it fucking hurt. She felt tears cloud her eyes, but still, she watched him.

He was so fucking gorgeous. Not just his looks, but the way he moved was so damned graceful. The intensity in those eyes held hers as another one landed across just the right shoulder this time.

“That’s my good girl,” he smiled at her as another hit her left shoulder. She danced a bit from side to side on her toes. He had said stingy, but he had no idea. This hurt. It fucking hurt, but still, she held his gaze in the ancient smoky mirror.

He once more walked back to her. His fingers traced the lines that he had drawn upon her back. She knew because she could fucking feel it. Each stroke burned and stung.

“So fucking beautiful,” he whispered as he bent and softly licked the one between her shoulder blades. He sighed and kissed her cheek. “Can you manage a few more, my love? Across this gorgeous bum? Can you do that for me?”

She should have said, ‘no.’ She honestly meant to, but the need she saw in those green depths had her whispering, “For you, yes.”

He kissed her once more softly upon the lips, “Always for me, my sweet…” Her body came instantly alive, and when he stopped, it just hung there — hung over the edge of the whole fucking universe, life, and pain.

“Soon,” he whispered as he stepped back.

She stared directly at his handsome face in the mirror. He was not smiling now, the intensity, the darkness that she has always sensed was all there. He was still just as beautiful…perhaps more so. Somehow she knew. This is him. Who he really was. It intrigued her. He intrigued her.

Then there was no time for thinking as the blows began to fall on her bare bottom and a couple across her upper thighs. She indeed danced then. Until his voice caressed her mind through the pain, “Do not move, Kirsty. Hlín if you need to, but do not move.”

“Yes, Master,” as those words took on a new depth. At that moment, this man was her Master as the pain clouded her mind even as she craved it and him.

“Spread your legs wide for me.” Her obedience was instant.

Two more blows landed across her upper thighs, this time they angled from the side and wrapped around her legs. The sharp sting tickled and tormented the tender flesh just centimeters from her dripping wet pussy. She was sure that its moisture only intensified the pain just as the water in the shower had his barehanded slaps on her bottom.

Her mind was still trying to process that pain when another blow landed. Straight between her legs. The end of the damned thing seemed actually to bite into her clitoris itself. She cried out and slumped against the wood, but she did not close her legs…and she did not say the word she knew he was waiting to hear.

She hung there – just hung there. It was not only the ropes that suspended her. But time and space themselves somehow seemed to bend and warp. Everything was brighter and darker at the same time. She would have sworn she could even hear the pounding of his heart. Or was it hers? Perhaps it was both as loud as it was. And the gentle whoosh of his breath caressed her as he came to stand behind her once more.

Then she was falling, and only his strong arm about her waist kept her from crashing to the ground. She felt her arms lowered as he turned her in those strong arms.

His mouth covered hers, and he pressed her tender back against the hardwood. Its coolness soothed the sting, and its unyielding lattice imprinted itself over his artwork. His kiss, his taste was all that registered in her befuddled brain. She knew that she had found her drug…and she was instantly addicted.

His lips still caressed hers as she felt her arms once more lifted out to the side. She felt the tug as he tied them once more to those rings. She was even forced to stand on her tippy toes just a bit by the way the rope twisted and shortened in her hair. Especially when he leaned in and cupped her face, “Look at me, sweetheart.”

She smiled as she stared into his eyes, “Yes, Master?”

“Hlín?” the single word hung between them.

She tried to remember what that was. She knew it was important. But all she knew was him…submission…and pain. Oh, so fucking delicious pain with her back pressed against that wood. She shook her head. Whatever it was, it was not as important as this. As him.

He shook his head as he stared into those wide, glazed eyes. He debated calling it quits. This was her first time. And honestly, she had taken more, far more from Hermóður than most subs could have. They could continue another time.

Then she arched against him. She moved as far forward as the ropes allowed as she rubbed against him. He felt the wetness caress his thigh as she wrapped those stunning legs about his. She was so hot, so fucking hot and wet.

He could smell her need. And he wanted to bury himself as deeply inside of her as he had in the shower. That should have been enough or at least taken the edge off of his hunger for her. But it did not. He wanted her just as badly now. But he would not. Not yet. And not like that again.

He reached for the end of the towel, which was tucked in at his waist. He loved the way she watched him, but as far gone as she was right now, as deep into her pain as she was…she could not be trusted to follow instructions. He still was not sure about this. It made him uncomfortable, intensely so. But her need was not his.

“I am going to put my towel over your head, sweetheart. Just lightly, ja? But I cannot risk your head falling forward, Loki striking your face. Do you understand me?”

She nodded and smiled though how much she truly comprehended he could not be sure. He was careful of her hair as he draped the towel over the top of her head and across her shoulders.

He moved back slowly, uncertain if she could stand on her own. For a moment, she did tetter, but then she found her footing, those legs once more spreading wide apart. He sighed as he walked back to the bed. He picked up Loki and cleared most of the rest of the stuff to the side. Only a few items that he would need remaining where he could easily reach them.

Was he delaying? Procrastinating? Hoping that she would come down? Wishing for that word? Not that Doms could not safeword too. And honestly, he was damned close. He fucking hated hurting her.

Oh, he loved seeing those stripes, his marks rose proud and bold on that unmarred fair skin. But the pain itself was not his thing. He loved her too fucking much to want to hurt her. Control her, hell, yes, but not hurt her.

But being her Master was not just about what he wanted. It was even more about what she needed. And he was realizing that she needed far more fucking pain than he was comfortable with. That though was the price of owning her, seeing to her needs above his own.

He walked back to her; she remained precisely as he had left her. He lifted the towel. She had that lazy smile on her lips as she looked up at him. Once more, her body arched against him. This time, though, her legs remained open, which only made things worse.

He was completely naked now. His cock painfully hard and the way she moved against him, brushed her swollen pussy lips across the head of it, coating his cock in her need. He was not sure if she spoke or if it was merely a voice in his head, “Please.”

He brushed a tender kiss on her cheek, knowing it was the answer he needed. Then he lowered the towel once more. “Loki is…well, Loki. A troublesome…mischievous…little shit.”

He chuckled, “Pretty much exactly like me as a kid. He is my darkness.”

He said as he began to twirl the much smaller version of Hermóður. Loki had more falls, but they were shorter. He was lighter to handle but required far more precision than Thor. Lots of accuracy as he moved forward just enough that the ends of the falls would catch on her hard nipples as the flogger twirled in circles. She moaned, and he knew that the light sensation was reaching her stupefied brain.

He stepped back and brought the whole of those falls down hard over the gentle swell of her breast. He watched another red stripe rise viciously across that virgin skin, and his cock twitched. He might not enjoy the pain, but he fucking loved the power. The power to make her dance on those cute toes, maybe he would even get around to sucking them during aftercare, but he doubted it. Not now…maybe in a few months, a few years.

He returned to lazily teasing her other nipple with the twirling falls. He alternated between her breasts. Watching her dance, hearing those soft moans had him incredibly hard. This was so much more than one of his ‘performances’ in the clubs. This was her. And that alone made it special. So fucking different than anything before.

He lost himself in her moans. He fed upon them. Each blow carefully aimed to elicit another. Her nipples hardened and turned the most delightful shade of red as the falls worked them as surely as his mouth and teeth ever could. He landed more solid blows across the sloping swell of her tits until the red welts formed a lace-like pattern over them. Beautiful was not sufficient to describe it.

Then he moved slowly downwards. Unlike her back, there was no need to worry about really harming her, avoiding the mid-back over the kidneys had been one of the first things that Uncle Andreas had taught him. But on her front, he could draw a complete map from those tantalizing tits across the soft slopes of her stomach.

Fuck, he could almost hear that soft whisper, ‘I’d like that.’ Feel her arms about his neck pulling him closer in welcome. In a few months, he hoped like hell there was a good reason to avoid this region as well. His…thrummed like a ballad in his brain. His baby inside of her.

But he forced his mind away from that too as he moved lower still. “Open wider, Kirsty,” he demanded. Even through the haze of subspace, and he knew damned good, and well, that was where she was right now, even through all that, she obeyed instantly. He wanted to pound his shield with a sword, like one of his ancient ancestors celebrating a battle victory.

The first blow on her bare pussy made her jump. A loud whimper greeted his ears. He stepped in just a bit closer. He removed the towel from around her head. There was no need to worry about her pretty face being accidentally struck when all of his attention was centered much further south.

Her eyes were dilated and glassy, but the way she smiled told him that she was not too far gone. He used his body to brace her as he landed more, lighter blows across her mound and the inside of her thighs.

He smiled as he made sure of his aim. The first blow landed right over her clit. The sound she made then was half scream and half moan. The next one, he aimed lower, and the falls almost disappeared inside her wet cunt.

The smell of her was fucking intoxicating, more potent than the vodka that his father, uncle, and brothers had given him that first time to celebrate his coming of age. But she was indeed more overpowering than alcohol ever could be. Every last moan, whimper, and cry that he wrung from her whether by pleasure or pain…made him a man as nothing else ever could.

The last one was perfectly aimed to use all of Loki’s power – his playful, mischievous evilness. It covered the whole area from clit to cunt as he whispered, “Come for me, my sweet Freya.”

She screamed loud as she collapsed entirely against him. So loudly that he swore the giants in Jötunheimr could hear and quake. Her body shook, and she stared up at him. His mouth covered her and captured the power of that scream, of her release. It fed the darkness inside of him. He did this. He gave her that — he and he alone.

He untied her hair first, his mouth never leaving hers. It was quick work with all of the knots. His legs between her thighs braced her as she collapsed into his arms. He scooped her up and carried her to the bed. He cradled her against his body. Her head fit perfectly into the crook of his arm as he brought the bottle of water to her lips, “Drink.”

She sputtered a bit at first, but she obeyed quickly. He was able to get a good deal of the water down her on that first try. She shook her head when he brought the chocolate to her mouth, but he would not tolerate disobedience in this.

He bit off a small piece and leaned down. What she would not accept from his fingers, he gave her no choice as he kissed it into her mouth. Even that sweetness could not overpower the taste of her, though. He forced a bit more of the water down her.

Having made sure that she was partially re-hydrated and that her blood sugars would not crash before he was finished, he turned his attention to the next order of business – cleaning her wounds. He had been careful not to break the skin, so the risk of infection was low. Still, the darker red ones could use cleansing. He had just the thing for that too.

He reached for the thick length of aloe that he picked from his mother’s greenhouse that morning. He had stored it all day in the freezer so that even now, it was cool to the touch, would be soothing to her skin. Her skin…he knew that she would feel it, either way, he laid her. His marks crisscrossed most of her body. Though most were light pink and fading fast, a few were darker red and more raised against her pale skin.

He decided to begin with her back and laid her gently face down in the center of the bed. Her whimper as he did so did not sound like one of pain, but one of need. He would see to that too…once this was done. He began by using the cut end of the plant like a crayon to re-trace each of the red marks upon her thighs. He worked his way slowly up her round, soft, lush…

‘Fuck, boy, stop it. This is aftercare. It is about her needs. Not yours,’ that voice chided him.

He sighed and nodded as he turned his efforts to her shoulders and upper back. But it was not the few red welts that he had written across the whiteboard of her back that concerned him. It was the nasty looking red and purple bruise that was forming at the point where her neck met her shoulder. He had forgotten how hard he had bitten her when the beast had taken her in the shower.

His fingers traced the outline of his teeth. “Fuck,” he cursed as he noticed a couple of places where his teeth had broken the skin.

Damn it, damn him to hell. He reached for the first aid kit on the floor. He had not thought, definitely not meant, to use this. It was more a precaution. Drummed into them. Safety…first, last and always. ‘Big boys do not break their toys,’ how many times had his father told him that?

He found what he was looking for and cursed himself for an asshole all over again. He knew this was going to sting. That she was drifting comfortably out of subspace. He hated like hell that he was going to disturb that, but it had to be done. Human bites were not to be played with. He tore open the packet of alcohol wipe.

“Brave for me, my love, be brave one more moment. I will be as quick as I can be,” he promised as he whispered into her ear. But the moment he touched her warm skin with the cold wipe, she jumped and squealed. “Shhh, it will be over soon, I promise.”

And he kept that promise too. What bothered him though was the tiny voice in his head that gloated, ‘Let Mikael and Svein see your mark on her. Let them remember she was your choice. Yours.’ He forced his sick mind away from that dark path as he finished bathing her back in the soothing aloe.

He turned her over, sitting almost astraddle her hips. His hard cock occasionally brushed her stomach as he pushed a few stray tendrils of hairs back from her face. He found the end of the rope that was woven through her hair and untied it. He used his fingers to tug and unwind the braid gently.

Then he bent and kissed her pink lips. “Are you back with me yet?” he whispered against them.

She shook her, “No, I don’t want ever to come down.”

He chuckled as he reached for the bottle of water and lifted her head and shoulders once more. “Just for a moment then. Drink some more.” When she started to shake her head again, he lowered his voice, “Drink.” This time she did not argue and almost emptied the first bottle. Satisfied at her efforts, he turned his attention back to caring for her wounds.

He smiled at the precision of the pattern that marked her breasts and stomach. He knew that only a couple of these would remain by morning, but damn were they beautiful. This time rather than using the aloe as a crayon to re-trace his handy work. He squeezed some of the slim into his palm.

He moved a bit down her body, straddling her thighs now and began with her stomach. He tenderly massaged it into her skin. He started at the top of her mound; his fingers splayed as they fanned out and caressed the soft swell. He growled as her words echoed once more in his mind, “Did you mean it? What you said earlier?”

Her eyes came open, and she slowly leaned up, raising herself, leaning upon her elbows, “Earlier? What is that? Mean what?” her throaty whisper and giggle caressed his raging ego.

It calmed just a bit of his need to possess this woman fully. If he could do this to her, make her forget everything else, why wasn’t that enough? Why could he not be satisfied with what he had with her?

Why did this matter? “About my baby…that you’d like that?” he whispered as he bent his head and kissed the area that his fingers had been massaging only seconds before.

She sighed, “Honestly, Bjⱷrn, all I can say right now is…I think so.” She shook her head, and he saw tears glistening in her eyes, tears his stupid need to push for everything at once had put there. And he loathed himself even more.

He could tell that it took all her strength, but she made an effort – for him. She lifted a hand and ran it over his head, holding him there. “I am sorry. I know that isn’t what you wanted to hear. And it is not you. It is just…what happened yesterday…what people would think and say.”

He nodded, he understood, probably better than she did. And he reminded himself once more – patience. There was time for all of it. She was his now. Theirs. It would come. In time. “Jeg beklager. I am sorry. I should not have said anything.”

She smiled, “Give me some time, please. I need to work through things in my head. And it is all in my head, Bjⱷrn. Because, if it helps, yes, my heart meant that.”

He laughed against her skin, “Oh, I have no idea what you speak of, woman. Battling between your heart and head? No idea…whatsoever.”

Her fingers caressed his cheek tenderly as she too chuckled, “Absolutely not, my beautiful Thor…and my devious Loki.”

“So, which did you like best? Thor? Loki? Hermóður?” He smiled as he whispered into her belly button.

She frowned and bit her bottom lip for a long moment, “Do I have to choose?”

And those simple words cut through it all. Sliced to the core of his dark soul and pierced his heart. They shattered his mind every bit as much as what he was asking of her at that moment. He pressed another tender kiss to her tummy as he shook his head, “No, my sweet Freya, you never have to choose.”

And as he held her trembling body, smelled her sweet need so fucking close to his mouth, he swore that whatever demons he had to face, he would keep his word. He would never make her choose again. He would find a way to share the one thing he discovered he did not want to. “Now lay back. I am not finished with you,” he said as he squeezed more of the plant into the palm of his hand.

“I certainly hope not. Hope you never are,” she whispered as she lay back against the pillow and closed her eyes. He used his leg to spread her thighs open. Where before he had been astride them, now he used his body as a wedge, forcing them to open wider.

His hands cupped her breasts as he squeezed them tenderly and massaged the soothing coolness into them. “Never. I will never be finished with you,” he leaned down and whispered as he buried his face between her thighs and allowed his tongue to give her the other thing that she needed just as much then.

He worked her clit until her hips were arching up to meet his tongue. He licked the sweet nectar from her pussy before it could trickle down and was wasted upon the quilt. He dined at her font like a starving man at an all-you-can-eat buffet. When he knew that she could wait no longer, he growled, “Come for me, my sweet Freya,” into her very core.

Once more, she screamed her release as her thighs tightened around his head. He honestly did not give a fuck if he died right then. Drowning in the sweet taste of her would be better than giving his dark soul in payment to Njörður. Fuck, it would be better than anything his ancestors might have known by entering Valhalla blood stained from battle.

He felt her tremors as she collapsed back against the bed. But still, he lapped tenderly at the sweetness. It was so fucking intense. Not that he had never done this before with another woman. But none had tasted this sweet. None were her.

It took him several long moments to get himself under control. Even then, he did not want to stop. But he knew what she needed most now was sleep. Rest. In his arms this night. He forced himself to abandon her delectable little cunt as he lay on the bed next to her.

He scooped her into his arms and drew her tightly against his chest. “Sleep now, my love,” he whispered as he kissed her lips.

The intensity of it all was still overwhelming. As much as he fought it…even when he did manage to win the battle, he felt like he was losing the war — losing himself in this woman. He sighed as he tenderly kissed the top of her head. Sometime in this lifetime, the intensity of these emotions had to wear off…right?

As the very first ray of dawn filtered through the open curtains, Olav lay on his side. He had been up for some time. Just watching her sleep. It was not fair. The woman got more fucking beautiful every year that passed. His fingers brushed a strand of her silver hair back from her cheek.

Forty-two years. Three sons. Three brothers lost. More cold winters than he wanted to remember. More pain than most people could bear. They had seen it all come and go. And he loved her more today than he had then.

It did not seem right. Was not fair. Their bodies might change, age, and slow just a bit. But what he felt for her seemed to grow as exponentially as the punishments he threatened. They must be approaching infinity by now.

But it was all those wasted years that had kept him awake half the damned night. All the mistakes. All the times he should have or could have given her what she needed. Her tears had been like an acid burning away the safe wall that he had erected around that part of himself.

He wanted to blame Stig for not allowing them to punish her, even when she needed it. But he understood. Understood his brother’s fear. They had all felt it. Not just when she almost died, but as her light and sunshine that they had all come to rely upon, was hidden behind those dark clouds. He understood his brother’s guilt too – why he blamed himself.

And Andreas. It would be so fucking easy to blame him. The way he had withdrawn from her, from them all. The way he had sought to deaden the pain in the bottom of a bottle. Until that bottle swallowed him as inevitably as the sea had. Njörður, their patron god of the sea, wind, fish, and wealth, was a demanding bastard.

But he could not blame them. He more than either of them had known the truth. He had known that she needed it. Needed their control. And he had allowed Stig’s orders to stand…long past when their woman no longer needed the kid gloves his brother had insisted they use with her.

But there was no excuse for his negligence after his brother’s death. He had known she needed true submission and not the milk toast games that they played once in a while in the bedroom. But he had not been willing to press the issue to correct two decades of mistakes – until it was almost too late.

But it was not…last night proved that. It showed too that she needed this as fucking much as he did. More even. How had he managed to forget the lesson that they had always worked so fucking hard to instill in her soft heart? The woman had been a natural mother, as much as she might have first chafed at the idea of being ‘their broodmare and prize heifer.’

He could still see the fire in those green eyes as she threw that fucking fishing hook that first night on the ship. They had learned to keep dangerous things out of her reach after that. But damn the number of plates and cups this woman had gone through over the years. Any time she was mad at one of them, something managed to get broken somehow.

But the one thing she had never understood was that children needed boundaries. She had been content to let the boys run wild, and Bjⱷrn especially had done that. The one though that had needed boundaries the most was her. He had conveniently forgotten that subs like children needed those boundaries to feel safe, to feel secure, and to know that they are loved and protected. Protected by someone stronger than they were.

And that was the problem. He had allowed Petrine to swallow his Rachel for too fucking long. Not that he did not like the women; he did. He admired her strength. Her grace. But he had known…he of all of them had known the price his Rachel was paying to hold that mask in place. He had known because he was every bit as much an expert at playing a role as his beloved wife.

But the time for role-playing, games, and the safety of masks to protect true fucking feelings was long gone. He had wasted enough years. He might tell her that he would give her another thirty to make up for the ones they had lost, but he knew there were no guarantees.

Hell, they had all learned that lesson when Lars had died. His brother was still more a boy than a man when Rán claimed her price. No, today, this moment, this sunrise was all he could promise her.

And it was long past time; they started it off right. Past time, for fresh starts and new dawns. As his hand slapped her warm butt that had felt so fucking good cradling his cock last night, “Wake up, woman. Time to face the music and pay the fiddler.”

Those eyes were sleepy as she stretched. Then that sexy, slow smile spread across her still beautiful, if slightly more lined face. “Good morning,” she purred just like her fucking cats when they deigned to wrap about your leg.

He loved that look. Satisfied. He loved, even more, knowing that he had put it there. But not enough to be distracted from what must be done. He landed another solid slap to her surprisingly firm butt, and this time she jumped a bit, drawing the duvet up to cover her naked tits. “Time to get it over with.”

She frowned and pouted, “Get what over with, Old Man?” She feigned ignorance, another of her bratty games that he recognized. But this time, it was not going to work.

“Your punishment.”

She shook her head and began to toy with the hairs on his chest, “Oh, that. Don’t you think that I have learned my lesson? I mean all that punishment stuff…we are older now. We don’t need those games.”

“No, Rachel, we have been playing ‘games’ long enough. You know as well as I do that we lost our way when we allowed it to become games instead of who we are.”

He smiled and kissed her good morning, then landed another warm-up on her bottom, “So, stop with the brat shit and no, woman, you still cannot outrun me. So, do not get any ideas. I promised you punishment, and you are getting one.”

Olav shook his head, how could pouting be so fucking sexy on a sixty-three-year-old woman? But it had never been her brat that got the better of him, and he was not about to start now. He had spent part of the time, while he watched her sleep, devising an appropriate punishment for her. One that would make her think twice before calling their sons ‘boys’ again, but was also fair. In the end, he had the perfect solution.

“You shall choose your punishment, Rachel,” her frown told him that this path was the right one. “Fifty barehanded, twenty with the cane…or ten with Forseti. Which will it be?”

She pulled out of his arms and stared him down, “Are you crazy, old man? Twenty with the cane? The fucking cane! You know I hate that thing.”

He shrugged, “Then, don’t choose it. You have other options.”

“Options! Options? You want me to choose my own fucking punishment? How about this? I sleep in the guest room for a month, then?”

He chuckled as he ran his hand up her inner thigh under the quilt, “Punishment is not supposed to be that extreme, Rachel.”

He found what he was looking for and expected as he slipped two fingers inside of her very wet hole. “You could not last one week, woman.” He pressed firmly against that particular spot and was rewarded with a low moan and wetness that spread down his fingers to his hand. “You could not last a day, Rachel.”

Damn him, damn the old man to Helvetia. He always knew her. Knew her better than the others. Fuck him; sometimes, he knew her better than she knew herself, and that was saying something.

But there was no way of stopping her body from its natural reaction, and honestly, she would never get that mad. ‘Cutting off your nose to spite your face,’ her grandmother would have called it. She had never been that foolish.

Though, perhaps she could use this to her advantage too. Last night had been…well, it was for damn sure she would not be opposed to a repeat performance. Sans his damned serenade, of course. “Olav,” she moaned as her hands on his shoulders drew him closer. “Please.”

Damn him again as his fingers drew back slowly, and he shook his head. That fucking smile that she knew too damned well lit his steel-grey eyes as he shook his almost white head, “No, woman, it won’t work. After your punishment. Not before.”

She pushed back from him, “After? Fuck that shit. Who says I’d even let you?”

His deep roar of laughter echoed around their bedroom, “You never get that mad, woman, and we both know it.” Of course, he knew that too. After a lifetime, this man knew her – literally inside and out.

And she knew him too. He was the one that she could never ‘play.’ Mister Steady. If Andreas had been her great passion, Stig had been her dark mystery; this man had always been her best friend. And that meant they shared the truth between them – a deep and abiding one. Even through the lies, they always knew the truth, even if they did not speak of it – especially when they did not speak of it.

He would not be dissuaded. And if she were honest with herself, she did not want him to be. Not that she wanted to be punished, but more that she needed to know, really know, that they were putting an end to the lie they had been living so long. That at least with him, it was safe. Petrine could allow Rachel out…in his arms anyway.

But that did not mean Petrine did not expect the man to prove he was stronger than she was. “There is always a first time for everything, old man.”

Another solid blow on her derrière caused her to frown, “Quit the games, Petrine. And those do not count. Think of them as warm-ups…richly deserved ones too. I gave you a choice, so make it.”

He fucking even knew that – knew when it was Petrine and when it was Rachel that spoke. Damn him, damn him, damn him. But there was no other choice. She was not going to win or distract him when he got like this. So, her only option was fifty barehanded or ten with… “Justice…peace…truth…and reconciliation?” she frowned.

His face softened for a moment as he caressed her cheek, “Damn woman, I love the fact that you know your Norse mythology as well as you do that fucking Greek and Roman shit. Yes, Forseti, the god of justice, peace, truth, and reconciliation. And that is what I would have between us from now on. Even if I have to use him on that sweet ass of yours every damned day to get it.”

She was intrigued, to say the least. She knew what the cane was like and had no desire to taste its stingy bite ever again. Barehanded had been one of the things they had not abandoned, even if it were more game than real. But just the name: Forseti. “May I see then?”

“No,” he smiled, “That too is part of your punishment.”

“Hell, making me choose is fucking punishment enough, old man.”

His eyes danced, “Part of it, yes, but not enough. Not for what happened. Not to give us that clean slate I want, Rachel. You want that too; I know you do.” His eyes darkened as he bent and kissed her.

Damn the man, his lips still did funny things to her as her hands cupped his bearded cheeks and held him to her. By the time he drew back reluctantly, she was breathless. Damn him even more; the man had always been the most fantastic kisser. It was never just foreplay with him; he had poured himself into it. And she felt it to her toes.

His eyes had lightened to that silvery color that she recognized as passion. “But even more important than what I want, is what you need, Rachel. Not that I don’t admire the fuck out of Petrine. I probably even like the bitch.”

“But I miss you, sweetheart. I miss that girl who was happy just sitting in the sunshine and reading — the one who did not give a damn what anyone thought about her. I miss her fucking laughter so damned much. I want that to be the last damned thing I hear before I make that final journey to Valhalla,” he brushed away a tear that she could not stop at the thought of what he asked.

And he brought it to his lips and tasted her pain. This man had never been afraid to feel her pain. When Andreas hid in the bottle and Stig cursed and raged at Fate and every other god there was, he had sat there. Just there and held her while she cried. She had forgotten that and forgotten just how strong and true this man was.

“Forseti,” she whispered. Because he was right, she wanted that truth and peace between them once more. And if she had to face his justice to get reconciliation, then so be it.

Kirsty had no idea what time it was. Damn, she hated that about this room. No windows. No sunlight in the morning. Sure, it added to the whole dungeon ambiance. But damn it, she missed the sun waking her in the morning.

She had insisted that Bjⱷrn leave on one of the sconce lights by the door when he got up in the middle of the night to get her more water. And chocolate. She giggled against his warm skin. The idea of someone who looked like him, feeding her chocolate in bed? It was the stuff of adverts. She would just have to be careful not to overdo it.

Of course, maybe she could take up a new exercise program…sex-ercise. And when she tried to move even a little bit, she remembered just how sore muscles could get from that regime. Not that she regretted it. If Mikael’s fingers and tongue had been work out enough, then Bjⱷrn’s cock had been ‘feel the burn’ time.

She shifted in his arms and looked up just in time to see him frown in his sleep. Then he drew her closer again. The man complained of her pouting? He should look in the mirror at that frown sometime. But it did nothing to detract from his masculine beauty. It was not fair. She must look a mess. Red hair tangled and all over the place, and Thor had to look – well, like Thor. Even in his sleep.

She could not stop her hand that rested over his heart from drawing little patterns on his breast bone. Then she realized what she was doing and laughed. Her initials, KD – she was writing them over his heart with her finger. But then again this man made her feel like a teenager, like first love. Of course, it might be damned good that she was not a virgin, at least not when it came to rough shower sex.

She bit her lip as her eyes were drawn to something lower than his heart. Though it seemed to be pulsing in perfect time to it, she slid her hand slowly down his abs. Six-pack be damn; this man was more like twelve.

She blushed once more and tried to push that thought from her mind. When was he going to wake up, really wake up, and realize that he could do so much better than her? He could have any woman he wanted, probably even models and actresses. And none of them would give a damn about him being a simple fisherman. Not when they looked at him…and definitely not if they liked rough sex and floggers.

No matter what he said – and when he looked at her that way, she could almost believe he meant it. But the truth was that one day, this man was going to look at the cellulite on her thighs and ass, at the fact that even after six months in the gym, her tummy was not half as flat as it should be. One day, he was going to see all that, and what then?

Maybe that was what had kept her from saying those words last night, more than how quickly things had moved with them. Perhaps it was the fact that she still could not accept that a man, who looked like this, could honestly want someone who looked like her. She felt the tears burning in her eyes, and she fought like hell to hold them back. She swallowed hard, trying to choke them back.

Then she felt those fingers caress her cheeks. It was only then that she realized she had lost the battle at some point. She tried her hardest to smile as she looked up at him and whispered, “Good morning.”

He shook his head against the pillow as he brought his finger to his lips and sucked her tear from it. Tasted her tears as he had other parts of her last night.

“No, it is not. Not when I wake to this. Tell me, sweetheart.” He drew her tighter into his arms. His fingers laced through that tangled mop of ginger hair.

She tried shaking her head, “It is nothing.” She lied as her hand moved lower beneath the quilt. His larger one covered it just a couple of centimeters above his hard cock.

“No, you will not distract me with sex. I asked you a question, and I want an answer.” His voice was husky, low, and demanding.

How could she possibly explain? How could someone like him ever understand what it was like?

She might have gone to girls’ schools until university, but not even that could not shelter her from the truth. From the beginning, the taunts had been there ‘carrot top,’ ‘ginger,’ ‘chubby,’ and those were the nice ones. Her mother might want to idealize feminism as women supporting one another, but the truth was…they were more vicious, more brutally honest than any man ever would be.

If little boys beat the crap out of one another on the rugby field, asserting their dominance that way. Then little girls did it with their words. And despite the old saying about sticks and stones, words could hurt you – sometimes in more lasting ways than broken bones. Bones mended, and when they did, they were stronger than before. Not so with the wounds on your heart, soul, and mind.

It did not help either to remember the wedding photos that she had seen on social media. The man she had given six years of her life to standing next to the bride that was as petite and beautiful as she was tall, fat, and ugly. There – she said it, “Ugly and fat.”

He should have known. It always came down to that. To the fact that the woman he loved, could not love herself.

He rolled on top of her, entered her slowly until he pressed as deeply inside of her as he dared, considering how rough he had been last night. Her eyes even though they still swam with tears glazed over with need immediately. Her body moved beneath his, flowering open like one of his mother’s morning glories at the first rays of dawn. And every bit as wet as the dew upon those flowers too.

“Does that feel like I find you fat and ugly?” He found it hard to even force those words from his throat – when it came to her.

She shook her head, “That is just sex. Biology. A morning boner. Men are not all that picky. They will fuck anything.” She was not even looking at him. Her eyes were closed. She was fighting her own need for him; he knew that.

“Really, my beautiful wife?” He bent his head until his mouth rested just against her ear as he whispered, “Not this one. Look. At. Me. Now.” It was the first time he had used that voice, a tone that genuinely demanded her obedience.

Her eyes opened slowly as he leaned back on his elbow. He used his other hand to wipe away more of the tears that continued to fall. “You want to hear a little secret, my beautiful wife?”

She flinched. She drew back and scrunched up that pretty face. She had barely done that last night when he took her so too roughly in the shower. Not even when Hermóður and Loki bit into her most sensitive flesh. But when he called her beautiful? He swore then; he would use those words as often as he needed to until she stopped doing that. Until she believed them too.

“I said, look at me. Look me in the eyes and listen to what the fuck I have to say, Kirsty,” he demanded.

This time he did not turn her head towards him. He simply waited. Several long hearts beats until those blue eyes met his. Until he knew he had her undivided attention. “You were my first. On the boat that first night.”

He laughed at the way her mouth fell open. Her head shook from side to side on the pillow. “Oh, yes, my beautiful wife, I waited for you. Waited for something more than just a casual fuck.”

“No, that’s not possible,” she whispered as her brows scrunched tightly in a frown.

He shrugged, “Don’t get me wrong. I was no monk, my beautiful wife. I have had more than a couple of subs suck my cock.”

He bent low, “Something we still have not gotten around to yet, but we will. The idea of watching you gag on it,” he breathed deeply and shook his head.

“But back to the point, and yes, I have tasted more than one pussy too. Just never one as sweet as yours. And hell, one of the first things I discovered on the Internet was porn.”

He brushed another tear from the corner of her eye, “Never again tell me that this is just sex. We both know you are right; I could have had ‘just sex’ any fucking time I wanted. I had enough offers.”

“And yeah, some of those women were everything that pretty little head of yours is so fucking worried about. But I didn’t. Even with their legs spread wide and them begging, I waited. I waited for you. For something that was more than – just sex.”

His free hand moved over her body, slowly. He caressed it as he allowed what he had told her to sink into that sometimes thick head of hers. He hand cupped her breast. His thumb brushed back and forth over her nipple until she was panting.

“So, the next time that little voice whispers those nasty things in your head, remember this – I fucking choose you. Do you understand, sweetheart? I choose you.”

He sighed as he watched her shake her head, and more tears gathered in those blue depths, “No, you still don’t get it. But damn it, woman, one day you will. One day, someday, some fucking how, I will make you see yourself the way I see you.”

She breathed deeply. He watched as she fought back the tears, the denial, and the pain, all of it. “Yes, Master,” she whispered feebly.

He shook his head, “No Master here this morning. Just a man who is very much in love with his wife. A man who feels like a fucking failure because he cannot make her see how fucking beautiful she is in his eyes.”

He bent and kissed her lips. Put a stop to whatever other denial and drivel she was about to say. “So, if he cannot make her listen to what he says, maybe he can show her how he feels.”

He nibbled at her bottom lip until her mouth opened. Though he wanted to charge the gates, conquer and demand her surrender, he did not. He gently coaxed. He tasted and savored. He drank from her depths until she was moaning into his mouth. “Please, Bjⱷrn, please.”

“Please, what, my beautiful wife?” His tongue traced her lower lip as he moved slowly inside of her for the first time since he entered her.

Her breathing became shallow, so damned fast that he was afraid she would pass out, “Please,” she moaned. “Please fuck me.”

He leaned back once more, “No, I will not fuck you. That plea is as useless as all of theirs were.” He moved his hips in a long slow circle, watched her whole body tense and arch against his. Her eyes closed as her head buried itself deeper into the soft pillow.

He bent and captured the hard nipple that he had been torturing for minutes. He wanted to bite her. Wanted, maybe needed, her to wear even more of his marks. But instead, he softly lapped at it until a low whimper pierced his soul. “No, I won’t fuck you, my beautiful wife. But I do intend on making love to you.”

He reluctantly allowed the nipple to slip from his lips as he bent to her ear once more, “No permission, no holding back, no triggers. I want you to give your body to me as I give mine to you. Understood?”

“Yes, Mas…” she stopped and turned her head towards him. She smiled as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Yes, Bjⱷrn,” she answered. As this time, it was she who captured his lips — she who drew him down to taste of his sweetness.

Her mind still rebelled at his little surprise. How a man that looked like this was still… She choked on the word. A virgin. At twenty-eight? It boggled her mind. But she knew that he was not lying. Her heart accepted what he said, even if it did not understand.

And she had to admit – it was sexy. She did feel special. And more than a bit naughty as she lifted her hips to meet his slow thrust, she winced a bit as she flexed incredibly sore muscles. But the quick intake of his breath was more than worth a bit of pain. Besides, she was still discovering just how much she liked the stuff.

Oh, she felt more than a bit naughty, the ideas of games they could play. She liked the idea of defiling the little innocent just a bit. But the way he slowed and moved his hips inside of her, rather quickly abused her of the notion of him being all that innocent. And the way that he stared into her eyes as he lowered his head to taste her nipple once more had her whimpering and mewing.

She laced her fingers through his hair and held him to her breasts as he suckled. As she closed her eyes, his words of last night flashed like lightning through her mind. Oh yes, her heart very much wanted this man’s child. More so now than ever.

But first, she had other ideas. “No Master? No domination? No submission? No fucking?” she asked. “No rules?”

He nodded his head against her breast and answered without even releasing her nipple, “No rules. Just a man loving his wife.”

She smiled, and it was only the element of surprise that allowed her to win the tussle as she rolled them so that it was she on top. She sat astride him, his cock still firmly buried in her wet folds. But her nipple had managed to slip from his lips as she arched back.

“Or a wife loving her husband,” she said as she began to move slowly up and down his hard cock.

His breath was labored. He pulsed and grew inside her pussy. She was still sore, intensely so, but this position helped with that too. Gave her more control of both depth and speed. Even his hands gripping her hips so tightly could not force her fully down upon him…not until she was ready anyway.

Those green eyes captured her gaze. They seemed even greener somehow as he growled, “Does she?”

Her own mind was anything but clear as she felt him flex inside of her, go just a tad deeper. All of her best intentions to slowly seduce him flew out the window as she felt her body greet his. Liquid seeped from her cunt, coated his cock, and drew him even deeper until she moaned and slipped entirely down on his hard cock.

His hands on her hips halted her movements, held her perfectly still with his cock buried to the hilt inside of her as he looked up at her once more, “Do you? Do you love me, Kirsty?”

Her throat tightened. She was not sure she was ready for this. It was not admitting it to him that bothered her. It was admitting it to herself. All those voices in her head kept whispering lies – too soon…too handsome…different worlds…this craziness of sharing her. There were so many fucking reasons not to.

But the most essential reason, that look in his eyes…was what won in the end, “Yes, yes, I love you, Bjⱷrn.”

He smiled up at her and rolled them quickly so that he once more loomed larger than life over her so that he was all she could see or feel. “About fucking time, you admitted it, my beautiful wife,” he said as he wrapped one of her legs about his waist and captured her mouth in a soul-searing kiss.

And then he proceeded to do precisely what he had promised her, show her with his body how much he really, indeed did love and worship her. By the time he finally plunged deep inside of her and trembled in her arms, she was almost half convinced that her Thor really was hers…as improbable as that might seem.

At least she knew…she wanted to believe it. Believe him. She wanted it to be true as much as her body wanted his…as much as she did honestly want this man’s baby.

When he collapsed against her neck, she wrapped her arms around him tightly. Even when he tried to roll away a bit, she would not let him. She did not need to breathe half as much as she needed to hold onto impossible dreams just then. And they were sweet dreams as her arms tightened about him, and she drifted off to sleep crushed beneath him. She did not even mind his gentle snores against her ear. Hell, at least, the man was not wholly perfect, she giggled as she joined him in the land of dreams.

And the gods and goddesses in Asgard looked down upon them with envy.

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