Bjⱷrn put the finishing touches on the sandwich. Pickles, real dill pickles. They were her favorite. He half-smiled as he thought how amazing it was: the stuff that you will tell strangers over the Internet. But they were not strangers anymore. They were her husbands.
Not by her choice, he reminded himself as he placed the piece of bread on top of the corned beef, cheese, and pickles. He spread extra mustard and just a touch of mayonnaise. The way she liked it. Would she even care? Would it make any difference to how much she hated them?
Hate and love were twins, the light and the dark; his mother had always told him. If she could hate them now, then with the right touch, she could come to love them. Or so his mother had promised. After last night not even he was sure anymore.
He did not know what had happened between her and Mikael, or even between her and Svein. He honestly did not want to know. Not the details anyway. But what he did know was that cry had woken him from a light sleep. Just as he was beginning to dream that it was him holding her in his arms, kissing her lips, rolling her nipples between his fingers…
Stop it. This was getting him nowhere. None of this was. Why did Svein and especially Mikael have to ruin this for him? He had waited his whole life for this…for her. While Svein dreamt of fish and making Njörður’s Captive a success, while Mikael dreamt of breaking free from their big brother’s long shadow and asserting himself as his own man, he dreamed of one thing – coming home to her.
Of course, he had not known who she was. But ever since he was a teen, his wife, their wife, had consumed his dreams. Sure, he was not chaste; what good would that do them? But other women had always been more about learning to please her than pleasing himself.
Then he remembered how wide her eyes had gotten last night when they revealed her Fate. He had wanted to be the one to spend the night with her then. To hold her and reassure her that it would not be that bad, that despite what society might think, loving three men could be easier than one. Or so his mother had told him. He had wanted to cuddle with her and tell her all about their mother, about their homeland, about the tradition that she was upholding.
But she had chosen Mikael instead. He was confident that it was because she could sense his brother’s reluctance in this plan. Perhaps she thought to find an ally among them. Maybe convince him to help her escape. She had chosen poorly. Even if he had been reluctant about this plan, Mikael needed Kirsty, needed her even more than he did. And that was saying something.
Bjⱷrn admitted, he needed this woman. Not as Mikael did to care for his child, or Svein to provide heirs, the next generation of fishermen for Njörður’s Captive. He needed her love. He needed someone to hold and be held by. And he wanted so much more from this woman than either of his brothers could even imagine. He wanted her soul as well as her body.
He steeled himself as he walked down the short corridor. He knocked lightly at the closed door. He waited for a welcome, her to tell him to ‘come in.’ He stood there holding the tray with its sandwich cut into triangles and a can of her favorite soda. And he stood there. Two minutes. Three. Maybe five. Before he realized that the invitation he hoped for was not going to come. He sighed heavily; was that prophetic? He hoped not.
He thought about knocking again. But what would be the point? She had closed the door on them. Maybe that was even to be expected. He tried to put himself in her position. Everything that she had known, everyone, had been stolen from her. He remembered all his mother’s advice; you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. So, why had the woman chosen Mikael’s vinegar over his honey last night?
He turned the knob and pushed open the door, half expecting his way to be blocked: chairs or shelves or anything she could find blocking the entrance to the captain’s cabin. But the door swung open easily.
She was sitting in the corner of the bed. Her legs were drawn up almost to her chin as she stared out the tiny portal to the waves that almost reached its edges. Her arms were wrapped tightly about her knees as if she were hugging herself. Did she not realize that was what he longed to do more than anything? Hold her, keep her safe?
When she finally turned towards him, he saw the moisture glistening in her eyes. For a moment, he wished he could turn back time. He regretted all they had done, the way they had captured her. Then he remembered the most important of their search perimeters: someone who was not happy in the life that they led, that had few intense connections.
The truth was that while she loved her career, that was all she had in her old life. Her job. And between Monica and the babies they would give her, she would have plenty of things to occupy her. She had given her heart and her time to another man, tried the traditional relationship, and been hurt by it. Saddest of all, her parents and friends were just straw men in her life. She shared no deep bond with them. She had admitted time and again how shallow her existence was, how alone she felt, how she longed for something simpler, something more.
Bjⱷrn knew they could offer her all of that. Given a chance, they could make her happy, and in return, she could make them happy. That was how this was meant to work; his mother told him. Showed him every day of his life. This bond could give Kirsty a sense of belonging that she craved. He just knew it. For now, though, all he had to offer was a sandwich — some conversation. And perhaps friendship.
“I made this for you,” he said almost shyly as he held out the tray. “Corned beef with cheese, pickles, and mustard. The way you like it.” He knew he was rambling. He probably sounded like some lovesick teenager. That was not how he wanted to come off, how he wanted her to see him.
She nodded and took the plate off the tray. Bjⱷrn considered turning around and running back to the kitchen to hide.
This was not going the way that he expected. None of it had gone as he hoped and planned for all those years. He had been prepared for Svein to be the first. That was as much a part of this tradition as kidnapping. But he was confident that after his eldest brother’s ‘vinegar,’ she would turn to him for honey. Instead, she had chosen Mikael…and that ate at his gut.
The woman, Kirsty, he reminded himself. When had she become just the woman? That was how Mikael saw her, perhaps even Svein. But to him, she had always been Kirsty, the One. Did he doubt that now?
He watched as she looked the sandwich over. Did she think that he would drug her? Then she smiled weakly up at him and muttered, “Thanks.”
It was as close to an invitation as he was likely to get any time soon. He took it as such and sat next to her on the bed. He saw the marks again. The red and purple teeth marks were beginning to be tinged with yellow and green this morning. Of course, he had seen them yesterday when they were fresh after Svein had taken her. He looked for other marks, new ones, from Mikael, but he saw none. That should have been a relief to him. But remembering her cry that had rent the night, it was not.
It was not that bruises or marks bothered him as such. This, too, was part of who they were. Dominants. It would always be a part of their dynamic with her. That was why they had chosen to look specifically for a submissive on a kink site. They would never force a woman, any woman, to do things that were not to her choosing. They were exploring Kirsty’s fantasies as well as their own, or so he assured himself.
No, it was not the marks themselves. It was that they were not his. Not his bruises. He frowned as she took another bite of the sandwich. Not that his kinks would leave these types of marks upon her alabaster skin. No, he wanted so much more from her than a few bruises here and there. He wanted to own her. Own her body and soul. The games he liked were in her head…mind fucks.
Challenges to test the depths and breadth of her submissive nature. Breathe play when he held her very life in his hands. Orgasm control where she begged and pleaded for release that he alone could give her, or not. And the ultimate: potty training where she must ask his permission even to piss. Oh no, his needs from this woman were for so much more than a few simple bruises that were already beginning to fade. He wanted her all: her mind, her heart, even her spirit.
Not to crush as some did. He wanted to set her free. As a child on one of their trips with his brothers and their fathers, his mother had taken him to an aviary. He must have been seven, maybe eight. But he would never forget watching the falcon show.
They had sat on hard wooden benches. He must have asked Petrine two dozen times, ‘when will it start?’ Then the air above his head stirred and was rent with a cry, unlike any he had ever heard. He watched as a brown smudge circled high above them, occasionally swooping low then seeming to soar straight up again. He did not dare move.
Then a man’s voice joined with the hawk’s cries. He told of the birds, how they were endangered, their desire to be free, but how the world in which they lived was encroaching, threatening all of that. How this magnificent bird, who flew back to perch upon his gloved hand was safer as his captive than she could ever be in the wild.
That falcon was his Kirsty. Her need to care, to submit to a man, no longer fit this modern world. She could not find the fulfillment she sought in traditional relationships, or social media ‘friendships,’ not even in the career that she loved. No, she needed a depth of connection that only he…and his brothers…could provide. Only in that captivity would she indeed be safe to take to flight, to soar higher than any of them ever could. And always come back to land safely in their arms.
He smiled and sighed as she finished the last bite of her sandwich. That kind of connection took time and trust. It could not be rushed; he reminded himself as he opened the can of soda and passed it to her. She took a long swig then wiped her hand across her mouth. He chuckled, it was something he would do. Unmindful of polite etiquette or rules, he was who he was, and so was she. That was what he loved most about her. And something he never wanted to change.
When she heard his laughter, her eyes met his, and she belched. Not some polite burb followed by an ‘excuse me,’ but a noisy exclamation. “In some cultures that is the highest of praise, I’m told,” he smiled at her.
It was her turn to laugh then. The sound washed over his soul like rain in the desert. “Thank you. It was delicious,” she said as her eyes dropped back to the duvet that covered her naked body.
“You are most welcome,” he replied. “Would you like me to get you another shirt to wear?”
She might not realize it. He had thought that his brothers would not either, although the violence with which Mikael tossed the torn other one, said that he had underestimated them. The truth was that his shirts were the beginning of it. The beginning of her training. As his slave. She was dependent upon him even for the clothes she wore.
Ironically, his shirts also covered his brothers’ marks upon her fair skin. They were his mark of ownership, and whether he realized or would admit it or not, that was what had honestly bothered Mikael. Not that Bjⱷrn had any intention of stopping.
She nodded her head slowly and whispered, “If you don’t mind, though I cannot promise it won’t end up in shreds like the other one. Your brothers seem to have some perverse need to keep me naked. Maybe they think I can’t run away then. Although there is not much chance of that since we are in the middle of the channel, is there?”
He chuckled again. Svein had been right…she was easy to talk with. But then again, he had known that from all the emails they had exchanged. Her intelligence appealed to him as much as her beauty or her submissive nature. “More than likely, they like seeing your hot body. But no need to worry about that. You are mine tonight. And I have no objection to you wearing my shirt.”
She frowned, “But I thought that Svein said I could choose?”
Bjⱷrn steeled his expression. He would not let her see how much her words hurt him. What was her problem? Did she really prefer them to him? Did bites and bruises, rope, and gods only knew what else appeal to her more than a pleasant evening of conversation with him? What was wrong with him?
Then it dawned upon him. Perhaps his brothers were easier because, with them, she could be safe in her hatred? Maybe what scared her most was that she might come to like him…to love him? Perhaps pain and bondage were more comfortable to give than her true submission? But she would discover he was a man of patience. He did not want to take…he wanted her to give.
“He said you could choose who shared the bed – last night. Today is a new dawn. New rules. My rules.”
He watched her brow crinkle in a frown. He saw her sweet mouth that he wanted to kiss, so desperately, open as if she wanted to argue. Then it closed again. ‘Let the games begin,’ he thought as he rose from the bed.
“I will get my shirt for you now. Then I must get back up on deck. You may join me if you wish. It is not raining this day, so my shirt and your coat should be enough to keep you warm.” She just nodded as he gathered the plate and empty soda can on the tray.
If Mikael thought that a torn shirt would get to him, if she thought running scared would save her, they were both wrong. He was playing this game to win. Because the prize, her love and submission, was a treasure more valuable than a dozen Njörður’s Captives.
He would not run. He would not take. He would wait patiently until she gave that which could never be forced. And he would win, he would have it in the end. Have all of her, just as she would have all of him. It was how things were meant to be…with the One.
Kirsty sat on the chair that Bjⱷrn had brought for her. Her tablet lay next to her. Honestly, she had tried to get a signal. Perhaps message her parents or connect with a friend on social media, but this far out to sea, that was as futile as she had suspected it would be. Instead, all she had to do was read the books on it. The crazy books about ménages and BDSM that had gotten her in this fucked up situation, to begin with.
And think. She had way too much time to think right now. Think about her life up to this point. Did anyone even notice she was gone? It was Saturday now. So, work would not realize her absence for a couple of days. What would happen when she did not show up Monday morning? Of course, they would call her mobile phone and the house? But what happened when she did not answer? Would they try her parents, who were listed as her emergency contact? Or after taking holiday time on Friday, would they assume she was too hungover even to bother calling in?
It was certain that her parents would not notice her missing if they did not call. She only saw them once a month for the perfunctory brunch, usually in Chelsea or Kensington. That had been last Sunday, so unless work or her flatmates called them, they would not even notice her absence for weeks? Then again, even as a small child, she had more often than not been invisible to her busy consultant parents.
And her flatmates? What of them? She and the two other young professional females that shared the fashionable flat just a couple of blocks from the hospital where she worked had never been particularly close. Well, the two of them were close, but neither paid her much attention. How long before they noticed that she had not come out of her room to cook? Would they bother to knock and check up on her? Or would it not be until it was her turn to clean the communal areas that they noticed her missing? When was that anyway? Next weekend? The following?
In a world where she had close to a hundred ‘friends’ on a social media site, no one would miss her for days. And by then? Where would she be? Safely ensconced in this mysterious place that these guys called home? How long before the police would check out her computer? Would they bother?
She was an adult. She was getting over a devastating breakup. Would everyone assume that she had left of her own free will? That she needed some time to get away and think? Would anyone care? Besides her kids, they would notice she was gone. It would bother them, starting over with a new therapist. But most of them had no voice. How could they tell anyone that Miss Kirsty would never leave without saying good-bye?
It was sad and depressing. The sum total of her existence. She watched the waves lapping at the edge of the boat as the men worked together to haul the heavy nets up, sort the fish, throwing back the weak and small and pushing the others into the hold below. Was that all she was: a vulnerable and small fish that no one could be bothered to care about? That could just disappear without anyone noticing?
Then she thought about him, about his laughter, and those eyes. He would miss her. Something told her in the crazy darkness of her mind that none of this mattered, that she should just run and jump into the icy cold waters and end it all. That she did not matter to anyone anyway. Something told her that he would risk everything to follow her. To save her.
But save her from what? And why? That scared her most. Why her? Why had they chosen her? Svein had been safe. He wanted to possess her body. To mark her as his. She could handle that. Honestly, some warped part of her craved that madness of passion and possession. Mikael, she thought she could manipulate. Could work to her advantage, but that had backfired. But even, as he tried to control her, she had found her safe place. Used him as much or more than he used her body. He could not touch her.
Bjⱷrn? Something about him…the warmth of his laughter, the softness in his eyes, the gentle way that he listened more than he talked. He scared her. Scared the shit out of her. She was not safe with him. She never would be.
Because something inside of her warned, he could break through her walls. Thick walls that she had spent a lifetime building. He could knock them all down. Then what? Where would she be? Far more naked and vulnerable than she had been with either Svein or Mikael.
And the soft, warmth of his shirt caressing her skin beneath her coat reminded her of that fact. Tonight she would be forced to face that danger. Tonight she would be alone with him. Alone in that small cabin. Alone in the bed that was too small for two.
For a moment, that thought scared her so much that the sea seemed to call to her. The Sirens seemed to beckon her to join them. Then a hand gripped her shoulder, and she turned to face him, “The sun is going down now. It will get colder soon. You should go back inside. I will join you in the cabin after I shower and make us something to eat.”
His smile was genuine. His eyes were lit with a soft glow from inside. His words were comforting and reassuring. She was terrified. She was in big trouble now. Alone with him. The night stretched out into eternity. Would she survive?
She feared not – not unchanged. But she found herself nodding and walking across the deck as it swayed gently with each wave. She turned back to see him watching her. His eyes met hers for a long moment. Oh, she was in big trouble here.