The Viking (Chapter VI, page 2 of 7)


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"Choose her own husband?"

"If she lived under yer roof ye would let her."

"Be fair, if I let her, the other lassies will want the same."

"I see, 'tis I who must be fair." She closed her eyes and tried to calm down, but her rage only increased. "Ye held me in yer arms and swore ye would never let any harm come to me. Then to cover our sin, ye convinced me to marry a man who never once believed Kannak was his."

"He could not have known for sure."

"Aye, he could."

"How?"

"He did not desire me."

Macoran blinked repeatedly and brought a hand up to rub his brow. "Not even on yer wedding night?""

"Did ye expect him to that night after what happened?"

"I suppose not. But later, when…"

"Not ever. He sought his comfort elsewhere and our marriage was never consummated."

Suddenly unsteady, Macoran had to take a deep breath. "I had not imagined that." He was quiet for a long moment before he spoke again. "I imagined the opposite and wanted to kill Eogan that night and every night since." He tried to take her in his arms but she moved out of his reach. "Jirvel, each time ye came to the village, ye seemed happy and after a while, I convinced myself ye had forgotten our love. But I had not forgotten and seeing ye happy without me nearly did me in."

"Then I pity ye, but not enough to give over my daughter. Tell me now ye will not marry her off to a lad she could never learn to love. 'Tis a fate worse than death."

Macoran tried to gently touch the side of her face, "Am I never to be forgiven?"

She turned her face away, "Ye have a wife, go home to her."

That enraged him and he gritted his teeth. "Ye are not the only one who was forced into a loveless marriage." He took hold of her waist, jerked her to him and wrapped his arms tight around her. "All these years I have thought of nothing but ye. My heart cries out for ye and my arms ache to hold ye. Dinna deny me this once."

As much as she wanted to, she did not yield to his embrace. "Promise ye will not take Kannak."

He drew in another deep breath and slowly let it out. "I see now I owe ye at least that much."

Finally she leaned into him put her arms around his waist, closed her eyes and let herself remember how it once was. Many a year passed and all she had were vague memories of his warmth and his strength. For a while, she let the years dissolve away, but when he tried to kiss her, she pulled back. "We have sinned enough, ye and I."

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