Stil , there was something captivating about Aidan's utter confidence. As if he knew something about her that she didn't even know herself. And her out-of-control desires were making it difficult to deny him. "I will give you three months, warlord. You have three months to win me."


"Ah, Valkyrie"-he curled his finger under her chin-"your heart will be mine in two."

-iii-

Seven months later

Where is he? I'm going mad without him here.

Regin paced their longhouse as a blizzard raged outside. Aidan was a week overdue from a campaign.

She'd ridden the countryside searching for him for days, but found no sign.

There was rumor of a capture.

Did he even live?

Aidan. The bear of a warrior she could never all ow herself to love, but the one she wanted above all others.

Even though she was a ful immortal now-her appetite for food had disappeared, her need for war burgeoning-she lingered with him here at his camp.

I am better for being here, for being with him. She was a better swordswoman-though he hadn't deemed her ready for war yet, and she secretly feared he never would.

She was a better lover. Though he hadn't coupled with her.

Seven months ago, she had tried repeatedly to seduce him, coaxing him to take her completely. Yet in time she'd come to want more of him, too. No, he couldn't win her heart, but he'd won her desires. He'd pleasured her relentlessly, teaching her to slake him as well.

Each time he set off to battle, she demanded, "Take me with you, warrior." His ploy to keep her in camp? He left her sexual y sated and sprawled on the furs, exhausted but glowing with bliss. Already pining for him to return.

As he'd done so long ago, Regin had begun to ask herself, why not him?

Because once she'd learned how to handle her stormy berserker-knowing when to tease him, when to claw him, when to draw him into her arms and murmur, "Shh, be at ease, warlord"- life with him had been surprisingly gratifying.

He treated her like a goddess, spoiling her with gifts and surprises. And they laughed constantly. She savored the sound of his laughter coming from his big barrel chest-as well as his gruff words of affection: "Remember those years ago when I vowed I would love you one day? I told you true."

Could any male make her feel as he had the night he'd lightly rasped his blond stubble over her stomach and murmured, "I want babes with you-berserker sons and Valkyrie daughters." He'd raised his head, gazing at her with clear gray eyes. "Give them to me one day?"

Having a Valkyrie for his mate had done nothing to curb his arrogance. He behaved like an immortal already-even more arrogant and lordly-thril ing her. "Woden will look upon me with favor," he'd told her.

"No male could treasure his daughter more than I do you."

'Twas simple enough. Regin desired him above all males and knew she always would, which meant two decades was far too short-

He stumbled through the door.

She gave a cry, leaping to her feet. "Thank gods, you've returned! Where have you ..." She trailed off at the wild look on his face. "Aidan?"

His eyes ablaze, he dropped his bloody ax, then ripped off his sword belt and crimson-stained tunic.

His tattooed chest heaved as he stalked toward her, his expression warning her to take a step back.

Then another.

"Aidan, say something."

"They tried to keep me from you." He backed her into the table, cornering her, predatory.

"Who? The vampires?"

"No one keeps me from you. Not immortals, not men, not a god. Nothing can keep me from you."

"Aidan, wh-what are you doing? You're on the very edge. You must calm yourself."

"My life passed before me, Reginleit. I'd rushed to battle because I want you forever-only to fall without a single night inside you? The idea sent me into a frenzy!"

She'd never seen him this far gone when not fighting. They both worked to keep him from reaching his berserkrage, knowing he'd lose control to the beast within.

The beast that roared inside him to claim its mate.

"I left a wake of death to return to you"-his hand shot out to cup her nape, yanking her close-"to make you mine in all ways." He dipped his head to nip her breast, making her gasp. "Tonight I'll ride your little body til you scream with pleasure."

"Have you fever? Are you maddened?" She shoved him away, but again, he stalked closer. "You know why we can't!"

"We can! You are mine to claim. Ohal a is mine to take! I demand it all -mine by right."

"This is the berserkrage speaking ... speaking nonsense. Think about what you are saying! We've set our course, and we will be steadfast."

Regin knew that the hotter his rage, the faster and stronger he'd be. If she didn't make it out of here with a burst of speed, all would be lost. She feinted left, then ducked to the right, sprinting past him-

He caught her dress, snatching her back.

"Aidan, nay!"

He seized her in the cage of his arms, carrying her to their bed, dragging her down with him. "'Tis unnatural to deny this fated need. You know this-you feel it too!"

Before she could escape, his hands fisted in the front of her dress. With a roar, he rent the material clean from her body, his smoldering gaze raking over her br**sts and lower to her sex.

He was going into that mindless state, his muscles bulging even more. "You wanted me to claim you before. Is that no longer true?"

"Of course I want you to, but not yet!"

He tore off his boots and breeches, rising up above her. His mighty shaft swel ed with lust, moisture beading the proud crown.

Raw male. Against her will, the flesh between her legs dampened, her br**sts growing heavy.

Whenever the spirit of the bear quickened inside him, she responded-as if he'd imparted some of his beast, imprinted it upon her.

Because once it rose, she grew desperate to answer its cal .

Now she fought the growing need. "Nay! Do not do this!" She pummeled his chest, but when he was like this, she was no match for his strength. He caught her wrists, easily pinning them over her head.

"Aidan, I-I am pleading, just wait-" The words caught in her throat when he dipped his head to one of her br**sts, his lips closing over her nipple.

As he sucked, his finger slid into her core. "Wet for me," he growled around the peak. A second finger delved as he moved his hot mouth to her other breast, suckling with greedy lips, his tongue swirling.

Her ni**les were damp and throbbing, her sex quivering to his touch. "Aidan!"

"You're ready, nigh coming." But he slipped his fingers from her. She whimpered, undulating for them. With her arms still captured over her head, he covered her body with his own. "You are mine, Reginleit!" He rocked his h*ps between her thighs.

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