I cannot. I need more time.”
She lifted her head. “I do not understand.”
“I want more of you. I want eternity.”
“What are you speaking of?”
“If I deflower a Valkyrie before wedding her, I wil never earn ohal a. Wóden would never gift me with it.”
“Wed?” She yanked his hand from her. “Immortals cannot wed mortals! It’s unnatural.” To watch him
die a little each day, until he withered with age …
“Precisely. So I must be of your kind. And even were it not forbidden, I stil would not wed you without
ohal a. I know of no warrior older than sixty winters. I’ve forty. Two decades should be but a taste of life with you.”
In a crestfal en tone, she said, “You want me to … wait?” Her plan was foiled, utterly. Not only would
she not get what she came for, she’d be punished for trying.
“Only to be claimed. Rest assured, I’l sate you in other ways til then.”
But she wanted to know everything, to experience it al . “How many battles do you have left?”
He lifted his chin. “A mere six dozen or so.”
“Are there even that many wars?” she cried.
“Between the vampires and the unal ied demonarchies, a lifetime of war awaits.”
“Seventy battles could take years! I came here because I wanted you to be my first lover.”
“By al the gods, I wil be, woman. But not yet. You wait for me, Reginleit. I wil seize ohal a for you, for us.”
“And what would you expect me to do while you are out fighting? My Valkyrie nature hungers for war as
much as yours does. And I hold no love for vampires.” Her mother’s people, the Radiant Ones, had been
exterminated by them.
“You wil remain behind—”
Eyes widening, she opened her mouth to give him a blistering reply.
“—to train, as al my men do before they go to battle,” he finished.
“Train?” she scoffed. “I’ve readied for war al my life.”
“Using the wrong weapon. You stil wield your long sword?”
“With your smal height and Valkyrie speed, you should be fighting with two short swords. I could teach
She pursed her lips, reluctantly intrigued by that idea. “And once I am trained …” she prompted.
As if the words were pul ed from him, he said, “You can join me at the front. But only after I deem you
She dug one fang into her bottom lip, actual y considering his offer.
He must have taken her silence as acceptance, because he leaned down to kiss her neck, his mouth
so hot in the rain. Against her skin, he rasped, “And, brightling, know this …” His tongue flicked out to lick drops from her. “I vow to you now, I wil be your last lover.”
She couldn’t think when he was doing that! “I-I haven’t agreed to this. Am I to have no say? Again?”
He inhaled as if for control, then raised his head. “Give me a chance, and I will claim your heart. Al I need is time.”
She didn’t believe that could happen. An immortal like her could never ful y love a mortal. Her instincts
would rebel against tender feelings like that.
After al , she could never give her heart to a man who would take it to the grave with him, leaving her
broken and yearning for eternity.
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 wil give you three months, warlord. You have three months to win me.”
“Ah, Valkyrie”—he curled his finger under her chin—“your heart wil be mine in two.”
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 al ow herself to love, but the one she wanted above al