Home > Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark #11)(5)

Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark #11)(5)
Author: Kresley Cole

sent his ire spiraling. Seeming to struggle for control, he grated, “Then I give you my oath that I’ll not

touch another. Now are you satisfied, little wife? Any more demands?”

“I have to go with you to find Lucia.”

“In this I will not bend, Reginleit. You are vulnerable. You can be harmed. And that I could not

abide.”

Before he doused the candles, he leaned over to press a quick kiss against her hair, then chucked

her under the chin. “Brightling, the time till you’re grown will pass slowly for me. Every night, I will

dream of the woman you’ll become.”

He returned to his pallet, and in the dark she saw his eyes closed and his lips curled, as if with

anticipation.

She inwardly sighed. You will never see me grown, warlord. But from time to time, I might think

of the stubborn mortal who was kind to me.

-ii-

Nine years later

“What are you doing, sister?” Lucia the Archer demanded as she barged into Regin’s room.

Though Regin had hoped to slip away this night from the manor house she shared with Lucia, her

sister’s huntress senses were too acute.

I should probably lie. Yet out spilled the truth: “I am deciding which garments will best please a

warlord.”

Lucia gasped, her hands falling to the bow she always wore strapped over her body. As her

fingers nervously plucked the string, she said, “You are seeking out that berserker?”

She nodded. Regin would become a full immortal soon and, as she’d finally been warned, her

desires were growing overwhelming.

When she imagined fulfilling them, only one man’s face arose in her mind. Just as Aidan had

predicted, she needed him now. “He’s near. His army is camped within the dark woods.”

Over the years, as she and Lucia had sought out other Valkyrie on this plane and others, Regin had

often heard tales of her berserker. He was little closer to his gift of immortality, having spent more

time searching for her than for battles to win. And already he had forty winters.

He was said to be changed—his beastlike nature even more dominant. He was quick to conflict,

letting his berserkrage free at the earliest provocation.

And yet she couldn’t stop thinking of him.

“Now, shall I wear the nigh-transparent skirt”—Regin tapped her chin—“or the trews that encase

me like a second skin?”

Lucia sputtered.

“Yes, well said, Lucia. Males do ogle me more when I wear the trews.” She pulled them on over

her generous backside—with effort—then lay on the bed to tie the tight laces. Next she donned a

sleeveless leather vest with a plunging neckline. Though it covered her breasts, the vest bared her

midriff.

Lucia had begun to pace. “We’ve talked of this.”

“You talked of this,” Regin said as she braided her hair into a dozen haphazard plaits around her

face. The rest she left flowing. “I averred nothing.”

Lucia wanted her to join the Skathians—the celibate archeress order she herself had entered—but

Regin was too curious about coupling, too eager to discover what the warlord’s secretive smile that

night had promised.

Yet that wasn’t the only reason she would seek him out. Though he’d been so stubborn and

arrogant, he’d also laughed with her and enjoyed her humor. Over these years, men had gazed at her

with lust, reverence, and even, on occasion, respect—but Aidan had looked at her as no man had

since.

With appreciation. He’d appreciated her exactly as she was.

“To seek him out is madness, Regin. He believes that he alone will possess you. Like some …

some thing, some object. He will never let you go!”

“Then he will not have me to begin with. We will make a bargain for three months, or for nothing.”

She would explore her attraction to him, slake these drives, and loosen the hold he had over her.

Regin dug into her copious chest of jewels—containing no glittering stones, of course. She

decided on adornments of polished gold. Males grew fascinated with how she made it glow. She

donned serpentine bands of it around her upper arms and a circlet crown with strands to dip over her

forehead.

“If you must do this, choose another male, any but a berserker! They’re animals, and I do not use

that word lightly,” Lucia said, her eyes still haunted by her own encounter with a male nine years ago.

The man she’d thought she loved had been a monster in disguise, one who’d turned on her, harming

her in unspeakable ways.

Regin had been right to worry—and to leave Aidan behind. If I’d been but a single day later …

“I cannot choose another male. Else break an oath.” It seemed her brash words from all those

years ago had come back to haunt her. “I vowed to Aidan that I would be as faithful to him as he was

to me. Lucia, rumors hold that he’s forsaken all others. If ’tis true …”

Yet this only alarmed Lucia. “An insatiable beast lurks within him, one that wants only to rut and

conquer and possess. I hope to the gods, for your sake, he’s not tried to leash it for nearly a decade.”

“I am going to him,” Regin said simply as she turned toward the stairs. Her mind was made up.

She wasn’t one to debate things with herself. She rarely pondered, never mulled. She acted.

Lucia sighed, following her down to the front entrance. “Then for once, be circumspect.” At the

door, she handed Regin her hooded cloak. “Survey the situation before you stride into his army’s

camp as if you own it. Promise me.”

“Very well.” Regin shrugged into the cloak, then stepped outside, glancing at the darkening sky. A

spring storm neared. “Wish me luck,” she said cheerily, leaving Lucia to pluck her bowstring with

disapproval.

Regin set off across the countryside, hurrying through melting ice fields into the forest. She was so

eager that she easily outpaced the oncoming storm.

As she neared Aidan’s encampment, she heard women’s voices among the men’s. Camp wenches,

as usual. What bawdy scenes would she come across this time?

Perhaps Aidan had a bedmate this very night.

The thought made her claws straighten with aggression. He vowed to me. Yet though she would

feel betrayed, her desires were growing so intense that she might just toss the woman away and take

her place.

Nay. If he’d broken his oath, she would not gift him with her innocence.

I have to know. … At the edge of a central clearing, she leapt into a tree, adjusting her cloak to

keep her glow concealed. Around a great fire sat berserkers of every stripe, all with women or jugs

of mead or both clasped in their meaty fists.

Except for one.

Aidan.

He sat off to one side on a long bench, his blond head in his hands. He looked to be squeezing his

temples.

Brandr, that cur, sat beside him with a wench in his lap and one hand up her skirt, fondling her

backside. With his other hand, he clapped Aidan on the shoulder. “There will be other leads, friend.”

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