receiving her morning gift, Emer walked to the hall to eat. The dagmál was
composed of a porridge made of wheat flour, crushed hazelnuts and barley
kernels. Emer could notice that they used honey as well. She couldn’t eat
thinking about Ivar’s threat. She was not sure if her uncle was released and
was afraid to imagine what Ivar could do to her father, once he put his hands
was so lost in her worries that she didn’t notice Ivar looking at her the whole
time. His warm and calloused hand touching hers were enough to wake her.
think it’s better if you eat. We will ride today. You will need your strength.”
replied. “I’m not hungry.”
grunted in disapproval. “If you fall from your horse during the journey, I will
let you on the ground.”
thought that she should eat to avoid angering him even more. She started eating
the porridge, she didn’t regret it. It was heavenly and sweet. She sighed in
satisfaction. From her peripheral vision, she saw Ivar’s cocky smile. After she
finished her porridge, Ivar offered her some strawberries and raspberries. They
were inviting and their smell was rich. Before she could pick up one of the
berries, Ivar took the bowl away from her reach. Emer opened her mouth to
protest, but he held a strawberry to her mouth. She was taken by surprise, his
intense gaze was commanding, she closed her mouth around the fruit, tasting the
sweetness of the strawberry. Its juice started flowing to her lips, Ivar used
his thumb to clean her lips, she swallowed hard. He was so concentrated. Emer
imagined if he acted this way while in battle, absorbed by the destruction he
was inflicting upon others.
fingers toying with her lower lip, she didn’t know what to do, afraid that even
the slightest movement could make him stop. She let out a heavy breath, an odd
warmth running through her. The noise made Ivar look deep into her green eyes,
he raised his hand, liking the juice from his thumb, with his glaring eyes
still fixed upon her. Those indigo darts using her as a target. She was
helpless. Looking into her husband’s eyes, Emer could hear the waves crashing
against the shore, see the foam flying into the air. His eyes were blue like
the sky right before the sun disappears.
kept doing his ministrations with a thoughtful expression. She wondered if one
day she would decipher the man in front of her.
noise of Sigvard’s arrival interrupted Ivar’s actions.
time for us to leave, or we will have to spend the night there.”
lips were forming a straight, disapproving look on his features. A clenched
looked from Sigvard to Emer. “I hope you can ride faster than you eat, since we
signed in frustration. They were late because of him.
She didn’t know what to do. Ivar’s gaze was fixed on her.
It was like he had some power over Emer. She couldn’t move. Ivar passed Emer,
sitting on the bed. He started taking off his belt, and then his tunic. Emer
looked at his thick and dark hair, it was shiny and inviting. She wondered how
it would feel to run her fingers through his locks. It was impossible not to
look at his broad naked chest either. His torso was decorated with dark patterns she
didn’t know the meaning. Ivar’s arms were something extraordinary too, so muscular,
she imagined it was due his constant effort to carry himself without putting
all of his weight on his legs. Her eyes traveled to his stomach, it was flat and
well-defined as his chest and arms. He had distinct cheekbones and an angular
and strong jaw, his pale skin made him look devilishly handsome.
His jaw was tense while he was working to take his
boots off. She came closer and kneeled to help him.
Ivar yelled, scaring her. “Don’t!”
Emer looked at him in confusion.
“I don’t want your help!”, he added.
Emer replied. “But I want to help you. It’s my duty!”
He laughed in mockery, but Emer saw pain in his eyes.
“Duty? What other duties do you have? To lay on your back, allowing me to place
my crippled body between your thighs?”
She was on her knees, almost crying from the
humiliation. But, she would not give him the pleasure of seeing her pain. She
walked to the table to drink more mead. If this night was going to be this
difficult, she’d rather be drunk.
Before she could realize, Ivar was standing behind
her, with the help of just one of his crutches. His free hand running
hair as if she was made of glass. It was the first time she was so close
to an almost naked man. Emer was embarrassed. She didn’t want to look
him, she was sure her face would give away what she
was really feeling.
His smell was not helping her to think
straight. He smelled like pine, mead and leather. Her head was spinning. She
wanted to blame the mead she had had. Yet, Emer knew it was not the case. He
bent forward, smelling her hair. She had never expected a man of his reputation
to act in a gentle manner. Maybe, this was part of his dangerous nature. You
wouldn’t expect the violence, wrath and cruelty until it was too late.
She was lost in her thoughts, until she heard his
command. “Look at me!”
Emer complied. She was now facing him. This close,
could see he had strong arched brows and thick eyelashes. And then his
eyes. They were deep and catastrophic, a vivid blue. As if he was born
to have a
close bond with the sea. After all, he came from the fogs of the sea to