Pride of a Viking – Sky Purington

ERICA SAT IN her car at Raven’s Nest and stared out over the Atlantic. It was almost time. She eyed the jagged-edged blade in her hand. There was nothing quite like being reconnected with this. More so, the memories it invoked. Memories tens of thousands of years old. “Damn it, Erica,” she whispered to herself as emotions bubbled up. “There’s no time for this. Pull yourself together.” Had he been here, Anthony would have said, “What are you talking about? You’ve always got it together,” then dished out one of those charming smiles he had perfected. But he wasn’t here anymore, and she barely felt pulled together. It had been a long couple of years trying to come to terms with everything she had learned about not only herself but also her family. What they were. The connection they shared with Viking dragons of the past. Most specifically, the Sigdirs.

Then there was the one Sigdir. Kodran. A man connected to her across time. Not just in this life but one they had lived long before that. He was her dragon mate. Yet their souls were connected much differently than most dragon mates. It was a strange, almost taboo connection that could cause a great deal of trouble for them and their people. Which is why it was best to stay away from one another. Her eyes dropped to the blade again, and she shook her head. As she discovered on her recent trip back in time, this dagger was at the heart of everything and determined to bring them back together.

She never should have touched it when Kodran held it out. She knew better. Yet part of her wanted him to remember. To recall what she started remembering years ago. Now he had. The second they touched the blade at the same time. She sighed and pushed that moment to the back of her mind. The look in his eyes. Happiness that quickly turned to disappointment. Then sadness and anger.

All that aside, it was time to get moving. So she tucked the blade in her briefcase, pulled out of her parking space and headed north. Her GPS took her to a sprawling chalet on Frenchman Bay. A place she owned but had only ever visited in spirit form. After she parked, she continued to sit there. Was she really ready to do this? Was she truly prepared? “You have to be, Erica,” her father would have said. “Everyone’s depending on you now.” She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. How was she going to do this without Anthony’s strength? Without dad’s? Did she really have it in her? Her eyes shot open when a tap resounded on the driver’s side window. Her sister Lauren stood outside giving her a there-you-are-at-last look.

Her mate, Tait stood beside her. No more hiding. It was time to face things. Because one way or another, the blade had set things in motion and now that she had come here, there was no turning back. The enemy would soon follow. So she grabbed her briefcase, pasted the calm and collected expression she had worn in numerous courtrooms on her face, and got out. “Erica, where have you been?” Lauren took in her attire with barely masked disappointment. “You look different than when I last saw you.” In spirit form, she had been dressed casually. That was what her sister was hoping for now.

No such luck. This time she was wearing an expensive designer business suit. A look that had been hers for years. Right now she needed it. In a way, it was like wearing armor into battle. “Technically, I look the same.” Her eyes swept over Tait before she closed the car door and breezed past them. He looked too damn much like his brother. She continued to address her sister over her shoulder. “The last time you saw me in person, that is, Lauren.

” “Erica,” Lauren exclaimed. “Stop right there.” She bit back a smile at the confident yet stern tone of Lauren’s voice. Her sister had come a long way. Instead of letting people walk all over her, she was finally taking charge. “Yes?” Erica spun on her heel and perked a brow. “What is it?” “What is it?” Lauren shook her head. “Are you kidding me? You just stroll in here as if you did not haunt us and as if you did not now…” Lauren continued talking, but her voice was drowned out by a motorcycle pulling into the driveway. Ah, the perfect escape. Erica shook her head and mouthed, “Sorry, I can’t hear you,” before she headed for the house again.

“Stop, Erica,” Lauren shouted before the motorcycle turned off. “And explain how you knew we had a brother but never told us!” Erica sighed and again spun on her heel as one of many secrets she had kept over the years swung off his bike. “Hello, Kage.” “So formal.” He grinned as he eyed her outfit then looked between her and Lauren. “Trying to imitate the uptight sister then?” Though Lauren’s eyes rounded at him, they softened as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and winked. “Uptight in a good way.” He grinned at Tait. “Keeps us all entertained, eh?” Though she had known about their long lost brother for a while now, everyone else only knew he existed as of a few weeks ago when he showed up with his mate, Vivienne. Viv, as they all called her, was part of a tribe of Sigdir dragons that until recently no one knew existed.

An ancient tribe that had traveled forward through time from when dragons were new on Earth. Now they remained hidden here in the twenty-first century until the time was right. “And did you know Kage was Mema Angie’s long lost son?” Lauren kept rambling primly as Erica rolled her eyes and headed inside. Tait had loosened her sister up a lot, but she still had a ways to go. “Lauren,” Erica called out before she shut the door. “Please come inside. We need to talk business.” As soon as she entered the house, she slowed and swallowed hard. The last time she was here, dad had been with her. Things were still under control.

Now? She pressed her lips together and fought a wave of nausea. Now things might be so out of control she wouldn’t be able to make them right again. “You can do this, Sis,” Kage murmured into her mind. “By the way, good to see you alive and well. You had me worried.” “Sorry,” she replied. “I just didn’t want you involved any more than you needed to be.” “Well, I hope we’re past that now,” he said. “Because you shouldn’t be handling this on your own anymore.” She had known about Kage because her dad had told her.

Then, as it turned out, he fell into her circle. A circle that had put them both through hell. Now they were free of it, and she and her sisters had their brother at last. One who had been secretly watching over and protecting them. Suffice it to say, he had been doing it at the expense of his own safety as he pretended to be the right-hand-man of their archenemy, Hallstein. A man who she had also involved herself with to see through her own agenda. A few weeks before Kage finally arrived in Winter Harbor, she had been staying at her brother’s place. It was there that things with Hallstein hit a new level that might very well end in a whole world of shit. “Breathe, Erica,” she muttered. “You can do this.

” That’s why she dressed like she had today. The way she used to when going into courtrooms and fighting for all her client was worth. Because it was empowering. It gave her confidence. She might prefer the more casual clothing she had worn during her ethereal visit, but right now she needed something more. First and foremost, to sell this house. “I wondered when you would finally show up, dear,” came a soft voice from behind her. “Would you like something to drink?” Would she ever but she needed to keep a level head. “No, thank you,” she said as an attractive older woman walked into the kitchen. “It’s good to finally meet you when I’m not a ghost of sorts, Angie.

” “Please, call me Mema Angie.” Her regard was warm and welcoming. “It’s good to finally meet you too, Erica.” Her eyes lit up as the others joined them. Most specifically Kage. Yet they didn’t linger on her son long before they went to the briefcase Erica had set on the counter. “I take it the documents in there are for me?” Lauren frowned as she looked between them. “Why? What are they in regards to?” Then her eyes locked on Erica. “And are you finally going to talk to me like a normal human being? You had no problem doing so the last time you were here.” “I’m sorry, Lauren.

” Erica did her best to soften her expression. “I have to conduct some business with Mema Angie first and need you to witness it.” “What kind of business could you possibly be conducting?” Lauren asked. “The kind that gives her ownership of this house.” Lauren’s brows shot up. “What are you talking about?” “She’s talking about selling this property to Mema Angie before the last of you travel back in time,” Megan said softly as she joined them. “Just like this house was sold to Sean when my sisters and I vanished back in time.” Megan looked better than Erica expected. The last she heard she was back in the hospital after what had already been a year long battle with cancer. “Oh,” Lauren whispered as she glanced from Kage to Mema Angie.

“I guess selling the house makes sense, doesn’t it.” A frown settled on her face. “I suppose I just always thought you would join us in Scandinavia after this was all over.” It was clear she was fighting emotions. “I think it is safe to say you have become like a mother to many of us.” Especially Lauren, Erica would think, given that she was trapped in this house for several months. “What a nice thing to say but no, sweetheart, I won’t be joining you in the end.” Angie poured a few glasses of white wine and handed one to Lauren. The other she slid Erica’s way. “Someone needs to stay here and keep an eye out for any time travelers that might happen through.

” While Lauren dealt with that news by sinking down on an island stool, Kage opted for a beer. As if she sensed the distress he didn’t show, Vivienne joined them a few seconds later. “Erica,” Viv exclaimed and hugged her. “I’m so damn glad to see you’re all right.” She pulled back and eyed her over, worried. “You are, aren’t you?” Then she cocked her head, confused. “Why are you dressed like that?” “Ah, so that is no longer your normal look,” Lauren murmured. “What a relief.” Erica made no comment. She understood that despite her fairly good ethereal visit before, there was still a lot of tension between her and her sisters.

Mainly Cybil. But she couldn’t focus on that right now. First, Mema Angie. She opened her briefcase, removed the blade then the paperwork. “Loki’s cock.” Tait’s eyes widened on the knife. “The Gungnir blade.” His eyes went to Erica. “We assumed you had it but weren’t sure until now.” Erica remained focused on Angie.

“I have the power to magically sign on behalf of my sisters and me.” She set a pen down on the papers. “Are you ready to accept?” They could have done it electronically but with something of this nature—a property such as this one—it was best to seal the deal in ink. Better yet, on paper she had specially made from the bark of an ash tree. “I’m ready to accept,” Mema Angie confirmed. Yet when she went for the pen, Megan put her hand over it first and shook her head. “No.” Megan’s eyes met Mema Angie’s. “You’ve spent far too many years away from your son.” Her eyes flickered from Kage back to Angie.

“Both of you have done so much for all of us. That means this doesn’t end with you two being separated again.” “But someone has to stay,” Angie said softly. Her eyes narrowed slightly on Megan. “Don’t even think about it, my friend. You’ve come too far, and you will see your Viking King again.” “I know.” Megan’s voice was whisper soft. “Until then, I’ll hold down the fort here.” Erica clenched her teeth and kept her face emotion-free.

This wasn’t easy to watch, but it was not her place to offer an opinion. Not when Megan clearly planned to die here and then see her husband in the afterlife. Tait rested his hands on Lauren’s shoulders in comfort when a slight tremble went through her. Erica remained detached. It wasn’t that she was cold-hearted. Not at all. She just needed to maintain her role as a lawyer right now. She needed to let Fate take care of this. “Please don’t make this difficult, Angie,” Megan murmured as their eyes held. “I need to do this.

I want to.” Angie’s eyes grew moist as their eyes held but in the end, she was gracious enough not to put up a fight. “Okay, dear,” she whispered and nodded. “Do what you must.” Megan looked at Erica. “I take it you can adjust these documents easily enough to my name?” “Of course.” Erica touched it, murmured a chant and everything was taken care of. “It’s all set.” Megan’s eyes stayed on hers for a brief flicker. Enough to tell Erica that she had been impressed by her quick use of dragon magic.

“Thank you,” Megan said as she focused on the paperwork. After that, silence settled over the room as Megan signed everything and officially bought back the house she had once owned. Later that evening, after Erica made sure everything was processed online, the I’s were dotted and T’s crossed, she finally changed into some comfortable slacks and a tasteful sleeveless shirt. It was nice to find a happy medium with clothing. To finally shed the business suit armor and at the same time take a break from the get-up she’d been wearing around Hallstein. Tight skinny jeans, spiked heels, and skimpy shirts got old real quick. She inhaled deeply and stared at herself in the mirror. It had been an especially rough few months chumming around with the enemy, and it was taking a toll on her looks. Her usually warm, smooth skin struck her as drawn and her dark auburn hair with lighter shades of red, whitish blond, gold, and even cedar brown, seemed lackluster. On top of that, her thickly lashed deep green eyes that could turn a few heads on a good day seemed to lack their usual vibrancy.

“Not much I can do about it now, and that’s a good thing,” she whispered and turned away. Truthfully? The worse she looked, the better at this point. She had used Hallstein to the best of her ability, and if there were truly a god in Valhalla, then she wouldn’t make contact with Kodran again. And if she did, it was better if he wasn’t attracted to her. Because nothing good could come from that. Not if what happened in their previous life was any indication. She swallowed and shook her head when his face flashed in her mind. Both in this life and the last. Her eyes went to the wall of the room Angie had insisted she take. Not surprisingly, one of five pictures in Cybil’s Dragons of Winter Harbor collection was hung there.

As it turned out because her sister was a prophet amongst other things, the collection was really more a vision of the future and the love that would reunite across time. And each depicted the dragon her sisters would end up with. Titled ‘Pride’ the one hanging in her room had shades of deep blue and purple. Lightning splintered the sky, and the visage of a dragon seemed to appear, unfazed by the weather. Almost as if it defied nature itself. Yet Erica saw the truth in it. She saw Kodran. The man he had been in another life. More so, the creature he wished he could have been. She leaned against the wall and hung her head as memories tried to swamp her yet again.

Why did she ever agree to touch the blade? Why did she allow him to convince her when she knew it would be so heartbreaking…so dangerous? “Because of your human half,” seethed through her mind. “It’s too emotional.” “Shit,” she muttered as she crouched, held her head and fought the tremors rippling through her. “Not here. Not now.” That picture needed to go. Anything that bridged the gap between her and Kodran. It was too strongly connected to him. Which meant it was also connected to their previous life and Maeva. Maeva.

A woman who had suffered grievously in the end. Someone who had been forced to become two people at once. Hallstein’s mate and horribly enough, the other part of Erica herself…somewhat. A voice in her head. A demon in the closet. A bigger player in this war than anyone could even imagine. “Erica.” A gentle hand landed on her shoulder. “Are you all right?” She opened her eyes. Kage was crouching in front of her, and she’d never even heard him coming.

Not good. She was allowing too much in, too much to take over. And doing such a thing would lose them this war fast. So enough was enough. “Yeah.” She stood and nodded. “I’m good.” “Are you?” he murmured, searching her eyes. “What happened between you and Hallstein? You’ve been pretending he’s your mate for a while now.” He shook his head.

“What did that mean for you?” He clenched his jaw and narrowed his eyes. “Did he hurt you? Rape you?” She shook her head. “Absolutely not.” But of course he had…somewhat. This was Hallstein they were talking about. If he had done it in one life, why not another? The only difference now? She was a whole lot tougher and ten times more pissed off. “Fuck, you’re lying to me,” Kage muttered before he yanked her into his arms and hugged her. Despite all the crap she was dealing with, she couldn’t help a small smile as she hugged him back. Her brother wasn’t the hugging type, but it seemed in the few short weeks since he found Vivienne, he was starting to find his way back to humanity. Good thing because being Hallstein’s former numberone-guy would have broken the average man.

“No time for this, Bro.” She patted him on the back. “I’ve got to go downstairs and play nice.” “Yeah, all right.” He pulled away but didn’t go far. His eyes remained glued to hers. “You know, nobody’d fault you for getting some rest and reuniting tomorrow, darlin’.” “I know,” she said, forever charmed by both him and his southern accent. “But I need to get down there and socialize. Right now all they think I’ve been doing is keeping really bad secrets.

” Which she was. He offered a crooked grin. “I can’t imagine it helped any that you showed up looking like a lawyer.” “I know, right.” She managed a small grin before she grew serious again. “You didn’t tell them anything, right? You didn’t tell them that I was with Hallstein down south?” “Nope.” He frowned and shook his head. “But I don’t understand why you’re keeping that from them, Erica. All you’ve gone through. All you’ve…” he clenched his jaw.

“Suffered.” His eyes narrowed in frustration. “They’re your family. They would want to know what—” “No,” she cut him off and kept her eyes hard and emotion free. “I’ve been at it for a while with Hallstein, and I know what I’m doing. I know how to make this right.” “And how’s that?” His eyes remained narrowed. “By putting yourself in danger just like you’ve been doing all along?” “What I do is my business,” she ground out and met his narrowed eyes with her own. “I need you to trust me. I need to know you’ve got my back.

” A muscle ticked in his jaw and a vein throbbed in the side of his neck as they eyed one another. As he tried to get a sense of how much more danger she was getting ready to put herself in. “I’ll be all right.” Erica maintained the look of determination she knew he would respect and made sure he heard the strength in her voice. “I don’t put myself in situations I can’t handle.” She shook her head once and kept her eyes locked with his. “Not ever, Kage.” She knew what he was thinking about. Her time with Hallstein. The things he had seen.

The people they both knew well and had spent plenty of time with. The evil shitheads who kept company with their enemy. And it wasn’t pretty. None of it. “Please,” she murmured and searched his eyes. “You gotta trust me, okay? I know what I’m doing.” He eyed her for another long moment before he shook his head and muttered, “You better, Erica.” “I do,” she assured and nodded toward the door. “Let’s get down there, all right? I have some reuniting to do.” He nodded and sighed as she headed for the door then stopped short.

“What is it?” he asked. Though she knew she should probably leave it alone, after tonight she wouldn’t be around to tell him the things he needed to know. Or at least to let him know there were things he needed to look into. “Listen.” Her eyes met his. “Outside of all the Hallstein stuff, there have been things I couldn’t tell you. Important things.” “About what?” “Traveling back in time,” she managed, trying to keep her tone light. “When you travel back eventually, you’ll figure them out pretty quickly. When you do, just know that for all her power, Cybil had no idea.

” She shook her head. “She doesn’t know.” He frowned. “What do you mean?” “You’ll see.” She shook her head again. “It’s just not my place to tell you. It’s between you two.” “Okay,” he said, but she could tell he was concerned. “It’s nothing bad…just important,” she said softly. “All right.

” He might be concerned about what she was up to, but he still worked at a grin just for her. One that said he supported her. That maybe if he kept up with that charming dimpled smile, he might just get her to change her mind and tell him what she was up to. But she wouldn’t. Not ever. She met his grin then headed for the door when she’d rather hop on the back of his bike and head out. Ride away from all she had to face. But that wasn’t an option, and it hadn’t been for a long time. “C’mon, Brother,” she tossed over her shoulder before she refocused on what was next. Lauren with her questions.

Tait with even more. Then probably Svala too. What she wouldn’t give to just do as Kage suggested. Lie down and sleep the night away. But then, was there such a thing? She couldn’t remember the last time she slept all night. Not for a few years. Not since she started to remember everything. Now she knew. Night was safer. Daytime was dangerous.

And all because of Maeva. So, naturally, she had adjusted without even realizing it. “It’s a strange thing meeting you first as a ghost,” Svala said, looking her over as they sat on adjacent couches a while later. “What was the purpose of that?” “For starters, to help bring Tait and me together,” Lauren said. She was tucked against Tait’s side but rarely took her eyes off of Erica. “Thank you for that, Sister.” She knew Lauren wanted to say she had missed her, that she was glad she was here, but like most of them remained unsure. And she didn’t blame them. It wasn’t every day that their long lost, estranged sister showed up first as a ghost, then reappeared ‘all business’ determined to sell their house right out from under them. Then there was the part about her knowing they had a brother.

Kage had explained it away as Erica’s dragon figuring it out, so on and so forth. When he was drilled about where they had crossed paths, he shrugged and said somewhere between the north and south. She was heading to Virginia. He intercepted her. They got to know each other. That was about it.

.

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