She felt overwhelmed by him, then, intoxicated by his presence. Her mind meandered to her favorite childhood story about the gallant knight rescuing the famed damsel. Erik was how she’d imagined the knight in the story to look, and maybe, just maybe, he would be as chivalrous. Never before had she been asked permission for a kiss. Her chest seemed to swell in anticipation, her body reacting to his in a purely physical manner.
She nodded, tucking away her thoughts, her childish dreams, searching for the furthest corner of her mind in which to hide and wait out this moment.
But then his lips met hers, so warm, so gentle and cautious, and something pooled deep within her, a new feeling, so strange and foreign and…good. His hands shook as they worked their way into her hair, and she wondered if he was nervous, and if so, why.
He smelled like the sea, like the fresh planks of wood on the main deck, like the sweet wine he’d drank with dinner. His lips released hers, but he was as unrelenting as the ocean upon the rocks as he kissed her neck, his hands wandering to her hips. She shuddered, nervous, of course, but feeling quite euphoric at the same time. Her heart hammered as his tongue danced across her flesh, and a steady ache began to throb between her legs.
The feeling was familiar yet strange to her. At times, she’d awake lonely in the night after her husband had used her. She’d always felt her body was betraying her in those moments, toying with her by giving her a need no one could meet. She felt that same need now, growing faster and becoming more potent with every heartbeat, and she prayed Erik could fulfill it—could fulfill that climax she’d never reached before.
His lips found hers again, his hands bunching the shift up to her hips.
“If you need me to stop, I will,” he whispered against her jaw, his thick beard tickling her. Breathless, she shook her head. She wanted this, and she wanted it now, before she had time to consider alternatives.
Lips back on her own, he used his foot against her ankle to nudge her legs apart, and she began to squirm in his grasp, confusion sweeping through her, until his rough hand trailed up her inner thigh. Her stomach dropped. She’d never been caressed there before, or touched, for that matter, and she lurched forward as his fingers settled over her most private of areas, pushing her apart, pressing against a throbbing bud.
She felt his smile, heard his small chuckle. So, he was experienced, it would seem. She didn’t care. She wanted him to continue his pursuit as fire tore through her veins. This feeling was entirely new for her, and she needed it.
She moaned into his mouth as his fingers pushed inside her through her building wetness, her legs quivering. She gripped his arms, digging her stubby nails into his flesh to keep herself anchored. His other arm wrapped about her back, and he dipped her onto the bed, crawling in after her, fumbling to loose the tie on his breeches while still pleasuring her. She arched her back to meet his slow thrusts, astonished that he was so deft in his actions.
His lips crashed back to hers, and his hand was soon replaced with something much larger. He pressed himself into her, slow, but Brigid’s eyes still sprang open in shock and discomfort. How was this happening already? Why hadn’t she locked herself away into her mind?
He seemed to be fumbling now, at a loss as to how he should move to ensure she wasn’t harmed, but his wide hips were stretching hers to their limit, and she’d never taken a man with such length and girth before.
She began to panic, then, but Erik leaned down onto his elbows, one hand cupping her cheek and forcing her eyes to his.
“Have I hurt you?” he said, concern in his gaze, breathless, inside her completely now. She felt wild, spinning out of control, and she needed something to anchor herself to. She shook her head, but she knew he could see her fear.
“It’s me, Brigid, det er meg, elsker,” he crooned, voice deep and soothing, and for some reason, he seemed to sense that she needed that reminder. It was him, someone new, someone who had made promises to her and had so far kept them. She didn’t understand his Norwegian, but the way it rolled off his tongue sounded like a lullaby to her.
She nodded, and a small smile formed on his lips. He reached down, fingers dancing across that sensitive spot once more as he quickened his pace. A fire grew in her belly, the feeling so strange but so amazing, and before she knew what to make of it, she was crying out, waves upon waves of pleasure crashing over her.
With a groan, Erik pulled away, spilling his hot seed onto her thigh. She was grateful he’d taken her into consideration in such a way, him never asking about her thoughts on bearing children, assuming women were ever truly given a choice on the matter.
They stilled for a few minutes, gathering their breath, before embarrassment and hatred began to settle upon Brigid’s shoulders. This man may have been her legal husband now, but she hardly knew him, and he’d been imprisoned before this. What had she done? What had she allowed to happen just now?
“Brigid?” he asked softly. She tucked her legs up to be free of his grasp, rolling to face the wall as tears gathered in her eyes.
“Brigid?” he asked again as she gripped her knees. What had he done to her? How had he made her feel that way? She wanted him, again, right this instant, and that fact alone made her hate him with everything she had.
His heavy hand found her hip, and she stiffened beneath it.
“I am sorry, liten, I did not mean to hurt you, I thought—”
“Fág mé ar m’aonar,” she said to the wall. Two could play this game, she thought with bitterness.
Leave me alone.
Stunned, Erik stood, making his way to the lone candle and blowing it out as night crept over them both.
Dawn was fast approaching, and though Erik was ready for imminent departure, he couldn’t bring himself to leave the room. Brigid lay, curled in a ball, fast asleep as nightmares plagued her.
Guilt. That was all he felt.
She’d been so responsive to him, it had given him some hope for their future. As soon as her euphoria had worn off, though, she’d seemed to hate him for what they’d done. He sat in that uncomfortable chair, elbows on knees, overcoat in hand, but still, he couldn’t leave. He’d not even slept, he had been that worried about his young bride.
Of course, he’d also been craving her since they’d ended their little romp. It was everything he’d thought it would have been and more. She’d felt so small beneath him, so fragile. He hardened yet again when he remembered her clawing at his arms, lost in their lovemaking.
But she was afraid, of him and her past and he knew he couldn’t change that overnight.
The ship groaned beneath his tired feet, and he knew it was time. He stood, staring longingly at her, his chest full of more sorrows than he could fathom or decipher at the present. But all would have to wait. If they were to make it to the New World without incident, he knew he’d have to keep his wits about him.
Shouts from the main deck began to erupt, and the sun finally reared its bright head, its beams caressing Brigid’s hair as though it were a loving mother. She sighed in her sleep, rolling onto her back, the lines that had creased her forehead now gone. Her lips parted, a soft sigh issuing forth. Erik’s ears perked at the beautiful sound, his hand on the bolt, her muttering halting him as his heart stilled.
“Erik,” she mumbled, brow creasing once more. For a moment, he hesitated, believing she may have awoken and was addressing him directly, until she rolled over onto her stomach, sighing again as the blankets and her shift tangled about her legs. A smile graced his lips. It seemed he had worked his way into her subconscious, and he prayed those roots would yield a deep relationship in the future. But for now, he was simply happy, for as much as she tried to hate him, he knew it would only be a matter of time before she warmed to him. And their wedding night, however chaotic and unorthodox, was just the beginning.