Project Description

One Night with the Viking (Viking Warriors #2)
January 2016
Harlequin Historical

“You don’t understand what you do to me.”
His whole life, Gunnar has felt unworthy of love. Then one unforgettable night, his childhood sweetheart Kadlin offers herself to him. Knowing he will never truly deserve her, he leaves the next morning… The memories will have to last a lifetime.

Kadlin was devastated when Gunnar left. Now, two years later, he returns, wounded from his battles across the sea. And Kadlin must decide whether to trust him again, and tell him about the true consequence of their one night together!

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She was the only woman he had ever loved.

The realisation washed over him in a single instant, a tingling chill that started at his fingertips and worked its way up his arms and on to the rest of his body. If he’d seen her even once in the past few years, he might have recognised that love sooner. Or if he had allowed himself to even dream that such a sentiment was possible, he would have attributed it to her. But he’d tried to make himself forget her. It was easier to pretend she didn’t exist. If he didn’t think about being with her, he wouldn’t long for her. If he didn’t remember how it felt to hold her, he wouldn’t have to face the reality that she wasn’t meant to be his. That he would never hold her again and his hands wouldn’t ache from the emptiness.

Only Gunnar had never really stopped imagining her face. Every woman he’d ever touched had become her in the black of night.

From his hidden niche in the forest, he watched Kadlin follow the path from her home to the stream, her cheeks pink with the cold and her long-limbed stride graceful and swaying. She leapt a snow drift and her younger brothers followed suit, both of them squealing and laughing as one of them tripped and fell into the icy snow bank. Her mongrel barked and joined the fray, bouncing in merriment. Gunnar found himself smiling as he quickly stepped back to hide behind a tree when she turned abruptly to join in their laughter. The precious sound of it reached him where he hid in the forest and dislodged the weight he carried in his chest. It had been years since he’d heard her laugh. He’d forgotten how good it felt to hear it.

The sound brought back memories of their childhood frolics through this very forest. He stood for a moment with his eyes closed as he let the images come to him: Kadlin pelting him with a snowball, Kadlin lying in wait for him on a low-hanging branch as he looked for her and then tackling him to the ground, Kadlin boxing his ears when he’d called her a girl. But then their happy voices began to fade, so he followed to keep them within sight.

If not for the presence of her younger brothers, he would have approached her at the stream. But he remembered the last time he’d visited her and the harsh words her father had said to him, so he kept his distance. There would be time to visit her later that night when everyone slept. He’d made that trip often enough in the past and knew just how to gain entry without being seen. He kept his place in the seclusion of the forest and watched them.

Twin braids hung down to her waist. He’d been fascinated with her hair for as long he could remember. It was a rare silvery blonde he’d never seen on another. As a child, he’d sneak into her bedchamber on the nights he’d been too bruised and dispirited to find solace in his own bed, unravel her long braids and let the waterfall of silk cascade over him. And he could vividly recall her startling clear blue eyes watching him as he did it. The acceptance he saw reflected there was the only refuge he’d known.