NaNo…Day 11

And more of Ægir’s…


Georgia stared out over the field. It was practically barren now. But in summer when they had first arrived, it had been awash with color. Yellow. Red. Orange. Blue. Purple. Even the White Lace that she learned was Kirsty’s favorite held far more beauty and mystery than plainness.

But it was the small brook that ran through this back portion of their home. The Holding or Homdling as her charge Monika had redubbed it. It was that stream which had first drawn her to this place. It had been just too much like the ‘safe place’ she had created in her mind for her to ignore. And as with that ‘safe place’ she came here often, whenever her soul was troubled, she sought out its beauty and serenity.

Winter was rapidly closing in now. It was well past the start of the new school year that had been the original bargain she had brokered with them when she followed Bjorn, Kirsty and Mikael into this new place and new life. A few weeks to heal and regroup had turned into months now. And that Rubicon of returning her studies had been passed. She had never even found the courage to ask them to take her back there. And they had never offered.

Escape. Denial. Avoidance. Those were her defence mechanisms now. Over two months…almost three…and she still had no plan. No long-term idea of what she was going to do. Or more importantly, how she was going to save her Mama.

She had not even heard anything directly from her since she left London. Georgia knew it was her Papa’s fault. His way of punishing her for leaving. And perhaps a feeble but surprisingly effective attempt to control her even from a thousand miles away across the sea.

Of course, she had had Mikael and even her friend Roz to check up on her a couple of times. But nothing seemed to have changed. Bruises that her mother could not hide but would never confirm. She knew that both of them had done their best to convince her mother to leave. Mikael had even reluctantly admitted that he had offered to bring her to the Holding.

Georgia sighed heavily as she picked one of the few remaining flowers in what she had learned was also called the ‘fighting field.’ The place where it was brother against brother at times. She had been shocked as she listened to Petrine and Kirsty almost laugh about the struggles that had taken place here. Petrine said that the flowers grew so well in this place because they had been fertilized with generations of blood.

She supposed in some way that should have brought comfort. Solace. Perspective. To know that all families had their struggles. Their arguments. Their fights. But it did not. There was a vast difference in equals settling their disagreements with fists and the abuse that she and her mother had endured.

That her mother still was.

She knew that going back there was the only answer. The only way. Whether that meant going back briefly on one of their regular trips to England on Ægir’s Captive or if she would return to stay, perhaps accept Roz’s offer that the woman seemed to press on her every time they spoke, Georgia still was not certain.

It all came back to one thing…hiding. She was hiding. Not just from her father’s bunches, but from everything. From an uncertain future. And an all too painful past.

Georgia slammed that door in her mind shut before it could even open more than a crack. Even as she recognized that it was the key to unlocking the future. She must find the strength and the courage to throw open the door to all that ugliness that was hidden behind her ‘safe place.’ She must face the past before she could plan the future.

But not yet. Not today. She was not ready. She did not know if she ever would be. But she knew time was running out. Whether she wanted to or not, one day she would have to face it all. If she wanted to save not just herself, but her mother…before it was too late.

***

Kurt watched the girl from the other side of the stream. He felt a bit like a stalker. Though that had not been his intention when he came to this place that had been his refuge since he was little more than a toddler. And as the youngest of five boys he had needed to escape from one or the other of his older brothers often enough.

It was a different type of escape he sought this time though. She was dying. Their Mama. The woman who had not only cooked and cleaned for them, but had been their advisor and guide since Papa’s death almost a decade before. He had not even been a teenager when their father succumbed to the vagarities of Njord. Jan had not yet been a man of thirty but he had taken the helm of not just Ran’s Daughter but the family. With the same iron fist that Papa had had.

Kurt shook his blond head as he pondered the decisions that faced him now. That faced them all.

Mama had been the glue that bond them together. A fractious bunch of testosterone that had constantly been vying for glory and supremacy. Being the youngest and several years behind his next closest brother Dag, Kurt had stood little chance in those games. Over looked and under estimated most of the time. Criticized and ostracized the rest.

As always, it was only Mama’s pleas that had brought him back this time. He had learned and accomplished more in the six months that he had worked for and with their hated cousins than he had the past seven years that he had spent working with his brothers.

He was happy there. At the Holding. With them. And her.

But Mama was dying…and everything was changing now. Her words ate at him… ‘They need you. Your brothers need you. We are family not them. Come home,’ she pleaded.

Still he had no answer. And time was running out. His cousins would be going back to sea soon. And as much as he wanted to be with them…to be near her…still his sense of duty, honor and loyalty called out with every one of his mother’s pleas.

“Kurt, Kurt, come quickly,” the dark look on Dag’s face told the man all he needed to know. If that had not, the tears on his brother’s face would have. Time, it seemed may have run out for him already.

He looked regretfully across the bubbling water as she picked a lone White Lace. He had even less to offer her now. The youngest of five. A fishing business that was on its very last leg. Kurt had no place in this world to call his own. Nothing to offer the woman that he had come to love, perhaps had from that furtive glance on Ægir’s Captive.

He knew that she needed someone strong and successful to protect her…and that was not him. “I’m coming,” he replied past the lump in his throat and the tears that were already gathering in his blue eyes blurred his final vision of her.

***

“I am not going.”

Bjorn was not sure whether to laugh or turn her over his knee and spank her like a child. Not that that would be easy given the size of her protruding abdomen which was the cause of all this. #

As far as he was concerned they had left this argument for far too late anyway. With just five weeks left to go until her due date, he had been annoying his brothers and mother for over a month to force her to keep her word to spend the final weeks of her pregnancy in Oslo near hospitals with the capability of managing a high-risk twin pregnancy.

But until now his pleas had fallen on deaf ears. Having been through all this before with Greta and Monika, Mikael had a nonchalant attitude that irked him badly. While Sven shared his concerns, he also sympathized with their wife about city life, any city.

And their mother was completely and utterly hopeless. Bjorn would have thought that given her own experience of his birth and as what passed for the local ‘sea wife’ or herbalist and midwife as the modern world would call them the woman would have had more sense but he had actually begun to fear that she would side with their wife’s completely irresponsible desire to have these babies the ‘old fashioned way.’

There was no way that they were taking the risk of having Kirsty go into labor this far from the kind of doctors and medical facilities that could prevent the type of disaster that had almost taken their mother’s life when she hemorrhaged after his birth. Even if this had been a ‘normal’ pregnancy, he would have been against the family tradition of babies being born in the same bed in which they were made.

He was glad though that even their stubborn mother had in the end stood with them. He knew that they were united in this one, “You will go to the apartment in Oslo. We are taking you there ourselves on Monday,” he answered.

Mikael reached his hand out for her, but was rejected as she crossed her hands over her chest and glared from one to another of them. As always their wife’s penchant for going for the weak link shone through, “Sven needs me here. We are just beginning to make some real progress in his therapy. And Petrine, how can I possibly miss Thanksgiving?”

Bjorn was glad to see his oldest brother sport that stern, broke no-shit Dom smile as he responded, “Don’t worry, elskling. I am going with you. Someone has to take guard duty while these two keep things running.”

Kirsty then turned her pleading to eyes to the shockingly weakest link…Petrine. “You know that this pregnancy has been text book perfect. This is all ridiculous scare mongering. There is no reason whatsoever that these little girls can’t be born right here where they belong.”

He held his breath, knowing that his mother had used almost those exact same words just days before when he had once again broached the subject.

But he need not have worried as his mother rose and wrapped her arm about the younger woman, “If this were just one baby, Kirsty, you know I would stand shield to shield with you against these…” their mother looked from one to the other of her sons with comical disdain as she shook her head, “…men.”

His uncle’s hand found her jean clad bottom and they all chuckled when Olaf growled, “Be good, woman.”

Yes, in this at least their family was a united front. And slowly they were coming together in other areas too. Olaf was returning once more to sea with them, though begrudgingly. The man had been distracted with some big project that he kept safely hidden in his workshop.

But Kurt had given into his family’s pressure and his mother’s death bed plea to return to work with their ‘cousins,’ if those men deserved such a title. Bjorn still had not forgiven them for the teasing or the attempted beating he had taken as a child. Even if he had gotten the better part of it with what his ancestors would have called the ‘berserker rage.’ Old grudges died hard…impossibly so sometimes.

So Ægir’s Captive was a man down crew wise at the most critical and lucrative of their season, the winter months when they risked the most for the highest yield and gain. With Sven’s accident, this year was especially crucial as the competition, their cousins especially, looked to gain ground and take a bite out of their edge in this struggle against large corporations and their fish farms. With the ever-increasing regulations on the industry and the decreasing schools of fish, a poor season could be the end of the way of life that their family had followed for centuries.

But they were not ready to give into modernity that easily. Any more than they were prepared to broke her disobedience in this one. He stared her eye to eye, “You are going. End of discussion.”

To which their adorable wife had the audacity to stamp her foot before turning to flee up the stairs, slamming the door to her room to emphasis her displeasure with them. “Guess none of us have to worry about who she is calling tonight,” Mikael chuckled and they all broke out in laughter.

NaNo…Day 10

This one deserves a WARNING of a different kind. It is not the lust filled diatribes of my erotica, but it is nonetheless 100% Tara Neale. This is Sergeant Mike at his worst. A man crafted by honor and duty in the all-too-real horrors of war. War declared, planned and ordained by men and women with no concept of the realities of the men and women, whom they sacrifice like fodder to their own hubris, greed and dreams of glory.

This is the story of one man’s struggles to do what must be done and then face the impossible…live with the aftermath. Like war it is not pretty or black and white. There is no right or wrong. The only truth is red. The red blood of men and women you know and care about. The red dirt of homelands that are all you have to hang onto when the world is turned upside down.

You may disagree with the choices that Fate foists upon Mike and the tens of thousands of men and women like him. But I’ll state it plainly…who the hell are you to judge him until you have stood in those heavy boots of responsibility and been given split seconds to make hard choices that could cost the lives of men and women who are depending on you? When you have then we’ll talk.

Until then, take your issues up with the politicians and the corporations that fuel war with their greed and hubris. Men like Mike deserve our respect and the honor they can never seem to give themselves.

Today as America celebrates Veterans’ Day and my adopted homeland of Wales honors its dead with Remembrance Day, this is Tara Neale’s ineffectual salute to those men and women who make those impossible split second life and death decisions on the orders of lesser men. May the goddess bless, protect and heal you. Thank you!


Mike watched her through the window. He tried his damnedest to focus upon what Matt was saying, but he was still having trouble reconciling the unkempt and weary man in the wheelchair with the boy that they had airlifted out of Fallujah more than a decade before.

He just barely managed to stifle the chuckle as he remembered that green kid. Oh, Matt had had the body of not just a man, but an athlete in his prime. And though his arms and chest may have even grown in the girth from the daily exertion of pulling him everywhere, the long legs that had allowed him to stand toe-to-toe and eye-to-eye with Mike were nothing more than shrivelled and useless husks like the ears of corn Mike had seen sometimes on the Hall farm, stunted, they had just refused to grow, but neither would they die and fall from the stalks. No, they held fast, drain precious resources from the plant until Mister Hall had been forced to prune them back. But no one was going to prune Matt’s paralyzed legs back.

Mike found himself floating away once more to that day. It was early in the fighting. Private First Class Matthew Duggan was nothing more than the innocent green eyed plough boy from Nebraska. He had barely completed his infantry training and newly arrived in that hell hole which was like most of the others in which Mike had spent his whole adult life.

PFC Duggan had been just another young Marine with the shiny new still all over him. ‘Sis, yes, Sir,’ had been the only words the kid seemed to know. While he was more than a decent shot, having grown up hunting with his father and brothers, he was one of the handful of newbies than Mike and his chain of command worried most about. He had specifically kept this one close to his side when they deployed throughout the city.

Their immediate objective was the capture of a mosque on the south side of the embattled city. It was reputed to be anything but a holy place of worship, having become the storehouse for a stockpile of grenades, guns and ammunitions that must be captured or destroyed if they were to ‘win’ this battle. Mike chuckled as the bile of a lifetime gathered in his throat. A foot soldier knew one thing…when it came to war, you never ‘won.’

But PFC Duggan was still so new to this killing game that he had not learned that lesson yet. Mike doubted that the kid even fired a round before he took the bullet in his back that instantly severed his spinal cord and did loads of other damage that had put the young man’s life into peril.

On instinct Mike had turned. He had been in enough battles since that first one when he had lost Billy. It had become almost automatic, second nature for him to calculate trajectory on the move. He was certain that the fire had come from the dark doorway of a house they had passed only a few moments before. Most of the homes were long since abandoned by the citizens of the city who had felled ahead of the battle. So, without thought he had opened fire.

When the body of a boy little more than ten had fallen from the darkness, Mike had felt the sour taste of his last MRE rise in his throat. Not even the flashing lights and rat-a-tap-tap of semi-automatic machine gunfire of a weapon caught in the final death throes of tiny fingers could ever assuage his stained soul. He knew that on his death bed he would see the eyes of the boy’s mother as she mindlessly ran into the street, wailing as she clutched her dead baby to her bosom.

But war and battled cried out as his Corporal ordered medivac over the radio and another Marine pulled the injured man into another darkened doorway nearby. Mike was turning, orders on his lips for the others to carry on towards their objective when he saw a blur in his peripheral vision. He turned just in time to see that mother reaching for the gun that had fallen from her son’s cold dead fingers.

The thing in battle is that you must make split second decisions. Lives are counting on it. Lives of good men like PFC Matthew Duggan, Billy Hall, Manuel Hernandez and Tommy Samuels. He would never know with complete certainty the intent of that mother. His obligations to his men precluded him waiting to find out as he fired off a round that sent the soul of the woman spiralling to join her son.

Whether they were reunited in their Paradise was a theological question that was well above Mike’s paygrade. As were all the strategic ones that led them to that moment. Those belonged to men and women, who had not faced the realities of war that crippled young men and murdered women and children in many, many years. Many of those ‘strategists’, decision makers and politicians had never known these horrors that would haunt the common soldier for the rest of his or her life.

Mike came slowly out of his reverie as he listened to the man across from him detail their plans for the day. He wondered if Matt had found some semblance of peace here among these people who had waged their own battle against Mother Nature, a different type of opponent? What too had happened to that other neighborhood so many thousands of miles away? Had those people found the same resolve borne of necessity to return and rebuild their lives in homes shattered by war?

Gods, heaven or paradise forbid there should ever be a Third Battle of Fallujah where bright, talented young men full of potential saw their hopes for the future dashed by a tiny piece of metal, or mothers and sons made choices born of religious zeal or just necessity that snuffed out their flames completely.

But all of that was for another day, Mike thought as he drained the cup of those final dregs of cold, bitterness. This moment was about one thing, “So let’s get started then. Let’s get this community center of yours off the ground, PFC Duggan.”

 

The Hard One…

I have not felt well at all this week. Tired and nausea. After waking to THE news, I hid away totally and completely yesterday. I did not even touch FaceBook. Because two minutes of it was enough to send my stomach into a churn worse than the North Sea that Sven, Mikael and Bjorn fish. But it was NOT the Donald that had me upset. After the shock of Brexit some months ago, I had almost come to expect it. What had me upset was the fear and hatred…on BOTH sides.

Mind you, I had long ago sussed out that fear and hatred were the driving forces for many people. What shocked me though was to see it reflected back on those people by ones who had previously taken the moral high ground.

The truth is…we are ALL afraid.

The world is changing and shrinking faster than our brilliant human minds can imagine. The challenges we face seem larger and more widespread than ever before. And we are afraid that we are not up to them. That we will fail.

And we look to others to save us.

Politicians with angry rhetoric…or just as futilely idealism that is impractical at its roots. Some look to religion or their gods.

Either way in the end it always comes down to this…

You think the only people who are people are the ones who think and act like you…

It is us against them. Because that is how politicians win and how preachers/rabbis/monks/or whatever get your money and devotion.

But whatever aisle of this debate you fall on…here is some news for you…hatred won’t work. It will not save you. It won’t keep your jobs or send your children to good schools and it sure won’t put food on your table or clothes on your back in hard times.

No, in these dark hours, we need three things…

Duty…Honor…and most of all…LOVE.

These things though are in short supply…two minutes on FaceBook was enough to tell me that. Do you know why though?

Because they are things that we can’t look to any politician to give us (beyond inspirational rhetoric anyway). Over a decade as a Pentecostal preacher’s wife taught me not to even expect some far off god to impart them to his children.

No, the problem is that those are things we have to do for ourselves. We have to reach deep inside of us. Stare the ugliness of our soul, its failures, flaws and past in the face. And make the hard choice to do better. To be better men and women.

And yes, to do our best…our duty…even if we do fail.

To hold onto our honor…to keep our word, be that to our neighbor, our boss, our children or most especially ourselves.

And to practice love…not just for those who are like us. Who share our world view (even if we are right and they are wrong…lol). No, even that bible extols us… But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:44 King James).

Dems is HARD words to live by though.

But if we want better for ourselves, our children, this world then we must all stop looking to politicians…even gods…or anyone else to save us. We have to save ourselves…then in love, out of duty, and with honor we must reach our hands out not just to our family, friends or neighbors…but those ‘enemies’ that we are lamenting on FaceBook. Only then do any of us have a chance.

I can’t make that choice for you. I can’t even make it for PanKwake. I can only model it for her. By keeping word in the small things as well as the big. So after my first 3000+ word in so long that I cannot remember…I am off to get ready and take her to the pool.

I don’t want to.

You see what I don’t share is that one of the things which makes me a decent writer is the fact that I am an empath. I can feel the emotions of others. Sometimes as this week to the point of physically making me ill.

So I really don’t want to leave this refuge and fortress of love that Cookie Monster has crafted for me and that I do my best to maintain and nourish in duty, honor and love. I don’t want to feel the fear and hatred of thousands of strangers or see it written in all its ugliness on social media.

But I will and I do because that is my part…taking PanKwake swimming…feeding and massaging Cookie…and writing my heart out whether anyone ever reads a word of it or not.

It is not about winning or losing. Not about failing even. It is as simple as doing your best with what you have out of love.

May my goddess of love or your Jesus, Buddha or Muhammad…Freyja or Fate…whoever or nothing as the case may be…bless, comfort and protect you and yours in the dark days that try the souls of man.

NaNo…Day 9

For my Ægir’s fans…

Kirsty could see it in his eyes though they were downcast. It was the latest of the demons they were forced to face, obstacles that stood like ancient adversaries of old against their Viking ancestors. Despair.

She could empathize. How difficult this must all be for such a vital man, used to the wind and the waves of the sea. But now the truth was dawning, it was not just his ‘sea legs’ that threatened to abandon him. The truth was Sven would never walk unaided again.

She knew this better than he or anyone else other than the doctors. In those final days before they had left the hospital in Oslo, she had drawn them aside. Explaining her training and the role that she would be taking on as not just his wife and carer but his personal physiotherapist, she had asked for the complete truth.

She would never forget the x-rays they had shown her. The shattered bones of his femurs and pelvis from a height of almost twenty feet, a fall that would have killed most men. Even the ones taken after the surgery were more metal than bone in places. While her expertise lay in sensory issues and muscle coordination that was the foundation of an Occupational Therapist, she had enough of an understanding and grounding of the companion field of physical therapy to know what it all meant.

Her role then was to motivate and push him. To prod and cajole Sven to reach as close to full recovery as was possible. But even that would be far less than he hoped for. Than any of them did. She had not even shared her knowledge fully with Mikael. She did not want to dash anyone’s hopes. Because sometimes miracles did happen.

But that was what it would take for Sven to ever again take the helm of Ægir’s Captive. Sure, he did not need his legs to ‘drive’ the ship, she chuckled because she had become familiar enough with their world to know she would have earned a punishment for those thoughts even. She could almost see Bjorn’s stern look as he asserted, ‘You don’t drive a boat.’

The thing was that the sea was unpredictable. One moment Sven could be easily mastering that task and a short time later all hands would be required on deck as they battled winds and waves of the especially turbulent waters of the North Sea. Even more so during the most lucrative winter months. As hard as it was to admit even to herself, Sven would become a liability in those moments. A liability that could…

She rubbed her stomach to reassure not just her girls but herself. No, the runes were cast. Fate had set their course for them. Now it was up to her to guide this ship of family through the rough waters that lay ahead.

Once she would have doubted herself. Her ability to do this seemingly impossible task of birthing the captain that had always lain in Mikael’s heart but was overshadowed by his older brother, of encouraging Bjorn to apply the business and computer skills that had seen them through those dark months of exile to chart a new course for the family business, of absolving Petrine and even Olaf of a lifetime of guilt, of drawing Monika out of the world bounded by her senses and autism, and hardest of all…giving this man that if she were honest she loved from before they met a new purpose and reason to live. Oh, and all while, nourishing, protecting and growing the babies that were the future and the purpose of all of it. Not too hard a task at all.

Not for a shield maiden. And a daughter of Freyja.

She reached out and grasp his hand once more. She fought his superior strength. And won. She would not give up. She was not going to lose him. Not again. Not this time. She brought it to the fullness of her body where as if on cue the girls began their dance lessons.

She waited. Hoping that he would find the strength to look at her, at them. But he did not. Rather than castigate him or disrespect him, she felt the depths of his pain. She placed herself in his shoes and tears rose to her eyes. ‘Please sweet goddess of love give me the words to reach him,’ she prayed as she simply sat beside him sharing in the pain and wonder of life. Their lives. Entwined and drawn together by the sometimes dark and often gloriously bright rays of Fate.

When he still had not found that fountain of faith and hope that Kirsty new lived deep within him, she used the fingers of her other hand to turn his face and lift it to hers.

“I meant it, Sven. We need you. The girls and I need you. You don’t want them growing up without their father, do you?” She knew that she had scored a direct hit with those words as she watched his throat constrict.

She inhaled as she realized that it was time to begin to reveal all of the truth that she had kept close to her heart, “A man can do more than just fish the seas you know. It takes a true man to lead his family through these turbulent waters,” she paused and brushed back the increasingly grey hairs that now curled unkempt about his face that was more lined than it had been that first day.

“Mikael may be able to helm Ægir’s Captive. Bjorn may be able to broker deals with high end restaurants in London for the best prices for the freshest fish direct from the seas. But we all still need you, my love. None of us understand the complexities of this small world of kinship and competition in which we find ourselves. None of us have the depth and perspective of these markets the way you do. If this business, this family is going to survive…”

She chuckled and forced a smile, “then you, my beloved, need to pull your head out of your ass and realize that we need what is inside it more than we need your legs or your back or even your hand at the helm of Ægir’s Captive. Because the reality is we need that hand at the helm of this family. We need your leadership in a world that has gone haywire and is turned upside down.”

She gripped his hand as tightly as she could and searched that inscrutable face for some sign, any sign that he had heard her, that he understood what was truly at stake here.

NaNo…Day 8

More Ægir’s…and Sven is….well…Sven…


Sven stared at her. Standing just a few feet away with her hands on her hips that had always begged to be held, but seemed even more luscious as they widened with her advancing pregnancy. He felt the sweat running down his forehead and threatening to blur his vision. It ran down his neck and onto his back too, collecting and staining the t-shirt he wore.

He gritted his teeth and tried with all his might to force one foot in front of the other as he held tight to the wooden bars which were the only things that kept him upright at the moment. Every muscle in his body seemed to scream in outrage and pain.

Sven let loose a string of curses in every language he knew as he felt his legs begin to buckle. She was beside him in a moment. While he was too heavy and her pregnancy too advanced for her to keep him from falling, together they managed to do it in a controlled enough manner to prevent any further damage to his shattered hips or thighs.

He held his head down and tried with all his might to hold back the tears that scalded the back of his eyelids. “Just leave me be,” he demanded in a tone that was almost cruel.

He fought her as she reached for his hand. He did not want her sympathy or pity. He wanted to walk. He wanted back at sea. He wanted to be a man again.

But even in this she won. At first it was just a gentle squeeze of reassurance with her finger, but then she drew his hand forward. Then he felt the hard mound of her stomach and the movement of the babies. Their daughters.

He had been surprised that rather than being disappointed Kirsty was carrying twin girls instead of the hoped for sons, he actually looked forward to having daughters. Little miniture versions of her. Although perhaps a bit more pliable…

“These little girls need you. I need you,” she demanded as the fingers of her other hand forced his head up and he opened his eyes to see the steely glare in the green depths of her eyes. “So get the fuck up and let’s finish this before dinner.”

He shook his head and drew his hand back, turning his back on them, “I said just leave me the fuck alone, woman.”

Silence hung in the front hall of the Holding. It stretched out for several long moments as Sven considered his options now. Although he had not heard Kirsty rise or leave the room, he was certain that she must have.

Why wouldn’t she after the way he had treated her? He cursed again this time himself. For a fool. Where had all those promises gone? While he lain on that cold, hard ground in pain and certain he was going to die, he had begged and pleaded with every god and goddess he had ever heard of, even his mother’s ancient Greeks and Romans.

If they gave him just one more chance, he would make it all right, tell her how he felt, be a better brother, more loving son. Hell, he’d be a better human being. And look at him now. Sat on the hard, wooden floor of their home, more alone than ever.

It was not what he had meant to happen. He honestly had meant all those promises he had made during that long night of light and reawakening. But then things happened. Or more accurately had not happened as he wanted.

Sven 3He hit his legs that still refused to do what they were told. Sure, he knew that he had already surpassed the doctors’ expectations for his recovery. With the aid of an old man’s walker, he could walk. Hell, before they went back to sea Mikael and Bjorn had insisted on building a ramp from the front porch of the Holding. So he could even get down to the peer.

But it was not enough. It had been two months, two terribly long and intensely tiring and painful months with her acting as his personal therapist and shockingly like a little Domme. And he was nowhere close to be able to go back to sea.

He sighed as a heaviness set in his chest. He knew he should be glad that it was nothing to do with his heart. There the recovery had been almost complete. Although he was less than pleased at the dietary changes that both his mother and wife oversaw with resolve. Even his pipe had disappeared before he got home.

But what was the point? Maybe they would have all been better off if he had…

Then he thought of the feel of those tiny feet and hands just beneath her soft skin. Even if he never… His mind refused to even acknowledge the possibility that was unthinkable for him. But even if he could never walk properly again, wasn’t it worth it? Just to see them. To hold his baby girls.

He sighed with momentary resolve as he tried to reach for the bars of the walking frame that from this position was just beyond his fingertips. Then she was beside him. Her smile was steely firm as she leaned her shoulder into his back just enough for him to grasp the bars.

It took him far longer and more energy than he wanted to admit just to struggle to his feet. With each movement, the muscles in his legs screamed in protest. He was sweating even more than before by the time he stood fully erect, using all his upper body strength to hold himself there and maintain his balance.

“Now that you are done with the pity party, get to work. It’s only five feet or so,” she demanded with her arms crossed over those tits that seemed to grow even larger every day. To match the belly upon which they rested, he smiled at her fecundity.

Each step was a trial by fire of pure determination. Sven lost track of time. Did it take him mere moments which seemed to stretch into hours to cover the short distance that would have been nothing more than the blink of an eye. When he finally made it to the end of the parallel walking bars that his uncle had constructed in his workshop to her specifications, his whole body was drenched in perspiration.

She was waiting at the end with the wheel chair and a smile that stretched from ear to ear though it did not reach those green depths of her soul. He forced a responding one as he used the last of his energy to turn and collapse back into the damned contraption that had become his primary means of getting around.

Months. Years. Perhaps never. The doctors’ words echoed around his befuddled brain day and night. They had since waking up from the surgery. Even then, her face had been the first thing he had seen. Her hands reassuringly wrapped around his. He wanted…

He wanted so fucking much. Most of all he wanted to start again. Fresh with this woman. He had made so many mistakes. And he knew that he still was.

He closed his eyes to hide the tears that he knew glistened there. He was so damned torn. A part of him wanted to fight. To do whatever it took to put one foot in front of the other. To force his body by sheer will to obey his commands. To prove the doctors and everyone else wrong. The sea called to him. It was all he had ever known. All he had ever wanted. But that was not quite right either. He wanted her. Her wanted those babies.

But another part of him was lost in despair. The odds were stacked against him. Even if he did manage to walk again, all of the doctors agreed…he would always require a cane. Like a fucking old man. Hell, not even Olaf, who was well into his seventies now, needed a fucking walking stick.

He inhaled as the bitterest part of the truth assailed his battered spirit. The sea was closed to him now. It was not just his own life that he would be putting at risk by returning to her as half a man, hobbled and crippled. It was Ægir’s Captive and even his brothers’ lives that his pride would be endangering. And ultimately, hundreds of years of the family business, tradition and history. Her and the girls too.

Maybe it would have been better for all of them if…

NaNo…Day 5

More Esther and Mike…


Esther tightly gripped her cup of hot, black coffee as she surveyed the area around her from the front porch of the house they were staying in with Mike’s old Marine buddy Matt. The neighbourhood, like the man, was not what she had expected.

Over a decade before the whole world had watched in horror as bodies floated down these same streets. Not that hurricanes and floods were not common place. Man despite his vast knowledge still could not stand toe-to toe with Mother Nature when she unleashed her fury.

But what had shocked the nation and the world was the seemingly complete lack of warning, poor preparation and slow, inadequate response that this one had brought with it. Hurricane Katrina had highlighted that even in America natural disasters could be catastrophic.

It had been dark when they finally rode up to the one-storey wooden frame home that was headquarters for former Marine Private First Class Matt Dwyer’s charity, Homes for Heroes. Like the mish-mash and hodge-podge of home and businesses around her, the man was not what she expected.

Little more than thirty, the wheelchair was not what you first noticed about him. Nor was it the long blond hair or bright blue eyes that danced with laughter in a mid-western All-American good looking football heroes face. Not even the disparity between an upper body that was honed to body-builder perfection from not just some serious gym time but long days working with his calloused hands could distract from that smile.

No, the man’s smile was truly special. Something that drew you to him immediately, while it comforted all your woes and made you more than willing to share your deepest secrets and pledge your support to a virtual stranger.

His story was just as remarkable as the work he did. He had been shot early during the Second Battle of Fallujah, his spinal cord severed. After being airlifted first to Landstuhl  Army hospital in Germany and then Walter Reed for months of recovery and rehabilitation, he barely returned to his small hometown in Nebraska when Katrina had hit.

As he watched cable news coverage of strangers struggling to survive in what for all appearances was a war zone on American soil, Matt had found new purpose. He had used his mini-celebrity status as a high school football and war hero to rally family, friends and his church at first and eventually the whole town to collect clothes, blankets and food for total strangers a thousand miles away.

Then he, his father and best friend had rented a moving van and hit the road. They had arrived just as the Red Cross and FEMA were abandoning their efforts to serve those stubborn few survivors that refused to leave their homes for the safety of temporary housing elsewhere. They had taken over the long term efforts of helping to clear and rebuilding the devastated area alongside those stalwart residents.

Matt had never left. During that first couple of years, he would receive periodic reinforcements of supplies from back home. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Memorial Day, the church sent truckloads of supplies including boards, nails, concrete and other building materials as well as the usual food and clothes.

He had stayed, becoming as much a Nurealns hero as he had been a hometown one. How many of this array of refurbished and new homes had the man helped to build? Esther looked at one two-storey one on stilts with solar panels on the roof. She smiled as she realized how prepared those people had become for whatever came next. But it was an oddity in this neighborhood where most people had struggled just to remodel their old homes.

There were lots of vacant lots too. Too many. Places where homes once stood. But no longer. There were a fair share of boarded up vacant houses too. Those were why they were here. After the final stages of rebuilding were almost complete, Matt had struggled and prayed he said for guidance. This place and these people had become home and family to him.

Esther supposed that made some sort of sense. Back in Nebraska he would be the quarterback who became a ‘cripple.’ But these people never knew that boy, who had thrown winning touch downs or scrambled on lithe feet away from sacks. Here he was the man who had used his still fully intact brain to solve problems, whether that be putting bicycle chains on his wheelchair to make it possible for him to get through the mud that seemed to linger for weeks and months or how to make do with the supplies that strangers donated.

He had become a hero of a different sort to these people. An outsider that refused to abandon them or their neighborhood, that fought beside them to save it when politicians tried to wipe it and them from the map and memory, that broke his back alongside them to pound nails and drill holes.

And those same people had taken up his new cause when it came. Those abandoned buildings and vacant lots could become homes for others like him. Men and women who had faced battles of their home. Who had like these people lost everything they held dear. Who refused to give up or give in. Who fought back and through because that was all they knew. Homes For Heroes…soldiers, sailors, airmen and of course Marines. Those who had given their all…and lost it…for their country that all too often forgot them. Just as it had this place in those dark days and since.

She lifted the cup of steaming coffee to her lips and savoured the flavor in the crisp morning air. She fought to swallow it past the lump in her throat. Her heart went out to Matt’s mother. Her son was a thousand miles away when she was certain all the woman would want to do was love and care for him. She sighed, still what she would not give to be in that woman’s place. At least her son had come home…and not in a body bag.

She shook her head and swatted at the fresh tears that threatened to spill from the corner of her eyes. This was why she had come on this trip with Mike….to get away from these pointless and pity thoughts. To begin anew…fresh…or as much as she could anyway.

Just like these people had. Just like Matt was. She forced a smile and promised herself that she would dig into whatever back breaking work lie ahead…and learn from these indomitable people…how to start over again from nothing.

Nano…Day 4

And you thought that other WARNING was strong. DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY BDSM, MENAGE OR GOOD DIRTY SEX!!!

And for my Ægir’s fans out there…


“Damn it, both of you, stop playing around. I want you. Screw that I need you. Both,” Kirsty pleaded looking back and forth between her husbands.

Once more Mikael and Bjorn blanketed her, surrounding her in their strong arms, wandering hands and hot kisses as they passed her back and forth between them. She was moaning and rubbing against them as her need grew exponentially with each heartbeat. “Please,” she whimpered when they let her up for air.

Bjorn smiled that little boy with a new toy grin as he rubbed his hard cock against her thigh, “Pleasure, my princess?”

Mikael answered with, “Or pain, my sweet slut?” His hand coming down upon her bare ass with a loud smack that sent both racing at the speed of light along nerve endings to her brain that was just wired for both.

Like she could decide? That choice was like asking her to choose among her three girls…impossible to make.

Her whimper must have been the only answer they needed because when she turned to tell Mikael to go to Helvetia, his eyes were dancing like a bead of mercury on the floor after you had dropped an old-fashioned thermometer. “We know…both. But, brat, on our terms and in our time.”

Their depths darkened and she watched his Adam’s apple bob up and down his throat. She heard the emotion as Mikael whispered, “You are not the only one that needs, lilla gumman. And what we need right now is not our strong shieldmaiden. There are plenty of battles for her ahead. At our side and not against us.”

Bjorn gently turned her head until she was lost in those green meadows, running through those expressive eyes carefree like a little girl in spring, “What we need, sweetheart, is your trust. Your submission.”

His voice too cracked, “I know we let that slide so much in that place. And I was wrong. I’m sorry. This is more than games or role play like it is to some others. This is who we are. Doms.”

Mikael kissed the side of her face as he drew her back against him, “And you, elskling, are the perfect little sub.”

“Perfect for us, our One,” Bjorn added as he leaned in to nibble at her other ear.

Kirsty could not find words. Even if she could, she could not have forced them past her lips as tears, happy ones, ran down her cheeks. She cupped theirs heads in her hands and held them both against her for a long moment.

She kissed first Bjorn…the one who had chosen her. The one who had never it seemed had any doubts. He had believed in her. Known that she was what they needed. Had faith in her when she had none in herself. He was the one who had first won her trust when he placed her tablet in her hands, knowing that she could destroy them all.

“I love you,” she whispered softly against his warm lips. She drew back to see those green eyes glistening with unshed tears.

But she was not done yet. She turned her head to Mikael. The man before her bore only a fleeting resemblance to the one that she had chosen that first night in hopes of swaying him into helping her to escape. Oh, he had become her biggest ally. But not in escape.

They might credit her with the transformation in this man, with bringing him back to the fold. But she knew the truth…no woman can change a man. He must want to change…for her perhaps. Certainly, she understood the desire to grow, to change, to be more…to become the woman they needed. But in the end, it always came down to changing because it was what you wanted.

And he had…so completely that it virtually stopped her heart. Bitterness had turned to happiness. Betrayal to trust. Anger and resentment to leadership. And insecurity to brotherhood.

As Petrine had taught her…love them all the same and differently. It was a lesson she was just beginning to fully grasp with her daughters. She knew it was wrong to have favorites and she did not, but she knew too that the bond she shared with this man was different than his brothers. “Jeg elsker deg.”

And though their circle was not yet complete, a thousand miles and an ocean stood between them. Though she knew that he could not read her thoughts, nonetheless she completed the triumvirate with a silent, ‘Æ ælske dæ.’

She used the element of surprise to wiggle and push out from between their hard bodies. She was glad that Mikael had finished the job of undressing her as she fell naked to her knees at their feet. She was certain that her pregnancy made the motion far less fluid and graceful than she would have liked. Sven certainly would have trained his subs better. But she would not have it any other way.

She dropped her head towards her chest as she spread her knees as far apart as she possible could. Her pregnancy precluded her bending forward on the floor and even folding her arms behind her back drew uncomfortably upon muscles and ligaments that were already stretching to accommodate her expanding waistline.

In the end she settled for placing her hands palms up on her knees as a sign of her submission. She was breathless not just from the exertion, but more so from the desire and anticipation coursing through her whole body from toes to the roots of her hair. “Yes, Master. Yes, Sir. Yours to do with as you wish.”

She was glad that her head was down because she could not stifle the satisfied grin at the quick intake of breath she heard from them both.

Oh yes, this lifestyle was most definitely misunderstood. Doms were not tyrants with some deep psychotic need for power over another human being. And subs most definitely were not powerless victims. In some ways, this partnership was the ultimate form of equality. Both needing something and in turn giving back. Facultative symbiosis as scientists would call this relationship that was not absolutely necessary but gave each a greater chance of survival. Or happiness in this case.

It was her turn to benefit with a quick intake of breath as Mikael’s hands wove through her hair, tugging firmly until she stared up into those warm silvery depths, “As it should be, brat.” They twinkled with mirth as he unbuttoned his jeans and released his hard cock.

Kirsty sighed as she leaned in to kiss the head. Her tongue swirled like a kitten lapping at cream and she was just as satisfied. But Bjorn was not to be denied either, releasing his cock from the confines of too tight jeans. She turned her head and smiled up at him before swallowing half of it.

For several long minutes she took turns contentedly sucking first one then the other. She stifled a girlish giggle at the thought of how hot a porn it would make. Except of course that this intimacy was about love.

She would have been more than content to finish them both off this way. Some odd desire to have them both come over her tits and face. But they were not.

Mikael held out his hand and helped her clumsily rise to her feet. She blushed but it was not necessary as he bent and kissed her. “Beautiful,” he whispered causing her blush to deepen.

She did not have the opportunity to protest though. Bjorn quickly distracted her with pain as he pinched her nipples firmly between his fingers, tugging and pulling as if sucking. She was completely powerless to stifle the pleading moans that rumbled from deep in her chest.

She bit her lower lip until she was afraid it would bleed. She knew that in this mood her pleas and most definitely any demands would only be met with further resistance from her husbands, delaying her ultimate pleasure…and theirs. No, this too was submission. Perhaps the ultimate. Allowing them to set the pace.

Even if it was torturously slow. While she did manage to quash those pleas and demands, she could not hold back the whimper of need as her tongue warred with Mikael’s. Her chest jutted out, seeking with those unspoken pleas Bjorn’s touch.

A hand landed firmly on my bottom as Bjorn’s teeth sank into her ear lobe, “Greedy little cunt.”

Her eyes flew open in shocked surprise. Those words so unlike this husband that she just had to confirm she was not so lost in the feel of them that her addled brain was playing tricks upon her. Mikael broke their kiss with a guttural chuckle. “Tut, tut, lilla gumman.”

“Yes, I suppose if she cannot be a good girl…” Bjorn began.

“Then we must do this the hard way,” Mikael finished as he reached for something at the foot of the bed.

Kirsty did not even see what he held in his hands, but she felt it. The thick, roughness of the rope as Bjorn gathered her hands together in front of her. Her throat tightened at the memory of that long ago afternoon…this was so like the way Sven had first captured her. It was her chest that tightened then as she fought back tears. Once again a silent pleading rose to Asgard for her other husband…her first.

But they did not give her time to contemplate these maudlin musings. Bjorn pressed her back towards the soft, enveloping comfort of the thick duvet and pillows. Mikael raised her hands above her head, securing the rope over the hook on the wall above the bed. Oh, yes, she remembered that one well.

The two of them worked together to ensure that she was both comfortable and well secured. Then she felt something else cold clasping around her ankles. Her eyes widened in shock as she realized that somehow her husbands had switched places. Bjorn was now leaning over her with that grin she loved so much and Mikael was…

“Oh my sweet goddess,” she whispered as she watched him clamp the final cuff on the spreader bar into place around her ankle.

“You do not have permission to come,” Bjorn’s green eyes twinkled with mirth as Mikael’s darker head disappeared between her almost painfully spread legs. The only thing missing was…

But before she could even complete that thought she felt the cool prick of the blade. Against the underside of her breast?

Bjorn’s grin widened as he lifted his blond head to stare down towards the foot of the bed at his older brother, “You are right. Knife play does have its…” He paused for a long moment, turning back to her, “Its attractions.”

Mikael chuckled. Against her clitoris. Her whole body tightened. She was on the edge already. How could she not be after so long without them? But the feel of the knife pressing into her skin, raising tiny pink lines as it circled round and round her full breast, that smile and the top of Mikael’s head buried between her thighs as he once more edged her to the point of insanity told her that this night was just beginning.

What was a girl to do? The only thing she could…submit. Just lie back and enjoy the ride.

***

“I am not going,” she heard the raspy crack in his voice even before she opened the hospital door, but not even that prepared her for what she saw when she did. Even though Mikael had tried to warn her, she was not prepared for what she saw among the sterile white sheets of that hospital bed.

In the space of a few months, Sven had aged years. The tiny lines that had bracketed his eyes and mouth in that first photograph that had drawn her attention on that website had deepened into wrinkles. Especially around his mouth. And those lips that she had tasted so many times were drawn tight into a frown…a skawl was more like it as he argued with his mother. Petrine too was finally beginning to show her age as she barely managed to hold the tears in check.

If not for Bjorn’s strong arm about her shoulder, Kirsty might have turned and ran from this nightmare. But when she looked up into those comforting green eyes, she found the strength and resolve to face whatever came.

“Together as a real family,” he whispered as if reading her mind. His hand on her shoulder tightened as he bent and kissed her nose. Then his other hand tapped her bottom and a single word bound them together, “Shieldmaiden.”

She inhaled deeply and nodded with a forced smile as she felt Petrine’s comforting arms wrap about her, “Kirsty.”

The woman held her tightly for a long moment as if she would never again let her go. Then her girls decided it was dance class time. Her mother-in-law took a step back, her eyes wide with shock and joy as she placed her hand over the mound, “So strong.”

She plastered that fake smile into place as she met his gaze over Petrine’s shoulder, “Was there ever any doubt they would be? The blood of their ancestors demand nothing less.” Kirsty bent and kissed the older woman’s cheek before brushing her towards Bjorn.

And facing him. Their eyes locked and she stiffened her spine. This time she would not be fooled. He would not intimidate her with that icy reserve. This time she knew the truth. She heard those words whisper through her mind and drew their strength, ‘Æ ælske dæ.’

“Where aren’t you going, Sven?” she demanded in the firm tone that she had always reserved for one of her ‘children’ when a meltdown was imminent.

The silence stretched out for a long while as their eyes did battle. Kirsty watched as small lump in his throat moved reflexively up and down. It was his tell she realized too late. He was the first to look away, but his eyes did not move far. Merely dropped to her tummy that seemed to be expounding exponentially every day. Her hand caressed their babies as she held her ground.

She heard the tap-tap of steps as Bjorn and Petrine came to stand beside her. It was Petrine who answered her question, “He is refusing to go to surgery. The doctors need to set the bones in his thighs and pelvis. Perhaps put in a pin or two. As well as have another look with the angioplasty,” she explained.

“And why exactly are you being stubborn?” Kirsty demanded.

***

Sven looked down at his hand as his grip on the sheet tightened. He watched the IV canule move on the back of it. What did he say? What could he say? ‘I just couldn’t. Not without seeing you one more time.’

As he had lain on that hard, cold ground drifting in and out of consciousness and pain, he had promised himself that if he ever got the chance…if he lived…he would make things right with her. As much as he could anyway.

But that admission was just a bit too much. For a man that had spent a lifetime hiding from his emotions. Hell, denying he had them. That kind of honesty was just too raw…showed too much weakness. Opened him up to rejection. Even if he did completely deserve it.

His throat tightened even more to the point that he found it difficult to breath. Not as laborious as those first breaths he forced himself to take to stay alive. Another hand, a smaller, feminine one appeared in his field of vision alongside his. It caressed his and his heart raced.

He still could not bring himself to look up into her face. To face the hatred and censure that he was sure he would see in her green eyes. Then her fingers entwined through his. He felt a gentle squeeze as she lifted it and moved it towards her stomach.

He fought back tears as she placed their hands over the warm firm swell. But he could have never imagined the sense of pure wonder and utter pride as he felt the gentle thump and solid glide of something living just beneath her skin. He could not help but lift his face towards hers then.

“These girls are not growing up without a father,” her words hit him as hard as that fall from the roof had. It knocked the wind from him just as surely.

How had she known? His deepest fear. The thing that had kept him alive through those long hours. He did not want any possible child of his to grow up as he had…always wondering, never quite knowing where he fit, who he was.

“So you will have that surgery,” her voice was incredibly cold and demanding. He had heard that same tone more than once in the clubs…from female Dommes.

She bent over until she was just inches from his face, “What’s more you will live. Do you hear me? Don’t you fucking think about dying on us.”

He could not force words passed that lump in his throat so he only nodded as he watched those lips draw closer to him. He found it even harder to breath when they finally met his. The kiss was soft. Tender. And left him completely hard.

When her lips finally left his they did not go far, trailing soft feather ones across his cheek to his ear, “Æ ælske dæ.” He shook his head. He must be dreaming. He must have heard wrong as he felt her teeth bite into his ear lobe. He twitched a bit in shock.

Her gaze was unreadable as she straightened up but her hand kept hold of his over their babies. But there was steel in her voice when she spoke, “We have unfinished business, husband.”

He nodded as nurses and orderlies appeared with the gurney over his mother and brother’s shoulders. He chuckled as he found the strength to squeeze her fingers, “Yes. Yes, we do, wife.”

And not even the gates of Valhalla or Helheim, more likely considering his past deeds, would keep him from her. From them.