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Viking UnchainedVIKING UNCHAINED

Berkley Sensation
July 2008
ISBN-10: 0425222950
ISBN-13: 978-0425222959

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PROLOGUE

Five years ago...not your regular Welcome Wagon...

     Lydia Denton shifted the paper grocery bag to her left hip and used her right hand, holding the carryall with her aerobics customer files, to punch in the security code on the front door of her San Diego beachfront home.

     No sooner did the door start to open than a male hand grabbed her wrist and yanked her into the darkness, the door slamming behind her.  The grocery bag and carryall fell to the floor, spilling their contents, as he pressed her up against the door, his nude body telling her loud and clear what he had in mind.  A yelp of distress, followed by "Wait!", barely escaped her lips before he rasped out, "Don't talk," and a hot, hungry mouth covered hers with a kiss that was devouring in its intensity.

     He was like a mad man, his mouth everywhere, sucking her nipples into hard points through her T-shirt and bra, licking her neck, nipping her shoulder, and always coming back to kiss her senseless, his tongue a demanding weapon of erotic torture.  And his hands...oh, God, his hands!  She could not keep track of their fast-moving foray.  Cradling her face, lifting her by the buttocks to ride his hips, then skimming up her thighs, under her short denim shirt, to grip the sides of her bikini briefs and rip them apart.  Within seconds, without warning, he plunged inside her.  Steel-hard and thick, pulsing with arousal.

     She moaned.

     His eyes were closed, his neck arched back, the cords standing out in emphasis of the control he was trying to maintain.  His lower body did not move.  But then his eyes fluttered open and he said, so low she could barely hear, "Help. Me."

     Without hesitation, she complied.  With one hand cupping his nape, she used the other to reach down and touch herself where they were joined.  Instantly, she began to climax around him.  Wild, grasping convulsions of her inner muscles, milking his hardness.  Only then did he begin to move.  But no long slow strokes from him.  No, he was fast and furious, hitting her clitoris every time he thrust in, causing her to have a never-ending orgasm 'til he impaled himself deep in her and cried out his own release.  Even then, she continued to spasm around him.

     It seemed like forever before he raised his head from her shoulder and grinned.  All he said was, "Babe."

     That was enough.

     To him, she said, "Dude," and grinned.

     That was enough, too.

*****

Same show, second act...

     He carried her, his penis still curled up inside her, her legs still straddling his hips, down the three shallow steps leading into the living room.  It was somewhat lighter here, the full moon shining in through the plate glass windows facing the ocean.

     "I thought you weren't coming back 'til tomorrow."

     He grunted and said distractedly, "Mission accomplished early."  No wonder he was sparse on words.  The brute was doing something strange to her ear with his tongue.  Deliciously sexy, but strange nonetheless.

     "Where did you learn to do that?" she inquired, squirming against his belly.

     "We were hiding in a Kuwait safe house with nothing to do but listen to Cage ramble on with his usual nonsense.  He told us about that trick."  Cage was a fellow teammate in the SEALs, known for his Cajun blarney.  "Do you like it?"

     She tried to laugh, but it came out as a gurgle.

     "I'll take that as a yes."

     Easing himself out of her with a grimace, he laid her across an upholstered ottoman, one of those low pieces that serve a duel purpose as a coffee table, and knelt between her legs.

     "Raise your heels to the edge, baby, and spread wider," he ordered as he sat back on his haunches.

     She did.

     "Hold yourself open, sweetheart."

     She did that, too, her fingers spreading her private parts. No questions.  She would do anything for him.  This was her husband of three years, the man she loved beyond life itself.

     "You're wet."

     "No kidding!"

     "Does that mean you missed me?"

     "Like crazy."

     "Good.  Cage said something else?  Wanna know what?"

     Is he crazy?  He wants to have a conversation about Cage?  Now?  "Do I have a choice?"

     He pinched her belly lightly.  "He claims he knows how to have a tongue hard-on."

     "And you believe him?"

     He shrugged.  "I'm just sayin'."  He leaned forward and tasted her.  One quick lick.

     "Dave.  Wait.  I can't.  I'm too sensi....aaaaaaaah!"  Turns out she could.  Turns out she wasn't as sensitive as she'd thought.  Turns out Cage wasn't too far off base, no pun intended.

     Before she could say "Wowza!" or "Oh.  My.  God!" he flipped her over and took her from behind.

     She wasn't sure if it was her, or him, who screamed this time.

     Third time around, and much later, following a quick meal of grilled cheese and tomato soup and then two glasses of wine out on the deck, her sitting on his lap, he made love to her in the bedroom.  This time, he took things slow.  Very slow.  Mixed in with the wicked things they did to each other, and the wicked words that slipped easily from both their mouths, they said out loud and expressed bodily how much they loved each other.

     Then they fell asleep in each other's arms.

*****

Baby, baby, baby...

     Next morning they slept in.  She stared down at this beautiful man, all six-foot-three of hard muscles, his arms thrown over his head, breathing softly.  His black hair was a little long for his preferred "high and tight," a military cut she usually didn't like, but on him was sexy as hell.  But then, even his breathing was sexy to her.

     His beeper and a Glock sat on a bedside table.  In the closet, three rifles and a collapsible machine gun were stored.  One specially-made kitchen drawer with a combination lock held a fully-stocked backpack that included, among other things, a Ka-bar knife, night vision goggles, kevlar gloves, another weapon, a back-up secure satellite phone, plastic cuffs, a length of thin rope, a black balaclava, and prescription pills, whose purpose she had never wanted to know.

     She leaned over him, carefully.

     On closer scrutiny, she noticed the dark circles under his eyes and new bruises on various parts of his body.  She recalled from last night the weariness and despair that had clouded his remarkable gray eyes, as was the norm these days when he returned from a live op.  He'd made some kills this time, she could tell.  And horrible as these terrorists were, as noble was the SEAL cause, killing took its toll on a man eventually.

     She wished he would quit.  Or take a long vacation.  But, since 9/11, the demand for SEALs was unremitting in the war on terrorism.  The tangos, as SEALs called the terrorists, were everywhere and their ranks growing.

     Dave was thirty years old, and he'd been a SEAL for seven years, but no one seemed to notice, except her.  Where would it end?  Where would he end?

     An hour later, after showering and setting the big, traditional homecoming breakfast she'd prepared in the warming oven, she carried a tall glass of iced orange juice into the bedroom.

     His eyes opened slowly as she walked into the room and sat on the edge of the bed.  He took the glass from her and drank thirstily, down to the last drop.  Then he pulled her down on top of him, giving her a quick kiss on the mouth.  "Hey, babe!  Tsk, tsk, tsk!  You showered without me."

     "You were sleeping like a baby."

     "A baby, huh?"  He tugged her hips against his morning erection.

     "Braggart," she accused.

     "It's only bragging when you have nothing to back it up."  He waggled his eyebrows at her.

     Later, when they were sitting in Adirondack chairs on the deck soaking up the sun, she said, "Honey...?"

     "No."

     "What do you mean, no?  You don't even know what I was going to say."

     "Yeah, I do.  You have that baby look in your eyes."

     He was right.  Lydia desperately wanted to have Dave's baby.  Yeah, she was only twenty-five, and she had a full-time job she loved as an aerobics and yoga instructor, but at heart all she wanted was to be a mother, especially a mother to Dave's child.  "Why...why can't we get pregnant now?"  She bit her bottom lip to still the tremors.

     He squeezed her shoulder in comfort, but still he shook his head.  "Not now.  I'm already losing my focus, worrying about you.  A baby could be dangerous to my concentration, as well as a target for terrorists if my identity were known."  In fact, Dave had not wanted to marry her, at first, for this very reason.  It was why their home was sealed tighter than a drum, with every type of security device know to man.  He squeezed her shoulder again.

     "When?" she asked softly.

     "Once I quit the teams."

     "And that will be...when?"

     "Don't push me," he snapped, then immediately apologized, "I'm sorry, babe.  It won't be much longer, I promise."

     But his promise was not to be fulfilled.

     One month later, Dave set out for a new mission, once again to Iraq.  His words as he went out the door were, "Love you forever, babe."

     Her words to him were, "Back at you, hon."  Except hers were accompanied by tears.

     Who was she kidding?  He had tears, too.

     Three weeks after that, a Purple Heart decorated warrior was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  Lt. David Denton, U.S. Navy SEAL, had died in an ambush by Al-Quaida terrorists.

*****

Life really does go on...

     For three months, Lydia was a zombie.  Her grief was a living, breathing animal of crushing hopelessness.

     She'd quit her job.  She rarely left her house where the blinds were drawn.  Many times, she forgot to eat or bathe.  She put her cell phone on permanent voice mail.

     No one knew the extent of her depression.  No one had ever felt this bad before, no matter what they said.  Time would not heal.  Time was her enemy.

     Dave was never going to come back.

     But then, ninety-three days after his death, she discovered that he was coming back.  Oh, not him personally, but a part of him.  She was pregnant.

     Five months later, a black-haired, gray-eyed Michael Denton came into the world.

     And gave Lydia a reason for living.

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