Cover image for Truly, madly Viking
Title:
Truly, madly Viking
Author:
Hill, Sandra.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York City : Love Spell, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
391 pages ; 18 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780505523877
Format :
Book

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FICTION Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

When a 10th-century ship blows off course, a Viking finds himself in the 21st century and in the arms of a successful and beautiful American psychologist. At first, she questions her own sanity, but then realizes neither of them is truly mad--just truly, madly in love. Reissue.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One Autumn, 998 A.D. Beyond Iceland "Look, Jorund, look! There she blows ... again . Hmmm. Mayhap that is the fair Thora's way of blowing kisses at you. Dost think--"     "Magnus," Jorund Ericsson warned his brother with a disgusted shake of his head. "I have heard more than enough of your nonsense today. I suggest you go take a seat at one of the oarlocks and row off some of your excess vigor."     He was standing at the raft of his longship, Fierce Warrior , honing the blade of his favorite sword, Bloodletter. Magnus was standing next to him, honing his tongue. Unless Magnus had a plow in his hands, or a mead horn in his mouth, or a wench in his bed, he tended to think it was his mission in life to bedevil his brother. It was no exaggeration to say that Magnus had an opinion on every bloody topic in the world.     "Now, now, do not be overmodest, little brother," Magnus advised, puffing his chest out, which was a sure sign he was about to expound at length ... on some triviality. His long, blond hair was pulled off his face with a leather thong tied at the nape, which drew attention to his uncommonly large ears. For years, Magnus had claimed that his large ears were a sign of other ... well, attributes that were equally pronounced, but Jorund could hardly credit that.     And what did he call me? Little? In truth, he and Magnus were of the same immense height, though Magnus was bullish in stature, being a farmsteader by trade, while Jorund carried the leaner-muscled body of a fighting man. And they were a mere nine months apart in age. So little hardly applied. For the love of Odin! What importance is there in whether my brother deems me big or little? My mind must be melting in this unseasonably hot sun. And that is another thing ... who would think the sun could be so hot in Iceland? Perchance we have strayed farther than--     "One and all can see that the fair Thora has developed a passion for you," Magnus blathered on. "And not just the blowing of kisses. You must admit she has been following you about for a sennight and more. Wagging her tail at you like a Hedeby whore. Besotted she is, for a certainty."     He sliced a glare at his brother. "What makes you think she is blowing kisses?" He knew that it was a mistake to react to any of Magnus's jibes. Still, he blundered on, "Mayhap she is just blowing air."     "Like breaking wind? Now there's a thought." Magnus grinned. "Mother always told us when we were growing up that females do not break wind, leastways not in public ... just old men and bad boys. Ha! I suspect Mother was laughing behind our backs with that mistruth. Either that, or I warrant she was never in close quarters with Fat Helga, the goatherder, after a night of eating gammelost ." He tapped his chin with exaggerated pensiveness.     Jorund groaned. When will I ever learn? I can predict what he is going to say now .     "Do females make a habit of trying to attract you with farts?"     I was correct. "What a ridiculous notion!" Jorund snarled, then realized that Magnus was chuckling under his breath. "Aaarrgh!" he said. Carrying on a conversation with Magnus was like talking with one of his dumb cows. His coarseness knew no limits, his earthiness coming, no doubt, from his dealing so much with ... well, earth. Not that Jorund was unaccustomed to coarseness, being surrounded as he was by soldiers whose every other word was apt to be an expletive of the foulest nature. He'd uttered a few himself.     But, really, his brother had fallen into the most annoying habit of late--teasing him. Holy Thor! Who ever heard of grown men engaging in such youthful games? Life was too serious--and fleeting, as he well knew--and their mission was too important for frivolity. It was probably boredom, or frustration at being lost at sea. Well, not quite lost, just a mite off course.     Ignoring his brother's smirking face, he looked off into the distance, where the magnificent killer whale the sailors had named Thora was indeed performing her ritual dance. It was to her that Magnus had attributed blowing kisses, of all things.     Just now, her sleek black-and-white shape leaped into the air with a spectacular flourish, a maneuver that had come to be known among seafarers as breaching.     The whale, at the height of her impressive leap, gave the false appearance of standing on her tail fins on the surface of the water for several long moments. Then she twisted her sleek body into a perfect arc with an agility remarkable for her size and dove back into the salty depths to swim swiftly beneath the waves she had created. If she followed her previous routine, she would be repeating the performance another two or three times, ofttimes varying the act with backflips, all accompanied by boisterous squeals and chirps and rapid clicking noises, before swimming off a short distance to watch and follow their sailing vessel.     There was no escaping the killer whale. They had tried to elude their unwelcome companion by rowing fast with a strong wind at their backs, and still she kept up. Surely the killer whale must be the fastest animal in all the oceans.     They knew it was a female because of her comparatively small size to the male of the species, though this friendly beast was still nigh as big as his dragonship. Well, perhaps that was an overstatement. At the least, she had to be four times his body height from mouth to tail.     There was no question in Jorund's mind--though he would never acknowledge it to his brother--that it was himself the animal had developed an affection for. The whale had been shadowing them for more than fourteen days, coming closer and closer. But that wasn't how Jorund knew that the whale was following him . He knew because the whale was talking to him. Amazing as that sounded, even if only to his own ears, Jorund had taken to communicating with a killer whale. He talked to the whale in his head. And the whale talked back to him.     Languages of other countries had always come easily to him. And not just Norse and English, the language of the Saxons, which were very similar. He was also fluent in the tongues of Frankland, Byzantium, Baghdad, Rome, and Cordoba. But never had he been known to speak with animals. No one did, that he knew of, except perhaps the gods. And he was no god.     Where did this voice in his head came from?     When it was late at night and his men were asleep, he would stand at the prow of his longship and converse with a killer whale, of all things. Good thing Magnus was unaware of this insanity, or he would really have something to tease him about.     Was he going mad? Were the events of the past year too much for his brain to bear? Or it was it the cumulative effect of years and years of bloodshed finally crushing down on him? Stronger men than he had gone berserk.     How can this be? he had asked Thora yestereve. It was an indication of his sorry state that he sought advice on his mental condition from an animal.     Click, click. Squeal, squeal. Click, squeal, click, squeal , the whale had answered him in ever-changing patterns. In other words, Men question too much. Listen with your heart; speak with your heart, my friend.     I ask for help, and you give me riddles, he'd wailed silently. I don't understand . He need not speak aloud for the whale to hear him--another amazing happenstance.     With her usual clicks and squeals and chirps, Thora had told him, You will; you will . Then, just before the whale had swum off, she'd added, Open your heart, man. Only then will there be no barriers of country or animal ... or time.     Time? What has time to do with this?     "Jorund, has your mind gone awandering again? Are you all right?"     Jorund blinked and reined in his thoughts. His brother's big paw of a hand was resting on his shoulder with concern.     Am I all right?     Nay, I am not all right.     "I'm fine," he said.     But he was not fine, he soon found out.     Bam! Bam! Bam!     "Bld hel!" he and Magnus exclaimed at the same time, then repeated, "Bloody hell!" A number of his sailors, who followed both the Christian and Norse religions, were making the sign of the cross on their broad chests. All of them stared gape-mouthed out to sea.     Bam! Bam! Bam!     Thora was using her huge tail fins to whack the far side of the longship.     Bam! Bam! Bam!     She must be playing with them--some kind of strange killer whale game--for it was clear she was not employing full force; otherwise the vessel would have tipped over. Even so, the impact of the powerful tail hitting the wood side was enough to set the boat rocking side to side. A little harder and the wood might splinter.     Jorund tried to listen in the way the whale had taught him. There was a loud, grinding noise in response, almost like a rusty door closing, and he thought he heard her say, It is time, Viking .     "Time? What time?" Jorund asked.     "Huh?" Magnus tilted his head in question.     Jorund realized that he must have spoken aloud and felt his face heat with embarrassment. Magnus would make great mock of him if he even suspected his brother was communicating with an animal.     The whale swam off a short distance and floated atop the water, just watching him with her big, beady eyes. And the groaning noise continued.    "Jorund? Are you all right?" Magnus repeated with concern.     He nodded.     "Something odd is happening here," Magnus contended. "You have not been yourself since learning of Inga's and the girls' deaths."     "I do not want to speak of that," he said icily. "Best we pull anchor and get rid of this bothersome whale. If we cannot move quickly enough to lose her, then we must kill the beast."     He thought he heard a squealy voice in the distance say, Ha! I would like to see you try .     Closer at hand, Magnus was not about to drop the subject. "Some people think a man must talk of his heart-pain, lest it eat away at his innards ... turn him mad with grief."     "Are you implying that I have gone berserk?"     Magnus pursed his lips and tugged at one of his big ears pensively. "Mayhap. Leastways, a little barmy."     Jorund grunted with disgust.     "Oh, I know you harbored no great affection for Inga, but your daughters ... well, 'tis clear they held a special place in your soul."     "Have a caution, Magnus. You go too far," he warned.     But as always, his brother failed to heed sound advice and blathered on. "I know that I would surely tear out my hair in mourning if I lost my son ... or daughter."     "And which son--or daughter--would that be?" Jorund asked with a hint of humor. It was hard to stay angry with his well-meaning brother.     "Any one of my sons ... or daughters," Magnus answered, lifting his chin defensively. His brother followed the old custom of more danico and had two wives, in addition to three current mistresses ... or was it four? All told, his seed had produced eight sons and five daughters ... all with big ears.     Jorund made a tsk ing sound at his brother, whom he loved dearly, despite his nagging ways.     "I will work out my own problems in my own time and way," he told Magnus. "For now we must make haste and try to outrun this killer whale." They had anchored offshore in a small cove the night before so that they could draw fresh water from a stream on a nearby island. There were no human inhabitants that they could see. Still, they had slept aboard ship as a precaution.     Turning away, he gave orders to his crew to pull up the anchor and man their sea chests. His longship, built by his brother Rolf, was not an overlarge vessel. There were thirty-two oar holes on each side, manned by as many men who sat on their own personal sea chests rather than benches. Next to them were another thirty-two seamen, who would relieve them when their arms grew weary.     "It won't come up," a seaman soon informed him. "The anchor must have caught in some seaweed when the whale bumped us."    In the meantime, the whale was back to prodding the ship with its tail fins and snout. Enough of this nonsense!     Jorund said a foul word and began to remove his clothing--mantle, tunic, skin boots, braies --knowing he was going to have to dive below and try to loosen the tangled anchor. He could have sworn he heard a high-pitched peal of laughter, but when he glanced about the longship, he saw naught but his sailors staring back at him with worry.     "Becalm yourselves, men," he told them. "We will soon be on our way. I am an excellent swimmer and have great fame for holding my breath underwater. Leather-lunged, my father used to say for me." He was not boasting, merely stating a fact to put them at ease.     Once he was naked, except for his sheathed sword, which was attached to a wide belt at his waist and secured to his thigh with a leather thong, he dove into the water. It was surprisingly warm near the surface. Though the sea became colder the deeper he went, it should have been frigid near Iceland. He would have to ponder that puzzle later. Even so, 'tis icy enough to shrivel even the grandest cock into a nub , he thought with a shiver.     And what makes you think yours is so grand? he heard the whale remark with a laugh.     Oh, God! You again? Jorund commented dryly to himself as he sawed with his sword at the seaweed wrapped around the rope and anchor. He soon discovered that there was no way he could disentangle the metal anchor from the grassy tentacles. The more he tossed aside, the more seemed to appear in their place. He would have to cut the rope.     Stealthily, the whale had swum underwater and was watching his endeavors with interest.     For some reason he felt no fear ... just disgust that this animal was causing him so much trouble.     Putting his sword back in the scabbard, he swam to the surface and took several deep gulps of air.     Magnus and all the seamen were staring over the side rail at him. Seabirds were whirling overhead in anticipation of some tasty morsel. He hoped it was not him.     "Is it free?" Magnus asked.     Jorund shook his head, still breathless. When he was able to speak, he informed his brother, "It's that special seal rope that Rolf insists on using. It will take me a little longer." Many ship owners bought the prized seal rope in the markets of Birka and Hedeby. Known for its sturdiness, it was cut in one single strip, like a spiral, from the hide of a seal or walrus. Unfortunately, it was difficult to slice through with a sword.     With one last deep inhalation of air, Jorund dove under the briny depths again. As expected, the whale was waiting for him. This time, as he sawed away with haste, the whale began a new game--butting Jorund's bare arse with its big nose. That was all he needed ... a randy she-whale!     Finally the rope broke free. He sheathed his sword and was about to swim back to the surface when the whale shot forward and took him in her mouth, his head sticking out one side of her mouth and his flailing legs out the other side. He could feel the whale's massive teeth pressing against his stomach and buttocks, but Thora must be holding him with extra gentleness, for the teeth did not pierce his skin.     "Unteeth me, you lackbrain whale."     The only response was a chirping laugh.     He should have been mortally afraid. He was not.     At first he laughed silently at the great trick. The skalds would be telling this saga forevermore. No doubt there would even be a praise-poem honoring Jorund, the warrior who rode in the cradle of a killer whale's mouth and lived to tell the tale. Soon his mirth disappeared, however, when he realized that he could not hold his breath much longer and that the whale was swimming at great speed ... away from the longship. Once, when the whale came to the surface briefly, Jorund noted with distress that the longship was already far away ... much too far for him to swim back. Unless the whale returned him.     But no. Thora had other plans.     With a squeal and a chirping noise of glee, the whale submerged again, and all of Jorund's silent screams and flailing limbs could not dissuade her.     Soon water rushed into his nostrils and all the orifices of his body. He could no longer hold his breath and took in great swallows of seawater. As his long hair came loose from its queue and swirled about his face, blinding him, a light-headedness overtook him, which was not altogether unpleasant. And he thought, So I will break the raven's fast thus--by sea, rather than battlefield? So this is how it ends?     Not quite, the whale answered. The Fates have other plans for you, Viking . Copyright © 2000 Sandra Hill. All rights reserved.