Excerpt 3 from chapter 21 – 999 words
And I do have a last name. Not sure which one I’m using at the moment. I should check on my passport… Which I lost somewhere along the road. Damn it. That’s going to be a headache.” As an afterthought, she added, “I have to change it every time I redo my identity.”
“I didn’t die for millions of years. I must keep my personal data up to date. Are you freaking out?”
“I know who you are, Brenna. I guess I never thought about the practical side of it.”
“Well, let me tell you, the digital era is a bitch. It was much easier when I only had to move from continent to continent to start over. No questions, only a sheet of paper I could easily forge.”
Silence stretched for a few steps before Reed dropped a bomb in the most offhanded voice. “Would you take mine?”
Minutes passed. Then more. “I– ah…”
“I need to hear something here, Brenna.”
“Did you just propose?”
“No. Maybe. Well, in a way. I mean, I’m gonna wanna do it right as soon as we’re back home, but as we were talking about last names, it seemed a good enough moment.”
“You don’t have to do it because we – you now. Because we have been intimate.”
Anger didn’t belong to Reed and yet, it set off from him like steam. His jaw set in steel, his lips tightened in a hard line, a dangerous fire set off in his eyes.
He stopped, grabbed her arm. “Don’t you dare cheapen what we did, Brenna. I can fuck my way to my death with random strangers and still want to spend my life with you. We could have waited an eternity before making love, and I’d still want to spend my life with you.”
The grip on her arm hardened, but never to the point of hurting. No matter how mad, Reed would never lose it. “I love you. I love you here and now in this crazy place, and I want to keep doing it once we’re back. I want a life with you, a normal one, where there’s no giants or demons’ asses to bust. You don’t have to answer me now. You must know where I’m heading with this, though.”
Brenna’s answer never found its way out because Ulf came to them. “Problems?”
“No. Just straightening out a few things. Excuse me,” Reed said, walking away ahead to Mae.
Ulf turned to her. “Maeraggyth brings a tale of horror from Alfheim.”
Brenna had to clear her voice and painfully go back to the present they lived, and the war that could happen. “Yes. Did she tell you who the little girl is?”
“No need. Her power can only be of Royal lineage. I sensed it from afar.”
“Meet Queen Fljóða of Alfheim.”
Ulf’s nodded, grave. “The reigning Queen.”
“King Freyr and Queen Gerðr of the Light Elves were assassinated by a breed of unknown origin. They took Alfheim.”
Ulf tensed, the halo of light around him darkened.
He walked ahead of the group with no other words, leaving Brenna with one big, unanswered question that had nothing to do with Yggdrasil politics. A question she had the answer to.
If only she was not petrified. Ashamed.
She’d given up her name once, built an entire existence under a new one, year after year through millennia, being who she wanted to be. Was she ready to give it up again?
Would she lose her freedom?
Hadn’t she already?
So much had changed in her since she’d left Midgard, since she’d met him.
In front of her, like he often did, Reed took the princess from Mae, for her relief as much as for his enjoying time with the little girl.
A decent man. One who understood her, respected her, accepted all her edges. The gods knew if Reed had seen a lot of those in their journey. He loved her, anyway. He taught her to be unafraid of her shades and would always push her to be better.
Did she need him?
No. She’d been doing just fine without him for a long time.
Did she want him? Love him?
So, all in all, the real question was how far deep her stupidity had reached. Brenna wouldn’t let herself get scared now, scared of wanting his name and the life he offered.
She’d been Hjörþrimul, a Valkyrie powerful and feared.
She’d been Brenna, free and careless in Midgard.
And now she would embrace her third, and last, life as Brenna Reed, happy and in love.
She chuckled, not ashamed of such silly thoughts but indeed self-conscious.
She trotted to him, shaking her head as she realized she was out of breath, and not because of the light jog. “I’m sorry.”
“You have a right to whatever thoughts and feelings. Never, ever, chalk up what I want from us to sex. I’m too old to play the game. I know better.”
“If you’re too old, I wonder what I am.”
“I don’t know.” He shifted the princess onto his other side. “Why don’t you tell me?”
“I’m someone who can be stupid. Old habits die hard, Reed, and mine are ancient. Literally. I guess I freaked out.”
“I know you did. I don’t know why.”
Brenna took a long, fortifying breath. “I’ve been tied up to a man I considered a father who betrayed me. I’ve been tied up to another I loved who died because of me. Experience taught me to be scared of ties and sharing a last name sure is.”
“You’ve never been tied up with me, ain’t you now?”
Such a relief to have Reed back with his easy smile. “Nope.”
“And there’s the answer to your tribulations.” He turned serious. “I told you, you don’t have to answer now. I only wanted you to know.”
“I do. And when you decide it’s time, my answer will be yes.”
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Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad: her husband, her son, and her daughter. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her babies, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.
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