She stomped the ground with her foot. “I will not be forced to marry a…a heathen!”
He gritted his teeth—her words sparked outrage from his inner beast. Glancing over his shoulder, he offered, “Then which would you prefer? Halvard or me? Make your choice, Elspeth. Did you not consider I do not favor this union either?”
Confusion marred her features. She fisted her hands on her hips and glanced upward. “Did you argue against this marriage with King William?”
“Yet he convinced you?”
When she returned her gaze to him again, resolve and a bit of stubbornness filled them. “Why, Magnar?”
“The king will permit me to continue with my duties with the elite guard, including an important task which requires my attention after our marriage.”
Chewing on her bottom lip, she nodded slowly. “Then you will be absent most months from Steinn?”
“Most assuredly, and when I am there, Erik will be my focus.”
Her face softened as she moved slowly toward Magnar. “Therefore this marriage is in name only for Erik’s protection, aye?”
Annoyed with the direction of his thoughts, he looked away. How Magnar longed to tell the lie on the tip of his tongue. The word ached to be released. He turned and stared into her jeweled eyes in an attempt to offer her any hope of what she wanted to hear.
When she placed a hand on his arm, she whispered, “Tell me honestly, Magnar.”
He swallowed and removed her hand from his arm. Placing it securely over his heart, he stated, “Our marriage will be binding in all ways, Elspeth—in name and body. You may worship your God and I shall do so with mine, but ken this, you will be mine completely.”
The battle of emotions splayed across her face. She stepped closer and pulled her hand free from his. “Then you understand this, Magnar MacAlpin, you can have my body on my terms. The time of my choosing. I am tired of having men telling me what to do. Will you accept my terms?”
By the hounds! Her words sparked his lust further. Magnar concluded he did not want a simpering wife by his side. For the first time, he yearned to have one challenging him—in mind and body.
Grasping her around the waist, he ignored her gasp and cupped her chin. Her eyes widened as he slowly lowered his head. “Agreed.” He breathed the word against her cheek.
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