tagBDSMÆgir’s Bride Ch. 07

Ægir’s Bride Ch. 07

byTara_Neale©

Breakfast was almost over by the time, they managed to make it downstairs. She smiled at Mikael, who was trying valiantly to feed Monika as she brushed her dolls hair and then lined them up perfectly next to the wall. Petrine looked up and smiled at her as she took a plate off the table, "God morgon, good morning."

Kirsty blushed as she tried to come up with an excuse for their tardiness, but Olaf simply chuckled and looked past her to Bjorn, "God dag is more like it." She could not stifle the chuckle as her Thor's ears reddened and he looked sheepishly at the floor.

Sven stood and took his plate to the kitchen, "I need to go into town for some things. So if you will all excuse me. Hopefully, by the time I get back, we can still manage a bit of repairs on the boat, baby brother?"

Bjorn's face darkened into a frown, "I'll go with you into town now if you like, big brother." He moved between them, his hand gently pushing her more behind him as he spoke.

"Not necessary. I just need to see if a package has arrived for me," despite Bjorn's efforts, she felt this man's stare to her core. She knew that whatever it was, it pertained to her.

She placed her hand on Bjorn's shoulder. Right then, she needed him. Needed his protection. Needed to steady herself. She was not prepared for this. Not after last night. Especially not after this morning. She trembled. She wanted to turn and run back up those stairs. Lock herself in that room...and cry.

As hard as it was coming to terms with how she felt about Bjorn, she knew that Mikael needed something very different from her. And while she was still very much attracted to her 'bad boy,' it was the loving daddy that she could focus upon as she came to terms with everything. She recognized too that their 'truce' would give her that time to adjust...to all of it.

But this man? Sure, she was still attracted to him. The whole dark brooding thing still made her tummy tighten into knots. Almost as much as his ropes did...although she was learning that none of them were a slouch with that, but Sven was still as much the master with it as Bjorn was with those floggers last night.

Just then more powerful even than that attraction was her anger at him. He did not genuinely need her the way Mikael did to help him reach Monika. He sure as hell did not love her the way his 'baby' brother did.

No, he just wanted to use her. Just wanted to 'breed' her like some race horse or prize show dog. Well, she had no intention of being his 'bitch.' Not that way. She was determined. If she were to have a baby...when she had a baby...it would be one conceived in love. And that pretty surely left Atlas out of the 'sperm wars' as Mikael called it. Let him fucking keep on carrying the weight of the world all alone on his shoulders.

Then Petrine stepped forward and smiled at her as she placed her hand on her eldest son's arm, "Is it all right if I come with you, Sven? I need to go into town for a bit."

His face lightened as he turned away from the two of them. He smiled at his mother, "Of course, Mama. I will be leaving in five minutes." But that dark mask was back the moment he turned back around, "If you will excuse me."

That might have been all, if he had not reached out his hand as they passed one another. Him on this way up the stairs. Her on the way to the table. His fingers brushed hers lightly. "I will talk to you later."

And suddenly she had no appetite. Because as angry as she was with him, as much as she liked Mikael, even as fucking much as she loved Bjorn...she still got those same butterflies in her tummy as she had when she first saw that grainy photograph, when she looked up into those blue eyes and that hand had drawn her through that turnstile.

And into this madness...that was her life now.

She looked up and saw the dark pain on Bjorn's face, but still he forced a smile and nodded at her. She saw Mikael watching them as he held a spoon of porridge suspended in mid-air. But it was Petrine's smile and soft nod that reminded her, 'sometimes it is the one's that you find hardest to love that need it the most,' Kirsty could almost hear the woman whisper in her ear.

She nodded as she pulled her hand away slowly, "Sure."

He nodded and continued on his way, just as she continued on hers. But it was enough. Enough of a reminder to turn her stomach sour. She tried to bypass the table as she headed towards where Petrine now stood in the kitchen area washing dishes, "Let me help with those."

"No, I will help Mama," it was Mikhail, who spoke loudly across the room as he picked up the bowl he had been trying to feed Monika. She smiled as he gently signed, "Food finished," using Makaton. But what made her really smile was that while she did not look up at her father, did not say anything or even make a noise, Monika paused in mid-stroke through her doll's hair.

She felt the tightness in her chest at how quickly the child was responding. This...this was something she had missed her whole career. When you saw a child for less than an hour once every week or two, you never noticed the small strides. She felt the tears clouding her eyes as she looked up and saw him.

He smiled at her...and she knew, knew that he too recognized that tiny victory, baby step of progress. In that moment, she knew...she could love this man too. Maybe not the same way that she did Bjorn. Definitely not. But that did not make it any less...or any more real.

She frowned as she nodded and looked up the stairs where he had disappeared. Him? He was another matter. If he wanted a damned son so fucking badly, there were other options. Let him find a surrogate...because she sure as hell wanted no part in being nothing more than that for the man.

She felt the gentle hand on her shoulder, "Go eat some breakfast. This old heart cannot handle another scare like yesterday, my beautiful daughter. I have waited too damned long to have one. Eat. Let Bjorn and Mikael see to your needs this morning. We will talk more this afternoon."

The woman leaned in and brushed a soft kiss against her cheek, "It is a real bitch when love comes into this mess. And you, beautiful, have the look of a woman very much in love. But remember what I said...not all of them are as easy to love. But you are the one that can draw it out...or you can turn away their needs. But never doubt for a moment, they all need you, need your love."

Then she felt warm arms embrace her, draw her close and she knew the same peace and safety in this woman as she had in her son's this morning. How many times had she dreamt of this as a little girl? When she was confused, lonely or frightened. How many times had she wished for her own mother to just hug her, hold her and tell her everything would be all right?

Petrine released her slowly, "Go, eat some breakfast. When I come back from town, you and I will take Monika back to the playground. You need to teach me some of this Makaton stuff too." She brushed a hair back from Kirsty's face, "You really are the one, sweetie. You are perfect. For them. For my granddaughter. Even for him."

Kirsty saw a shadow cross the older woman's face and she gently squeezed her hand, when she smiled at her this time there was something almost forced about it. "And I have a story to tell you. The story of my wild flowers. But first you must eat."

Petrine smiled as she took the bowl from Mikael and placed it in the sink. "Off with you too. I can manage a couple of dishes."

"Let him help, woman. Go get ready to join Sven." Kirsty saw the startled and almost pained look on the woman's face as Olaf playfully swatted the woman's butt...that she still envied.

The way the woman jumped at such a light slap was confusing. Until she saw that blush and the way the older woman dropped her eyes and whispered, "Yes, Sir," as she scurried past her with a wink.

She could not stifle the giggle as she turned back to the table. "Nuts do not fall far from the trees in this family, it seems," she whispered.

Her husband smiled up at her as he moved over a bit for her to sit next to him. "What did you say?"

She shook her head and smiled, "Nothing...absolutely nothing."

He leaned in and nibbled her ear, "No secrets, remember?" He bit down hard and she tried her best to stifle a moan but it still came out a low whimper. "I will get it out of you. Trust me on that one."

She caressed his handsome face, "Trust me, my love...some secrets, you do not want to know."

His face darkened once more, but this time she recognized it was passion, as he bent in and captured her lips, "I want all your secrets, woman." She sighed as his tongue slipped inside her mouth and caressed hers. By the time he drew back, she was breathless.

"Here, you need to eat," it was Mikael's voice from over her shoulder that brought her back to reality as he sat a bowl of the steaming porridge and a cup of tea in front of her.

She saw them look at one another. Size one another up like wolves or lions. Then Bjorn nodded and smiled, "Thank you, brother. Do you need help with the dishes?"

Mikael shook his head, "No, I can handle it. Monika is still playing with her dolls," he smiled as he nodded to where his little girl sat brushing their hair once more. "You take care of her. We don't want to her dropping again like yesterday."

Bjorn nodded, "Thank you." He turned to her with a soft smile, "But if you don't start eating that damned porridge, your ass is going to get punished."

She thought about the look on Petrine's face when Olaf lightly tapped her bottom. "Definitely not," she giggled. Both of them just stared at her puzzled. Some secrets they were not ready to hear.

***

Olaf watched Bjorn as he virtually gouged the wood with the plane. He was tempted to laugh, except that his son's pain overrode it. He might be the spitting image of his father, but there was no doubt that it was his mother's soft heart that was giving him trouble this day.

"Sometimes a lighter touch works better than all the heavy handedness in the world," he smiled to him. "Give me the plane. I'll show you."

He saw the momentary flash of anger in those eyes that was the only physical resemblance to his mother. Not just the color, but way they danced with this man's emotions. He stepped back, half expecting Bjorn to throw the plank he had been planing at him. But after a moment, he just shrugged and handed the tool to him.

He took it and began to run it with the grain of the wood, shaving it lightly as the younger man watched in silence. "See how easy it is when you work with the woods own nature? When you allow the tool to simply do its job?"

Bjorn simply nodded in silence as he lifted a bottle of water and drank from it. Olaf returned his attention to wood, but he saw how Bjorn watched without seeing. It was not Stig that he reminded him of then, but Andreas.

The two men both felt too deeply. Loved too much. He had watched that kind of love destroy his brother. He did not want to see that happen to this one too. "It is not the easy 'happily ever after' fairy tale that your mother wove for you, is it, son?"

Bjorn looked off, studied the clouds as if searching for the answer. He waited, just waited. Wondered if Bjorn would have found it easier to talk about this with his own father. But the truth was that the man would not have understood. Would not have had the answers his son needed even if he were alive. His answer like Sven's had always been to bottle such emotions...work harder. But he could never drown himself in work or the sea any more than Andreas could the bottle. Sometimes the only thing you could do in this life was tread water...and wait.

When it finally came, Bjorn's only answer was a gentle nod of his head. Olaf debated his course of action. He was not sure that his counsel would be welcome. But then too he had spent decades watching silently as his brothers self-destructed. And gods be damned, he was not doing it with his sons...any of them.

"Your mother meant well, son. But she conveniently forgot all the black eyes, broken ribs and bruised knuckles." He chuckled, "I never did get how such a fucking smart woman could buy all our excuses about 'accidents'."

Bjorn frowned and shook his head, "Why don't I remember any of that growing up?"

"Because things changed after you were born." It was Olaf that studied the clouds then. Whether it was the gods and goddesses in Asgard or his brother from whom he sought guidance, he was not certain. So many fucking secrets. He knew what they had done to his wife but the ugly truth was that this one was a ticking time bomb that could destroy all this man had come to believe in.

In the end though, it was not his truth to reveal. But it was something he and Rachel needed to talk about. Bjorn was not a child anymore. Their feeble excuses of protecting and shielding him were no longer valid. He had as much right to know the truth as his brothers. Just not now. Not like this. And not from him.

"Things happen. People grow up. It was a wakeup call when we lost Lars," that much was the truth for now at least. "You learn to manage your feelings as well." He chuckled as he thought about watching her sleep that morning, "Not that they get one bit less fucking intense mind you. You just learn to think before you speak or act. To temper emotions with logic a bit."

"When? When do you fucking learn this, old man?" Bjorn's hands fisted into tight balls as he spoke. "How? How the fuck do you stop being jealous of your own gods be damned brothers?"

He laughed then, "That you never do. Even when they are fucking dead." He sighed and looked at his son, but it was his brother he saw in the man just then. "Our way of life is not easy. None of it. The sea. Marriage. Hell, even the Holding, son. Do you know what they all have in common?"

Bjorn shook his head. "They are all fucking hard. Life is a bitch." Olaf chuckled, "Honestly, I think it is for everyone. Ours may be a different kind is all."

He held the younger man's gaze, "But look around you, son. Look at that boat. Look at this land. Think about her...your mother. The other part of that truth is that it is damned beautiful too. As hard as it fucking is, trust this old man, who has seen and lived through more fucking pain than I hope any of you ever will. It is all worth it."

He looked so much like his father when he stared off at the water. But he was all his mother's son when his voice cracked, "I love her, you know."

"And you want her...all to yourself, don't you?"

The tears that swam in the younger man's eyes then reminded him of the only one time that he had seen them in the man's fathers. The day this man had been born. The day they almost lost her forever. "Yeah, I do. Is that wrong?"

Olaf laughed, "No, son, no, it is not wrong. It is natural. But let me challenge you a bit...women are complex. Much more complicated than we men. I heard someone once say that men only needed three things to be happy. Feed us. Fuck us. And leave us the fuck alone."

Bjorn laughed, "Yeah, I saw the same damned thing on my friends feed once. Although I am not too sure about that last one when it comes to her."

Olaf nodded, "Agree with you there, son. But the point I am trying to make is that sometimes what they need is more than just one man can provide. As much as I love having your mother all to myself. As much as I fucking hate admitting this. There are times when I wish I could turn to your father to be more firm with her. To Andreas to make her smile. And Lars...he could make her laugh even when she was mad."

"Now...now I have to try my damnedest to be all those things to her. Not only is it hard, but I know that more often than not I fail. It is only as I struggle to be all that she needs me to be that I realize just how blessed we all were to share this bond. Cause trust the old man loving a strong woman will fucking test you to your core. And having your brothers there to share that burden...and that joy? It isn't easy...but like the sea, like this land...like our women...it is worth it. It can be beautiful."

He chuckled, "Once you get a few black eyes, broken ribs and busted knuckles out of the way at least. I was going to put my money on that being you and my son. But the way your big brother acted at breakfast this morning, I have changed my mind. I am just not sure which of you two are going after him first."

Bjorn chuckled, "He keep treating her like nothing more than his pride breeding mare, and it might be both of us."

Olaf nodded his head, "Just remember that as much as you may look like your father...that one acts like him. And yes, he and Andreas went at it more than once over that very thing. So did he and I. But if you ever doubt how he felt about your mother, go have a look at that greenhouse. He built that whole damned thing himself. Every plank. Every nail. Every piece of glass. He cut and fit himself. And we all tried to get him to let us help. But he wouldn't."

"And never once do I remember a trip when he did not bring her back a book and some damned flower. Not even if we were gone just a day or two. Some men, son, just don't find it as easy to say or even admit what they feel. But that don't mean they don't feel it just as much as you do."

He placed his hand on the bigger man's shoulder and smiled. "So before you go judging your brother, before you count him out...think about your father as he lay dying on that boat. Remember how he battled for three fucking days to stay alive as we fought to get back here. And remember too the tears in your mother's eyes when she held him as he breathed his last...in her arms. It wasn't a fucking hospital your father wanted, it was her."

Bjorn frowned, "Trust me, I remember."

He nodded, "Well, your mother should be back soon. You seem to have things under control. So I will leave you to it now."

'And have a word with your mother about spreading a bit of the truth beyond just the two of us,' he thought as he stood to go.

But a hand on his shoulder stopped him, "Thanks. Thank you," Bjorn stopped and frowned.

"Papa is fine, son. I don't think your father would mind. Or your brother. I am pleased to think of you all as my sons now," he offered.

Bjorn nodded, "Thank you, Papa." Though Olaf could tell the words were not easy for him. Then again as he had told him...life was not easy.

And what he had to say to his woman now sure as hell would not be. But one thing he knew, this was something he could not and would not order her to do. It was her secret...to reveal in her time. He just hoped it would be another step closer to her healing. A healing that was almost thirty years too late. He steeled himself for another battle as he headed back to the main house, leaving Bjorn to his work...and his battles.

***

Kirsty laughed as Monika squealed. Mikael was pushing her in the basket swing. She could not stop herself from smiling at the way his daughter could so easily strip away this man's walls. Her throat tightened at how hard he tried. Tried to reach her. Tried to be anticipate anything she needed. Tried to be a good father. It was a totally new side of her 'bad boy.' One she found herself getting lost in.

"It is the only time my son is ever the man I remember," said the feminine voice behind her.

She turned and smiled at Petrine. The woman looked tense even as she forced a smile. "Leave her with her father for a while and walk with me, child. Time for that story I promised you earlier."

Kirsty saw those shadows again. The lines around the woman's mouth were tight and the ones in her forehead deeper set. Even then she was stunningly beautiful. She sighed as she shook her head, "If it upsets you, we can talk some other time. You really don't have to do this, if you don't want."

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