Authors: Dana Marie Bell
Tags: #Multiples;MMF;Vikings;Gods and Goddesses;erotic
Three hearts are stronger than the sum of their scars.
True Destiny, Book 5
Slade Saeter endured centuries of torture, longing for the day he could claim Magnus Tate and Sylvia Grimm as mates. Now freedom is his, but nightmares still plague this son of Loki, and he fears his lovers will believe him too fragile to bond.
Magnus never thought he could have the woman of his dreams, not when she was broken by his own father, her heart shattered by Thor’s infidelities and their ultimate divorce. But Slade’s determination gives him a glimmer of hope.
Never one to let anything keep her down for long, Sylvia has long since healed from her ex-husband’s betrayals. But accepting her own stepson as a bonded mate? While it’s something she can wrap her body around, her heart is another story.
As three war-weary, damaged hearts slowly find balance among them, they form bonds of surprising strength. But with danger descending upon them with the fury of a Valkyrie, time is the one thing they may not have.
Warning: This title contains explicit sex, graphic language, and the only two people who know for sure if Slade really is hung like a horse. (They aren’t talking.)
Dana Marie Bell
For Mom, who couldn’t understand why I’d rather sit in a locked room reading mythology than outside riding a bike, but got me a library card anyway. Have I mentioned I love libraries?
To Dad, who let me “work” in his barber shop when he first opened up. (Mostly, “work” involved me sitting in a quiet corner reading and occasionally sweeping up hair to earn my allowance. Meh, it’s a living.)
And to Dusty, who gets to reap the benefits of all that research into mythology whenever he’s playing video games involving it. Go me. (Does this make me the Nerd Whisperer?)
Magni grimaced as Thor turned away from his wife Sif, ignoring her once more in favor of some serving wench who had just thrust her breasts in his face. The pain on Sif’s face made Magni want to snarl in rage. It was a well-known fact that Thor could not keep his manhood in his trousers. One only had to look at his bastard sons, Magni and Modi, to see that.
How could his father dishonor his wife in such a way? If Sif belonged to Magni he would never cheat on her, never bring another to his bed. He would adore her to the end of his days. He would ignore his cravings for harder flesh and cleave unto her until Ragnarrok.
But Sif only saw Thor, worshipping the ground her husband walked on, and Magni was forced to treat her as his father’s wife rather than the woman who Magni desperately wished graced his bed and his life.
“Easy, brother.” Modi’s hand landed on his shoulder, his twin’s presence calming the rage within him, as it always did. “Calm yourself.”
Magni’s fists clenched as his father patted the bottom of the serving wench, his expression filled with lust. A lust that should rightfully belong to his wife.
“Perhaps this will help open her eyes to what Father truly is,” Modi whispered in his ear, his words making no sense. Modi had been warning Magni not to lust after their stepmother for decades, to no avail. So why was he suddenly offering Magni his full support?
There was only one answer for the odd way his brother was acting. “Stop, Loki.”
The man laughed, his face morphing into that of the Trickster God. Loki’s face was filled with mischief, tiny flames dancing within his dark eyes. His reddish-brown hair was pulled back into a tail, and his leather armor was pristine. “What?” He leaned close, his breath tickling Magni’s ear and sending an unwanted shiver down his spine. “You know you want her.”
“What I want is irrelevant.” He pushed Loki away, careful of his greater strength. As much as the Trickster was annoying, he was rarely vicious with Magni. “Only she matters.”
For an instant sympathy shone through the roguish grin before it was quickly wiped away. “To want without surcease, to need without end, to desire with no outlet. That is true torture.”
“I have outlets.” Ones he would not share, not even with Modi, let alone Loki. The Trickster would use the knowledge against him, of that Magni had no doubts. He had done so before, driving a wedge between the gods and goddesses as he revealed their infidelities to one another.
Magni would not hand him the spear needed to pierce his heart and humiliate him. No. Better to keep his
secret than face his family.
Loud laughter drew his attention once more to Odin’s table. Thor was laughing at something Odin had said, the Old Man looking pleased with his son. It was obvious that Thor was his favorite child, much to Frigg’s disgust. A bastard himself, Thor was the mightiest warrior to walk Asgard. Baldur, for all his beauty, could not hold a candle to his half-brother when it came to battle.
Magni and Modi had no place at that table with their father and grandfather. The bastard sons of Thor, they’d been born of a jotun and as such were considered a shameful addition to Odin’s family tree. Yet the leader of the gods allowed Loki, a fire giant, to sit where he willed, though Loki rarely chose the high table where Odin held court. No, the Trickster usually chose to sit among the so-called lesser gods, inciting mayhem among them and whispering sedition into their ears.
“Perhaps she longs for a real man between her thighs.” Loki leaned closer, his hair brushing Magni’s cheek as he whispered Magni’s most shameful secret. “Or perhaps you do.”
Magni stood, his anger burning along with his humiliation. “Shut your foul mouth, Trickster.”
Loki laughed, leaning back in his chair. “Too close to the truth, Magni?” Magni snarled, but Loki merely grinned. “Have no fear, that particular secret is safe with me.” Loki winked. “My heart may be shriveled and black, but I still have one.”
Magni sucked in a breath as the Trickster’s gaze darted toward Baldur. The longing glance was as familiar as the hilt of his sword.
Loki loved the other man as Magni loved Sif, and with just as much chance of gaining his desire as Magni had.
For a moment Magni felt sympathy for the other god. He knew intimately what it was to desire someone who was forever out of reach. “And yours with me.”
Loki shot him a wide-eyed look before his expression changed, becoming the lazy, self-indulgent one Magni was used to seeing. “A bargain, then. Done and done, my angry friend.”
That vow settled over Magni like a hot summer day. Loki would keep his secret, for while the Trickster loved to play with the gods, he had a strange sense of honor. Once given, his word was inviolate.
Magni nodded sharply, acknowledging the vow, before saying his good-byes to his brother Modi and striding from the dining hall. Watching Sif suffer had taken what little appetite he had for food.
Now he was off to indulge a completely different appetite.
Magni opened the door to his chambers and smiled. The slicked-up young man he’d chosen for the evening shot him a sultry glance over his shoulder, the round globes of his perfect ass shining with oil. “My lord. I’ve been waiting for you.”
Magni shut the door, ready to sate his other hunger.
Slade Saeter watched his mate, Magnus Tate, size up the frail woman before them, and had to hide his satisfied smile against Magnus’s chest. He’d waited centuries for this moment.
From the look on Magnus’s face, Slade was going to have more than he’d ever dreamed was possible.
It still shocked him that the stunning redhead with the glittering green eyes and broad shoulders was his. Slade had given up hope of ever being able to claim Magni, now known as Magnus. Slade had been hiding in his horse form for so long, trying to avoid detection from Odin, that the dream of claiming Magni had become just that, a wish that could never be fulfilled. And the dream of Sif, of her long golden hair and flashing blue eyes, had been so far beyond his reach as to be ridiculous.
To claim either of them would have meant an end to all their lives. Odin would have gone into a fury at being deceived. He would have destroyed everything Slade yearned for before he could have more than a taste of it. It was something Slade still feared, still had nightmares about that woke him shaking and sweating in the dark. So he’d waited, and he’d watched, and he’d used every ounce of his strength to silently protect the people he cared for most in the world. He’d taken everything Odin could throw at him and remained the loyal beast as he waited for the signs of Ragnarrok. He’d only acted when he’d been certain it was time, but he’d been terrified that he’d be caught, unable to get away, forced to share Odin’s fate in the final hour.
He’d done it anyway.
It was turning out to have been worth all the pain Odin had inflicted on him.
As Sleipnir he’d been thought of as nothing more than an animal, the favored steed of the leader of the gods. He’d died a little each day until he’d thought nothing was left. He’d watched Magnus take lovers one after another, and had his heart broken right along with Sif’s when Thor cheated on her. Both of them deserved so much more than what they’d gotten, and he’d desperately wished to be the one to take them and make them his own. He would cherish every ounce of affection they chose to give him. And he would fight to the death to protect them.
Once he’d revealed that he was just like his siblings Hel, Jörmungandr and Fenris, he’d finally been able to begin claiming one of his mates, Magnus. He’d even chosen a mortal name that honored his father, Logan: Slade Saeter.
His father had come to rescue him when Slade needed him most, proving to Slade that he
cared for, even if he hadn’t been aware of it. Logan, once known as Loki, was beyond thrilled that Sleipnir was in his home. He hovered over Slade, making sure he was warm enough and had anything he could possibly want. The only people who got that much attention from his father were Logan’s mates, Jordan and Kir.
It hadn’t surprised Slade to find that his father had finally mated Kir, once known as the god Baldur, and taken off with him. Loki had always longed for the younger, pretty god. Sleipnir could smell his desire every time Baldur was in the same room with him, but not even Loki had the balls to try and get Baldur to cheat on his wife, Nanna. Baldur had adored his deceased spouse, and only the worst of circumstances had separated them.
But when Odin tried to kill Baldur, things had changed dramatically. Loki had taken Baldur’s place, tricking the others into believing Baldur was dead. Instead, Baldur had freed Loki from the chains he’d been placed in when Loki was blamed for Baldur’s death. The two had run, Loki proving his devotion to Baldur over the years until Baldur could no longer live without the fiery jotun. When Jordan had joined them, their lives were complete.
Slade wanted that. He wanted the same thing his father had with his two mates. Logan, Kir and Jordan were inseparable, and utterly devoted to one another. Jordan carried the fruit of their love, their children growing inside her. One was of Logan, meaning Slade would soon have a tiny brother or sister to love. The other was of Kir, the new king of the gods, the man Logan had nearly given his life for. Slade would love that child like a sibling as well, for as far as he was concerned it would be.
He wanted to watch his woman swell with their children, children with Magnus’s fiery red hair and Slade’s dark eyes. Or maybe their mate’s golden locks and Magni’s pretty green eyes.
Magnus stood with him, holding him in his arms with all the care and tenderness Slade could ever want or desire. And still it was not enough. He wanted it all. He wanted Sif, who’d chosen the mortal name Sylvia Grimm. She stood before them with trembling lips and hope in her gaze. They needed their third, the one who would make them complete. And Slade needed his father to accept that she’d now be a part of their lives, whether Logan liked it or not. Slade hoped that Magnus would be open to what he was going to suggest.
“What are you doing here?”
Or maybe not. Magnus sounded far sterner than he ever did when speaking with Slade.
Sylvia bit her lip, looking so uncertain, so fragile.
Slade whimpered, hiding his face against Magnus’s chest as the pain of what Odin had done to all of them slashed through him. He was still hurting, still healing from the horrors Odin had inflicted on him. Only Magnus knew the true extent of what Odin had done to him, over and over, before Magnus had rescued him. He’d been there in the night, holding Slade, weeping along with him when the terror became too much for Slade to bear. Odin had murdered Thor, taken the god from his children. And poor Sylvia had been under his thumb longer than any of them, forced to watch as the Aesir crumbled under the weight of prophecy.
He wanted his mates to stand by his side, to help one another rather than fight each other. He just wasn’t certain how to accomplish that.
“I…” Sylvia’s voice was uncertain.
Slade felt sorry for her. She’d been constantly pushed aside, by Thor, by Odin, and now by Frederica, who used her whenever it was convenient and forgot her otherwise. Sylvia had once been a formidable goddess. To see her reduced to a woman with a quivering lip, lost and begging, broke his heart.
“You?” Kir and Logan stepped in front of Magnus, more than likely preparing to protect Slade. What they thought Sylvia would do to him, Slade didn’t know. She’d been fierce and brave when she’d been with Thor, but even she wouldn’t dream of challenging Baldur, or Kir as he was now known. With the God of Spring holding the Godspear,
, he should now be the undisputed king of the gods. It was the symbol of his office, showing that the mantle had officially passed from Odin to his son. Odin had shit purple kittens when he’d lost
to Baldur. It was one of the happiest days of Slade’s life.
“I want to join with you.” Sif…No,
tone was firm. Slade was still getting used to the mortal names of the Aesir. He’d been in Valhalla for so long he’d only heard the mortal names in passing.
Slade risked a peek at Sylvia. She had squared her shoulders, her expression determined, ready to do battle and win her verbal war. Sylvia needed them, and Slade and Magnus needed her. He just had to convince everyone to see things his way. Everything was within his grasp, and while he loved his father all the more for trying to save him, this time Slade didn’t want to be saved.
Logan edged a little in front of Kir. “How do we know you’re not a spy? Frigg could have sent you here to sabotage us.”
Sylvia shook her head, her expression sad. “I wanted to join you that day at Fred’s house, when you found
, but I wasn’t certain I would be welcome.” She glanced at Logan, pushing her golden hair behind her ear. “Sydney wants to come too.”
He could only imagine Logan’s expression. His ex-wife would be an uncomfortable addition to their little family, especially since she still yearned for Logan with all her immortal heart. Whereas Sylvia had accepted Thor’s desire to be with the woman he loved, Sydney had never seemed to give up hope that one day Logan would return to her.
Logan shook his head. “Jordan won’t—”
Sylvia held up her hands in a pleading gesture that nearly broke Slade’s heart. “Please? She’s over you, I swear it. She wants the best for you and you have that. She…
just want to be free of Frigg.”
Slade understood. Neither was strong enough to withstand a woman who’d once been the queen of the gods. “But you can’t, not without someone strong to protect you.” He tried to hide his wince. It still hurt to talk sometimes, and he doubted his voice would ever lose the painful rasp. It was Odin’s last gift to him, one he wished he could give back in spades.
Magnus looked stunned at Slade’s words. “You think we should allow it.”
Slade looked up at him and went on tiptoe to whisper in his ear. “She’s ours.”
Magnus reared back and stared down at him with a mixture of hope, fear and longing on his face. “Are you sure?”
“As sure as I am that you’re mine.” Slade patted Magnus’s chest.
“She needs us.”
Magnus studied him for a moment, ecstatic hope flaring across his face, before nodding. “All right.”
“All right? Are you insane?” Logan scowled at Magnus. “You really want her around my injured son?”
Kir watched Sylvia with something approaching disapproval. “You’ll need to prove yourself before we’ll allow you to join us. Either of you.”
Sylvia shivered, but stood her ground. She straightened her slim shoulders, the fragility now more like dignity and pride. “I can do that.”
Kir studied her for a few moments, then glanced over at Logan. When Logan grimaced, Kir smiled and turned back toward Sylvia.
Slade held his breath. Whatever Kir said now would determine whether or not Slade got his wish.
“Find out what Frederica is up to. I don’t trust her, she’s been far too quiet recently.”
Sylvia paled, but nodded. “Sydney will be able to come too?”
Kir nodded. “You have my word.”
“Done.” The ring of magic was in Sylvia’s voice. She’d agreed to the bargain, but at what price?
“Wait.” Slade held out his hand, well aware of how badly it shook. “Come here.”
Sylvia took a tentative step forward.
Slade pulled out some of his white hair, barely feeling the sting. After everything he’d been through a few hairs being pulled out meant nothing to him. He braided them together into a bracelet. “Wear this. If you get into trouble you can’t get out of I’ll know and come for you.”
Magnus growled, his arms tightening protectively around Slade. “
come for you.”
Slade hid his smile again on Magnus’s broad chest. The man said some of the best things ever. No one, not Kir, not even Logan, made him feel as safe as Magnus did.
Slade needed that sense of safety, of belonging, to extend to Sylvia as well. If he had his way their mate would join them sooner rather than later, and they’d be able to consummate their mating once and for all.
No one could take this joy away from him now. Not Odin, not Frigg, not the Fates themselves. Slade knew how to bide his time, how to wait in the shadows, unseen and unremarked. He’d keep watch over Sylvia without any of them ever knowing. He could slip away before any of them even realized it, just as he had when he’d called to warn them that Odin was coming for them. He’d learned long ago how to keep Odin’s wards from detecting him when he didn’t wish it. As strong as Logan’s wards were, Slade could slide through them with ease, and would do so should the need arise.
Sylvia would be safe as he’d never been. Slade would see to it or die trying.
This wasn’t the way things were supposed to happen. Sylvia had prayed that they’d let her in, that they’d see how desperately she wanted to get away from Frederica and her desire to destroy Logan Saeter and any who chose to side with him. Instead, Kir and Logan had sent her right back into the mouth of the dragon.
Not even chocolate chocolate-chip ice cream could fix this level of depression.
“Well?” Sigyn, who’d taken the mortal name Sydney Saeter, opened the door of their shared apartment with a hopeful expression.
Sylvia shook her head. “They want us to spy on Frigg and find out what she’s up to or they won’t let us join them.”
Sydney’s shoulders slumped. “Porcupine balls. That won’t be easy.”
Sylvia took Sydney’s hand and led her into the apartment, closing the door behind her. “We can do this, Syd. If we find out what Frederica is up to, they’ll accept us.”
“Sure. Easy peasy.” Sydney groaned as she dropped ungracefully into her office chair. “Why don’t they ask for the moon? It would be easier.”
“I know, right?” Sylvia settled on the sofa, the bright blue cheering her as it always did. “Logan looked good, by the way.”
“Good.” Sydney smiled softly. “After everything he’s been through he deserves some happiness.”
“He’s found it.” Sylvia was aware of Sydney’s lingering feelings for Logan, but there was little she could do about it. Logan had fallen in love with Kir long before he’d been tied to that mountain. Worse, he’d never loved Sydney. He’d married her in order to cement his position in the Aesir, and because it was expected of him.
Sydney had adored him from day one and had believed in him when no one else did. In return he’d left her behind, running with Kir and hiding from all of them for centuries.
It was the best thing he ever did for Sydney Saeter, and he probably knew that. He was far more intuitive than Frigg gave him credit for.
Sydney had been forced to stand up for herself, to face the accusations that she was the one who’d freed him. But Odin had used his powers on her, the truth spilling forth from her like the poison of the snake that had tortured Loki. She’d gone to empty the bowl of venom, as she did whenever it filled. As she’d poured it away, she’d realized Loki wasn’t crying out as he normally did. Without the bowl, the venom would land on his skin, burning him. He always cried out when she was forced to leave him in order to empty the bowl.
When she returned, he was free of his shackles, gone without a trace. And she had no idea who had done it.
Odin’s use of the apples of Idunn had saved Sydney from being killed by Vali, the Avenger. She was innocent, by Odin’s decree, but now she was terrified of Val Grimm. Whenever the large man entered the room Sydney would go still and quiet, afraid he would turn on her at any moment. He’d terrified her then, and still did. That he’d joined willingly with Kir and Logan only meant he was up to something, and Sydney was determined to find out what. She would not allow her ex-husband’s happiness to be ruined by a spy of Odin’s.