Home > In the Company of Vampires (Dark Ones #8)(5)

In the Company of Vampires (Dark Ones #8)(5)
Author: Katie MacAlister

Eirik shrugged, cracking the chicken bones and sucking on the ends. “That is not what the gods think. Loki has been stomping around Asgard muttering about revenge for the last few years. Frigga demanded Freya’s help, and she turned to us, charging us with aiding you to do the job. That is why she gave us solid forms—to help you.”

I sank bonelessly onto my bed. Eirik sat next to me, still sucking on the chicken bone. “I wish I could help, but I don’t know what I can do. I don’t have the Vikingahärta, and even if I did, Loki probably wouldn’t let himself be banished with it.”

“We will come up with a plan,” Isleif said, frowning as Finnvid sucked down a container of yogurt in one slurp. “We will need equipment, however. The weasel gold will get us that.”

“I will need a laptop,” Finnvid said, wiping his mouth. “I left mine in Valhalla.”

“We will all need new spears and shields. And the goddess will need a ladies’ beheading ax, since she did not get one the last time we went shopping for her,” Eirik said, nodding toward me.

“Oh, no, not again,” I moaned, wanting to curl up into a little ball.

“I will need a new bow, since Birta, my wife, broke mine over my head when I tried to shoot her cats.”

I stared at him in abject horror.

“I thought they were sick and needed to be put out of their misery,” he said quickly, looking offended. “I was trying to help them, but Birta didn’t see it that way. And in the end, it turned out to be balls of hair that were distressing them.”

“I think I like your wife,” I said, giving him a long, hard look. “A lot.”

He grinned suddenly. “She would approve of you, too, goddess.”

“That’s nice, but in truth, neither here nor there.” I got off the bed and folded my hands as I faced the three Vikings. “There’s no way I’m going to get out of this, is there?”

“No,” Eirik said. “Why would you want to?”

I sighed. “Right. Since Loki brought this fight to me by nabbing Geoff, then I guess I don’t have any choice but to take care of him. I will do what I can to help you guys—or rather, let you help me—but I need a couple of weeks first to wrap up a big work project. Once that is done, then I can get the Vikingahärta from Imogen and we’ll go from there, okay? In the meantime, it was wonderful to see you again, and if you check back with me two weeks from now, I’ll be able to tell you when we leave.”

They looked confused. “Check back with you?” Finnvid asked.

“We must stay with you,” Eirik said, shaking his head. “We have given our oath to Freya to aid you.”

Panic hit me hard and hot. “You can’t stay with me! I only have this little apartment, and I share it with another woman! There’s no room for you here, not to mention the distraction you’d be!”

“We are not leaving you until we have banished Loki,” Eirik said with a firmness that made my stomach clench up. The other two Vikings nodded.

“But what am I going to tell Geoff—”

As if her name was an invocation, the door opened and Geoff walked in, freezing when she took in the sight of three large men in Viking wear. “Uh . . .”

“Oh, bullfrogs!” I swore, plopping down onto my bed as I dropped my head onto my hands.

Chapter 3

“Your bondage group really gets into their personas,” Geoff marveled as I wondered what I could do to escape the hell my life had suddenly become. “Wow. Those are some inventive outfits. Kind of like Ren Faire meets Mistress Sadista. Most of the bondage ensembles I’ve seen have just consisted of a hood and banana hammock, and maybe some chest restraints. But your group is really . . . interesting. I really like the weapons.”

“Bondage!” Eirik said in an outraged tone. “We are not slaves! We are the masters of slaves!”

Geoff sidled over to me and said in a whisper, “Seriously, three tops to one bottom? You don’t want to go there.”

“That’s not what she means,” I told Eirik before turning back to Geoff with a speculative glance. “How much money would it take for you to leave for two weeks? ”

“Leave? Here?” Rather than looking angry, she looked intrigued. “Why? Oh my god, you’re going to have some sort of bondage group orgy, aren’t you?”

“No orgy!” I said quickly, frowning as Finnvid’s expression turned hopeful. “And they’re not part of my bondage group.”

“We will be happy to have an orgy if you wish, goddess,” Eirik offered.

“If they’re not part of your bondage group, then who are they?” Geoff asked, and I had to admit that was a reasonable question.

“We are Vikings, sons of Valhalla, and we have come to help the goddess Fran banish the trickster Loki to the Akasha,” Eirik answered before I could think of an answer.

“Ah. Actors,” she said, enlightenment dawning in her eyes as she nodded. She peeled off the other T-shirt she wore and grabbed a bath towel. “I didn’t know you were doing the drama thing this semester, but knock yourselves out. I’m going to take a shower.”

I waited until the door closed before turning on the three Viking ghosts. “You guys cannot stay here.”

Finnvid and Eirik had been whispering together while Isleif raided the now mostly empty refrigerator.

“Ah, so that is the bondage,” Eirik said after Finnvid stopped talking. Both men looked at me with raised eyebrows. “I have heard of women who enjoy rough bed sport. I had no idea you did.”

“I don’t. I don’t like any bed sport, rough or otherwise.”

Their eyes grew round. “You are celibate?”

“No! That is, Ben and I never . . . Oh, it doesn’t matter. I like bed sport well enough, but don’t have anyone to do it with, okay?”

Isleif returned with a piece of celery, which he dipped into the remaining package of yogurt, crunching loudly as he asked, “The goddess seeks bed-sport advice now?”

“No! For the love of the goddess above, no more advice, please.” I took a deep breath. “Look, I know you guys mean well, and I appreciate that. I really do. But the whole subject of my nonexistent intimate relations with Ben is no longer open to discussion.”

“Nonexistent . . .” Surprise danced on Eirik’s face. “The Dark One has not bedded you?”

The two other Vikings stared at me as if I was the eighth wonder of the world.

“No, he hasn’t, not that it’s anyone’s business,” I said meaningfully.

“Perhaps he is unsure of how to proceed,” Isleif commented around a mouthful of celery. “It is the Dark One who needs our advice.”

I wanted to beat my head on the wall, but knew that would only leave me with a headache. “Okay, new rules: no more discussion of bedding, bed sport, or anything related to that.”

“You are a virgin,” Finnvid said in a soothing voice, taking me by the shoulders and leading me over to the bed, where he sat down next to me. “You do not know what you are saying.”

“Aye, virgins are often confused,” Eirik agreed.

“I’m not a virgin!” The second the words left my lips I swore silently to myself. All three Vikings pursed their respective lips. “Not that it’s anyone’s business. Just forget I blurted that out, all right?”

“You want us to forget you’re a virgin?” Eirik asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “Can we please move off the subject of sex, or lack thereof?”

“We wish to help you, virgin,” Finnvid argued.

I glared at him. “That is totally inappropriate. You are not to call me virgin!”

“My apologies. Virgin goddess. You will listen to our most excellent advice. We are older and wiser, and have pleasured many women. We know what is what, and if your Dark One is confused, we will guide him in his time of need.”

“No one listens to me,” I said, breaking down and gently banging my head on the wall. “I say no talk about sex, and still they go on. Why, why, why?”

“Bed sport is good,” Eirik said complacently. “We enjoy it.”

“A lot,” Finnvid added.

“It is not quite as good as spending a day fighting outside of Valhalla, knowing there is endless ale waiting for us upon our return, but it is almost as good as that,” Isleif said.

“Aye, the fighting is best of all,” Eirik said, nodding. “Although I would put the bed sport before the ale. Ale is satisfying, but good bed sport is vital.”

“Bed sport with an ale wench is the best of all,” Finnvid said with a wolfish grin.

“Oh, aye, that’s so,” Eirik agreed.

“Can we please change the subject?” I begged. “Like to what I’m going to do with you all?”

“Assuming bed sport is out—” Eirik said.

The scowl I shot him should have turned him into Viking dust.

“—then we will escort you to the Vikingahärta, and make our plans for the capture and banishment of Loki.”

“No, see, that’s not going to work because I’m not going to be able to leave for two weeks.”

“Why not now?” Finnvid asked. “Freya will not be happy if you wait when you did not have to.”

“No,” I said firmly. If there was one thing I’d learned from my past experience with the Vikings, it’s that they’d run all over your good intentions if you let them. “I said I would try to help you, and I will, but on my terms. Loki’s goons know now that Geoff isn’t me, so I don’t have to worry that they’ll grab her again, so really, there’s no pressing reason why I should leave before my vet hospital Web site project is done. I wouldn’t feel at all right leaving it, even if Joann at work is aching to have me gone so she can take over the project and put all sorts of Flash elements into it. We’ll just have to find a place for you guys to stay until I’m ready to go.”

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