Star Trek: Discovery
Now or Never season 05 episode 24

To Tempt a Viking

By: Michelle Willingham

Chapter One

Ireland—AD 875

There was nothing worse than being in love with your best friend’s wife.

Ragnar Olafsson tightened his fists over the oars, pulling hard against the waves of the sea. He shouldn’t have gone with them to éire. But when Styr had asked him to come, he’d agreed in a weak moment. Though he’d buried all traces of his obsession with Elena, the idea of never seeing her again was worse than the torment of seeing her with her husband.

Never once had he let either of them know of his fascination. No one knew of the raw frustration gnawing within him when he watched Styr take the woman he loved into his hut. It was a dark torture, seeing them together.

And yet, he couldn’t bring himself to let her go.

As he rowed, Ragnar kept his gaze fixed upon Elena. Her fair hair held glints of red, like touches of fire upon gold. She was like a beautiful goddess—he worshipped her from afar.

She considered him a friend, but nothing more than that. It wasn’t surprising. A woman like Elena deserved a strong marriage to a high-born warrior. Her match with Styr had been arranged years ago and Ragnar wasn’t the sort of man to steal a woman away from a friend. Especially not his best friend.

She’d made her choice and Styr had done everything to make her happy. For that reason, Ragnar had stepped aside.

He’d tried to find another woman over the years. Although he was a strong fighter and several maidens had cast their eyes on him, none of them compared to Elena. Perhaps no one ever would.

He studied her as she stared off at the grey waters. Something had changed in the past few months. She and Styr were hardly speaking to one another any more. Her barrenness was eating away at her spirit, drowning her in misery. When she stared out at the sea, her face was unnaturally pale. There were no words to mend the broken pieces, nothing Ragnar could say to her.

As the boat neared the shore, the waters were shallower than they’d guessed.

‘We’ll stop here,’ Styr ordered. Glancing at the others, he moved to stand beside Ragnar. For a moment, his friend stared out at the shoreline. ‘Will you stay behind with Elena?’ he asked. ‘I don’t want her near the front, if there’s danger.’

‘I’ll keep her safe.’ He would bathe his sword in the blood of any enemy who dared to threaten Elena. Though she didn’t belong to him, she was his to guard. He wouldn’t hesitate to offer his life, if it meant saving her.

Styr rested a hand upon Ragnar’s shoulder. With a dark sigh, he admitted, ‘I am glad you came with us. A journey like this could only be endured with friends.’

‘None of the men has slept in three days,’ Ragnar agreed. ‘We all need a good meal and rest.’ Their vessel had been tossed upon the waves as if the gods had wanted to claim them as a sacrifice. They’d fought the hard winds, trying to battle the storm. And they’d won, at the cost of sleep. His body and mind were so strung out, he could hardly piece together any thoughts other than the desire to collapse upon the sand.

‘A pity you haven’t a woman to warm your bed,’ Styr added with a shrug.

Ragnar sent him a wry look. ‘The last I heard, there are women in éire. I might find one yet.’

He’d had a few women over the years, but none of them compared to her. Though he’d tried, time and again, to purge Elena from his mind, there were many nights when he awakened, covered with sweat...his shaft hard with visions of the woman he loved.

By the blood of Thor, he had to stop thinking of it. Elena belonged to Styr and there was never any hope that it would change. Once she quickened with her husband’s seed, she would find her happiness. Ragnar tightened his hand upon his sword and reached for a shield to distract his mind.

Styr took his own shield, adding, ‘I’m glad you’re here. I need strong fighters among my men.’ To emphasise his point, he lightly punched Ragnar’s upper arm.

Ragnar responded by seizing Styr’s wrist and holding it fast. ‘I’ve bested you a time or two.’

‘Because I allowed it.’ But his friend sent him a dark smile. Styr was like a brother to him. He had taught him how to fight, after Ragnar’s father had neglected to do so. They had trained together in secret, until Ragnar could wield a sword as well as him. In truth, Ragnar was the better fighter, but Styr would never admit it.

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