Hella lifted her left foot and smoothed his thumbs over the bottom of her arch and into the ball of her foot.
A small smile lifted the corners of her mouth.
“Does it tickle?” he asked.
He kissed the top of her foot and moved up to her ankle. The tightness in her leg eased as he worked. Trust me, give your whole self to me. He caressed the muscles and tendons gently as he stroked his hands up to her knee. She watched him from beneath hooded eyelids, languid as a cat basking in the sun. Whether she’d admit it out loud or not, her expression gave away her pleasure.
He repeated the ministration on her right leg from foot to knee, pleased when a little moan left her. Her thighs tempted him still, and he trailed the pads of his fingers up both. Soft skin covered her firm muscles. He intended to pore over every inch of her, know her, and show her how fortunate a wife she’d become.
Ealasaid’s stomach tightened when he rubbed his beard across her flesh then pressed a kiss directly below her navel.
He paused at a scar the length of his thumb less than a hand’s width below her navel. Raised and red, it must have been a vicious wound. “What made this?”
Sorrow clouded her eyes. “The White Raven’s blade. I do not wish to speak of it tonight, m’lord.”
The truth hit him like the weight of one of his hounds. This ugly scar told the story of why she couldn’t bear him sons. The wound almost cost her life. I should have killed him with my bare hands and released her from misery years ago. She wished to ignore it. He would too—for tonight.
She sucked in a breath when he kissed beneath her breasts. Her hands bunched the covers at her sides, and she wiggled her hips beneath him.
“All right there, little lamb?”
Color flushed her face. “Very well, m’lord.”
He laughed. “Perhaps I should stop. You seem bothered by the attention.”
“I would be more bothered without it.” Her voice barely crested the crackle of the fire. “Your skill with a sword is rivaled solely by your tongue.”
“A compliment. Surely this is a magical night.” He returned his attention to her body. It occurred to him the crafty old witch Ulrika might have used some spice or herb to flavor their mead, to make them hungry for one another. That, or Freya’s magic cast a powerful spell over him.