When the sun goes down, the beast comes out.
It’s been four centuries since Steinarr the Proud was cursed by a wicked sorceress—along with the rest of his Viking crew—to live for eternity as half man, half beast. By day Steinarr is like any other man—by night he is a lion. He has taken refuge in the woods of Nottinghamshire, England, and there he encounters two young travelers, Robin and Marian.
Painfully aware of the danger he presents when the moon rises, Steinarr initially refuses to help them search for the key to Robin’s inheritance. Then a kiss from Marian awakens his desire. Driven to protect the maid he so desperately wants to possess, Steinarr joins their quest…while the sorceress Cwen gathers her dark magic to destroy them.
As a legend spreads of an outlaw in the woods, their band is joined by others. But it is Steinarr who has the most to gain and the most to lose—if he is ever to be free of the curse and free to love as a man…
Please enjoy this brief excerpt from Chapter 2 of Immortal Outlaw:
It was amazing every beast in the forest wasn’t ringing their camp, thought Steinarr as he rode back the next morning. The aroma of toasting bread and cheese permeated the still air, and if he could smell it as a man, every creature within a league certainly had the scent. And it did smell wondrous good. By the time he reached the cave, his mouth was watering so much, he could barely order young Robin to finish loading up the rouncey.
“And good morning to you, too, my lord,” said Marian, handing him some bread and cheese without waiting for him to ask. She stood watching, bemused, as he gobbled it down and took a second piece. As the sharpness of his hunger eased, he looked around. “Are you two ready to go?”
“We will be, by the time you finish.” She grabbed the pail and dumped water over the dying fire. A cloud of steam boiled up, forcing Steinarr to step back. As it cleared, he saw her heading into the woods.
“Where are you going?” he called.
“The bushes, my lord, now that it is light. Unless you suggest I avoid them all day as well?” She glanced over her shoulder, giving him a bland gaze that made the blood rise in his neck. “Though God’s truth, I hope you do not, because I fear I could not manage it.”
She sailed off before he could form an answer, and behind him, the boy chuckled. “See? She does have a way of making a man realize he has no wits at all.”
A man? This puppy fancied himself a man? Keeping his opinions of Robin and his cousin to himself with difficulty, Steinarr set about saddling the stallion, carefully lining up the thickest parts of the pad to protect the raw place on the animal’s withers. Robin finished loading the rouncey and moved on to the mare, and by the time Marian reappeared, all three horses were ready. She grabbed her bundle and put its tie-rope over her shoulder as Robin swung up on the mare. He reached down to help her. “Up you come, Maud.”
She gave him a look that would curdle milk. “I think, Robin, that I will have better luck if you move her next to the boulder.”
“No need.” Steinarr stepped around the stallion, laced his fingers together, and stooped down. “Here.”
“Thank you, my lord.” As she raised her foot, her bundle slipped, pulling her off balance. She reached out to steady herself.
The sudden contact made Steinarr glance up. She was right there, so close he could feel her breath on his face, her hand gripping his shoulder as though she were comforting him. And, oh, how he needed the kind of comfort she could offer. Needed softness and smooth skin and the warmth of another human body. Needed a woman. This woman. Now. Her eyes, level with his because of the way he was bent, widened, and suddenly he was floating in their green depths, cool as a woodland pool on a summer’s day. All he had to do was drown himself in that pool, in her, and it would all be washed away, all the empty years. As if in a dream, he swayed toward her.
Somewhere far above, Robin cleared his throat. Marian blinked and jerked her hand away, and the connection between them snapped like spider silk. A sudden loneliness welled up at the loss, so thick it made Steinarr’s chest ache. He swallowed it back and worked to make his voice sound normal. “Let us try that again.”
She nodded, and he handed her up onto the mare without further trouble, though a pang of unreasoned envy twisted through him as she wrapped her arms around the boy’s waist. Steinarr let one hand linger on her foot, using that last fragment of contact, of warmth, to steady himself as he turned his attention to Robin, “I intend to move quickly. Keep up.”
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