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Swirling the wine in the bright blue glass, Nils regarded her closely as he lowered his voice. "I also recall you saying that Ethelred is no longer king of England."
"Not for almost a thousand years." She stiffened, and he knew she was as uneasy with this turn of the conversation as he was. "It is 1817."
"That term means nothing to me." Nils looked away from the abrupt compassion on her face. He did not want to be pitied. He was a warrior. Draining the goblet, he set it on the windowsill beside him.
"Ethelred was king of England around the year we would have called 990."
He clenched the fingers on his right hand into a fist. Slamming them into the arm of the bench, he ignored the shock on Linnea's face and how her servant whirled in her seat to stare at him, her eyes wide with terror. How could he have been so foolish? He had spoken of his need, hoping that Freya would heed his request to be left behind to finish his search when she had taken the other fallen warriors to Valhalla. She had heard him, but, for some reason he had yet to discover, had sent his plea to Loki. That wizard of mischief must have contrived this plan to keep him from both his reward in death and his hopes in life ... and sent Kortsson with him into this time.
Slowly he glanced at the window. The very window where Loki had perched in his dream. But had that been as real as what was around him now? He resisted the taunting laugh that throbbed through his head. His voice or Loki's? The dream may have been real, and this truly might be the nightmare he could not flee. But he could not imagine that even a fevered dream brought on by the festering of his wounds would create such ajourney to the future.
"Mr. Bjornsson, I am so sorry," Linnea whispered. "I know it makes no sense to you. It makes no sense to me, but I know what year it is. It is 1817. Search your mind. You will see that you know that, too."
"I know Ethelred is king of England."
"But I told you--"
He snarled a curse at her. Heaving himself again to his feet, he hopped to where a window opened on the sea side of this building. Ignoring the pain raging in his head, he fumbled as he tried to open the shutters on the window with a single hand. Several of the slats hung broken. When Linnea's slender/P>
His lips were on hers before she had a chance to protest. They tasted sweet, just as he had imagined. A tempting invitation to further pleasure that they could find when--