Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ghostly Tryst by Becca Dale

Jenna studied her map one last time, comparing it to the jagged seascape. She had brought a copy of the ancient seaman’s guide with her so she might locate the sight of Beowulf’s final resting place. Rumors placed the dragon battle at several places along the Coast of Sweden or perhaps on a neighboring island. With a shiver she stuffed the worthless scrap of paper into her bag. She wasn’t silly enough to believe men battled dragons and creatures descended of Cain, but she did believe in Beowulf. Recently, his king’s existence had been proven beyond a shadow of doubt, which in her mind meant the mighty Beowulf had been just as real. Grendel and the dragon were surely symbolic of powerful warriors – or even entire armies – that Beowulf had faced and defeated.

With a sigh she walked closer to the cliff’s edge. A sharp breeze tugged at her sweatshirt and pressed her jeans to her boots. Waves crashed against the rocky shore, too harshly it seemed for the otherwise quiet October evening. The salty scent of the ocean, combined with the anticipation which had filled her since she landed at the Stockholm airport, created a strange connection to this land she had never seen before, a feeling of homecoming. The night held limitless possibilities. All Hollows Eve, the one time of the year when ghosts moved freely among the living. The mere thought made her heart trip in her chest.

She turned her back to the sea and studied the countryside in front of her. It looked as wild as it made her feel. Then she saw it. The earth sloped with a gentle swell much like an undersized
Native American burial mound. Could Beowulf’s tower have fallen to no more than a bump on the ground? She walked closer, slowly circling the raised area. It stretch nearly a hundred feet in diameter but the center rose less than five feet above the edges. She moved to the peak. Even if she was correct and this had been Beowulf’s tower, his body had not been buried here. He would have floated away, ashes tumbling in the breeze, but perhaps his spirit had remained. That would explain the almost holy feeling emanating from the dirt. She sank to her knees and felt the cool stubbly grass beneath her palms.

Closing her eyes with a reverent sigh, Jenna lay face down on the gentle rise. In three days she would return to the States and reality, but for the moment she could pretend she had found him and soak up the history of the mighty warrior and his men. The sea pounded the shore below but peace settled over her as she conjured Beowulf’s image. He had died an old man for his time but had not succumbed to the weakness of age. The savage battle which ended his life had sorted the loyal from the weak. As she visualized Beowulf’s death, a younger, clearer apparition floated behind him, a wild looking man dressed in furs to ward off the cold.


It would make sense that the devoted warrior stood guard over his king’s final slumber. She rolled to her back and willed him close as her heart drummed a welcome song in his honor.

“Come Wiglaf.”

His fierce scowl chilled her more than the wind did, but it was only a dream. Her pulse thundered in her ears and her breath grew labored. She understood the rudiments of his language but did not speak beyond her initial call. Warriors of his time took what they desired without regard to the niceties of life. She wanted his desire, craved it.

He spoke, or growled, as he approached but she caught little beyond the words cniht and cild – boy child. She smiled and sat up so the wind pressed her sweatshirt to her generous breasts. “Ic eom wif.” With luck the visual would overcome her pronunciation to make her point. “I am a woman, Wiglaf.”

He shook his head. “Scin-læca?”

A shining corpse? She had to laugh as the pot called the kettle black. She shook her head no. “Ic eom nā dwinor. I am no ghost.”

He moved closer, hesitant, leery of the unknown but brave enough to face it anyway. The nearly full moon cast a white glow over his scarred features, making him gorgeous in a rugged, untamed way. His dark blond hair lay in wild disarray around his shoulders and his beard grew thick near his mouth and chin. Her heart drummed in welcome. Clear blue eyes shone with intelligence and a little mischief. How could she not want this man? Wiglaf’s stories had fascinated her all her life. He represented everything men of her time lacked: loyalty, undomesticated intelligence, bravery, and strength without artifice. There was nothing pretty or cultured about the Anglo-Saxon warrior before her.

Wiglaf edged closer. Caution rode his features. Jenna rose to her knees careful not to startle the spirit away. Would he treat her as a gentle woman or a common one ready for a good tussle in the autumn grass? Slowly, she lifted her sweatshirt and tossed it aside. Her breasts tightened as the ocean air whipped across her flesh. “Sēcan mec, Wiglaf. Come to me.”
“Gē eart fæger.”

“Beautiful? Ic pancie pē.” Did women of his time thank a man for a compliment? She wasn’t sure of the protocol. How did one seduce a guy who had lived more than twelve hundred years before? “You’re not too shabby yourself.” He looked confused as she spoke in modern English, but he could not misunderstand when she beckoned him closer with a crooked finger. “Sēcan mec.”

He knelt before her and traced the thin strap of her bra. “Gif ic ācwelan, lǣtan mec gefaran mid gylp.”

“I will not kill you, nor destroy your dignity, Wiglaf. Trust me.” Her limited vocabulary would not allow her to allay his fears, but her body language had to speak volumes. Her breath came in shallow gasps as she fought for oxygen to feed the blood pounding through her brain and body. A warm, red flush covered her chest despite the cold and her nipples poked clear and firm against the thin lace of her bra.

He slid her straps down her arms and cupped her breasts in his large palms. A soft whimper escaped her lips as he rolled and pinched the tips between his calloused fingers. She leaned closer, needing the heat of his mouth and the scrape of his whiskers against her hungry flesh. The language barrier melted away as his lips closed over her breast and he sucked it deep inside his mouth. Her cry of pleasure translated to any age.

With a groan Wiglaf pushed her back to the grass and explored her exposed skin. She slid her hands beneath his clothing and found solid flesh. He felt so real. Her imagination had to be working overtime to create such clarity, but she did not care. She released him long enough to kick free of her boots and shed her jeans before opening her arms once more.

He loosened his pants and took her without further preliminaries. He filled her, easing the ache she had carried so long. Her heart thundered and she lifted to meet his aggressive demands. Her fingernails sank into his muscled back. She held him tight, praying she’d survive his heady assault. Each stroke fueled her desire, made her greedy for more. His mouth finally covered hers moments before a scream ripped from her throat. Jenna clutched him closer; her lips clung to his, her body convulsed. Sweet gratification slammed through her and settled slowly back to peace.

He dropped nibbling kisses across her collarbone until his heart no longer pounded under her palms, then he was gone, dissipated into the October night with only a faint good-bye whispering on the wind.

Tears trickled down Jenna’s cheeks when his warmth left her. She hurriedly pulled on her clothes, embarrassed but blessed by the dream that had seemed so real. “Wes pū hāl, Wiglaf. Good-bye, my love. Gesǣlig Samhain. Happy Halloween.”

“Gif ic ācwelan, lǣtan mec gefaran mid gylp.” If I die, let me go with pride.

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