Conn sat down, a warm, very solid presence beside her. Eba's gaze flew to the youngest man of all. With the darkness of the hall behind him, Kimi's pale hair shone silver and rose in the firelight as he laughed at some joke. He is only a boy, Eba thought. He still had the prettiness of childhood, though faint glints and sparkles around his chin announced the beginnings of a new beard. He turned, his gaze slapped into her face and Eba flinched at the contempt in his hard blue eyes.
Conn stirred at her side. "Kimi doesn't want to be married, after all!"
Kimi scowled at his cousin, but Conn was not cowed. "You won't find a girl prettier than this, Kimi. Better grab her fast."
Kimi's smile became a sneer. "I don't want her. If you do, you can have her."
Eba's blood thudded in her ears. Nervousness, fright and ale combined into sudden overwhelming anger. She banged her bowl down on the hearthstones and sprang to her feet. “Good," she snapped. "I'll leave first thing in the morning, then."
Speechless, startled faces all around the fire pit stared up at her. Eba swallowed with difficulty and the thought she might have just consigned herself to the slave market flitted across her mind.
Torquil grunted, slapped his palm across his knee and began to laugh. One by one the men relaxed and laughed with him. Only Kimi was not amused. He got to his feet and glared at her across the hearth. "You'll go nowhere. You're not pretty enough to marry me." His glance slid over her from head to foot. "But you can be my bed slave, for as long as I please."
His high tones grated on Eba's already lacerated nerves. "I'd rather die!" She glared at him. "Why, you're still a child whose voice hasn't broken! I won't be here for very long at all, I assure you. My brother will come for me."
The fire hummed in the silence and one of the wolfhounds opened its mouth and yawned. Kimi snorted in derision. "I'll look forward to it," he said. "And I'll sharpen my sword."
This exciting story is set in Dublin in the years of Viking domination in Ireland. Eba, a headstrong teenager, always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and grows up very fast during one summer of dramatic happenings. I went to Dublin specifically to check I'd written sensibly about the places in the story, and still have good memories of Dublin.
You can read Dark Pool on Kindle via http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Pool-Banners-Alba-Sequel-ebook/dp/B004SREKJI and visit with me on my blog at http://jenblackauthor.blogspot.com
Uploaded by Jen Black 24/07/2013