Although the epilogue in the book is the big wedding with hundreds of guests, here you have a chance to experience an intimate morning with the small family: just Hakon, Mia, and Ulf. I love this scene as it’s so cozy and intimate, and I wanted to share it with you because throughout the book there were scenes with Mia and Hakon, just the two of them, while Mia was pregnant. But this scene is a unique opportunity to see the couple with their baby son, in their small bubble of happiness. The happiness they truly deserve.
THE MARRIAGE OF TIME
A Time Travel Romance
Called by a Viking Series
© Mariah Stone. All rights reserved.
Lomdalen, Norway, June 21st, 876 AD
Hakon woke to a round, silky hip under his arm. He brushed his arm along the curve, up to the very top, and then steep down towards her waist.
He was not a skald, but he wanted to recite poetry about Mia’s body.
She sighed, still sleepy, but kicked her behind back, nestling it right where he wanted it most. Against his erection.
Not a bad way to start the wedding day.
Before he had met Mia, he never thought he would look forward to his wedding day, or feel truly happy about it. So happy that he felt as if his very being was filled with mead from Valhalla.
He tightened his arm around Mia’s waist and pulled her against him. She moaned appreciatively and circled her sweet behind against him, sending waves of hot pleasure where her body touched him. A low growl escaped his throat, and Ulf began chuckling in his crib.
Helheim, son, not now!
Mia and Hakon froze, hoping their son would settle, but Ulf continued chuckling until he finally decided he was awake and hungry—announcing it to all of Midgard.
Mia turned to Hakon and kissed him lightly, then smiled. “Ah well. It was a nice try. Maybe we can pick this up later?”
Hakon pulled her closer. “Any time you wish.”
Ulf must have heard them and began complaining; seemingly annoyed that even though they were clearly awake, he was still far away from them in his crib.
Mia beamed at Hakon and made a move to get Ulf, but Hakon did not let her slip away. “Stay. I shall bring him.”
“Ah. Thank you, my brave Viking warrior.”
He planted a kiss on her lips and stood up into the darkness of the cool, morning air. Ulf caught sight of his father coming and calmed down, making a sweet, “Ay!” sound. He had only recently begun making the excited greeting sound, and it melted Hakon’s heart. No matter how tired he was, no matter how much he wanted Mia, he always felt that jolt of love when he heard the boy and saw his sweet smile.
“Happy and healthy, son,” Hakon said as he leaned over the crib that Mia had requested the carpenter make based on the ones from her time.
Ulf was on his stomach, pressing against the mattress with his arms, and watching Hakon with a bright smile.
“Ay!” he squealed.
Hakon picked him up. His small but sturdy body was warm, still soft from sleep.
“Are you hungry?” Hakon said as he took his son to his woman.
“Ay!” Ulf exclaimed as he saw Mia and stretched his little arms out to her with the biggest smile on his face.
Ulf almost jumped out of Hakon’s arms as his father settled in bed, and his mother was within his reach.
Mia took him, and the boy began tugging at her night shift for his breakfast. Mia removed a breast, and his son began his feast. Hakon would never admit it out loud to her—or to anyone—but he loved seeing Mia breastfeed. She was never as much the goddess of love, life, and spring as in those moments when she was cradling his son and nourishing him.
Ulf looked just like her. He had her strawberry-blond hair and her dark-green eyes.
But, strangely, he also had something of Hakon.
On his left temple, he had a birthmark. Not as big as Hakon’s, just the size of Hakon’s thumbnail, in the form of a heart. Neither Mia nor Dan had anything like that. Only Hakon.
The day Ulf was born, and they saw the birthmark, Hakon had watched the people of his village like a hawk for any signs of the same attitude they had had towards him. But it seemed that ever since Hakon’s mark was considered a blessing, so was his son’s.
He had named him Ulf, after his father. It was Mia who first suggested it. In the beginning, the name made him cringe. The memory of the resentment he had felt towards his father his whole life still bit at him, at first, but the forgiveness he had found soothed everything. The name became what he had intended it to be: an heirloom, strength, and love.
It signified a father’s pride in his son.
If there was any sign of curse in that birthmark, Hakon was ready to fight every god or witch who had put it there.
But it was not a curse. It was a blessing, just like his, and Ulf had a great life in front of him.
Hakon shifted close to Mia and wrapped his arm around her shoulder, bringing her closer to him, inhaling the sweet, flowery scent of her hair. She leaned against him, and he watched as Ulf gazed into Mia’s eyes, something he always did as he suckled, the connection with his mother strong and special.
“I know it’s too late to cancel anything,” Mia said. “But are you going to be okay today? Hosting a wedding for five hundred people, for a week?”
A year ago, he had not wanted to celebrate the wedding with Arinborg. Hakon squeezed her shoulder. “Yes,” he said. “If you are by my side, I can host a wedding and invite Odin and Freyja.”
Mia smiled. “Well, if you see them today, let me know. I’d like a word or two about…something.”
Hakon raised his brows. “What?”
Mia blushed and lowered her gaze. “Freyja is the goddess of fertility, right?”
Hakon froze. “Yes. Why?”
Mia cradled Ulf closer to her and shifted, still avoiding Hakon’s eyes. “I didn’t want to say anything. Let’s drop it.”
Hakon’s body chilled. “No. Now, you must tell me.”
Mia sighed and met his gaze, her eyes shining even in the semidarkness of the bedchamber. “It’s too early to tell if it’s going to stick or not.”
She silenced and bit her lip, nervousness rolling off of her.
“What is it, woman?” Hakon growled. He would have yelled, but he did not want to frighten Ulf. “Are you sick?”
She chuckled. “No, silly, I’m not sick. I’m pregnant.”
Hakon could not move even a finger, it was as if Thor had driven him into the ground with Mjölnir.
Mia continued, “So if you see Freyja, I’d like a word, just in case. I really want another child. With you.”
Hakon’s ears rung. It would be his child. Of course, Ulf was his, too, and he loved him like his own. But this one would be of his flesh and of his blood.
“I could not wish for a better wedding present,” he said.
Mia found his hand and squeezed; Hakon’s stupor disappeared, replaced by small, pleasant lightning bolts going through his veins.
“It’s still quite early,” she said. “Just two months, but I have all the symptoms I had with Ulf’s pregnancy. I didn’t want to tell you for another month. I don’t want you to get your hopes up, it’s still possible it won’t stick.”
Hakon sat upright. “You wanted to keep this from me for another moon?”
“No. You do not keep things like this from me. Ever. Good or bad, we face them together. Agreed?”
Mia smiled and kissed him on the cheek. “Agreed.”
“I know it will stick.”
“I hope so.”
Ulf unlatched and tugged at Mia’s other breast. He was a big, hungry boy. Mia turned him, offered the other breast, and he happily continued his meal.
Hakon’s whole body filled with more love than he ever imagined he could feel. He was like a ship at full sail.
“Just a year ago, my whole reason for existing was revenge,” he said. “And now, it is you, Ulf, and the new babe. Tomorrow will be one year since I married you.”
Mia rolled her eyes in mock outrage. “You didn’t marry me, technically. You thought you were marrying Arinborg. That’s why we are getting married properly today.”
Hakon laughed. “Yes. I did. But no matter what you called yourself, I was marrying you. I did not know it then, but I was smitten the very moment I saw you by the rune rock.”
Mia tangled her fingers with Hakon’s. “You were?”
He squeezed her hand back. “I was yours.”
“You thought you were marrying a princess.”
Hakon’s whole body filled with lightness, and he felt as if he could fly. “I thank all the gods you are not a princess. But never in my life could I imagine I would be marrying a time traveler. I am truly blessed.”
Mia laughed softly. “Do you think I ever thought I’d be marrying a Viking? I wasn’t ready for marriage, not with anyone. Not before you.”
Hakon brushed Ulf’s head, and the boy closed his eyes. “Neither was I. This is the only marriage I can be happy in. A marriage to you.”
“And I, to you,” she said. “I came to you through hundreds of years.”
He scooped her in his arms, with Ulf, and kissed her. And as their lips molded together, completeness washed through him like pure sunlight after a storm.
Hakon withdrew a little and whispered, “There may be hundreds of years separating our births, but there are not enough years in Midgard for a lifetime of being married to you.”
Copyright © 2019 by Mariah Stone
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.