Of Fire and Ice

I’m taking it slow
Feeding my flame
Shuffling the cards of your game
And just in time
In the right place
Suddenly I will play my ace

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5. Chapter Five

Loki watched as the woman ate her meal in silence. She called herself Bridget, but that name didn’t seem to fit her. It didn’t flow off of her tongue the way a name does when it belongs to you. It was stiff, stale, and foreign on her lips. But he supposed that was her secret to tell and perhaps he could not blame her for wanting to keep it to herself. No doubt she knew what he was capable of and what he had done. Either way, he decided that since he was going to take her life, it was the least he could do to allow her to keep her name.

“You look as though you haven’t slept in weeks,” she said from where she was leaning against the far counter. She was picking at her reheated meal with a fork and not finding it any more appealing than he did.

“I’ve been very busy, in case you’ve forgotten,” he explained. “I was hardly given enough time to recover.”

“You’ve made a lot of enemies. I was surprised the All-Father thought it best to return you to a place you nearly destroyed. Especially since the bodies are still warm. He took away your natural defenses and sent you to the slaughter.”

“I’m quite sure slaughter was exactly what he had in mind.”

“You can take the bed upstairs for the night. We’ll get you better clothes tomorrow.”

“And where will you sleep?” he asked as she turned and dropped her plate into the sink. She had hardly eaten her repulsive meal, but he could not blame her for that.

“Master bedroom,” she told him as she headed for the living room to the door beneath the loft.

“And you expect me to fit on that small bed?” he asked her.

She stopped at the door with her hand on the silver knob and turned to face him. Her playful demeanor was gone now. She crossed her arms over her chest, and her dark eyes were narrowed in warning. He stood to his feet and crossed the carpet to face her. The door behind her hand had swung open, and he could see the darkened room beyond. The bed was large and inviting. He imagined lying wrapped in those furs with her warm body against his. It sounded much more appealing than that small single bed in the loft.

“You’re not sleeping with me,” she told him.

“So you—a human—will sleep in a large bed all by yourself. While I—a god—am forced to sleep in a servant’s bed?”

“It’s not a servant’s bed. It was made for children and guests. You are my guest, and you will sleep in the guest room.”

“This home does not belong to you any more than it belongs to me.”

“It does for now.” He studied the firm set of her lips, and she lifted her chin in a stubborn refusal. Her eyes narrowed at the smirk hinted by his mouth. “You started the evening with your hand wrapped around my throat, and you really think I’m going to allow you to end it in my bed?” He grinned and she stepped forward, closing the space between them and unlocking her arms from her hostile stance. “I burn hot, Loki, and you burn cold. One of us will cancel out the other. And right now—the odds are not in your favor.”

“Is that a threat, human?”

She reached up and placed the palm of her hand against his chest. The layer of waffle pattern fabric was thick between them, but he could still feel the heat of her churning beneath her hand. He fought the urge to pull away by reminding himself that, Frost Giant or not, he was human in this realm, and her heat was no real threat to him. At least not until she ignited. And despite the danger that presented to his currently weakened state, he would love to see that happen.

“I’m stating a fact, Prince. You are in my kingdom now, and I make the rules here. When you are king of Asgard and the Nine Realms—you can decide which bed to sleep in. And if you’re lucky I’ll allow you to share mine. Goodnight.” She removed her hand and slipped into the room, shutting him out as the door snapped closed.

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