Muscle watching at the beach with Astrid from Asa Maria Bradley’s Viking Warrior Rebel #CMCon17 #FlashFiction #giveaway
When Asa and I started talking about this post a few months ago, we both thought that something Election Day themed could be fun. I told her I’d reserved a special “glitter bomb prompt” just for her as well…which I found amusing, Asa maybe not so much. *giggle* But US election politics have taken a nasty turn as of late, and that joking mood just isn’t in the air anymore. So instead of incorporating the original prompt of “an unconventional election”, Asa is taking us to the beach with the athletes of the Ironman Triathlon! WOOO, MUSCLES! Yesss….
Here were the prompts for Asa’s flash fiction:
- Length: 400-800 words
- Setting: At a crowded beach, some sort of unconventional election (subbing in: Ironman Triathlon)
- Tone: Frustrated (the character(s)) but amusing (the story)
- Drink to include: “Dirty Olive Lemonade” (a Scotch with lemonade, two olives and an onion, apparently)
- Item to include: A surprise glitterbomb (on a person). Let’s make it bright barbie pink, gold, and purple. =)
- Characters to include: at least one from Viking Warrior Rebel
Without further ado, let’s check in on Astrid and see what she’s gotten up to with that dangerous set of prompts above!
Note: This story is set before Viking Warrior Rebel in the Viking Warriors series timeline.
Harald shouldered his way through the throng of people on the beach. Why Astrid wanted to meet in Coeur d’Alene City Park during Ironman, he had yet to discover. The text only said something important was happening and she needed him to come quickly. If he’d known it was the weekend of the famous triathlon, he’d insisted on more details before driving the forty-five minutes to this small town in Idaho.
He weaved around another contestant wearing a full wetsuit and a bright neon green swim cap. The dude looked like seal with a head covered in cotton candy. There were another thousand men and women in the same crazy getup on the small beach. Harald shook his head as another neoprene clad fool bumped into him. If the gods wanted humans to swim with like seals, they’d covered them in water-proof fur.
He spotted Astrid beyond the sand on the green grass close to the park’s bathrooms. She sat in a collapsible tall chair with an empty one next to her. “Woo-hoo, Harald,” she shouted. Liquid sloshed out of the plastic cup she waived in the air. Odin’s ravens, the Valkyrie was drunk.
He stopped in front of her. “If you’ve conned me into being your designated driver, again, I’m going to—”
“Relax,” Astrid leaned forward and he had to grab her shoulders so she didn’t topple over. “I have a very good reason to ask you here.” She handed him the cup. “Here, drink this.”
Harald took a sip and promptly spit out the foul liquid. “What the fuck?” he spluttered. The drink tasted like rancid lemons. Even his berserker—his inner warrior spirit—was gagging.
“Dirty Olive Lemonade,” Astrid said and plunked something into another cup with three little splashes. “Scotch, lemonade, two olives, and a cocktail onion.”
Harald shuddered, but took another sip as he sat down next to the crazy Valkyrie. The drink tasted slightly more tolerable on the second try. No need to waste whiskey, even if it was a sin to dilute it with lemonade. He fished the olives and onion out of his cup and dropped them on the grass. Fruit and vegetables did not belong in drinks. “Why are we here?”
Astrid gestured toward the lake. “This is the biggest gathering of this summer. If Loki’s wolverines make good on their threat, it will happen here.”
The genetically modified creatures the half-god Loki kept sending to Midgard had been absent for a while. But a recent intercepted message indicated that they had something planned that involved a large crowd of people. “And so you decided to investigate and somehow ended up instead getting drunk?” He couldn’t keep the exasperation out of his voice. Astrid had been on a streak of careless behavior lately, but this was irresponsible even for her.
She shook her head and then gripped the armrest when the gesture caused her to list a little too far to the side. “No silly stallare. Ulf and I found and killed the wolverines last night.” She straightened and carefully leaned back while brushing her hair out of her face. “Ulf was tired and went straight home, but I wanted to go dancing.”
More likely Ulf didn’t want to watch Astrid hook up with other guys, but Harald knew better than to say that out loud. Whatever was going on between Ulf and Astrid wasn’t his business, and he definitely didn’t want to get in the middle. “And you just happened to have these with you,” he thumped the armrest of the chair he was sitting in, “and decided to go watch the Ironman race this morning.”
“These chairs belong to my new friends.” She gestured to a group of women sitting on a blanket next to the chairs. They were swigging the same drink as Astrid. A busty brunette winked at Harald when she noticed them watching the group. He smiled back. “They are fantastic dancers and they also introduced me to this fabulous drink.” Astrid held up her cup.
A loud horn sounded. The crowd of wetsuit-covered swimmers ran toward the water. The lake filled up with neon pink and green swimming caps as the athletes fought the open water and each other to complete two laps of the marked course. Harald took another small sip of the Dirty Scotch, or whatever the drink was called, as he watched the mayhem. “Why do mortals participate in this craziness?”
“They have a warrior souls, but there are no battles for them to fight.” Astrid sounded almost sad.
That actually made sense. If the Vikings didn’t fight on a regular basis, their berserkers grew restless and the warrior ran the risk of succumbing to permanent battle fury. Mortals didn’t have a warrior spirit inside them, but some of them were born warriors just the same. Like the Vikings’ mortal queen, Naya. Harald watched the swimmers for a moment. “Why am I here,” he finally asked Astrid.
She paused before answering. “Okay, so I do need a ride back. But that’s not the only reason I asked you to come.”
“The other reasons being that Irja is out of town and if you asked Naya, she’d have to bring Leif and then he’d probably give you a hard time?” The king’s lectures could be overly stern at times.
Astrid frowned. “Fine. I asked you because it’s less hassle. But just wait a few minutes.” She gestured toward the beach.
Harald sighed but turned to where she was pointing. The lead contestants were leaving the water and quickly stripped out of their wetsuits. Some of them wore bike clothes underneath and the thin fabric molded to extremely fit bodies. Some had on swimsuits and pulled on tops and shorts before putting on bike shoes.
“I knew you would enjoy this.” Astrid said.
“You think I’d drive 40 miles just to ogle scantily clad mortals?”
“I don’t see you looking away.”
True. It was a nice view. One of the female swimmers jogged up to the group of women on the blanket and they erupted in cheers. “I still have to bike and run,” the swimmer protested but her drunken friends paid her no attention. The busty brunette pulled out a cardboard cylinder and popped the lid open. A cloud of bright pink, gold, and purple glitter exploded into the air and then settled over the women, Harald, Astrid, and anyone else within a two-meter radius.
Harald coughed and sputtered.
Astrid had somehow managed to cover her drink with her hand. “Your beard is covered in glitter,” she giggled. “You have a fairy beard.”
“Fairy Santa,” one of the women on the blanket shouted at Harald.
Harald poured his ruined drink out on the grass and calmly reached for Astrid’s instead. He took a long swig. “When I’m sober enough to drive you home, your ass is riding in the back.”
The only answer he got was Astrid’s laughter and the other women joining in.
Astrid Irisdotter is a Valkyrie—a fierce warrior fighting to protect humanity from the evil god Loki and his brutal minions. She’s on an urgent mission for her queen when everything goes hideously sideways. Undercover agent Luke Holden arrives on the scene just in time to save her life-and put his own on the line.
Luke may have saved her, but that doesn’t mean Astrid can trust him. Tempers flare as they hide secret upon secret from each other, but Astrid’s inner warrior knows what it wants…and it will not take “no” for an answer.
Read an excerpt
Can’t enough badass immortal Valkyrie? Read this excerpt for a sneak peek of her and the equally-as-badass Luke from Viking Warrior Rebel!
Luke’s leg brushed against hers, triggering an immediate response from her overactive hormones. Just being near him turned her on. He held himself differently now than at the club. Tension coiled in his muscles like he was prepared for an imminent attack. “You seem very familiar with military terminology,” Astrid said, keeping her tone casual.
He shrugged. “I served for a while.”
She’d bet it was for more than “a while,” judging by how quickly his mind had snapped into strategic planning. It would have been a career. “What branch?”
“The Marines, of course. There is no other worth joining.” Holden fired one of his grins at her. She wasn’t overly familiar with the different branches of the U.S. military, but she did know that the marines were elite soldiers. She and her battle brothers and sisters were einherjar, Odin’s and Freya’s elite soldiers. She wondered if Holden’s training had been similar to theirs but doubted his had included how to kill supernatural creatures like Loki’s wolverines. “What about you?” Holden asked.
Startled from her thoughts, she didn’t know what he meant. “What about me?”
“You obviously know something about the military. Did you serve?”
Talk about a loaded question. She’d been born a thrall but earned her freedom as a shield maiden. “I did.” She still served as a soldier. She served her gods and her fellow warriors.
“And in what branch?”
She didn’t even have to think about it. “Navy,” she said with a small smile on her lips. The Viking ships she’d sailed on were a far cry from the modern ships he’d associate with that term, but it was close enough.
“So we’re both sailors,” Holden said. “I never asked where you’re from, but did you serve here in the States?”
Astrid shook her head. “I was born in Sweden.” Almost a thousand years ago, but a woman didn’t discuss her age.
Luke opened his mouth as if to ask something else, but then quickly picked up his binoculars and aimed them down the hill. “Something’s happening.” He stood.
She peered down at the buildings through her own optical device. One of Loki’s wolverine-human hybrids walked across the courtyard to one of the buildings that looked more like a barn. He carried a tray in his hands, and she could see steam rising from one of the plates. “I don’t think that’s one of the ones who attacked me.” It was hard to tell because the creatures looked so much alike.
“What do you want to bet that’s food for their prisoner?’
Astrid fought the worry rising in her chest. “That’s a fair assumption.”
Holden lowered his lenses and reached for her hand. “You okay?”
She had to look away to not reveal how much that small gesture comforted her. “I’m good.” Why was she so emotional around him? She needed to get a grip and warrior up.
He gave her hand a squeeze and turned back to the buildings. She did the same. After about twenty minutes, the door on the barn opened and the wolverine came out again. The tray was empty.
“At least we know they’re feeding him,” Holden said.
The thought of the wolverines mistreating Naya’s brother overwhelmed her. Despair welled up so fast in her throat that she choked.
Dropping his binoculars back around his neck, Holden turned and reached for her. He enveloped her in his arms. “Hey, we’ll get him out.”
“This is all my fault,” Astrid forced out through her constricted throat. His body heat was both comforting and disturbing.
He rubbed his hand up and down her back. “You didn’t know they planned on taking him.”
She rested her head against his broad chest, reveling in the strength she found there. She’d fucked up so badly. If she didn’t get this right, she’d never be able to look her queen—her friend—in the eye again. She’d never be able to fight among her Norse brothers and sisters. They would not trust her and she’d be a liability in battle. And fighting was the only thing Astrid had ever been good at. It was what had changed her from a slave to a person of worth.
Holden’s nearness inundated her senses. She needed some distance so she could think clearly again. She flattened her palm against his chest to push him away, but paused when he hissed in a breath at the contact. She could feel his muscles contract underneath her hand. Slowly she raised her head to look up at him.
His gaze smoldered and zoomed in her lips. They parted of their own accord, and her breath hitched. His hand on her back pulled her closer, while the other cupped the back of her neck. “Fuck it,” he whispered and descended on her lips.
The kiss seared her senses, firing through every nerve of her body. She moaned and he slanted his head, deepening the kiss. His tongue explored her mouth, sending darts of pleasure zinging through her body.
She laced her hands behind his neck and pressed into his warm, solid body.
Holden growled into her mouth and backed her up against one of the aspens. He grabbed the back of her knee and hooked her leg over his hip, angling down so all his hardness pressed in just the right spot. Liquid heat shot from her core through her limbs. She groaned her approval and buried her hands in his hair. A powerful need built inside her.
More. Mine, whispered the berserker, feeding on the sexual energy radiating off Holden. Horrified, Astrid froze in place, panting heavily. What the fuck? Her berserker could not be claiming Holden.
He immediately stopped, leaning back to gaze into her eyes. “You okay?” he asked, a frown marring his face.
She looked away and slid her leg out of his grip until she stood on solid ground with two feet again. “This is not right,” she managed to whisper.
He leaned his forehead against hers, and she closed her eyes to savor the sensation, while desperately forcing the berserker back into slumber. “This is the most right I’ve felt in a long time,” Holden countered. “We need to stop kidding ourselves about how badly we both want this.”
About the author
Asa Maria Bradley grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology and history steeped in Norse mythology, which inspired the immortal Vikings and Valkyries in her paranormal romances. She came to the US as a high school exchange student and quickly fell in love with ranch dressing and crime TV series. Asa currently resides on a lake deep in the pine forests of the Pacific Northwest with a British husband and a rescue dog of indeterminate breed. Booklist has attributed her writing with “nonstop action, satisfying romantic encounters, and intriguing world building.” Her debut book, Viking Warrior Rising, was a 2016 double RITA® finalist and her most recent release, Viking Warrior Rebel, received Top Pick! status by Romantic Times Magazine, which described the book as “filled with action and passion from the first page until the last.”
Giveaway (US ONLY)
Asa is giving away a signed copy of VIKING WARRIOR RISING + some awesome swag to one lucky reader on today’s post! To enter, leave a comment for Astrid or Asa below, then fill out the prize widget. Good luck!
Note: this giveaway is for readers with US mailing addresses. Stay tuned in for more international giveaways!
Still not registered for Coastal Magic?
Join Asa and a TON of other truly fantastic authors and readers at Coastal Magic Convention in Daytona Beach next February! This is my very favorite reader-focused convention because we have so many opportunities to meet and hang out with our favorite authors and to meet new ones who are sure to become new favorites. If you can only make one convention next year, go to this one! Clicky below for registration and travel info!
*Denotes GraveTells affiliate link