Hei hei, y’all. I’m ST Bende, and I love IndyCar racing, McVities cookies, and all things Scandinavian (except for fish). I write New Adult stories based on Norse mythology, and I have a soft spot for a certain Swedish actor who may or may not bear a striking resemblance to Elsker’s hero, Ull. What, we don’t all base our heroes on our True Blood crushes? Oops. 😉
I wrote The Elsker Saga as one very long entry in my journal. When I decided to publish it, Really Long Journal Entry (my fab working title) was split into two books — ELSKER and ENDRE. Though ENDRE now kicks off with a dream set in Jotunheim, my initial effort at splitting the books started off with a more lighthearted scene. I thought y’all might get a kick out of seeing ENDRE’s original opener; the considerably sillier interaction between The Elsker Saga’s heroine, Kristia, and her Cardiff University flatmates, Emma and Victoria. Skal!
“Please tell me you’re joking Kristia. Are you quite certain those will be all the clothes you need?” My flatmate Victoria sat on the edge of my bed, critically eyeing my open suitcase. “It’s so… tiny.”
“Victoria,” I rolled my eyes and tossed in a second pair of jeans. “I’m only going for three days. And I already have some stuff there. I keep basics in my room, just in case.”
“Still sleeping in the guest room, eh?” My other flatmate Emma pursed her lips from my desk chair.
“Still engaged to the world’s most traditional guy, if that’s what you’re asking.” I shot her a look.
“Pity,” Victoria radiated disappointment. “Well, soon enough.”
“Right. Soon enough.” My stomach churned just saying the words. Three months and two weeks from today I’d be married to a guy who was more myth than man. I wasn’t ready to think about our honeymoon just yet.
“Well fine. If you’re absolutely positive this is all the clothing you’ll need for three days in the country with the hottest guy on campus…” Victoria pulled a silk scarf from behind her back and dangled it over my bag. “Then I suppose you won’t be needing this.”
“Oh my gosh!” I grabbed at it and fingered the delicate fabric. “This is amazing. Where did you get it?”
Victoria shrugged. “It’s one of the pieces they let me design for the fall line. I thought it would match your charcoal sweater, but if you don’t need it…”
I pulled the sweater from my suitcase and held up the scarf. “It’s perfect. Thanks Victoria. I’ll take good care of this for you.”
“Keep it,” Victoria waved her hand. “It’s a sample.”
“I wasn’t sure in the beginning, but it really is nice living with a fashion major.” I folded the scarf and carefully placed it on the top of my case.
“Please,” snorted Emma from the corner of the room. “You’ve lived with her all of five months. Try putting up with her for nearly four years!”
Emma and Victoria had been flatmates since their first year at Cardiff University in Wales. Though they teased each other mercilessly, they were the best of friends. I’d joined them in the Student Houses the previous fall, when I’d transferred from a small college near my hometown of Nehalem, Oregon. The feisty girls living in Unit 3 had quickly taken me under their wing, introducing me to McVitties caramel biscuits (loved them), Sports Wives (my favorite British television show), and curries (still on the fence).
It was a cool Friday afternoon in February, and my fiancé Ull would be arriving to pick me up soon. As they did most weekends, the girls were helping me pack before they headed out to spend the evening at their favorite dance club. Dancing wasn’t exactly my forte – I was hardly the most graceful snowflake in the blizzard by any stretch of the imagination. I much preferred spending the weekends at Ull’s country home in the Cotswolds. Ýdalir was a gorgeous cottage that housed a big secret. It was home base for Ull, Inga, Gunnar and Olaug; the Norse deities who opted to moonlight as three college students — and one grandma — rather than live like the gods they actually were in Asgard. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but who was I to complain? Ull’s residential preference meant I’d gotten the chance to fall in love with the Norse God of Winter, narrowly escaping the mind-numbing boredom of small-town life I’d known for all but the last five months of my twenty years. Study abroad had seemed like an innocent enough way to expand my horizons. Of course, I had no idea the horizons extended so far beyond this universe.
“I think that’s it.” I gave the room a final once over and zipped my powder blue suitcase. “Ull won’t be here for another thirty minutes. Want me to help you do your hair, Em?”
“Ooh, yes.” Emma jumped up from her chair, eyes shining. “I just bought this.” She zipped out of my room and came back holding a weird domed comb.
“What is it?”
“It’s supposed to give you lift at your crown. See?” She demonstrated on her red hair, sticking the contraption in blindly.
“I don’t think that’s quite right,” Victoria tried not to laugh.
“Well obviously I can’t see it,” Emma rolled her eyes. “But if you want to do that sparkly job with my eye shadow, I’m sure Kristia can figure this one out.”
“You’re the math major, Em,” I warned. “Spatial awareness is your thing. If you can’t do it I seriously doubt I’ll be able to.”
“Oh, tush. You’ll work it through. If you can land the legend who never asked out anyone in all the time he’s been at Cardiff, then I’m quite confident you can manage the Hair Helper.”
“The Hair Helper?” Victoria raised one freshly waxed eyebrow. “That’s the best they could come up with? Have they no marketing department?”
I quickly covered my mouth. Emma’s indignant expression didn’t need any more ribbing.
“Come on ladies,” I ushered them into our flat’s tiny bathroom. “Let’s make us a Hair Helper Hottie.”
Endre by ST Bende
Book II of The Elsker Saga
Release: September 9, 2013
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Entranced Publishing, Rush
Sometimes, finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what The Fates have planned.
Winning the heart of an immortal assassin was a dream come true for Kristia Tostenson. Now she’s knee deep in wedding plans, goddess lessons, and stolen kisses. But her decision to become immortal could end in heartbreak — not only for Kristia, but for the god who loves her. Because while Ull would do anything to protect his bride, even the God of Winter is powerless against the Norse apocalypse. Ragnarok is coming. And the gods aren’t even close to ready.
“If you’re looking for a different take on New Adult that has plenty of swoon-worthy moments, some nail-biting action, and a mythological world you can lose yourself in, this book is for you.”
“WOW… just, wow! The main question or demand lol I have is… There better be more coming?!”
Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of McVities cookies. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the books of The Elsker Saga (TUR, ELSKER and ENDRE). She is an audio co-host of #NALitChat, and helps compile indie new releases for the USA Today HEA blog. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day, pastries will be considered a health food.
Find ST on Twitter, her blog, or send her an e-mail. While you’re at it, introduce yourself to @UllMyhr — when he’s not saving the cosmos from dark elves, he loves meeting new friends. Especially the human kind.
Author social media links
“What do you want to know?” Ull lowered his sunglasses lazily and eyed me with a look that made my insides burn.
“Well,” I paused. “Uh… what am I supposed to do if I’m attacked?”
“You mean if this happened?” Ull launched himself off the chaise, wrapping one arm around my waist and dragging me across the beach. He cradled me in his arms and landed in the froth where the ocean met the shore.
“See? I’m totally defenseless?” I gazed up at him, my back pressed firmly against the wet sand. He hovered over me, supporting his weight on his forearms.
“I am afraid you are.” Piercing blue eyes locked in on mine. Between the depth of his stare and the heat from his abs, I forgot everything else.
“Um …” I bit my bottom lip.
Ull tilted his head to one side, a small smile playing at one corner of his mouth. “Now what did you want to know?”
“I–” I broke off as a wave washed over us. The warm saltwater lapped up to my waist then retreated, leaving a film of sand over my legs.
“You were asking me how to defend yourself?” Dangit, it was hard to focus with Ull’s dripping body pressing against mine. Yes, I wanted whatever it was I’d asked about. Self-defense, right. But there was something else I wanted more.
I bent my knee and twined my calf around Ull’s. I shifted my hips just an inch and stared into those endless blue eyes. They sparkled in the sunlight. My arms were trapped beneath his torso, so I turned my palms upward to touch the spot where his chest met his shoulders. It was so smooth, so firm, and so very, very warm. My eyes never left his as I moved my thumb along the line of his shoulder, down his biceps and down to the crook of his arm. I drew a slow circle inside his elbow and Ull blinked.
“Kristia,” he whispered.
“Yes?” I tried to reach up to stroke the stubble lining his square chin, but my arms were pinned.
“You are not trying to defend yourself.”
“So?” I raised my head and kissed his jaw. “Maybe I don’t feel like fighting you off.”
“Mmm,” Ull closed his eyes as I kissed my way up to his ear. “So if someone came after you, you would just let them do this?”
He swiftly rolled onto his back, forcing me on top of him. He shoved his fingers in my hair and tugged gently, pulling my head back. He kept the other hand just above the bottom of my bikini, firmly pressing my hips into his. I squirmed against the hold, trying to find a way out of his grip. Though I tactically had the upper hand, I couldn’t move.
“Well I wouldn’t let just anyone do this.”
“I should hope not,” he growled softly. He raked his teeth along my throat and paused at the hollow of my neck. “Because this could end very badly for you.” He ran his tongue along my collarbone. I shivered.
In a lightning-quick move, Ull flipped me onto my back and pinned my arms above my head with one hand. I gazed adoringly at the fierce assassin glowering over me. “And this. What would you do if someone did this to you?”
“Uh,” I blinked. If I told Ull what I really wanted to do right now, I’d turn every possible shade of crimson.
“Focus Kristia.” Ull stared at me. “What would you do if you were trapped?”
“I… uh… I’d,” I blushed. “You seriously want me to fight you off?”
“If you are so bent on going through with this little exercise, then yes. Give it your best shot. And then I believe, you promised to pay me for the lesson.”
“Gladly.” I narrowed my eyes and wrenched my arm as hard as I could. It didn’t budge. I tried again but it was futile.
“You are outmaneuvered and I am twice your weight. Try something else.” Ull commanded.
I threw my shoulder into his chest and tried to roll to one side.
“You cannot out-force me. Look at the difference in our masses. Think tactically, Kristia. What can you do that will debilitate me?”
My eyes widened. “You don’t want me to–”
“I want you to find a way to get me off you. Do what you have to do.”
I closed my eyes and raised a knee to his groin. Ull groaned and rolled off me.
“I’m so sorry! You said to–”
He raised a hand and waved at me, turning away.
“I’m sorry,” I repeated.
“That was good.” He rolled back with a grimace. “But if someone is bent on capturing you, they will come back for more. And quickly. Your next step should be to run.”
“If you want I can get some ice for–”
“Run, darling.” It was a threat. “Now.”