Hope you all had a terrific holiday! I used mine to get some very needed work done.
Okay, that said, I will be giving away a Tradepaper copy of my latest release in Tradepaper, RED HAWK’S WOMAN — just released in Tradepaper. It’s a $16.00 value, on sale currently for $11.20 at this link on the Samhain Website: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5168/red-hawks-woman.
I’m also still offering a copy of THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF (one or the other) to some lucky blogger. I was away while THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF was being promoted, and so I’d like to have one more drawing for that. So if you are the winner, you will have a choice of which book you might prefer.
And on that note, I thought I’d post an excerpt. In this excerpt, the two main characters meet as children, playing in the water.
“I am the better swimmer of the two of us,” she taunted him, before she giggled. Though twelve-year old Red Hawk couldn’t discern the words, her meaning was clear. She was playing to win.
He realized his mistake at once. If he were to earn her respect, he would have to prevail in this game. However, he was wise enough to realize that he best not shove defeat at her too soon. Saa, he would need to win this game with her blessing and goodwill. Not an easy feat for a boy of twelve.
“Kika, wait,” he called out in the Blackfeet tongue. “Poohsapoot, come here! Let us define this game.”
She paid him no heed, and not because she didn’t understand him, language barrier or not.
He followed her, tagged her, but he didn’t at once retreat. Instead, opening his arms, he invited her to touch him back. To this end, he swam around her, leaping to and fro, but always at her arm’s length.
Tentatively, doubtfully, she reached out toward him. She had almost grazed him again when he extended his hands toward her instead. He tickled her.
“No fair.” She laughed, doubling up. “Your arms are longer than mine. Now, no tickling.”
He didn’t understand her words, though he was fairly certain he comprehended exactly what she wanted. Grinning at her, he repeated the action.
“No!” she said, and there was no mistaking the intent of that word. He wasn’t about to end the game, however, not yet, and so he danced around her once again, his arms wide open and tempting her to make him “it”.
“What are you doing?” Her gaze followed him as he swam easily around her.
He didn’t answer. Instead, he tugged at one of her curls.
“Stop that,” she ordered sharply. Nonetheless, she was giggling.
He repeated the action.
“Oh, this is not fair. You are bigger than I am and your arms are longer.” She leaped toward him suddenly. He backed away, just in time, his arms still open as he treaded water, offering her a clear target.
She laughed, and he joined in with her.
And so it was that the morning hours wore on. Back and forth they played, Red Hawk allowing the beautiful water spirit to win the game of tag. But never more than he.
“Oh, you are too much for me.” She smiled up at him. “Unfortunately, I must pronounce you the winner, though I think you have a terrible advantage over me.” As if to compensate for the inequality, she reached down in the water and pulled off each of her shoes in turn. “Why did I not think of this before now? These awful pantalettes I am wearing get in my way and my boots drag me down, while you have only your breechcloth to restrict you. No wonder you are able to taunt me.”
Taking aim, she threw first one boot at the shoreline, and then the other. Her hurl wasn’t accurate, and one by one, each shoe fell short of the shore, plopping into the water, the hard leather causing them to sink swiftly. At once gallant, Red Hawk propelled himself forward, capturing one shoe, then the other.
She followed, wading right up to him, where she extended her hand, asking for the boots. Slowly he presented the shoes to their owner, his hand lingering over the last boot before dropping his arm to his side.
“Thank you,” she said, looking up at him. Smiling, she held her shoes against her breast and pointed to herself. “Effie. Can you say that? Effie.” Again she indicated herself.
“Eh-h-h—eee,” he repeated.
She nodded. “Close enough. And you are?” She pointed toward him.
Words and gestures aside, he knew instinctively what she asked, but it was beyond his means to tell her what she desired. Somewhat alarmed—for an Indian would never ask another his name—Red Hawk tried to justify her action. She was not from here, he decided. She might not know the protocols of his polite society.
For one, a man never spoke his name aloud. Not only was it a taboo, it was also considered boastful, for names often told of great deeds.
Also, Red Hawk was reluctant to willingly utter the name that the others in the Clan called him. His name was Red Hawk, not Poor Orphan. Even if she wouldn’t understand the words, he could not bring himself to say them.
He gazed away from her, prompting her to try again. Pointing to him, she said, “And you are?”
This time Red Hawk shrugged, and turning away, presented her with his back as he swam toward the middle of the pond. There he waited, motioning her forward, asking her with signs to continue their game.
She shook her head. “Aren’t you going to tell me your name? After we have spent such a remarkable morning together? What am I to call you?”
Red Hawk feigned misunderstanding, saying nothing.
“Oh, very well,” she uttered, clearly exasperated. “It’s not very much to ask, though, is it? I’d just like to know what to say if I’m to address you. Will you be here tomorrow?”
Again, he remained silent, not understanding her words, though he did try to get her to join him once more in the center of the pool.
She shook her head. Spinning away from him, she began to wade closer to the shoreline. “I can’t. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s not because you won’t tell me your name or anything, but my parents might become concerned if I am gone too long. Already I’ve been here a few hours, and so I must return to them. I have enjoyed your company, though.” With a grin that was half apology, she turned to leave the water.
A feeling of loss swept over Red Hawk, and he swam toward her, following her. Coming up behind her, he touched her gently on the shoulder to get her attention, then taking hold of her hand, he guided it to his shoulder, where he allowed her to “tag” him.
Averting his gaze, Red Hawk started to draw back from her, but she held on to him tightly. Curious, his glance met hers, became lost in hers.
“I have enjoyed my morning swim with you,” she said earnestly, the honest appeal in her eyes intriguing. At last, she let go of him, and reaching her hands up behind her neck, she unfastened the necklace she wore—one made of a gold-colored substance. After placing the necklace in her small hand, she extended the jewelry toward him.
“Take it,” she said, when Red Hawk didn’t immediately stretch out his hand to capture it. “Take it,” she repeated, motioning toward it and then to him.
At length, he nodded and grasped hold of the prize.
“There,” she said, “that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
But he didn’t understand her meaning as the words were not easily discerned.
Looking down at himself, as he stood before her in only his breechcloth, he searched his body for a gift he might give her.
But what? There was little that he owned.
Time seemed short as he pondered the problem, and he had almost given up the idea altogether, when he remembered…his earrings. The white shell earrings he wore were of some value.
Once they had been his mother’s. Now they would be hers.
After unfastening them, he placed two white shells in his palm and extended his hand toward her.
“For me?” she said, and he nodded.
Her tiny fingers slid over his palm as she drew near to take the prize. Red Hawk was amazed that a simple touch should make him feel as if he were suddenly falling through space.
“I don’t know why I should say this to you,” she said, “for I know that you cannot understand me—and perhaps that is why I feel I must say this—but I think I have fallen in love with you.” Her hand briefly clasped his.
And then it was over. She turned away and hurried off in a direction opposite to that of his camp. She was almost out of sight when she stopped still and spun back around.
Running toward him, she came right up to him and said, “I almost forgot.” Standing on the tips of her toes, she brought her face up to his, where she placed a kiss on his cheek. She giggled. “I hope to see you here tomorrow.” Flashing him one last grin, she fled.
She didn’t look back, and maybe it was good she hadn’t. For, in response to that kiss, slight though it was, Red Hawk had taken a few quick steps toward her as if to reciprocate, when suddenly he became so uncoordinated he tripped over himself.
Once again, the earth cushioned his fall. Once again, he lay flat on his fanny.
Though she had not spared Red Hawk a final glance, he watched her, looking at the place where she had disappeared for a long time, as though her impression still remained there.
“Otahkohsoa’ tsis, Red Hawk,” he said to the air, as if it might carry his words to her. “Red Hawk is my name.”
RED HAWK’S WOMAN by Karen Kay
Below is a picture of my husband and me and in the distance is Chief Mountain on the Blackfeet reservation — this mountain plays an important part in the book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE (also on sale at the Samhain Website).