Category: Excerpt

Brave Wolf and the Lady — Steamboats — Were They Safe?

Howdy!

Although the title doesn’t say it, I will be giving away a free e-book of BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, so read our guidelines for giveaways — off to the right here — and leave a comment.

So…steamboats — for all practical purposes, they opened up the West.  Starting with the first Steamboat, The Yellow Stone, they traveled up and down the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers, bringing people back and forth, and carrying on a business in terms of trade and furs and many, many other items.  George Catlin traveled on the first steamboat, The Yellow Stone, in 1834.  In his book, Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and conditions of NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS, Catlin word paints the time and place, as well as the details of travel upon the Steamboat at that time.  He makes it come alive.

In my newest book, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, as well as the book, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, there are scenes aboard a steamboat at that particular time and place.  Both scenes go into some detail on the very real danger of travel aboard these boats.  Another of my books that involves a steamboat is WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH.  The Commerce of a growing Nation flowed over these rivers during this time period, and these boats provide a rich look at a by-gone river culture.

So I thought I’d post an excerpt that takes place aboard the steamboat, Effie Deans.  Enjoy!

BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY

By

Karen Kay

An excerpt

 

The scent of fishy, muddy water overwhelmed all other odors in this place, Mia thought as she climbed the necessary stairway that allowed her to gain access to the highest point on the steamship. Every day, as had become her routine with Brave Wolf, she arose early so that she might welcome in the new day with prayer.  Ascending to the upper deck of the boat, she took up a position that looked eastward, toward the light, silver sky. Briefly, she said her prayer, then shifted her position, strolling toward the starboard side of the boat, gazing out westward. It was here on most every day that she hoped to see Brave Wolf, always wondering if he might still be out there, following the boat. Today was no different.

          The day was only beginning, yet already the warmth of the early morning sun beat down upon the top of her bare head, for she wore no hat. However, its heat did not bother her; the gentle wind that was created by the forward motion of the boat blew into her face, causing the loose tendrils of her hair to fall back behind her ears. It was a cooling breeze and it seemed kindly, animated, as if it endeavored to cleanse her spirit.

          But such friendliness was wasted on her. Her life had forever changed. Too much had happened in this last month to allow the naivety of her former life to regain a foothold over her again.

          Was such a shift of personality for the good, or was it bad? She couldn’t be certain.

          Where was Brave Wolf, she wondered. Then she answered her own question. He would be setting a trail for his home; he would be hastening back to the arms of another woman….

          Would Walks-in-sunshine welcome him home with love in her heart?       She would do so if she were wise. Trustworthy, honorable men like Brave Wolf didn’t happen along every day.

          “Ma’am,” hailed the captain, a Mr. Wentworth. He raised his hat to her as he stepped by her.

          Jerked back to the present moment, Mia smiled, hoping that the gesture covered her surprise. She had been so lost in her own thoughts, she hadn’t noticed the captain’s approach.

          “Ye look so sad, ma’am. But don’t ye fret. We’re only a couple of weeks out from Leavenworth. We’ll make it thar all safe and sound, don’t ye worry.”

          “Yes,” she replied, as she forced herself to look happy. “I believe that we shall.”

          “How did ye get yerself all stranded in this part of the country, ma’am, if’n ye don’t mind me askin’?”

          “I…my husband and I were part of a wagon train heading for the Oregon Territory when our party was attacked by—”

          “Injuns?”

          “No, sir, although I did think so at first. But the butchers turned out to be men dressed up as Indians. They killed my husband. Indeed, I fear that they murdered all the people on that train except me. I don’t believe that they saw me at first.”

          “But they did discover yerself?”

          “Undoubtedly, they did.”

          “Pardon, ma’am, but then how did ye escape? Did ye play dead until they left?”

          “No, sir. Real Indians came to my rescue.”

          “Real Injuns? Ma’am?” He grabbed his hat from his head and whacked it against his knee. “We’s at war with them Injuns in these here parts. Cain’t imagine one of ’em rescuing ye.”

          “I know. Yet, what I tell you is true. The man who bought that ticket from you is the same one who not only rescued me, but who brought me here so that I might return home.” She paused for a moment, then added, “I think, sir, that you might have cheated him regarding the cost of that ticket.”

          The accusation, though softly spoken, was met with silence, and she let the complaint stand without further explanation. Captain Wentworth seemed honestly surprised; however, at last he uttered, “I’m right sorry about that, ma’am. But I’m under orders t’ charge high enough fees so that them Injuns don’t beg an easy ride. I’ll return the full two hundred dollars to ye, ma’am.”

          “That would be most appreciated,” replied Mia, “for I lost all of my possessions at the wagon train fight. But, although I appreciate your kindness, please ease your mind. It is unnecessary. I have enough food to sustain me until we reach Fort Leavenworth, and my clothing washes well. Besides, once we arrive at Fort Leavenworth, I can send word to my father, who will ensure that I am taken care of and escorted home safely. Keep your money.”

          “No, ma’am. Couldna live with myself if’n I was to do that,” he said. “Wait here, ma’am, while I get yer two hundred dollars.”

          Mia nodded and watched Captain Wentworth’s departing figure as he disappeared down the stairs, taking two of them at a time. She breathed in deeply, and was about to lean out over the railing, when two incidents happened at once.

          A wet, nearly nude, but achingly familiar body knocked her to the deck at the same time a bullet whizzed by her. The whir of that discharge, and its ugly blast splintered the wood at the exact place where she’d been standing, its impact showering her and her rescuer with the sharp fragments.

          She screamed.

          “Stay down!” ordered Brave Wolf. She could do little more than that, for he lay over her, using his body to protect her. Only a single instant passed before another deadly shot shrieked past them, this one aimed lower than the first.

          Then came another round of gunfire, followed by a slight pause, then more of the same. On and on it roared, the howl of the noise and the racket going on for so many minutes that Mia felt as though the entire world were engulfed by the barrage. Suddenly, as quickly as it had started, it stopped. No shots. No backfire. Nothing.

          “He…reloading. Quick, follow me!”

          Brave Wolf plopped off of her, scooting onto the deck. Lying flat on his stomach, he used elbows and hips to inch forward; Mia followed, using the same manner of crawling, and could see an open cabin door ahead of them. This must have been his destination. But what followed next precluded all attempts to attain safety.

          A huge man, who might have been twice the size of Brave Wolf, fell upon her. She screamed, then again, and she kept on shrieking as he raised a knife. Even while she yelled out, “No,” she felt certain that this moment spelled the end of her life. It might have been true, too, but for an arm that came up to block that blow.

          “Go! Move! Run to cabin!” shouted Brave Wolf.

          But she couldn’t get away from the monster, for he held her down; he was probably three times her weight. She squirmed, she tried to get away, but she couldn’t shake him off her.

          What followed could only be an act of God, for it was humanly impossible. Yet, as she watched the events unfold, she saw Brave Wolf rise up as though with super-human strength; he picked up the man as though this two-hundred-and-fifty-pound bully weighed little more than a feather. Instantly, she was free, but it wasn’t over. Brave Wolf hurled the monster across the deck. The fiend’s weapon, his knife, fell to the deck, but not so the beast’s gun.

          As quick as an instant, the would-be assassin slid his pistol from his holster. He pointed it straight at her head, for she had not run away.

          In a fraction of a second, Brave Wolf executed a quick, high leap, landing on the assassin and pushing him down, forcing him into a sitting position. Taking hold of the man’s pistol-carrying arm, and forcing it high into the air, Brave Wolf ensured the bullet shot harmlessly into the sky. The two men wrestled with that gun, their muscles straining under the assault, and the struggle that waged between the two of them outlined every muscle in Brave Wolf’s body.

          Boom!  Crash!  Blast!

          What was that? It sounded as if it were an explosion on the below decks of the boat? Was it? Was the boat, itself, under attack?

          What could she do? How could she help? She couldn’t leave Brave Wolf to fight this monstrosity all on his own. Or should she?

          Was she in the way? Should she leave here as quickly as possible?

          But no. She couldn’t leave him, even though he had told her to. As she had often said to herself: whatever Brave Wolf’s fate might be, so too would be her own.

          This decided, she darted into action, and, sprinting toward the wrestling figures, she jumped up into a flying leap, and added her weight against the bully’s arm. The momentum of her fall caused the beastie’s grip to come apart and loosen. The pistol flew out of his grasp, but the firearm was cocked, and it fired as it hit the deck…

          …Away from them.

          In a show of power and brute force, the monster flung Brave Wolf off, and Brave Wolf rolled as he landed, coming up onto his feet, unsheathing his only weapon, his knife. Then, without even a fraction of a second passing, Brave Wolf hurled himself forward, attaching himself to the fiend’s backside, his knife at the bully’s throat. But the monster threw off Brave Wolf’s grip, and the knife fell harmlessly to the deck.

          It wasn’t finished, and what followed, Mia could hardly believe. Weaponless, Brave Wolf used feet, hands, fingers, teeth and his jaw as weapons. He spit, clawed, bit, scratched and threw his arms around the assassin’s neck while his nails bit into the brute’s face. Though the beast tried to shake him off, he couldn’t budge Brave Wolf.

          Mia watched, shocked, as Brave Wolf bested the man who was as big as a bear. Like a weasel, he scratched the swine, bit him, choked him and kicked him as he wrestled him to the ground. The bully couldn’t throw a punch; in fact, it looked as though he could hardly breathe. Already, his face was turning bright red, then it was blue.

          All at once, it was over. The monster drew his last breath. He flopped to the deck and lay there unmoving. Brave Wolf, however, didn’t wait to examine the result of this struggle for life or death. He grabbed up both his own, and the bully’s knife, seized her by the hand and sprinted toward the ship’s railing, dragging her with him as he fled port-side.

          Mia ran as fast as she could, though she was stunned, having never witnessed such a bare-handed, tooth-and-claw fight against such uneven odds. Brave Wolf was easily the smaller of the two men by a hundred or so pounds, yet he had won and…what was probably most astounding, she was still alive.

          Boom! Crash! Blast! Crack!

          Another explosion from the below decks shook the boat, and she realized the craft was blowing out from within. Huge bits of wood flew everywhere, the shower of deadly and heavy splintered logs a real threat. Worse, a massive fire licked to life only a few feet away from them; it was swiftly consuming the deck on which they stood. The floor was going to give.

          “Oh!” Mia gasped. Had Brave Wolf won the struggle, only to lose the war? If the floor beneath them gave, they would be swept below as it crumbled; they’d be impaled and crushed beneath fallen rubble and knife-like timber.

          Frightened into immobility, Mia could only stare. But not so Brave Wolf. He swept her up into his arms and sprinted around a corner, ignoring the deck crashing about them. He endured the burning heat, and somehow he kept ahead of the ever-rushing fire, veering toward the port side of the boat, the side away from the paddle wheel. Still holding her in his arms, he scrambled up onto the railing, and without hesitation, he knifed feet first into the river, taking her with him.

          Down, down they shot into the mildly cool and welcoming, but muddy water. Brave Wolf didn’t wait to touch bottom. Kicking out, he swam down deep underwater, heading north, away from the boat. A deadly tow pulled at him, yet he evaded it, and dove down deeper only to have a whirlpool tug at them, threatening to drown them. Yet it didn’t happen. Brave Wolf forded the underwater death trap with what appeared to be so much ease that one might have thought he were part merman. He held her by the waist now and pulled her along with him. Once he surfaced for air and she gasped in the needed oxygen; a bombardment of bullets met them from the shoreline, and he dove down, down deep, deeper, kicking out in a stroke that propelled them to the bottom of the river, swimming as fast as the water would allow him. She felt the path of a bullet as it nicked him, for it was to that arm where he held her. Although the shot didn’t draw blood, it must have stung him. But if it did, he showed no signs of feeling it.

           Faster they swam, she kicking out now to help him. North and east they fled, away from the deadly assassin bullets. But how long could she hold her breath? She felt as though she were turning blue, and she tapped Brave Wolf on the shoulder to indicate that she needed air. Once again, although this time more cautiously, he came up for breath, but he allowed her only a second to suck in that air before he dove back under the surface, knifing toward the very bottom of the river once again.

          Surprisingly no one appeared to be following them beneath the waves, and she was reminded of the danger of the deadly whirlpools, currents and underwater tows beneath the surface of the Big Muddy River. It had claimed many a man’s life. It had tried to take theirs. Was this why no one was giving chase?

          Those deadly traps confronted Brave Wolf over and over. She felt their pull, was certain she and Brave Wolf would never survive this. Yet, they did. How he managed to use these dangers to his advantage, she might never know, for he swam through the tows as though he danced a jig with them. They pushed onward, Mia having to remind Brave Wolf on more than one occasion that she needed to breathe air, not water.

          It felt as though hours had passed as they shot through these muddy depths, although it was probably not longer than minutes. Always it seemed to her that they headed north and, she hoped, out of range of those assassin’s bullets. She was aware that Brave Wolf could hold his breath longer than she could, and he seemed to forget that she was not part fish; many more times than she could count, she had to tap him on the shoulder as a reminder. At last, when they surfaced for air, it appeared that they had put enough distance between themselves, the shoreline and the steamship, for nothing met them but the smoke of a boat that would never sail the Missouri waters again.

          They both looked on at the wreckage, which was even now still afire.

          “Why did the boat explode?” she asked softly, more to herself than to Brave Wolf.

          But he answered her quickly, saying, “Man who try kill you use fire to blow up boat.”

          Shock caused Mia to remain silent, and, when she didn’t answer at once, Brave Wolf calmly dove again beneath the waves.

  BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY

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Updated: August 6, 2018 — 11:08 pm

Brave Wolf and the Lady — Excerpt

Howdy!

How exciting!  A new book out and just put up in paperback on Amazon.  Will be giving away a free copy of the e-book to one of you bloggers, so do come on in and leave a comment.  We’ll start with the blurb so that you know the general story line of the book, and then the blurb.

Hope you enjoy!

BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY

Book 2, The Clan of the Wolf Series

By

Karen Kay

 

He saved her life, then stole her heart….

To escape an arranged marriage, Mia Carlson, daughter of a U.S. senator, instead elopes with the man she loves. As they are escaping from her Virginia home, heading west, their wagon train is brutally attacked, leaving Mia alone and in grave danger. Rescue comes from a most unlikely source, a passing Lakota scouting party, led by the darkly handsome Indian, Brave Wolf.

Although Brave Wolf has consented to guide Mia to the nearest trading post, he holds himself apart from her, for his commitments lie elsewhere.  But long days on the trail lead to a deep connection with the red-haired beauty.  Yet, he can’t stop wondering why death and danger stalk this beautiful woman, forcing him to rescue her time and again.  Who is doing this, and why?

One thing is clear, however: Amid the flurry of dodging assassin bullets, Brave Wolf and Mia come into possession of a powerful love. But is it all for naught?   Will Brave Wolf’s obligations and Mia’s secret enemy from the past finally succeed in the sinister plot to destroy their love forever?

Warning:  Sensuous romance and cameo appearances of Tahiska and Kristina from the book, Lakota Surrender, might cause a happily-ever-after to warm your heart.

Brave Wolf and the Lady

An Excerpt

She hobbled a little to try to catch up with him. He turned back toward her, squinting at her.

“You…find…leather of shoe?”

“I…I did not. I searched for it everywhere. But…”

He stepped back toward her, retracing his path. As he came up level with her, he commanded, “You…stay…”

“I am no dog, sir, to be told to sit, stay or roll over.”

He grinned at her. “I not…confused about that.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. “I looked and looked for the sole of my shoe, but I couldn’t find it.”

“I will…find it. You…here…stay.”

“No. I’m afraid to be left alone.”

His fleeting look at her was enough to cause Mia to realize that her defiance frustrated him. After four days of travel with this man, she had become used to witnessing the tiny nuances that told of this young man’s emotional moods. Years from now, she reasoned, he would most likely master those miniscule flickers of concern.

For now, she was glad to have acquired some means to recognize his frame of mind. She said, “Please don’t be upset with me. The pea vines and other prickly bushes are constantly stinging me and tearing at my dress. It’s so much easier to find a piece of my clothing hanging from a bush, than it is to find the bottom of my shoe stuck in the mud somewhere. The tall grass alone makes it hard to find, for when I bend to look to try to find it, I get pricked.”

He nodded. “You speak…true. This…why I go…find it. Easier for me. You…stay…here.”

“I can’t. I can’t be without you.”

For a moment, she caught a surprised light in his eye as he regarded her.

“Don’t you see?” she went on to explain. “What if something happened to you? What if you didn’t return? I would rather be with you and face what you face, even if that be death, than to stay here on my own, unknowing. Without you, I would die here in this world of grass and vines.”

The curious look was gone, and in its place was a glimpse of what? Was that admiration?

He said, “Understood. Will try to…teach you way…of prairie. Then not be…afraid.”

“Good,” she acknowledged. “I would appreciate that, but that’s in the future. For now, I must go with you.”

He drew his brows together in a frown as he stepped toward her. Nevertheless, he uttered, “Then walk…low to ground. Like this…” He bent over double.

“All right, I will. But why must we spend so much time trying to find this? What difference does the bottom of a shoe make? Truly, who’s to see it in this environment of dirt and grass?”

“Land full…” he waved his hands out and away from him, “…of Indian to?wéya, scouts. If find shoe…they follow…our…trail. Us they kill…maybe.”

“Oh,” she frowned. “I see. Is that why you’ve had me go back over the trail so many times to find the pieces of my dress when I’ve torn it on the bushes?”

“It is so.”

She sighed. “Then I had better help you, I suppose, and be more careful where I step, for it was in a muddy patch of ground where I lost my shoe’s sole.”

Wašté, good.  Itó, come.”

Mimicking him, she grappled with the rifle to find a comfortable position, then she bent over at the waist, following him as they made a slow progress back over their tracks. Amazingly, she had no doubt that he would find that stray piece of leather, and he did not disappoint. Within a relatively short time, he held the wayward sole of her boot in his hand.

She limped toward him, and reached out for it, but he did not immediately give it to her. Instead, he made a sign to her, and, turning away, he indicated that she should follow him again, traveling once more in that bent-over position.

Shutting her eyes on deep sigh, she realized she had little choice but to do as he asked.

 

***

The deeply colored green grass waved above them in the prairie’s ever-constant breeze, while a hawk circled above them, as if curious about the goings-on below. Crows flew here and there, their caw-cawing echoing loudly in the warm breath of the wind. Everywhere about them was the scent of mixed grasses, mud and sweet earth. The sun felt hot, since it was now in its zenith, but the surrounding shrubs and grass provided some shelter from its direct heat. Only moments ago, they had stopped on a piece of ground where a few large rocks littered the terrain. He sat on one of those slabs now; she resided on another, facing him. He held her boot in one hand and the sole of that shoe in another, and he examined the footwear and its missing bottom from every possible angle.

As she watched, she basked in the relief of simply sitting. Sadly, she’d left her bonnet behind in her wagon, and, in consequence, the sun glared down on her bare head, while the wind whisked locks of her hair into her eyes. With an impatient hand, she pushed those strands behind her ears.

She gazed away from him, not focusing on anything in particular. Simply, it seemed a better option than looking at him. Something about his hands, something about the delicate way he handled her shoes was devastating to her peace of mind.  She sighed.

Frankly, she was fascinated by him. Too fascinated.

She rocked back, and let her aching calf muscles relax as a feeling of tranquility settled over her. It was the first time since Jeffrey’s demise that she wasn’t constantly reminded of that loss, and for a moment, if a moment only, the hurt subsided, but only a little.

It had been earlier in the day when she’d lost the sole of her shoe. At first, she had said nothing about it to Mr. Lakota. But, after discovering that blood had covered her hosiery and the sole of her foot, she’d at last confessed her problem to him.

She’d expected his anger, for it meant that the object would have to be found, which would only serve to slow down their progress. But he’d shown none of that. Instead, he’d calmly asked her to go and retrieve it. It had seemed a simple request, for she was accustomed to backtracking to retrieve bits of her dress after the material had caught and torn on a branch or vine. But this was different; she had delayed telling him about it, and the underside of her shoe might be as far back as a mile.

He might not fully realize it, but she would never go so far away from him. Not even during the day. It frightened her to be alone in this vast expanse of prairie.

Her thoughts caused her to stir uneasily, and she brought her gaze back onto him. At last, he looked up at her and muttered, “Cannot fix.”

Her heart sank. What did that mean? That she was doomed to walk over this muddy, sticky and stone-littered ground in her blood-soaked, stocking feet?

All she said to him, however, was, “Oh.”

“Better I make…moccasins…for you…walk in.”

“Moccasins? You could make them? Here? That would be superb, indeed, if you could. But how is that possible?”

“Cannot fix…this. So…put together moccasins…for you.”

“But to make them?”

Hau, hau. You…cannot walk…prairie without moccasins to…protect feet.”

“That’s true. But I suppose what I don’t understand is how is it possible that here on the prairie you could assemble moccasins? Do you have the proper materials?”

Hau. Hold out foot.”

When she didn’t comply at once, he stated again, a little more softly, “Hold out foot.”

Still, she hesitated. Was it unseemly to raise her skirt so that she could extend her foot toward him? Perhaps it was, but the rights and wrongs of such behavior seemed the lesser of two evils. With a shrug, as if she were releasing a weight from her bosom, she did as he asked. At once, she realized her mistake, for as he took hold of her by her ankle, placing it on his lap, her heart skipped a beat.

What was this sensation of delight? This craving for more of his touch? No, oh, no. This mustn’t be happening to her. Yet, if she were to be honest with herself, she would have to confess to a frenzy of excitement that was even now cascading over her nerve endings.

No! Please no, she cried to herself. This was all wrong.

What was the matter with her? She should feel embarrassed because he was touching her, not elated. She gathered her skirt around her legs in an effort to minimize the exposure of the rest of her calf muscle from his view. But it was a wasted effort; he showed no interest in looking at her there.

Taking one of the bags from around his shoulder, he brought out a moccasin and placed it up against the bottom of her foot. She gasped a little, for as soon as he touched her toes, tiny sparks of fire shot over her, from the tip of that foot to the top of her head.

Luckily, it appeared that he didn’t notice her strange behavior, and he explained, “These moccasins…made for me…by Walks-in-sunshine. On journey…like this, need…many moccasins. I…cut this for you.”

Mia, who was more than a little upset with the waywardness of her conduct, glanced away from him, speculating as best she could on what could possibly be the cause of her body’s rapture. Truth was, she’d barely registered what he’d said.

Instead, her attention centered inward as she admonished herself. Perhaps Mr. Lakota reminded her of Jeffrey. Could this be the reason for her misguided reaction to him?

Yes, yes. That was it; it had to be, for she was in love with Jeffrey, would always be in love with Jeffrey.

Still, cautioned an inner voice, this man didn’t look at all like her deceased husband; he acted nothing like him, and she wasn’t at all confused about who was who.

Or was she?

Wasn’t it possible that some deep and uninspected part of her was a little muddled? After all, Mr. Lakota was a young man, and she had been a newly married woman.  Plus, Mr. Lakota had rescued her from what would have been a gruesome death. It was only natural, wasn’t it, that she might place her emotions for Jeffrey onto this other man?

Yes. It had to be.

Yet, she countered her own thoughts; she was more than aware that her reaction to Mr. Lakota was not simply emotional. It was sensuous, perhaps a little wanton in nature. Was it possible that her body was simply flustered by the presence of this man? And that it was her body’s reaction to him, not her own?

She sighed deeply. This was more than likely the truth. What she was experiencing was little more than a physical reaction.

Yet, again that inner voice cautioned, if it were no more than physical, if it were purely platonic, why was it that she was experiencing the joy of his touch?

Enough! Her thoughts on the matter were more troubling than the action of his touch.

Still, she wondered, what should she do? Should she withdraw into herself? Mentally lock herself away from this man’s influence?

Nice thought, but hardly practical. Given their situation, and seeing that her life depended on this man’s ability to get the two of them safely across the prairie, such introversion would hardly be possible.

All at once, he placed her foot back on the ground, ending their physical contact. Relieved, she breathed out slowly, expecting that the lack of his touch would improve her problem.

But it hardly mattered. Her body still tingled from the contact. Modestly, she shook her skirt free to place it over her ankles, hoping against hope that the action would settle her.

But it didn’t.

Only the quickness of a moment passed, however, before he reached out toward her again, and said, “Need…other foot.”

“Oh,” she articulated. “Of course.” She gulped.

She lifted her skirt up again, and guardedly placed her other foot in his hand. Abruptly, a similar thrill of excitement raced over her nerve endings.

She swallowed. Hard.

She needed a distraction, she decided. Perhaps conversation might prove to divert her attention. It was worth an attempt, she reasoned, and so she asked, “Did you say that someone called Walks-in-sunshine made these moccasins for you?”

Hau, hau.”

“Oh. Is she somebody special to you?”

“She…future wife.”

Mia’s stomach dropped, and she felt as if those words had delivered her a blow. So, this man was spoken for. Of course he would be, she reckoned as her thoughts raced ahead. He was young, he was kind and he was also handsome. What female worth her weight wouldn’t do all she could to make this man hers?

She sat back as she asked, “Could you tell me about—what was her name? Walks-in-sunshine?”

He paused, and, as he glanced up to survey her, she thought his look might be wary. Nevertheless, after his initial hesitation, such watchfulness seemed to disappear from his countenance, and he said, “She…beautiful. Wait for me. We.promise to…marry.”

“To marry?” Mia almost choked on the words. She glanced away from him. She felt…jealous.

Was he aware of her reaction to this news? How embarrassing it would be if he were.

But he was continuing to speak, and he said, “She…I…love since we…children.”

“I see,” Mia responded. “Then what will she think if you cut up these moccasins for me? They are so beautifully made, and were especially sewn for you. Might that not upset her?”

“She…understand.”

Would she? Mia couldn’t help but speculate that Mr. Lakota might be wrong about that. If this man were her own, she would care.

He was continuing to speak, however, and he uttered, “She…not understand…if leave…someone…hurt when could…fix. Give me other…boot.”

She complied.

“We…cache these.” He held up her boots.

“Cache?”

“Bury them. Leave no…trace of us here.”

He had set himself to work over the leather, and she felt odd as she sat before him, watching him cut the moccasins down with a knife and a sure hand. His fingers were strong, long and handsome, and she wondered how they might feel upon–

Abruptly, she pulled up her thoughts, and she asked, “Might I help?”

“Know how use…taka?, sinew and…bone?”

“Sinew? Bone? Have you no thread and needle?”

“One not…find needle…thread in nature.”

“Oh,” was all she said. Then, “You have none of the finer things in your tribe? Since your mother is white, I had thought perhaps she might keep something of the European culture around her.”

“Mother…white, but…Indian through marriage. What mean…finer things?”

“They are items made by the white man’s hand—like needle and thread—things that make life a little easier. I see you punching holes there in the moccasin and then threading the hole with the sinew. It looks to me to be slow and painstaking work. A sharp needle with thread would make your work easier and less time consuming.”

“No…need for…finer things, when have…nature all around.”

“Yes, I suppose I can understand that viewpoint. But think for a moment of a woman’s joy over acquiring a new gown in a silken fabric that shimmers with each step she takes—gowns are clothing, by the way.”

“What need of…gowns…when have soft animal skins?”

“Perhaps this is only a feminine reaction; a pleasure that only a woman would understand: To wear something that she knows makes her look pretty.”

“Walks-in-sunshine already pretty.”

“I’m certain she is. And it is kind of you to say so. But there are other goods that might be considered ‘finer things’. For instance, a sewing machine could make this work fly by.”

Without raising his eyes to hers, Mr. Lakota jerked his chin to the left, and said, “This slow…because I…little time…spent doing it. Walks-in-sunshine…quick.”

“Yes,” agreed Mia. “I’m sure that she is.”

“Give me foot…again.”

She hesitated, yet she did as he requested. However, instead of gazing at him directly, she looked up above his head. The tall grasses bent and waved in the warm, summer breeze, as though all of nature were performing a dance. She tried to concentrate on that.

Yet, as he touched her foot, the warmth of his fingers produced again that recognition of a thrill she wished she didn’t feel. Suddenly, he produced a piece of buckskin from one of his bags, and, wetting it, he proceeded to wash the bloody bottoms of her feet.

Oh, my. The sensation produced by this act of kindness was exquisite, and as excitement swept over her nerve-endings, she became aware of a stirring of awareness within her.

Surprise shot through her. And so upset was she over her reaction to him, she could barely speak. Gulping hard, she knew she had to talk again, if only to try to dispel the guilt she felt. Changing the subject, she asked, “Why is the wind so constant here?”

“No thing to…stop it.”

“There’s grass.”

“But no trees. No…hills…mountains. Nothing to…block it.”

“At home, we of course experience the wind. But never so on-going as what the prairie offers. Here, it is always blowing.”

She noticed that he had come down on his knees before her, as he fit a moccasin to first one foot and then to the other. It reminded her that Jeffrey had proposed to her from a similar position. But before she could explore that thought, he gazed up at her, and with one eyebrow cocked, he asked, “Have trees?”

“Of course.”

“Have hills or…mountains?”

“Yes.”

“That why. Stand now.”

She was only too happy to do as he asked, and she rose up to her feet. As she did so, he pressed a finger over where her big toe hit the moccasin, then, as though he found fault with the shoe, he adjusted the back of it, his fingers tickling her there, creating havoc within her.

“How feel?”

She swallowed grimly, for she almost answered him with the honesty of her wayward emotions. “They are perfect,” she replied in a voice barely over a whisper.

Wašté, good,” he acknowledged, echoing the word with a motion of his hand out and away from his chest.

“Does that gesture of your hand mean something?” she asked.

“Mean good. It good.” He rose up to his feet, and came to tower over her. He said, “Take few…steps.”

He had positioned himself dangerously close to her, and she could barely control the impulse to throw herself against him. She took a few steps away from him instead.

“Turn.”

“Why?” she queried, although she did as he requested, and spun around in a circle.

“Moccasins must be…comfortable,” he explained. “Still feel good?”

“Yes.”

He nodded. “Then we…continue. Must find…shelter for night. Hópiye unyánpi kta!

“What did you just say?” she asked as she glanced up at him.

“Said… ‘all right, let’s go’.”

“Yes. Yes, that would be good. We should keep moving along.”

He smiled at her then, and seeing it, as well as his so-obvious approval of her, she almost swooned. But she didn’t. Instead, her thoughts turned inward once more, and she admonished herself. Briefly, she wondered why her sense of moral right and wrong was not standing her in good stead against this man.

At least he seemed oblivious to what was happening to her. She bit her lip, wishing that she were blind to it, as well. Unhappily, it simply was not to be.

BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY

Well, that’s all for today.  Come on in, leave a message and I’ll leave a link to the book here.

Good luck to you all in the drawing.  Remember to check back by Wednesday eve to see if you are the winner.  Also, please be aware that the drawing is for US residents only and that you must be 18 or older.

https://www.amazon.com/Brave-Wolf-Lady-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B07DV7TTWY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531192100&sr=8-1&keywords=brave+wolf+and+the+lady+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

 

 

 

 

 

Updated: July 9, 2018 — 10:10 pm

My Next Writing Adventure

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

After I turned in my last book, Once Upon A Texas Christmas (just a little over a year ago), I took a bit of a sabbatical from writing. The line I wrote seventeen books  for was closing and  I was also a bit burned out from writing 2 books a year for the previous four years (I’m not a fast writer so this was a ‘stretch’ pace for me).

So I was at a crossroads of sorts. I took some time thinking about where I wanted to go next, free from the constraints of any specific publisher guidelines. I eventually came up with ideas for several multi-book series I could get excited about and worked up some details to hand over to my agent so she could begin shopping them around to publishers.

That done, I figured while I waited I now had time to explore another path that had captured my interest, that of indie-publishing.  I had several books from my days with Dorchester’s Leisure Books line that were published in the 2001-2005 time frame, long before the eBook revolution and that had gone out of print more than a dozen years ago and I figured reworking one of those and indie-publishing it would be a good way to ease myself into that scary-to-me world. So I went to work, getting ready to do just that.

And boy has it been a learning experience. Revising the book was the fun part. I’d forgotten just how much I loved those early books. Revisiting the characters and worlds from my early writing days has been an absolute joy.  But now I’ deep into the business side of the process – hiring a good editor, figuring out cover design options, creating a back cover blurb, forming an LLC, obtaining ISBNs, etc., etc.  It’s been a steep learning curve (and I’m not through it yet!) but hopefully next time will be a little easier.

Anyway, if things go as planned, this first book, which I’m titling The Unexpected Bride, will release in late fall.  And today I thought I’d whet your appetite with an excerpt.

The set up for this story – Elthia Sinclare has travelled from Massachusetts to Texas in answer to an ad for a temporary job as governess. Caleb Tanner placed an ad for a mail-order bride.  This is the scene where our heroine realizes there has been a terrible mistake:

“Mr. Tanner, we need to talk.”

The lying, scheming blackguard glanced back from his position at the stove, a scowl of irritation on his face. Then his expression changed as something in her demeanor caught his attention.

“What’s happened?” he asked, handing a plate to one of the children.

Zoe slipped into the room behind her, but Elthia kept her gaze focused on Mr. Tanner. She stood stiffly, fighting the urge to back away as he approached. “Exactly why did you bring me here?”

His scowl returned as he rubbed the back of his neck. “What do you mean? This is my home. Where else would I take you?”

“I’m talking about what role it is you expect me to fulfill?” She watched him closely, looking for some sign of guilt or duplicity. “Mrs. Johnston called me your helpmeet and referred to you Tanners as my ‘new family’. Just now, Dr. Adams did the same.”

Elthia clasped her hands to prevent their trembling. Had this man lured her to his home under false pretenses? She was completely at his mercy here. The isolated location and the shadowy approach of dusk suddenly took on a sinister feel. Sometimes having a vivid imagination was more of a curse than a blessing.

She had to remain calm, to think, to keep him from seeing her fear.

Mr. Tanner, however, looked more harried than threatening. Maybe Zoe had misread the situation. Dear God please–-

“I’m sorry that your role as a mail-order bride is public knowledge, if that’s what this is all about. It’s hard to keep secrets in a community like Foxberry.”

“Mail-order bride!” Elthia almost choked on the words. Heaven help her, this nightmare kept getting more unbelievable.

His scowl returned. “Miss Sinclare, stop the hysterics, please. I know the kids’ illness was unexpected, but surely—”

“There’s been a mistake, a dreadful, terrible mistake.”

His eyes narrowed. Then he looked at the children who watched the grown-ups with wide-eyed interest. “Let’s move this discussion to the parlor, shall we?”

He nodded to the two older children. “Zoe and Peter, you help the others with their supper please.” Then he took Elthia’s arm and all but pulled her out of the room.

As soon as they reached the parlor, he released her, as if touching her were distasteful. His next words were all the more intimidating for their softness. “Backing out already? So much for all that talk about honoring commitments.” His expression branded her as beneath contempt. “I should have known a pampered bit of high-class fluff wouldn’t have a notion about honor or responsibility.”

Elthia shook her head, confused and defensive. “No, no, you don’t understand. I came here to fill the post of governess, not to be someone’s mail-order bride.”

The sound he made was suspiciously like a snort. “Foxberry has a great school. Why would I waste money on a governess?”

“But that’s what you advertised for. I read the file myself.” A spurt of anger momentarily replaced her fear. “How dare you misrepresent yourself in such a way! You took advantage of Mrs. Pembroke and of me. It’s vile and probably illegal. I have half a mind to find the local sheriff and have you arrested.”

Mr. Tanner wasn’t intimidated. “I did not misrepresent anything. I made it very clear to the agency exactly what I was looking for. If you paid any attention at all to my post there’s no way you could be confused about any of this.”

She drew in a breath as he pointed a finger, stopping just short of poking her chest.

His frown turned contemptuous. “If this is some ploy to get out of the contract and still be able to hold your head up, don’t bother. A weak, spoiled, lady with a tendency to run away from her troubles might be the last thing I want for the kids or myself, but I warned you earlier, no backing out once the kids met you.”

“How dare you! Why I—”

“I’d appreciate it if you’d keep your voice down,” he interrupted. “There’s no point in upsetting the kids.”

He straightened. “I don’t have time for this posturing. If you’re not going to help, at least stay out of the way. In the meantime, before you try that ‘I didn’t know what I was getting into’ story again, you should reread that contract you signed.”

Elthia watched him stalk out of the room. Slumping, she steadied herself with a hand to a chair. The long day and its emotional ups and downs had taken its toll. She suddenly felt too exhausted to think straight. Maybe her father was right. Maybe she was too helpless, too naïve, to make her own decisions.

How had this happened? Was Mr. Tanner a villain or had there been a terrible mix-up with the paperwork at the agency?

Paperwork!

Of course. He’d told her to reread the contract and that’s just what she’d do, and then force him to do the same. She wasn’t her father’s daughter for nothing. She’d read that sheet of paper very carefully before signing it. It was an employment contract for a temporary teaching assignment, nothing more.

Feeling her energy rebound, she hurried into the hall. Her copy lay somewhere in her luggage, but he still had the one she’d given him. “Mr. Tanner, just a minute please.” Stepping into the kitchen, she ran smack into his rock-solid chest.

He placed a hand on both of her arms, steadying her before stepping back a pace. “Well, Miss Sinclare, what is it now?”

Elthia’s cheeks heated but she held onto what dignity she could. Pushing her glasses up on her nose, she managed to keep her gaze locked to his as she held out a hand. “The contract, sir. I’d like to see your copy of it if I may.”

He raised an eyebrow. “And just what do you expect that to prove?” Then he scowled. “I warn you, don’t try to tear it up.”

She raised her chin. “Why would I want to tear it up? It’s the proof I need to support my story. It states quite clearly that the position I accepted was that of governess.”

“Does it now?”

Elthia frowned impatiently. “Yes, of course it does. You read it there at Whistling Oak. Surely you remember what it said. There was nothing at all vague about the terms.”

“I agree, it spells things out in very plain language.” He strode out of the room and she followed him as far as the foot of the stairs. It only took seconds for him to return and hand her the document.

Elthia, itching to rub the I’m-only-doing-this-to-humor-you expression from his face, unfolded it and skimmed it.

Then she blinked.

She read it twice. Where had this contract come from? It most definitely was not the document she’d read so carefully before signing. Someone had switched papers, but when and how? They’d hardly been out of her sight since she’d signed them.

It must have been Mr. Tanner. He’d somehow substituted the document she’d handed him for this one. Her gaze frantically turned to the bottom of the contract and she got another shock.

It couldn’t be!

There was her name, penned in her own handwriting. Alongside it was the signature of Louella Pembroke. It must be a forgery, but it was such a good one even she couldn’t tell the difference.

How dare he try to coerce her this way. She shook the document under his nose. “How did you do this?”

“Do what?” He looked more puzzled than guilty.

“Forge my signature so perfectly. Did you trace it? And where’s the real contract?”

His jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed at her accusation. “Don’t you think you’re carrying this charade a bit far?”

“Don’t think you can intimidate me with that oh so superior tone. I have my own copy of the contract.”

She turned and all but fled upstairs. If he thought he could bully her with this elaborate act he was very much mistaken. It took her a several minutes, but she finally located her copy in the larger of her trunks.

Marching back down the stairs, she found Mr. Tanner still standing where she’d left him, though now the lamps in the hall were lit against the encroaching darkness.

She waved the paper triumphantly. “This is the document I signed, not that substitute you’re trying to fob off on me.”

With the air of an adult humoring a child, the infuriating Mr. Tanner plucked it from her fingers, pulled the contract out of the sealed envelope and looked it over quickly.

After reading it, he shrugged and handed it back to her. “I won’t argue with you on that score. But I don’t rightly see how it differs from the one I looked at earlier.”

Her hands starting to tremble, Elthia took the contract and forced her eyes to focus on the print. He was right, it was identical to the one he’d handed her a few minutes earlier.

A very simple, very binding, marriage contract.

There you have it. I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. And stay tuned – I’ll keep you posted on my progress 🙂

 

Updated: July 8, 2018 — 4:54 pm

New Book! New Book!

Yes, indeed.  I have a new book coming out today.  It might already be up at Amazon, but I’m not sure.  If not there yet, it should be there either later today or tomorrow.

BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY is the name of this book, and I’m going to include an excerpt, as well as the back cover blurb for you today.  Am so excited about a brand new book.  So here we go.

 

Before I post the back blurb and excerpt, I wanted to say how much I love this cover.  What do you think?  Okay here is the back blurb, and then the excerpt.

Brave Wolf and the Lady

 

He saved her life, then stole her heart….

To escape an arranged marriage, Mia Carlson, daughter of a U.S. senator, instead elopes with the man she loves. As they are escaping from her Virginia home, heading west, their wagon train is brutally attacked, leaving Mia alone and in grave danger. Rescue comes from a most unlikely source, a passing Lakota scouting party, led by the darkly handsome Indian, Brave Wolf.

Although Brave Wolf has consented to guide Mia to the nearest trading post, he holds himself apart from her, for his commitments lie elsewhere.  But long days on the trail lead to a deep connection with the red-haired beauty.  Yet, he can’t stop wondering why death and danger stalk this beautiful woman, forcing him to rescue her time and again.  Who is doing this, and why?

One thing is clear, however: Amid the flurry of dodging assassin bullets, Brave Wolf and Mia come into possession of a powerful love. But is it all for naught?   Will Brave Wolf’s obligations and Mia’s secret enemy from the past finally succeed in the sinister plot to destroy their love forever?

Warning: Sensuous romance and cameo appearances of Tahiska and Kristina from the book, Lakota Surrender, might cause a happily-ever-after to warm your heart.

 

BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY

by

Karen Kay

An Excerpt

 

The ravine was probably twenty feet deep, and she cautiously made her way down into it, stepping a careful foot, as he had instructed her to do, so that rocks and dirt didn’t create noise or a landslide. At last, reaching the bottom of the coulee, Mr. Lakota turned his back on her and without saying a word to her, he set to work.

She took stock of where she was. This place was not more than thirty feet across, and it was dry at this time of year. Espying a large rock, she paced over to it and sat. For a moment, she focused her attention onto Mr. Lakota, who was briskly at his work. He was moving stones, grass and vines from place to place, and appeared to be landscaping the ground around a shelter he was constructing. Was that an odd sort of lean-to he was building?

Perhaps. She noticed that he had found a deep cut in the coulee’s wall which resembled a narrow-like cave, and that he was taking advantage of the spot, using whatever the landscape offered in order to create an entrance on one side of it.

She looked on with fascination as he positioned enough long grass over the top of the structure to form a roof. His actions were swift, yet exact, and it was with an inherent respect that she realized the numerous rows of grass and twigs he was creating, which were inches deep, would keep out the elements.

Without really realizing where her thoughts might lead her, she watched as he bent, then stood, then squatted while he concentrated on his work. His leggings were skin-tight, and he had discarded his shirt and now wore little more than a buckskin vest over his chest. His leggings came up high on his thighs, but were not far enough up to breach the naked gap where the outline of his buttocks and his thighs met….

All at once, she realized where her attention was centering, and she looked away. Self-incrimination was swift, and she worried again that something was very wrong with her.

Gazing anywhere but at him, she focused her attention on the dry stream which lay before her. Farther away, to the south, there appeared to be water in its bed. Perhaps she should investigate. It seemed a better option than monitoring the actions of this very virile man.

Rising up, she stepped toward the dry stream’s bed, and followed it southward to where water still remained. Looking father away in the same direction, she could discern that the small river branched out into a full-fledged rivulet.

Perhaps some other waterway or underground source flowed into it there, for it looked to be about three or four feet deep. Maybe she would be able to bathe there, for it looked close enough that Mr. Lakota could stand guard over it, yet far enough away to provide her with some modesty.

Snarl, yelp, snap!

What was that?

Crack!

Fear washed through her. Was she in trouble?

“Mr. Lakota?”

No answer.

She swung around to glance back in the direction where she’d left him. But where was he?

Panic consumed her. Had he left her?

“Mr. Lakota!” She called again. Then, louder yet. “Mr. Lakota, where are you?”

Nothing… No answer…

“Mr. Lakota?”

“I am…here.” The tone of his voice was deep, reassuring, but farther up the slope.

Relief swept through her. Still, it took several moments before she was able to respond, saying, “Where? I still don’t know where ‘here’ is.”

With that masculine grace which seemed to be as much a part of his stride as was his careful pace, he stepped out from the tall grasses that grew at the top of the coulee.

“Oh, there you are.” She looked up. “But how did you get up there?”

“I climb. Did you not see…wolf?”

“No, I—“

“Wolf hungry…crazy. Watching you.”

She caught her breath before she uttered, “A wolf, looking at me as though I were what?  Food?”

“Could be. Had to…kill him. Not like to kill wolf.”

“But how did you know there was a wolf there? Or that there was any danger at all?”

“My…duty to know.”

“Yes, yes. However, I still don’t understand how you could be aware that there was–” She cut herself off short, and paused. “You were so intent on building that lean-to. How do you do that?  How do you know of happenings far away from you?”

He shrugged as he stepped down the slope and came down farther into the coulee. “I am…to?wéya, scout.”

He said these words as though they alone explained the world around them from his point of view. And when she encouraged him to expand upon that a little, and said, “Yes…?” he did little more than nod at her.

“Hear wolf growl?” he asked.

“Yes, but—”

“Wolf…pounce…on you before I kill? Spit and…howl? Bite you?”

“No.”

His expression didn’t change at all, as he said, “Wolf…rabid. Out of…mind. Had to kill.”

The wolf was rabid?

All at once, the enormity of the danger she’d been in struck her. She swooned, but he’d come to stand close to her, and, clutching hold of his arm, she steadied herself.

“If it had bit me, then I would surely die a most horrible death.” She swallowed hard and continued to speak as though the words were drawn from deep within her soul. “I am obliged to you once again, Mr. Lakota. I—I hardly know how to repay you.”

“No…claim on me,” he said. “It my…duty.” He touched her hand where she still gripped his arm, and he loosened her fingers. But as soon as she stood on her own, her knees buckled under her, and she fell.

He caught her before she reached the ground, and, as his arms came around her, she gazed up into his eyes. They were the color of a crystal-blue sky, and looked so foreign in contrast to the deeply tanned color of his skin. So strange a combination for an Indian.

Then it happened. His head came down toward hers, and his lips were only a fraction of an inch from hers. She was ready for the embrace, and she opened her lips in anticipation of his kiss. But it never materialized.

As though they had both turned to stone, neither one of them moved. Nor did either of them step away from the other. However, neither took action to close the miniscule distance between them.

Her whole body was on fire, and she could barely speak as she asked, “Are you going to do it? Are you going to kiss me?”

“I…dare not,” he whispered, and so close was he, she could feel the movement of his lips on her own as he spoke.

She whispered, “For what you have done for me, I owe you much. If you wish to—”

He put a single finger over her lips. “Do not say it. You…owe me nothing. If I…kiss you, it…be because I want kiss you, not because you…owe me anything.”

“And do you want to kiss me?”

Hau.” He shut his eyes.

“That word means yes?”

He didn’t answer.

“Do you not do it because of your pledge to Walks-in-sunshine?”

Again, no answer.

He let his arms fall from around her. With a deep breath, he stepped back from her, putting a little distance between them. When her knees wouldn’t stand under her weight and she stumbled, he quickly moved to catch her, but he placed no more than a single arm around her waist.

He said, “No kiss…because one kiss not enough.”

His words stirred her, caused her to realize that he was as moved by her as she was by him, and, in consequence, she might have gone to pieces and plunged to the ground altogether. She didn’t. But only because he held onto her so tightly.

“These…words,” he continued, “we must not say to…each other. Long…trek. Must not…touch again.”

“Why?”

“Forbidden,” was all he said. “Come. We set up…camp. You sleep.”

“And will you sleep, also?”

“Not tonight,” was all he answered, and when he let go of her to turn to walk back in the direction toward their camp, she found her feet were at last able to hold her, and she fell into step behind him, afraid now to be left alone.

So, she thought to herself, the problem between them wasn’t all because of her lessening of morals. Apparently, he perceived the pull of their attraction, too. The only difference between them was that he intended doing nothing about it, while she…?

What was she thinking? She loved Jeffrey, not this man. Therefore, her intent was to do nothing about it, also.

Still, she felt almost helpless to stop admiring the beauty of that bare place where his leggings and breechcloth didn’t quite meet. She did force herself to look away, and as she did so, she pledged that she would resurrect the lessons of her morals, which at present, seemed to be so lacking.

BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DV7TTWY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529419457&sr=8-1&keywords=brave+wolf+and+the+lady+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

 

 

 

 

 

Updated: June 19, 2018 — 10:28 am

More Than Meets the Eye

More Than Meets the Eye is the first book in a new series. Each time I start a new project, there is an excitement that comes with getting to know a fresh group of characters, but there is also a pressure to make these characters unique. A challenge that gets increasingly difficult the more books I publish.

The premise behind my new Patchwork Family series is a group of orphans who bond to form their own family when their orphan train derails. These youngsters were overlooked, discarded, and unwanted by the families they met along their journey.  Zach, because he is a belligerent loner with a giant chip on his shoulder. Seth, because he is sickly, weakened by asthma. But how could I make my cheerful, tenderhearted Evangeline undesirable to adoptive families?

That’s when I thought of cats. No, I wasn’t going to give her claws. But what about mismatched eyes? Psychologists will tell you that at a subconscious level, humans crave symmetry. It’s why certain faces are universally more attractive than others. When that symmetry is out of balance, it creates cognitive dissonance in the human brain. In our effort to explain away this discomfort, we place blame on the cause, calling it unnatural or even something darker like witchcraft. The greater the dissonance, the greater the reaction. So, I didn’t simply give my heroine slightly different colored eyes, I made them drastically different. One dark brown and one vividly blue. These are the heterochromatic eyes that I patterned Evangeline’s after.

Evangeline grows up with constant rejection, yet she maintains her optimism and cheerful disposition. At least when she’s around her brothers. And when she meets Logan, a mysterious stranger with a hidden agenda, she finally finds a man who sees the woman behind the mismatched eyes.

Here’s a short excerpt from the initial meeting between Logan and Evangeline. Logan has just attempted to rescue Evie from what he believed to be a wild boar. In actuality, the hog is Evie’s pet.

“Since you’re new to the area, you might not be aware that you’re on Hamilton land.” Evangeline crossed her arms over her chest. Lifted her chin. Widened her stance. “My brothers won’t begrudge you snaring a rabbit or even taking down a deer if you’re in need of nourishment, but we don’t take kindly to squatters.”

His lips quirked again.

What was it about her trying to act mean that made men grin? It was quite annoying. Evangeline frowned at him.

His smile widened. “I’m aware of the boundaries. My camp is east of your property line.”

“But you’re not.” She unfolded her arms and poked him in the chest.

He stared at her finger then pointed his own and nudged it against her shoulder. “Because I was trying to save you from being gored by a wild boar.”

“One that wouldn’t actually hurt me.”

“That’s debatable.” The man folded his arms and looked down his nose at her. “Even without tusks, that thing could do serious damage if riled.”

“Then you best not rile him.” Evangeline gave a sassy wave of her head, as if she could order Hezzy to attack at any moment. The only damage her pet would likely render involved non-lethal pig slobber and a head butt that might manage to knock the fellow off-balance. But something told her this man wouldn’t be bowled over too easily. . .

“Thank you, by the way.” Evangeline met his gaze, smiling even broader when he blinked in confusion. “For your heroic rescue.” She dipped her chin. “Just because your actions were unnecessary doesn’t mean they’re not appreciated.”

He cleared his throat and shifted his weight. “You’re welcome.” His voice tapered up at the end, making the statement sound more like a question, but Evangeline chose to interpret it as a successful change of direction anyhow.

“You have a lovely horse.” She stepped to the side and twisted, letting her skirt twirl about her just a little. She’d never been good at standing still. The rhythmic twisting, even in small doses, calmed her growing nerves.

Now that the initial excitement of the discovery, chase, and tackle had subsided, she was becoming acutely aware of the fact that she was alone with a man.

A man who actually treated her like a woman. Not a sister. Not a freak of nature with unnatural eyes. But an ordinary, normal, woman.

“He’s very handsome,” she said. “Your horse.” The horse’s owner qualified for that descriptor, too. That wavy dark brown hair escaping from beneath his hat to curl over his collar. Gray eyes that had softened from steel to the color of fluffy storm clouds that projected the possibility of trouble but also offered shade. Tall. Strong. A little rough around the edges. “And friendly, too.”

The man before her mumbled something beneath his breath about horse sense not being what it used to be, but Evangeline chose to let that bit of cynicism go without comment.

…………………..Giveaway!!!

In honor of More Than Meets the Eye’s release, I’ll be giving away autographed copies (US addresses only) to three winners drawn from those who leave comments on this post. Winners will be announced on Thursday, June 7.

  • What is the most unusual pet you’ve ever owned?
  • Do you know anyone with heterchromia?
  • Who is your favorite pig from literature?

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH, Excerpt, Free Give-Away

Howdy!

Hope you will forgive me for running an older post today.  But I am giving away a free copy of the e-book WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH to try to make up for the repeat an older post.

The reason for a repost is that we were hit with a tornado last week in the area where I live, and we don’t have internet restored.  Every day the company keeps saying it will be today — but we still don’t have internet.  So I’m here in the library posting this for you right now.  : )  Goodness!  I might not be able to respond to every post tomorrow — depending again on whether or not we have internet, but I will check back, so do come on in and leave a message.  So below is the post and excerpt.

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH — one of my best selling books — is going to be — sometime this week — released by Amazon in e-book format.  And although we authors might never admit to having a favorite book,  well…gotta say that this book is one of my favorites.  So, I thought I’d tell you a little of the background that went in to the making of that book.

I love this cover by the way.

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH starts with my love of a rather spoiled, head-strong heroine — one who is really quite soft-hearted, but for reasons explained in the book, she harbors opinions that are far from flattering.  In the story, the heroine, Katrina, is blond-haired, stubborn, almost out of funds and is demanding her inheritance in order that she might marry into royalty.  She has also grown up without ever knowing her parents — who perished out West — or her uncle, who holds the purse-strings to her inheritance.

In other words, she has some reason to be spoiled, because she’s grown up without love — with a succession of nannies.

There are problems — mainly that her uncle will not release her funds until she comes West and parades her fiance in front of him for his approval.  I must admit that it really is a lot to ask of a young woman who has known only the comforts of New York City — still it was rather fun to play around with her outrage.

Of course her uncle doesn’t show up at the scheduled rendezvous — he sends his friend — who is almost like a son to him — White Eagle — to bring her to him.

Of course the story goes on from there — spoiled, rich-girl meets handsome, yet determined young Indian warrior.

Now, the truth of the matter is that the character of Katrina was patterned after my daughter, Trina, who is definitely not blond.  Not that Trina is spoiled, but at the writing of this story, Trina was a teenager — about nineteen, I believe — and she definitely had her likes and dislikes.  Off to the side here is a picture of Trina with her daughter and my granddaughter, Lila.  But patterning the heroine after my daughter really gave me a deeper understanding of my character, Katrina’s, personality — it also helped me to love this character, even when she is at her wit’s end.

In writing this book, I often had pictures of clothing and what the heroine might have looked like at that time.  Off to the left here is a picture of that period’s clothing.  I love this clothing, I must admit and sometimes wish we could go back to an age where women looked so very feminine.  Now this picture to the left really — in my mind — has the look of my heroine at this time.  A little bored, a little spoiled, always well dressed and trying to do the right thing — although in the West, my heroine’s efforts are sometimes clumsy and humorous — as she tries to “fit in.”

As for the hero, another one of my loves — I’ve always held a passion for a hero who brooks no argument, yet who is kind and generous — and who is waiting patiently for the heroine to come to her senses.

There is one scene in this book that I particularly like.  It was a scene where the hero, along with his friend, concoct a scheme to send Katrina’s fiance packing.  At the writing of this book, I had just the previous year, married my husband, Paul.  When I married Paul, however, I also discovered that he was extremely close to his brother, Bob — this picture to the right is of Bob and Paul — Paul is the one sitting down.  But this particular scene was about these two fellows and what they would do if they were there to rid themselves of this very unwanted person, and send him packing for home.

Interestingly, that “friend” of White Eagle is Night Thunder who has a book of his own — next in this series.

To end I thought I’d show you a picture of the original cover for WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH.  The reason I have to show you is that this cover is also one of my most favorite covers.

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH

Excerpt

By Karen Kay

 

It took the Indians less than an hour to fabricate the boat, it being scantily constructed of several buffalo hides stretched over a crude framework of willow branches, the willow being the closest wood to hand. A paddle had been made from a few tree limbs, too, and within little time, Katrina observed many of their party’s supplies neatly stowed within the bull boat, although Katrina took note that it was only the marquess’s things.

White Eagle motioned the marquess forward just as Katrina began to set foot into the boat. But White Eagle motioned her away, despite her protest, making signals to his friends to bring forward the marquess…and his dogs. White Eagle turned to Katrina. “You will ride in the wagon across the river.”

“But I don’t wish to wet my dress, and I might if I don’t…”

White Eagle looked sternly at her, and she fell silent, as he clearly had meant her to. She watched as the marquess sauntered toward them.

“Ah, finally,” the marquess said to White Eagle as he stepped into the boat, “you savages are recognizing your betters. It is about time.”

“Humph!” was the guttural response from White Eagle as he motioned to his friends, and, at a signal, the marquess’s hounds joined him in the crude structure.

White Eagle beckoned to Good Dancer to come forward, and after some counseling, Good Dancer strode toward the water, taking the rope of the boat in his hand and leading the craft into the water.

He began to swim ahead of the boat, tugging the craft out into the swirling currents.
No sooner had the marquess set out in the boat, when White Eagle directed both Katrina and Rebecca into the wagon.

The women seated themselves and immediately, upon doing so, the marquess’s two men—who had been driving the wagon—started the horses forward, into the swift-rushing currents. This being done, White Eagle and Night Thunder took hold of the rest of the horses and began guiding those animals, too, across the water.

No one appeared to notice the bull boat being led farther and farther downstream, away from the main party; not even the marquess, who, it would seem, was busily engaged in gazing at the sky and sipping the wine he had managed to bring with him.

Trouble hit without warning. One of the ponies pulling the wagon stepped into a pool of quicksand and jerked on his bridle, unseating the drivers and shooting them forward. The horse next to it reared, becoming entrenched, itself, in the mire and only the fast action of the two drivers saved the wagon from the same fate. The men righted themselves and whipped at the ponies, cursing them in a more colorful language than Katrina would have liked to hear, but the driver’s efforts were to no avail; the poor ponies could not extricate themselves, not with their burdens of bridle and harness.

One of the horses tried to rear again, its action tilting the wagon off kilter. Off slid the marquess’s baggage and particulars as well as her Saratoga, all tossed into the sandy murk of the quicksand and, had the two women not been holding on to their seats, they would have been flung overboard, too.

Katrina screamed; Rebecca, also.

The two women held onto one another as readily as they did to the wagon, and Katrina, as the wagon sank deeper and deeper, decided it would be better to jump for freedom, rather than sink into the muck of the sand.

“We’re going to jump off this wagon,” she yelled above the noise of the ponies and drivers’ cursing.

“I can’t,” came Rebecca’s reply. “I’m afraid.”

Katrina took her maid’s hand. “We’ll do it together, all right? It’s better than staying here. Now, ready, one, two, three.”

The two of them jumped, landing in the sandy marsh instead of sanctuary, their feet sinking quickly into the wash.

Both women shrieked.

Suddenly it was over. Strong hands caught hold of Katrina and pulled her out, bringing her up and onto a horse.

Barely able to hold on to the pony, she looked up into White Eagle’s face. She didn’t say a word, nor did he, as he nestled her against him.

“Rebecca…is she…?”

“She is fine. My friend has her. Hold on to me,” he said, and as soon as he ensured she had a firm grip upon him, White Eagle whipped the pony into the fury of the river, forcing the animal to swim against the current and, it would seem, against all odds.

Onward, across the river, defying the swirling water and eddies, they swam, the pony’s body, except for his head, completely submerged.

The currents unseated them, and White Eagle barely held on to the pony by its tail, though he never took one arm from around her.

Soon, the other shoreline beckoned, and, within moments, the pony leapt to its feet, White Eagle able to do the same almost as quickly.

But he didn’t waste any time. “Wait here,” was the only instruction he gave her as he spun back toward his pony, the animal heaving with exhaustion. Still, White Eagle jumped back onto his mount and guided it once more into the water, Katrina watching him cross over, to the other side.

Good Dancer and Night Thunder had already rushed to the wagon, Night Thunder having deposited Rebecca safely on solid ground much as White Eagle had done with Katrina but, rather than chance the danger of the river, Night Thunder had settled Rebecca upon the safety of the eastern shore of the river, the opposite shore from where Katrina now stood.
Katrina looked around her to see if she could find any sign of the bull boat, but there was nothing to be found; as best she could tell, the marquess had not landed upon this same shoreline.

Yet there stood Good Dancer, trying to extricate the wagon. And he had been the one leading the bull boat. Where were the Englishman and his dogs? Had they been set adrift?

Far from being alarming, the thought was…amusing.

Katrina returned her attention to the ponies and the wagon.

It took the labors of all three Indians and the marquess’s two men finally to extricate the animals from the quicksand.

But they did it at last, with the least possible damage to the wagon, the ponies or the men…although much of the marquess’s clothing sank further and further into the sandy wallow.

The Indians and the two servants sprawled for the moment upon the sandy shore…but on the opposite side of the river. And no one seemed in any hurry to see to the marquess and his concerns, wherever he was.

Almost an hour passed, an hour during which the Indians sat up and smoked, working over something, while the white men rested. Katrina had tried to communicate to them all by shouting across the distance of the river. But it was almost impossible—nothing could be heard over the noise of the river. The most she learned was that Rebecca remained unhurt.

Finally, the Indians arose; to go in search of the marquess, she supposed.

More time passed, White Eagle no longer within sight, and Katrina’s clothes had almost dried upon her by the time the Indians returned, the marquess and his dogs trailing behind them. But what had happened to the marquess? He stood drenched from head to foot, while the Indians, in contrast, remained amazingly dry.

And then she saw that White Eagle did not return with the others.

“Where is White Eagle?” Katrina yelled across the stream, but no one could hear her.
She tried again, “Has something happened to White Eagle?”

Panic rose up within her. Surely, he wasn’t hurt, was he?

Without realizing what she did, she started toward the river, more willing to face it than remain in ignorance. She had no more than stepped foot in the water when from behind her, came a voice, saying, “Stay here.”

She recognized that baritone timbre and she turned.

“White Eagle,” she breathed out in relief, “you are all right.”

He nodded. “I am here. I am unhurt.”

“And the others?”

“They are fine.”

“But what are they doing over there, on the opposite shore? And why aren’t they crossing the river?”

“They are not all coming.”

“What? Not coming?”

“The Englishman refuses to travel any further.” White Eagle smiled slightly. “He said something about the expense of his suits and his silks and not liking all this adventure. They are turning back.”

“I see. I’m not surprised.” She paused, a thought occurring to her. “Did the marquess mention how he intended to pay for his stay upon returning to Fort Union?”

White Eagle shrugged.

“And what about Rebecca? Why is she still over there? When will you and the other guides be bringing her across the river?”

White Eagle looked off in the distance, avoiding Katrina’s eyes. He said, “Your friend will be going back to the fort, too.”
“No!” Katrina responded at once. “You can’t, she can’t. She has no one to watch over her and protect her there. Either I must go with her or she must be brought to me.”

“Night Thunder has promised to keep her safe.”

“Night Thunder? But he—”

“He will guard her and see to her needs.”

“But—”

“Someone must go with the Englishmen and guide them back to the fort. They are as helpless as newborn babes.”

“But what has that to do with Rebecca? She must stay with me. I would worry about her otherwise, and—”

“Have you not noticed the looks shared between my friend and yours? It is better they stay together. Do not worry. Night Thunder will be with her. This I can promise you.”

“Do you? I still don’t like this, and what do you mean by the looks shared between them? I—”

“It has been decided.”

“Well, you can un-decide it.”

White Eagle, his lips turning up into a grin, seemed to be amused by Katrina’s determination. “Do you worry about a chaperon? Is that what bothers you? Do not. Good Dancer and his wife will join us as soon as the others have started back to the fort.” White Eagle crossed his arms over his chest. “Do you think I would take you on this long trip without another female companion? And with us as yet unmarried?”

“As yet?”

“Humph,” was all the answer she received from this man.

“Perhaps it is for the best.” Katrina looked away from White Eagle, glancing out across the river. “This trail could well prove dangerous, and I wouldn’t want Rebecca risking her life unnecessarily. So mayhap you are correct in your judgment.”

“Humph,” he uttered again, and though she was fast beginning to tire of this standard response from him, she said nothing about it, gazing instead toward Rebecca and calling out, “I will miss you.”

Katrina waved, and Rebecca returned the gesture.

“I will miss you too,” Rebecca cried back. “If I could, I would be with you.”

Katrina smiled and mouthed the words, “I know,” and, turning about, she began to follow White Eagle up the steep incline, to the bluff just above the river.

They were dodging stickers and thorny plants when she heard White Eagle say, in a rather offhand manner, “Did I mention to you that your Englishman agreed, giving me his word of honor, to end your engagement and promised not to cause you any further trouble over this?”

Katrina could barely believe that she was hearing correctly. She opened her mouth to say “No, you did not,” but nothing issued forth. And so she did the only thing afforded her in her situation.

She stared at his back as he moved ahead of her, simply stared…

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH

by

Karen Kay

Well, that’s all for today.

Do come on in and leave a comment.  That’s all you have to do to enter into the contest.  And of course the Giveaway Guidelines all apply.  Remember to check back tomorrow to see if you are the winner.

Updated: May 22, 2018 — 9:17 am

Finding the Perfect Match

 

EHarmony… FarmersOnly … Zoosk… Match…  Today, there seems to be a niche for every type of person out there to find their perfect match through the internet.

In this modern day of internet meet-ups, I have several friends and acquaintances who have met online and then gone on to marry and live their happily-ever after. Often these online dating sights have the new participant answer a list of questions to pinpoint their own character and what type of person would make a suitable match.

It is this idea of an interview that I used for The Prairie Doctor’s Bride.

In the Oak Grove Series, the Betterment Committee has been established to bring women to the town in order to “grow” the town. Doc Graham missed out on the first trainload of five women that arrived in 1879. Now the second arrival of women has him all set to make a match. He needs a wife — or — actually a nurse to help in his office.

Doc Graham, although smart in other matters, is quite clueless when it comes to matters of the heart. He has made a list of desirable qualities that he expects in a woman and is in the process of interviewing each new arrival, blind to the fact that he has already met his perfect match in a young woman who lives across the river.

A few months ago, I shared an excerpt of his date with Katie O’Rourke. Below is an excerpt of another woman — Penelope Pratt. (I had a lot of fun with these interviews!)

* * * * * * * * *

Miss Pratt didn’t say a word as they walked past a dog and a few children playing in the school yard. The silence between them grew awkward. He hadn’t expected this. Weren’t most women prone to talking?

“Please. I urge you to speak freely. The one month that the Betterment Committee allows you to decide on a husband and a man to decide on a bride makes it crucial that we find out if we are compatible. That cannot happen unless we talk.”

She came to a swift stop and pressed her lips together in a thin line. “That is a blunt way to put this highly uncomfortable situation.”

He hadn’t thought so. He’d simply been honest. “I tend to be direct.”

He took the moment to assess her appearance. Green eyes, just like his, his height, and a long, slightly curved nose. Egads! She could be his sister!

“Now what?” she asked, stiffening. “You look as though you swallowed your tobacco.”

“I don’t chew.”

“I’m glad to hear that. I find the habit disgusting. Then what did that look mean?”

“I was noticing our…similarities.”

“Oh, that.” She raised her chin. “I noticed them immediately.”

“Then should this move into a state of matrimony and should we have children—”

Her eyes widened.

“—their looks would be a foregone conclusion.” It was an interesting possibility.

She frowned. “Perhaps as you suggest, it is best to be frank and let you know my thoughts on the matter of propagating. Your education may even allow you to comprehend what I am about to say better than the other men I have encountered here.”

He wasn’t sure what to make of that.

“I want to marry. Truly I do. I have no close family. I want a companion with whom to share my life.” She took a deep breath and blew it out as if to steady herself. “However, I am not interested in the part of a marriage that happens behind the bedroom door.”

If he had been walking, he would have stumbled.

“You are shocked.”

“No…no…” Yes, yes he was!

“Come now. I can see it on your face.”

He swallowed—an attempt to absorb her statement politely and give himself time to gather his thoughts. “I have never heard a woman speak so plainly about such things.”

“I will remind you that you asked me to speak freely.”

He huffed out a breath. Could it be that he’d come across a woman who not only looked like him but who spoke and acted like him? “Perhaps I shall choose my words more carefully.”

She bestowed a slight smile.

“Are you ready to continue with our stroll? We’ve only walked through half the town.”

“As long as we understand each other.”

They continued on their way.

It was disconcerting that Miss Pratt could be as blunt as he. Would such a trait be smart to have as a nurse?

“You’ve said the same thing to other bachelors?” he asked. He didn’t want the entire town to be aware of any arrangements they might have that were of a private nature.

“No. The men I have met have all been much more forward than you. Each one found a way to take my arm or assist me in some way that required touching. When they did that I immediately checked them off my list. I’ve spoken to no one else about marriage except you.”

She kept a list? Another disconcerting thought. Their similarities were growing. “That is encouraging. But—am I so unlike them?” He wasn’t sure he wanted to be all that different from the others.

She arched her thin brow. “As I said—you are most direct. The others were still mentioning the weather while your conversation has already jumped beyond that to marriage. You are a gentleman. Your Eastern breeding is apparent in the way you speak and carry yourself. I would hope that means you keep this conversation we are having just between us.”

She hadn’t answered his question. Mayor Melbourne was a gentleman too, as well as Sheriff Baniff. And he could name several others who deserved that title. All were very different from each other, but he thought of them all as gentlemen.

“While we are on the subject, are there any other expectations you have of marriage?”

She shook her head. “No. I do find it interesting that you haven’t taken me back to the hotel.

You must still be considering me as a possibility, which is a pleasant surprise in light of what I just said.”

More likely, it was because he was still in shock. He’d taken it as a bygone conclusion that if he married, he would have children. He wanted several. That was one of the benefits of wedded bliss. That, and the fact that he had vowed to be a better father than his own.

The distance from the boardwalk down to the road in front of Miller’s Cabinetry Shop was particularly high. Considering what she had just said, he refrained from taking her elbow to assist her. He did offer his arm, but she didn’t take it. He nodded toward the livery and began walking in that direction.

“I had expected children at some point,” he admitted. “I will have to give your condition some consideration. I also desire a companion in marriage, but equal to that, or perhaps more so, I desire a nurse in my work.” He glanced sideways at her. His announcement hadn’t shaken her nearly as much as hers had him.

“Go on,” she said.

“I would like someone who will work beside me and help me run my office. This would entail having fresh bandages cut up, washed and rolled at all times. Watching over the patients that are in my office if I am called away on an emergency. Helping to make up medication, salves and tonics. All this would be in addition to cooking and cleaning and the general duties that wives do for their husbands.”

She drew her brows together. “And what would you be doing while I did all this?”

He thought that was obvious. “Seeing to my patients.”

“And in your free time?”

“I’ll use my free time to keep abreast of the changes in the medical field. Reading, writing articles and taking an annual trip to Denver to meet with my colleagues.”

“During which time, I would be required to remain here and keep the office in a state of tidiness?”

“I haven’t thought that far into it, but that is the general idea. I suppose some years my wife might accompany me to see the sights of the city.”

They walked silently past the livery to the railroad station where she stopped once more.

“You have given me a lot to think about.”

“As have you.” More than you know!

“I have no doubt that I could perform the duties you have mentioned.”

“In return, you would have a roof over your head and a respected standing in the community and a lifelong companion.” But he’d never considered that there wouldn’t be touching, caressing, or even a kiss now and then. His first words to her about what their children would look like sounded foolish now. Yet, perhaps, if he was honest with himself, it made sense. He certainly didn’t know how to be a father. His had never been around much. The only hugs he’d received from his mother had been stiff and awkward. He had never seen his parents so much as hold hands. The marriage that Miss Pratt and he had just described to each other sounded a lot like his own parents’ marriage.

The entire thing sounded like a business proposition. His initial excitement at the thought of abiding harmoniously had been squashed with pragmatism.

Well, isn’t that what he had originally intended? Josephine had made it clear he was not suitable marriage material. She’d called him cold. Nose in a book. Cared more for his patients than he did for her. He had hoped to move beyond that defining moment when she’d called off the courtship. He’d hoped for more warmth in a lifelong companion.

“I’ll walk you back,” he said, disheartened. “I think we both have a lot to consider.”

* * * * * * * * * *

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride
Copyright by Harlequin Books & Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

I hope you enjoyed this look into “dating” in Oak Grove. Poor Doctor Graham. He has a lot to learn about love, but when he does open his eyes and experience it for the first time, it is a wondrous thing to behold.

What about you? If you had the opportunity, would you ever consider
meeting a possible future spouse via the internet?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of the Prairie Doctor’s Bride!
(See our Giveaway Guidelines above.)

the Prairie Doctor's Bride 2

Author Website | Newsletter

The Clan of the Wolf — New Series — Free E-book Give-Away

Howdy!

And welcome to another wonderful Tuesday.

My latest work, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, is currently with the editor prior to publication.  This will be (knock on wood) the second book in The Clan of the Wolf series.  The hero is a member of the Society of the Wolf, or as I call it, The Clan of the Wolf.  The clan of the Wolf.  What’s that?

This is a subject I find absolutely fascinating…and I’d love to talk to you about it.  In America’s past, the American Indian tribes had many different societies that a man might belong to.  The Society of the Wolf was a very secretive society.  In fact, outside of its own members, no one else in the tribe knew who belonged to this society.  Why?  Because this was the society of those special individuals who were the eyes, the ears and the life blood of the tribe — the Scout.

apachescout4Brave Wolf, the hero of the new story, is a scout.  The book that is currently on the market, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, is the first book in this series, and High Wolf, the hero of that story, is also a scout.  These men were  incredible men:  able to track and even to be able to tell the condition of the person or animal from tracks alone; able to survive in any condition; able to start out naked in any environment and not only survive, but to flourish in that environment.  But one of the most fascinating reads about these remarkable men is the particular way the Scout of old moved and swam in water.  So graceful was it, it has often been called the Scout’s Water Dance.

Tom Brown, Jr., in his book, THE WAY OF THE SCOUT lets you in on the beauty of the way the scouts of old “swam,” or “moved” in water.  My understand goes this way: We all know that if one drops a rock into the water — or any object — it makes concentric circles in the water.  Any movement, it would seem, would cause water to move and to announce the presence of man or animal in the water.  So, how did the scout of yesteryear manage to move in the water without being seen, without making those telltale concentric circles, and so be able to  stalk his prey, or obtain information on the enemy?

In Mr. Brown’s book, THE WAY OF THE SCOUT, he tells you the story of how he came to meet and be taken under the wing of an old Apache Indian, whom Mr. Brown and his friend, Rick, called Grandfather.  Grandfather had been trained as a young man into the ageless ways of the Society of the Wolf — the Scout — and Grandfather wished to pass along some his knowledge so that these things didn’t pass out of existence.

cheyennescoutI’m going to quote from the book now.  Grandfather is speaking:

“You must first understand that it (water) is the blood of our earth Mother, the same blood that courses through your veins.  Once entering the water you must blend your mind with that of the water, thus becoming part of the water and ultimately becoming invisible while wrapped in its mind…  …You must learn to move with the water, for to disobey its laws and move against its power is to perish.”  THE WAY OF THE SCOUT by Tom Brown, Jr.

And so started the lesson, which is at first a little humorous to read.  As Mr. Brown and his friend, Rick, were learning to become part of the water, they were having a tough time of it — trying to keep clear of brushes and fallen logs and other obstacles in the water.  However, he goes on with the lesson and says in his book, “After nearly two full hours of being impaled, battered, and tangled in sharp brush, Rick and I gave in to the stream’s energy and began to move freely, silently, and quickly.”  He goes on to say, “The stream and Grandfather had somehow taught us a great lesson without uttering a word…”  THE WAY OF THE SCOUT by Tom Brown, Jr.

siouxscoutHowever, they had been going downstream and had reached their destination.  Now they had to somehow go upstream.  Says Mr. Brown that he and his friend Rick were struggling even more now and really fighting the currents of the water.  He says that both he and Rick were being beat up by the struggle to fight upstream.  Imagine then, these two boys, who upon emerging from the water being battered and tired, with no energy left, then found Grandfather waiting for them — for he had gotten far ahead of them in the water.  Says Mr. Brown, “He had that smile on his face, unruffled and relaxed, depicting an air of not having struggled at all.  Rick and I, on the other hand, were cold, exhausted, bruised, and cut…”

Grandfather then told the boys that they had chosen to fight the water, instead of moving with it.  But how can one move with the water upstream?  Grandfather answered their questions by signaling them to follow him back into the water.  And here’s what Mr. Brown writes:

“We began to follow Grandfather closely.  His motions were like those of a well-choreographed water dance, a flowing ballet, where he moved effortlessly.  He weaved back and forth, riding whirlpools, slipping through backwaters on the inside parts of bends in the stream, and dancing across submerged logs without a struggle.  He used the power of the waters to move him.”  THE WAY OF THE SCOUT by Tom Brown, Jr.

Isn’t that a beautiful description?0[5]  There is more, of course, as Mr. Brown and his friend, Rick, learn how to move in the water by watching herons and egrets who were in the shallows.  They learn how to raise up out of the water without leaving any of the telltale concentric circles, and they learn to stalk the more aware animals — a fox for example — from the water.  Mr. Brown says that he and his friend, Rick, went on to stalk all kinds of animals from the water, and he says, “We laughed at the antics of our local wildlife population around the waters of camp.  They had become a bit neurotic when approaching the water, but nonetheless seemed happy to join in the game.”

This is an incredible book and an even more incredible journey that Mr. Brown takes you on in this book.  It’s an older book, copyrighted in 1995.  But in the book, Mr. Brown makes mention of a school, a Wilderness Survival School.  If you’re interested, you might pick up the book and see if the school still exists.

In both THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF and BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, there is at least one scene in both books that includes a water scene.  When a water dance like this is described so beautifully, of course it moves one, and a person has to write about it to the best of her or his ability.

I thought I’d leave you with an excerpt from THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF and specifically one of the water scenes.

THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF

by

Karen Kay

At the first hint that something had gone amiss, High Wolf immersed himself in the waters of the river, and in doing so, became a part of the river, so much so that not even a swirl could be seen in the water to indicate his progress. Cautiously, he floated toward the ship, practically invisible. He didn’t swim, nor did he float, but rather he executed what could only be described as a dance with the river’s current. Never did he fight the river’s power, but rather he moved with it, letting the water propel him closer to his target.

At last he came up close to the boat, himself a calm influence in comparison to the turmoil aboard the Diana. He could feel the terror there, sense the smoke-induced delirium of the boatmates, but it was not in his mind to aid these men. No, she was the reason he was here; he would find her.

Quickly, he perused the voyageurs, as well as the passengers who were still aboard the steamboat. Some of them were already jumping from the burning remnants of the boat, an action that could bring sorrow, unless a person either knew how to swim with the river’s flow or was strong enough of body to fight it. But perhaps these men were that hardy, for these white voyageurs, who worked the boats, were sometimes admired for the physical marvels they could perform.

Alas, however, High Wolf saw nothing of her.

Making a quick circle around the boat proved to be a waste of time, for he still had not seen her. And so it was that he found himself with little choice but to board the boat. Quickly, he hoisted himself up to the main deck, coming down flat-footed and at a run, aware as he did so that the steamboat was sinking, and with the majority of the Diana’s body enveloped in flames, there was little to be done for her. As it was, her lower deck was flooded, and in places already half submerged.

Still, without losing more than an instant, he found his way around the decks, until as he rounded a corner, something large and heavy fell into the water, creating a terrific splash. But the gray mist of smoke hung heavy over his eyes, and High Wolf found he could see but little.

Swiftly, he trod closer, and looking toward the spot, High Wolf recognized the cause at once: a smaller boat; one he knew to be a lifeboat, had been thrown into the rushing current.

Suddenly, things became worse: A piece of wood from above, engulfed in flames, broke off the Diana’s main hull and fell, streaking, toward the water. And before anyone knew what it was about, the wood, now a flaming dagger, struck the lifeboat. In moments, the boat tipped off balance, catching fire.

A feminine scream split the air, its intensity piercing High Wolf like a knife. Bodies dove off the lifeboat, but not one of these people was female. Where was she?

And then, through the soot-induced haze, he saw her, still aboard the blazing lifeboat, her countenance oddly composed. For she didn’t move, not even to save herself.

What was wrong with her? Was she frozen in place?  Although it seemed impossible, he knew that shock could sometimes cause a person to freeze and become unable to save themselves.

Or was the problem caused by another circumstance or a different emotion? Was it her outrageously full dress? Was she afraid, with so much weight upon her, that she might sink, becoming entangled in its mass?

But if that were true, she was surely acting in a poor manner to solve the problem, for she did not remove any of her clothing, or take any action to save herself. Instead, amid the ballet of diving bodies, the princess slowly sank along with the boat.

Quickly, High Wolf plunged into the Missouri’s depths, then came up for breath and caught his bearings. But she was gone, swallowed up by the muddy, swirling waters of the Missouri. That’s when it occurred to him:

Could she swim?

It seemed amazing to him that he had no answer to that; he, who should know her well. Instinctively, High Wolf swam toward the place he had last seen her, and diving deeper into the water, hunted for her, but not with his eyes, for the murky waters of the Missouri did not allow sight for more than a few feet.

No, he searched for her intuitively, spiritually, and in doing so, found her within seconds. But he had no time in which to experience relief. Grabbing hold of her, he kicked out hard, bringing her up with him to the river’s surface, forcing her head above water, where he heard her gasp for breath. She struggled, and down they both went once more.

He kept hold of her with one arm, while with his other hand, he took out his knife, and then he did the unthinkable. As quickly as the water would allow him, he cut off her dress.

In response, she mustered a formidable response. Whereas before he’d seen little life in her, she now fought him with renewed strength, as though he were some sort of madman, or perhaps she, a madwoman. But High Wolf didn’t have time or even the ability under water to explain his actions, and despite her best efforts, he continued cutting away until the dress was removed and the danger had passed.

The weight of her clothing fell away. That this left her attired in little more than her calf-length drawers, hose and corset was hardly discreditable, for she was still almost fully covered.

But their commotion under water had sunk them too low, and an undertow grabbed hold of them. Quickly, he seized her around the chin, and with mighty strokes, fought his way to the surface of the water, not stopping until he heard her sputter.

At least she was still breathing.

He caught his breath, feeling somewhat safer, now that their heads were above the channel’s surface, and he called out, “Do not fight the river’s current, or me, because if you do, this draught will claim us. You must become composed.” He spoke loudly, but calmly, as though the two of them were taking a stroll instead of fighting for their lives. He continued, “You must become one with the water, for if you do, it will protect you.”

But she appeared to be beyond listening, and she fought him with revitalized vigor. Once again, he called out, “Cease your struggles, or you will force me to bind you, so that you do not drown us both.”

He realized that she was obviously unused to the water, and in the end, it required him to use brute strength against her, holding her arms and legs with one each of his own. Meanwhile, he kept afloat, lugging her with him and letting the water carry them back to shore.

After a few moments, she came suddenly alive and howled at him, “I can’t breathe.” She fought him once more. “You…you’re drowning me.”

“I am not drowning you; you are doing it to yourself. Cease your struggle and merge your body with mine. I will not let you drown.”

“And who will keep you afloat?”

“The water, of course. I have no fear of the water. Only those who fight the river’s power ever come to harm in it.”

“But—”

“Do you see that you are speaking? That you have energy enough to talk back at me?”

“I… I…”

All at once, she ceased her struggle. In truth, his words must have had effect, for she at last let her body meld with his, allowing him to repeat his earlier dance with the river’s current, shoving off here, letting the stream take him there, forging through the water as easily as if he were picking his way across lily pads.

It took little time before he managed to set them ashore, appearing, to anyone who might have been looking, that the river had lovingly placed them there. At once, High Wolf left the water, and with her tucked under his arm, he crept into the protection of the bush, where he granted her a moment to catch her breath.

But a moment was all he could afford.

THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF

https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Wolf-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B079QPW33V/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523326562&sr=8-1&keywords=the+princess+and+the+wolf+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

 

 

Updated: April 10, 2018 — 10:41 am

Caroline Clemmons Shares Her Downfall & Book Giveaway

Thank you for the exciting honor of being on Petticoats and Pistols. Yee Haw!

I will give away an e-copy of DANIEL McCLINTOCK to two people who comment. (Giveaway guidelines apply.)

I love research but it’s my downfall. One thing leads to another and the next thing I know I’ve spent precious minutes/hours falling down the rabbit hole. That’s not too bad, since I believe knowledge is never wasted. (Well, I’m not so sure about algebra since I’m a writer. ?) Research tangents can wreak havoc with a schedule.

Because I like to have unusual twists and occupations in my books, I’ve learned some intriguing things. For instance, did you know that long ago women were hired to mine the small, narrow crevices of coal mines? Or, that they worked in such hot conditions that they wore only a wide sash around their hips?

I learned that irrelevant tidbit researching for O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE (McClintocks book two). Even though the hero has to solve a mystery at a coal mine, this is a western. He’s involved in a trade: find the culprit who’s sabotaging the mine and he gets the money to buy a horse ranch. I wasn’t searching for ancient mining or even Regency era mines. I wanted information on Texas coal mines in the late 1800s. Fortunately, I found enough to make my book credible.

Later in the McClintock series, I researched the early beginnings of physical therapy for DANIEL McCLINTOCK, McClintocks book four. In the previous book, McCLINTOCK’S RELUCTANT BRIDE, I left that hero’s younger brother Daniel paralyzed from the waist down.

Oooh, the angry emails! The gist was that if I didn’t write a book to help Daniel I would lose many readers. These are romance books, so of course I would write his book. My goal is to entertain and leave readers with a happy glow. If we want to be depressed, we can watch the evening news.

I spent several hours researching Daniel’s problem and the origins of physical therapy. By a stroke of good luck (or angels watching over me) I met a man who had been paralyzed from the waist down just like Daniel. This man, who didn’t even use a cane or limp, told me how he regained use of his legs—and the process involved things I would not have found in research.

In DANIEL McCLINTOCK, Daniel has gone from being a shy, kind, hard-working young man to one who is depressed and cynical. You can see how that might happen, right? This book is a sweet romance with the exception of the words “damn” and “hell”.

After being used to ranching all his life, his abilities have been stolen from him by a villain’s bullet. At twenty-two, he fears he’s facing a lifetime of what he feels is being useless. He’s trapped in a shell of his former self.

However, Daniel isn’t totally idle. He paints beautiful pictures that he sells in the mercantile then donates the proceeds to the church. Keeping ranch records for his father is a definite boon for the older McClintock. Secretly, Daniel writes poetry. But, as his younger sister Rebecca accuses, he is grumpy as an old bear.

In Amsterdam, Clara Van Hoosan has been training as a heilgymnast in the new mechanotherapy field. At twenty two, she has had amazing success but faces the battle of patients preferring a man as their therapist. When a request comes from America, she is thrilled when her mentor suggests her—but she uses her initials rather than reveal she’s a woman.

Do you think Daniel will welcome Clara to help him? If you said no, you’re correct. Let me share the scene of their first meeting. Kathryn is Daniel’s mother.

DANIEL McCLINTOCK Excerpt:

Clara followed Kathryn to the room next door. When she entered, she stopped and stared. Daniel wasn’t a boy as she had imagined—he was a man her age or older. And, as handsome as any man she’d ever met.

Kathryn introduced them to one another.

“You’re not serious!” Daniel’s glare chilled Clara as he assessed her head to toe and back up. “You said a man was arriving. You think I’m going to work with this… woman?”

He looked away and made a dismissive wave with his hand. “Forget it and get her out of here.”

Kathryn offered Clara a helpless expression then left the room.

Clara stepped forward, forcing herself to assume her professional demeanor. She had faced this reaction before, but this was so much more important. As much as she longed to help anyone in his position, this man also represented her chance to establish herself in America.

“Daniel, I am here to help you learn to walk again. I have a contract and have moved into the room next door, so you might as well get used to having me here.”

His blue eyes were glacial. “I. Said. Get. Out.”

As if he hadn’t spoken, she continued, “I have completed courses in nursing and mechanotherapy and have helped dozens of people like you recover the use of their limbs. One of your workers has gone to the rail depot to claim my trunks. Inside two of them I have equipment which I will assemble here in your room.”

He threw a book at her but it landed at her feet. “I am not letting you near me.”

She picked up the book, glanced at the title. “Hmm, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I have wanted to read this. Thank you.” She laid it on the washstand.

“Give me my damned book.”

She smiled but didn’t return the tome. “But, you gave it to me.”

“You know very well I didn’t.” Using his arms and hands, he pushed up higher on his pillows. “You deliberately misled us by using your initials instead of your first name.”

She widened her eyes and blinked at him. “Oh? I believe it is customary to use initials in business correspondence.”

He crossed his arms over his chest. “Don’t give me that innocent expression. You knew we thought you were a man—which is what you intended. I’m not having a woman working on me.”

Clara tapped a finger against her cheek. “I was under the impression your mother has been working with you to insure your leg muscles do not deteriorate. You were not averse to her and she is a woman.”

“That’s different.”

“She faces prejudice because she is a woman healer. I would think you, as her son who is aware of this, would be more tolerant of other women healers.”

“What she does is entirely different than what you supposedly do.”

“Not so. Each of us does our best to help people. In spite of your low opinion of me, I am going to be helping you for some time. I will be in early tomorrow to help you get ready for the day. After breakfast, I will begin assembling my equipment. You will find it fascinating. For now, good evening.” She reclaimed the book and carried it with her.

He yelled after her, “Bring me back my damned book!”

She smiled to herself as she walked to her room. She thought she had come out best in that round. Tomorrow would begin round two.

DANIEL McCLINTOCK, McClintocks book four, is available from Amazon:

Click Here To Order Daniel McClintock

The first book in the series, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE. To order a permafree copy Click Here

Book two is O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE: Click Here to Order

Book three is McCLINTOCK’S RELUCTANT BRIDE: Click Here To Order

My question for you is, do you enjoy research?

 

A LITTLE ABOUT CAROLINE

Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To make up for this tragic error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a small office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their rescued cats and dogs. The books she creates there have made her an Amazon bestselling author and won numerous awards. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.

Click on her for a complete list of her books and follow her there.

Follow her on BookBub.

Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you?

 

 

 

Updated: April 5, 2018 — 1:22 pm

A Little Bit of Fiction — A Little Bit of History — An excerpt & a Give-Away

Howdy!  Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to watch a Rain Dance?  And to watch it from the “roof” of a 19th Century Mandan lodge?

Ever wonder if the men who tried to make it rain all those years ago were successful?

Interestingly, George Catlin — who visited the West in the 1830’s — wrote much about the Mandan Indians, about their rain dances, their ceremonies and religious practices, even the way their lodges looked.  Of course we who write historical romances often find ourselves completely captivated by the facts and outright interesting characters and happenings that we find in our research.  Often the facts of the matter are so outrageous, that an author might feel no one would believe it, and so she might write a scene around it, but “tone it down” a bit — just to make it believable.

I think the rain dance is one of those kinds of ceremonies, and yet it is a fact that many men tried to make it rain by testing their “medicine” against the elements, and that many were quite successful.  The following scene is written within the Minataree village.  The Minataree were a tribe of Indians who lived on the cliffs above the Missouri River.  They had a permanent village and very interesting customs.  These scene of course is romantic, but it also takes into account the terrific sight of a man pitting his strength against the elements in order to help his tribe by making it rain.

Enjoy!

THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF

Excerpt

As they approached the Minatarree village, they were at once treated to the sight of a horse race in full swing. The track was set upon the prairie and a good deal of the village had turned out to watch.

From a distance, unobserved, unnoticed, High Wolf and Sierra sat and watched the race for several moments, before deciding to go on. At last, they approached the main Minatarree village, and Sierra was the first to note the sounds of many drums from within the village.

“There seem to be more drums beating there than what I remember. Do you know why?”

“Perhaps the Minatarree are having a dance. Or maybe, if my vision is correct from this distance, we might find that there are Rain Makers on top of the council house.”

“What?”

“Rain Makers.”

“I have never heard of such a thing. What are they?”

High Wolf, who had been crawling through the shrub, stopped and turned toward her, his manner relaxed and full of good humor. He enlightened her, saying, “Have you seen that the Minatarree raise a great deal of corn and vegetables?”

“I have.”

“Have you also noticed that there has been no rain since we have been in this country, which is almost three weeks? That is a long time to go without rain, if one is raising crops.”

“Ah, I begin to understand.”

“Do you? Here is what happens. When the crops are failing, the women, who raise the corn, appeal to the medicine men of the tribe to help. And if the women’s cries are sufficient, these wise, old men will parley in the council lodge. Here they will burn sage and other medicine herbs, and then they will appeal to the Creator for help.

“Now, this lodge is closed to all but a few—perhaps fifteen young men. These are the young men who are willing to risk their reputations against the force of nature. With their own medicine, they appeal to the spirits to make it rain.

“If one of them fails, he will, then, never become a medicine man.  But if he succeeds, he will become a man of some importance.  Now, if I am correct, this could be the source of the drumming. Would you like to go and see?”

“Most definitely. But if this is a ceremony, won’t we interrupt it?”

“No one will notice our coming and going. There is too much taking place here today, and people will be watching the dancers, not us. But hurry, let us go there quickly and find a good location where we could sit and watch, for I believe you will find it interesting.”

Slowly, he turned around and started in the direction of the river, where they might wash the mud from their bodies before approaching the village. But Sierra tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Tell me, have any of these young men ever made it rain?”

“If their medicine is good.”

“Oh, really?”

“It is so..”

“And do you believe that one of them will do so now?”

“I do.”

“All because they implore the Creator for help?”

“That,” he agreed, “and because some of them have much medicine of their own, and can talk to the spirits.  I have known such people.”

Her eyes filled with humor, and she laughed. “Well, I, for one, don’t believe it.”

He grinned at her. “Would you like to make a bet?”

“Hmmm. Perhaps,” she felt non-committal. “What would we be betting?”

His eyes twinkled as he suggested, “It is my opinion that a good, long back rub would be in order.”

“Very well.” She raised an eyebrow at him. “I seem to remember you asking for a massage once before. However, I feel I should warn you that in this case, I will be the winner.” She gave him a merry, lopsided grin. “What do you think?”

He stretched, yawning. “Ah, I’ve always loved a good back rub…”

***

Entering the village as unobtrusively as possible, they made their way toward Yellow Moccasin’s lodge. Once there, they were able to quickly find a seat atop his earth lodge, sitting directly at the hut’s apex. That they shared their seat with several of the youngsters made it seem to Sierra as though she were on a picnic.

“Now there”—High Wolf pointed to a particular earth lodge—“is the council lodge, and inside are the medicine men who are singing and beating the drum.  Do you smell the herbs? They are burning them, so that the Creator will be pleased and will take pity on them.”

“And the man on top of the lodge?”

“That is one of the young men, who is determined to test his prowess.  This man I am told is Gray Elk.  Look, he is about to start.”

Gray Elk was certainly an extraordinary man, Sierra decided. Tall, big-boned and well built, he wore a most beautiful costume of what must be elk skin, for it was bleached white. He also carried in one hand a war shield, and in his other, his bow and two arrows.

Then, taking position and brandishing his bow and arrows toward the skies, he began to sing, as though the very air were filled with spirits.

“What is he saying?”

High Wolf leaned close, and whispered, “At present, he is telling the crowd that on this day, their woes are at an end. He is here to sacrifice himself to the task of making it rain, for he knows well that if he fails, he will be disgraced. He says that his shield will draw a great cloud, which will give them all rain.”

Sierra glanced around her, at the cloudless heavens overhead, and queried with good humor, “Is he a dreamer?”

“Perhaps. But he is given all day to make the rain fall from the sky. We have happened upon the fourth man to try.”

“The fourth?”

Haa’he, and Gray Elk will be on top of that lodge most of the day, pleading to the heavens.”

“Do you think he will make it rain and win you the bet?”

“Perhaps.”

Again, she smiled. Such strange customs. Still, she glanced right and left, noticing that behind her, arising, from the west, was a small cloud.

“High Wolf,” she pointed. “Look there.”

He did so, then slanted her a look of delight. “Ah, I will enjoy that back rub very much.”

She chuckled, her glance skimming over the heads of the villagers, who had also spotted the cloud. As Gray Elk’s pleas became more urgent, Sierra suddenly caught sight of something…someone on one of the other rooftops. An image of someone familiar…someone with dark hair, hair that was liberally sprinkled with gray, an oddity for one so young.

But it was not a Minatarree man. It was a white man. A white man she recognized…  Dear Lord, it was the prince.

Prince Alathom?  Here?

But wasn’t he dead? Hadn’t they sung songs over his grave?

Was he a ghost?

No, he looked real, for he was talking and laughing with some children, who were gathered round him.

Her head spun.  What did this mean? Or more importantly, what was she supposed to feel? Relief that a friend was still among the living?

Or remorse?

That’s when it happened. The reality of what this would mean to her, to High Wolf, to them, took hold of her.

 

“Someday, I will have to leave this place, and when that day arrives, there will be no room in my life, nor in my heart for you.  If you would love me, then you must do so knowing that this day will yet come.”

 

It had come. She would lose High Wolf.

No! This could not be. She could change her mind, couldn’t she? She shut her eyes, rubbing her forehead as her very own words came back to haunt her.

 

“We are not bound by rules so much as we are by duty. Duty to do the best that we can for our people and our countries. Rules can always be changed; duty cannot.”

 

No!

High Wolf could return home with her. High Wolf would become her prince. Not…not Alathom.

 

“I was adopted by the prince’s father and mother. Perhaps I could ease the situation between your countries.”

“I’m afraid that would make little difference,” Sierra had told him. “Your relationship to Alathom’s family is not that of a blood lineage. You cannot inherit the throne or rule. It has to be the prince or no one.”

 

No!

She and High Wolf had at last found happiness, had at last obtained peace with themselves. Hadn’t they only realized that they would be blessed with the rest of their lives together?

Yet her duty would be to…

Perhaps it didn’t matter.  Hadn’t she and High Wolf decided that Alathom had done what he had for them? So that the two of them could spend the rest of their lives together?

 

“A man can steal the wife of an enemy with little regard for his actions. But not so a brother. If your brother lives, you must give her up.”

 

Even Grandfather’s words came back to consume her.

No! Perhaps she could pretend she hadn’t seen him. Could she sneak away? Or was that a coward’s way out?

Surreptitiously, she glanced to the side, where High Wolf still sat beside her, unaware of the momentous occasion so unceremoniously thrust upon them. She caught him in the throes of a great deal of humor, as, leaning toward her, he so very sexually suggested, “Would you like to start that back rub now?”

But then he looked at her, really looked at her, and he must have sensed what was in her mind, in her heart, and most likely emblazed upon her countenance, for he asked, “Princess, are you all right? You look pale.  Is something wrong?”

It took Sierra a few moments to speak, and even then, she had no idea what to say. So when she at last spoke, saying, “He is alive,” it was no wonder that High Wolf frowned, gazing at her as though she had taken leave of her senses.

What was wrong with her? she wondered. Surely she could talk, although her tongue seemed oddly thick for her mouth. She found herself stumbling over her own words, as though she were a child of two. However, at last she managed to utter, “The prince…he’s alive.” And that’s when she pointed…

 

The Princess and the Wolf

by

Karen Kay

https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Wolf-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B079QPW33V/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521515063&sr=8-1&keywords=the+princess+and+the+wolf+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

 

Updated: March 19, 2018 — 10:09 pm
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