Category: Excerpt

Dude Ranch Fun with Guest Author Caroline Clemmons

 

Please give a BIG Petticoats & Pistols Howdy to our Friday guest author Miss Clemmons!
She is giving away an e-copy of her latest book to TWO readers who leave a comment.
Here’s a short introduction for those of you who aren’t familiar with her or or books ~

 

Caroline Clemmons picThrough an illogical twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To compensate for this inexplicable 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 several awards.

Yee Haw! Thanks to the fillies at Petticoats and Pistols for having me today.

Years ago my husband Hero, our two daughters, and I went to the Mayan Dude Ranch near Bandera, Texas. Our eldest daughter had been petitioning (hounding) us for a horse. We hoped the ranch would pacify her. Were we ever wrong!

We were assigned to one of their native stone cabins, which was spectacular. The girls shared a room with two beds and a western theme. Hero and I had a lovely room with a fireplace and comfortable seating as well as a great bed. You’ve never seen two girls so excited. Hmmm, make that three because I loved the experience, too. Hero, not so much, but he was a good sport.

 The Medina River flows through the approximately 350 acre ranch owned by the Hicks family. Trail rides follow the river at times and are led by the head wrangler. We were there in early June, and the scenery was lovely. On our trail ride there were several teen-aged boys cutting up at the back of the line. They were used to horses and decided to head for the barn ahead of the others. As they raced past our daughter, her horse took off with them.

Being new to horseback riding, she wasn’t able to control the horse, or so we thought. The wrangler yelled he’d get her and urged his horse after hers. When he returned to us, he said she was having too much fun and didn’t want to be rescued. This was not a good sign for our plan.

Each night there was themed entertainment. One night after being served TexMex dinner, the entertainment was girls doing the Mexican hat dance followed by a piñata for the children. They also had a singing cowboy with his guitar, a trick roper, and other western attractions. To add variety, this was held by the Texas-sized swimming pool, in the dining room, the dance hall, or other areas.

The food was delicious. Their dining room was well-appointed in western style. A hayride took us to the cowboy breakfast one morning. We also attended a western cookout one evening. Nearby is the Old West town of Hicksville, which was a treat. Small but authentic, there is a dance hall and a couple of other businesses. If you don’t know how to dance, they’ll teach you while a live band plays.

 

We were surprised there were guests there from all over the world. The Mayan enjoys a top reputation, both for food and accommodations. For us, though, the excellent service and accoutrements only added to our daughter’s desire to have a horse. Foiled again! At least we had a great time.

 

 

 

While I have your attention, let me tell you about my latest release, GARNET, book 9 of The Widows of Wildcat Ridge series.

Garnet Book Cover

The universal buy link at Amazon is http://getbook.at/garnetWOWR.  

Garnet Chandler is fighting to hold onto her café, her niece and nephew, and her sanity after the deaths of her husband, his brother, and his sister-in-law. A persistent prowler and the threat of losing custody of her niece and nephew spur her to action. She doesn’t need another man, but she needs a husband long enough to convince the children’s grandparents she can offer a stable home.

Bounty hunter Adam Bennett was ready to settle down when his friend was killed by a horse thief. He set out to capture the man who had also killed a guard when escaping prison. Adam must have let down his defenses because the man he followed and two cohorts waylaid Adam, beating him and stealing all his possessions before kicking him down a steep ravine. Adam is determined to capture the three as soon as he heals from their encounter.

Garnet and Adam join forces to achieve both their goals but will that be enough?

Here’s an excerpt when Adam first meets Garnet:

A loud rap at the back door startled her. She kept the curtains closed unless they were serving food and couldn’t see who had knocked.

Joey grabbed his stick. “Don’t answer it. Might be the robber there.”

She wiped her hands on her apron. “Or a friend who needs something.” Joey didn’t know the Colt was in her apron pocket. After taking a deep, bracing breath, she opened the door.

The dirtiest man she’d ever seen stood there. His beard was as dirty as his clothes. Fresh cuts showed through the mud on his face. He was tall and broad-shouldered but looked as if he could barely stand.

“Ma’am, my name is Adam Bennett. Please don’t be put off by my appearance. I was robbed up the mountain a ways and lost all my gear. I’m mighty hungry. If you need anything done, I’d like to work for a meal.”

Joey was by her side. “He isn’t the one from last night.” All the same, her nephew kept his pick handle in his hand.

“We’re the Chandlers. Come in and sit down. Wait, wash your hands and face at the sink first. You can’t handle food while you’re that filthy.”

While the man washed his hands, she filled a plate from leftovers and poured a cup of coffee. “Joey, please get my medicine box from upstairs.”

He leaned close. “I don’t think I should leave you alone while he’s here.”

Joey took being man of the family seriously. “Oh, all right. Hyacinth, would you get the medicine box for me?”

“How come he doesn’t have to and I do?” Usually sweet, Hyacinth was a bit spoiled and definitely jealous of her brother.”

“Because Mr. Bennett is injured and needs our help. Please hurry.”

Her niece stomped up the stairs while muttering under her breath, her golden curls bouncing with each step.

When Garnet glanced at the man, she saw he’d wolfed down his food. “I’ll get you more. How long since you’ve eaten?”

“Not sure how long I was in and out of consciousness up there. They attacked me on Saturday. What day is this?”

“Monday. No wonder you’re hungry.” She set another plate of food in front of him and refilled his cup.

What about you?
Would you love the Old West atmosphere combined with modern comforts at a dude ranch?
Leave me a comment to be eligible for the giveaway.

I’ll be giving away an e-copy of GARNET to two people who comment on this post.  

Come visit me on my blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest

Cowboy Brave with Guest Author Carolyn Brown

Please give a warm ‘welcome back’ to our guest author Carolyn Brown! 
She’s here to talk about the newest book in her Longhorn Canyon Series and also
to give one (plus a bonus!) as a gift for one lucky person who comments.

Carolyn Brown Headshot

Author Carolyn Brown

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Miss Carolyn
or her books, here’s a short introduction …

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Carolyn Brown was born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma. These days she and her husband make their home in Davis, Oklahoma, a small town of less than three thousand people where everyone knows everyone, knows what they are doing and with whom, and read the weekly newspaper to see who got caught.

A plaque hangs on her office wall that says “I know the voices are not real but they have such great ideas.” That is her motto and muse as she goes through the days with quirky characters in her head, telling their stories, one by one, and loving her job.

 

 

Howdy to all y’all at Petticoats and Pistols! Every time I see the name of your site, I think of my Christmas present last year. Mr. B bought me a lovely little five shot .38 caliber pink pistol. I didn’t want anything that fired 15 rounds in ten seconds. I figure if I can’t hit something with five bullets, then I shouldn’t be firin’ a gun.

I loved writing Cowboy Brave. Justin and Emily were such fun characters to have in my head for those weeks when we were writing the book. And I do say we, not I, because if I didn’t get the story just right, they kept me awake at night.

The blurb for the book tells you a little about Justin and Emily, so I thought maybe today we’d interview the Fab Five. That would be the five senior citizens in the retirement center where Emily works. I thought maybe I’d just give you a little excerpt to introduce you to them. Picture this (as Ma used to say on Golden Girls)—Bowie, Texas, last year. The Fab Five are all in the van on the way to Longhorn Canyon ranch for a week. They’re excited to be away from the retirement center for a whole week, and Emily is driving for them. She’ll be staying with the three ladies in the girls’ bunkhouse. Otis and Larry will live in the boys’ bunkhouse. Now get ready for the ride…

~ Excerpt ~

“Wagons, ho!” Otis shouted from the middle of the van.

“Wagons, my royal butt,” Patsy said. “We’re on tour and this is our tour bus. We’re off to do shows.”

“And what are you going to do?” Bess poked her sister in the arm. “You never could carry a tune, so it can’t be anything musical.”

“Oh, but, honey, I can dance, and I’ve been practicing my striptease dance. I bet Larry can figure out a way to fix me a pole so I can do my best work,” Pasty shot back.

Larry’s grin deepened the wrinkles. “I’ll get my dollar bills ready to stuff inside your under britches, darlin’.”

“Everyone buckled up?” Emily called out as she started the engine.

“Yep!” they all said in unison.

Emily put the van in reverse, popped the clutch, and spun out, leaving a skid mark on the concrete parking lot. “Then get ready for a ride. If you see flashing red lights, yell at me and I’ll go faster.”

“This ain’t a tour van, it’s a race car. When we get to the ranch, we should do some street racin’ in the pasture,” Sarah yelled from the back. “I love to drive fast.”

“You love anything fast. Did you take your heart pills this mornin’?” Patsy said.

“Did you?” Sarah shot back. “I just have to take one to keep my ticker goin’. You have to take three, so don’t be fussin’ at me.”

“Both of you hush and enjoy the fast ride,” Bess demanded.

“You got it, darlin’.” Sarah’s blue eyes glittered. “I’m like fast food. Hot, cheap, and ready in a minute.”

“That’s like Patsy in college,” Bess said.

“Oh, the sweet memories.” Patsy sighed.

Now that you’ve met the five, would you like to see what kind of trouble they’re going to get into,
and how they try to play match maker between Emily and Justin Maguire?

But wait before you answer, there’s more. As a special treat this is a two in one book.
You also get the Second Chance Cowboy by A. J. Pine. So happy reading to all y’all!!

(Don’t forget to comment to be included in the drawing for the giveaway!)

 
FYI: Books in order of publication
Cowboy Bold, May 2018
Cowboy Honor, September, 2018
Cowboy Brave, Now Available!
Cowboy Rebel, May 28, 2019
 
 
Buy Links for the books:

 

 

First Kiss ~ An Excerpt

Do you remember your first kiss?

A first kiss can be quite memorable ~ whether it is anticipated, unexpected, desired…or not.
It can be fireworks and sparklers or, unfortunately, it can be the opposite ~ a bit disappointing.

 

Abigail, in Christmas with the Outlaw, can be a bit … prickly. It’s her way of coping, her way of staving off disappointments and protecting herself. The only one she has ever let close is her brother. I thought it was high time she had her own book and her own Happy Ever After. With this in mind, I’d like to share a scene from my story in the Oak Grove Series ~ Abigail and Russ’s first kiss.

 

Excerpt ~ Christmas with the Outlaw

 

Every moment she spent with him increased the fullness in her heart and made her aware of how special, how important he was to her.

“I never meant to hurt you.” His voice—gentle and full of remorse—melted the last vestige of hurt inside.

“I’m glad you explained yourself. Let’s put it behind us. It’s over. No more regrets.” Even though neither of them had said the words I’m sorry, Abigail felt immeasurably better. She reached for the tray, intending to carry it downstairs.

“When I left the mine, all I could think about was getting away from Barton. If the first train that arrived had been going to Denver I would have ended up there.”

“I realize that.”

He rose to his feet. “It’s important that you understand. Seeing you again after all these years—it might have been chance…” He took her hand and seemed to search for the words he wanted to say.

Her arm tingled from his touch. “I do. Russ. But…it’s difficult to concentrate on what you’re saying when you touch me.”

Amusement flashed on his face, but then he grew serious again, his startling blue eyes earnest. “I’m glad that train came here. Very glad.”

Her heartbeat sped up. “I am too.”

He drew closer. “I’ve missed you, Abby. I didn’t know how much until I saw you again.”

The deep timbre of his voice thrilled her. His words thrilled her. She swallowed. “I feel the same.”

His gaze drifted to her lips.

A shiver of desire raced through her body. “Russ…” she whispered. “What…?”

He smiled. “Must you always analyze things? Come closer and I’ll show you.”

He wanted to kiss her! Her heart beat triple time. She couldn’t have taken a deep breath if she had wanted to.

He brushed aside a wisp of her hair, his light touch sending tingles over her temple. “Your thoughts are still churning. I can see it on your face. You know me, Abby. I won’t hurt you. I promise. Not ever again.”

“You will leave.”

His eyes clouded over. “Not because I want to.”

She leaned closer.

He slipped his hand behind her neck and pulled her toward him, closing the last inch between them. His lips met hers, warm and gentle and firm. Her breathing stopped…and then started again. And she melted inside. Everywhere he touched, he caressed, causing tingles to spread through her. A whirlwind swirled inside her. This…this was right. This was wonderful!

Her first kiss…

 ** ** ** 

His pulse kicked up as he breathed in the scent of cinnamon that was Abby. She relaxed, softening against him. Innocent. Honest in her feelings. She wasn’t like the other women he’d known. She didn’t flirt. She didn’t tease. She was a breath of fresh air. And precious. Little Abby!

He dropped light kisses across her cheek and delighted when he heard her sigh. Then he came back to her lips, wanting more of her. There was no maybe about it. He was getting in over his head. She had intrigued him as a girl and now she bewitched him as a woman.

Reluctantly, he pulled away.

That stub of a pencil still balanced on her ear. Seeing it, seeing her, a tenderness came over him that he’d never known before. He cared for her. Really cared for her. And he didn’t want to hurt her. He waited for her to speak.

Her cheeks were a bit flushed, her eyes overly bright. “Uh—”

Abby? At a loss for words? It was so unlike her that he grinned.

She swallowed. “Do you mind if we don’t talk about this? I’m afraid it will ruin things. And it was rather…special.”

He grew serious. It was special, whatever this was between them, and he wanted more of it. She was the type of woman who would expect a future. His was murky at best. He had no idea what his held, but he knew in this moment that he wanted it to hold her. “I don’t mind at all.”

“I’ll just take your tray down,” she said, her face, her eyes, still dazed.

“Any dessert?”

She smiled softly. “You just had it.” Then she disappeared around the corner.

  ** ** ** ** ** ** 

Christmas with the Outlaw (A Western Christmas Homecoming Anthology)

© by Harlequin Books & Kathryn Albright

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt! And I hope you will check out my newest story,
Christmas with the Outlaw in A Western Christmas Homecoming Anthology!

 

Author website | Newsletter |  Amazon Author Page 

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

 

Re-releases and a Giveaway

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  For various reasons that I won’t go into here, I haven’t had a new release out this year, so I was doubly happy to learn Love Inspired was re-releasing two of my earlier novels as part of their two-in-one program. And both of the books they chose are very special to me (of course I feel that way about most of my books).

Late October saw the release of an anthology that included The Christmas Journey and two novellas, Christmas Bells for Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad and The Christmas Secret by Sara Mitchell. This book is special to me because it was the first book of my 3 book and a novella Knotty Pines series.  It was also based on a premise I’d been mulling over for a number of years, that of a heroine who longs to travel and have adventures but is held back by family obligations. Her solution is to try to find a husband for her widowed sister so she can transfer those responsibilities to him and chase her dreams guilt-free.

Here is an excerpt:

Jo resisted the urge to stomp her foot.

It wasn’t fair that Ry had everything she wanted and seemed so discontent.  Yet he judged her for daring to set her sights beyond Knotty Pine.  He wouldn’t think her life was so rosy if he were the one living it.  Too bad they couldn’t up and change places.  If he had all her family responsibilities…

She stilled.  What if he did have her responsibilities?  It was obvious the family already liked him.  And he seemed equally taken with them.  If she could somehow make him an actual part of the family, he was the sort of man who’d do everything he could to provide for and protect those in his care.

Cora Beth admired him.  Jo could see he liked her too.  As for the rest of the family, after that ruckus in the livery Danny practically hero-worshipped him.  Ry had shown he could deal with her nieces – why, he even got along with Uncle Grover.  They’d all be in good hands.

As for Ry’s part, what man wouldn’t be attracted to Cora Beth?  She had that sweet domestic air about her that drew men looking for a wife like bees to honey.

If Ry and Cora Beth were to get hitched, she would be free to leave Knotty Pine knowing the family was well cared for.

So what if she’d been doing a bit of daydreaming over him herself?  It was just because he’d been so all-fired heroic the other day and, to be honest, handsome as all get out.  But, even if the thought stung a bit, she was realistic enough to know a man like Ryland Lassiter wouldn’t fall for a girl like her.

Besides, she didn’t need a man to tie her down.  Just the opposite – she wanted to cut her tightly-knotted bonds to this place so she could fly free.

In that respect, Ry was the answer to her prayers.  God’s hand had been in the timing of his trip through Knotty Pine, she was certain of it. 

Jo lifted her chin.  If this tug of attraction she felt for him was a way of testing her resolve, she was more than up to the challenge.  All she needed for her plan to work would be for someone to give Ry and Cora Beth a little push. 

And no matter how much her silly heart protested, she was just the person to do it.

My second book on the 2018 re-release list The Hand-Me-Down Family will come out in December and it’s paired with Victoria Bylin’s The Maverick Preacher. This book was the very first one I published with Love Inspired Historical and it is based on a premise I’d been trying to develop for several years – that of a mail order bride that married her husband by proxy before she left home and then arrived in her new home to discover she was already a widow. It wasn’t until I married this with another tidbit from my ‘idea file’, that of a hero who left home to get out from under his ‘perfect’ brother’s shadow, that the story finally came together.

Here is an excerpt:

The minutes drew out as the driver unloaded luggage and parcels from the back of the stagecoach.  It was hotter here in Texas than it had been in Ohio.  Callie longed to loosen her tight-fitting bonnet, or better yet, take it off altogether, but she dare not.  Not until she was away from prying eyes and safely inside her new home.

A number of townsfolk stopped to speak to her fellow passenger, Jack, but though she received a friendly nod or two, and more than one curious glance, no one stepped forward to greet her.  

Finally, the last of the baggage and cargo was unloaded and the driver stepped inside the hotel with a mail sack.  The man Jack lifted two of the bags, easily hefting the larger one up to his shoulder. 

Callie couldn’t help but wonder – would her new husband be as fine and strong a figure of a man as this Jack? 

As if feeling her eyes on him, the man paused and met her gaze.  His expression was gruff and a muscle twitched at the corner of his mouth.  “Is someone meeting you?”

She smiled, grateful for his show of concern, reluctant though it might be.  “Yes, thank you.  I’m certain my husband will be along soon.”

Something akin to surprise flashed across his features at the word husband, but it was gone in an instant.

“Good.”  He nodded and allowed his friend to take one of his bags.  “If you’re sure you don’t need any help…”

But as Callie watched him walk away, it was as if the last link to her old life were being severed.  A foolish notion since she really didn’t know this man at all.  But before she could stop herself, she took a small step forward. “Excuse me.” 

Both men turned, facing her with questioning glances. 

“Ma’am?” Jack prompted.

“I was wondering if perhaps either of you know a Mr. Leland Tyler?  He was sup…”  Her voice tapered off as she saw their startled reactions. 

Jack’s jaw tightened visibly.  “Why would you be looking for Lanny?”

Callie noticed his familiar use of her husband’s name.  “So you do know him.”

That tic near the corner of his mouth made another appearance.  “Yes.”  He didn’t expand on his one-word answer, and his expression remained closed, unreadable.  “But you didn’t answer my question.  How do you know Leland?”

Callie offered up a quick prayer that Mr. Tyler would arrive soon.  He should be the one making the introductions to his neighbors and friends.  “I’m Callista Johnson Tyler, his wife.”

“Wife!”  Jack set his bag down with a loud thump and sent a sharp look his companion’s way.  “You know what she’s talking about, Virgil?”

The other man shook his head.  “Lanny never said anything about a new wife.”

They certainly were reacting strongly to her news.  She knew Julia had only been gone about four months, but it wasn’t unusual for a widower to remarry so soon, especially when he had a young child to care for.

For that matter, why didn’t they already know about her?  Surely Leland wouldn’t have kept such momentous news from his friends and neighbors?  Unless he’d worried she wouldn’t show up. 

Or was there another, more disturbing reason?  Her heart beat faster as possibilities whirled through her mind.

Realizing the men were watching her, Callie tried to hide her confusion behind a confident air.  “I’m not certain why Mr. Tyler chose to keep this a secret.  Perhaps he was planning to surprise everyone.  But be that as it may, I assure you, I am indeed Mrs. Leland Tyler.  If you’ll be so good as to tell me where my husband can be found, I’m certain he’ll verify my identity.”

Jack took another step forward.  “Perhaps we should introduce ourselves first.”  He swept an arm toward his companion.  “This is Virgil Wilson.” 

She smiled and nodded acknowledgement. “Mr. Wilson.” 

The farmer touched the brim of his hat, ducking his head respectfully.  “Ma’am.”

When she turned back to Jack he was studying her intently, as if trying to read something from her countenance.  Holding her gaze, he extended his hand.  “And I’m Leland’s brother Jack.”

 

 

So what do you think? Did one of these two stories pique your interest more than the other? If so, let me know why.  I’m going to select two names from those responding and give each their choice of one of these two books.

 

 

Welcome Guest – Nerys Leigh!!!

MARRIAGE, CONSENT, AND MAIL ORDER BRIDES
by Nerys Leigh

The issue of consent is very much a hot topic these days, and I think we would all agree that forcing one’s attentions on someone without their consent is wrong. But what about back in the nineteenth century, between a husband and wife? What was a mail order bride to do who had just married a man she didn’t know?

So far in my Escape to the West series, the issue hasn’t come up, with my brides for one reason or another not having to face the prospect of intimacy with a man they’ve only just met. But in More Than Gold, the sixth book in the series, all Gabriel wants is a woman to cook, clean, and warm his bed. In his world, people get married for practical purposes and nothing more. His new wife, however, has different ideas. Despite being forced to travel across the country to marry a man she’s never met, Grace refuses to give up on her dream of being loved and cared for.

So when Gabriel makes his move barely three hours after she arrives, he doesn’t get the response he’s expecting!

Excerpt from “More Than Gold” by Nerys Leigh.

Gabriel rose and walked across the room to her, stopping just a foot away when she turned around.

“You’re a real handsome woman, Grace,” he said, sliding his hands around her waist and leaning in for their first kiss.

A fist slammed into the side of his face, whipping his head round and sending him reeling backwards.

She grabbed a skillet from the cupboard and held it in front of her like a weapon. “What are you doing?!”

He shook his head to clear it. The woman had a right hook most men would have been proud of. “What do you think I’m doing? We’re married. We’re going to do what married folks do.”

It was a perfectly natural assumption, as far as he was concerned.

But not for her, apparently. “We’ve known each other for less than three hours and you expect me to just allow you to have your way with me?”

What was going on here? “Uh… yes?”

She gasped in a horrified breath. “You… you… uncouth brute!”

He was fairly sure uncouth was a bad thing.

Drawing himself up, he pointed his finger at her. “Now wait just a minute. We’re legally wed. It’s not like you’ll be whoring yourself out to me. I’m your husband.”

Her eyes looked like they could pop right out of her head. “Whoring?!”

It may have been a poor choice of words.

He raised both hands, palms out in surrender. “That ain’t what I meant. I’m just saying that it’s natural for a husband and wife to want to…”

“Well I don’t want to, so you keep your hands to yourself!” She brandished the pan, forcing him to step back.

He rubbed at his aching face. If she could do that with just her fist, no telling what kind of damage she could do with a skillet.

He decided to try reasoning with her, from a safe distance. “I know we haven’t been together for long, but we’d been writing letters to each other for nigh on three months before you came. I reckon we know each other plenty. I promise I’ll be real gentle and…”

“You won’t be gentle. You won’t be anything.” She waved the skillet. “Because it isn’t happening!”

So what do you think? Is intimacy simply a matter of being married? Or is it something deeper, coming out of the kind of love, care and respect that will last a lifetime?

 

Comment your thoughts below for the chance to win an ebook of your choice from my Escape to the West series!

Fall Colors, Scents and the Beauty of Autumn — Give Away

Howdy! 

I love Autumn.  Love the scents, the colors, the fall into slumber for trees, the shrubs, the grass, the ever-flowering plants (and the bears).  : )  It’s such a beautiful time of year, that it’s hard to stay inside, isn’t it?  Doesn’t it make you want to get out there and rake leaves and then, of course, jump into that pile?

I grew up in the Mid-West, where autumn was long and gorgeous with golden, yellow, orange and brown leaves and fresh scents.  But…I didn’t know/hadn’t experienced the absolute beauty of the East in the Fall of the year.  My goodness!  Orange, sugar maples, deep red-leaf maple trees,  Japanese maples, ash, oak and golden birch trees, just to name a few.  Takes one’s breath away.

But that’s only using one of our senses to describe this time of year.  How about the scents of falling leaves, the smell of smoke and wood-burning stoves, the cinnamon-ie smells of baked goods, apple cider, the knowledge that Halloween and dress-up is around the corner?  The feel of the earth beneath your feet as it, too, gears up for the winter ahead?  The cool fragrance?  The touch of tree bark and leaves, the sound of leaves falling?  What beauty.

One of my series’ — the Iroquois series — is set in the fall of the year.  When writing that series, I deliberately placed the story in the autumn because in my consideration there is no where in the world like autumn in New England, and the Iroquois Confederation was, of course in New York, deep in the area of the Adirondack Mountains.  A couple of those covers show off the beauty of New England. 

Those books are Black Eagle and Seneca Surrender.  And to the left here are those beautiful covers — one cover from Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and the other from Prairie Rose Publications.

 

 

 


Yes, there will be a give-away today and in celebration of this event, I’ll be giving away three different e-books (please refer to our Giveaway Guidelines).  One of those books will be BLACK EAGLE, since it is set in the Fall.  I’ll also be giving away the e-book, The Princess and the Wolf and the e-book, Brave Wolf and the Lady.   Those covers are off to the right here:  

Now because there is a scene in both BLACK EAGLE and SENECA SURRENDER that describes the fall of that year, I thought I would leave you with an excerpt of that scene.

From the book, BLACK EAGLE and SENECA SURRENDER

By Karen Kay, writing as Gen Bailey

 

White Thunder rested his weight upon his flintlock, looking west, toward the sky, where the sun was a low, half pinkish-orange orb on the horizon, announcing its departure from the day in glorious streaks of sunlight. Shafts of light, streaming from the clouds, beamed down to the earth, looking as though heaven itself smiled kindly upon the land. And what a magnificent land it was. The birch trees were yellow, the maples red, and the oaks announced their descent into a long winter’s sleep with browns, oranges and golds. The hills were alive with autumn hues, while the air was filled with the rich, musky scent of falling leaves.

It was a beautiful time of year, when the days were still warm, but the nights were cool. But it wasn’t the beauty that was set off before him that had drawn him toward the lake this day. He’d been hunting, when something had called to him upon the breeze.  Perhaps it was the rustle of the water that had announced that there was a subtle difference between the lake environment of yesterday and how it was today. But what?

Stepping quietly toward the lake, he squatted and set his musket onto his lap as he bent over to partake of a drink from the water’s cool depths.

Instantly he sat up, alert. From out the corner of his eye he caught the movement of something, and, glancing toward it, he recognized a piece of clothing. A woman’s skirt? Rising, he stepped toward it to get a better look at the thing, if only to satisfy his curiosity.

That’s when he saw her. She was a white woman, blonde-haired and slim.

Was she alive?

After hauling himself onto the rock where she lay, he stepped toward her and bent to look at her. He placed his fingers against her neck, feeling for a pulse. Her body was so very cold, and he was more than a little surprised when he felt the sure sign of life within her. The pulse was weak, but it was still there.

Turning her slightly, he was intrigued by her pale beauty. Of course, being Seneca and from the Ohio Valley, he’d had opportunity to witness the unusual skin color of the white people. But it wasn’t as familiar a sight to him as one might reckon.

Who was she? How had she gotten here? And what had happened to her?

Glancing in all directions, he took in the spectacular sights of the forest. Where did she belong? Who did she belong to?

There was nothing here to answer him, nothing to be seen, no other human presence to be felt. Nothing but the ever expansive rhythm of nature.

Using his right hand to brush her hair back from her face, he noted again how cold she was. However, he couldn’t help but be aware of how soft her skin was, as well. Putting his fingers against her nostrils, he felt the weak intake and outflow of breath. She was alive, barely.

Did he dare take her away from here? A white woman?

He hesitated and waited. He watched. Nyoh, he was the only one here, the only one to settle her fate.

That decided him. If she were to live through the night, he had best take care of her. She needed warmth, nourishment and a chance to heal.

Bending at the waist, he laid his hands over her torso. Depending on the type of injury he might discover, he would either nurse her here or take her to a more protected spot. He ran his fingers gently over each of her arms, including her hands and fingers. He felt for anything broken.

He could detect nothing. Widening his range, he sent his graze over the sides of her ribs, ignoring her ample breasts. Though his scrutiny was fast, it was thorough. Were there any bruises? Was anything broken? Amazingly, he found nothing.

He continued his search down each of her legs. Surely, there must be some clue that would tell of her recent history. Perhaps she had broken her neck, or back? With an easy touch, he tested the theory, sending his fingertips down over the muscles and bone structure of her neck. Nothing. Nothing substantial to indicate a problem that would claim her life. Turning her lightly onto her side, he felt along her spinal column. Several bones were out of place, but nothing was broken. Her body seemed intact.

He frowned. Again, he wondered what had happened to her.

Was it the spirits of the water?  The falls?  This was a dangerous area. Had the force of the rapids claimed another victim?

But why would she have been near the falls? A white woman in the woods alone? His jaw clenched. There had to be someone close by. Glancing up and looking around again, he realized that the puzzle of her appearance would not be solved here. His examination of her had at least established one fact. She was fit to travel.

Taking her into his arms, he was more than aware that she felt light in his grasp. He stepped down off the rock. Not knowing exactly how she had come to be here, he kept his attention attuned to the environment, listening for a sign of other life, anything to indicate the presence of another in the surroundings. She was a beautiful woman. Whomever she belonged to would miss her.

Again, he could sense nothing unusual in the environment around him—not anything that would give him any idea as to what had happened.

Enough. She required care.

Gathering her in his arms, he rushed toward the security of the woods. If someone were here watching, the trees and bushes offered sanctuary. At least there he could hide himself and her, as they fled deeper into the woods. But where would he take her? He hadn’t yet constructed his own shelter for the night, and it was already late in the day.

If his memory served him correctly, there was a cave nearby that might lend itself well for their purposes, provided that a bear or other animal hadn’t laid claim to it. It was a quiet place, if he remembered rightly, away from the all-seeing eyes of the forest. Plus, it was little known by his own and other tribes. Long ago, his grandfather had shown it to him, indicating it might serve well if ever he were in trouble.

As White Thunder hurried toward that spot, he gazed down into the pleasing features of the woman, realizing that his curiosity about her hadn’t abated. However, there would be time enough to discover who she was once they were safely sheltered. For now, he had best make haste to see if the cave were occupied or vacant.

Balancing her weight and his musket into more secure positions, he darted through the forest, disappearing into it.

Below is the cover of SENECA SURRENDER by Samhain Publishing, as it was going to be published before Samhain closed its doors.  It’s a beauty and I thought I’d share it with you.  Please leave a comment and let me know your memories of this time of year.  I’d love to talk to you.

 

Updated: September 26, 2018 — 2:39 pm

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

On sale now:

http://www.amazon.com/Brave-Wolf-Lady-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B07DV7TTWY/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533526313&sr=8-1&keywords=brave+wolf+and+the+lady+by+karen+kay%3C%2Fp%3E&tag=pettpist-20

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/brave-wolf-and-the-lady-n-a-n-a/1128969365?ean=2940162107118

Itunes:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/brave-wolf-and-the-lady/id1403890149?ls=1&mt=11

Kobo:  http://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/brave-wolf-and-the-lady

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.

http://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

 

 

http://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
Petticoats & Pistols © 2015