Category: Native American

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

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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 — another excerpt & free e-book give away

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.  Did I mention that the new book — Brave Wolf and the Lady — is also available in paperback?  The cover is so gorgeous, that it’s thrilling to see it in a book that reminds me of the olden days when one held the book in your hand.

Thought I’d post another excerpt from the book today.  This excerpt happens early in the story and is the first time the hero and heroine interact.  The hero has in fact saved the heroine from a fate that would have taken her life, but they don’t really interact then, and she’s not even sure that he’s the one who saved her from a gang of nasty murderers.

The pictures below are from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and were pictures taken about 10 years apart from this story.  Thought you might like to see them.

BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, an excerpt

by

Karen Kay

Hunger caused Mia to return to the world of the living. She breathed in deeply, if only to ensure she was still alive. As the sweet taste of oxygen filled her lungs, she realized that it was not in her destiny to die here today. Was she happy with that fact?

She wasn’t certain. Perhaps there was merit in dying alongside her husband, yet the welcome scent of oxygen taken into her body made her glad for a reason she could not quite define.

Was that wrong? Truth was, had death come to her this day, she knew she would have welcomed it. And yet…

She sat up as her stomach growled. Being alive meant she would require food to eat, and there should be provision enough in her wagon. But on the tail end of this thought came another: such nourishment would require a fire, and the good Lord help her, she didn’t have the energy or the will to start one right now.

But there would be water in the wagon. That would have to be enough, she decided, at least for the time being.

Apparently she was alone, for there was little more than the stirring of the wind in the trees to hear. Rising up, she glanced down at her dress. The fact that the material was blood-soaked didn’t bother her. It was Jeffrey’s blood, and therefore, sacred to her. Indeed, she might never wash this dress. But she would change out of it. It smelled bad.

As she quickly surveyed the valley around her, the gradual stench of the dead was starting to permeate the air. She put her hands over her nose, as if the action might make the smell go away. But it didn’t work.

Perhaps she possessed a scarf that she might tie around her face. It was either that or suffer it, since her only option was to stay here and await the other wagon train, which, if she remembered correctly, would be coming here soon.

She stepped toward her wagon.

Hau.”

Mia stopped deadly still. Someone had spoken. She wasn’t imagining it. She knew she wasn’t. Was it Jeffrey? Was he alive after all?

Slowly, she turned around. It was dusk, which made it difficult to see clearly.

“Hau. Yahíacipe manke.” A man rose up from his position atop a rock.

Mia screamed.

“Wan ka wan! Yahíacipe manke.” The man stepped toward her, his hands outstretched as if he were speaking with his hands alone. In broken English, he said, “I…no harm…mean you.”

It was that Indian! The young one with white and black paint over his eyes and a red band tied around his head! She screamed again, and, spinning around, fled to her wagon.

She clambered into the back of it, toward the spot where she and Jeffrey had kept their weapons. There it was. A rifle. Was it loaded? Quickly she checked it.

It wasn’t. With trembling fingers, she put a cartridge into it, and, clicking it closed, she pushed its muzzle through a bullet crack in the white canvas tarp. She breathed in deeply.

No! This wasn’t right. The Indian might come through the back, or even use the front of the wagon to get at her. Worse, he was probably a better shot than she was.

Not knowing what to do, she sat back on her heels and cried. Had she lived through the worst of the day only to have to endure more? Was her future to be torture at the hands of Indians? Rape?

At last, not knowing what else to do, she called out, “I have a gun and I know how to use it. Don’t come any closer.”

Waunkinioinéktsni.”

“Don’t come any closer to me.”

“I…have…with you…no…fight….”

“You stay there. I’ll stay here.”

Hau, hau. Yes.”

His voice sounded as if it came from a distance farther away. Had she frightened him?

Not likely. Well, she thought, there was nothing else for it. She would have to stay here on guard the night through. Drat! The water was in a keg outside the wagon.

Biting down hard on her lip, she sat back against her legs, shifting her body into a position that she might be able to defend, regardless of what direction he might choose to stage his attack. And an attack was brewing. She was certain of it.

But she would catch him before he could harm her. This she promised herself.

***

The smell of food awakened her. Mia jerked herself into alertness. Oh, dear Lord, she had slept! How could she? And why was she still alive?

The aroma from outside the wagon smelled wonderful, though. She recognized the scents of bacon and eggs and her stomach growled. Did Indians eat bacon and eggs? She had heard that they subsisted on nothing but buffalo.

Her stomach spoke to her again, this time with hunger pangs. Guardedly, she sat forward so that she could look out through the crack in the wagon’s canvas. There he was! That Indian. His countenance around his eyes was still painted in a mask-like design, as though he were adorning himself for war, but at least he had laid his weapons far away from him. They weren’t even within easy reach for him. Had he done this in order to tell her without words that it was safe for her to come out?

No, she couldn’t go out there. He might kill her.

Ah, but the scent of those bacon and eggs… Her mouth watered.

The Indian suddenly glanced up toward the wagon, as though he could see her through the crack. Could he?

He didn’t say a word, however. Instead, he smiled and gestured toward her where she kept watch in the wagon. Then using his hands, he indicated a spot next to him. He held out a cup of water toward her.

His actions spoke for themselves, and Mia gulped. Could she trust him?

No. Never!

However, she reasoned, he hadn’t attacked her last night, when she had been at her most vulnerable. Slowly, with rifle clutched firmly in front of her, she stood to her feet and stepped out from under the canvas covering.

As she glanced toward him, the wind wafted toward her, bringing with it that fragrance of the bacon. Perhaps it was this which was her undoing, and she found herself speaking up, saying to him, “Do you have any extra food?”

Again, he smiled at her. “Hau. U wo.” Then in English. “Come…sit…eat. I have…plenty.”

Mia swallowed hard. She glanced toward his weapons that still remained far away from him, then at the fire and the food cooking. Her stomach rumbled.

That decided it.

Slowly, with the rifle held in a ready position, she climbed down from the wagon, keeping the Indian always within her view. Looking downward, she grimaced at the bloodstains on her dress, for she had been unable to change out of it.

But he did nothing more than grin at her, and, despite her misgivings, she noted that he was handsome in a savage sort of way—at least she thought he might be beneath all that white and black paint, as well as that red headband he wore. And he was young, perhaps only a little older than she was.

The observation gave her a sense of ease…at least a little. She said, “I would like a bit of that, if you have some to spare.”

He nodded, and again motioned toward her, picking up the cup of water and holding it out to her. One slow step followed upon another until she stood within a few feet of him. With her right hand, she held the rifle, not pointed at him, but in an ever-ready position. With her left, she reached toward the water.

She didn’t wish to appear greedy, but as soon as the liquid came close to her lips, instinct took over, and she gulped down every last drop of it. Glancing up, she returned the cup to him, then wiped her mouth. Glancing up, she saw that he was studying her.

Once more he nodded, and he looked amusedly at her.

“It’s good,” she said, and not knowing what else to do, she returned his smile. There was a plate filled with bacon and eggs, and he gestured toward her, obviously asking her to sit. She wouldn’t. She didn’t dare.

But when he held the plate out to her, she found her hand stretching forward toward it. However, she couldn’t hold the plate, eat and keep her weapon in a position where she could use it, if that were to become necessary.

He solved the problem by holding the plate for her. Tentatively at first, she reached for a piece of bacon. It took no more than bringing it close to her face for her to practically stuff the food in her mouth.

She didn’t stop at one piece. She ate everything on the plate, including the eggs. Her body thanked her for her wisdom in not refusing the food. And, prayer-like, Mia silently thanked this young man.

Only when she had appeased her appetite did she see that he withdrew the plate. Then he offered her the water again.

Gladly, she accepted. “Thank you.”

He nodded.

He started to rise. Alarmed, she stepped back and held up the rifle.

Holding up his hands, he brought himself into a position on his knees before he stood to his feet. He was a tall man, she noted once again, tall and slim with the firm muscles of an athlete. He wore no shirt this morning, she observed reluctantly, and her gaze lingered on the beaded necklace that hung down over his chest. A large claw hung there, and she could only surmise that it might be the claw from some huge beast. A bear?

She had once seen a bear at her home back in Virginia. The incident had so frightened her that she had never again ventured into the heavy woods that surrounded her home. Had this boy/man killed a bear?

The thought had her setting her rifle in a ready position, but he simply reached out away from her, to grab hold of another slab of bacon, whereupon he placed it on the skillet that sat atop a smoke-less fire. As soon as he had accomplished the task, he sat down again and looked up at her.

Pointing at himself, he said, “Lak??”. Then he motioned toward her.

“That is your name? Lakota?”

Hiyá, no. Lak??…my…” He frowned and muttered, “Oyáte…tribe.”

“Oh. Then what is your name?”

“I…,” he pointed to himself, “speak it…cannot. Manners…bad.”

“I see. Well then, since I don’t wish to cause you bad manners, I suppose I’ll have to address you as Mr. Lakota.”

When he didn’t speak or protest in any other way, she bowed her head slightly in acknowledgement, and said, “But I should tell you my name so you’ll know what to call me. Mia. My name is Mia.”

He nodded. “Hau, Mi-a.”

Hau? Does that mean hello.”

Hau, hello. Also means…yes,” he affirmed, then he gestured around their camp. “Your…husband…die?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “Yes. He died.” She swallowed back the gulp in her voice.

“I…stay to…help…you…”

“Why? Why would you help me?”

“Woman…” he gestured toward her, “…die…” He frowned as he obviously searched his memory for the right word. “…Die,” he continued, “…if…if no help.”

She came down onto her haunches and sat, her calves pulled into a position under her. She laid the rifle on her lap. “I think I understand what you’re trying to say. That I might die if you don’t help me.”

He nodded.

“It is kind of you to be concerned about me,” she said, “but there is another wagon train coming this way—it is behind us. I can wait here for them.”

He frowned. Then training his gaze on her, he replied, “No…sea…of…white…” He shook his head. “None. Wagons…no.”

“Perhaps you didn’t see it. The guide said it was a few days behind us.”

Again, the young man shook his head. “Wagon…train…none. Not…behind. Not…in front.”

Mia furrowed her brow. Surely this wasn’t right. Hadn’t that trail guide told them that there was a wagon at their rear? It was the only reason they’d stopped here.

Then another thought crossed her mind. Had the man been lying? She blinked a few times. Then she looked up at Mr. Lakota. She asked, “Are you telling me the truth? That there is no wagon train near here? None at all?”

Hau. Train…none.” He nodded.

“I can’t believe that. Why…” It came to her then. The scout—the man they had all trusted—might have been one of the murderers. He had left their small party to return to his own wagon train. But if there were no train, if he had done this only to—

She caught her breath. If he had been one of their attackers, then he would be here amongst the dead, dressed in Indian garb like the rest of his fellows. She hated to do it, to search over the dead, but she would have to do it. If that man were here, it meant that she and this small wagon train had been utterly betrayed.

She didn’t say a word. Instead, she rose up to her feet, and turning her back on the Indian, she stepped out amongst the dead. She found the man after some little search. He was, indeed, dressed as an Indian, but he was also easily recognized.

She swayed. The truth was a hard matter to come face-to-face with.

That man had utterly deceived them. But why? Had someone in their midst cheated one of these murderers? Cheated all of them? Try as she might, Mia could think of no reasonable explanation for the slaughter, outside of— What was that they’d said about a woman with red hair? She couldn’t quite recall what had been said now, but it seemed to her that it might have something to do with her.

Perhaps it was her lack of understanding of the motives involved in this slaughter, or maybe it was fear or anger that caused her to teeter on her feet. She felt oddly weak. She ran a hand over her eyes, realizing she was going to be sick to her stomach. Her knees buckled under her, and despite her best efforts, she fell to the ground at the same time that the contents of her stomach spilled up. But she didn’t reach the ground.

Sturdy arms came around her to catch hold of her, and she was brought up firmly against the chest of her rescuer. Oddly, before she lost consciousness altogether, she was aware that his arms felt good around her.

What an unusual thought, she decided before the all-consuming blackness of unconsciousness engulfed her once again.

 

Well that’s all for now.  Did I mention that I’ll be giving away a free e-book of this story.  So do come on in and leave a comment.

Updated: July 25, 2018 — 7:24 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

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

Ballet, ballet, ballet

Good Morning!

Thought I’d take a little liberty and post a few pictures of family and our beautiful ballerina.  End of school, summer vacation sometimes brings on recitals, and so I thought I’d share these with you today.

I’ll start with some photos from last Christmas.

 

I love both of these pictures so very much.

Now we had quite a few snowstorms this year — and a not inconsiderable amount of snow fallen.  Inches and inches.

The next photo was taken during one of those snowstorms — you can see the accumulation, can’t you?  I think by the time it was finished, it was about 15 inches.

My husband and our dog are out there shoveling that snow. 

Off to the right here is the ballerina and her half-sister, my step-granddaughter.  So beautiful.

The next photo — off to the left — is my daughter and the ballerina, coming out to receive all the flowers and say hello to us all.

Next picture is from left to right: Grandma, my daughter and of course the ballerina.

Wonderful.

And the next photo off to the right,, and below, are the girls and one boy.

 

This last photo is from Memorial Day.  Hubby and I went out to hike and see some waterfalls and enjoy the day where we all celebrate and give honor to those who gave all they had to give for their country and for all of us Americans.

What did you do for Memorial Day?

Although I’m going to be giving away a free e-book to some lucky blogger, I must tell you that the recently passed regulations in the UK makes me hesitate — at least until I learn a little bit more about it.  Let me reiterate here that off to the left are the Give-Away Guidelines — if you haven’t already read them, please do so at your earliest convenience.  Let me state a couple of them that are important:  the give-away applies to those living in the USA only; also, one must be 18 years or older to be a winner.  Another that sometimes gets overlooked is that we do depend on your coming to the blog within a couple of days to see if you have won.  Often we authors work more than one job, and so this consideration helps us a lot.

Also, on my own website, I have a new privacy disclosure in order to comply as best we can with the new regulations from the UK.  Here is the link:

http://novels-by-karenkay.com/privacy-policy

The new book, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, is almost ready for release.  It is currently in its third round of edits — so soon…(knock on wood).

Do come on in and leave a message — I read them all and I answer them all as best I can — sometimes I can’t read them until the next day, but I do read them all.  Join me again on Tuesday in two weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated: June 4, 2018 — 1:49 pm

The American Indian and Moral Code

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.  While edits of Brave Wolf and the Lady are in progress, I find myself involved in plotting out my next story, and so of course I have my nose in much research.  Lately, I’m reading the book, The Soul of the Indian, An Interpretation by Charles A. Eastman (Ohiyesa) — a Sioux Indian who wrote several books in the early part of the last century.  A Chapter entitled BARBARISM AND THE MORAL CODE is one of extreme interest, and so I though I’d share with you a little bit from this chapter, as I find it fascinating.

To the right here is a picture of a young Charles Eastman.  He was of mixed descent.  His maternal grandmother, daughter of Chief Cloudman of the Mdewankton Sioux, was married to a well-known western artist, Captain Seth Eastman, and in 1847 their daughter, Mary Nancy Eastman became the wife of Chief Many Lightnings, a Wahpeton Sioux.  Their fifth child, Charles Alexander Eastman, as a four-year-old was given the name Ohiyesa (the Winner).  During the Sioux Uprising of 1862, Ohiyesa became separated from his father — his mother had died soon after his birth — and fled from the reservation in Minnesota to Canada under the protection of his grandmother and uncle.  There he was schooled in the Indian ways until the age of fifteen, when he was reunited with his father, who took him back to his homestead in present South Dakota.

Eastman went on to become one of the best-known Indians of his time, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from Dartmouth in 1887 and a medical degree from Boston University three years later.  From his first appointment as a physician at Pine Ridge Agency, where he witnessed the events that culminated in the Wounded Knee massacre, he sought to bring understanding between Native and non-Native Americans.   Source Reference from the back blurb of the book, The Soul of the Indian, An Interpretation.

 

To the left here is a picture of Adam Beach who played Charles Eastman in the film, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.  They look so very similar, don’t they?  Of course, I’m a Adam Beach fan.

So here we go, here are some gems that I’ve underlined in this chapter of his book:

“The man who preserves his selfhood ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence — not a leaf, as it were, astir on the tree; not a ripple upon the surface of shining pool — his, in the mind of the unlettered sage, is the ideal attitude and conduct of life.”

And since we write romance, I thought I’d call attention to this gem:

“No man can hope to maintain such a temple of the spirit beyond the period of adolescence, unless he is able to curb his indulgence in the pleasures of the senses.  Upon this truth the Indian built a rigid system of physical training, a social and moral code that was the law of his life.

“There was aroused in him as a child a high ideal of manly strength and beauty, the attainment of which must depend upon strict temperance in eating and in sexual relation, together with severe and persistent exercise. … He was required to fast from time to time for short periods, and to work off his superfluous energy by means of hard running, swimming, and the vapor-bath.  The bodily fatigue thus induced, especially when coupled with a reduced diet, is a reliable cure for undue sexual desires.”

This is a link to a short video about this book and about Charles Eastman:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-HPThJPHAI

 

Here’s another quote from the book that I found intriguing:

“The public or tribal position of the Indian is entirely dependent upon his private virtue, and he is never permitted to forget that he does not live to himself alone, but to his tribe and his clan.”

 

And here’s a clip from the movie, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee:

http://youtu.be/S0n_UJuDMeM

I hope you have enjoyed this blog today, and I hope you will each on leave a comment.  I will be offering a free copy of my latest book THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF.

Updated: April 23, 2018 — 8:04 pm

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

Howdy!

And welcome to another wonderful Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF

by

Karen Kay

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

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

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

Alas, however, High Wolf saw nothing of her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could she swim?

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least she was still breathing.

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

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

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

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

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

“And who will keep you afloat?”

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

“But—”

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

“I… I…”

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

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

But a moment was all he could afford.

THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF

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

 

 

Updated: April 10, 2018 — 10:41 am

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

Howdy!  Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

“What?”

“Rain Makers.”

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

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

“I have.”

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

“Ah, I begin to understand.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If their medicine is good.”

“Oh, really?”

“It is so..”

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

“I do.”

“All because they implore the Creator for help?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

“And the man on top of the lodge?”

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

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

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

“What is he saying?”

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

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

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

“The fourth?”

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

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

“Perhaps.”

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

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

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

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

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

Prince Alathom?  Here?

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

Was he a ghost?

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

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

Or remorse?

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

 

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

 

It had come. She would lose High Wolf.

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

 

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

 

No!

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

 

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

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

 

No!

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

Yet her duty would be to…

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

 

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

 

Even Grandfather’s words came back to consume her.

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Princess and the Wolf

by

Karen Kay

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

 

Updated: March 19, 2018 — 10:09 pm

The Princess and the Wolf, another excerpt

Howdy!

Welcome, welcome to a new week here at Petticoats and Pistols.  As you can see, I’m filling in for Winnie, who is busy, busy, busy at this moment.  Hope you will welcome me in her place for today.

Since a new has just been released, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, I thought I’d post another excerpt of the book.  I’ll post the blurb for the book so that the scene might make a little more sense, and then the excerpt.  Hope you’ll enjoy.  Do leave a comment, because as usual, I will do a drawing and gift this book to some lucky blogger.

I absolutely love this cover.  What do you think?

Here is the blurb of the book:

TWO HEARTS BETRAYED

Refusing to believe the rumors that the European prince she was forced to marry had died in a far-off land, the princess, Sierra, sets sail to America, bent on revenge and determined to learn the truth. Because she will require a scout to guide her through the wilderness, she calls in a favor from the man who had betrayed her long ago, the man she had once loved deeply and had hoped to wed, the noble Cheyenne scout, High Wolf.

Many years before, a European prince had invited High Wolf to travel an ocean and as a brother, to live as a member of the royal family. There High Wolf had fallen in love with the princess, Sierra. But instead of an engagement and the planned wedding, the princess had treacherously married his friend, the prince. Betrayed and broken-hearted, High Wolf sailed back to America, determined to forget the princess. But a promise given to her years earlier brings her back into his life, igniting a desire he must resist, for to surrender to her again is unthinkable.

Forced into one another’s company, with the threat of life or death around every corner, overcoming their prejudice might be their only means of survival. But can either of them trust in a love, once betrayed? Or will their past force them apart again, this time forever?…

This book has been previously published.

Warning: A sensuous romance that might fan the flames of desire. Be warned. You might fall in love all over again.
And here’s an excerpt from the book.  Enjoy!

The Princess and the Wolf

by

Karen Kay

 

A shadow crept over the water, moving steadily forward. It was looking for something, or someone. But what? Or rather, who?

By evening, Princess Sierra was once again to be found on deck, leaning against the railing, gazing down into the depths of the muddy and frightening waters of the Missouri River.

The boat was in readiness to move into position for its nightly mooring, and every voyageur was involved in the process of maneuvering the Diana through the heavy currents of the river. Perhaps that was why the air was heavy with smoke, much more so than usual. Or maybe it had something to do with the wind, which had shifted from the west to the north.

Dusk had yet to fade into darkness. Indeed, it was still quite light out, despite the fact that the sun was ever so gradually setting. Odd how the land picked up the pink and golden hues of the sky at sunset, the land magnifying the sunset’s intensity by creating the illusion that sky and land were one and the same. It gave a body the feeling of space, as though a person’s troubles gained room, moving away and dissipating.

But Sierra’s problems were far too large for the simple act of gaining space to solve them. The rift between herself and the prince, between herself and High Wolf, was too immense to make the grievance so easily resolved.

Still, glancing away from the sunset, she brought her sights back to the water, noticing how even the river mirrored the sky; the pinks, the blues, the golden hues. For a moment, if a moment only, these sights gave her peace.

Leisurely, she glanced toward a large stick, which had become caught up in the current, the force of the river itself spinning it, making the stick look as though it were dancing…as though it might be a dancer.

It reminded her of another place, another time…a happier time. And without consciously wishing it, she remembered…

 

Wide-eyed, Sierra Morena Colheart watched the toy ballet dancer spin in time to the tinkling strain of the music box. She stared at the miniature dancer, fascinated, until the music at last slowed and the dancer stopped. Glancing up at herself in the mirror, the sixteen-year-old princess smiled at her own image; her grin, young and fresh, was full of vigor. Indeed, it was the giddy gesture of a young woman in love.

Ah, she thought. Tonight was the night. Tonight it would happen. Dreamy-eyed, she stared out her window, only to witness the reddish rays of the setting sun.

Goodness, how long had she sat here, lost in thought? What was the time? Was it already half past six, the scheduled time she was to meet High Wolf? Was he even now awaiting her in their own secret place?

Glancing at the grand, old clock in the corner of her room, she realized she was “going before herself again,” as High Wolf had often said of her, which meant, she supposed, that she was living in the future instead of the present. The clock read only a quarter to five.

Still, she had much to do to prepare for the evening. Where was her maid?

Arising from her seat at the vanity, Sierra felt the urge to run to the rope that would summon Maria. But instead, she cautioned herself into taking steps that were as precise and dignified as her anxious heart would allow. But even then, a silent voice reprimanded:

“A monarch never hurries. Others will wait. You must learn, Princess Sierra, purred Father Junipero, “to sweep into a room as though you own it, and everyone in it.”

But sometimes, thought Sierra, she wished to simply let go of convention and formality. Wasn’t that what High Wolf often did? And if there were one wish Princess Sierra desired more than anything, it was to do everything that High Wolf found exciting.

Still, the habits of the last sixteen years could hardly be ignored, and she walked as calmly as she could to her door, where she rang for her maid.

Almost at once, Maria knocked gently at the door.

“Yes, Maria, do come in.”

Maria did as bid, bowing as she came farther into the room. “May I be of service, Your Highness?” she asked.

Sierra grinned. “Yes, you may, Maria. I need to dress for this evening, for it is to be a very special evening.”

Maria nodded. “Yes, Your Highness. That it is,” she said. “Have you thought of what you might wear? The yellow gown always looks well on you, as does the blue. Although since this is to be a special night, you might think of wearing the new gros de Naples gown. What do you think?”

“Hmmm. The gros de Naples, I think, but not the brown one. The pink one with the satin flowers and pearls. And of course I’ll need my long gloves, the pink pair.”

“Yes, Your Highness. The pink pair.”

“Oh, Maria, think of it,” urged the princess, holding up a pelisse robe to her bosom while she spun about in place. “This is the night my engagement is to be announced. It is to be the best night of my life. I just know it. I can feel it.”

Maria grinned back happily. “Yes, Your Highness,” she said matter-of-factly, and stepped to the closet, where she extracted a pair of white slippers.

“The pink ones, please, Maria.”

“Yes, of course,” agreed Maria, replacing the white pair. “And your hair? Would you prefer ringlets at the side of your face, as you usually wear, or curls?”

“Ringlets, I believe, as well as…”

“Pearls?”

“Ah, yes, pearls. Pearls to ornament my hair tonight instead of a coronet or tiara.”

“Yes, Your Highness. It will be beautiful. You will be beautiful.”

“Do you really think so?”

“I do.”

“But we must hurry, I think. I’m to meet with High Wolf and the prince before the ball, and I don’t wish to be late.”

“Heaven forbid, Your Highness.”

For a moment, Sierra stopped, glancing askance at her maid. And then, without a word being spoken between the two of them, both females broke out in laughter.

Maria said, “I think the gentlemen will wait, do you not think so, also?”

“I believe you are right,” said Sierra. “The gentlemen will wait. But still, I would not cheat myself of a single moment that I might spend with High Wolf.”

Maria smiled. “Ah, to be so much in love. I wish it were I.”

“Someday it will be, Maria. But for now we must hurry.”

“Yes, Your Highness. We must. Now, if you would be so kind as to be seated, I will begin work on your hair.”

“Yes, Maria,” said the princess, dutifully taking her place at the vanity. “Anything you say, Maria,” she said, grinning widely and catching her maid’s gaze before both young women succumbed once again to a fit of giggles..

.

“Princess Sierra? Your Highness, shall I turn down your bed?”

Sierra jumped, startled. Maria’s voice, so close at hand, awakened her from out of the past, but none too gently. She took a moment to compose herself before saying, “Ah, no, not yet, Maria. I think I may watch the sunset for a while tonight. For in truth, you caught me deep in thought.”

“Did I?” asked Maria. “I am so sorry. And yet, it is a beautiful sunset. I can easily see how one could get lost in it.”

“Indeed.”

Maria hesitated, as though waiting for her mistress to say more, but when Sierra remained silent, Maria spoke up, saying, “If you don’t mind, I believe I will go on below and prepare your bed anyway. Perhaps an early bedtime for me, also, will refresh me.”

“That would be most advantageous,” said Sierra. “In the meanwhile, I think I’ll go topside and have a talk with our captain about this journey and when we might at last arrive at our destination.”

“Ah,” said Maria, “that would be most opportune.”

“Thank you, Maria.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” said Maria, and curtsying, she retreated.

But Sierra never did seek out the captain, nor did she change her position from against the rail. Too many thoughts had been brought back to mind; too many recollections were close to hand. And without consciously willing it, her mind replayed that most memorable night…

***

“My father said he would be announcing your engagement tonight,” said Prince Alathom.

Both Sierra and High Wolf grinned at each other, while High Wolf took her gloved hand in his, bringing it to his lips, where he pressed a kiss upon it. He said, “You are the most stunning creature in all the world .”

Sierra blushed, then grinned and looked shyly away. “There are many more young women who are prettier still than I. Many.”

“Where?” asked High Wolf. “Show them to me, for I do not think they exist.”

Sierra merely smiled rapturously up at him while Prince Alathom groaned aloud, saying, “I’m going to have to teach you some new forms of flattery, my fine friend, for I tire of hearing the same words said over and over.”

“Tire all you like,” High Wolf objected. “You may go elsewhere if you don’t like it, for I speak only the truth as I see it.”

Despite all her upbringing to the contrary, Princess Sierra giggled. Just then, as though in accompaniment to the merry sound of the three friends’ laughter, the strains of violins and cellos reached out to them.

“Oh, High Wolf, Alathom, the dance begins,” Sierra observed. “And I am so very anxious to dance. Shall we go?”

“We shall,” agreed High Wolf as he linked her arm with his, leaving Prince Alathom to follow along behind them, a circumstance to which the prince had never given objection.

“Alathom?” the princess called out over her shoulder.

“Yes?”

“Please, come up on the other side of me, that the three of us may enter into the room together and be announced at the same time.”

And without another word, Prince Alathom did exactly as asked…

***

Loud bells rang out unpleasantly, interrupting her reminiscence.

“Fire!”

What was that? Fire? Here? Now? Was that why there had been a smoke-heavy odor in the air?

“All hands on deck,” rang out the call. “All hands on deck. Fire!”

Without further pause, what had once been a calm evening turned riotous. Men rushed by her, below her, above her. Horses whinnied in the haul, while the hogs shrieked.

Sierra stood still, frozen, watching, barely able to comprehend the danger as being real. It had seemed so quiet only a few moments previous. Where was Mr. Dominic? Where was Maria?

She needed to find them…now. Turning, she backed up from the railing, intent on running away. However, she did no more than set herself into the path of a voyageur, who had suddenly come upon her. Inadvertently, she knocked him to the deck.

“I’m so sorry,” she apologized as she threw herself forward and out of the way. Quickly, she clung to the rail as the man jumped to his feet and sped away, all without uttering a word.

“Your Highness.”

It was Mr. Dominic. Somehow he had found her.

“Your Highness, you must come this way.” Taking hold of her elbow, he gestured toward his left. “I will see you safely into the lifeboat.”

“A lifeboat?” Abruptly, the panic of those around her took substance, became more of a reality. Still, “Surely that’s not necessary, is it? These men are undoubtedly able to put out a fire.”

“That they probably are, Your Highness, but there is still danger in staying here. If the voyageurs do manage to put out the fire, you can always reboard. But first you must be safe.”

“Do you know what has caused this?”

“Yes, Your Highness. The cotton being carried upriver caught fire, and has nearly consumed the lower level. It has been discovered too late, I fear. Now, come. There is no time to lose.”

Taking her arm, he propelled her along with him as he fought his way toward the lifeboat, shoving through the hurrying crowd of voyageurs. Confusion reigned supreme, and men rushed by them with little regard to what they did, more times than not pushing Mr. Dominic and Sierra out of the way.

Within moments, although it seemed to Sierra to take a lifetime, the two caught a glimpse of the lifeboat. Through the haze of smoke, they could see that several other passengers were scrambling toward it.

Sierra stared around her, coughing as she inhaled soot and smoke. “Where is Maria?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” answered Mr. Dominic, “but I am certain she will find her way here on her own.”

“Find her own way?… Mr. Dominic, do not lie to me. If she could easily come here, she would be here. Why is she not?”

Mr. Dominic didn’t answer.

“There must be trouble, I fear. Please, go and see to her.”

“I cannot, Your Highness. My first duty is to you, and we must get you quickly aboard this lifeboat, while there is still room aboard her.”

“Yes, you are right, I must, but you will not stay with me a moment longer. You are to go and find Maria.”

“Your Highness,” pleaded Mr. Dominic, “you cannot not ask me to desert you. It would cause me great alarm, for not only are you my first concern, I am duty-bound to your father, having promised him that I would not leave your side.”

“Mr. Dominic, how could you make a promise like that to my father?”

“It seemed little enough to ask.”

“Yes, well, you can ease your mind, Mr. Dominic. You have done your duty. My father could not have foreseen all situations that would arise on this trip.”

Mr. Dominic didn’t answer.

“Do you not see? I cannot leave this vessel until I can determine what has happened to Maria. What if she has fallen somewhere? My mind would never rest easy if I saved myself and deserted her.”

“But Your Highness—”

“It is either you go to see about her, or I will do it, myself.”

Mr. Dominic looked uncertain.

“Man the lifeboat!”

Eyes wide, Sierra grabbed hold of Mr. Dominic’s sleeve. She pleaded, “Tell me, is there another lifeboat aboard this vessel?”

“No, there is not, Your Highness.”

“Then you must leave this instant. You must find Maria, stay with her and keep her safe. Do you hear me? I will gladly step into this lifeboat, but not until you—”

Suddenly, Mr. Dominic bent over and picked her up, setting her into the boat. Then, straddling one leg over the side of the boat, he began to climb into it.

But Sierra would have none of that. She jumped up from her seat, straddling the boat herself, her pose an obvious dare. “Please.  I command you to find Maria this very instant. I would be of little help to her, as I cannot swim, but if you do not go, I will.”

“Your Highness, I beg you. I…” Mr. Dominic trailed off his objection, looking, for all that he was big and muscular, as though he might wail. But at last he appeared to capitulate, releasing his straddle from the lifeboat.

“Now go!” It was Sierra commanding again. “Before more time is wasted, go! I promise that I will ride this lifeboat to shore. Do not worry about me. I will await you both from the safety of the shoreline. Go quickly!”

Mr. Dominic looked as though he would raise yet another objection, but, as the flames climbed higher into the smoke-laden sky, and with little choice other than to obey his monarch, Mr. Dominic turned and fled in the direction of the maid’s cabin.

 

 

Chapter 9

 

“ ’Tis said she is the cause of our own prince’s death.”

“Aye,” said the housemaid, “that she is. ’Tis rumored as well that he died rather than return here to her side.”

Gossip between servants at

Prince Alathom’s castle

 

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

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

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

Alas, however, High Wolf saw nothing of her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could she swim?

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least she was still breathing.

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

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

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

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

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

“And who will keep you afloat?”

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

“But—”

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

“I… I…”

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

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

But a moment was all he could afford.

 

THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF

http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Wolf-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B079QPW33V/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520213225&sr=8-1&keywords=the+princess+and+the+wolf+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

 

Updated: March 4, 2018 — 8:36 pm

New Released E-Book, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, Excerpt

Howdy!

Yes, indeed, The Princess and the Wolf has just been released in e-book format.  Plus, it’s undergone a terrific job in the editing department.  But before I get into the excerpt for the new book, I wanted to send out a call to all of my former Warriorettes.  My newest book, Brave Wolf and the Lady, will be coming out within a few months.  Currently it is undergoing editing.  It’s exciting for me, because Brave Wolf and the Lady is not only a brand new book, it has a cameo appearance of two very dear characters from my first book, Lakota Surrender.  The hero of the new book is the son of those two main characters.  So if you were ever one of my Warriorettes, please do contact me at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net.

Isn’t this an absolutely beautiful cover?  I love the pose.  I love the clothing.  I love the background.  It is my pleasure to show you this very newest cover — excerpt to follow.

I will be giving away a free copy of the book today, so please please sure to leave a comment — all you need to do to enter into the drawing.  All of our guidelines for give-aways apply — something I must say.

So here we go:  I’ll post the blurb, a few reviews, and then the excerpt.  Hope you will enjoy.

The Princess and the Wolf

by

Karen Kay

TWO HEARTS BETRAYED

Refusing to believe the rumors that the European prince she was forced to marry had died in a far-off land, the princess, Sierra, sets sail to America, bent on revenge and determined to learn the truth. Because she will require a scout to guide her through the wilderness, she calls in a favor from the man who had betrayed her long ago, the man she had once loved deeply and had hoped to wed, the noble Cheyenne scout, High Wolf.

Many years before, a European prince had invited High Wolf to travel an ocean and as a brother, to live as a member of the royal family. There High Wolf had fallen in love with the princess, Sierra. But instead of an engagement and the planned wedding, the princess had treacherously married his friend, the prince. Betrayed and broken-hearted, High Wolf sailed back to America, determined to forget the princess. But a promise given to her years earlier brings her back into his life, igniting a desire he must resist, for to surrender to her again is unthinkable.

Forced into one another’s company, with the threat of life or death around every corner, overcoming their prejudice might be their only means of survival. But can either of them trust in a love, once betrayed? Or will their past force them apart again, this time forever?…

This book has been previously published.

Warning: A sensuous romance that might fan the flames of desire. Be warned. You might fall in love all over again.

Reviews:

An adventure of the heart, this story will carry you to the heights of excitement as two old friends meet and the depths of despair when they acknowledge what they’ve lost.  Set in the days when the Missouri River was largely an unknown, untamed territory, the reader will thrill to the danger and joys the two share as they travel toward Fort Clark on their mission to learn the truth of Prince Alathom’s disappearance.

Highly recommended as a rewarding way to spend pleasant hours.  A trip back in time with descriptions so clear, you will feel as though you’ve been inside the homes and forts of the day;  A tale written by an author who knows her subject and writes from the heart.  Enjoy.

Anne K. Edwards

Review:

Karen Kay does a masterful job of weaving the past and the present together so that the two stories seem destined to connect.  The fierce passion and sensuality makes the story sparkle.  The characters dance off the page and come to life, remaining long after the end of the story.

Lori Soard, Reviewer

Review:

Karen Kay captures the hearts of her readers.  With beauty and elegance we become one with the Indian scout, with nature, with our senses.  We walk in their shoes, smell the damp leaves on the forest floor and visualize all the colors in a sunrise.  TheBestReviews.com

Review:

Karen Kay has a talent to pull you into the story and not let you go until it’s finished.  Even then, the story stays with you long after the last page.  High Wolf not only takes Princess Sierra on a journey, he takes the reader on one as well.  RomanceJunkies.com

Review:

The Princess and the Wolf gives readers a new thrill, taking one Princess and a Cheyenne brave, and turning what is forbidden into a fiery passion that was meant to be.  Writers and Readers Network.

 

Enjoy this excerpt from The Princess and the Wolf

 

“The housekeeper tells that tis well known the prince would divorce her, were he here,” said the kitchen maid.

“Aye, that he would,” replied the housemaid. “And good riddance, says I. It was she that drove him away. That she did.”

 

Gossip between servants at

Prince Alathom’s  Castle

 

“Do you wish anything else before we go ashore?”

“No, Maria,” answered Princess Sierra, watching from her perch high above the dock, as Governor Clark stepped from the carriage, accompanied by an Indian maiden. “I do not require anything else at the moment. You’ve done quite well, my friend, despite the demanding conditions of this vessel.” She gave Maria a brief smile. “Would you please find Mr. Dominic and inform him that I am ready to leave this ship?”

“Yes, Your Highness. At once. Do we go to greet Governor Clark, then?”

“I believe so,” said the princess. “And for this task, I will have need of you both to accompany me.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” Maria said, curtsying before she turned to do as bid.

Sierra smoothed a white-gloved hand over the blue and white muslin of her very full skirt, pulling the lace that bordered her walking dress into place. Straightening her shoulders, she settled her blue and white-lace mantle over the double bouffant of her sleeves, buttoning the mantle’s closure at the neck. Briefly, she touched her wide belt, which was made of the same light blue color as her dress, pulling it a little more tightly around her waist so as to accentuate its most tiny aspect. A white straw bonnet, adorned with ribbons of blue and tied at the neck, completed the image of the fashionable royal that she was.

Opening her blue and white parasol, Sierra narrowed her eyes, placing a hand gently over her forehead as though it were an extra shield from the sun. She frowned.

From her view of it, there seemed to be no sign of the man she had instructed Governor Clark to hire. Had she needlessly tortured herself over this first meeting with High Wolf?

Perhaps he hadn’t yet arrived.

Or maybe, she thought on a grimmer note, he wasn’t coming. Had he mayhap learned that it was she behind the request?

For a moment, she worried over the possibility. As absurd as it might appear, such a thing was possible: He might know of her coming. He’d always seemed to have ways of gleaning information about things—ways that she had never understood. Perhaps he had discovered her scheme well ahead of the fact.

At that thought, Sierra tried to swallow her disappointment.

It wasn’t that she was looking forward to seeing him again. No. It was only that he, and he alone, could lead her to Prince Alathom, and it was Prince Alathom she needed to find and challenge, Prince Alathom whom she would repay in kind…if need be…

Squaring her shoulders and setting her features into as delightful a smile as she could, Princess Sierra pulled unconsciously at her mantle, noticing as she did so that her fingers shook with the effort.

It was then that she caught sight of something in her peripheral vision…something familiar. She turned her head carefully to the left, her eyes colliding with and staring hard at a pair of dark eyes looking directly back at her.

Her stomach flipped over twice before it at last performed a dive toward her toes. She inhaled swiftly to try to quell the reaction.

It was he, High Wolf. He had come, after all.

As impossible as it might seem, she stared back at a face that she had once thought never to see again. Yet, there he was; there, across a very short distance.

And unable to curtail it, she was suddenly awash in nearly palpable relief.

Relief? Nonsense. It was probably more to the point to say that she was glad that her scheme now contained the element of possibility, the possibility of success.

But if he were to be caught looking up at her, she would be staring back down at him as well, almost as though she were hungry for the sight of him…although she corrected herself, this last thought was ridiculous.

Again, she reminded herself that he, as well as the prince, had betrayed her. In different ways, perhaps. But betrayal was certain treachery after all, regardless of the circumstances. And faith, once lost, could never be restored.

Still, despite the intervening years, an all too familiar pain shot through her, and without her conscious will, she found herself scrutinizing the man she had once thought herself to be in love with…a man who had left her for no more than three hundred gold dukaten.

He looked much the same as he had ten years ago, yet different. Whereas High Wolf had been little more than a boy then, he was now very much a man, and he looked bigger somehow, though he was still extraordinarily slim. Perhaps it was because his chest was wider, larger…or perhaps he was more muscular.

He looked…better, more handsome, more virile.

Sierra grimaced at her thoughts and decided to scrutinize something else less potent…his manner of dress, for instance…

Gone were the fashionable trousers and high leather boots that she remembered him wearing in the past; in their place were buckskin leggings, breechcloth and moccasins. Gone also were the carefully stitched linen shirt and cravat so precisely tied, supplanted now with a long buckskin shirt, fringed, with the bottom of it hanging down almost past his breechcloth. An ornament of what looked to be a concatenation of beads and bone, in the shape of a breastplate, hung down over his chest. It was a sight she had never beheld until this moment.

Instead of a hat, however, he now wore feathers on his head—or at least there was one feather sticking straight up behind him. And his hair…

Relegated to the past was the fashionable haircut she recalled so well, displaced now by long, black hair that hung well past his shoulders.

He looked…Indian, alien from all she had ever known and loved. Yet his countenance was, contrarily, as familiar to her as a well-rehearsed play.

And she wondered: Despite their past, would he help her?

Not if he knew her purpose.

Only too well, she recalled that High Wolf considered the prince to be more than a friend. To him, and perhaps rightly so, Prince Alathom was a brother, a brother in fact as well as in deed. Besides, High Wolf would hardly condone her murderous plan…a scheme she fully intended to execute if the prince refused to return to the Continent, whereupon he would take up his responsibilities.

Indeed, she would be satisfied.

Those at home thought she knew nothing of their wagging tongues; they believed their whispered insults were discreet. But Sierra did know. She did care. And he would pay.

Oh, yes, he would pay.

Which meant, she realized, that the real reason for her journey must remain a well-guarded secret; from Governor Clark, from her guides and especially from High Wolf.

She only wondered if she could successfully hide her motives from High Wolf. After all, as she had already surmised, High Wolf was an extremely perceptive man. Might he guess?

Well, it was up to her to keep her secret well hidden. She only hoped she was up to the task.

***

He stared at her as though he had come face-to-face with his worst nightmare—or maybe his best fantasy. Princess Sierra? Here? Now?

His heart skipped a beat, then picked up its pace, pounding onward in triple speed. High Wolf caught his breath before forcing himself to breathe in and out. In a daze, he stared up at her, feeling as though he were caught in an illusion.

Had she come for him? Had she traveled all this distance to reach out to him, realizing after all this time that she could not live without him, as she had once proclaimed?

Or was she a mere mirage, the same sort of image that haunted his dreams?

Without warning, the desire to run to her, to take her in his arms and embrace her, was almost more real than the solidness of the ground beneath him. Of its own will, the memory of the taste of her, the scent of her, the sweetness of her embrace, overwhelmed him.

And he knew he needed, he wanted to kiss her. Now. In truth, so strong was the desire, he had taken a few steps toward her before he became once more fully aware of himself, and stopped.

The prince. How could he have forgotten the prince—as well as her duplicity—so easily? Where was the prince?

Odd, he thought, how the mind could forget the pain, the anguish, the loss. For a moment, all had been gone, replaced by the simple joy of seeing her again. Odd, too, how his body was even now reacting, that most manly part of him pulsing with every pounding of his heart, remembering, anticipating…what could never be.

He groaned. He had to bring himself, his thoughts, his body under control, quickly.

Concentrate on her faithlessness, he cautioned himself. Hers and Prince Alathom’s.

He glanced to the side of her and all around her. Where was the prince?

And then, as though it came through the fog cluttering his mind, a thought came to him. Governor Clark had hired him, had told High Wolf that he was to escort and protect a royal party, one that was coming to the Americas for a wild-game hunt.

It was the prince and princess . It had to be.

Had the two of them asked for him, personally? For old time’s sake? Was that why Clark had sent for him?

Or was this mere coincidence?

Coincidence? He sneered. High Wolf knew there was no such thing.

Had the two of them no compassion? No pity?

Surely they were aware of what the mere act of seeing them again—together—would do to him.

Or did they think that they could renew friendship? That he would have forgotten?

Well, he had not forgotten; he could not.

Breathing in deeply, High Wolf calmed himself. He was letting his emotions take control of his mind, even of his body. It was possible, he conceded, that he was not thinking clearly, putting elements together that did not necessarily go together.

Besides, he didn’t have to take the job at hand. He had not pledged his word.

And it wouldn’t be as if he were deserting the prince and princess, either. After all, there were these two disreputable trappers that Clark had hired as well.

Wearily, High Wolf glanced at the two shabbily dressed men. Yes, let them have the assignment…while he, High Wolf, quietly disappeared…

Surely, that would be best. For indeed, if this were his initial reaction to the princess—and at this great a distance from her—what would be his fate if he were to witness her beauty closer to hand?

At that thought, a rush of desire swept through him that was as uncontrollable as it was unwelcome. In truth, so swift was his reaction, he rocked back on his feet.

The response shocked him as much as it excited him. And High Wolf knew he had best renew his intention to leave—quickly…

Yet he didn’t budge so much as an inch. In faith, he could not have turned away from her now had he been a saint. Not yet.

Contrarily, another part of him reasoned that little harm could come from feasting his sights upon her for a while longer. Perhaps the image gained could serve to fuel the fiber of his imagination in the lonely nights ahead of him.

Make no mistake, Princess Sierra had always been the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, and it appeared she had changed little, except to have blossomed. More curves, more womanly features.

As he stared, his heart warmed to his subject. Dark curls bounced around her face while her bonnet hid the rest of her coiffure. Oval face, high cheekbones, eyes that he knew were as green as a prairie in spring. Even from this distance, he could attest that her skin still glowed with health and vitality. It was one of the features he remembered most about her. Her skin had been luminous, clear; had shone with a radiance even under cover of darkness, as though she might be lit by a fire within.

How he had loved to run his hands over her face, her neck, those curves…

Cease this, he cautioned himself, letting out his breath.

Yet the mind was often a mysterious thing, and despite himself, his thoughts rambled on. At five foot four, she had always been a slender little thing. He recalled that he had once spanned her waist within the outstretched grip of both his hands. They had laughed about it.  All three of them. Himself, Prince Alathom and the princess.

Odd, how close the three of them had once been, so close they had shared most everything.

High Wolf sighed.

Perhaps it was the way of the world that some things—even good things—were destined to end. Maybe that was why one should reach out for all the happiness he could have, while it still lay within his grasp.

Taking a few steps away, High Wolf at last turned his back on the sight of her. Best to disappear now, as quickly as possible. For of one matter he was entirely certain: He would not escort the princess and the prince. Not now. Not ever.

He took a few steps away.

“High Wolf!”

His insides plummeted at the sound of her voice. Yet he remained steadfast in his decision and kept walking, ignoring the call.

“High Wolf, don’t go!”

Don’t listen to her, he counseled himself. Go now, before she has a chance to weave her spell around you. Go at once .

But even as he thought it, an odd music, a rhythm perchance, began to pound through his mind, reminding him of other places, other times…

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

Step, sweep, sweep; up, up, back. Hands locked together, step apart, meet. Smile at her, she at him; step, sweep, sweep. Hands held, turn; up to the toes; down again. Shoulder to shoulder, change position. Step, sweep, sweep. Hands touching; smile…

 

High Wolf could practically hear the strains of the violins and cello in three-quarter beat. It had been a different time and place; a different environment. In truth, it had been like a different life.

A hand clapped him on the shoulder. “High Wolf?” It was a male voice.

Sighing deeply, High Wolf put the memory from him, while at the same time he glanced around behind him, casting a look over his shoulder, espying the well-dressed, yet massive gentleman who stood behind him. Pivoting slowly, he came to stare at the man, who was, perhaps, the tallest human being High Wolf had ever seen.

Silence reigned until at last the other man said, “Princess Sierra Morena requests that you await an audience with her.”

High Wolf squinted at this giant, rendering him with as condescending a look as he could muster, though inwardly an ugly emotion ripped at his innards. Aloud he asked, “Does she?”

“Yes, sir. If you will wait a moment.”

High Wolf turned aside. “But I won’t wait,” he said, feigning a foreign accent that was all too natural, at least for his own peace of mind. “Please give my regards to the princess.” He bowed slightly, more out of a long-ago habit than in deference, a habit, he realized, he hadn’t used in ten long years.

A hand came up to clasp his shoulder. “The princess wishes to speak to you now.”

High Wolf paused as he considered his options. He could leave. It was probably what he should do. After all, there was no man alive who could keep him here; not if High Wolf desired to walk away.

He cast another glance at his opponent. No, not even this big, brawny man could keep him if he truly wished to flee.

But did he?

Would she look different up close; would she be different? Would her marriage to the prince have matured her? Or would she still be the sweet, young girl he had once loved so very, very well?

High Wolf rocked back on his feet. He was caught. Truly caught. Not by his own honor, but by his curiosity.

Later, he would take his leave of this party, and in particular, of the princess. But not now.

No, for now he would wait. He would observe. And then he would go, quickly, and as silently as he had done ten years ago.

Inured to his fate, he gazed upward, watching the princess depart the steamship, scrutinizing her progress down the ramp as closely as if he were reading a track marked upon the earth. He caught her smile as she grinned at Governor Clark, saw her speak a few words to that gentleman, scolded himself for wishing he might be the man on the receiving end of her smile.

And then gradually, so very, very slowly, she turned toward him, raising her sights to meet his.

And High Wolf stared back, his gaze, for all that he was aware of her faults, still hungry for the sight of her. And for a moment, time distorted. There was no past, no present, no future. There was only she… and he, the rest of the world diminished, as though it were no more than their own personal backdrop.

He sighed, recalling too well his loss. And the magic of the moment faded.

In vain he awaited the shy downturn of her eyelashes as she stared at him, the flirtatious one he remembered so very well.

It never came.

No, the princess gazed back at him boldly, brazenly, and try as he might to find it, there was nothing coquettish about the look she gave him. In faith, if he were to examine her appearance at this moment, he would have to conclude that she was beautiful. Yes. Beautiful, but hard—as though time had extracted all the softness from her.

So, he thought, the princess, too, had changed in many more ways than those of a physical nature.

As he took note of her approach, time passed quickly, and yet in a way it seemed to drag.  Leisurely, he watched her, knowing that hidden deep within him, there was an impossible hope that perhaps this was all a mistake, a horrible ten-year-old mistake.

It was remarkable, he thought as his gaze drank in her beauty, how the princess could appear so severe, yet still innocent in countenance. As though she bore no shame, no regret; as though she had never been the cause of an injustice.

Saaaa. He used the Cheyenne expression which stood for many things, including astonishment. It was as though she might be the wounded party from all those years ago…not he.

High Wolf nodded a silent acknowledgment, even if the movement of his head was a slight one. Then, leaning his weight upon his rifle, he awaited the “angel in blue” as she approached.

***

“Ho’neoxhaa’eho’ese,” she pronounced his name in Cheyenne as soon as she stepped within a few feet of him. “It has been a long time.”

She did not offer her hand, and her words, softly spoken, cut through him, as though the sound of her voice were blazed in steel. Yet High Wolf simply nodded, trying to shake off the feeling of being ill-at-ease.

In contrast, she seemed all poise and assurance; she even smiled. However, he took careful note, no happiness reached those green eyes before she asked, “How have you been?”

“I am well,” he replied, his voice, usually full-bodied, no more than a dull monotone.

She seemed unaware of any problem with him, however, and replied, “That is good. That is good, indeed.”

“And you?” he inquired politely.

Again, she grinned up at him, before saying, “I am well, as you can see.”

High Wolf inclined his head toward her, catching her eye before he said, “And your husband?”

She flinched as though he might have dealt her a blow, and oddly, her face drained of color, her eyes becoming suddenly dull. Hurriedly, she glanced away.

Strange.

Frowning, High Wolf ventured further, “Is he in company with you?”

However, the princess did not deign to answer; her gaze looked instead out upon the dock as though it were of great interest—a dock that was streaming with people. “Mr. High Wolf,” she said at last, “over there, due west of us”—she nodded toward the spot—“there is a patch of level ground that looks fairly well deserted of people. I would very much like to take a turn in it, if you would be so kind as to accompany me.”

Take a turn. He hadn’t heard that phrase, hadn’t spoken that phrase in well over ten years. Hearing it again, unfortunately for him, had the effect of turning back time.

Politely, out of a habit from long ago, he bowed at the waist. “I would be happy to join you, Your Highness,” he said, “at some other time. But I am afraid that I have…other business that calls my attention at the moment.”

She acknowledged him with a delicate dip of her head. “I understand,” she said. “I am assuming this business relates to Governor Clark and his hiring you as a guide?”

High Wolf said nothing in reply.

“And I am sure you have already surmised that I am to be the party you are to accompany into the interior.”

He blinked at her, his only acknowledgement.

“And you are considering declining, now that you know more of the facts?” She might have asked it as such, but he knew her words were no question.

He shrugged, saying, “As you say.”

“Very well,” she acknowledged, “although I find it monstrous ill that you can turn so easily away from a promise.”

He raised an eyebrow.

“For you see,” she continued, “I am calling in a favor you once granted me. A favor, you had once said, that would send you to me in a moment of distress. If I remember correctly”—she gave him a sly look—“you vowed to come to my aid if I did no more than call upon you.”

He didn’t blink—not even a single eyelash—as he countered, “All such promises came to nothing, Your Highness, on the day you became Prince Alathom’s wife, by the very nature of that act.”

When she frowned, he went on to observe, “Did you not vow to forsake all others? That would include me, would it not?”

“Perhaps,” she said, then grinned up at him, while High Wolf suddenly found himself at odds, disliking her, while all the while longing to take her in his arms. Instead of doing either, however, he stepped back, away from her.

But she continued, “If I remember correctly, there were no restraints upon your favor when you made the vow, although I do admit it was a long time ago. You merely said, ‘Ask, and I will come.’” She smiled at him flirtatiously. “Perhaps your favors expire with time if not used?”

He shrugged off the insult. “It was the heartfelt promise of a boy from long ago. You have a husband now to attend to your needs.”

“But that is precisely the reason for my visit, Mr. High Wolf,” she said, her expression suddenly modest. “For you see, to all the world, I no longer have a husband.”

High Wolf went very still, his outward demeanor showing little of his agitation. Instead he watched her watching him; saw her scrutinize him, her glance perhaps hoping to find some weakness in him. But High Wolf was too well versed in the ways of a scout, and much too observant to be affected by such an overt contemplation, and with ease, he carefully hid the sudden quickening of his heart.

But she was continuing to speak, and said, “Now, please, Mr. High Wolf, let us take that turn.” And sweeping her skirts with a grand gesture, she stepped toward the place she had earlier indicated, though shortly she turned back. “Mr. Dominic,” she called over her shoulder, “please inform Governor Clark that I will join him soon. I shall be only a moment.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” said Mr. Dominic, and bowing, turned away.

Slowly, Princess Sierra pivoted around, her gaze capturing his . “Now, Mr. High Wolf,” she said, “shall we?”

And High Wolf, bound by an imprudent oath from his past, had no other option—at least none at the moment—but to hear her out. And though he wished himself somewhere else—anywhere else—he followed her lead.

***

Oh, how she wished the past were different. Oh, how she longed to turn back time. But events were as they were, and not even God in His heaven could change the history of what had come to be.

Princess Sierra sighed and, as she stepped lightly toward the spot she had earlier indicated, she wondered what she could say to this man that would sway him to her cause, trying to recall her well-rehearsed speech.

It was one thing to determine and practice such words of favor in the privacy of one’s quarters, quite another to confront the actual man. Plus she hadn’t counted on the increased rate of her heartbeat, or on the weakness which came over her limbs. And despite herself, Princess Sierra was experiencing a desire to throw herself into High Wolf’s arms and beg for his mercy.

She snorted instead. She? Beg this man?

Never.

Still, she must do something to solicit his help, and all without allowing him to perceive her real purpose. Could she do it? Could she fool this very insightful man?

Oh, if only life could be different. For within her, and increasing with every minute, was a sensation of old, a desire to purge herself of her troubles—as she had often done with this man in their not-too-distant past.

But she could hardly afford such a luxury and remain true to herself. Indeed, not only must she continue to be steadfast, she daren’t forget that this was the same man whose treachery had broken her heart…

Sierra inhaled deeply once again. There were some actions, that once were done, could never be taken back. And make no mistake, this man’s offense had been such a one.

Well, so be it. Squaring her shoulders, the princess turned to face him and said, “The prince is dead.”

High Wolf frowned. “Dead?”

“Yes, apparently so.”

“Apparently?” As High Wolf’s frown deepened, his stare became piercing.

Ignoring the look, she continued, “Prince Alathom was not home when the event which took his life happened, as you might already know.”

High Wolf raised one single eyebrow. He repeated, “Already know?”

“Yes,” she stated it as though it were a certainty. “It was a hunting accident—here in the Americas. We received word of the incident only a few months ago.”

“We?”

“Our families.” Sierra swallowed, and inhaling a deep breath, took a plunge, when perhaps it might have been more prudent to tread water. However, she continued, “Come now, High Wolf, I’m certain that I’m not telling you anything of which you are not already aware.”

If he detected the note of censure in her voice, he overlooked it, for all he said was, “Why would you think that?”

How dare he pretend to be innocent? Did he mean to insult her intelligence? Did he honestly think she would not be able to piece together the facts?

Well, perhaps it was time to show him that she could play any game that he chose to play. And, determined to put him in his place, she began, “I would think that, because the accident that took his life happened here…in the West, you would be well versed in it.”

High Wolf narrowed a glance at her. “Meaning that you think he and I were together when it happened?”

“If the shoe fits… ”

“And you think I was responsible for his death? Is this what you’re insinuating?”

“No,” she denied, momentarily thrown off guard by his question. In vain, she tried to ignore the confusion his question brought her, for despite her anger at him, she never would have thought this man responsible for the prince’s accident. He and Alathom were simply too close.

No, the truth was that she simply did not believe such an accident had taken place.  If she were correct—and there was no reason to assume she was not—the prince and High Wolf had conceived the deceit together, had planned it as deceptively as they had once planned another escape.

But she could not very well tell him that.

However, he was frowning at her, staring at her in a way that brought her to understand that he was reading every nuance of her reaction…something he was quite adept at, and a little too breathlessly, she continued, “I… I would not accuse you of having caused his death. I know you would never do anything to intentionally harm the prince. It’s only that…”

“You think I should have died in his place?”

“No.”

“Then what?”

Then why, when you had a reason to do so , didn’t you come back to me?

No, that wasn’t right. She couldn’t have actually thought that—not about this man.

High Wolf, however, as though ill-at-ease, crossed his arms over his chest before repeating, “Then what? What are you accusing me of?”

“I’m not accusing you of anything except perhaps being more friendly toward the prince than you have been to me.”

This last appeared to baffle High Wolf, and even he could not subdue the look of bewilderment that settled across his features. In truth, so honest was his perplexity, had she not known better, she would almost have believed in his innocence—almost…

And she said, “Come now, High Wolf, we were always friends, weren’t we? You, the prince and myself?”

High Wolf visibly stiffened, though all he said was, “We were—once.”

“And so all I am asking of you is that you give me as much deference as you would, or more correctly, as you have, the prince. I would like to go into the interior for a hunt, perhaps to ease my mind from my ‘loss.’” She emphasized the word. “I would request that you guide me there.”

Sierra glanced up to see, not the countenance of a man who had been caught out in a lie and was quietly ready to admit it, but rather she was met with indisputable contempt.

Oddly, it was this look that gave her courage. For it was she, not he, who had a right to indignation.

He stirred, moving away from her, and said, “I will not lead you into the interior of this country.”

Instantly, a feeling of disdain swept over her, returning to her a presence of mind. And she said, “Stay where you are. I have not yet given you permission to leave.”

He stilled. “No, you haven’t, Your Highness,” he said, pivoting around and coming face-to-face with her once more. However, with a leer on his countenance, he added, “But perhaps you should look around you.”

In defiance, she kept her glance glued to him.

“And maybe, if you did so, you might examine your environment even more carefully.”

Sierra stared straight ahead, still training her gaze on him and him alone.

He continued, “For, Your Highness, if you were to do this simple act, you might discover that you are no longer in Europe. Now look at me closely.”

“I already am.”

“More closely than even this.”

She blew out her breath, refusing to do as he bid, and glanced away from him instead.

But if her reaction bothered him, he seemed not to show it. Indeed, he said, “Do you see that I am not one of your subjects?”

Even as he uttered the words, the sneer in his tone, the curtness of his very manner, could not have been mistaken for anything other than what it was: disrespect. In response, her chin lifted high into the air, and she declared, “One does not need to be a subject of a particular country in order to exhibit proper manners,” she scolded. “And there is nothing that I have said that gives you leave to mock me. Indeed, I ask a simple thing.”

If she had hoped to make him more propitious, she had certainly failed, for within his glance was pure defiance, and he said, “True, the request is simple, but I suspect that the entreaty which is so sweetly given is yet filled with venom.”

She sucked in her breath.

He continued, “I am not for hire by you.” He spun about, ready to leave.

Goodness! The man hated her.

For an instant, the realization caused her to sway from where she stood. And for another heartfelt moment, she felt as though every single drop of blood in her body had become frozen.

She had certainly not anticipated this man’s hatred. After all, by what right did he dare show her ridicule? She, and she alone , possessed leave to seek revenge.

Yet he was retreating from her, without her leave, without her approval and with as much ill-will as she had ever witnessed. Worse, his departure was not something she would or could permit.

Reaching forward, she grabbed hold of his sleeve, the rough leather of his shirt feeling oddly soft against her fingers, a softness, she noted, that was not reflected in his countenance, or in any other part of him. She said, “What did I ever do to you that you feel compelled to treat me like this?”

He stopped, he stiffened, he inhaled slowly before he at last rocked back on his feet. Then swallowing hard, as though he were not as confident as he might like her to believe, he shut his eyes, letting go of his breath.

It was a show of minor weakness, but it was also the advantage she wanted, and she said, “You, sir, deserted me. It was not the other way around.”

“Was it not?”

“What do you mean?”

He let out his breath. “Try to understand, Your Highness, I am a different man now than I was when you once knew me. Ten years can bring about a great deal of change in a person.”

“I see,” she said dumbly, as yet another thought struck her. Aloud, she asked, “Are you married?”

She held her breath. It was a reasonable question, given their situation. It was also one she should have asked herself before now, if only to soften any surprise. After all, High Wolf was nothing if not a handsome and virile man. And being such, he was probably much sought after as a husband.

Her stomach dropped, and unreasonably, she felt defeated.

He questioned, “Does it matter if I am?”

“Of course not. Not to me.”

“Then why would you ask, I wonder?”

She shrugged. “Curiosity. Is this, then—your marriage—the reason why you will not guide me?”

“Could be.”

“I see.” She gulped in air. “You could bring her with you. I would not mind.”

It was a lie; even as she spoke the words, Sierra knew she would rather die than meet this man’s wife. It was an odd thought to become aware of, and she trembled with realization: Did she still care about this man? Impossible. It simply could not be.

She glanced up to catch him grinning at her. But his good humor was far from a pretty sight. In truth, his grin was simply a movement of his lips, with no inclination to mirth whatsoever, a mere shadow of what she remembered.

However, he was speaking, and he said, “Well, I, for one, if I did have a wife, would mind bringing her along, although I realize you might not share my scruples on that.”

If he had a wife…?

“No, Princess,” he continued, “you are wasting your precious time on me. Go home. Leave me to my own thoughts, and let me grieve for my friend in private, for I meant what I said. I will not lead you anywhere in this country.”

The words had no more left his mouth than he had spun about and was doing exactly as he had threatened: He left, without so much as a by-your-leave, and with no deference to her whatsoever.

But this time Princess Sierra barely noticed. In truth, she was frowning, thinking…

Had High Wolf always harbored such antagonism? And if he had, how had she missed seeing it until now?

Sierra closed her eyes, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Well, this was a fine mess. Should she have confided her own doubts about the prince? That he might still be alive? And if he were, that she wanted nothing more than to have a council with him? Would that have persuaded High Wolf to her cause?

No, she had already made up her mind on this account, and she was certain: High Wolf and the prince were in one another’s confidence, as they had always been. And little good would come from her pleading. But, dear Lord, what was she to do now?

The Princess and the Wolf

http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Wolf-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B079QPW33V/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1519095306&sr=8-2&keywords=the+princess+and+the+wolf+by+karen+kayhe&tag=pettpist-20 href=”http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Wolf-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B079QPW33V/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1519095306&sr=8-2&keywords=the+princess+and+the+wolf+by+karen+kayhe&tag=pettpist-20 rel=”> Princess and the Wolf

http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Wolf-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B079QPW33V/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1519095306&sr=8-2&keywords=the+princess+and+the+wolf+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

 

 

 

Updated: February 21, 2018 — 8:39 pm
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