New Anniversary Book and e-book giveaway of WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH

Howdy!

Welcome, Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.  Please excuse this late post.  I’m very sorry.

Truth is, I just finished editing an anniversary book, NIGHT THUNDER’S BRIDE, and the edits were a little hard and so once finished, I went into veg mode.  Oh, also, about 1 1/2 weeks ago, I put the finishing touches on a new book soon (in a couple of months or less) to be released.  It’s the 2nd book in the new Medicine Man Series, and the title is SHE CAPTURES MY HEART.  It’s in editing right now.

But, before that book is released, I’ll be re-releasing an Anniversary book of NIGHT THUNDER’S BRIDE, the 3rd and final book in THE BLACKFOOT WARRIOR series.  And so, I thought I’d leave you with an excerpt from book #2 in the series and tell you a little back story of the book, WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH, book #2 in the series.  And, I’ll be giving away an e-book of WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH, also.  But before I talk about the 2nd book, WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH, let me give you a sneak peek at NIGHT THUNDER’S BRIDE’s new cover.  Again, this is the 3rd and final book in The Blackfoot Warrior series and we’ll be releasing the 25th year anniversary edition of the book in about a week.

So, onto Book #2, WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH.  It was originally written for AVON books in 1996-97 and published in 1998 (I think that’s right.)  My husband and I were married in 1996 and so in the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997, I was falling deeper and deeper in love with my husband.  We had married in a whirlwind and so it was after we were married that we really started to get to know each other.

Below and left is the new Anniversary cover for the book.  The male model, by the way, is  Lakota Indian.  And, he models under the name of “Lakota.”

In these anniversary books, we are correcting errors made when the book was converted to e-book from the original mass market.  There is no plot change or anything like that.  It’s just correcting computer errors made in the conversion.  Also, I might give the book a few better word choices here and there.

But, it was in the editing of this book that I began to see how much I was (at that time) falling deeper and deeper in love with this man I had married.  It’s there in the conversations between White Eagle and the heroine, Katrina.  Both of them are changing in regards to each other.  More love.  More understanding.  And, at that time, I guess I couldn’t help but write about how deeply I was in love with this man.

Our courtship (my husband and me) is pretty well illustrated in the first book in this series, GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  But this book goes one step further.

So, in ending, I’ll leave the blurb for the book and an excerpt.  Hope you’ll enjoy!

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH

by

Karen Kay

Two worlds. Forbidden love.

Blackfoot Warrior, Book 2

Katrina Wellington is vexed. She must marry to obtain the rest of her inheritance. But her uncle, who left her in New York with a governess to make his fortune out West, has suddenly decided he must approve of her fiancé before he will loosen the purse strings to her dowry.

Swallowing her outrage, the socialite treks to the same wilderness that claimed her parents’ lives years ago. Some small part of her is crestfallen that her uncle is not waiting with open arms. Only three guides, Indian guides, await her, and one of them is far too handsome for his own good.

At first, White Eagle does not like the spoiled, willful niece of the white trader. When he catches a glimpse of the vulnerability behind her prickly exterior, he can’t resist challenging the dazzling beauty to rediscover her true inheritance—the inner strength bequeathed to her by her parents.

Close contact on the trail soon arouses a soul-stirring passion and in its turn, love. But love may not be enough to sustain a relationship that is forbidden in both their worlds.

This book has been previously published.

Warning: Sensuous Romance that contains a captivating passion that could lead to a romantic evening spent in the company of one’s own love.

This is the original cover done for AVON Books.  The excerpt is the first meeting between White Eagle and Katrina in the book (and after many years of being apart).

Chapter Four

June 25, 1833

Midmorning 

 

“I say, what vision of loveliness descends upon us now? Is she a princess, a queen? Do you think I should bow? Or is she a mere fleeting whiff of my fancy? Oh, dear, I don’t think I can rhyme fancy…can you see?” The Marquess of Leicester chuckled before he put a finger over one nostril, taking a sniff of the powder which he held in a box in his hand. “What do you say, my friends? Am I poetic?”

The marquess’s two friends murmured polite words of agreement at all the appropriate places, while the marquess, pocketing his snuffbox, paced forward to take hold of Katrina’s hand. “Ah, my dear, you look stunning, simply ravishing, rather.”

“Thank you, Lord Leicester.” Katrina suffered her hand to be kissed by lips which looked as though they bore more rouge than her own. She pulled her hand back as quickly as possible, but failed to loosen his grip. “Are we prepared to meet the new guides?”

“Yes, I say,” the marquess replied, setting her hand onto one of his lacy cuffs.

Katrina smiled at him.

“Am I to understand, my dear, that the guides of which you speak are to escort me to yet another fort?”

“Yes, that is correct. My uncle has been delayed, and he asks that you join him at a place called Fort McKenzie. The scouts are to take you safely to him.”

“Quite unusual, wouldn’t you say? But I must ask you: The hunting, is there good hunting at this fort? After all, mustn’t disappoint the dogs, don’t you know? Brought the hounds all this way to hunt, and hunt we shall. Why, do you know that I have met the most interesting fellow, a Mr. Hamilton, although I don’t believe that Hamilton is his real name. A right good sort of chap. English, I say. Says he has been here at this fort for several years. Seems to like it here, though he does appear to hate Indians.”

“Does he?”

“Yes, rather. Well, now, come along, my dear. Mr. McKenzie informs me that his clerk is awaiting us outside the house here to escort us to the guides on the other side of the gate. A monstrous proposal, I must say. That is why I have asked Mr. Hamilton to make the introductions. I can’t say that I am overwhelmed by Mr. McKenzie’s manners. A clerk to see to us, indeed. Ah, here is Mr. Hamilton now. Come along, my dear. Let us get these introductions over with.”

“Yes,” said Katrina, “let us.”

And with little more said, she allowed Mr. Hamilton and the marquess to lead her out into the sunshine of a new day. That the marquess’s friends followed the three of them wherever they went, that the marquess’s men kept murmuring always agreeable tidbits concerning Lord Leicester’s undoubtedly brilliant humor, did little more than annoy her.

At least for now.

 

 

McKenzie’s clerk, Thomas, was waiting for their entire party just outside the gate. And what a party they made. Not only were the marquess, his two friends and Hamilton in their group, somehow the marquess’s dogs, barking loudly, had joined them.

“Come this way, Gov’nor, the men ’ee seek are by the wall over thyar,” Thomas said.

“Where?”

“Over thyar, do ’ee not see?”

“They’re…”

Conversation ceased, replaced with silence. Dead silence.

Their entire entourage, even the dogs, stopped completely still. No one said a word; no one moved. Then the dogs started to whine, and the shuffle of feet could be heard—moving away.

It was he, the Indian she had glimpsed from the boat, along with a few companions.

“Why, Thomas,” said one of the men, “they are—”

“Yep, Injuns.”

Now, it wasn’t as though their party had never seen an Indian until this moment, nor was it possible that anyone in this party had thought never to encounter an Indian in this country. After all, they had glimpsed enough of the native population from the steamboat as it had made its way up the Missouri.

But never had the people in this group seen primitives such as these—at least not so close to their own person. Warriors, all, were these savages and, by the looks of the heathens, dangerous.

But Katrina stared at none other than him.

She opened her mouth as though to utter something…some scathing comment, perhaps. But when no words issued forth, she closed her lips.

“This one hyar’s name’s White Eagle.” Only Thomas seemed able to speak. “Them three behind him are Night Thunder and Good Dancer. The woman is married to Good Dancer, near as this ole coot can tell. Blackfeet, they are. Gov’nor?”

“Indians?” This from Katrina, at last, her glance never wavering from him.

“Yes, ma’am. But they’ll get ’ee through Blackfoot country all safe. They knows the way.”

“He goes too far!” She glanced toward the clerk.

“Ma’am?”

“My uncle goes too far this time.”

“You tell the man,” the marquess spoke up from behind her. “Yes, my dear, tell the man.”

Katrina gazed over her shoulder. The marquess had positioned himself to her rear, his own men standing, as though in a line, behind him.

“Does your uncle not think favorably of you, Miss Wellington?” This from Hamilton, who seemed as dumbfounded as the rest.

She ignored the Englishman, glancing instead at him, the Indian, the same one who had so disturbed her thoughts, the one called… “What is this man’s name again, Thomas?”

“This one hyar, ma’am? He’s White Eagle. He’s their leader, near as I can tell, a chief maybe.”

White Eagle. So, that was his name. Katrina stared at the Indian. He, back at her. The man looked dangerous—foreign, frightening…handsome. Handsome?

He still wore no shirt, exposing to her view that muscular chest she had glimpsed the previous day. And she would have looked at it, at him, had she been of the mind. But she wasn’t.

She swallowed with difficulty and, allowing her gaze to drop no farther than the bridge of the Indian’s nose, asked of him, “Does my uncle bring word to me?”

The Indian just stared at her. No grin, no recognition of her, no intimation that he had seen her, too, the previous day—nothing, not even an acknowledgment that she had spoken.

She raised her chin. “Do these Indians not speak English, Thomas?”

“Guess they do well enough, ma’am. They been tradin’ with us long enough now to have learnt it. But ’ee is a woman. No Blackfeet is goin’ to speak to ’ee b’cause of that, beg pardon.”

Katrina looked at the Indian from down the end of her nose. She said, “Then ask him for me if he brings me word of my uncle.”

Thomas stepped up to her side. “Very well, ma’am. ’Ee heard her, Injun. Does the lady’s uncle send word?”

The Indian didn’t move, didn’t speak, didn’t even shift his weight. He just stared, his glance never wavering from her.

“Speak up there, you primitive animal,” Hamilton demanded.

None of the three Indians, and especially not White Eagle, paid the Englishman the least attention.

“Are ’ee sent here from the woman’s uncle?”

Nothing. No response at all, until, at last, piercing Katrina with his glance, the Indian said, “I have news for the woman alone.” Oddly enough, the man spoke in unbroken English and, Katrina noted, his voice, low and baritone, was peculiarly pleasant, almost melodic.

“Alone?” Hamilton again spoke up from a safe distance away. “Is the Indian mad? Does he presume to think we would leave the lady unaccompanied with him, so filthy a creature as he is?”

The Indian didn’t move a muscle, nor did he indicate in any way that he’d even heard Hamilton’s comments.

Katrina stepped forward, away from the crowd. Glancing around behind her, she ordered, “Leave us.”

“What?” This from all five men.

“Leave us, but take this man’s Indian friends with you. I will do as he asks and speak with him, but only with him. Here, Mr. Hamilton, give me your pistol that I may defend myself, if I must.”

“But milady,” Hamilton protested, “surely you can’t mean to—”

“Mr. Hamilton, your pistol, please.”

The Englishman looked as though he might protest further, though he nevertheless pulled the weapon from his coat and handed it to Katrina.

“Leave us.” Again she addressed the men who remained behind her without turning toward them. “I warn you, Indian,” she said confidently, “I can use this firearm Mr. Hamilton has given me as skillfully as any man. So do not think me defenseless that you might take advantage of me.”

The Indian said nothing, nor did he give her any sort of acknowledgment, not even by the bend of his head or a flicker of emotion across his features.

Katrina listened to the fading footsteps of the men behind her. After a nod from White Eagle, the Indian’s two companions followed.

The deference shown to this man did not escape her notice, but when she spoke, she made no mention of it, saying only, “What you ask is highly irregular and impolite. Hear me now, Indian, I am humoring you only because I wish to know what my uncle has to say. That is all.”

Glancing directly at her, he replied, “I will speak to the white woman only within the walls of the fort.”

“You will not,” Katrina countered. “You asked for an audience with me alone. You have it now.”

The Indian didn’t utter another word, just gave her a peculiar look and made to move away from her.

She reached out, grabbing at his arm, effectively staying him. He glanced down at her hand as it lay upon his arm, then back up at her. Something…some little excitement passed between them as they stared at one another, the intensity causing Katrina’s knees to buckle. Several moments passed as they stood there, sizing one another up.

At last, Katrina stuck out her chin and asked, “Who do you think you are, Indian, that you gape at me? Do you not know it is impolite to do so? Now, you will tell me what it is you have to say to me, right here and now…or not at all. Do I make myself clear to you?”

The Indian had become perfectly still as she spoke; his gaze roamed from the top of her bonnet to the very bottom of her skirts. Katrina watched him, ignoring the tingling sensation which spread throughout her nervous system. Fear, she supposed.

Odd, too, but she noticed he smelled good: of wood and smoke, of grass and mint—she had heard that the Indians chewed the leaves of the mint plant to stave off hunger, as well as to scent their breath.

His skin felt warm, too, moist and…strange, there was no hair upon the flesh of his arm where she touched him.

He was close to her, too close. The wind suddenly blew a lock of his long raven hair over her hand where she still touched him. The feel of those strands against her skin was fleeting, sensual, its effect sending shivers through her body.

She glanced up, startled, and wondered if the Indian had felt it, too, this strange sensation, but his expression revealed nothing.

She didn’t know how it was possible, yet she considered this man, this Indian, handsome almost beyond belief, in a primitive sort of way, of course. Not a man she would ever admit to being attracted to, particularly since he was nothing more than one of the savages that this country produced. And yet, she couldn’t help but admire the straight, imposing figure he cut as she looked up to where he stood over her. With his shoulders back, displaying his sculptured form, he looked as though he were a work of art, not a person of substance.

Something within her reached out to him, and she felt as though she knew him, his thoughts, his passions. It was as though there were a part of him that matched her perfectly…

She gave herself a shake. What was wrong with her? This was not the first time she’d felt as if there were something between them. It had happened the first time she’d glimpsed him, there from the boat…

She stared up at him then, in silent challenge, if only to purge this sensation from her consciousness. Yet, all the while, her touch upon his arm never relinquished its hold. His eyes were black, she noted, the darkest eyes she had ever seen, and they revealed nothing.

Suddenly, his look turned sardonic, and he broke eye contact with her, pulling his arm back, out and away from her grasp.

He turned from her then, suddenly and without warning. He began walking away from her at a steady gait, following on the footfalls of the other men. The Indian was treading, it would appear, toward the main entrance of the fort.

Katrina stood still for several moments, watching him, until she suddenly realized what he was doing. This man—this mere Indian—was defying her. She had made demands of him; he had told her nothing. Nothing!

Somehow this fact disturbed her more than any other detail she had observed about him. Blast!

She had to try to detain him. She took one step forward, and called out, “It was you who demanded to speak to me alone, Indian.”

No response, not even a catch in his stride.

“If you wish to talk to me, do it now, for I will not see you once we are in the fort.”

The man didn’t turn around, nor did he say or do anything further, except to present her with the view of his backside as he continued to walk away. She should have been appalled by the man’s bad manners and by his dress, or rather, its lack thereof. In truth, she was…almost.

She watched him, his lean, sculpted figure an unusually strange and exciting sight. And then she saw it, the man’s breechcloth fell apart from the outline of his leggings now and again, presenting her with an occasional view of a portion of hard, muscular buttocks.

Katrina was almost struck dumb with the observation. Never, not once in her life, had she ever witnessed so much of a man’s anatomy.

How utterly heathen. How primitive.

She didn’t, however, glance away. “I won’t meet with you,” she announced again. “And that’s my final word on the subject.”

Her challenge had no effect on the Indian’s actions.

Katrina was fuming. She felt like shouting at the man; she felt like pummeling him, but she refused to reduce herself to a show of temper.

She did, however, stamp her foot. The insolent barbarian. And to think she had been admiring his looks.

Humph!

She picked up the front of her skirt, her white petticoats contrasting oddly with the brown of the earth beneath her feet. She would follow that Indian back into the fort. Not because she had to, she reminded herself. After all, she was residing within the walls of the fort. She had a right to be there. This Indian did not.

Oh, but she didn’t like this. It was she who should be the person putting forth demands. It was she, not this man, White Eagle, who was the civilized one here, the more intelligent one.

So why was she the one left staring after him?

Well, it made no difference. There was at least one action she would take as soon as she met with this man: She would ensure he would hear her opinions of him and his insolence—that is, if she met with him.

She wasn’t certain at this moment that she would even permit the man an interview. There must be some other way of soliciting news of her uncle.

The Indian turned around at that exact moment, catching her staring at him, and goodness, but it looked as though he smiled at her. Did he know her thoughts? Could he see her frustration? Worse yet, had he felt her gaze upon that more intimate portion of his anatomy?

How dare he! Oh, what a wicked, wicked man!

She threw back her head and thrust out her chin. Ah, but it would please her to tell this Indian what she thought of him…and soon!

Make no mistake.


White Eagle turned his back on the woman and walked away from her, a grin tugging up the corners of his mouth.

In truth, he had enjoyed the confrontation with Shines Like Moonlight…but he would never let her know it. Not when she had dared to try to command him, a Blackfoot warrior. Such was the height of bad manners.

Yethe could appreciate her spirit, her courage in confronting him when even the men who had surrounded her had shied away from him. Too, he acknowledged her unusual beauty; in truth, she had overwhelmed him with the allure of her feminine charm, more pleasing in close proximity than from a distance. He could still smell the sweet fragrance of her, hear the silvery timbre of her voice, and if it hadn’t been for her lack of manners…

Certainly, she was fairer than he’d anticipated she would be, but this wasn’t what bothered him about her. No, it was her touch, the simple graze of her hand upon his arm. With that touch…

He grimaced. And he wondered if she knew she had stirred something to life within him, something sweet, something carnal, something completely sexual. It was one of the reasons he had turned his back on her—that, and her insolence.

Hánnia! He should have more control. He was not some young boy, unable to control the physical urges of his body; and yet, even now he could feel the result of her effect on him down there in the junction between his legs. It was good that he had left her before his physical reaction to her became more pronounced.

Did she remember him?

A picture flashed in his mind, an image of a child, frightened and crying, clinging to him as he had hung onto the crest of a hill, both he and the child watching the gushing floodwaters rush past them, its danger only a short distance away. He had almost lost her in those waters.

He remembered again that he had clasped her to him then, whispering to her, giving her as much comfort as he was able, until long after the danger had passed. But that had been much too long ago. They had both been different people then, children.

That the child in her had grown up was evident. That she had reached adulthood without the guidance of a mother or a father to point out the necessity of courtesy and good manners was even more conspicuous.

Would she remember him given more time?

White Eagle thought back to the world he had known so long ago, to the people he had befriended, to a little white girl he had admired—a girl with yellowish-gold hair—to the child’s father and her mother.

They had perished, her parents. The girl had barely survived, and her father’s brother had sent her away long ago.

So, her uncle had been right about her. The woman he had met today was spoiled, a person completely devoid of maidenly gentleness. She spoke when not asked, demanded when a man’s mind was already settled; in truth, her spirit towered over the white men who had accompanied her.

Did she rise above these men because she had bullied them into submission with the same womanly harping and angry tongue she had shown to him? Or was she merely stronger-willed than they?

Whatever the reason, White Eagle despaired of the intervening years since he had last seen her.

If he reminded her of it, would she remember?

It was doubtful. She had been before the age when a child comes into its senses, and he had been no more than a young boy. He’d kept a lonely girl company during those times when her father and uncle had journeyed to his tribe on trading excursions. If he told her what he knew of her, of her family, would any good come from it?

He did not think so. This person he had observed today had been as someone alien to him—certainly not the girl he had remembered…had once known.

In truth, he had caught her looking upon him with not only a womanly sort of attention, but with contempt, the same sort of foreign attitude that White Eagle had witnessed upon the countenance of the white man.

He didn’t like it.

No, it was better that he keep what he knew of her to himself. It was apparent she did not recall her life before the white man’s world, and he was certain she would not care to hear what he had to say to her.

So be it.

He entered the fort, taking his place amongst his friends. Good Dancer’s wife had already started setting up their camping lodges in the area surrounding the fort’s flagpole. One for himself and Night Thunder, the other for herself and her husband, Good Dancer. That Good Dancer’s new wife had demanded to accompany them on their journey did not bother White Eagle, nor did it seem strange to him.

The young couple had just been married, after an unusually long courtship. Of course they would want to be together now. Such was to be understood. Such were the ways of married people.

Besides, he’d wanted a woman along to keep Shines Like Moonlight company and to provide her with a chaperone. White Eagle grimaced as he adjusted his breechcloth, certain Shines Like Moonlight would need that chaperone.

He glanced around him, at his place within the fort. He had noticed, when he had first come here, that several half-breed hunters resided within the tepees around the flagpole. This seemed only right to White Eagle; that these half-white, half-Indian men chose to live not in the square, wooden houses of the white man, but rather in the more comfortable lodges of his own people.

At least this is how it appeared to White Eagle.

He could not know, nor would he understand that to some within the fort, the mixed-bloods were not on an equal footing with the more European breed of men, that such would not be allowed the right to live in the square, wooden houses.

And so, not knowing, White Eagle settled down, content for the moment, to initiate the necessary chores needed for the return journey to Fort McKenzie.  Indeed, the time consumed in fashioning arrowheads, making a new shield and manufacturing a new spear was time well spent.

He was certain that Shines Like Moonlight would delay a meeting with him for as long as she was able. This didn’t bother him. Why should it? Time was not an enemy to him, and White Eagle was full-blooded Indian; he was a patient man.

He smiled. Perhaps here was something else he could admire about this woman: She had a stubborn strength of character. And this was good.

She would not be one to come a cropper in an emergency. Such people were few. Such people were valuable.

He shrugged. Whatever the case, his next few days within this fort promised to be far from dull.


Well, that’s all for now.  Look for the book in a few days.  At present, it’s undergoing the final proof reading.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Oh, and this is the cover to the left is the cover of the book currently up at Amazon.  This cover was done when I was writing for Samhain Publishing.

Indeed, all of these covers have a special place in my heart.  I am, however, extremely drawn to the new cover.  Hope you’ll like it, too.

SHE STEALS MY BREATH, Excerpt and e-book Give-Away

Good Morning and welcome, welcome to another tiptop Tuesday!

What a hot August we are having!  Goodness!

Hopefully, the chance to win SHE STEALS MY BREATH (or another e-book of your choice) will make the heat a little more bearable.

Well, I’m going to post another excerpt of my newest effort, SHE STEALS MY BREATH.  Now, in this excerpt, the heroine is realizing she made a mistake.  Much of the excerpt are her thoughts and how she comes to realize she’s made a mistake.  But, there’s another creature that helps her along that path.  So, first I’ll post a brief blurb of the book and then the excerpt.  But, do read to the bottom because at the end of this blog, I’ll be posting some info about our birthday event here at Petticoats and Pistols.

Her Beauty Takes His Breath Away… Only She Can Restore It.

 

A raging blizzard forces Eagle Heart of the Blackfeet Nation and Laylah, the daughter of a Trader, into each other’s company.  As their attraction deepens, both fight the knowledge that a love between them is forbidden in both their worlds.

SHE STEALS MY BREATH

by 

Karen Kay

The suggestion of riding out onto the prairie was an idea Laylah could little resist.  But, she would not go with Thomas.  Rather, she would make this trip alone.  Perhaps the wide spaces would serve to ease the affliction within her heart.

Also, if she were to be truthful, she would have to admit it was impossible to resist leaving the fort to go in search of Eagle Heart.  If he were still somewhere in the fort’s vicinity, could she find him?  Would he have set up camp close to where they had once sat out the blizzard?

Feeling a little happier, she left the trading room to rush to her quarters in the proprietor’s part of the house.  There, she dressed as quickly as she could for an excursion out-of-doors and, using her cane, hobbled  toward the livery.  There, she was able to attain help in saddling her pony, Honey Sugar, for, with her right arm broken, it was a task she could not do alone.  She was glad to see the gate was open, and she fled out of it, wistfully hoping no one in the fort took note of her flight.

Interestingly, Honey Sugar appeared to know where to go.  Laylah didn’t even need to steer the animal.  Hoping she might catch Eagle Heart still in residence at their shelter, Laylah found she could barely breathe.  She had so much to tell him.

Keeping to a fast pace, she came quickly upon the coulee.  But, rather than ride her pony down a hard pass, she dismounted—though with some difficulty because her ankle wasn’t fully healed—and walked her mount down into the ravine.  At last, she beheld the place where she and Eagle Heart had once encamped.  It looked to be still there.

She smiled.  Was he within?

Throwing her pony’s reins to the ground, she limped as quickly as possible to the place where she and Eagle Heart had so recently resided.  But, she saw at once that where their shelter had once stood, nothing remained to indicate the adventure she had once shared with Eagle Heart.  Nor was Eagle Heart anywhere to be seen.

Was it really such a short time ago when she’d had Eagle Heart’s attention all to herself?  Though only a week had passed since they had sat out the storm together, it seemed like a lifetime ago.

As she stood looking at where the hut had once been, she realized she might never be the same again.  She had thought she would be able to start her life over, as was expected of her by her family.  But, more and more she was coming to realize this might be impossible.

She shouldn’t feel this way.  After all, she had made her choice and had refused Eagle Heart’s proposal.  And now, having done so, she should try to live with it and marry Thomas, as was expected of her.  But, could she marry Thomas when, to the depths of her heart, she felt she belonged with Eagle Heart?

Perhaps another question she might ask herself was this: was she ready to throw away the lessons her grandmother had taught her?  Hadn’t her grandmother married a man she didn’t love?  Hadn’t it ended in a bad way?

Truly, it was beginning to seem to Laylah as if she were plunging headlong into as heartbreaking an experience as her grandmother’s.

When she had left Eagle Heart, she hadn’t fully realized the extent to which she had changed.  Had it taken losing Eagle Heart to pound some sense into her, to see him more clearly?  Because of the differences in their cultures, she had been unwilling to break with her former ideas of love and marriage.

But, it was a mistake.  In her heart now, she knew it was a mistake.  Was she, however, too late to tell Eagle Heart she had changed her mind?

Gray Falcon had said his friend had blocked his thoughts from her.  She knew he had done this because he did not wish to interfere in her life.  Would it follow, then, that he might leave, never to know she was experiencing a change of heart?

He might do exactly this if she couldn’t get a message to him either through her own efforts or via Gray Falcon.  Perhaps when she rode home tonight, she would seek out Gray Falcon, ask him to find Eagle Heart and beg him to relay a message for her.

She worried, because one aspect about this was becoming very clear to her now: she would never forget Eagle Heart, even if she married another and never saw him again.  Nor would she ever stop loving him.

Oddly, along with acknowledging what was truly in her heart, came a sense of responsibility and an awareness of greater self-confidence.  At least she knew now that what had been between Eagle Heart and herself was more important than others’ ideas—as well as her own mistaken belief—of how she should live her life.

The idea was freeing somehow, and this spurred her on toward another realization: she had to throw Thomas away.  Really, she had no other option.

Besides, she was fast becoming aware that Thomas possessed an injurious trait she had chosen to ignore; one that had almost claimed her life: he did not wish to give up any part of his privileged life to be of service to another.  Indeed, he had valued his own comfort over hers and had left her for dead, apparently after engaging in a show of trying to find her.  He had only left the fort twice in search of her, and, according to Millie and her mother, hadn’t tried again.

At last, it was clear to her.  He did not love her.

Yet, he at least deserved that she should speak to him and inform him of her change of heart and her wish to not marry him.  And so, she would seek him out, and possibly would do so tonight.  She would not criticize him; she would simply let him know she wouldn’t marry him.  And, perhaps this, once done, would allow her to come to Eagle Heart with an open and clean heart.

She could only hope Eagle Heart might still wish to make her his woman.  If, however, she were to discover he didn’t, what would she do?  Return to Fort Union?

No.  She couldn’t.  Perhaps, were this to be a reality, an alternate plan might be to return to St. Louis, for she would always be welcome at her grandmother’s house.  Yes, this was a good plan.  But, if she left this country and didn’t marry Eagle Heart, would she become, then, an old maid?

Perhaps.

Oddly, the idea of leaving behind the security of her own world did not cause her to turn away from what she felt she must do.  Truly, it would be hard to live Eagle Heart’s lifestyle when she was not accustomed to it and didn’t know its rules and mores.  But, it was worse thinking she might have to live her life without him.

Yes, as soon as she returned to the fort, she would find Thomas and speak to him; she would break off their engagement, and then she would try to contact Eagle Heart once again with the mind speak.  If this didn’t work, she would try to find a way to convince Gray Falcon to take her to Eagle Heart or at least relay a message for her.

And so, it was on this thought that she turned to leave, and that’s when she beheld the gray wolf watching her.  At first she was afraid of the creature, but then a memory returned: it was the recollection of the wolves lying next to her freezing body, keeping her warmer than she would have been without them.

She owed them her thanks.

Hesitantly, she watched as the wolf slowly paced toward her.  Using her cane for balance, Laylah came down onto her knees to show the wolf she wasn’t a threat.

Her voice was almost a whisper when she asked, “Were you one of the wolves who, many days ago, came to help me?  If you were, let me tell you how much I appreciate what you did that day.”

The wolf bent down to rest its paws in front of it, its back legs sitting upon the ground as though it were ready to spring up and retreat in an instant.

“I wish I had something to give you, wolf, but I don’t.  I came here without food.  I don’t know really how I can properly thank you.  I wish I could speak to you in the mind-to-mind talk like Eagle Heart can, but I can’t.”

The wolf looked her directly in the eyes before it came up onto its feet and turned around, trotting back in the direction it had come.  However, before it went too far, the animal turned around and asked in distinct mind speak, “Where is the human boy?”

“The human boy?” Laylah asked uncertainly, also using the mind-to-mind form of talking.  Was she really speaking with a wolf?

“Your mate,” answered the wolf.

“My mate?  Oh, you mean Eagle Heart?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t know where he is.  He is gone from here.  I was hoping he would be here, but he is not.”

The wolf didn’t answer.  Instead, it turned away and trotted off again.  In the distance, Laylah could see another wolf waiting for the one who had approached her.  The first wolf had been a female, she realized, because the one she had talked to was smaller than the bigger wolf lingering in the shadows.

Laylah watched them both as they trotted away, though the female paused once and turned her head back to take another look.  Briefly, Laylah brought her good hand up in the sign of a goodbye, and it was some minutes before she realized she had spoken to a wolf as though this were an everyday occurrence and as easy to do as speaking with another human being.

What else was she going to learn in this wild land?

No wonder she now understood she could no longer marry Thomas.  She had forever changed.

 

 

 

And don’t forget to come by on Thursday to help us celebrate our 15th birthday!!

 

Spread  the word – there are going to be BIG prizes and BIG fun!

Play Fifteen Filly Fact or Fib? and you could win!

Happy Birthday to us!

To Invite Parents Into A Story or Not

Many of my books deal with the theme of family of choice. There are a couple reasons why. I’ve always been geographically separated from family and then later, I became estranged from my parents. This changed my writing and my definition of family.

Another reason I turned to this theme is because having parents–ones who have a solid relationship with their children, offer advice when asked without dictating, forgive their children, are mentally healthy, and set good examples–is tough. At least for me, they muck up a story. They often keep their children from making bonehead mistakes that drive a story and create conflict. Why? Partly because they’ve raised children to consider options before acting, gave them a solid moral base, and are present during rough times.

That’s why either my hero or heroine often have past issues from with one or both parents. Let’s face it. Anyone who’s a parent has worried about screwing up their kid. I often joked I hoped I wouldn’t botch parenting so bad my kids spent spent in a therapist’s office. But in romance novels, emotionally damaged characters make for create conflict and character growth. How we’re raised, our emotional baggage and wounds, taint how we see the world and influence our every relationship. For example, Zane in To Marry a Texas Cowboy has major family baggage. Like two  large suitcases and a trunk’s worth.

 

Here’s an excerpt that shows how two relationships shaped Zane’s life.

“Why isn’t your old man helping out?”

“He’s in Europe trying to patch up marriage number three. Good thing, too, because he’d be a worse choice than her assistant.” How could folks as wonderful as his grandparents have raised such a shit for a son? Someone who would lead two completely separate lives with two families?

“I’m thinking a man who breaks out in hives when he hears the word wedding has no business managing a wedding planning company,” Cooper said. “If you ask me, that’s looking for trouble.”

Zane wouldn’t let  Grandma Ginny, the one person who’d been there for him his entire life, loving him unconditionally and acting as a guiding force, put her future at risk. He’d do anything this side of legal for her.

Even run Lucky Stars Weddings.

 

Another thing I like about parental absence in my stories is it allows friends to occupy a prominent role. I love creating banter between good friends, who as Elbert Hubbard says, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” That kind of friend will also tell you when you’re being an ass, and often do in my books.

 

Here’s an example of the heroes in To Tame a Texas Cowboy, who view themselves as family.

“What did this one do? Is she another one with a hyena in heat laugh?” Ty asked, pulling Cooper back to the conversation.

AJ dug his wallet out of his back pocket. “Nah, can’t be that. Not even Coop could find two of those. Ten bucks says this one talked too much.”

“I’m still here, guys, and I’d rather skip the psychoanalyzing session. If you’re interested, I think I can scrounge tickets to the Alabama game. If we can beat them, we’ve got a real shot at the national title,” Cooper said, hoping to channel the conversation onto football and off his love life, or lack thereof.

“I say Coop connected with this one on Facebook, and she posts pictures of her food all the time.” Ty tossed a ten on top of AJ’s, completely ignoring Cooper’s change of subject.

Damn. He was in trouble if tickets to the A&M Alabama game failed to divert his buddies.

Zane tossed a bill on the stack and rubbed his chin while he flashed a perfect white smile at the women two tables over who’d been giving him the eye.

When he glanced back at his friends, he said, “I peg her as the strong, assertive type who’s recently divorced and is still in her angry phase. I say she complained about her ex.”

His friends stared, waiting for him to declare the winner. Betting wasn’t much fun when he was the topic. While AJ and Ty weren’t correct now, in the past, he’d lost interest in women for both the reasons they predicted. Tonight, Zane came damn close. Too close.

“Zane, sometimes you’re damn scary when it comes to women. How do you do it?”

“Years of extensive research.” Zane grinned as he scooped up the cash.

 

So, that’s why I often don’t include a parent or parents in my stories. Another time I’ll chat about the couple times I have had a parent be a prominent character.

 

To be entered in my random giveaway for the cactus T-shirt, coozie, and a signed copy of Family Ties, leave a comment telling me what you think about having the hero or heroine’s parent(s) as main characters in a story.

SHE STEALS MY BREATH — $.99 sale and so much more

Howdy!

Welcome!  I have so much to tell you.  Oh, my goodness!

First, my newest release, SHE STEALS MY BREATH, is on sale — should be on sale today for $.99.  But, it’s only going to be at this price for about 4 or 5 days.  So if you don’t have a copy of my latest book, now would be good time to get it.

 

Okay, the book should be on sale at these outlets:

AMAZON: tinyurl.com/54cxfhac

B & N: tinyurl.com/4anbp4az

ITUNES: tinyurl.com/2w6f7epv

Google: tinyurl.com/mr2byszp

KOBO: tinyurl.com/pwa88n3v

 

OKay.  Then for the next order of business.  Do you follow me on Bookbub?

If not now is your chance to possibly win a bunch of e-books and follow me and some other authors.  Or even if you do follow me, now is still your chance to possibly win some e-books.  BOOKSWEEPS is having a “follow me” event.  Here is what it says:

Win a Bundle of Romantic Comedy!

PLUS A BRAND NEW EREADER! 40 BOOKS! $450 VALUE!

 

“I believe we need to call a break.”

Laylah glanced up at him, smiled, and, in reaction to her, he felt his heart take wing even while he strove to appear serious and intent.  And, he must appear so.  After all, she—a woman—was challenging him.

“Certainly we can have a break,” she said and signed the words as she spoke.  “But, don’t forget that your knife, all your robes and your two horses are now mine.”

“I do not forget.”

She grinned at him again, and Eagle Heart thought he had never seen a more beautiful woman.  Indeed, her hair was a mess, being tossed and tangled, and she wore nothing more than an unflattering robe of his own making.  Yet, when she smiled, it was as though Sun shone through her eyes.  However, there was a drawback to her lure: he had never played the game with anyone who was not only as good as he was, but was, perhaps, a little better.

She had taken to the game as though she had been born to play it.  Quickly—and sometimes even before him—she knew the exact amount of the points in a throw with little more than a simple look.  Often, she memorized the points.  She kept excellent totals, even without the required sticks to keep track of it all, and she laughed while she played as though she were a carefree child.  And, with every smile, every giggle, every delightful glance she gave him, he was falling much too deeply in love with her.

And yet, if she won as he wished her to do, he would have to let her leave him, for he did not fool himself into believing she would choose his lifestyle over the one she had been born to.  Yes, if she won, it might possibly be the hardest task he would ever have to do to take her back to the fort.

Yet, as the afternoon wore on, and, as they reclined within their small enclosure, they laughed and joked about one thing or another as though they were fast acquaintances and well known to each other.  But—and this was hard for him to believe—she was winning most every time she took her turn.  It was getting to the point where he had little left to put up against her for betting.

Of course, she often accused him of cheating and trying to throw the game in her favor, but the fact was, he wasn’t.  He was playing with as much knowledge and cleverness as he possessed.

Perhaps it was male pride as she had suggested, but the idea of being completely bested by a woman was not a moment of pleasure for him.  When he threw a game to give her favor, he still knew he was throwing the game.

In this, he was not.

Perhaps he should never have confided to her how he managed to win these games of chance, for she seemed to have perfected the method without any further assistance from him.

“I think you’re right,” she said in English as well as sign.  “It is much darker outside now, and I believe it will soon be time to have our supper.”

Áa,” he signed, “and I also have several chores to do, the care of our horses being one of those.  I must also ensure this little hut is built well enough to withstand more of the storm, for I believe there are yet many days of the blizzard ahead of us.  I would like to see to these tasks before we begin the game again.”

“Very well,” she said.  “I will try to rest while you are gone, especially if we are to be up through the night.”

“Do you need to visit and use the outside before I leave?”

She looked away from him and sighed, “I do.”  But she’d said it without signing the words.  He, however, understood what she said anyway.

“Then, let us do this before I leave,” he signed and spoke his words in Blackfeet.  “But, I have a gift for you.  It is one I think you might like very much.”

“Really?  You have a gift for me?”

“I do,” he signed.  “Stay where you are,” he commanded, as though it had skipped his notice she could not get up and leave.  But, he hoped she would like his gift and that it would help her attend to private matters with a little more ease.

Scooting toward the entrance of their shelter, he reached a hand outside and brought in the gift.  As he brushed the snow off of it, he realized its purpose would soon alert her to a possibility of more freedom.  It was truly a gift from him, for he had whittled this for her the last time he had gone outside.

“Is it a weapon?” she asked with sign.  But then, as he watched her glance more carefully at it, he heard her exclaim, “It’s a cane!  Oh, let me see it and let me try to walk with it!”

Scooting toward her, for the shelter was not tall enough to stand upright, he presented her with the handcrafted object.

“Can I try it?” she asked in sign.

Áa, please do,” he answered.

“I can’t stand up, but let me attempt to crawl to the entrance and then see if I can.”  She tried, but wasn’t able to scoot all the way to the shelter’s opening, since she was handicapped by an injured leg and a broken arm.

Seeing she had given up, he asked, “Shall I pick you up and bring you outside where you might see if this helps you to walk?”

She nodded.

He scooped her up in his arms then and, ducking through the small entrance, set her on her feet in the snow, allowing her to use the cane to hobble and hop toward the place set aside for the purpose so necessary to every living being.

Snow was falling around them silently as she admonished, “Don’t you look!”

She didn’t translate her words, but he didn’t need the gestures of sign to understand her, and he turned his back to give her a little privacy.  Luckily, she was finished quickly.

“I’m done,” she said.  “Shall I try to walk on my own back to the shelter?”

He turned around and nodded at her, following along behind her.  He was happy to see she was, indeed, able to walk, even though her movements were slow and she hobbled on her left foot.  But, before she began the ordeal of kneeling down in order to enter the shelter, she turned around and threw herself against him.  His arms came around her instinctively.  Snow was still falling, the wind whirling the flakes around them, and he closed his eyes, pulling her in closely toward him.  And, for a moment, he imagined she was truly his by her own will and that he had the right to hold her.

When she said “Thank you, thank you, Eagle Heart.  What am I to do?  For I am falling too much in love with you, and I dare not do it,” he didn’t confess to her how quickly he was learning English and that he was beginning to be able to piece together what she said.

But, when she reached up toward his face and placed a kiss upon his cheek, he couldn’t resist turning his head such a small, little distance to turn what was meant as a “thank-you-peck-on-the-cheek” into a kiss, lips to lips.

He was surprised when she kissed him back, placing her good arm around his neck and opening her mouth to his demand.  And, he kissed her hungrily, as one lover might do with his sweetheart, as though he had every right to take her gift.  However, his body was responding with all the fervor of a man in love.  And worse, he could do nothing about it.

Yet, the kiss went on and on until he gathered enough of his wits about him to end the caress.  But, he didn’t let her go.  Instead, he drew her closer into his arms, and, placing his chin on the top of her head, tried in vain to smother the passion he could little control.

At last, with the snow sticking to and wetting her hair, her robe and also his, he said, “Kitsii ká komimmo, I love you,” secure in the knowledge that she had not yet mastered his language.


Well, that’s all for today.  Hope you’re able to sort through all of these things I’ve left for you today.  Do come in and leave a comment.  I do look forward to them.

Janice Cole Hopkins: A Few Bumps in the Road

The Fillies give a big welcome to Janice Cole Hopkins. She’s a long-time P&P follower and a lover of history as well as historical western romance. Janice writes her own books many of which are series! Now that’s a big Yee-Haw!

As wagon trains began making the trek west, more of the West opened to settlers. The midwestern states were once the frontier to be settled. However, the discovery of gold in California and the rich, fertile land in Oregon brought larger numbers.

To help protect the pioneers against hostile Indians and to give them a trading post along the way, forts were built. Forts Laramie, Bridger, and Hall in what is now Wyoming were constructed of logs, mostly cottonwood. Fort Kearney in Nebraska was built using adobe, sod, logs, and boards. Fort Boise in Idaho first used adobe. Travelers were excited to visit a fort and break the austere, often monotonous life on the trail. Yet, they found the prices outrageous because it cost to transport the goods there.

In my new release, A Few Bumps in the Road, Judith Johnson takes her younger brother and travels along a portion of the Oregon Trail to Kansas as a mail-order bride after their parents die. She meets her intended and his brother at Fort Ferguson, a fictitious fort based on most of the others I researched. Her husband, although handsome and charming, turns out to be a womanizer and has a drinking problem.  Judith is determined to make her marriage work, however, and she keeps telling herself her situation could be worse. At least Calvin’s older brother is stable and responsible, providing a home for all of them on the farm. But farm life on the prairie can be hard in 1850, and Calvin’s attitude makes the struggles even worse. But she knew one thing. After the harsh conditions on the Oregon Trail, she never planned to go back, and she hadn’t even gone all the way to Oregon like most of the others were doing.

Although A Few Bumps in the Road is part of the Idioms & Clichés series, like all my books, it can also be read as a standalone. These books are loosely connected by one family’s generations. It is available in print, Audible, and Kindle.

Here’s an excerpt:

Judith’s eyes began to sweep around the fort when she saw a tall man striding their way. Despite his long steps he didn’t appear to be in any hurry to get there.

Mr. Davis took a few steps forward to meet him and extended his hand. Robbie followed Mr. Davis, so Judith did too.

“Good to see you again,” Mr. Davis said. “Allow me to present to you Miss Judith Johnson and her brother Robert, better known as Robbie. Miss Johnson, this is Matthew Miller.”

A momentary flash of surprise flickered over Matthew’s face, but he tipped his hat and nodded. “A pleasure, Miss. Welcome, Robbie. I hope you both will be very happy here.”

She looked around wondering where Calvin could be. She didn’t see another man who fit what she knew of her fiancé.

“Cal woke up not feeling well and needed some extra time. He sent me on out to meet you, but he should be coming along soon.” Matthew must have seen her search.

“I hope nothing’s wrong.”

“No, we came into the fort yesterday evening. Cal woke up with a headache and queasy stomach this morning.”

Judith’s worry deepened, but she didn’t say anything.

“Come and we’ll go over to the building they use for a church. Cal will meet us there.”

You can read more of A Few Bumps in the Road in the Amazon sample and get more information by clicking here.

If anyone would like a free code for an Audible copy for A Few Bumps in the Road, message me on Facebook or email me at janicecolehopkins@gmail.com. (You must have the free Audible account activated to redeem the code.)

For a chance to win a Kindle copy of A Few Bumps in the Road, what do you think would be ONE of the biggest hazards to living on the Kansas frontier in 1850?

SHE STEALS MY BREATH — Still on sale, but only for a short while longer

Howdy!

And here we are gathering together again on another terrific Tuesday.

This series of The Medicine Men is really opening my eyes to many things.  And, I thought I’d share of few of those with you today.

Am reading the book FOOLS CROW by Thomas E. Mails and I have to admit to having to leave behind many misconceptions I’ve had about the American Indian medicine man.  I had really thought that the medicine men helped their people heal using herbs and driving out the evil spirits with their songs and drumbeats.

Sometimes they did this.  They certainly used herbs and drumming and other rituals to help another become well.  Here is what Fools Crow said about some of the healings he did:

“You know that it is not our custom to talk about healings.  Instead, our words and hearts are sent up to God in prayerful thanksgiving for them.  We tell Him this in our private prayers and in our ceremonies.  No medicine man or patient makes a big thing of it when a healing takes place.  This is why sick people do not come to me or to other medicine men in greater numbers….”

What I’m learning is that the true medicine man from the long ago did not, himself, heal.  Only God did, working through the medicine man, as though the medicine man were a hollow bone, and was there only so God could work through him.

Wow!  I mean, think of it.  God was never divorced from the healing of the sick because the medicine man realized fully and completely that God was healing the person, not he, the medicine man.  This is why Fools Crow devotes an entire chapter in this book about the medicine man and the strict and narrow path such a man had to walk.

Now, since we know that it was God doing the healing, Fools Crow goes on to say that every person he ever did a ceremony for in order for the person to get well — they did get well…and without exception.

Another medicine man — a very handsome man, Black Elk — is once noted as saying that the life of a medicine man is a hard one, because a man must never step foot off the very narrow and ethical path laid out by God, The Creator.  No alcohol, no drugs, no womanizing, no swearing and a medicine man must keep in mind always that the person seeking help may never be able to repay him.  He goes on to say a medicine man has to understand this, and, if necessary be content to never be repaid for the service he rendered.

Black Elk is noted as saying, also, (I heard this online) that the path of a medicine man is so rough to keep to, that one should not seek to become a medicine man, but should wait to be asked and then make his decision.

However, Fools Crow often points to his complete happiness in being able to help and lead his fellow Lakota Indians.  He may not have been rich in material goods, but he was rich in friendships and in the knowledge that he was helping his fellow man.

In the words of Fools Crow:  “Even the medicine men are jealous of one another today.  And that is very bad.  Years ago all of the holy men and medicine men worked together, and as a result accomplished great things.  The medicine men shared their power in the healing rites and in the other ceremonies.  Even when they paid homage to God they did so in such a way as to help one another.  There was unity of purpose.”

 

In the book, SHE STEALS MY BREATH, I don’t actually go into much of the healing ceremonies because I don’t know them.  But what I would like to do is share with you a little bit from the book that I think really defines the American Indian’s point of view of the world.

And so, I hope you will enjoy this excerpt from the book, SHE STEALS MY BREATH.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

One day turned into another.  In the mornings, Eagle Heart left their simple home to hunt, and, when she asked him why he always traveled so far away on his quest for game, he told her a man never looks for or kills animals for food close to where he lives.  To do so could make a man’s home very dangerous, indeed.

During the afternoons, Laylah made it a point to help Eagle Heart skin the animals he brought home.  She also aided him in preparing their meat for roasting, learning this skill gradually.  But, Laylah noticed a few aspects about skinning an animal she had never witnessed before, and it made her curious.

Always, Eagle Heart said prayers over the beast he had killed, and Laylah, under his influence, had begun doing much the same.  Laylah noticed, also, that Eagle Heart gave away much of their food to the Little People and to any of their other animal friends who came to visit.

Once, she had questioned him about this practice of giving away a good deal of their food, and she’d asked, “Do you think it wise to share so much of the meat we have?”

“We have plenty, more than we need, and the hunting here is good because so few predators come to this valley.”

“Of course,” she said.  “Still, wouldn’t it be wise to preserve some of it?  I remember during the snowstorm you had a good supply of dried meat.  Could you show me how to prepare meat this way?”

Áa,” he signed.  “I will show you how to smoke the meat, and your suggestion is a good one.  We should make meat for hard times.  But, an honorable man gives away as much food as he consumes.  It is his duty to ensure his friends are as well fed as he is.  If he has to hunt more often, so be it.”

“No wonder the animals love you so much.”

His simple smile at her gave her much pleasure, as though he bestowed a little bit of heaven on her.

The evenings were all she could have ever wanted, for she had this man entirely to herself, and, after their supper, they made love throughout most the night, both of them catching up on their sleep between lovemaking.

Sometimes Eagle Heart even slept in late, delaying his hunting until the afternoon.  Indeed, the days and evenings were romantic in so many different ways, and Laylah couldn’t remember ever being so happy.

One afternoon, as she was assisting Eagle Heart in skinning the deer he had brought into their camp, she asked, “What is the yellow powder you sprinkle over the animal you have killed?  I hear your prayers, and I understand why you pray over the animals, but what is the yellow dust for?”

“I will show you,” he signed.

She nodded.

“Hunting is and should always be a prayer,” signed Eagle Heart, “for a man must take the life of another in order to ensure his own family does not starve.  Being so close to the animals one needs to kill in order to survive, a man becomes aware of the creation of life all around him.  It is why we pray over the animals we have killed.  But, we do more.

“It is possible I might be able to show you how we try to help the animal we have killed.  I think I could do this with this deer, because the living spirit of this animal has not yet left its body.  If you watch closely, you might be able to see the spirit of the animal as it departs its body.”

Laylah frowned.  “I thought animals didn’t possess a spirit.”

“There are white trappers who have told me they believe this, also, and they are welcome to think this if they choose.  But, my tribe and all the tribes around us, even our enemies, know that all of creation is alive; all things are made up of the same rocks, stones and dirt of the earth and all are alive.  But, you must decide this matter for yourself.  Watch.”

Eagle Heart began to sing and pray over the animal as he usually did, and, taking some of the powder from the small bag he always wore around his neck, he sprinkled the yellow dust over the animal, the color of the dust catching hold of and reflecting the rays of the afternoon sun.

“Do you see it?” he asked in sign.  “Look for the aliveness of the animal rising up out of its body.  It is not physical, but if you pay close attention, you might see it because you, too, are spiritual.  Here comes the spirit as it rises out of its dead body.  Do you perceive that it follows the path of the dust I have sprinkled, its path guiding it up toward the sky and the Creator of all, Sun?”

Laylah had looked on and at first had seen nothing.  But then, glancing all around the animal, she became aware of something rising up and departing from the body of the animal.

Not really sure what she was looking at, she yet watched as an invisible something left this animal’s body—she even watched it as it followed the yellow path upward toward the sky.  With what must have been large eyes, she turned her head to stare at Eagle Heart.

She whispered, “I didn’t know animals had a soul.”

He signed, “Have you not now seen one leave the body of this poor deer?”

“I did see it.”

“We are all connected,” he told her in sign, bringing his two hands together, linking them as though in brotherhood.  “We all live and enjoy the thrill of life, and we all die.  All life must depend upon animal or plant life, or sometimes both, to become food so all may live.  Plants do the same, taking what they need from our Mother, the Earth.  All life must do the same as we do.  Simply because we must eat does not mean we must divorce ourselves from the life that is all around us and pretend it is not also alive and lives much the same as we do.”

Still feeling as if her eyes were mirroring her incredulity, she remarked, “Should I not eat meat, then?  Perhaps I should change my diet so I am eating no meat at all?”

“Do you ask this question because you think plants do not have a spirit that, like us, desires to live?”

“Of course a plant doesn’t have a spirit.  It is only a plant, after all.”

He smiled at her and reached out to take her hand in his, bringing it to his lips.  Then, releasing her hand, he signed, “Come, let us finish skinning this deer and putting its meat over the fire, and I will introduce you to the plants, for all things are connected and all things on this earth are alive.  And, if it is alive and if it is on this earth, it is, like us, spiritual. When the body dies, that which makes the plant or animal aware it lives, is released.  We of the Blackfoot Nation at least try to guide its spirit up to the sky and to Sun, the Creator.”

Laylah frowned.  Even though she had “seen” the spiritual entity leave its body and float upward, this was too new and too different a viewpoint for her to readily accept as true.  But, it did cause her to wonder if she had really been truly living before she’d met this man.  Wolves who, when asked, came to her aid; a deer as a spiritual being; the love of the Little People and now plants, too?  They, like human beings, were alive and possessed a spiritual quality about them?  She swallowed hard before asking, “What is the yellow dust you sprinkle over the animal?”

“Pollen.”

She nodded.

“Come,” he signed, “let us finish this task and then, if you will follow me, we should go and talk to the plants.”

And, Laylah did, indeed, help him finish the task, knowing they would do exactly as he said they might do.  And, before they sat down to enjoy their supper, she found herself silently conversing with the flowers that graced a beautiful and colorful meadow….

By the way, I love the picture to the right, taken by James Willard Schultz at the turn of the last century.  On the left in the picture is Black Bull and on the right is Stabs-by-mistake, both from the Pikuni Nation (the Blackfeet).  They are looking out upon Glacier National Park.

SHE STEALS MY BREATH

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SHE STEALS MY BREATH — Why Montana? And Why a Snow Storm?

Howdy!

Welcome!  Welcome!

This is one of our fun days here at the P & P Blog, where we get to talk about things we don’t usually blog about.  Now, interestingly,, Linda Broday asked me recently (when we were talking about the blog) how I decide on the places I write about — the locations.

It was a question I’d never given much thought to until she suggested it and then decided it would be great to talk about it.  Particularly this most recent story.

Usually, the story itself sets the location, as well as the tribe I’m writing about.  The Wild West Series was a fun series to write because it was a Western set in both England and New York, which I found to be exciting.

This new story, She Steals My Breath, was inspired by the passing of a good friend of mine and my husband’s — Native American Actor, Steve Reevis.  Because he is Blackfeet, this took my story line to Montana, of course.  But, a couple of years ago, I had visited my Blackfeet sister on the reservation and she mentioned they’d had eight feet of snow that winter.

Eight feet!  Wow!

And then I realized that, although I’ve written books about the Blackfeet before, they were always set in the summer, and yet where the Blackfeet are in Montana, they have long winters and often there are blizzards and squalls, much snow and below zero temperatures.  There is a book I was reading recently entitled, “Yellow Wolf, His Own Story,” by L. V. McWhorter and in that story Yellow Wolf makes the point that even hardy men, used to the weather changes in the northern regions could freeze in a matter of minutes if they weren’t prepared for it.

And so, I decided to set a Blackfeet tale in the winter months in Montana.  By the way, the picture here to the left is Steve Reevis in the Movie, The Last of the Dogmen.

This recent book, She Steals my Breath, is book #1 in the Medicine Man series.  This is a bit of a different kind of story for me since this series lends itself into going a little deeper into the customs and mores of the Blackfeet and in particular the medicine men.  I have to admit that I have a lot to learn about these men, who were trusted by their people to help them through hard times.  And, one of the things I found that has fascinated me is that they realized their ethics had to be without fault, because if they were to go down the path of darkness even a little or black magic (so to speak), they would lose their ability to help and perhaps to heal the people who came to them for help.  Their code of ethics was strict.  It had to be and they felt such an obligation to their people, few ever stepped off this moral and ethical high ground.

Here is a fact I had little knowledge of prior to my study:  The Medicine Men had many rituals that weren’t really about magic, but were rituals to enable them to become like a “hollow bone,” so the Creator (God) could work through them.  This comes to me from the book, Fools Crow by Thomas E. Mails.  In writing about the medicine men, I am realizing more and more that I’ve had a rather false idea of them due to Hollywood movies.  I have always realized Hollywood’s depiction of the Indian warrior was not a true image, but I hadn’t taken into account that their depiction of the medicine man might also be one which is very far from the truth.  I am still learning.

I’m going to leave you with an interview recently done with me about this book, SHE STEALS MY BREATH, and then I thought I’d share an excerpt of the book with you.  Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this, about the interview, the medicine men or the excerpt or anything else you’d like to say or ask.  So, without further ado, here at the start is this short interview:

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write She Steals My Breath?

Lately, I’ve been at a point in my life where I really wanted a story where the hero was, indeed, a very muscular and handsome hero, but also a very kind hero. The Native American Medicine Man could be such a person. If the man were to be a true medicine man, he understood his power came from God, or whatever it was in his own language that he called God. Because of this, they had to adhere to a very strict code of ethics, and part of that code was kindness.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of She Steals My Breath, what would they be?

“You Raise Me Up.”

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

Romance to both questions. I enjoy all sub-genres of Romance. But, my heart is particularly drawn to Historical, Native American, Romance.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Adolf Hungry Wolf; and “Blackfeet Tales of Glacier National Park,” by James Willard Schultz

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

I think the very beginning scene in chapter one, where the hero and heroine first meet each other and speak to each other in sign language.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

Not really, although I might take this as a suggestion and try to adopt some training pattern of one kind or another.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Upon thinking about this, perhaps it might be that the real path to spiritual enlightenment is a very narrow path. One would do well to read about the philosophy of the Lakota Medicine Man, Fools Crow, and that one has to be strong to resist the temptation to commit an evil act.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

Again, I had to ponder this for a bit. And I think it might be this: that there was, and still is, a lot to be learned about these ways of life that might be passing away under the thrust of “civilization.”

 

 

Karen Kay is the author of the new book She Steals My Breath

Connect with Karen Kay

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B09TNDS67H cover image

And now, I’d like to leave this post with an excerpt from the book:

SHE STEALS MY BREATH, by Karen Kay

Eagle Heart was honestly worried, and, to counter this, he reached out into the environment, looking for She-steals-my-breath in the age-old manner of communication known and practiced by and between medicine men, as well as the Indian scout.  Was she still alive?

He could no longer check his path for accuracy.  The snow was too thick and spinning about the ground, and he could not see even a few hand lengths in front of him.  There was now danger of losing his direction, as well.  But, he wouldn’t be turned away.  No woman as beautiful as she should be made to die because her man did not understand the dangers of this land.

He reached out to her with his mind until he thought he’d found her, then said to her in the ancient way of medicine men, “I am coming for you.  You must talk back to me with your mind so I can locate where you are.  The snow is too dense, and I could lose my way.  Can you speak to me with your mind so I can find you?”

“Yes,” came her response.

With relief, he let out a deep breath.  She had heard him and had even spoken back.  He reached out again with his mind and said, “It is I, Eagle Heart, from the Pikuni tribe.  Are you cold?”

“Yes.  My fingers are frozen, I fear.”

“Are you hurt?”

“Yes,” she answered with her mind.  “I can’t move my right leg and my right arm.  I fell upon them.  My spine is hurt, too, I think.  Maybe it’s broken, for the agony in my spine when I try to move is very painful.”

“I understand.  You must remain warm, for the blizzard is coming upon us fast.  I am going to see if there are wolves close to you who might come and surround you to keep you warm until I can get to you.”

“Wolves?  I’m afraid of wolves.”

“You will not be afraid of these.  I will try to find them and speak to them so they can come to you.  If I locate them, they will help you and keep you from freezing.  Do not be afraid of them.”

“But, how can you do this?” she asked.  “Talk to wolves?”

“I am speaking to you this way.  I can also speak thusly to the wolves.  I will send them to you.  Do not be afraid of them.”

The communication between them stopped, and, quickly, he reached out to her again and said, using the same ancient manner of communication, “You must keep talking to me with your mind even if I do not answer, for I am also seeking to find the wolves.  Wait!  I have found them.  They are close and will come to help you.  Let them keep you warm.”

“I will try,” she silently spoke back to him.  “If I am to continue talking to you, as you say, what shall I tell you?  I know not how to help you find me, and I am afraid for my life because I am so cold.  Is there something else I could talk to you about to keep my mind off my fear?”

“Tell me about yourself.  Why are you here?  Are you in love with the man you are to marry?”

He sensed she might have found a little humor in his question.  This was good.  If she could laugh—even a little—perhaps she wouldn’t center all her attention on her fear.

She silently spoke again in the mind-to-mind speak and said, “My name is Laylah McIntosh, and I have come here to help my father and also to marry the man I am engaged to.”

“Do you love him?”

“Why do you ask?”

“It matters.”

“Then I will tell you honestly,” she told him, “that I don’t know if I love him or not.  I have believed I am in love with him, but recently I am beginning to experience doubts.”

“How old are you?”

“I am eighteen years old.  How old are you?”

“I am twenty and four snows.”

“Snows?  Do you mean years?”

“Yes.”

“Mr. Eagle Heart, the wolves are here.  I am afraid of them.”

“Do not be.  Let them lie next to you.  They have answered my plea and are there to help you.  You are close to me now.  I have found the coulee, for I almost fell into it when I dismounted from my horse.”

“Are you certain it is the coulee I am in?”

“Yes.  The snow here is already deep.  I do not wish my horses to lose their footing, so they and I must climb down to you slowly, one step after another.”

“I understand.  Should I keep talking to you with my mind?”

“Yes.”

It was a slow, tortuous climb down the incline.  But, at last, he and his ponies managed to step onto a more level ground and he found her lying there before him.  Indeed, he almost stepped on one of the wolves who had come to surround her.  He then said to her with his mind only, “I am here, but you must continue to speak to me silently and with your mind, for I must construct a shelter for us.  Do not let yourself sleep.  Stay awake.”

“Very well.  Should I continue to talk, then?”

“Yes.  Can you see me?”

“No.  The swirling of the snow is too thick.”

“I am going to bend down toward you.  Do not fear me.  I am going to feel your body for injury.  I shall try to touch your arm, your leg and your spine.”

So saying, he bent toward her while the wind blew the snow around them.  Reaching out to her, he felt underneath the blankets placed over her and ran his hands along her right arm and right leg.  He said in Blackfeet, “I believe both your arm and your leg might be broken.  I cannot feel your spine at this moment.  I will need to move you carefully into a shelter, where I can determine if you have broken bones or if your muscles are merely strained.”

“I don’t understand you,” she said in English, but he was aware of the concept of what she said anyway.

He nodded, then realized the snow was so thick, she couldn’t see the movement.  He repeated his words, but with the mind-to-mind talk only.  Then he told her, “I must make us a shelter and a travois so I can move you without further injury.  Do you understand?”

“I do.”

“I have a warm buffalo robe to place over you to keep you as warm as possible.  Stay close to the wolves and allow them to share the robe while I make a shelter and a travois to carry you. You have only to reach out to me with your mind if you need me.  Thank you, my friends.  My family.  Please stay with her a little while longer.  And, even when the storm passes, please stay close to me if you can.  I might need your help again.”

Only then did he rise to his feet, and he soon left to build a shelter that might keep them warm against the storm.  And, it had to be quickly done.

CHAPTER THREE

Laylah felt a little warmer, but she was still very cold.  It seemed as if the temperature had dipped even further, causing her to wonder if the air in the canyon was well below freezing.  She couldn’t feel her fingers anymore and her toes were now following the same pattern as her fingers.

With her mind, she reached out to Eagle Heart and said, “I believe I am freezing to death.”

He didn’t answer.  Was he still there?  She panicked.  “Eagle Heart, are you still here?” she yelled out in English.

“I have not left you,” he answered without words.  “I must secure a shelter.  Keep awake.  Do not freeze.  It will be ready soon.  Instead of the cold and snow, think of a fire and how warm you are as you sit beside it.”

“I will try.”

The communication dropped then between them, and she felt so sleepy of a sudden, she could barely keep her eyes open.  But, she tried to envision a fire and its warmth.

She wasn’t aware how long it was before she felt him beside her again.  Carefully, and yet with manly strength, she could feel him lifting her onto some contraption that she thought must be made out of wood, for she could feel some of its branches beneath her.  Then, she was aware they were moving through the spinning, heavily-falling snow.

But soon, a particular kind of tiredness closed in upon her.

“Do not sleep,” he said, using his mind only.

“I must.”

“No, do not do it.  We are almost at the shelter.  Keep awake.  Speak to me, either with your mind or words.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can.”

“I tried thinking of the fire.  But, I was so cold, I couldn’t do it any longer.”

“Then, tell me of things you find joy in.”

“Christmas, new clothes.  Fashion.  Strips of cloth I use to curl my hair.  And you.  I am suddenly thinking you bring me joy.”

“You flatter me.  We are here at the shelter at last.  Do not leave me.”

“It’s so hard to keep from sleeping.”

Suddenly, his arms were around her, and she was so cold she didn’t feel the pain when he picked her up.  Soon, he was carrying her into a place of warmth.

He deposited her onto something soft, and, without pausing a moment, he began to rub her hands and then her feet.  It went on and on.  She felt his hands all over her.

Suddenly he was speaking to her in concepts only again.  “Do not be alarmed.  I must remove your clothing, for it is wet and frozen.  I have a warm robe that is not wet, and I will wrap you in it.  I will have to move you a little to remove the clothing from you.  I might have to cut some of your clothing from you.”

She didn’t answer.  It was beyond her.

Again, with his mind alone, he said, “Talk to me.”  When she didn’t answer, she heard him speak to her in his own language.  She tried to communicate back to him, but found she couldn’t and so remained silent.

However, she held on to the sound of his voice, afraid to sleep for fear she might not wake up.  There was a quality about his words she found beautiful, and she responded to his voice and to him, refusing to give in to the darkness.  Indeed, it was as though with his touch and his voice alone, he was keeping her alive and conscious.

She felt him pick her up and wrap her in something very warm, and, as she settled back into its heat and against her bed, sleep claimed her at last.

************************************************************************
Well, that’s all for today.  Don’t forget to come on in and leave a comment.

 

Texas Cinderella Re-issue

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. At the end of the month Harlequin will be releasing one of my older titles, Texas Cinderella, as part of a 2-in-1 special edition bundled with Regina Scott’s Would Be Wilderness Wife. It’s always fun to see an older work being given new life. Texas Cinderella was the 8th book in my Texas Grooms series (all can be read as stand alone books).

It was a fun story to write, not only because I really fell in love with the characters, both primary and secondary, but also because I added just a small touch of mystery/suspense to this one, something I rarely have the opportunity to do.

One of my favorite things to write in any romance story is the first time the hero and heroine meet. So today I thought I’d share an excerpt from that part of this book. It’s a bit lengthy but I wanted to give you both the heroine and hero’s perspective. And I will be giving away at least one copy, the winner(s) to be selected from those who leave comments.

Cassie dug the apple slices from her pocket as the two livery horses came trotting over to see what she’d brought them today.

“Here you go Duchess,” she crooned, holding out her hand and let the black mare lip two slices from her palm.

She laughed as a mahogany-colored mare tried to push Duchess aside. “Mind your manners Scarlett, I have some for you too.”

She gave Scarlett her treat. “I’ve had some excitement today, both good and bad,” she confided as she stroked Scarlett’s muzzle. “The good news is I’m moving forward with my bakery business.”

Cassie shifted to give Duchess her share of attention. “The bad news is Pa wants me to go back to the farm and take care of him and my brothers.” She breathed a sigh. “I don’t want to do that, so now I need to find me a husband.”

She gave both horses a final pat then crossed her arms on the top rail. “I sure wish you two could speak. I bet you’d give me some good insights. The way a man treats his animals is a good measure of his character.”

“Are you talking to the horses?”

Cassie turned to see a freckle-faced boy of six or seven eyeing her curiously.

“Of course. They’re friends of mine.” She smiled and straightened. “I don’t think we’ve met before, have we?”

The boy shook his head. “We just got to town. I’m Noah.”

“Glad to meet you Noah. I’m Cassie.”

“My Uncle Riley likes to talk to horses too.”

“Sounds like a smart man.” She held out her last few apple slices. “Would you like to feed them?”

The boy smiled, showcasing a missing front tooth, and took the slices. He eagerly stepped on the second-from-the-bottom fence board so he could lean over the top rail. Fearlessly holding his hand out just as she had, Noah smiled as the black mare took the offering. “What’s her name?” he asked.

“Duchess.” Cassie moved beside him, concerned by his precarious perch. She rubbed the other mare’s neck. “And this is Scarlett.”

She smiled as the boy stroked the mare’s muzzle. “I see you’ve done this before.”

He nodded. “Uncle Riley has a real fine horse. He’s inside talking to the owner about stabling him here.”

At least she now knew the boy wasn’t alone. Cassie patted Scarlett’s muzzle so the animal wouldn’t feel left out, then leaned against the top rail again. “Are you and your folks just visiting or do you plan to settle down here?”

The boy shook his head. “We don’t know anyone here. And I don’t have folks anymore. It’s just me, Pru and Uncle Riley.”

She absorbed the words as well as his matter-of-fact tone. Before she could form a response, though, they were interrupted.

“Noah, what are you doing out here?”

At the sharply uttered question, Noah quickly turned and in the process lost his footing. Cassie moved swiftly to stop his fall and ended up on her backside with Noah on her lap.

“Are you okay?”

She looked up to see a man she didn’t know helping Noah stand. But the concerned look on his face was focused on her.

“I’m a bit dusty, but otherwise fine,” she said with a rueful smile.

He stooped down, studying her as if he didn’t quite believe her reassurances.

She met his gaze and found herself looking into the deepest, greenest eyes she’d ever seen. The genuine concern and intelligence reflected in his expression made her temporarily forget that she was sitting in the livery yard dirt.

“Can I help you up?”

She blinked, coming back to herself, and quickly nodded. “Yes, thank you.” Hoping there was no visible sign of the warmth she felt climbing in her cheeks, Cassie held out her hand.

He took it in his larger, work-callused one and she had the strangest feeling that she could hold on to that hand forever.

Then he placed his other hand behind her back and with surprisingly little effort he had her on her feet in no time. He stepped away once she was steady and she found herself missing the gentle strength of his touch.

He continued to eye her. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Cassie nodded as she busied herself dusting her skirt. What was wrong with her? It wasn’t often she found herself flustered this way. “Please don’t worry. I’ve taken worse falls tripping over my own feet.” She quickly turned to Noah. “How about you? Are you all right?”

“Yes ma’am. Thanks for catching me.”

She ruffled his hair. “Glad to help.” For the first time she noticed a young girl standing behind the man, chewing her lip. Before she could introduce herself, however, the man spoke up again.

“I’ve told you before not to wander off without telling me.” His tone was stern.

Noah’s expression turned defensive. “I just wanted to get outside. We’ve been cooped up forever.” The boy scuffed the ground with the toe of his shoe. “Besides, I didn’t go far.”

The man didn’t seem the least bit appeased. “That’s no excuse.”

Noah’s shoulders slumped. Then he gave his uncle a hopeful look. “But Pru saw where I was going. And you found me right away.”

Cassie could detect genuine concern behind the man’s scolding. This, of course, must be the Uncle Riley that Noah had mentioned.

She studied the man while trying not to appear nosy. There was something about him that intrigued her. It wasn’t his appearance, though that was appealing enough in a rugged, well-muscled sort of way. No, it was something about his bearing that commanded her attention, an air of self-confidence and strength, balanced with concern for his nephew which added a hint of vulnerability—it all came together in a way she found compelling.

….

***

Riley hurried Pru and Noah along. There were a few things he still had to do this afternoon and the sooner he settled them in at the hotel the better.

He needed to get a telegraph off to Mr. Claypool. He always made a point of letting the Pinkerton detective know where to reach him when he arrived in a new town.

Then he needed to take River for a run. The horse had been cooped up in that train car for much too long and would be ready for some exercise.

Riley’s mind drifted back to Miss Vickers. She was an interesting lady. He’d first thought her a tomboyish adolescent. With her slight build and the way she’d stood so casually at the corral fence laughing with Noah, no wonder he’d gotten the wrong idea.

Rushing to Noah’s aid with such disregard for her own well-being or dignity, then taking her fall with a touch of humor rather than dismay—there weren’t many grown ladies who’d have done such a thing.

It was only when he’d stooped down to check on her that he’d realized his mistake. That engagingly rueful smile had most definitely belonged to a woman, not a child.

It was when their gazes met, though, that he’d found himself thrown off balance. He’d never encountered quite that combination of innocence and humor before, especially mixed as it was with an air of maturity and resolve.

It was such a curious mix he wondered if he’d really seen all of that in one quick glance. Still, the impression had remained with him. Of course her cheery smile and that dimple that kept appearing near the corner of her lip had contributed to that unexpected air that seemed to surround her. It bestowed on her a kind of unconventional attractiveness, even when she sat in the dust with a chagrinned look on her face. He hadn’t been so taken by a woman in quite some time. For just a heartbeat he’d been tempted to linger, to get to know her better.

And that had brought him up short. Because he couldn’t afford to let himself be diverted by such fetching distractions.

Not given what was at stake.

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for any book from my backlist.

 

TEXAS CINDERELLA

 

 

In Search of a Groom 

After a life of drudgery on her family’s farm, Cassie Lynn Vickers relishes her freedom working in town as a paid companion for feisty Mrs. Flanagan. When her father suddenly demands she come home, she has no choice. Unless she can find a husband. If only she could convince handsome town newcomer Riley Walker to marry her… 

Riley is on the run. He’s desperate to keep his niece and nephew safe from his crooked half brother. But a delay in Turnabout, Texas, shows him everything he didn’t know he was missing: home, family—and Cassie Lynn. Can he find a way to become her Prince Charming…and build a real family with the children and his Texas Cinderella?

 

For more information or to reserve your copy click HERE

 

 

 

 

SHE STEALS MY BREATH, Pre-Sale and Excerpt

Howdy!

Welcome, welcome to another terrific Tuesday!

Do you know what I saw last week?  Robins.  That’s right.  Robins.  Unless they are very confused, that usually means spring is right around the corner.

And what better time of year than to have a new release.  This is Book One in the new Medicine Man series, and the title is SHE STEALS MY BREATH.

This title, by the way, was inspired by a poem by John Trudell, Dakota tribe.  So, without further ado, let me leave you the details on the pre-sale — 20% off what will be the regular price, the back blurb of the book and an excerpt.

 

Karen Kay

 

New Release!

Pre-Sale!  Save 20% 

Price after March 27, 2022 $4.99

Price now  $3.99

https://tinyurl.com/5658jeuv

 

SHE STEALS MY BREATH

The Medicine Man Series, Book One

Back Cover Blurb

Her Beauty Takes His Breath Away… Only She Can Restore It

Eagle Heart of the Blackfoot Nation has not come to the trading post, Fort Union, to trade, but to find his missing brother. The medicine man has never seen a white woman, but, when she walks into the room, her beauty literally steals his breath.  

Laylah McIntosh has assets besides beauty that make her valuable to her father, the fort’s trader: her skill with numbers, her photographic memory and her knowledge of the sign language used by all the tribes. But, when she’s injured and caught in a fierce blizzard, it is Eagle Heart, alone, who rescues her.

Forced into each other’s company, their attraction deepens. But a union between them is forbidden in both their worlds.

Can their love find a way to survive the wrath?  Or will their differences separate them forever?

Warning:  Sensuous romance and a love written in the stars could cause a gal to go West in search of love and adventure.

Please enjoy this excerpt from the book, SHE STEALS MY BREATH:

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Fort Union Trading Post

The Eastern Montana Territory

October 1834

 

 

“I tell you true, there is such a creature as a white woman.  I have seen her here this very day.”

Eagle Heart cast a doubtful glance at Gray Falcon, his napí, friend.  “A white woman here?” he asked.  “What you say cannot be so.  All the tribes are speaking the same words about the white man: he has no women.  In all these years we have known this man, we have never seen his women.”

“Ha’!  I do not lie, my friend.  I saw her here.  Today.  Come with me to the trading room.  You will see her, too.”

“I am not interested,” replied Eagle Heart.  “But, tell me, does she have long hair on her upper lip and chin, as well as all over her body, like the white man?  Does she smell as bad as all white men do?  And, is her hair dirty and greasy from failing to bathe?  Saa, I do not wish to see this creature.  I might lose the contents of my stomach.”

“I will not tell you any detail about her, my friend.  Come and look at her and decide for yourself if she has all these features you speak of.”

Eagle Heart shook his head.  “I do not wish to witness the ugliness of this white woman.  It might spoil the image of a woman’s beauty for me.  Besides, I must make inquiries about my brother since, as you know, this is the only reason I have made the long journey to the white man’s fort.”

Napi, my friend, it will take but a moment to come and look at the woman.  Then go your own way.”

Eagle Heart sighed.  Truly, he was not interested.  However, if taking a glimpse at this being would appease his young friend, he would do it.  And so, he found himself saying, “Okí, let us go so I might look at this ugly and smelly creature.”

Áa, yesthis is a good plan.”  Gray Falcon smiled.

Okí.  Shall I hold my breath so I do not have to smell her stench?”

“Perhaps, my friend.  Perhaps.”


The trading room was busy this day in early October, the season when the leaves turn yellow.  With a quick glance around the room, Eagle Heart memorized the details of this place.  These included a long counter for trading where a large buffalo hide had been spread upon it; there were several beaver belts, mink and even raccoon furs which had been shoved to the side.  A large book, with many of the white man’s papers, lay open on the counter.

On wooden shelves behind the trader were stacks of many more furs and neatly folded woolen blankets.  Off to the side of the counter were mounted moose horns, and these were holding up pots, pans and various items of clothing: belts and hats, moccasins and a few fur-lined jackets.  Kegs of liquor stood upright on the highest shelves in the room, out of easy reach.

Robes and furs could be traded here for guns, but no guns of any description were on display.  Perhaps they had been put out of sight purposely.

At present, there were three Blackfoot men standing at the counter, quietly bargaining with the trader, Larpenteur, over the price of their furs, while seven Indians from an enemy tribe, the Crows, and ten Indian men from another foe, the Assiniboines, lounged against the cottonwood logs that were used for the walls of the room.

Because all the Indians, himself included, had been divested of their weapons upon entering the fort, not a man in this room could be seen who carried his quiver strapped to his back; there were no bows, no lances, not even the usual gun on display, that usually being carried in a man’s arms.  It was an odd sight for Eagle Heart to behold his enemies without their customary means of defense.

The owner of this place, McKenzie, insisted upon stripping a man’s weapons from him before entering the fort.  The white traders stated this was a common practice within these trading centers and was done for the Indians’ and the company’s safety.  And yet, the white men and trappers who frequented this place were always armed.  So deaths occurred here anyway.

It was why Blackfoot men did not allow their women to accompany them inside the white man’s gates.  Simply put, it was too dangerous.

Eagle Heart took a deep breath at the same moment he realized the room did not stink.  Instead, it was scented with the aroma of trees, logs and the distinctive fragrances of autumn leaves.  Certainly, he didn’t notice there was much unusual this day, and there was no white woman he could bear witness to.  But, giving his friend his due, he decided to wait.

Looking around the room, he noticed Gray Falcon had positioned himself so he was leaning against a far wall, directly across from the table used for trading.  Eagle Heart joined him there, and, leaning back, crossed his arms in front of his chest, prepared to wait.

Unexpectedly, the delightful sound of a feminine laugh filled the air.  He frowned, surprised, for the voice was pretty.

And, then he saw her: she had slipped into the trading center from a room in back and was standing behind the trader, Larpenteur.  When she moved slightly, Eagle Heart caught a glance of bouncing brown curls with a hint of gold within them.  And, those locks were shimmering against a very pretty face.  She laughed again and took a few steps around the clerk, a smile still affixed to her lovely countenance.  She was glancing up at Larpenteur, and Eagle Heart experienced a startling reaction: he forgot to breathe.  She was that beautiful.

Her figure was slim and small, her profile showing off a perfect nose that turned up slightly at the end.  Her eyelashes were long and brown, and her eyes were a brilliant color of green.  Her cheeks were rosy, and her full lips were still smiling.  The brown color of her hair, with gold intertwined, was of a shade he had never before seen on a woman until this moment, and the length of it fell down her back in luscious curls.  And, he saw not a single hair on her face.

Eagle Heart tried to breathe in.  He couldn’t.  She had literally stolen his breath away.

At this moment, he couldn’t force himself to look elsewhere, and he felt as awkward as a young boy who was besotted by a girl.  It was, however, impolite to stare, so Eagle Heart at last glanced away from her, only to return his gaze upon her when he heard her say, “Mr. Larpenteur, how good of you to write down all of your transactions.  It is to be regretted, however, that I cannot read your handwriting.”  She grinned up at the man.

And, Eagle Heart experienced the sensation of his stomach dropping, as though there lived both moths and small butterflies within it.  Of course, he had no idea what she’d said, for she didn’t speak the same language as he.  All he knew was her voice sounded as engaging as the song of the meadow lark.

Ohpo’kiiyoo!  Follow!”  Gray Falcon nudged him in the ribs.  “I am leaving here.  Okí!  Come on, let us go.”

Saa, I do not wish to leave from here yet.”  From his peripheral vision, he saw Gray Falcon frown at him.

“I admit she is pretty,” said Gray Falcon.  “Still, I do not understand how a white man’s seed can make a woman to be so comely.  But, it is so, is it not?”

Áa, it is so.”

Within a moment, another man, a tall, dark-haired fellow with a mustache that curled at its ends, stepped out from the adjacent room behind the counter.  He put his arms around the woman’s waist, and she didn’t admonish him, as Eagle Heart thought she should since this was a public place.  Instead, she laughed softly and turned into the man’s embrace.

She must be married to the man.

Eagle Heart couldn’t fully understand the feeling that swept over him, for his spirits plummeted.  It was odd, because whether she was married to the curly-mustached man or not, it was nothing to him.  She was beautiful, yes, but she was also married, as any fine-looking woman should be.

“It is told to me that she is not yet married to this man who holds her,” said Gray Falcon as though reading his friend’s thoughts.  “Although it is also said they are soon to be married.  I think the man uses her, for he should not be keeping her so closely to him if they are not married…and before all eyes to see.”

“It is so, my friend,” Eagle Heart responded.  “Yet, the whites are a strange people, and we do not yet know their ways.  Perhaps a white man is permitted to hold her, even if they be not married.  But still, he should not do this in front of others in case her reputation will be soiled.  Okí, come, let us leave.  I must ask the white men in this fort if they have any knowledge about where my brother might have gone, for I would be on my way.”

Gray Falcon simply nodded, and the two friends quietly left the trading room.


Laylah McIntosh watched as two young Indian gentleman stood away from the wall in front of her and, turning, left the room.  She wasn’t certain what it was about them that caught her eye, for there were many Indian men here.  Perhaps it was the elegant manner in which the two of them were attired, for their buckskin clothing was bleached a startling white, and, set off as it was with the contrast of their black hair, their dress alone looked as elegant as any man’s might, white or Indian.

Or perhaps it was the muffled sound of their footfalls that brought her attention to them, for they made little sound as they crossed the room.  With no boots to announce their departure, their footfalls were almost silent.  They were both tall, also; their shoulders were squared back and their steps seemed oddly graceful.

“Mr. Larpenteur,” asked Laylah softly.  “What tribe of Indians are those two men?  The ones wearing white?”  She nodded toward them.

“Dey be Pieds Noirs, Mademoiselle.”

Pieds Noirs?  Do you know the English name for the tribe?”

“De Blackfeet, Mademoiselle.”

“The Blackfeet?  The Tigers of the Plains?”

Oui, Mademoiselle.”

“How strange they should be so well dressed,” she said.  “I have heard the Blackfeet guard their land well and will kill any white man they find in their territory.  It seems rather savage, and yet, to look at them…they seem almost stately.”

Oui, Mademoiselle.  De Blackfeet look so, but rob…I am rob by the Pieds Noirs too much!  De Pieds Noirs wild.  Eet has been so since Monsieur Lewis and Monsieur Clark kilt a man of de Pieds Noirs, de Blackfoot Injin.

“It is good you have told me about them.  I shall do all I can to keep them distant from me, and shall make a mental note to never go into their country.”

“Indeed, you shall not,” agreed Thomas Sutter, who was Laylah’s fiancé.  He placed his arm around her waist and drew her in close to his chest.  “Instead,” he continued, “we shall return to St. Louis as soon as your visit to this land is finished.  And, once there, we shall marry.  Where would you like to live, m’dear.  Here?  Or in St. Louie?”

“I am uncertain, yet, as you know.  I love my home in St. Louis, but there is some undefined aspect about this land that causes me to feel peaceful, as though this is my home.”  She sighed.  “But, we don’t have to decide now, do we?  After all, we have yet to explore the woods and plains in the country.  Indeed, if the intriguing scent of the autumn leaves and the atmosphere in this country is a sample of the beauty to be found here, I admit to being captivated by it.”  Stepping out of his embrace, she chanced to give Thomas a flirty smile from over her shoulder as she laughed up at him.  “Excuse me, Thomas, for I must put my attention on business.  My father has asked me to look over the business transactions we’ve had today.  As you know, I have an affinity for numbers and often help him with his accounting.”

“Shall I assist you with it?”

“Only if you please.  This will take me but a moment.”  She scanned down the transactions that had occurred so far for the day, committing each sale to memory so she might recount them later to her father.

As the daughter of Robert McIntosh—one of Fort Union’s partners—she had unconsciously made herself into a business asset when her father had discovered she could memorize a page of numbers quickly and remember them again at will.  And so, according to her father, her talents were to be kept within the family of traders, thus her upcoming marriage to Thomas, who, though a young man, was already a junior partner in this business.  Of course his family had helped obtain his status, for they had financed this fort in part, as well as the trading post, Fort William.

Although one could argue her upcoming marriage was one of convenience, she believed this was not entirely true.  She had fallen under Thomas’ spell almost from the first moment she’d met him.  His fine manners and his tall, good looks had combined to urge her to say “yes” to his proposal of marriage.  That her father had encouraged her to wed Thomas had also swayed her decision, for the marriage would tie their families financially.

Her mother had been silent concerning her daughter’s upcoming marriage.  True, she had shown no negative emotions, though there had been no positive encouragement, either.

Her younger sister, Amelia, was, of course, excited about the upcoming marriage.  But, Amelia was young and her nature tended to be naïve at best, and, in truth, she was prone to question very little in life.

Laylah sighed, thinking back to the two young Blackfoot men.  Untamed they might be, but it had been a crowning feather in her father’s cap that he had convinced the Blackfeet to come to Fort Union to trade; especially since the Blackfeet held the reputation for being the most feared tribe of Indians on the plains.  Of course, the Blackfoot men had objected at first, for they hadn’t wished to make the long journey to Fort Union.  Yet, here they were.

She frowned.  It was hard not to notice the two Blackfoot men, since both were young and handsome in an exotic and uncultivated way.  But, she put thoughts about them from her mind.  Good-looking though they might be, they were still Indian, and, therefore, dangerous.

Besides, she would never see them again.  On this thought, she put her speculations to rest and, having committed the page of numbers to memory, turned around to hug her fiancé.


Eagle Heart despaired of ever coming to know what had happened to his brother.  No one at the fort seemed to remember seeing a man who looked much like Eagle Heart, himself.  Yet, he couldn’t be certain what these people said, since it was almost impossible to communicate to the whites.  Why no one at this fort had learned the language used everywhere on the plains—the language of gestures—was a mystery.

He wished he could make inquiries of the other Indians at the fort, for they were familiar with the gesture language.  But, he couldn’t.  These other Indians—the Crows and Assiniboines—were his traditional enemies.  Not that he was afraid of them.  It was simply that, being enemies, they were honor-bound to lie to him.

Somehow he would have to make himself understood by these white men.  There was no other way.

So, it was to this end, he stepped into the room used for trade.  It was a sunshiny day on this month of “the leaves falling,” and, while a part of him hoped She-steals-my-breath, the beautiful white woman, might be present, another part of him dismissed her from his thoughts.  She could mean nothing to him.  With a force of will, he put her out of his mind.

Yet, as he stepped up to the trading counter, he saw that she stood on the white man’s side of the table.  Looking up, she stared straight at him, and, though it was forbidden for a Blackfoot woman to face him so boldly, he was yet reminded how beautiful a pair of green eyes could be….


“Mr. Larpenteur, I believe he is asking you for information about either his friend or his brother.  I’m not certain which it is.”

The trader frowned down at her.  However, she didn’t flinch.  “How do you know dees, Mademoiselle?”

“My father,” she said, glancing downward, “hired an older Indian gentleman from one of the Eastern tribes to instruct both me and my younger sister on this language of gestures.  He insisted on our learning it before we were allowed to make this trip into the North Country.  He said if anything bad ever happened to us, we would at least be able to make ourselves understood.  Shall I ask this man what it is he is seeking?”

Oui, Mademoiselle.”

She nodded and, inhaling deeply, brought her right hand up to ask the Indian, “Question, who is it you are seeking?”

“Halt!” he said in gestures, bringing his right hand up, instead of down, for emphasis.  “I do not speak to women.”  He added a frown and looked so sternly at her, she felt faint in reaction.

But, she didn’t faint.  Instead, she gulped and, looking down and away from him, signed, “No one here speaks the language of gestures.  If you wish to be understood you will have to communicate to either me or my younger sister.  If you prefer to talk to my sister, I will fetch her.”

She chanced a quick glance up at this man who towered over her.  Why, he must be over six feet tall.  He was also outrageously handsome in a wild sort of way: black, straight hair, which was decorated with a single feather hung from a braid on the right side of his face; it was his only hair ornament.  He had pulled a portion of his bangs forward and had cut them so a part of them fell down over the center of his forehead, as seemed to be the custom in this untamed land.

He still wore the handsome, white clothing she had seen him wear a few days previously, and up close she could see and admire the blue, white and yellow circle sewn onto his shirt.  It was placed in the middle of the buckskin clothing, was level with his chest and looked to be made of porcupine quills, as well as beads.  Rows of colorfully sewn porcupine quills of the same colors decorated the outer portion of his sleeves, while white fringe, situated next to the porcupine quills, draped from those same sleeves.  She noted that some of the fringe was also composed of black hair.  She shivered to think of the reason why this kind of hair ornamented his shirt.

Fierce though he might be, there was an unknown quality about him that drew her to him.  His eyes were black, his nose straight and slightly aquiline, but not overly so.  His lips were full, and the color of his skin was tan, not red, though there might have been a slight tint of red running beneath the outer layer of his skin.  He wore no paint as did most of the Indians here at the post.  This observation eased her nerves a little, for she had heard it said that the Indians painted themselves only when going to war.

Still, she shivered at the thought of any man having to go to war with an Indian like this.

But, he was answering her question, and she gave his hand gestures her full attention.  He said, “I see I have startled you.  There is no threat or insult meant to you; rather, a man should not speak to a woman who is not his wife.  To do so abuses her standing with her people and can cause a man’s woman to be jealous, also.”

“You are married, then?” Laylah signed, then gulped and looked away from him.  Why had she asked him this?

But, he seemed unoffended and was responding to the question.  “I am not,” he stated by means of the gestures.  “But, I believe you are.”

She shook her head and signed, “I am not yet married but am soon to be.”

He nodded, then signed, “If you do not object to the possible harm speaking to me might bring to your reputation, I do have questions no one has been able to answer.  Do you object?”

She shook her head, “No.”

“This is good.  I am seeking my brother,” he signed.  “He looks much as I do, but is older than I.  He came here a few months ago with a party seeking trade.  The others returned home, but my brother was not with them, and none of them knew what had happened to him.  My family worries about him.  Besides trade, it is why I am here.  He was last seen at this post.”

“What is his name?” she signed.

“Chases-the-enemy.”

She nodded, then asked Larpenteur, “Sir, do you know a Blackfoot man called Chases-the-enemy?”

Oui, Mademoiselle.  He ees Blackfoot chief.”

“Chases-the-enemy is this gentleman’s brother, and he is trying to discover what has happened to his kin.  People from his tribe say he was last seen here.  Do you know any stories concerning him that might indicate where he could have gone or why he didn’t return home with the rest of his party?”

Oui, Mademoiselle.  Der be here a Crow girl from de West called Little Dove.  He stole her.  He is to be gone…with Crow girl.  Her family very much…angry.  Go after.”

“You’re certain of this?”

Oui, Mademoiselle.”

Laylah nodded.  Then, turning toward the Blackfoot gentleman, said aloud, “Mr. Larpenteur”—she pointed to the clerk then continued in sign—”says your brother stole Little Dove, a Crow girl, and left.  Her family went after him.”

He nodded.  “When?” he signed.

Laylah turned to Larpenteur.  “When did this take place?”

“I am to tell you, Mademoiselle, eet be five month.  Maybe he captured.”

“This happened about five months ago,” she signed.  “Mr. Larpenteur”—she pointed again to the clerk—”says your brother and the girl might have been captured.”

With his hands flat and extended outward, he sent them forward and toward her in a sweeping motion, effectively saying, “Thank you.”

She nodded, then signed, “What are you called?  My name is Laylah.”  She spoke her name aloud.

But, he didn’t answer.  Instead, he reached upward to the feather in his hair, loosened it, put it in his palm and extended it toward her.  When she reached out to take it from him, he closed his other hand over hers, and, when she gazed up at him, he nodded and gave her the understanding the feather was now hers.

Then he smiled at her and said, “Nitsíniiyi’taki, Aakíí-ikamo’si-niistówa-siitámssin,” and Laylah thought the earth might have moved beneath her feet.  She didn’t know what to do.

The timbre of his voice was low, baritone, pleasant, and it, added to his touch, affected her oddly.  Her entire body was shivering, but whether from fear or a reaction to his words, his touch or his voice, she didn’t know.

She did, however, accept the feather.  Moreover, she thought she might come to treasure it.  Always, it might remind her of a handsome Blackfoot warrior who had once shown her kindness.


She is beautiful in both body and spirit.

She hadn’t wanted to speak to him.  Everything about her had told him she was afraid of him.  And yet, despite her reluctance, she had spoken to him in the language of gestures.

He had been impressed with her beauty from the first, and now he was captivated by her courage as well as her knowledge of the gesture language.  It was to be regretted that soon she was to be married.  But, at least he had been able to give her a part of him by extending the feather to her.  And, she had taken it from him.  He could hope that maybe she would not forget him.

He thought back to what he now knew: his brother had found himself a Crow woman and had stolen her.  Had his enemies found him?  Not likely, since his brother was a scout, as well as a chief, and could hide in a way that would not allow another to discover him…unless he wished it to be.

But, if his brother were well, the silent and distant communication between them would not be so irregular.  Because of this, he knew something was wrong.  But, what?

He was going to have to talk to She-steals-my-breath once again and ask if she might inquire about who the Crow girl was.  He did not wish the white woman to speak to the Crow people about this, however—there could be danger for her in doing so.  But, there would be no harm in asking her to make inquiries of other white people.  Someone might know who the girl was and might even have more information.

Perhaps tomorrow, he would seek her out again.  He was surprised by the instant pleasure that washed over him at the thought.  And, even reminding himself that she was soon to be married didn’t cause the pleasure to dim.


She was surprisingly taken by the manners of the Indian gentleman.  He had been firm in his questions to her, yet had also been kind, being considerate about her reluctance to speak with him.  He had shown her respect, as well as sensitivity to her situation by giving her the option to withdraw from speaking to him.  Further, once he had obtained the information he had sought, he’d given her an eagle’s feather.  She knew enough about the tribes to realize the gift was bestowed in appreciation.  But, there was more: it had come from his heart.  His hand over hers had symbolized this.  And, the gift had, indeed, touched her.

Oddly, her hand still remembered the feel of his touch.  She placed her fingers to her face, imagining her fingers were his and were smoothing over her skin.

No!  She dropped both of her hands.

What was wrong with her?  Perhaps he was simply too handsome and too…charismatic.  Never had she ever imagined she would react to an Indian man in such a way.

Instead, she had expected the natives to be dressed in cavemen-like fashion: in repulsive skins and furs, with gaudy feathers, tattoos and ornaments covering every inch of their bodies.  Never had she thought to admire an American Indian’s dress nor his manners.  Moreover, besides the obvious beauty of his people’s clothing, she had never expected to see a gleam of intelligence behind the Indian man’s dark eyes.

She sighed, realizing she was thinking about this Blackfoot Indian much too greatly.  It was a useless mental exercise, for it was unlikely she would ever see him again, which was as it should be.  She reminded herself she was soon to be married.

But, her encounter with the Blackfoot man did cause her to ask questions of herself: was it wise to marry Thomas when his touch did not affect her in an emotional, passionate way? A man who did not make her tremble in anticipation?

The thought was troubling because she had felt a spark between herself and this Blackfoot man.  But, surely her reaction was not a flicker of pleasure; probably, it was fear.

He will be gone tomorrow, and I will never see him again.  And, this is very good!

 

 

The photo to your left is a photo taken toward the end of the 19th century (sometime in the 1890’s, I believe).  It is a photo of Black Bull on the left and Chief Stabs-by-Mistake on the right, overlooking what is now known as a section of Glacier National Park.

I love this photograph.  I believe it was taken by author and Blackfeet by marriage, James Willard Schultz.

I’d love to hear from you.  Please do come on in and leave me your thoughts on this photo, on the cover and also the excerpt or anything else you’d like to say or add.

White Eagle’s Touch — Behind the Book

Howdy!

Welcome, Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.

Well, today I’m going to do something that is considered a no-no in the promotional world of books.  I’m going to tell you a bit about an older title of mine, WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH, which will be coming out in the next few days as a 25th Anniversary book.

Let me explain:  This book was originally written for AVON books in 1996-97 and published in 1998 (I think that’s right.)  My husband and I were married in 1996 and so in the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997, I was falling deeper and deeper in love with my husband.  We had married in a whirlwind and so it was after we were married that we really started to get to know each other.

This is the new cover for the book.  The male model, by the way, is  Lakota Indian.  And, he models under the name of “Lakota.”

In these anniversary books, we are correcting errors made when the book was converted to e-book from the original mass market.  There is no plot change or anything like that.  It’s just correcting computer errors made in the conversion.  Also, I might give the book a few better word choices here and there.

But, it was in the editing of this book that I began to see how much I was (at that time) falling deeper and deeper in love with this man I had married.  It’s there in the conversations between White Eagle and the heroine, Katrina.  Both of them are changing in regards to each other.  More love.  More understanding.  And, at that time, I guess I couldn’t help but write about how deeply I was in love with this man.

Our courtship (my husband and me) is pretty well illustrated in the first book in this series, GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  But this book goes one step further.

So, in ending, I’ll leave the blurb for the book and an excerpt.  Hope you’ll enjoy!

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH

by

Karen Kay

Two worlds. Forbidden love.

Blackfoot Warrior, Book 2

Katrina Wellington is vexed. She must marry to obtain the rest of her inheritance. But her uncle, who left her in New York with a governess to make his fortune out West, has suddenly decided he must approve of her fiancé before he will loosen the purse strings to her dowry.

Swallowing her outrage, the socialite treks to the same wilderness that claimed her parents’ lives years ago. Some small part of her is crestfallen that her uncle is not waiting with open arms. Only three guides, Indian guides, await her, and one of them is far too handsome for his own good.

At first, White Eagle does not like the spoiled, willful niece of the white trader. When he catches a glimpse of the vulnerability behind her prickly exterior, he can’t resist challenging the dazzling beauty to rediscover her true inheritance—the inner strength bequeathed to her by her parents.

Close contact on the trail soon arouses a soul-stirring passion and in its turn, love. But love may not be enough to sustain a relationship that is forbidden in both their worlds.

This book has been previously published.

Warning: Sensuous Romance that contains a captivating passion that could lead to a romantic evening spent in the company of one’s own love.

This is the original cover done for AVON Books.  The excerpt is the first meeting between White Eagle and Katrina in the book (and after many years of being apart).

Chapter Four

June 25, 1833

Midmorning 

 

“I say, what vision of loveliness descends upon us now? Is she a princess, a queen? Do you think I should bow? Or is she a mere fleeting whiff of my fancy? Oh, dear, I don’t think I can rhyme fancy…can you see?” The Marquess of Leicester chuckled before he put a finger over one nostril, taking a sniff of the powder which he held in a box in his hand. “What do you say, my friends? Am I poetic?”

The marquess’s two friends murmured polite words of agreement at all the appropriate places, while the marquess, pocketing his snuffbox, paced forward to take hold of Katrina’s hand. “Ah, my dear, you look stunning, simply ravishing, rather.”

“Thank you, Lord Leicester.” Katrina suffered her hand to be kissed by lips which looked as though they bore more rouge than her own. She pulled her hand back as quickly as possible, but failed to loosen his grip. “Are we prepared to meet the new guides?”

“Yes, I say,” the marquess replied, setting her hand onto one of his lacy cuffs.

Katrina smiled at him.

“Am I to understand, my dear, that the guides of which you speak are to escort me to yet another fort?”

“Yes, that is correct. My uncle has been delayed, and he asks that you join him at a place called Fort McKenzie. The scouts are to take you safely to him.”

“Quite unusual, wouldn’t you say? But I must ask you: The hunting, is there good hunting at this fort? After all, mustn’t disappoint the dogs, don’t you know? Brought the hounds all this way to hunt, and hunt we shall. Why, do you know that I have met the most interesting fellow, a Mr. Hamilton, although I don’t believe that Hamilton is his real name. A right good sort of chap. English, I say. Says he has been here at this fort for several years. Seems to like it here, though he does appear to hate Indians.”

“Does he?”

“Yes, rather. Well, now, come along, my dear. Mr. McKenzie informs me that his clerk is awaiting us outside the house here to escort us to the guides on the other side of the gate. A monstrous proposal, I must say. That is why I have asked Mr. Hamilton to make the introductions. I can’t say that I am overwhelmed by Mr. McKenzie’s manners. A clerk to see to us, indeed. Ah, here is Mr. Hamilton now. Come along, my dear. Let us get these introductions over with.”

“Yes,” said Katrina, “let us.”

And with little more said, she allowed Mr. Hamilton and the marquess to lead her out into the sunshine of a new day. That the marquess’s friends followed the three of them wherever they went, that the marquess’s men kept murmuring always agreeable tidbits concerning Lord Leicester’s undoubtedly brilliant humor, did little more than annoy her.

At least for now.

 

 

McKenzie’s clerk, Thomas, was waiting for their entire party just outside the gate. And what a party they made. Not only were the marquess, his two friends and Hamilton in their group, somehow the marquess’s dogs, barking loudly, had joined them.

“Come this way, Gov’nor, the men ’ee seek are by the wall over thyar,” Thomas said.

“Where?”

“Over thyar, do ’ee not see?”

“They’re…”

Conversation ceased, replaced with silence. Dead silence.

Their entire entourage, even the dogs, stopped completely still. No one said a word; no one moved. Then the dogs started to whine, and the shuffle of feet could be heard—moving away.

It was he, the Indian she had glimpsed from the boat, along with a few companions.

“Why, Thomas,” said one of the men, “they are—”

“Yep, Injuns.”

Now, it wasn’t as though their party had never seen an Indian until this moment, nor was it possible that anyone in this party had thought never to encounter an Indian in this country. After all, they had glimpsed enough of the native population from the steamboat as it had made its way up the Missouri.

But never had the people in this group seen primitives such as these—at least not so close to their own person. Warriors, all, were these savages and, by the looks of the heathens, dangerous.

But Katrina stared at none other than him.

She opened her mouth as though to utter something…some scathing comment, perhaps. But when no words issued forth, she closed her lips.

“This one hyar’s name’s White Eagle.” Only Thomas seemed able to speak. “Them three behind him are Night Thunder and Good Dancer. The woman is married to Good Dancer, near as this ole coot can tell. Blackfeet, they are. Gov’nor?”

“Indians?” This from Katrina, at last, her glance never wavering from him.

“Yes, ma’am. But they’ll get ’ee through Blackfoot country all safe. They knows the way.”

“He goes too far!” She glanced toward the clerk.

“Ma’am?”

“My uncle goes too far this time.”

“You tell the man,” the marquess spoke up from behind her. “Yes, my dear, tell the man.”

Katrina gazed over her shoulder. The marquess had positioned himself to her rear, his own men standing, as though in a line, behind him.

“Does your uncle not think favorably of you, Miss Wellington?” This from Hamilton, who seemed as dumbfounded as the rest.

She ignored the Englishman, glancing instead at him, the Indian, the same one who had so disturbed her thoughts, the one called… “What is this man’s name again, Thomas?”

“This one hyar, ma’am? He’s White Eagle. He’s their leader, near as I can tell, a chief maybe.”

White Eagle. So, that was his name. Katrina stared at the Indian. He, back at her. The man looked dangerous—foreign, frightening…handsome. Handsome?

He still wore no shirt, exposing to her view that muscular chest she had glimpsed the previous day. And she would have looked at it, at him, had she been of the mind. But she wasn’t.

She swallowed with difficulty and, allowing her gaze to drop no farther than the bridge of the Indian’s nose, asked of him, “Does my uncle bring word to me?”

The Indian just stared at her. No grin, no recognition of her, no intimation that he had seen her, too, the previous day—nothing, not even an acknowledgment that she had spoken.

She raised her chin. “Do these Indians not speak English, Thomas?”

“Guess they do well enough, ma’am. They been tradin’ with us long enough now to have learnt it. But ’ee is a woman. No Blackfeet is goin’ to speak to ’ee b’cause of that, beg pardon.”

Katrina looked at the Indian from down the end of her nose. She said, “Then ask him for me if he brings me word of my uncle.”

Thomas stepped up to her side. “Very well, ma’am. ’Ee heard her, Injun. Does the lady’s uncle send word?”

The Indian didn’t move, didn’t speak, didn’t even shift his weight. He just stared, his glance never wavering from her.

“Speak up there, you primitive animal,” Hamilton demanded.

None of the three Indians, and especially not White Eagle, paid the Englishman the least attention.

“Are ’ee sent here from the woman’s uncle?”

Nothing. No response at all, until, at last, piercing Katrina with his glance, the Indian said, “I have news for the woman alone.” Oddly enough, the man spoke in unbroken English and, Katrina noted, his voice, low and baritone, was peculiarly pleasant, almost melodic.

“Alone?” Hamilton again spoke up from a safe distance away. “Is the Indian mad? Does he presume to think we would leave the lady unaccompanied with him, so filthy a creature as he is?”

The Indian didn’t move a muscle, nor did he indicate in any way that he’d even heard Hamilton’s comments.

Katrina stepped forward, away from the crowd. Glancing around behind her, she ordered, “Leave us.”

“What?” This from all five men.

“Leave us, but take this man’s Indian friends with you. I will do as he asks and speak with him, but only with him. Here, Mr. Hamilton, give me your pistol that I may defend myself, if I must.”

“But milady,” Hamilton protested, “surely you can’t mean to—”

“Mr. Hamilton, your pistol, please.”

The Englishman looked as though he might protest further, though he nevertheless pulled the weapon from his coat and handed it to Katrina.

“Leave us.” Again she addressed the men who remained behind her without turning toward them. “I warn you, Indian,” she said confidently, “I can use this firearm Mr. Hamilton has given me as skillfully as any man. So do not think me defenseless that you might take advantage of me.”

The Indian said nothing, nor did he give her any sort of acknowledgment, not even by the bend of his head or a flicker of emotion across his features.

Katrina listened to the fading footsteps of the men behind her. After a nod from White Eagle, the Indian’s two companions followed.

The deference shown to this man did not escape her notice, but when she spoke, she made no mention of it, saying only, “What you ask is highly irregular and impolite. Hear me now, Indian, I am humoring you only because I wish to know what my uncle has to say. That is all.”

Glancing directly at her, he replied, “I will speak to the white woman only within the walls of the fort.”

“You will not,” Katrina countered. “You asked for an audience with me alone. You have it now.”

The Indian didn’t utter another word, just gave her a peculiar look and made to move away from her.

She reached out, grabbing at his arm, effectively staying him. He glanced down at her hand as it lay upon his arm, then back up at her. Something…some little excitement passed between them as they stared at one another, the intensity causing Katrina’s knees to buckle. Several moments passed as they stood there, sizing one another up.

At last, Katrina stuck out her chin and asked, “Who do you think you are, Indian, that you gape at me? Do you not know it is impolite to do so? Now, you will tell me what it is you have to say to me, right here and now…or not at all. Do I make myself clear to you?”

The Indian had become perfectly still as she spoke; his gaze roamed from the top of her bonnet to the very bottom of her skirts. Katrina watched him, ignoring the tingling sensation which spread throughout her nervous system. Fear, she supposed.

Odd, too, but she noticed he smelled good: of wood and smoke, of grass and mint—she had heard that the Indians chewed the leaves of the mint plant to stave off hunger, as well as to scent their breath.

His skin felt warm, too, moist and…strange, there was no hair upon the flesh of his arm where she touched him.

He was close to her, too close. The wind suddenly blew a lock of his long raven hair over her hand where she still touched him. The feel of those strands against her skin was fleeting, sensual, its effect sending shivers through her body.

She glanced up, startled, and wondered if the Indian had felt it, too, this strange sensation, but his expression revealed nothing.

She didn’t know how it was possible, yet she considered this man, this Indian, handsome almost beyond belief, in a primitive sort of way, of course. Not a man she would ever admit to being attracted to, particularly since he was nothing more than one of the savages that this country produced. And yet, she couldn’t help but admire the straight, imposing figure he cut as she looked up to where he stood over her. With his shoulders back, displaying his sculptured form, he looked as though he were a work of art, not a person of substance.

Something within her reached out to him, and she felt as though she knew him, his thoughts, his passions. It was as though there were a part of him that matched her perfectly…

She gave herself a shake. What was wrong with her? This was not the first time she’d felt as if there were something between them. It had happened the first time she’d glimpsed him, there from the boat…

She stared up at him then, in silent challenge, if only to purge this sensation from her consciousness. Yet, all the while, her touch upon his arm never relinquished its hold. His eyes were black, she noted, the darkest eyes she had ever seen, and they revealed nothing.

Suddenly, his look turned sardonic, and he broke eye contact with her, pulling his arm back, out and away from her grasp.

He turned from her then, suddenly and without warning. He began walking away from her at a steady gait, following on the footfalls of the other men. The Indian was treading, it would appear, toward the main entrance of the fort.

Katrina stood still for several moments, watching him, until she suddenly realized what he was doing. This man—this mere Indian—was defying her. She had made demands of him; he had told her nothing. Nothing!

Somehow this fact disturbed her more than any other detail she had observed about him. Blast!

She had to try to detain him. She took one step forward, and called out, “It was you who demanded to speak to me alone, Indian.”

No response, not even a catch in his stride.

“If you wish to talk to me, do it now, for I will not see you once we are in the fort.”

The man didn’t turn around, nor did he say or do anything further, except to present her with the view of his backside as he continued to walk away. She should have been appalled by the man’s bad manners and by his dress, or rather, its lack thereof. In truth, she was…almost.

She watched him, his lean, sculpted figure an unusually strange and exciting sight. And then she saw it, the man’s breechcloth fell apart from the outline of his leggings now and again, presenting her with an occasional view of a portion of hard, muscular buttocks.

Katrina was almost struck dumb with the observation. Never, not once in her life, had she ever witnessed so much of a man’s anatomy.

How utterly heathen. How primitive.

She didn’t, however, glance away. “I won’t meet with you,” she announced again. “And that’s my final word on the subject.”

Her challenge had no effect on the Indian’s actions.

Katrina was fuming. She felt like shouting at the man; she felt like pummeling him, but she refused to reduce herself to a show of temper.

She did, however, stamp her foot. The insolent barbarian. And to think she had been admiring his looks.

Humph!

She picked up the front of her skirt, her white petticoats contrasting oddly with the brown of the earth beneath her feet. She would follow that Indian back into the fort. Not because she had to, she reminded herself. After all, she was residing within the walls of the fort. She had a right to be there. This Indian did not.

Oh, but she didn’t like this. It was she who should be the person putting forth demands. It was she, not this man, White Eagle, who was the civilized one here, the more intelligent one.

So why was she the one left staring after him?

Well, it made no difference. There was at least one action she would take as soon as she met with this man: She would ensure he would hear her opinions of him and his insolence—that is, if she met with him.

She wasn’t certain at this moment that she would even permit the man an interview. There must be some other way of soliciting news of her uncle.

The Indian turned around at that exact moment, catching her staring at him, and goodness, but it looked as though he smiled at her. Did he know her thoughts? Could he see her frustration? Worse yet, had he felt her gaze upon that more intimate portion of his anatomy?

How dare he! Oh, what a wicked, wicked man!

She threw back her head and thrust out her chin. Ah, but it would please her to tell this Indian what she thought of him…and soon!

Make no mistake.


White Eagle turned his back on the woman and walked away from her, a grin tugging up the corners of his mouth.

In truth, he had enjoyed the confrontation with Shines Like Moonlight…but he would never let her know it. Not when she had dared to try to command him, a Blackfoot warrior. Such was the height of bad manners.

Yet, he could appreciate her spirit, her courage in confronting him when even the men who had surrounded her had shied away from him. Too, he acknowledged her unusual beauty; in truth, she had overwhelmed him with the allure of her feminine charm, more pleasing in close proximity than from a distance. He could still smell the sweet fragrance of her, hear the silvery timbre of her voice, and if it hadn’t been for her lack of manners…

Certainly, she was fairer than he’d anticipated she would be, but this wasn’t what bothered him about her. No, it was her touch, the simple graze of her hand upon his arm. With that touch…

He grimaced. And he wondered if she knew she had stirred something to life within him, something sweet, something carnal, something completely sexual. It was one of the reasons he had turned his back on her—that, and her insolence.

Hánnia! He should have more control. He was not some young boy, unable to control the physical urges of his body; and yet, even now he could feel the result of her effect on him down there in the junction between his legs. It was good that he had left her before his physical reaction to her became more pronounced.

Did she remember him?

A picture flashed in his mind, an image of a child, frightened and crying, clinging to him as he had hung onto the crest of a hill, both he and the child watching the gushing floodwaters rush past them, its danger only a short distance away. He had almost lost her in those waters.

He remembered again that he had clasped her to him then, whispering to her, giving her as much comfort as he was able, until long after the danger had passed. But that had been much too long ago. They had both been different people then, children.

That the child in her had grown up was evident. That she had reached adulthood without the guidance of a mother or a father to point out the necessity of courtesy and good manners was even more conspicuous.

Would she remember him given more time?

White Eagle thought back to the world he had known so long ago, to the people he had befriended, to a little white girl he had admired—a girl with yellowish-gold hair—to the child’s father and her mother.

They had perished, her parents. The girl had barely survived, and her father’s brother had sent her away long ago.

So, her uncle had been right about her. The woman he had met today was spoiled, a person completely devoid of maidenly gentleness. She spoke when not asked, demanded when a man’s mind was already settled; in truth, her spirit towered over the white men who had accompanied her.

Did she rise above these men because she had bullied them into submission with the same womanly harping and angry tongue she had shown to him? Or was she merely stronger-willed than they?

Whatever the reason, White Eagle despaired of the intervening years since he had last seen her.

If he reminded her of it, would she remember?

It was doubtful. She had been before the age when a child comes into its senses, and he had been no more than a young boy. He’d kept a lonely girl company during those times when her father and uncle had journeyed to his tribe on trading excursions. If he told her what he knew of her, of her family, would any good come from it?

He did not think so. This person he had observed today had been as someone alien to him—certainly not the girl he had remembered…had once known.

In truth, he had caught her looking upon him with not only a womanly sort of attention, but with contempt, the same sort of foreign attitude that White Eagle had witnessed upon the countenance of the white man.

He didn’t like it.

No, it was better that he keep what he knew of her to himself. It was apparent she did not recall her life before the white man’s world, and he was certain she would not care to hear what he had to say to her.

So be it.

He entered the fort, taking his place amongst his friends. Good Dancer’s wife had already started setting up their camping lodges in the area surrounding the fort’s flagpole. One for himself and Night Thunder, the other for herself and her husband, Good Dancer. That Good Dancer’s new wife had demanded to accompany them on their journey did not bother White Eagle, nor did it seem strange to him.

The young couple had just been married, after an unusually long courtship. Of course they would want to be together now. Such was to be understood. Such were the ways of married people.

Besides, he’d wanted a woman along to keep Shines Like Moonlight company and to provide her with a chaperone. White Eagle grimaced as he adjusted his breechcloth, certain Shines Like Moonlight would need that chaperone.

He glanced around him, at his place within the fort. He had noticed, when he had first come here, that several half-breed hunters resided within the tepees around the flagpole. This seemed only right to White Eagle; that these half-white, half-Indian men chose to live not in the square, wooden houses of the white man, but rather in the more comfortable lodges of his own people.

At least this is how it appeared to White Eagle.

He could not know, nor would he understand that to some within the fort, the mixed-bloods were not on an equal footing with the more European breed of men, that such would not be allowed the right to live in the square, wooden houses.

And so, not knowing, White Eagle settled down, content for the moment, to initiate the necessary chores needed for the return journey to Fort McKenzie.  Indeed, the time consumed in fashioning arrowheads, making a new shield and manufacturing a new spear was time well spent.

He was certain that Shines Like Moonlight would delay a meeting with him for as long as she was able. This didn’t bother him. Why should it? Time was not an enemy to him, and White Eagle was full-blooded Indian; he was a patient man.

He smiled. Perhaps here was something else he could admire about this woman: She had a stubborn strength of character. And this was good.

She would not be one to come a cropper in an emergency. Such people were few. Such people were valuable.

He shrugged. Whatever the case, his next few days within this fort promised to be far from dull.


Well, that’s all for now.  Look for the book in a few days.  At present, it’s undergoing the final proof reading.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Oh, and this is the cover to the left is the cover of the book currently up at Amazon.  This cover was done when I was writing for Samhain Publishing.

Indeed, all of these covers have a special place in my heart.  I am, however, extremely drawn to the new cover.  Hope you’ll like it, too.