The Spirit of the Wolf on sale and E-book Giveaway

 

Good Morning!

Happy Tuesday!  Before I get into the blog today, would like y’all to know that THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF and also RED HAWK’S WOMAN are on sale for $.99 cents for a short time.  THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF is #2 in the series The Lost Clan and RED HAWK’S WOMAN is #3.

It’s a series of four books and each is related, but is a stand alone book.

THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF was a book written around and about the 200th year anniversary of the Lewis and Clark exposition.  And so, in honor of that exposition, I wrote a little about the game played at that time on all the Plains and by every tribe on the Plains — the game of Cos-coo, a game of chance and a game of war.

Sacagawea was won by the French trapper and trader, Charbonneau in a game of chance.  Charbonneau had been playing the game with a man who had five (I believe) wives.  Sacagawea was his youngest wife.  Interesting how this game of chance was to influence events that helped to found our country, isn’t it?

Cos-soo is a game played only by the men and it is played sometimes within one’s own tribe, but mostly it is played by men from enemy tribes.  It is a game of war.  No one is killed.  However, once embarked upon, the game is played until one or the other of the players is ruined utterly.  It can go on for days, breaking only to eat (not to sleep).  And, unless agreed upon before the game is begun, it is played until one player loses everything:  his lodge, his horses, his gun, his knives, his clothes and even his WIFE.  This is what happened in the life of Sacagawea.

And so, let me leave you with an excerpt from the book where the two players (one is the hero of the story) is playing in a desperate game of Cos-soo.

THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF

by

Karen Kay

The end of a curse hides behind a riddle—and the final clue in the heart of a woman.

The Lost Clan, Book 2

Grey Coyote stands on the knife edge of desperation. An ancient curse dooms his people to a half-life in the mists, neither living nor dead—unless he can solve a deceptively simple riddle. As time runs short, he’s sure the answer lies in beating a white trapper in a game of chance.

Among the trapper’s possessions, though, is a prize he never expected: A golden-haired woman as beautiful, delicate and stubborn as a prairie rose.

One moment Marietta Welsford is wondering how long it will take her hired guide to finish his game so she can hurry home to Rosemead, the English estate to which she hopes to lay claim. The next, she is abandoned with a man whose magnetism tugs at her body and soul, and makes her heart out-thunder the storm.

With so little time to lift the enchantment, Grey Coyote at first views Marietta as a trickster-sent distraction. But as sure as the star that guides him, it soon becomes clear she is the clue that could ultimately free his people…and capture his heart.

EXCERPT:

THE GAME OF Cos-soo

Cos-soo, sometimes called the game of the Bowl, was a common game known to the Indians on the plains—all tribes. A game of chance, it was played only by men, and the stakes were often desperate.

The rules of Cos-soo were as follows: Players used a wooden bowl slightly less than a foot long, highly polished with a rim of about two inches. The “dice” were not dice as we might think of them, but were instead common objects on the plains at this time. These small objects were assigned certain values.

The highest value went to the large crow’s claw—there was only one per game—which was painted red on one side and black on the other. When after a throw it was standing, it counted for twenty-five points (or sticks). The count was kept by sticks. It also counted for five on its side if the red side was up—and so a total of thirty points would go to the large claw, if it were standing. No points were given if the black side was up. If it wasn’t standing, it counted for only five.

Next were four small crow’s claws, also painted red on one side and black on the other. They counted for five if landed on the red side, and nothing if on the black.

Next there were five plum stones. These were white on one side and black on the other. If the black side was up, it counted four; if the white side was up, it counted for nothing.

Then there were five pieces of blue china—they were small and round. Blue side up was worth three points; white side counted as nothing.

Farther down the line were five buttons. The eye side up counted for two each, the smooth side for nothing.

And last there were five brass tack heads. The sunken side counted for one, the raised side as nothing.

Each man kept his opponent’s score, not his own, by means of handing his opponent a number of sticks equal to his throw. The sticks were kept in view so that all could see them. In the early 1800s Edwin Thompson Denig (a trader married to an Assiniboine woman) noted: “It has been observed in these pages in reference to their gambling that it is much fairer in its nature than the same as carried on by the whites and this is worthy of attention, inasmuch as it shows how the loser is propitiated so that the game may not result in quarrel or bloodshed…”

The game was often kept up for forty-eight to seventy-two hours without a break except for meals. And it was usually played until one or the other of the players was ruined totally.

Horses, guns, weapons, clothing and women were all stakes in these games. Again, Edwin Thompson Denig observed, “We have known Indians to lose everything—horses, dogs, cooking utensils, lodge, wife, even to his wearing apparel…”

 

CHAPTER TWO

The Minnetaree Village

A Permanent Indian Village of mud huts on the Knife River

Upper Missouri Territory—in what is today the State of North Dakota

Summer 1835

From the corner of his eye Grey Coyote watched the white man sneak a stick into line beside those that were already present, giving the white man eleven sticks instead of the ten he had won fairly.

So, the white man has no honor.

Grey Coyote raised a single eyebrow and cast a glance across the few feet that separated him from the white man, the man the Minnetaree Indians called the scout, LaCroix. LaCroix was French, as were many of the white men in this country. His face was pale and bearded, his hair long, dark and scraggly. His breath stank of the white man’s whisky, and his body smelled of dirt and grime.

None of this bothered Grey Coyote. In truth, he was smiling at the man, although the expression could hardly be called one of good humor. After a moment, Grey Coyote said, “Darkness has fallen again. We have been playing for longer than a full day now.”

LaCroix grunted.

“As you know, we are both guests here, in my friend’s lodge, in the Minnetaree village,” continued Grey Coyote. “And I would hardly be the cause of a fight if I could avoid it, for it would bring shame to our host, Big Eagle.”

Grunting again, LaCroix looked away. His gaze shifted from one object in the room to another, not centering on anything in particular, not even on the lovely white woman who reposed on one of their host’s beds in a corner of the hut.

As discreetly as possible, Grey Coyote let his gaze rest on that golden-haired beauty. He had never before seen a white woman, and to say that Grey Coyote was surprised at her appearance would have been an understatement.

He would have assumed the white man’s woman would be as unkempt and perhaps as hairy as her male counterpart. But this simply was not so. The woman was uncommonly pretty. Slim, small and curvy, with tawny hair that reached well to her waist, the woman’s coloring reminded him of a pale sunset—luminous, translucent, mysterious.

Her eyes were as tawny as her hair, like those of a mountain lion’s. Even at this distance, and despite the ever-growing darkness in the one-room hut, Grey Coyote could discern their color. It was a rare shade to be found here on the plains, where the eye colors of dark brown and black dominated.

Warming to his subject, he noted thoughtfully that the white woman’s skin was also quite fair, unblemished. Her cheeks were glowing, as pale and pink as the prairie rose. To his eye, she was a beautiful sight.

But she paid no heed to the people sharing this hut, not sparing so much as a glance at another being, except perhaps the Indian maid who appeared to serve her. In truth, the white woman seemed lost in her own thoughts.

Maybe this was best. From the looks of her, she might prove to be more than a mere distraction to him if he took a liking to her, something Grey Coyote could ill afford.

Slowly, Grey Coyote returned his attention to the matter at hand. The game of Cos-soo had been started a day ago, Grey Coyote being more than ready to gamble with this particular white man.

After all, LaCroix fit the description of the white man whom he sought. Perhaps this was the chance Grey Coyote awaited.

But to find the man cheating?

Clearing his throat, Grey Coyote spoke again. “I admit it is dark, growing ever darker as we sit here. I concede, too, that a good many hours have passed since we decided to begin this game, but do not think that because of this my eyes are so tired that they do not see.”

“What? What is it that monsieur insinuates?” asked LaCroix, his look incredulous.

Grey Coyote nodded toward LaCroix’s sticks with his forehead. “I am keeping track of the number of your sticks.” Grey Coyote raised one of his eyebrows. “There should be ten sticks that you hold, for as you see, you received ten points for your roll. Remember, you had lost all of your other sticks in the previous roll.”

“That is not true. I kept one stick that was left over from before. I should have eleven sticks, not ten.”

Grey Coyote’s stare was bold. “You lost the last bet.”

LaCroix’s eyes grew round, though he could still not match Grey Coyote’s direct gaze. “Is it true? I thought that… Oui, oui,” he blurted out, his words accompanied by a chuckle. “Ye are right. What was I thinking? I do not know how this other stick came to be here, for I had taken all my sticks away. Perhaps two sticks stuck together. Oui, I am sure that is it.”

Hau, hau,” said Grey Coyote, using the Assiniboine word for “yes”. “Let us hope that no other sticks see fit to stick together.” Grey Coyote once more nodded toward LaCroix, and reaching across the playing space handed LaCroix fifty sticks. “These are for my last roll.”

Oui, oui.” LaCroix accepted the twigs and commenced to set them out along the ground beside the two men.

Grey Coyote carefully watched the man at his work, not fooled by LaCroix’s attempt at sleight of hand. “Scout LaCroix, I gave you fifty sticks, the amount of my throw. But you have only set out twenty.”

“But, monsieur, I have done this because it is the number of sticks that is appropriate for your roll. Do ye see? Ye rolled five burnt sides, which is four points each, or twenty.”

Grey Coyote narrowed his brow. “You should look closely at the bowl. Do you not see that the big claw stands on end, red side up? As you and I know, that is worth thirty.”

“Is it standing? Surely you jest, monsieur, for I do not see the big claw stand on end.” LaCroix leaned over, as though to more carefully peer into the polished wooden bowl that was used to throw the dice. The man came so close to his target that he bumped into it, though it was surely no accident. The big claw—the one dice that garnered the highest points—fell to a different position. “Monsieur, you make a mistake. You see, the claw, it does not appear to be on end. However, if ye insist, I will take yer word that it landed that way, and will set out the extra thirty sticks.” His eyes didn’t quite meet Grey Coyote’s.

“Do not bother,” Grey Coyote spoke after a long pause. Though LaCroix’s actions more than alarmed him, Grey Coyote trained his features into a bland expression. He would let the incident pass. After all, it was not in his mind that he had to win everything that this man owned. All he needed was the possession, the one thing that would help Grey Coyote solve the riddle, though at present what that particular possession was escaped him. He said evenly, “We must both pay more attention in the future.”

Oui, oui, monsieur. And now, if ye insist, ye may have another turn, since ye believed that the big claw stood on end.”

Grey Coyote shrugged. “It is not necessary. I will give you the next roll.”

Oui, oui,” uttered LaCroix, and after picking up the bowl with four fingers placed inside its immaculately polished rim, he threw the dice up by striking the bowl on the ground.


Well, that’s all for today.  Please do leave a comment.  That’s all you need to do to enter into the drawing for a free e-book of your choice.  I look forward to hearing from y’all.

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GRAY HAWK’S LADY, 25th Anniversary Edition Excerpt & Give-Away

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.  Well, GRAY HAWK’S LADY has just been re-released for its 25th Year Anniversary Edition.  Although it is not yet in paperback, we hope to have it up and ready for sale soon.  Once it’s published again in paperback, it will be about 25 years since it was in print.

Meanwhile, the e-book is on sale right now for $4.99 at Amazon.  It’s also on Kindle Unlimited, so you can read it for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.

Isn’t this a beautiful cover?  It’s quickly becoming one of my favorites.

When a 25th Year Anniversary Book is released, it’s gone through another series of editing.  When the original mass market paperback books were put into e-book format, I didn’t realize how many errors can be made on the conversion.  And so slowly, one by one, we’re re-editing them and getting them released again.  One of the wonderful things we’re doing is putting back in the original maps.  These are special because they were drawn by my then teen-aged daughter, Trina.  And so getting the maps put back in them is exciting for me.

This book is also special for me because I met and married my husband while I was writing this book, which makes this a very, very special book for me.

I’ll be giving away an e-book of this today for a lucky blogger, so do please leave a comment.

I’ll leave this here with the synopsis for the book and an excerpt.

Hope you’ll enjoy!

GRAY HAWK’S LADY

BY

KAREN KAY

Different worlds, one heart.

Blackfoot Warriors, Book 1

 

When Lady Genevieve Rohan joins her father in the farthest reaches of the American West, she expects to bring a bit of genteel English charm to his dry, academic existence. Instead, she finds her father desperately ill, and it’s up to her to finish his study of the Indian and publish his work—or face the wrath of his creditors.

Her troubles mount when the men hired to capture a member of the Blackfoot tribe don’t bring her a docile maid to study. They present her with a magnificent warrior—proud, outrageously handsome and simmering with fury at the loss of his freedom.

The white woman is beautiful beyond compare, but Gray Hawk can’t think past his plan to exact revenge against this meddling foreigner. It’s ridiculously easy to escape, then turn the tables and take her captive. When anger turns to passion, then to love, he embarks on a new quest. To claim the stubborn, red-headed vixen as his own.

Yet as their hearts strain toward each other, pride conspires to pull them apart…unless they can each find a way for their hearts to become one.  

 

 

Why didn’t the savage look away? And why didn’t he join in the laughter? Laughter the others in his tribe were enjoying…at her expense.

Genevieve shuddered and glanced away from the window, her gaze catching on to and lingering over the simple, hand-carved furniture that had been given to her for her “use.”

The room was clean, but that was all it was.

There was nothing in the room to recommend it—no feminine touches here and there, no lacy curtains to cushion the windows, no crystal or china to brighten each nook and cranny, no tablecloths, no rugs…no white women, period. Except for her.

She groaned.

She had thought, when she and her father had reached St. Louis, that she had come to the very edge of civilization, but she had been wrong. At least there, she and her father had been able to rent a house where they had enjoyed all the comforts to which they were both accustomed.

But here, away from any sort of civilization, she felt destitute.

Genevieve sighed, her white-gloved hand coming up to bat at a fly hovering around her face.

“Robert,” she spoke out. He bent toward her where she sat at the crude wooden table at one side of the room, and said, “Go ask Mr. McKenzie if there is any truth to the rumor that these Blackfoot Indians are leaving today. Oh, and Robert,” she added as her manservant rose to do her bidding, “please ask Mr. McKenzie if those two half-breed trappers I met yesterday are still in residence at the fort, and if they are, please tell him that I wish to see those men at once.”

Robert nodded, and, as he set off to carry out her wishes, Lady Genevieve turned back toward the window and looked out at the Indians, her gaze riveted by the dark, ominous regard of that one mysterious Indian man, but only for a moment.

She averted her glance, a certain amount of healthy fear coursing through her.

And why not? These Indians, though dignified enough in their savage appearance and dress, wielded enough untamed presence to instill terror into the hearts of even the most stouthearted of trappers and traders.

A shiver raced over her skin, the sensation bringing with it…what? Fear? Assuredly so. She had been gently raised. And yet…

She lowered her lashes, again studying the Indian in question, her head turned away and her hat, she hoped, hiding her expression. The man stood there among his peers, all ten or eleven of them. All were here at the fort to trade; all had come to this room to see—what the interpreter had said they called her—the mad white woman.

But none of the other Indians affected her like this one Indian man. He, alone, stood out; he, alone, captured her attention. Why?

Perhaps it was because he was too handsome by far, primitive and savage though he might be.

Was that it? She concentrated on him again. Perhaps it was the energy that radiated from him…maybe….

She tried to look away, to fix her gaze on something else, someone else, but she found she couldn’t. No, she examined him more fully.

He wore a long skin tunic or shirt, generously adorned with blue and white geometric designs. His leggings fell to his moccasins, and everywhere, at every seam and extending down each arm and the length of his tunic and the leggings themselves, hung scalp locks, hair taken from the human head. Though black was the main color of those locks, now and again she saw a blond or brown swatch of hair: white man’s hair. It made her shiver just to think of it.

The Indian’s own black mane hung loose and long, the front locks of it extending well down over his chest. His eyes were dark, black, piercing, and he seemed to see past her guard and defenses, peering into her every thought. In truth, she felt as though he glimpsed into her very soul.

Genevieve tossed her head and looked up, the brim of her fashionable hat sweeping upward with the movement. She tried to pretend she hadn’t been staring, hadn’t been inspecting. It was useless, however.

Had she but known, the sunlight, pouring in from the open window right then, caught the green chiffon of her hat, accentuating the color of it. And her hair, the auburn-red locks of it, glowed with a health and vitality equally appealing, and there wasn’t a savage or civilized gaze in the place that didn’t note the lady’s every move, her every expression. She, however, tried not to notice theirs.

She forced herself to look away…from him. She didn’t want to think about him. She needed to concentrate on her own purpose for being here. She hadn’t made such a long, grueling journey to sit here and gawk at one Indian man, compelling though he might be.

She had to find some Indian child or maiden here, now, today, willing to come back with her to St. Louis. She must.

She would not accept defeat.

It should have been a simpler task than it was turning out to be. Hadn’t she made it plain that she meant no harm to these people? That she and her father would only detain the person for a few months?

Hadn’t she told these people that she would return the person who volunteered back to their tribe at the end of that time, handsomely rewarded?

She had thought, back there in St. Louis, to lure one of the Indians with a trinket or two, a gown, a necklace for the women, money—anything, but some treasure no one could ignore. It should have been simple.

She had reckoned, however, without any knowledge of the dignity of the tribe in residence here at the fort: the Piegan or Pikuni band of the Blackfeet.  It was a grave miscalculation on her part.

If only she had been more prepared to offer them something they might consider valuable. But how could she have known this?

Wasn’t this the problem? No one knew the Blackfoot Indians.  It was this fact and this fact alone that made her father’s manuscript so valuable.

Genevieve sighed. It got worse.

She had such a short time in which to work, too. Only today and perhaps tomorrow.

She had tried to convince Mr. Chouteau, the part-owner and captain of the steamship, to stay at Fort Union a little longer. She had argued with him, using every bit of feminine guile that she possessed, but to no avail. He had remained adamant about leaving on his scheduled date.

The river was falling, he’d said. He had to get his steamship, the Yellow Stone, back to St. Louis before the Missouri fell so low that the ship would run aground.

It was not what she wanted to hear.  It meant she had only a few days to accomplish her ends. It also meant that she might be facing failure.

No, she would not allow herself to fail.

“Milady.” Robert materialized at her side, his large frame blocking out the light as he bent down toward her. “Mr. Kenneth McKenzie says the Indians are preparing to leave on a buffalo hunt and will most likely be gone by tomorrow. I have taken the liberty of arranging for the two trappers that you seek to come here to see you.” Robert seemed to hesitate.  “Milady, might I offer a word of caution?” he asked, though he went on without awaiting her reply. “The two men that you seek are known to be scoundrels. It has also been said of them that they have often been dishonest in their dealings with the trading post here as well as with Indians. It is my opinion that you would do well to—”

“What else am I to do?” Lady Genevieve interrupted, though she spoke quietly. “Robert,” she said, not even looking at him, “you know the dire circumstances of this venture. How can I possibly go back to St. Louis with nothing to show for my journey? And worse, how could I ever face my father again? You know that his condition is even more delicate now. If I were to fail…”

“But, milady, surely there must be another way besides dealing with these trappers.”

Genevieve raised her chin. Focusing her gaze upon Robert, she said, “Name one.”

Robert opened his mouth, but when he didn’t speak, Genevieve once again glanced away.

“You see,” she said, “even you know it is true, though you won’t say it. There is no other way. Mr. Chouteau keeps telling me that the steamship is to leave tomorrow or the next day. I must be on it, and I must have an Indian on board, too. I wish it were different. I truly wish it were. You must know that if I could change things, if I could make them different, I would.” She paused. “I cannot.”

Robert stared at her for a moment before he finally shook his head, but he offered no other advice.

Genevieve said, “I will see the two gentlemen as soon as they arrive. Please ensure, then, that they are shown to me immediately.”

“Yes, milady,” Robert said, rising. He stood up straight, and, as Genevieve glanced toward him, she was certain that her trusted bodyguard stared over at the Indian, that one Indian man.

But the Indian’s menacing black gaze didn’t acknowledge Robert at all. Not in the least. No, the Indian stared at her. Only at her.

Genevieve rose to her feet, averting her eyes from the Indian, although in her peripheral vision she noted every detail of the man. She shook her head, intent on shifting her attention away.

And then it happened. Despite herself, she turned her head. Despite herself, she slowly, so very leisurely, lifted her gaze toward his.

Her stomach fell at once, and the two of them stared at one another through the panes of glass for innumerable seconds.

She knew she should look away, but she couldn’t. She watched the man as though she wished to memorize his every feature, as though she needed the memory for some time distant, to be brought to mind again and again. And as Genevieve kept the man’s steady gaze, she felt her breathing quicken.

Suddenly he smiled at her, a simple gesture. It should have had no effect on her whatsoever.

But it did, and Genevieve felt herself go limp.

All at once, as though caught in a storm, her senses exploded. Her heartbeat pounded furiously, making her bring her hand up to her chest.

And, even as she felt herself beginning to swoon, she wondered why she was reacting so. One would think she had never before caught a man’s smile, had never before seized the attention of one simple man.

She heard Robert calling her name, and she breathed out a silent prayer of thanks for the interruption. She shut her eyes, which proved to be her only means of defense, and, taking as many deep breaths as she could, tried to steady the beating of her heart.

“Lady Genevieve.” She heard Robert call to her again.

“Yes, Robert, I’ll be right there.” Her voice sounded steady, though she hadn’t been certain she would be able to speak at all.

She opened her eyes, but she didn’t dare glance at the Indian again. She couldn’t risk meeting his gaze even one more time. And so she turned away from him, walking as swiftly as possible from the spot where she had been so recently seated, her silky gown of lace and chiffon whispering over the crude wooden floor as though it alone protested her departure.

She would never see the man again, never think of him again; of this she was certain. But even as this thought materialized, another one struck her with an even greater force: she fooled herself.

She would think of him, perhaps too often, over and over again, and in the not-too-distant future. She wouldn’t be able to help herself.

She knew it. Truly the Indian was a magnificent specimen of man. Yes, that was the right word. Impressive, splendid.

Utterly, completely and without question magnificent.

 

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LAKOTA PRINCESS, Anniversary Edition, Excerpt & Give-away

Howdy!

Welcome to a wacky Wednesday.  Well, not too wacky.

LAKOTA PRINCESS, the 25th Anniversary Edition, is just out in e-book and print.  The book has been re-edited and an updated Anniversary Edition cover given to it and best of all, it’s on sale for $.99.  Yay!

Let me tell you a little about this unusual “Western” romance.  First, it’s set in England.  So, we brought the West to that little island empire, England.  Next, it’s set during the Regency period (early 1800’s) and so it has a bit of that time period within its pages, as well as the customs of the Lakota Indians before the Europeans came into their country and changed things.  Then, it also entails some interesting facts about the Royal Family, and indeed, the Royal Family becomes a character — so to speak — in the book.

Hope you’ll enjoy the following blurb and excerpt:

A love that defies the ocean.  A secret deeper than blood.

 Lakota Princess, Book 3

Driven from her home in England by hostile political forces, Estrela was little more than a girl when she came to be raised by a far western Lakota tribe.  On the wide, sweeping plains she grew tall and strong, and won the love of a handsome warrior.

But on the eve of their marriage, she is torn away from her native family, torn from the man she loves, and forced to return to a place that feels more like a foreign country than her home.  There she merely exists, haunted by her love’s sweet kisses and heated embrace, yearning for his unforgettable touch.

Black Bear has braved the ocean to find the woman whose beauty has captured his soul.  But no sooner has he arrived in England than he is called upon to save her life.  Who in their right mind would want to murder such a gentle spirit?

As Black Bear comes between her and death time after time, Estrela wishes they could both just disappear back to the plains, and bury the secret she has long hidden –- even from him.  A secret from which only their love, truer than blood, can save them.

Warning:  Sensuous romance that contains separated lovers who will let nothing come between them…not oceans, her mysterious past, or a murderer bent on destroying their future.

LAKOTA PRINCESS, an Excerpt

by

Karen Kay

She wore the pink, transparent creation into the breakfast parlor after all, and was rewarded for her efforts by a frown from Black Bear. The gown’s lines trailed downward from an empire waist, and Estrela smoothed the outer filmy material down with a self-conscious gesture of her hand. She hadn’t wetted down the undergarments as was the current custom, it being thought by those who ruled fashion that if the material beneath looked wet, it would allude more to the feminine form; something which, it would appear, was most desirable.

Her shoes of soft, pink satin peeked out beneath the hemline of the dress as Estrela paced forward, and all at once, she felt the heat of Black Bear’s piercing scowl.

She peered down at herself. It didn’t matter if she hadn’t wetted down the undergarments; the dress still made her look practically nude. She looked up then, and away, her cheeks awash with unbecoming warmth; she felt suddenly inadequate.

It also didn’t help, she realized, when she looked at the other women seated around the breakfast table and found them to be dressed in a much more risqué fashion than she. They didn’t appear to bother Black Bear.

He scowled at her alone.

She advanced into the room.

“Ah, Lady Estrela.” The Duke of Colchester arose from his seat and smiled at her. “So good to see you this morning. Did you enjoy your morning of exercise?”

“Yes, Sir, I did,” she replied, sweeping her lashes down over her eyes to study the Duke without his knowledge. The man had been most kind to her. Did he mean more by his question? She couldn’t tell.

“Ah,” the Duke continued. “I must admit that I was concerned after that dreadful event yesterday. But, I see that you have recovered most splendidly. Jolly good of you to join us, I say.”

Estrela smiled. “Thank you, Sir,” she replied, and, treading down the long length of the breakfast table, took the seat that a servant held out for her.

She smiled at the servant, then at the Duke as he, too, sat down.

She glanced around the table noting that the Duchess of Colchester chatted gaily with her daughters and with Black Bear, who, after his initial glare at Estrela, hadn’t looked again in her direction.

There were other people here, too, women she did not recognize and a few other men. The Royal Duke of Windwright must have spent the night, for he sat just opposite her at the table.

He glanced at her now, and, clearing his throat, said, “So good of you to join us, Lady Estrela. I say, did you sleep well?”

Estrela smiled at him. “Yes,” she said, “quite well, thank you.”

Black Bear glowered at her down the length of the table, but he said nothing and Estrela wondered if Black Bear intended to discipline her—and if he did, what form would it take?

Well, she wouldn’t think of it now. She had done the right thing for him. In time, he would see this. She only wished that time would elapse quickly.

“I daresay, old man,” the Duke of Windwright addressed the Duke of Colchester. “Must retire to the country soon now that Parliament is out of session. Can’t afford to miss the fox hunt, you know.”

The Duke of Colchester chewed upon a long cigar, not daring to smoke it in the presence of ladies. As it was he bordered on committing a social faux pas just by bringing a cigar into the same room as a lady.

He leaned forward across the table and leered at the other Duke. “I say,” the Duke of Colchester said, “geese are in season now. Do you fancy hunting geese? Could make a trip to the country, we could. I say, there, Black Bear.” He turned his attention to the Indian. “Have you ever hunted geese?”

Black Bear glanced down the table, glaring first at Estrela, then turning his solemn gaze upon the Duke. He didn’t smile and his features revealed nothing at all. At length, he said, “Geese are many in my country. I have hunted them, yes.”

“Well, I say, old chap,” the Duke of Colchester said, “would you quite fancy taking to the country with us to hunt geese?”

Black Bear didn’t scowl, but he didn’t smile either. He stared at the Duke of Colchester, then at the Duke of Windwright. And, as he studied the two men, his brows narrowed. At length he answered, saying, “I would greatly honor the chance to hunt with you. But it is autumn, the season to make meat, and I think we would do better to hunt deer or elk so that the women can fill the food stores for the season when the babies cry for food. Does your country have—tatá?ka—buffalo?”

“Make meat?” It was the Duke of Windwright who spoke.“I daresay we have no buffalo, my fine fellow, but the deer are aplenty and we could hunt them, too; however, shooting geese or any fowl is more the sport this time of year.”

The Indian nodded. “Then we will hunt geese,” he said, returning his grimace once more to Estrela.

Estrela glanced away.

And Black Bear, after a quick survey of the people sitting around the table said into the quietness of the room, “There is old Indian legend told in my country about geese.”

“Is there?” It was the Duchess of Colchester who spoke. “Oh, how exciting. Won’t you tell it to us, please?”

“Yes, please.”

“Oh, do tell us.”

Black Bear smiled, and, shooting Estrela one last glare, began, “It is said that—”

“I say, young fellow,” the Duke of Windwright interrupted, “what is ‘making meat’?”

Black Bear’s gaze leaped to the Duke.

“Oh, do be quiet,” the Duchess of Colchester said, perhaps without thinking first. “Can’t you tell that…?” She stopped, and, glancing quickly at the Royal Duke, carried on, “Oh, so sorry, Your Grace. It’s only that the Indian is telling us a story and I thought that you were my husband or that—I mean—perhaps I—”

“’Making meat,’” Estrela spoke up, thereby “saving” the Duchess, “refers to the necessity in an Indian camp to ensure there is enough food in store to get the people through even the harshest of winters. Usually in the fall, there is one last buffalo hunt during which the women will take what meat they get and dry it and pound it into wasná, which is a mixture of pounded meat, fat, and chokecherries. It is an important venture since, if there is not enough food to get through the winter, the people will starve.”

Estrela glanced at Black Bear, and nodding, returned her attention to her breakfast.

The Duke of Windwright snorted.

The Duchess of Colchester fluttered her eyelashes and her husband, the Duke of Colchester, brought his attention onto the Indian.

“I say,” the Duke of Colchester started, “I believe I would like you to tell that story you were about to begin—the one about the geese.”

“Oh, by all means.”

“Please do continue.”

“We want to hear it.”

Black Bear smiled. “There is a legend,” he said, relaxing back into his chair, “about the geese in my camp. For you see, the geese tell us much.” He gazed at the Duchess a moment before sweeping his attention around the table. And, seemingly satisfied, he fixed his glance once more upon Estrela, his stare a sulky glower. “Those birds’ habits announce the season change,” he continued, “and we look upon the geese as good food when there is no buffalo to feed our women and children. But, their meat has too much fat, though the taste—good.” He paused, and, with his glance clearly on Estrela, said, “It is well known that geese mate for life, something a wise person will study.”

Estrela choked on the bit of sausage she had just swallowed while the Duchess of Colchester exclaimed, “Oh, how endearing. Tell us more!”

“Yes, please, tell us.” The women’s enthusiastic voices re-echoed the plea around the table.

And Black Bear, ever ready to continue, said, “This story is about the female goose who could not select just one mate.” He stared directly at Estrela, who, in turn, moaned, closing her eyes.

Obviously enjoying her reaction, he continued, “Once there was a family of geese.”

“I say, young man.” It was the Duke of Windwright speaking again. “Do you force your women to work, then? You have no servants, no slaves? You make your women—”

“Your Grace,” the Duke of Colchester interjected. “This young man is trying to tell us a story. Perhaps you could ask your questions later.”

“So sorry, I didn’t mean to—it’s only that—well, who would hear of it, after all? Forcing women into physical labor? I mean, after all, are all their women merely servants?”

“The women,” Estrela spoke up, if for no other reason than to stall for time, “work, but the work is not great and there is much time to talk and to tease. Mayhap one could compare it to the fine ladies at work over needlepoint.”

And, although the Duke of Windwright merely “humphed,” and scoffed, he said no more.

“Black Bear—please.”

“Yes, do continue.”

He smiled. “Most geese have many children,” he said, satisfied, “all of them dedicated to the continuation of their race, and…”

Estrela glanced away, trying to concentrate on something else besides Black Bear. She knew the story was told for her benefit, alone. He believed he spoke about her; this form of storytelling was probably one of the more severe forms of discipline he would administer. The Indian, regardless of Western belief, rarely punished his children. Estrela realized that most people who did not know the Indian in his own territory, did not understand Indian logic: that he did not scold his children, did not physically punish them in any way, and did not even raise his voice to a child, a mild look of disapproval sufficing to correct any bad behavior.

“…but this female bird was beautiful, her feathers most fine, more colorful than any other, her squawk more pleasing to the ear,” Black Bear was saying. “She did not wish to have only one mate, it is said, and she did not feel she should be confined to merely one husband. Nor did she have to. There were several young ganders who sought to have her under any condition.”

Estrela moaned.

And, Black Bear did not take his gaze from her.

“There was one gander, one male who loved her more than any other…”

“Why don’t you,” the Duke of Windwright cut in, “hunt for two or three years at a time, or raise the animals for slaughter, or…”

All the rest of the table groaned except for Estrela, who was only too glad for the interruption.

“The Indian does not wish to disturb the balance of nature,” Estrela said. “And so, he takes only what he needs and leaves the rest.”

“Bad show, I say. Jolly bad show.”

“Yes,” she said, “we could discuss the economics of the Indians and—”

“Wí?ya? Ho Wa?té,” Black Bear snapped at her. “I am telling a story.”

“Yes, well, I—”

“Please continue.”

“I want to hear more.”

“Yes, pray, finish your story.”

Black Bear grinned, the gesture not sitting well with Estrela. “The goose,” he carried on, “the beautiful goose could not decide on just one gander. And, the one who loved her most of all was but one among the many and she wanted many. And so, she took many to her, not realizing that the gander seeks only one mate.”

He paused, and his focus on Estrela was such that he didn’t even notice the gasps from around the table at so delicate a subject.

But no one stopped him. All, except the Duke of Windwright, seemed entranced with him. And, whether it was his deep baritone or the unusual content of the story that mesmerized them, Estrela could not tell. She only knew that he held the attention of most all seated around the table.

“Yes, she had many,” he continued.

“Bad show, I say,” the Duke of Windwright spoke. “Jolly bad show, making your women work—actually work—why I’ve never heard of such a thing—except servants, of course, but then—”

“The gander,” Black Bear continued as though the Duke weren’t at that moment speaking, “will allow no competition with the mate that he seeks and so one by one the males vying for this beautiful goose’s favor fought among themselves until not one male bird lived. And, she looked in vain for the one gander who had loved her more than any other. But, he had gone to seek his mate elsewhere believing that she, like the sparrow, could not be satisfied with only one mate. And so died out her race, not because of man hunting her, not because of the wolf or bear who would seek her meat, but only because the female goose sought to have more than one mate.”

He paused and glanced around the table. “And so it is,” he said to his entranced audience, “that we learn from the geese that a woman must seek only one husband. And, the more beautiful the bird, the more careful she must be to ensure she chooses only the one.”

“Dare I ask, young man,” the Duke of Windwright plowed right in, “are all your women servants?”

Black Bear ignored the Duke as did the others.

“Oh, that was lovely.”

“Tell us more!”

“Yes, please, more!”

Black Bear held up a hand. “I will gladly tell another story tomorrow at the morning meal, if you are all here again.”

And, while exclamations of joy and wonder resounded around the table, Estrela groaned.

It would be the same story, told again, a bit differently, said over and over until Black Bear determined that she’d been suitably chastised.

And, Estrela made a mental note to ensure she missed each breakfast meal in the future.

“Well, it is my belief,” the Duke of Windwright carried on, “that the Indians must be saved from themselves. Yes, I believe that—”

“I think the gander acted most irrationally.” Estrela’s quiet statement, said amid the Duke’s meanderings, had the effect of silencing all other chatter at the table, including the Duke’s, and, as Estrela glanced down the table’s length to peer at Black Bear, she noted that every single pair of eyes were turned on her.

“And what would you have him do?” Black Bear asked, each person at the table looking to him. “Wait until the silly goose decided she wanted him more than any other?”

“He could have waited,” Estrela countered, recapturing the attention of everyone present. “Had he truly loved her, he would have waited.”

“Waited for what? She was taken. Before he even had a chance to take her, she was taken.”

“Who was taken?” the Duchess of Colchester intervened. “Did I miss something in the story?”

“He could have understood,” Estrela replied.

“Understood what?” the Duchess interrupted.

Black Bear nodded in agreement, repeating, “Understood what?”

Estrela snorted. “If he believed in her, he would have known—he just would have known.”

“He’s a bird,” Black Bear said. “He’s incapable of thinking.”

“Known what?” It was the Duchess who spoke.

“Then why tell the story if the gander is such a fool?” Estrela asked.

All heads turned back toward Black Bear.

“Because the story has a moral,” Black Bear said, each word clipped. “We are supposed to learn from such a story. Most people do unless they have the morals of a sparrow.”

Estrela flushed, and, looking down the length of the table, saw that each person present gazed at her as though they watched a fox surrounded by hounds.

“Well,” she said, “I think you should pick a more intelligent bird in the future, unless you want your characters to act so…so…stupidly.”

And with this said, she jumped from the table, upsetting her plate and knocking over her cup of tea.

“Oh! See what you’ve done?” she addressed Black Bear.

“I’ve done… You are the one who—”

“How could you?” Estrela threw down her napkin just as a servant came up behind her. “Why don’t you use swans next time, or wolves—at least they have a certain intelligence that I find sadly lacking in the gander.”

She spun about, upsetting the servant, his tray of food and the tea. But the servant was well-trained and caught the tray before any damage could be done.

Black Bear watched her leave, but only for a moment before he, too, arose. And, though his movements were slower than Estrela’s, he still moved quickly to follow her.

Too quickly.

The servant stood behind him. The tray of food and tea crashed to the floor, most of its contents spilling innocently, except for the tea, of course, which landed on the Duchess of Colchester.

And as she, too, jumped to her feet, wiping at her dress and holding it away from her, one could hear her say to an oddly silent room, “Oh my, oh my, did I miss something from that story?”

The only response to her question was complete and utter silence.

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IRON WOLF’S BRIDE — Free E-book Giveaway & Excerpt

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday and are happy to be beginning a New Year.  Here’s a hope and a wish that this year will be so very much better than last year.

IRON WOLF’S BRIDE, second in The Wild West Series, is a new release for me.  Set within Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows, Iron Wolf’s Bride encompasses two continents, both America and England.

I’ll be giving away a free e-book of IRON WOLF’S BRIDE to a couple of bloggers (2 bloggers).  So do consider leaving a comment, since this is how one enters into the drawing.  We have guidelines, by the way, for our giveaways — you can see them off to the top right here.

So here we go:  I’m going to post the back cover blurb of the book and then an excerpt.  Hope you’ll enjoy both.

IRON WOLF’S BRIDE

by 

Karen Kay

I will return to you, my love…

Jane Glenforest’s father believed she was too young to marry, so he’d stolen her and her newborn son away from the handsome Assiniboine Indian she’d wed and taken her to Surrey, England. In spite of divorce papers and rumors he’s wed another, Jane’s never forgotten the man who’d stolen her heart and given her son legitimacy. When Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show comes to England—bringing her ex-husband with it—Jane’s curious to see her lost love, in spite of her new fiancé.

Although Iron Wolf’s purpose in working for Bill Cody’s Wild West show is to fulfill his father’s vision to find and stop a deceiver, he fell in love with and married Jane Glenforest.  But, no sooner had Jane given birth than her father stole her away.  Now, a few years later, Iron Wolf is arriving in England with the hope of rekindling the love he once shared with Jane.  However, instead of love, he finds his wife loathes him, believing he has married another.  And, when he discovers she is engaged to another man, he declares war on both her and the fiancé.

But when their son is kidnapped, Jane and Iron Wolf must work together to rescue him. And, as danger escalates, they discover trusting each other might be the only way to save their son.  Will Jane and Iron Wolf learn to forgive one another, to reignite the embers of a passion that never died, or will the lies of a deceiver destroy their love forever?

Warning:  Rediscovered love might cause sleepless nights spent in the arms of one’s true love.

Let me tell you a little about the book before I attach an excerpt.

As I said above IRON WOLF’S BRIDE is the second book in The Wild West Series, my newest series.

I’ve planned three books in this series and two of them are released, Book #1, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME and Book #2, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE.

The third book, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, is a work in progress at present.

But let me tell you a little about this series.  It concerns three men,  who are part of the secret Society of the Wolf, The Clan of the Scout.  Two of the men are from the Assiniboine Indian Tribe and one is from the Lakota Tribe.  They are on a deadly serious mission.

The chief of the Assiniboine tribe has had a terrifying vision: that someone called the deceiver, or trickster, spells doom for the children of his tribe, and eventually for all Indians.  The old chief is desperate and enlists the aid of two young men from his own tribe and one young man from the Lakota tribe to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  He has been shown in a vision from the Creator that help for his people can be found if these three young men can become a part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  There, within the framework of the show, the old chief has been shown that he may appeal to the President of the United States — or his representative — for assistance; also, to find and stop the deceiver who means to harm the Indian Tribes.

Because traditionally scouts were the most trusted individuals within the tribe, the old chief appeals to two young men who are a part of that society.  One of them is his own son; another is a young man who is the most accurate shooter with the bow and arrow as well as a gun.  The third young man is to be found from the Lakota tribe.

These three young men become part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and, in addition, they become one of the most popular events in the show, especially with the young ladies. But these three young men care very little about any fame or fortune that might be attached to being so popular. Their concern is to find and disable the trickster and all his associates, so as to free the next several generations of Native American children from harm.

Within this series of three stories, these young men — although not looking for love — discover true love along the path to discovering this real evil which is threatening their tribes.

Enjoy this excerpt of the book:

CHAPTER TWO

April, 1891

Earl’s Court Exhibition Grounds

London, England

 

Jane Glenforest felt as though her world was shattering.  How dare he.  How dare he come here.

Of course, she needn’t have bought the tickets to see the Wild West Show.  But, she’d been unable to resist the impulse to come here today to see if he were still with the show.  And, surely, there he was, surrounded by the usual crowd of women.

It still hurt.  Seeing him again only made the pain of what had happened between them worse.

Eventually, she’d have to go down there where he was, for her sister still worked with the show; indeed, her sister, Luci, was even now dressed as a boy.  Did this fact mean that she and Luci were still in danger?  Surely that was behind them now.  It had been two and a half, almost three years since the trouble.

Jane watched from a top section of the bleaching boards as her former husband and lover, as well as his two friends, wooed the feminine, English hearts.  He and his friends, having finished their athletic performances in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, were now engaging the crowd in a different skill: American Indian-style singing and dancing.

The three friends had taken up a position that was in front of and close up to the tiered bleaching boards.  Already, several of the young English women were leaving their seats, were filtering into the arena and joining the Indian women there.  Together, these two different groups of ladies formed a circle around the three performers.

And, there he was: Iron Wolf.  He stood in the middle between his two friends, Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder.  Wind Eagle was drumming on what appeared to be a buffalo-hide drum, which he held in his hand.  Blue Thunder shook two rattles.  Both Blue Thunder and Wind Eagle were singing, while Iron Wolf blew into his Indian-styled flute.  Feathers and strung beads hung from the instrument, which more resembled an English recorder than a flute.

She remembered that flute.  Iron Wolf had often played it for her, and once, over two and a half years ago, he had used it to make her smile when she’d felt downtrodden.

She watched Iron Wolf as he danced.  He was the only one of the three men who was dancing.  As the others were singing, Iron Wolf took a moment to swing around in a circle, then bent over at the waist, keeping time to the rhythm and looking as though he were a nineteenth-century Kokopelli, who was, of course, the ancient American Indian Casanova.

His dance was stimulating to her, although she was an unwilling recipient to the blatant sensuality of his movements.  Whether Iron Wolf intended it or not, the dance he was doing was not only exotic, it was erotic, and several of the women surrounding the three musicians were also bobbing up and down to the rhythm, looking as though they were part of the unusual performance.

Once again Jane wondered why he had come to England.  He didn’t have to come.  He could have stayed behind.

Didn’t he know she was here?  It wasn’t possible that he would not know, if only because their divorce papers listed her current residence as being in Surrey, England.  Was he so insensitive that he didn’t realize how much it would hurt her to see him again, to observe him flirting with other women, to witness him with his new wife?

Perhaps a better question would be to ask herself why she had come here.  Yes, good manners dictated that she visit with her sister, but she also needed to talk to Luci more seriously, if only to find out why her sister had never written.  Why had she never answered Jane’s many letters?

But, she hadn’t any real necessity to come to the show for that reason.  Not really.  She could have sent a note to Luci and her husband, Wind Eagle, inviting them to her uncle’s estate.

All at once, Iron Wolf unexpectedly jumped into the air, only to land in an athletic split upon the ground, and Jane recalled that this same man had once appeared to fly through the air in an effort to rescue her and their baby.  To her disappointment, his attempt had failed.

But, this was all in the past.  Once, not too long ago, he had loved her.  Once, she had loved him to distraction.  But their love was over now.  It was dead.

And, she had recovered from its extinction.  She’d had to, for she was raising her small son without Iron Wolf’s aid.  Indeed, her once-unconditional love for Iron Wolf had died about a year ago when he had divorced her.  It was that simple.

She had grieved for months, but had forced herself to move on with her life and had put her infatuation with Iron Wolf behind her.  Her future now lay with another.

Little Jeremy Iron Wolf, Jane’s son, laughed, his antics serving to bring Jane back to the present.  She glanced to her right where her friend and nanny, Marci Fox, sat.  Marci was holding Jeremy in her arms, while Jeremy wiggled his small fingers, entangling them in Marci’s long, nearly-black hair.

Jane smiled.  “Here, I’ll take him,” she said, as she moved to gather her son into her arms.  “I’m thinking we should be leaving soon.”

Marci nodded and grinned.  “Look at your son dance up and down to the drum.  Do you think he knows that he belongs in the Western culture on display down there?”

“No,” replied Jane, “although I admit I used to think this was so.  But not now.  Let’s go.”

“Yes.  Are you going to try to see your sister?”

“Not today.  Tomorrow perhaps.”

“But tomorrow you are to be married.  Will there be time?”

Jane bit her lip.  “Yes, well…  Perhaps you are right.  Will you come with me while I try to find my sister?”

“Of course.”

“Then, I suppose we should go down there,” Jane replied, then sighed.  “Mayhap, we might find someone who will lead us to her.  Maybe, too, I might invite her to dinner tonight….  Possibly…”

That’s all Jane would say on the subject for now.  But she did wonder why, in all this time, Luci had not written.  Like Iron Wolf, had Luci changed so much?

Well, there was nothing to do about it now.  Luci was here in London, and she was, after all, Jane’s sister.

Positioning young Jeremy on her hip, Jane rose up from her top seat beneath the white canvas awning covering the bleaching boards of the Wild West Show.  Stepping toward the stairs on the far side of the sitting arrangement, she carefully made her way down toward the arena.  That the bottom edge of her light-blue walking dress dragged on the steps, dirtying it, was, for the moment, forgotten.  What was more important was what her stomach was doing.  Her entire body was trembling.  Her stomach in particular felt as though butterflies had taken residence within it.

Would he see her?  Would he even recognize her?  He might not, since two years ago, Jane had been forced to wear a disguise.  At that time, Jane had managed her hair into a tight chignon, and she had worn a wig of long, dark hair whenever she was away from her sleeping quarters.  Yes, he had seen her as a blonde, but rarely, and mostly in the privacy of their bedroom.  She’d been pregnant then and he’d only been privy to a brief glimpse of her as a slim, young girl before her father had come and whisked her away.  Would he even know her now?

He might.  Unlike many men, Iron Wolf seemed unusually perceptive, attentive to the minutest detail in his environment.  He saw elements around him that another might miss.

Her light-blue hat, however, might cause him to pass her by, for it was wide brimmed, with feathers on top to give her small, five-foot-four figure more height.  It hid her face, also.

She inhaled deeply…for courage.

Having descended to ground level, she stepped forward onto the field of the arena.  The three young American Indian singers had not yet finished their performance, and Jane hoped she might be able to avoid detection as she glanced into the distance, her gaze searching for Luci.  However, it was not to be.

Her first indication that she had been recognized was when Marci touched her shoulder and said, “He comes, I fear.” 

There was no need to say who “he” was.  Apparently, he had detached himself from the rest of the performance, and Jane watched as Iron Wolf approached her.

Dear Lord, why did he have to look so handsome?  Tall, with a slim, muscular build and long legs, he sauntered toward her, his gait smooth and graceful, as though the mere act of walking were an art form.  His hair had come a little loose from where he usually clipped the two braids behind his head, and the Assiniboine-style “bangs” blew in the wind.  He wore dark-blue, cotton pants that fell to the ground and were long enough to almost cover his moccasins.  His breechcloth was white with blue, red and green beaded decoration, and his shirt was light blue.  A beaded, white vest was secured in front with what looked to be leather ties, and a white bandana was tied neatly around his neck.

Jane took another breath as her stomach alerted her to the danger coming toward her, and she realized with mounting dread that she was not immune to him.  She should be, but she wasn’t.

And she, who was to be married to another man tomorrow….

She pasted a smile on her face as she prepared herself to confront the man she had once loved with all her heart.

***

He had watched for her all through their performances this day; he had even counted on her being here, for he’d suspected that her father might have taken her to England.  Indeed, his antics today were for her benefit, alone.

He had despaired, though, when he hadn’t caught a glimpse of her in the crowd.  However, as he and his two friends had begun their singing, he had espied her, there in the top row of the seating arrangement.  All through their first singing performance, he had felt as though he had gobbled her up with his gaze.  Had she felt the intensity of his emotions?  Did she know that he played his flute for her?  That he wooed her with it?  That his dance was for her, and only for her?

His heart beat fiercely in his breast as he approached her now.  Two, almost three years ago, he had known her as a pregnant woman and she had been beautiful then, both in spirit and in body.  But to see her now, slim, holding their son on her hip…it was such a stunning sight, he was certain he would never forget it.

In many ways, it was hard to believe that she was his wife, for her beauty was unusual to his eye.  Small-boned, feminine and clothed as she was in the English style of dress, she looked calm, cool…and untouchable.  The light blue of her dress might complement her coloring of light skin and pink cheeks, but its color added to the illusion that there was no history between them.  She looked foreign, cool, out of reach.

All those years ago, her hair had been dark, almost black whenever she was in public.  He had come to learn that it was a wig she wore, that the true color of her hair was an unusual shade of white-yellow.  On her, the hair color was beautiful, although he had to admit that to him, it was still foreign to his eye.

He felt a stirring in his loins as he measured his steps toward her, and he marveled at the power of his attraction to her.  She was his wife, and, although their love had been left to simmer over the ashes of a two-and-a-half-year-old fire, he felt his hunger for her stirring again within him.

He stopped directly in front of her, and, as was Indian tradition, he simply looked at her.  It was a sign of respect he bestowed upon her, and he didn’t speak, nor did he extend a hand toward her.  He simply gazed at her, admiring her lovely face.

She looked up at him briefly, then glanced quickly away.

“Why are you here?” she asked, her voice low and sweet, though within those tones, there was an air of hostility toward him.  She didn’t look back at him, leaving him to do little more than admire her attractive profile.

Although her words weren’t exactly welcoming, he yet felt heartened.  He was here and so was she.  They were, at last, together again.  He said, “I am happy to see you, my wife and my son.”

She did nothing in response at first and he watched as she swallowed hard before she gained her composure and uttered, “How dare you call me that.”

To say he was astonished by her tone of voice, as well as by her words, would have been an understatement, and it took him a moment to respond.  But at last, he asked, “Call you what?  I do not understand.  What did I say that you object to?”

“’Wife.’  That’s what I take offense to and you should know it.”

Clearly puzzled now, he asked, “Are you not my wife?”

“You know I am not.”

He had not expected her anger; sadness, perhaps, that he had not been able to find her sooner.  But antagonism bordering on what appeared to be disgust?  And, what did she mean that she wasn’t his wife?

He watched in surprise as a tear slipped down her cheek.  Why was she crying?  It seemed incomprehensible to him that she was so upset, especially because his emotions were intense and happy; he was, after all, reunited with her.  Yet, he could not deny that those were tears.  Reaching out a finger toward her, he traced the path of the tear’s salty wetness.

But she batted his hand away, saying, “Do not touch me!”

He nodded and took one step backward, and, by way of apology, he murmured, “I mean no assault.”

“Don’t do this!”

He said nothing.  He didn’t, however, avert his gaze from her, for she was truly angry with him.  Why?

“I am looking for my sister,” she stated after a pause; still she did not look at him.  “Do you know where I might be able to find her?”

“I do,” he answered calmly.  “If you follow me, I will take you to her.”

“I will not follow you anywhere, sir.  Simply tell me where she is, and I shall go there.”

“She is in the corral,” he told her without pause.  “But come, the time is long since we have seen or talked to one another.  Could we not take a moment to speak kind words to each other?  You are angry with me and I do not know why.  Perhaps if we share our thoughts with one another, we can renew our acquaintance.  But, if it is your wish to see your sister now, I would be honored to take you to her.”

“Don’t do this to me, Iron Wolf.  I will not go with you.  Is it your wish to parade that other woman in front of me?  Is that why you wish to accompany me?  No, I will not allow it.”

Iron Wolf realized at last that he was completely baffled.  He questioned, “Another woman?”

“Do you really expect me to say it?”

He could only stare at her, confused.

“Your other wife!  That is who I am speaking of.  Do you think I don’t know of her existence?  Did you believe that you could throw me away and marry another without my knowledge?”

“Throw you away?”

“Please, stop this.  I…I’ve seen the pictures of you with her.  Did you expect that I would not?  I also have our divorce papers that you signed.  So, do not pretend innocence with me.  I…I can say no more.”

Iron Wolf felt as though he were bedazzled.  True, he was confounded by her accusations, but he was also in awe of her.  Angry or not, he continued to be happy to see her.  But, he did question how a woman could be so angry, yet exude such beauty at the same time.

Accused of acts he hadn’t done, he knew no other course of action but to tell her the truth, and so he said, “I tell you no lie.  I have no other wife.  But I do wonder, who has told these lies to you?”

She didn’t answer his question.  Instead, after a short moment, she called over her shoulder, “Come, Marci.”

He watched as his wife turned and brought forward the young woman who had been standing behind her all this while.  Then, his fine-looking, yet irate wife said to the one whom she called Marci, “We will find my sister without any help.”

But, before they left, and in defense, he uttered, “I tell you this true.  I have no other wife, but you.”

“It is you who lie, for I have a news clipping of this wife you claim you don’t have and of you…pictures…newspaper articles…as well as our divorce papers.  And those, Mr. Wolf, prove that it is not I who is telling lies, but you.”  Then she turned away, and, within moments, she was walking away from him.

She loathed him, he realized perhaps too late.  And, he supposed that from her point of view, she might believe she had reason to show him dislike.

He watched her until she turned a corner and was no longer in his line of vision.  He frowned.  Two, almost three years ago, Jane and her sister had faced a trouble that had almost taken their lives.  He had thought the incident had resolved itself, and that his and Jane’s forced separation had been the act of a jealous father.

Now he wondered about the truth of that.  His wife’s reaction to simply seeing him again caused him to further speculate.  What had happened here, and, perhaps more importantly, why had something bad happened here? Did it have anything to do with what had occurred to Jane and her sister two years ago?  He didn’t know, but he promised himself that he would discover these answers, and soon….

*************************************************************************************************************

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IRON WOLF’S BRIDE, Coming November 15th — Give Away

Howdy!

Welcome to another Terrific Tuesday!  

Am really excited to let you know that my newest effort, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE is due to be released on November 15th.  Yea!

So, I thought I’d give you a quick glance at the cover and a little excerpt from the book, as well as the blurb.  Hope you’ll enjoy the excerpt!

IRON WOLF’S BRIDE

By

Karen Kay

BACK BLURB:

I will return to you, my love…

Jane Glenforest’s father believed she was too young to marry, so he’d stolen her and her newborn son away from the handsome Assiniboine Indian she’d wed and taken her to Surrey, England. In spite of divorce papers and rumors he’s wed another, Jane’s never forgotten the man who’d stolen her heart and given her son legitimacy. When Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show comes to England—bringing her ex-husband with it—Jane’s curious to see her lost love, in spite of her new fiancé.

Although Iron Wolf’s purpose in working for Bill Cody’s Wild West show is to fulfill his father’s vision to find and stop a deceiver, he fell in love with and married Jane Glenforest.  But, no sooner had Jane given birth than her father stole her away.  Now, a few years later, Iron Wolf is arriving in England with the hope of rekindling the love he once shared with Jane.  However, instead of love, he finds his wife loathes him, believing he has married another.  And, when he discovers she is engaged to another man, he declares war on both her and the fiancé.

But when their son is kidnapped, Jane and Iron Wolf must work together to rescue him. And, as danger escalates, they discover trusting each other might be the only way to save their son.  Will Jane and Iron Wolf learn to forgive one another, to reignite the embers of a passion that never died, or will the lies of a deceiver destroy their love forever?

Warning:  Rediscovered love might cause sleepless nights spent in the arms of one’s true love.

Iron Wolf’s Bride

An Excerpt:

Despite the warmth of the evening, the marble flooring of the foyer was cold beneath Jane’s slippers.  She was gazing forward, looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows which graced the manor’s entryway.  Lacy, white curtains framed the windows, and, as Jane reached out to touch their softness, she recalled the feel of a smooth, deerskin bag that Iron Wolf had given her upon their marriage.  She’d had to leave it behind.

Iron Wolf…  How she wished that this evening were already over.

Biting her lip, she looked forward once more, out the window.  There were so many carriages out there; there must have been fifty or more of them, carrying the cast from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show here tonight.  And, one by one they pulled into the sweeping driveway of her uncle’s red-brick mansion.

The hour was early evening, and the many lanterns—which were scattered here and there along the brick drive—shone with a hazy light into the mist of the darkness, causing small pockets of foggy light to glitter, as though held there by a ghostly hand.  It caused the carriages to be appear to be as dark and as dreary as a funeral procession.

A shiver rushed over Jane’s skin as she realized that the ghosts from her past had come to haunt her tonight.  Iron Wolf would be amongst these people, and her tension because of this knowledge was so great, she held onto Nathaniel with a tight grip on his arm.  Luckily, he didn’t seem to mind and he patted her hand, his touch reassuring and gentle.

That her uncle had invited the entire cast of the Wild West Show to his estate was to Jane not to be believed, especially because tonight should have been the celebration party of her marriage to Nathaniel.  But, her uncle had explained that because the musicians had already been hired and an assortment of cooks were still on hand to provide the dinner, the original form of the party had changed from being a quiet dinner party to a ball and a sit-down dinner.

Why was her uncle honoring Bill Cody’s Wild West Show?  Didn’t he disdain those public gatherings which he labeled as “spectacles”?  Was it because Jane’s sister, Luci, performed with the show?  Perhaps.

And, of course Luci would be present here tonight, as would Luci’s husband, Wind Eagle.  Blue Thunder would also be present…and Iron Wolf.  There would be little chance she could avoid her former husband this evening, since he and his two friends were known to be Buffalo Bill’s most popular act—popular, that is, with the ladies.

During The Wild West’s long run, the threesome’s performances—which included not only daring feats of horsemanship, but also expert marksmanship—had gained steady popularity.  Indeed, a few years past, the three young men had added the American Indian style of singing and dancing as part of their entertainment.  From there, and because of that, the number of tickets sold to those of the female gender—young and old—had tripled the income of the show, if one were to believe the newspapers.  Indeed, her uncle had informed her that Buffalo Bill had asked the three young men to entertain this small gathering of London’s “elect” which was to be present here tonight.

At the moment, she could do little more than wonder how she was to get through the evening with her emotions still intact.  Pray, it might be the greatest acting performance of her life, since she was upset with them all: her sister, Wind Eagle, Blue Thunder and especially Iron Wolf.  But, she would sooner die from the heartbreak they had caused her than to openly show the hurt of their two-and-a-half-year indifference.  She promised herself that she would paste her most cordial smile onto her countenance, and she would grin as though her life depended upon it…and perhaps it did.

Jeremy, her son, would not be present at the festivities tonight, and for this Jane was indebted to Marci, who would attend to him and ensure his bedtime schedule remained the same as usual.  More commonly, Jane saw to her son’s nighttime storytelling and to the delightful chore of tucking him into bed.  Often, when there was a party, Jeremy was permitted to attend it.

But not tonight.  Tonight she needed every bit of her attention focused upon her smile and getting through the evening without grief and tears. 

Suddenly her heart seemed to stop.  There he was, exiting a carriage and stepping toward the house in the casual manner he seemed to have perfected.  His friends, Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder, as well as Jane’s sister, Luci, flanked him on either side.  Suddenly Jane’s breathing stopped and her heart raced, reminding her that she had not yet healed from the wounds Iron Wolf had inflicted upon her.

How innocent she had been back then, although, if she were to be honest, she would admit to wishing to be so happy again.  Ah, if life could only be like that once more.

She sighed, noticing at the same time that her sister, Luci, was dressed as she usually was when she performed with the show—as a boy—and Jane was startled to witness it.  Surely, Luci didn’t have to still pretend to be someone she was not, did she?  Didn’t she realize that dressing as a boy here would give away her true identity?

Whatever the reason for the disguise, it made Jane feel uneasy.  Was there a continuing danger to Luci and to herself, as well, that demanded her sister continue the disguise?

But, she quickly forgot the question, when, seeing Iron Wolf walk slowly toward her, Jane’s attention came away from her sister to focus squarely onto her former husband.  He wore his best clothing tonight, she noted, and he looked so handsome that she could not suppress the soft gasp which fell from her lips.

A tanned-buckskin shirt and leggings seemed to caress his casual movements, and she realized she had rarely seen him dress in this manner, for Buffalo Bill provided the cotton shirts and trousers that the American Indian performers wore.  His style of buckskin clothing was adorned with beads set in round designs of orange, blue and yellow colors, and the same scheme was repeated on his breechcloth and his moccasins.  She caught sight of the several feathers that were fastened together and fell down from the back of his head, disappearing from her view as Iron Wolf stepped readily forward.  He had left his hair loose and long tonight, the whole of it thrown over his shoulders. There was no bow in his hands or quiver full of arrows upon his back, but still, she could see that he was armed, for a colt .45 was neatly tucked into a holster that fit around his lower waist.

He had painted two streaks of red upon his cheeks, but he wore no other war paint.  From this distance, Jane’s stomach was already reacting in turmoil toward him, warning her of the danger he presented her.  But, she had no choice but to ignore it.  She had promised herself that she would play her part of a happy young lady tonight and nothing would distract her from that, pretense though it was.

The havoc of her emotional fears and grief, however, was so great, that when the four of them walked into the foyer, Jane thought she might faint.  But, she mustered up the act she had decided to present them, and, as she and Nathaniel paced toward the four of them, her grip on Nathaniel’s arm was so tight, it might have been made of iron instead of flesh and blood. 

She smiled at all four of them briefly, then said, “Luci, Wind Eagle, how are you?”

“We are well,” answered Wind Eagle.

“Good, I am glad to hear it.”  Jane smiled again, but couldn’t quite look at Iron Wolf as she continued, “Iron Wolf, Blue Thunder, you are both welcome here tonight.”

Blue Thunder nodded.  Iron Wolf, however, did nothing and said nothing, causing Jane to look up at him briefly.  In that glance, short as it was, she saw that he did not gaze at her, but had cast his glance upon her hand which remained clutched upon Nathaniel’s arm, while Nathaniel’s hand covered hers.

And then, before she could look away, Iron Wolf thrust his chin forward and stared down his nose at her, looking at her as though she were made of something distasteful.  He didn’t smile; he didn’t say a word.  And, the expression on his countenance—outside of disgust—was so blank that little other emotion could be seen there.

He continued to remain silent, though his brief look at Nathaniel could have melted steel.  But, instead of speaking, he turned quickly away from Jane and Nathaniel, following the other performers into the ballroom.  And Jane, glad to have the first introductions accomplished without error on her part, sighed.  Hopefully, the rest of the evening would go as planned.

***

To say that Iron Wolf was upset would not have done justice to the fury raging within him.  Who was that man?  Whoever he was, he had been touching her.  And worse, she had let him, had perhaps encouraged him, for her hand had rested on that man’s arm.

What had happened here in this strange country of England?  Was his wife’s love for him so lacking that she had placed another man in her affections?  He blew out a breath in revulsion.  It might be so.

Well, let them both look at and try to rationalize the performance he had this moment decided to give in this foreign and hostile place.  Their music featured both Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder as the vocalists in their trio.  Wind Eagle also kept time with a buffalo-hide drum and Blue Thunder accompanied the rhythm by shaking two different rattles.  While Iron Wolf also sang at times, he usually played his flute in these performances.  Also, he had become the group’s dancer.

For this, Iron Wolf was grateful.  His part in their performance tonight would allow him to give the presentation of his life.  She might not like what he was about to do, but he would ensure she would never again relegate him to the back recesses of her mind.

Áwicakeya, he dared her to forget about him again…ever.

***

Jane didn’t wish to view Iron Wolf’s and his friends’ act of drumming, singing and dancing.  Indeed, she wished she could be anywhere else but here, looking on.  But, it was not to be.

The gala which should have been her wedding party had turned sour.  Not that it was anyone else’s fault.  It was she, after all, who had postponed her wedding, and all because of one man, her former husband, Iron Wolf.

Servants had arranged the front of the ballroom into a stage for the performers, who were billed under their English names: Charles Wind Eagle, Luke Blue Thunder Striking, and of course her former husband, Michael Iron Wolf.  Chairs were clustered around the stage in five different rows.  After this performance, a ball was scheduled to follow, and, immediately after that, a sit-down dinner.

As the three men stepped forward, Iron Wolf turned so he was facing forward.  He caught her eye, and Jane drew in her breath sharply.  His look at her was so hostile, she had no choice but to look away.

Soon, the music began.  Both Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder were singing.  Blue Thunder took the lead with the song’s high-pitched intro.  Wind Eagle followed the lead, singing the same minor-keyed melody.  Wind Eagle beat out time on a hide-covered, hand-held drum, and Blue Thunder shook the two different rattles.  Iron Wolf wasn’t singing, instead he was playing his flute, but it wasn’t long before he began to dance.  Indeed, he was the only one of the three men who was dancing.

Too soon, it became evident that Iron Wolf was fashioning his performance to be much too personal, and Jane caught her breath as he stared directly at her while his dance took on a sensual, sexual nature, his hips jutting forward in time to the music.  Jane stirred uneasily, for a passionate sort of excitement was arising within her, and she didn’t wish to experience it.

As his dance continued in much the same manner, she wondered how much of this she could take.  Already recollections of their lovemaking from their not-too-distant past were materializing in her mind, and the reminiscence of their lovemaking flooded her body with an unwanted, yet passionate response.  As she watched, she couldn’t control the unwelcome, yet soul-stirring excitement which burned like fire over her nerve endings.  It was too much and she knew she had to get away.

But she couldn’t jump up suddenly and run from the room.  Her uncle, her aunt and even Nathaniel would be scandalized.  Briefly, she looked over her shoulder, searching for a reprieve.  But, all she saw were her uncle, Buffalo Bill and her uncle’s moneyed friends, who were standing or sitting toward the back of the room.

There was no comfort to be found there.  Looking forward again, her eyes met Iron Wolf’s angry and openly hostile gaze.  What did he have to be angry about?  It was she who was the victim of his scandalous affair.

Still, she wished now that Nathaniel hadn’t picked the front section of seats in order to watch the entertainment.  She had nowhere to go.

Luckily, Luci had taken up a position on Jane’s left while Nathaniel reposed on her right, and, despite Nathaniel’s presence beside her—perhaps because of it—Iron Wolf’s gaze at her did not allow to her look away.  All the while, his blatantly passionate dance made love to her.  Even his flute playing did not detract from the explicit, carnal manner of his movements.

Unfortunately for Jane, his dance was causing her usually conservative composure to shatter.  Suddenly, Iron Wolf squatted down on one knee, jutted his hips forward briefly, then jumped up with a vigor that proclaimed his youthful prowess.  The suggestive movement caused her heart to leap, and Jane wished she were embarrassed by his antics.  The truth was, however, she wasn’t.  She was responding to it—unwillingly, yes.  But, she was reacting to it all the same, and in kind.

She had to look away.  She tried to do so, but found it was impossible.  He was seducing her in front of everyone here, plain and simple.  With his legs spread apart, he fell down into a partial side-split, and, taking the mouthpiece of his flute out of his mouth, he held his hands up in the air as he slid back up into a standing position.  He then fell into a dance step—up and back, standing straight, then hunched over—all the while rocking and jutting his hips forward in so sensuous a manner, and in such an apparent, sexual way, it took Jane’s breath away.  Parts of her body appeared to be out of her control, being awakened by Iron Wolf’s display, and, try as she might to suppress the stirred-up lust he was causing, she couldn’t.  She gulped nervously.

Luci reached out to take Jane’s hand into her own, and Jane was glad of her presence beside her.  At last the music became low and soft, allowing Iron Wolf to speak out in English, and he said,

 

My wife, what has happened to us?

My wife, I have waited for you.

My wife, did you wait for me, honor me?

No, you did not.

And yet, my wife, I give you all of me now.

Will you take me?

It is not too late, my wife; it is not too late for us.”

 

His gaze was direct and piercing, and there was no doubt that his poetry was for no one but her.  In response, Jane could barely move; she couldn’t speak.

After his few words, the performance ended and he stepped quickly toward her.  But, Jane wasn’t about to confront him.  Not here, not now.

She jumped up as though there were a wound-up coil within her, and, turning around toward the entrance of the ballroom, she ran out of the room as fast as she could, aware of, but unable to look at the many curious glances sent her way.  She didn’t stop, nor did she pause.  Instead, she fled out into the foggy, darkened night, running along a pathway which led toward the gardens.  There was a labyrinth there that she knew well.  She intended to lose herself in it.  Now.

***

Iron Wolf followed her.  It was time to learn what was happening here.  Who was that man?

He intended this to be his first question to the woman who should be, and still was, his wife.  His second question to her would be why she believed he, her husband, had betrayed her.  But this could wait.

He noted that she had fled into a maze that was flanked by fragrant bushes which were taller than a man, and, were he not the scout and tracker he was, he might have become lost within these high shrubs, for the paths intersected one another and led in multiple directions.  But he didn’t lose his way.  He found her soon enough.

Once he had discovered her, he spoke out softly, so she might become aware he had followed her. “What is going on here?  Who is that man you were touching, the one who sat next to you?  What is he to you?”

Jane spun around, the look of surprise on her countenance quickly turning to anger.  She didn’t pause an instant, though, as she accused, “How dare you follow me!”

“I am your husband.  It is my duty to follow you.”

“Well, you can go away now.  I came here to be alone.”

Iron Wolf didn’t leave.  Instead, he repeated his question, for he intended it to be answered, and asked once more, “Who is that man?”

“That man?”

“The one you touched.  The one who sat beside you tonight.”

“He and I were to be married today.” 

She turned her back on him and Iron Wolf didn’t speak; he couldn’t, for he felt as though she had punched him in the gut.

She added, “We didn’t marry today, as it turns out, because I would like my sister to be a part of the marriage ceremony.  So we have postponed our wedding for the time being.  And now you see that I, too, might marry another, as you have.”

Although he wished to speak out loudly, to rage the truth at her, he found it impossible to find his tongue, and so he paused until at last he was able to say, “My wife, you have become like a wild pony in my absence.  How can you marry another when you are already married to me?”

“Am I?  Do you forget you divorced me?  And, how dare you call me ‘wild,’ when you…when you…”  Her voice caught.

He ignored the insult and said instead, “You have now accused me of this too many times.  Who has told this to you?”

“No one has ‘told’ it to me, as you say it.  It was written up in the newspapers, and I have the divorce papers that you signed, or have you conveniently forgotten that?  And, how dare you seduce me in front of all these people tonight; you, who are married to another.  Is she here tonight?  Does she care that you looked at me as you danced as though you were making love to me?”

She spoke so swiftly that he took a moment to understand all she had said, and then he asked, “Do you speak of the white-man’s newspapers where you saw my ‘wife’?”

“Of course.”

“Who showed this to you?”

“Does it matter?”

He sighed.  “Hau, hau, it matters.  I would ask you again, who has said this to you?”

“My uncle, if you must know.”

“Your uncle who owns this house?”

“Yes, indeed.”

Iron Wolf took a moment to collect his thoughts, then said, “You are wrong to believe these people, even if they be family.”

“So you can say easily enough.  But, my uncle is beyond reproach and I am certain he wouldn’t lie to me.  Besides, you forget that I have evidence of your betrayal of me.”

“No,” he countered, “what you have is ‘proof’ that is a lie.  And, now I say that it is good you did not marry that man this day, for had you done so, you would have committed a grave error, one I could not easily set aside.  So now, you must decide and choose between one or the other of us: me—your husband or that man.  For, even in my society, a woman may have only one husband.”

“I have already chosen, and that man is not you.”

Hau, then I will go.”

“Good.”

“But before I go, I wish to see these papers you have mentioned to me many times.  I would witness these lies with my own eyes.”

“They are not lies.”

He raised his voice.  “I say they are, and if you continue to tell me these untruths, I will say that you are a woman of no honor, who tells lies, as well.”

“How dare you shout at me, and how dare you say I am not honorable!”

He blew out his breath in an attempt to control his temper.  At length, he said, “I am a man who must be convinced.  Show me the papers you speak of, for I tell you true: I did not place my written name on anything.  I have no other wife, but you.  Why would I want another woman when the one I have is the sweetest, the most beautiful woman I have ever known or seen?  I ask you, why would I throw away the woman of my heart, for, if I were to do that, would I not destroy her and myself, too?”

He noted that the compliment, spoken as it was from his heart, might have found its target.  However, she did not respond favorably, and she turned her back upon him.

He encouraged, “Show me.”

When she turned around, she was crying, and his heart sank to realize that his raised voice and unkind words might have caused her grief.  Still, what he’d said had been true.

“Do you really think I stoop to tell fibs?  That I don’t have these things in my possession which show you betrayed me and then married another?”

“I would see them.”

She paused, as though she seriously considered his demand, even against her will.  At length, she said, “I suppose that might be a fair request.  So follow me.  I will show you, although I am certain you are already aware of what I am talking about.”

He nodded, but said nothing except, “Show me.  I will do as you ask and follow you.”

She turned around then and stomped out of the maze.  And, Iron Wolf, astonished again by the obvious—that this was no act and that his wife truly hated him— trailed after her.

*************************

Well, that’s it for now.  Look for the book November 15th, 2020 on Amazon.   Hope y’all will let me know if you like the cover as well as I do.  The male model is Lakota, by the way.  

Also, book #1 of the Wild West Series is on sale now for $.99.  It’s the first time this book has been put on sale for this low of a price.

You can get the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Itunes, but I’m going to leave the link here on the blog for Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/w49evpb

Also, I’ll be giving away a free e-book or paperback of the first book in The Wild West Series, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME.  Remember to look at the rules we have here for giveaways.  Just leave a comment and you’re entered into the drawing.

Book Release & Giveaway

My latest novella collection hit the shelves yesterday, and I can’t wait to share Barnabas and Phoebe’s story with you!

The Kissing Tree is a multi-generational collection of stories that center around a giant oak in Texas where couples carve their initials through the years.

The tree that inspired our giant oak was The Century Tree on the Texas A&M campus. In fact, my daughter (who is now at A&M working on a PhD) was kind enough to ask the tour guide to take them by the tree so she could get her nerdy mom a photo during her college visit last spring.

They don’t allow initial carving in this glorious tree, but there is a tradition for proposals happening beneath these branches.

In my story – Inn for a Surprise – Phoebe Woodward and Barnabas Ackerly are forced to work together to design a romantic retreat for couples. The Kissing Tree Inn is Phoebe’s brainchild, and she has definite ideas about how to make the place romantic.

For example, she starts off by having it painted the color of love – a shockingly vivid shade of pink. Barnabas does his best to hide his shock when he sees the inn for the first time, but his professional life flashes before his eyes – and not in a rose-colored glasses type of way.

The two definitely don’t see eye-to-eye on inn design, but as they work together to make the inn a success, they come to see that practicality and sentimentality can coexist and can even lead to love.

Phoebe
Barnabas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of The Kissing Tree, I’m giving away autographed copies to two readers chosen from the comments.

To enter, leave a comment about which character you most resemble:

  • the sentimental Phoebe or
  • the practical Barnabas.

Enjoy!

A Sneak Peak at To Marry A Texas Cowboy!

I’m so excited for the release this month of the fourth book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Marry A Texas Cowboy. Mark your calendar. September 28th is the day Zane Logan’s story arrives.

Zane is the playboy in this group of heroes. Women fall at his feet, and there’s never been one he couldn’t handle. Do you see trouble coming? Of course you do, and you’d be right. Here’s an excerpt from To Marry A Texas Cowboy. I hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to mark your calendar.

 

 

“Are you okay?” Mr. Stop Traffic asked, stepping into the light. She must have showered him with champagne because his shirt lay plastered against his chest, revealing his well-defined abs. Oh, my. His chest looked as wonderful as his face.

“I need to get to the generator,” McKenna said, but she’d no sooner gotten the words out when the lights came on.

“What happened? There’s blood smeared on your face and sleeve, and your nose is swollen.”

McKenna resisted the urge to groan, his comment obliterating all her feminine warm fuzzy feelings. While she was thinking about how dreamy he was, he’d been worried about her bloody, swollen nose. She should’ve known something practical accounted for his interest.

“Something hit my nose when the lights went out.”

“Bet it was the cork from my champagne bottle. It got away from me when the lightning hit.” He glanced around. “Mrs. Severance, you’re a nurse. Come check this out.”

Thanks. Call more attention to the fact that I got hurt and probably resemble a rodeo clown, while you, dripping wet with champagne look…marvelous.

McKenna smiled and waved the older woman off. “No need. I’m fine.”

“If you’re sure,” Mrs. Severance replied.

She nodded as Mr. Stop Traffic moved past her, lifted a glass, and filled it with water from a nearby pitcher. Next, he grabbed a napkin, dunked the square into the water, and returned. Increasingly embarrassed and fighting the urge to run, McKenna reached for the napkin, but he pushed her hand away. “You’ll only smear it more.”

His brows furrowed in concentration as he wiped the blood from her face. His green eyes held tiny flecks of gold, making them almost sparkle. He had the most mesmerizing eyes. Paul Newman, never-forget kind, except in green instead of blue. Her breath caught in her chest. She couldn’t think. Oh dear. No man had ever sent such a warm rush of pleasure pulsing through her before. Not even during sex.

“You need medical attention. Your nose is really swollen.”

His words obliterating her sexual feel-good haze, she leaned forward, kept a smile on her face, and whispered, “Stop saying how swollen my nose is. I’ll deal with it later. Right now, I need to do my job.” Then she straightened and announced, “I’m fine, everyone. If I wasn’t, I’d say so. Now let’s get this party back on track and toast the happy couple.”

She placed her empty bottle in the tub and selected another. This one she opened before handing it to him. “Pour. Everyone’s waiting.”

“Hey, Zane,” came Ty’s voice again from the dance floor, “everyone okay back there? You about got that champagne poured?”

McKenna froze. Zane? While that wasn’t a common name, it wouldn’t be unheard of for two men named Zane to be in attendance tonight.

 Right, and if you believe that then you’ve got less brains than God gave a fruit fly.

“Don’t get your britches in a knot, Ty. We’ll be ready for the toast in a minute,” Zane replied.

No, she couldn’t have done what it appeared she had—assumed her boss’s grandson was temporary hired help, ordered him around, and spilled champagne all over him.

This man couldn’t be Ginny’s grandson, the video game designer from Los Angeles, because nothing about this man said California. He was all Texas, including Wrangler jeans, a crisp black western shirt, a silver oval belt buckle with Texas written in the center, and freshly polished cowboy boots.

Despite the evidence, she had to be certain. “You’re not Ginny’s grandson Zane, are you?”

“The one and only.”

 

Despite their awkward first encounter, when Zane takes charge of his grandmother’s wedding planning business and becomes McKenna’s temporary boss, she doesn’t let him run roughshod over her. Zane doesn’t know quite what to do with a woman he can’t impress, and there are plenty of fireworks. 

Today’s giveaway is a signed copy of book 3 in the Wishing, Texas series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, and an insulated cup, Less Monday More Summer. Since Zane steps in to run his grandmother’s wedding planning business, to be entered in the random drawing leave a comment what you enjoy most about weddings, a wedding trend you like, detest or just don’t understand. 

THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME — New Release & e-book Give-Away

Howdy!  Welcome to another terrific Tuesday!

Big news!  At least for me.  THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME has just been released.  Am not going to say too much about it, except to say to be sure to leave a comment, cause I’ll be giving away a free e-book to one of you bloggers.

This is a rather long excerpt (Prologue and First 2 Chapters).  So without further ado, here is the blurb and excerpt (prologue and first two chapters).  Please enjoy!

THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, by Karen Kay

A vision foretold his tribe’s doom.  Is the flame-haired beauty the trickster or his true love?

 

Lucinda Glenforest’s father, a general who’d fought in the Indian Wars, taught his flame-haired daughter to out-shoot even the best men the military could put up against her. When Luci’s sister is seduced and abandoned, it’s up to Luci to defend her honor in a duel.  Although she wins, the humiliated captain and his powerful family vow vengeance. The sister’s only hope is to flee and hide until their father returns from his overseas mission.  Out of money, Luci hatches a plan to disguise herself as a boy and use her sharpshooting skills in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

The chief of the Assiniboine tribe has a terrifying vision, that someone called the deceiver, or trickster, spells doom for the children of his tribe.  He enlists Charles Wind Eagle to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, in hopes of appealing to the President of the United States for help, and to find and stop the deceiver. When Wind Eagle is paired with a girl whom he knows is disguised as a boy, he believes she might be the deceiver.  Still, she stirs his heart in ways he must resist, for he has a secret that can never be told, nor ignored.  And Luci can never forget that her father would destroy Wind Eagle if she were to fall in love with him.

Forced to work together, they can’t deny their growing attraction.  Will Luci and Wind Eagle find a way through the lies to find true love?  Or will they be consumed by the passion of deception and slander?

Warning:  A sensuous romance that might cause a girl to join the rodeo in order to find true love.

Excerpt:

 

PROLOGUE

 

The Wild West Series

Book One

The Assiniboine Sioux Reservation

Northeastern Montana

May 1884

 

 

 

          “Run!  Run to them!  Help them!”

          Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, couldn’t move.  It was as though his feet were tied to the ground with an invisible rope.  He attempted to lift his feet one at a time.  He couldn’t.  Bending, he struggled to remove the shackles that held him prisoner.  It was impossible.

          Straightening up, he looked down into the Assiniboine camps from his lofty perch upon a hill, and he watched as a cloud of dust and dirt descended from the sky to fall upon the children of the Assiniboine.  Helpless to act, he stared at the scene of destruction as each one of the children fell to the ground, their bodies withering to dust.  Still, he stood helpless, unable to act in their defense.  He heard their cries, their pleas for aid.  He reached out to them, he, too, crying.  But he couldn’t move; he couldn’t save them.

          The cloud lifted.  The children were no more; their bones had returned to the earth.  Instead, in their place arose a people who appeared to be Assiniboine outwardly, but within their eyes, there showed no spark of life.  They appeared to be without spirit, without heart; they were broken—mere slaves.

          From the cloud of dirt came the sound of a whip as the people cowered beneath its assault.  Then arose the lightning strikes and the thunder.  One by one even those soulless people fell to their knees—a conquered people, their heads bowed in fear.

          And, then they were no more.  All was lost; all was gone.

          What force was this?  Who or what was this faceless power that had killed the Assiniboine people and their children?  He knew it not.

          He cried, his tears falling to the ground, but even the essence of this, his body’s grief, was barren.  His proud people were no more.

          Jerking himself awake, Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, chief of the Rock Mountain People, sat up suddenly.  His sleeping robes fell around him and sweat poured from his body.  Tears fell from his eyes as he came fully into the present moment.

          At once, he realized that what he had seen had been a mere dream, and, while this might have comforted a lesser being, Horned Headdress knew that there was more to the nightmare.  It was a vision, a warning from the Creator: this was what would come to pass if he and his people didn’t act.  And now.

          But, what was he to do?  He didn’t know who this enemy was.

          It was then that, wide awake, he beheld a vision unfolding before him as the Creator spoke to him in the language of the sacred spider.  And, as the spider weaved his web, pictures of a future time appeared upon that maze, as though it were a backdrop for the images.

Astonishment and fear filled his soul.  But, he soon came to realize that the Creator had not warned him in vain, for, upon that same web appeared visions of deeds that would thwart that future evil, if he could but do them.

He must act, and with speed.  This he vowed he would do.  But how?  He was no longer a young man, conditioned to the rigors that would be required.  He could not perform the skills necessary to accomplish what must be done.

But there are two youths among our people who can.  The thought came to him as though it were his own, but he realized that the words were from the Creator.  Moreover, he saw with his mind’s eye, that there were, indeed, two young men who were strong enough and proficient enough to undertake this task.

With a calmness of purpose, Horned Headdress knew what he would do, what he must do…. 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

May 1884

 

 

“Our way of life is endangered, and our people might well be doomed, I fear—all our people—unless we act.”

Twenty-year old, Wa?blí Taté, Wind Eagle, of the Hebina, the Rock Mountain People of the Nakoda tribe, listened respectfully to his chief, Horned Headdress.  The chief held an honorable war record, was honest beyond reproach and was known to be wise at the young age of fifty-two years. On this day, Wind Eagle and his ?óla, Iron Wolf, were seated in council within the chief’s spacious sixteen-hide tepee.  There were only the three of them present: Horned Headdress; himself, Wind Eagle; and Macá Mázasapa, Iron Wolf, the chief’s son.

“The White Man is here to stay,” continued Horned Headdress.  “Many of our chiefs speak of this.  Already we have seen changes that are foreign and confusing to us, for their customs are not ours.  I have asked you both to this council today because I have dreamed that our people will not long exist if we do not act as a united people.  But allow me to explain.

“As you both are aware, the annuities, promised so easily in treaty by the White Father, did not arrive this past winter to replace the hundreds-of-years-old food source, the buffalo.  Because of this, too many of the young and the old did not survive the harsh snows and winds that inflicted wrath upon this country; a worse winter cannot be remembered, not even by the very old.   All our people are grieved, for every family amongst us lost loved ones, and, I fear that if we do not become like the beaver and act in a fast and well-organized manner, we, as a people, will perish from the face of this earth.

“The Indian agent is partly to blame for this; he put us at a terrible disadvantage, for our men of wisdom and experience, who have always ensured that our people remain alert to future dangers, were rounded up and placed in an iron cage that the agent calls jail.  He used Indian police to do this; they were young men from our tribe who listened to this agent’s poisonous tongue, and, feeling they knew best for our people, acted for the agent and not us.  They helped him to disarm us, not realizing that their people had need of their guns and their bows and arrows not only to defend their families, but to hunt for food.   Later, these same young men lamented their actions, for they learned too late that the Indian agent is not our friend.

“Some of our young men, like yourselves, escaped by hiding until the danger passed.  Then, stealing away into the night, these men left to find food and bring it back to supply us with needed rations.  But in many cases, the food arrived too late, and the evil face of starvation caused the death of too many of our people. 

“We have heard this agent laugh at our plight, but what are we to do, for we have no one else to speak for us to the White Father?  We chiefs have spoken often of this matter and have pondered who among us might seek out the White Father and express our grievances.

“Recently I received a vision from the Creator.  I have now seen that the danger is not in the past; I have learned that our children have a terrible fate and we might lose them all if we remain here and do nothing to change our future.”

          Wind Eagle nodded solemnly; no words were spoken, as befit the purpose of this council.

          “I believe I know what must be done,” continued Horned Headdress. “I have seen in vision that there is a white man whose name is Buffalo Bill Cody, who is now visiting our Lakota brothers to the southwest of us.  I am told that this man, Buffalo Bill, is not a bad man, though he pursues fame and approval, as well as the white man’s gold.  Further, I am told that he searches for those among us who can perform feats of daring, because he would take the best that we have and parade those youths before the White Man.  It is said to me that this is the manner in which this man purchases the necessities of living.

          “I have discovered that he offers a home for those whom he chooses, as well as the white man’s gold and silver which can be traded for clothing, food and other comforts. He is soliciting youths who can perform trick riding, or who can run as fast as the wind or those who can shoot with precision.  He also is asking for young men who are unparalleled in tests of strength and brawn.  Wind Eagle, you have proven yourself to be unequalled in shooting the arrow straight, accurately and with a speed that no one in all the nations can match.”

          Wind Eagle nodded silently.

          “And you, Macá Mázasapa, my son, are the best horseman in all the Nakoda Nation, performing tricks that even the finest riders of the Plains, the Blackfeet, admire.”

          Iron Wolf dipped his head in acknowledgement.

          “I am now asking you to act for me on behalf of your people; humbly, I would implore you both to travel to the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation and enter into those contests sponsored by this man, Buffalo Bill.”  Horned Headdress paused significantly as though he were choosing his next words with care.  “I have seen in vision,” he continued, “that the White Father, or a man representing him, will attend one of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows.  If I could, I would go in your place, but there are reasons why I cannot.  I am no longer a youth who might compete against other youths.  Also, I am needed here to counsel our sick and our needy and to act against this Indian Agent on behalf of our people, for this man is still here, is still corrupt, and every day denies our people the food and supplies that have been promised to us by treaty.”

As was tradition in Indian councils, neither young man spoke, both kept their eyes centered downward, in respectful contemplation.  Not only was it the utmost in bad manners to interrupt a speaker, but it was a particular taboo to volunteer one’s opinions with an elder of the tribe unless asked to do so.  At length, Horned Headdress continued, saying, “I have seen into the future, and I believe that both of you will be accepted by this showman.  I ask you this: when the White Father or his representative comes to this show, ask for a private audience with this man, who I believe will grant your request.  But beware.  I have also seen that all will not be easy for you, for there is a deceiver there.  You may come to know this person by being part of Buffalo Bill’s show.  Have a care, and do your work well, for this deceiver might be the greatest threat to all the Indian Nations.  This trickster, if not recognized and stopped, may bring about death and destruction to our children in ways that our minds do not comprehend.  Look for this person, discover who it is, man or woman. Be alert that if we do not learn from what tribe he or she hails, this deceiver could bring disaster not only to us, but to all the Indian Nations, and we, as an Indian people, might die in spirit forever.  Identify this person as quickly as you might and disarm him or her, for I do not speak lightly that the fate of our children rests with you.”

He paused for a moment.  “And now,” he continued, “I would hear what you wish to say about this burden I ask you to shoulder, for I would know if each one of you stands ready to pit your skills against this ill wind of tragedy for our people.”

Now came the chance for each young man to speak, and they both agreed that they would be honored to bear this responsibility.  They would go at once to their Lakota brothers in the south, and yes, they would use all their cunning and strength to prevent any future harm that might befall their people.

Horned Headdress nodded approval.  “It is good,” he acknowledged, before adding, “Seek out another young man from your secret clan, the Wolf Clan, once you have been successful in joining Buffalo Bill’s show.  Take him into your confidence, for I have also seen that three is oftentimes better protection against evil than two.”

Both young men nodded.

Wašté, good.  Now, listen well, my young warriors, and I will tell you what I wish you to say to the white man’s representative, and what I wish you to do.…”

***

Wind Eagle looked out from his lofty perch upon a stony ridge, which sat high above the winding waters of the Big Muddy, or as the white man called it, the Missouri River.  He faced the east, awaiting the sunrise, his face turned upward, his arms outstretched in prayer.  Below him unfolded numerous pine-covered coulees and ravines, jagged and majestic as they cut through the mountains, a range which appeared to never end.  The huge rock beneath his moccasined feet felt solid and firm, and, as he inhaled the moist air of the morning, he gazed outward, welcoming the beauty of the Creator’s work.

He sought a vision to guide him on this vital quest for his people.  Also, he hoped to ease his troubles, for as Horned Headdress had so elegantly said, the shared tragedy that had destroyed so many of their people had also struck Wind Eagle personally.

It was true that starvation had been the ultimate weapon employed by rogue forces within and without the tribe.  Because both the Indian Agent and the Indian police had acted against the people, Wind Eagle’s grandfather had died in those cages the white man called jails.  At the time, Wind Eagle and his father had been gone from the village on the hunt for food.  But game was scarce, causing his own, and his father’s, absence to extend for too long a time.  When they had returned to their village, they had found that many of their friends were now gone.  Even his beloved grandmother—the woman who had raised him—had been weak when Wind Eagle and his father had returned.  For a short while, it had appeared that she might recover, but it was not to be.  Too soon, she had left this life to travel to the Sandhills, where she would join her husband.  At least, they would journey on that path together.

It was only a few days past that Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, had spoken to himself and Iron Wolf, setting the two of them into action.  Quickly, they had made their plans and had talked of nothing else for the past two days, and, if they were both picked by the Showman to be a part of the show, each individually knew what his part would be in this vital task.  Failure was no option; the life of their people must continue.

Because no delay could be spared, they were to leave this very night to set out upon the trail to the Pine Ridge reservation.  They would travel by horseback, the both of them taking two or more of his ponies with him.

But no such journey could commence without first seeking a vision, for only in this way could a man communicate with his Creator.  And so Wind Eagle began with a prayer:

“Waka?tanka, hear my plea.  I come before you humble, having given away my best clothing to the needy.  As is right for my appeal, I have bathed myself in the smoke of many herbs, and have spent many days in prayer.  Show me, guide me, to see how I might best aid my chief and my people.”

Then he sang:

 

          “Waka?tanka, wacéwicawecioiya, (Creator, I pray for them)

          Waka?tanka, wacéwicawecioiya,

Waka?tanka, ca jéciyata, (Creator, I call thee by name)

          Waka?tanka, ca jéciyata,

          Waka?tanka, unkákí japi. (Creator, we suffer)

Waka?tanka, oi?iya. (Creator, help me)

Waka?tanka, oi?iya.”

 

He closed his eyes, inhaling deeply as the sun peeped up from above the horizon.  Already, he could feel the sun’s warming rays, and he sighed.  It was good, and he became quiet, merging himself with the spirit of Mother Earth, hoping that he might be gifted a vision.  Perhaps Waká?ta?ka was attuned to the cries of His people, for Wind Eagle was not left long to linger.  As he opened his eyes, he beheld a pair of bald eagles—his namesake—dancing in the cool drafts of the air.  Beautiful was their courtship ritual as they climbed ever higher and higher into the airy altitudes of the sky.

Then it happened, the dance of love: locking talons, they spun around and around, spiraling down toward the earth in what might seem be a dive to their death. Still, neither let go of the other, embracing and holding onto each other in their twirling spectacle until the very last moment.   From that courtship dance, the pair would mate and form a union that would last their lifetime, and out of that union would appear a new generation of bald eagles.  So it had been for thousands of years past; so it was now.

Entranced by the exquisiteness of this show of nature, he didn’t at first see what was before him, didn’t realize the two eagles were now hovering in the air, within his reach.  The sound of their flapping wings, however, was loud in the cooling mountain breeze, and, lifting his vision to encompass them both, they spoke to him:

“We, the eagle people, are sent here from the Creator to tell you that He has heard your plea.  He has told us to say this to you.

“Learn from us, for we, the eagle people, marry but once, and for all our life.  Heed the advice of your heart, since it will lead you on a path that will ensure the well-being of your people.  Beware the past mistakes of others. Beware also the one or the many who would hide within the cloak of deceit.  Be strong, remain alert, for the way to help your people will be fraught with great danger.

“Opportunity will soon be yours, for your skill is the best in all the Nations.  Use this to learn about your peoples’ secret enemy, for it will be through this venture that will appear the chance to free your people from a coming darkness.  If you are successful, your acts of valor will be spoken about throughout the Indian Nations.

“Trust your heart, for there is one there who might help you to find peace within your mind and spirit.

“We have spoken.”

 

Wind Eagle outstretched his arms toward the eagles, and he might have sung his song back to them, but the two birds had already lifted away from him, soaring higher and higher into the sky.  Once more, the eagles locked talons, repeating the ancient courtship ritual dance.

Breathing deeply, he watched their magnificent show with respect, until at last the eagles plummeted to the earth, breaking away from one another before striking the ground.  Coming together again, they climbed high over the rocks, alighting at last upon their nest.  Here, they would love, ensuring that their species survived well into the future.

What was the meaning of their verse?  He would relay his vision to his chief, of course, for only in this way could he assure the success of his task. But, before he left, he sang out his thanks in prayer, saying:

“Waka?tanka, I thank you for the vision you have given me.

“Waka?tanka, I honor you.  I honor your messengers.

“And now I would seek out my chief that I might ensure I understand fully your instruction to me.”

So saying, Wind Eagle stepped back from the ridge and retraced his steps to his camp.  The day was still young, and he felt renewed with purpose.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

An infamous dueling field outside Bladensburg, Maryland

May 20th, 1888

 

The early morning’s cool, gray mist hung low over the dueling field’s short grass and the woods that surrounded it.  The lawn and woods-scented air was heavy and moist here at the Bladensburg contesting grounds; and, because this notorious spot lay only a few blocks from Washington DC proper, the atmosphere was further flavored with the scent of smoke from the fires and the wood-burning stoves of the numerous houses in the city.  The earth felt mushy and wet beneath her footfalls, and the grass both cushioned and moistened the leather of her boots, as well as the bottom edge of her outfit.  There was a chill in the air, and Lucinda Glenforest wore a short jacket of crushed velvet gold over the flowery embroidered skirt of her cream-colored, silky dress.  Her bonnet of gold and ivory velvet boasted a brim that was quilled, and the satin bow that was tied high on top, fell into inch-wide strings that tied under her chin.  The color scheme complemented her fiery, golden-red hair that had been braided and tied back in a chignon that fell low at the back of her neck.  The entire ensemble had been strategically donned in the wee hours of the morning to allow for freedom of movement, which might be more than a little required for the sedate “battle” which was to take place.

Beside her reposed Lucinda’s fifteen-year-old younger sister, Jane, whose condition being only a few months in the making, was, for the moment, hidden.  But soon, in less time than Lucinda liked to consider, the consequence of Jane’s ill-fated affair would become evident.

“Don’t kill him, Luci.”

          The words served to irritate Luci; not because of Jane’s concern for the swine who had done this to her, but because of Luci’s involvement in a situation that should rightly involve male members of their family.  But their father, General Robert Glenforest, had left for the Island of Hawaii on the urgent business of war, and this, because their family had no brother to uphold its honor, left only Luci to contend with the problem.  The fact that she possessed the skills to tackle the dilemma was hardly the point.

          Being the eldest child in a military family, Luci had been fated to mimic her father’s profession, for General Glenforest had made it no secret that he had hoped his firstborn would be a boy.  To this end, he had carefully schooled Luci into the more male occupations of war, of shooting, of defense and of strategic planning.  Luci’s own inclinations—which had included dolls and pretend dress-up—were of no consequence to her father.  With the feminist movement in full swing, General Glenforest had found favor in openly proclaiming that he hoped Luci would follow in his footsteps, or if this weren’t quite possible, to marry a soldier as like-minded as he.  He went further to state that he hoped his daughter would thereafter advise her husband wisely.

          As Luci had grown older, she had protested, of course, but it hadn’t done her any good, especially since she enjoyed and stood out in the sport of the shooting gallery.  Her prowess in these matches had earned her many a trophy over her male counterparts, and, as time had worn on, she had gone on to win and win and win, even those matches where the man she was pitted against was years older than she.

          Now, while it might be true that Luci enjoyed the thrill of shooting matches, it was not factual that she shared other traits of the male gender.  After all, she was well aware that she was not a man, and outside of the marksmanship that she excelled in, she held few common threads with the male of the species.  Indeed, she often found a boy’s rather crude sense of humor extremely gross and very unfunny.

So it was that she had mastered a defense against her father, her resistance being to dress up and to act in as ladylike a manner as possible. Indeed, she flaunted her femininity, had done so even as a child, especially when her father was in residence.  Her rebelliousness had earned her a treasure, though.  She had come to love the manner in which she adorned herself.  Even her day dresses protested the current trend of the dark colors of black, brown and gray; none of that for her.  Her clothing consisted of vivid hues of blue, coral, pink, yellow, green and more.  Indeed, she flaunted the style of the walking dress, cutting her version of that style low in the bodice.  Tight waists, which hugged her curves, ended in a “V” shape over her abdomen in front and the beginning arc of her buttocks in back.  These and other attributes of her clothing asserted her female gender quite vividly.  Her bustles were soft and feminine, and were generally trained in back, adding to the aesthetic allure of her costume, while the overall effect of her skirts, draped in gatherings of material, fell like a soft waterfall to the floor.

That this style was considered to be a woman’s attire for only evening gatherings bothered her not in the least.  Although she had often heard the whispered gossip doubting the truth of her maidenhood, no one dared to repeat such lies to her face. 

Her father, when he was in residence, accused her of playing up her feminine assets too well.  But when he had gone on to criticize her too greatly, Luci had merely smiled at him; revenge, it appeared, was sweet.  Truth was, left to her own devices, Luci might have made much of her own inclinations, for her heart was purely girlish.  Indeed, secretly at home, she enjoyed the more womanly chores of baking, cooking and sewing.

It did bother her that her abilities with a gun appeared to frighten suitors, for at the age of nineteen, she had never known the amorous attentions of any young man; no boyfriends, no male interest in her as a young woman.  She’d not even experienced a mild flirtation with a member of the opposite sex.  Indeed, it might be said that she was nineteen and ne’er been kissed.

          So it was with reluctance that Luci answered her sister’s plea to “not kill him,” saying, “I promised you that I wouldn’t, Janie, and that’s all I can assure you.  You must admit that the brute deserves no consideration whatsoever.  If father were here, you know that he would demand a Military Tribunal for that man, since both our father and that viper are military.  Even a firing squad would be too good, I’m sure.  To think, that skunk told you he wasn’t married—“

          “He did propose to me.”

          “How could he?  Janie, he was married when he proposed to you.  He’s nothing but a lying thief.”

          “He’s not a thief!”

          “He took your maidenhood, didn’t he?” Lucinda whispered the words.  “Once lost, it’s gone forever.  You must see that he deserves to be killed.”

          Jane blushed.  Still, she persisted, entreating, “Please don’t do it, Luci.  Please.  I love him so.”

          This last was said with such urgency and dramatics, that Luci’s only response was a sigh.  If it were up to her…

          She still remembered back to a few weeks ago, and to Janie’s confession.

 

          Luci had found her blond and beautiful fifteen-year-old sister locked in her room, grieving.  On enquiry, Jane had confessed her problem.  “I’m pregnant, Luci.  We had planned a June wedding.  But now?…”

          “Pregnant?  Had planned a June wedding?”

          “He’s married.  I didn’t know.  I swear I didn’t.  He told me he loved me, and that we would be married in June.  But when I came to him to tell him of the child, he laughed at me.”

          “He laughed?  You’re telling this to me truly?  He honestly laughed?”
          Jane cried and seemed unable to speak.  She nodded instead.

          “Who is this man?”

          Jane hiccupped.  “I…promise me that you won’t kill him.”

“How can I say that to you in view of what has happened? And with Father gone.  Now, tell me, who is this man?  You know I’ll find out one way or the other.”

“I suppose you will.  But please, I can’t reveal his name to you unless I have your word that you won’t kill him.”

Luci paused.  She could force the issue, but she would rather not.  Perhaps it was because Jane was more like a daughter to her than a sister, for Luci had taken on the role of “mother” at the age of four, when their own mother, shortly after giving birth to Jane, had passed on to the heavenly plane.  Plus, their father had never remarried.  Luci uttered, “I will do my best not to kill him, Janie. But that’s all I can promise.”

Sniffing, Jane blew her nose on the dainty handkerchief in her hand, then at length, she admitted, “I guess that’s good enough.  I think you might know him.  It’s Captain Timothy Hall.  But please, don’t be angry at him.  I love him so.”

          Of course Luci knew the worthless snake.  He had once courted Abagail Swanson, one of her best girlfriends, who also had been underage at the time.  Luckily for her friend, she had discovered the truth of Hall’s marital state before he’d been able to inflict permanent damage on her.

What was wrong with the man?  Was his twenty-year-old wife already too old for him?  Was he a pervert?

          Oh, what she would like to do to him if the society around them would only allow it.…

 

          Well, that was all in the recent past; what was done was done.  Today was the day he would pay.  Today, that no-account slime would contend with her, and Luci pledged to herself that her sister’s honor, as well as that of their family, would be avenged.

Once again, she thought back to the last few weeks.  In less than twenty-four hours after her talk with Janie, Luci had challenged the bearded, black-haired degenerate, and had done so in as public a place as possible, a garden party.  He had laughed at her, of course, when she had confronted him, and, using her gloves, she had slapped his face.

 

“You’re a two-timing scoundrel, Captain Hall, and I challenge you to a duel.  Make no mistake, I will protect and defend my family’s honor.”

“You?  A woman?  Dueling me?”  He snickered.  “I wouldn’t stoop so low.” 

“Low?  Are you a coward, then?  Is your problem that your spine runs yellow?  You know that no man has ever bested me in the skill of the shooting gallery.”

His answer was nothing more than a loud hiss.

“My second will act at once, setting the time and place of the duel.  And hear me out, if you don’t show, I will ensure that all the country in and around Washington DC, as well as your wife, will know not only of your misdeeds, but also of your cowardice.  And this, I promise.”

 

          Still, she thought, he might not come.  For now, she awaited her second, as well as those in Hall’s party.  She picked up her pistol—a Colt .45—checking it over carefully, swearing to herself what she would do to him if the wicked man didn’t show.…

***

          “The rules for this duel are as follows,” declared Sergeant Anthony Smyth, a tall, dark-haired gentleman, who was Luci’s second.  Smyth was an excellent marksman in his own right, which was one reason why Luci had picked him to preside over the duel. That both he and his wife were close family friends had aided Luci in making the choice.  But Smyth was continuing to speak, and he said, “The match continues to first blood, and, regardless of how minor the injury, the match then ends.  No further shots are legal, and will not be tolerated. The twenty paces, which were agreed upon in writing, have been marked out by a sword stuck in the ground at each side of the field.  When I drop the handkerchief that I hold in my hand, you may each advance and fire.  Lieutenant Michaels is on duty as the official surgeon.”  Sergeant Smyth glanced first at Luci, then at Captain Timothy Hall.  “Are there any questions?”

          When neither she nor Captain Hall spoke up, Sergeant Smyth continued, “Then it is begun.”

          Luci glanced down the field, estimating her distance, as well as determining where exactly she would place her shot.  Having already decided that a shoulder injury would be the easiest to heal, she calculated the precise angle that would be required to obtain that “first blood,” and end the match.  Next to Captain Hall stood his older brother, James Hall, his second.

          Behind Luci, well to her rear and out of shooting range, sat Janie, who had brought a blanket to cushion the soft ground upon which she sat.  Refreshments of cinnamon rolls and coffee, with plates and coffee cups, decorated a table next to Janie.  As was expected by the rules of conduct for all matters concerning dueling, both Janie and Luci had brought the refreshments for the participants today, including that serpent, Captain Tim Hall. 

Luci hadn’t easily consented to the early morning snack, but her friend, Sergeant Smyth, had already determined that the duel would follow the rules of personal combat exactly, making her obligated to provide the food and drink.

          She sighed as she awaited the signal to begin, but she never once glanced away from her target.  To do so might be fatal.

          Smyth dropped the handkerchief, and both duelists fired at will.  Luci’s shot hit Hall in the shoulder, as she had intended, while Hall’s volley missed her entirely.

          “First blood has been taken,” called out Sergeant Smyth. “The match now ends as formerly agreed upon.  All participants are to put down their weapons, and all are invited to coffee and rolls, which they will find at the far side of the field.  A surgeon is on hand to deal with your wound, Captain Hall.”

          Luci turned away, setting her gun down on the table next to her.

          Blast!

          The explosion was unexpected.  The match was finished, wasn’t it?  If so, why was Captain Hall still firing at her?

          Boom!

          Hall’s next shot hit her in her left upper arm.

          “Stop this at once!” shouted Smyth.  “Halt! This is illegal!”

          But Luci ignored her second in command; she was in a gun fight and under attack; his words didn’t even register with her.  With the quick reflexes of one who is in command of her weapon, she grabbed hold of her Colt, turned, and carefully aimed her shot to do the most damage to Captain Hall without killing him.

          Blast!

          She sent her answering bullet at Captain Timothy Hall, placing the slug high up on his thigh, intending the bullet to miss, yet graze his masculine parts.  His loud cry indicated she had been successful.  She turned her pistol on Hall’s second—James Hall—who had picked up his own gun, as though he might consider using it against her, also, illegal though it was.

          “Captain Hall, you and your brother must cease this at once.  You will be reported.  You and your second will likely be court martialed if you continue firing,” Sergeant Smyth yelled, as he hurried toward Luci, his own Colt drawn and aimed at the two culprits. But his threat fell on deaf ears.  Hall had fallen to the ground, his shrieks indicating he was in too much pain to be of any more use in a gunfight.  Hall’s brother, James, however, looked ready to continue the match, except that when he espied Luci’s Colt pointed directly at him, as well as Smyth’s drawn weapon, James Hall instead dropped his gun and held his hands up in surrender.

          Luci nodded.  But that was all that she did.  Without letting her guard down, she kept her weapon trained on both the Hall brothers as she paced to where Jane sat at the side of the field. Bending, Luci grabbed hold of her sister by the arm and pulled her up.  Then, without turning her back on Captain Hall and his brother, she made her retreat toward the street, where her coach awaited.

          “Make a report of this at once,” she instructed Smyth, as well as Lieutenant Michaels, the military surgeon.  “Let all know what a cowardly slime Captain Hall truly is.  My father must be informed, and he will thank you both for doing so.”

          Without cause to do more at the moment, Luci and Jane slowly withdrew, Jane leading the way to their coach, for Luci never once turned her back on her opponent.  That the screams of Captain Timothy Hall wafted through the air was music to Luci’s ears.  By measured retreat, they gained the street and the carriage, and Jane practically flew into her seat within.

          “Driver!” yelled Luci as she quickly followed her sister into the conveyance.  “Take us to the army telegraph office as quickly as possible!”  Seating herself with care, she continued, declaring to Jane, “We must send Father word of this at once.”

“Why, you’re hurt!”

          It was true.  The exact extent of the damage was yet to be determined, and it was only now, within the relative safety of their coach, that Luci realized her arm hurt unbearably.

          Yet, to Janie, all she said was, “It is only a scratch, soon healed.  But come, Jane, please tear off a part of my petticoat, and give it to me to tie, that I might stop this bleeding, for I fear it is staining my blouse.”

          “Leave it to you to consider only the damage to your clothing,” scolded Jane as she did as instructed.  It was also she who tied the tourniquet. “As soon as we arrive at our home, I will summon our surgeon to attend to you at once.”

“After we send that telegraph to father,” amended Luci.  “I fear we have not heard the last of Captain Hall and his brother.  Though I feel assured that Mr. Smyth will also telegraph word to our father on any channel available to him, he may not be able to do this at a speed that could be required to ensure our good health.”

          “What do you mean?”

          Luci sent her sister a cautious glance.  With the duel having gone as badly as it had, it was not in Luci’s nature to instill even more alarm in Jane, especially considering her delicate condition.  Nevertheless, a word of attentiveness might be in order.

          To this end, she patted Jane’s hand, smiled at her and said, “When Captain Hall heals from the wound I inflicted upon him, he might feel compelled to seek us out for daring to expose his base nature to his fellow military officers.  A man who would flaunt the rules of honor cannot be trusted.  And I fear—”

          “Luci, please,” Jane cried, tears in her eyes.  “What he has done is wrong, so very, very wrong, but please do not keep degrading his character to me.  A scoundrel he is, I have no doubt, and I feel terrible that he has hurt you, but I am, after all, carrying his child.  I wish I weren’t, Luci, but it is done, and I must bear the consequences of my actions.  However, I fear that, as he is the babe’s father, he may have rights that even I don’t understand. I should try to discover a good trait he might possess, for I fear that I may have to deal with him in the future.”  She pulled out a hanky from her purse and blew her nose.  “Is it possible that he might have some logical reason as to why it was necessary to continue to fire at you when he should have stopped?  Perhaps it was a reaction he could not control?”

“He fired two illegal shots at me, Janie, not one.”

“Oh, how hard it is to love a man so much,” Janie uttered with so much heartfelt passion that Luci was reminded of her sister’s youth—and the hardship of being pregnant at so young an age.  “I know it’s true enough that he lied to me, but that doesn’t make him all bad, does it?  I once found good in him.  It must still be there.  Oh, Luci, it hurts to love him so.  It hurts.”

          Momentarily, Luci felt at a loss for words.  She made up for that lack by patting Jane’s hand instead.

“It will get better,” she assured Jane at last.  “I know it might seem now as though the hurt will never heal.  But it will.” She sighed.  “It will.  And perhaps you are right.  Maybe in the future we might be dealing with a good man.  I guess one could say that only the future will declare the truth of his character.  We can hope, Janie, we can hope.”

Luci averted her gaze to stare at the closed, royal blue curtains that fell down over the windows of the carriage.  Enough said.  She would send this telegram to their father, then wait and see what might unfold.  Reaching over to pull that blue, velvet curtain away from the window, she watched as the sun came up in the east.

Buy THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME on Amazon!

To Tame A Texas Cowboy — Available Now

She poked at her cereal but couldn’t bring herself to eat over fear her stomach would protest. “How bad was last night’s? Was there anything involved other than major drooling?”

Please don’t let me have had any truly embarrassing loss of body functions in front of Mr. Tall, Dreamy and Intelligent.

“Nah, it wasn’t bad. I’m a vet. I’ve had dogs pee on me and cows shit on my boots. But the worst was when a horse kicked me in vet school. I got knocked flat on my ass and landed in a pile of horse dung in front of the entire class.”

She couldn’t help but chuckle and appreciate his effort to put her at ease. “Now that’s embarrassing.”

“You got that right, and it got worse when everyone in class started calling me shit kicker. Try living that nickname down.”

“No, thanks. You win the embarrassment sweepstakes.”

But only because it appeared her seizure last night had been mild.

“I don’t know how I got lucky enough to keep my corps buddies from finding out about it. I guess the separate worlds thing.”

“Ty doesn’t know about this alias?” When Cooper shook his head, she continued. “I can feel the power pulsing through my veins thinking of the possibilities. A barrel racing horse needs a lot of vet care. You know, I’m thinking we could cut a deal for my silence.”

His blue eyes darkened to a shade near cobalt. “I wouldn’t have pegged you as a blackmailer.”

“Not unless I’m in a real spot.”

“Should I be worried?”

“Not now, but I’m filing the information away just in case.”

“Smart woman.”

His comment shattered her playful mood. What would Cooper think if he discovered the truth, that she’d never graduated from high school, but earned a GED a couple years later?

“I should apologize for showing up last night. Aubrey and I were talking, and she suggested we come see you. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but…” Her voice trailed off. “There’s nothing else to say, except I’m the adventurous type, and it sometimes gets me into trouble.”

“I say we forget about last night. I wasn’t at my best either, and truth be told, I owe you an apology, too.”

“No, you don’t. I put you in an awkward position, asking for help to short cut the process. I’m not exactly proud of that, but in my defense, I’d had a long day with my mom, and I was pretty desperate.”

The sound of scratching against glass pulled their attention to the patio door a few feet away. The tri-colored dog and shepherd from last night stood peering inside. “I’d wondered where they were.”

When Cooper let the dogs in, Rowdy stayed with Cooper, but Penny made a beeline for Cheyenne and parked herself at her feet. “Did she push me onto the couch right before I blacked out?”

“Yup.”

Cheyenne glanced in the living room and the reality of what could’ve happened washed over her, making her tremble. “With the coffee table and end tables there, if not for Penny, I probably would’ve hit something when I fell.” Cheyenne leaned over and cupped the animal’s face between her hands. “I owe you a big thank you. You saved me another huge bump to the head or worse.” She turned to Cooper. “I wonder what made her do that.”

“She sensed you were going to have a seizure.”

“I knew service dogs could help keep someone safe once a seizure started, but I didn’t know they could sense before one started.”

“Opinions differ, but I’m a firm believer some can. Could be they sense something in a person’s behavior, or it’s possible their sense of smell is so keen, they detect a chemical change before the seizure hits. Unfortunately, we don’t always pick up on their natural alerting behaviors. A dog could nip at a person, bark like crazy in a way that’s different from its normal bark, or—”

“She whines and paws at a person.”

Cooper nodded. “A thought occurred to me last night.” He explained about a product he was working on.

Something about an app and a thing a person wore like a watch that went along with a device a dog was trained to press when an alarm sounded. That alerted a seizure patient’s emergency contact or EMS. The whole thing sounded odd and Cheyenne couldn’t understand how it would help. In fact, she was only half listening when Aubrey burst out of the bedroom. “Cheyenne, where are you? We’ve got a problem.”

Rowdy barked. Penny slid closer to Cheyenne and shoved her nose under her palm. “It’s okay, girl.” She patted the dog’s head while she called out to tell Aubrey she was in the kitchen.

Her friend rushed toward her, blonde hair tangled around her face, her clothes rumbled and cockeyed from sleep. Panic flared in her eyes. “I just talked to my mom. When yours couldn’t reach you this morning, she showed up at my apartment, and when you weren’t there, your hysterical mother called mine trying to find you. I told her where we were, but you should call her.”

Foreboding twisted Cheyenne’s stomach into a huge knot. “How bad is it?”

Before Aubrey answered, her phone rang again. “What now, Mom?” She paused to listen. “Tell her Cheyenne’s fine, and get her to call them back.”

 Call who back? Cheyenne wrapped her arms around her stomach to keep from shaking. What had her mother done now? Her mind refused to consider the possibilities. She glanced at Aubrey, whose skin had paled to a shade above zombie gray. This was bad.

When Aubrey ended the call, Cheyenne said, “What’s my mom done? Called out the national guard?”

“Close. She called the College Station police.”

To be entered to win today’s giveaway, leave a comment about an embarrassing moment like Cheyenne experienced above with her mother. One random person will win a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy, book 2 in my Wishing Texas series and the soup mug. 

Book 3 in the series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy is available now. Click here to order.

 

WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE — Excerpt and Gift

Howdy!  And good day!  Golly, I’m late today.

Here we are on another wonderful Tuesday and today I thought I’d post an excerpt from WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE today.  If you go to Amazon, you’ll see that this is one of the books that I’m advertising at the moment.  It is part of the Legendary Warrior Series, that I wish to bring more attention to.  As an aside, I loved this series.  Of course, I love all the series’, but there is/was something I always considered special about the Legendary Warrior Series.

The book, set in Montana, is about a man determined to save his people from the whiskey trade, which is killing his people (and the truth is, that the whiskey trade was doing just that at this time period in history).  So come on in, scroll on down and I hope you will enjoy the excerpt.  Oh, and before I forget, I will be giving away a free e-book of WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE, so please do leave a comment.  Over to the right here are our Giveaway Guidelines — these govern (so to speak) our give-aways.  And don’t forget to check back Wednesday or Thursday night to see if you are a winner.  I really do count on you to do so.

WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE

by

Karen Kay

An Excerpt

 

“Come in, Little Brave Woman. The water is good, very, very good.”

Alys turned her head away from the man, her air dismissive. She heard his laugh and wondered what it might feel like to dunk him under that falling water. She felt certain it would bring her great relief.

She drew in a deep breath. She’d had no choice in accompanying him, of course.

She had watched him struggle toward the falls, had tried looking away, knowing he had exaggerated each and every falter in his step. Yet in the end, she had not been able to remain a simple observer.

She had come to his aid, had helped him through the tunnels and outside into the falls. She had even spied on him as he had undressed, much to her chagrin.

The flirt. He knew the effect he was having on her, seemed to relish in it.

“Hmmm. Feels good, this water,” he called to her again. “Are you certain you will not join me?”

“I am going to the house. I will come back here later and check on you.”

“What? And leave me here by myself?”

“Yes, and leave you here by yourself.”

“But what will you do if I fall? What if I need you to help me return to the cave?”

“You should have thought of that before you came here.”

“But I am thinking of it now. Can you really consider leaving me?”

“Very easily.”

A long silence befell them, and suddenly he was in front of her, dripping water all over her, with no more than a cloth covering his unmentionable parts. She stared up at him, shivers running up and down her spine. And it wasn’t from the cold: she didn’t need to be told twice how this man would look without that tiny bit of cloth covering him.

He said, “If you are not going to take advantage of the water, then I will dress and follow you back through the caves. But I think you are unwise to leave the bath, and me ready to attend your every—”

“Enough. Do you hear me? You have done nothing these past few days but bait me. And what do you mean, parading here in front of me with so little clothing on?”

“I am properly clothed.”

“I beg to differ. Do you think I don’t know what you look like without that…?” She felt a deep flush creeping up to her cheeks, saw a grin on his face. “How much of this do you think I can stand?”

“I do not know. A little too much in my opinion.”

“I am a friend. I am trying to help you recover from a gunshot wound. There is nothing more to it than that. This constant flirting with me must stop. Do you understand?”

“Me?” His look was comically innocent. “Flirting? What does this word mean?”

She frowned at him. He knew exactly what it meant. “You are impossible.”

“And yet I have only your good at heart.”

“Humph. I’m not so certain of that either.”

He smiled at her before, looking away, he suddenly frowned. “I think I am well enough to use some of my day in exercise.” He stole a glimpse toward the falls. “Have you heard any gossip about the whiskey schooners going north?”

“I…I haven’t asked.”

He sent her a hard look. “Would you…ask? I would know what is planned.”

“Why? You are not well enough to do anything about it. Not a thing.”

“I do not agree. Look you here to me. I am practically recovered.”

“So much so that you have needed my assistance to help you to your bath?”

He smirked. “That is different.”

“I hardly think so.”

He came down onto his knees before her, his dark eyes staring into hers, his look completely serious. “Would you please find out what you can? I cannot discover this on my own, for I cannot yet move about the fort with ease.”

“And you are in no shape to stage an attack on a whiskey schooner, even if there were any going north.”

“Still,” he persisted, “I must know.”

She hesitated, even while his dark eyes pleaded with her. She sighed, feeling as though she were putty in this man’s hands.  Though she knew she might come to regret it, she found herself saying, “Very well, I will do it, this once, but only after you are fully recovered. Do you understand?  Only then…”

He grinned. “And will you help me to recover?”

“Yes, I will try.”

“Aa, it is good.” He lifted one eyebrow. “And how will you help me, do you think? I have many ideas…”

She rolled her eyes heavenward.

 

WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE — on sale now at:

http://www.amazon.com/WOLF-SHADOWS-PROMISE-Legendary-Warriors-ebook/dp/B075YC2T3X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508813554&sr=8-1&keywords=wolf+shadow%27s+promise+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20