Welcome, Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.
Well, today I’m going to do something that is considered a no-no in the promotional world of books. I’m going to tell you a bit about an older title of mine, WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH, which will be coming out in the next few days as a 25th Anniversary book.
Let me explain: This book was originally written for AVON books in 1996-97 and published in 1998 (I think that’s right.) My husband and I were married in 1996 and so in the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997, I was falling deeper and deeper in love with my husband. We had married in a whirlwind and so it was after we were married that we really started to get to know each other.
This is the new cover for the book. The male model, by the way, is Lakota Indian. And, he models under the name of “Lakota.”
In these anniversary books, we are correcting errors made when the book was converted to e-book from the original mass market. There is no plot change or anything like that. It’s just correcting computer errors made in the conversion. Also, I might give the book a few better word choices here and there.
But, it was in the editing of this book that I began to see how much I was (at that time) falling deeper and deeper in love with this man I had married. It’s there in the conversations between White Eagle and the heroine, Katrina. Both of them are changing in regards to each other. More love. More understanding. And, at that time, I guess I couldn’t help but write about how deeply I was in love with this man.
Our courtship (my husband and me) is pretty well illustrated in the first book in this series, GRAY HAWK’S LADY. But this book goes one step further.
So, in ending, I’ll leave the blurb for the book and an excerpt. Hope you’ll enjoy!
WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH
Two worlds. Forbidden love.
Blackfoot Warrior, Book 2
Katrina Wellington is vexed. She must marry to obtain the rest of her inheritance. But her uncle, who left her in New York with a governess to make his fortune out West, has suddenly decided he must approve of her fiancé before he will loosen the purse strings to her dowry.
Swallowing her outrage, the socialite treks to the same wilderness that claimed her parents’ lives years ago. Some small part of her is crestfallen that her uncle is not waiting with open arms. Only three guides, Indian guides, await her, and one of them is far too handsome for his own good.
At first, White Eagle does not like the spoiled, willful niece of the white trader. When he catches a glimpse of the vulnerability behind her prickly exterior, he can’t resist challenging the dazzling beauty to rediscover her true inheritance—the inner strength bequeathed to her by her parents.
Close contact on the trail soon arouses a soul-stirring passion and in its turn, love. But love may not be enough to sustain a relationship that is forbidden in both their worlds.
This book has been previously published.
Warning: Sensuous Romance that contains a captivating passion that could lead to a romantic evening spent in the company of one’s own love.
This is the original cover done for AVON Books. The excerpt is the first meeting between White Eagle and Katrina in the book (and after many years of being apart).
June 25, 1833
“I say, what vision of loveliness descends upon us now? Is she a princess, a queen? Do you think I should bow? Or is she a mere fleeting whiff of my fancy? Oh, dear, I don’t think I can rhyme fancy…can you see?” The Marquess of Leicester chuckled before he put a finger over one nostril, taking a sniff of the powder which he held in a box in his hand. “What do you say, my friends? Am I poetic?”
The marquess’s two friends murmured polite words of agreement at all the appropriate places, while the marquess, pocketing his snuffbox, paced forward to take hold of Katrina’s hand. “Ah, my dear, you look stunning, simply ravishing, rather.”
“Thank you, Lord Leicester.” Katrina suffered her hand to be kissed by lips which looked as though they bore more rouge than her own. She pulled her hand back as quickly as possible, but failed to loosen his grip. “Are we prepared to meet the new guides?”
“Yes, I say,” the marquess replied, setting her hand onto one of his lacy cuffs.
Katrina smiled at him.
“Am I to understand, my dear, that the guides of which you speak are to escort me to yet another fort?”
“Yes, that is correct. My uncle has been delayed, and he asks that you join him at a place called Fort McKenzie. The scouts are to take you safely to him.”
“Quite unusual, wouldn’t you say? But I must ask you: The hunting, is there good hunting at this fort? After all, mustn’t disappoint the dogs, don’t you know? Brought the hounds all this way to hunt, and hunt we shall. Why, do you know that I have met the most interesting fellow, a Mr. Hamilton, although I don’t believe that Hamilton is his real name. A right good sort of chap. English, I say. Says he has been here at this fort for several years. Seems to like it here, though he does appear to hate Indians.”
“Yes, rather. Well, now, come along, my dear. Mr. McKenzie informs me that his clerk is awaiting us outside the house here to escort us to the guides on the other side of the gate. A monstrous proposal, I must say. That is why I have asked Mr. Hamilton to make the introductions. I can’t say that I am overwhelmed by Mr. McKenzie’s manners. A clerk to see to us, indeed. Ah, here is Mr. Hamilton now. Come along, my dear. Let us get these introductions over with.”
“Yes,” said Katrina, “let us.”
And with little more said, she allowed Mr. Hamilton and the marquess to lead her out into the sunshine of a new day. That the marquess’s friends followed the three of them wherever they went, that the marquess’s men kept murmuring always agreeable tidbits concerning Lord Leicester’s undoubtedly brilliant humor, did little more than annoy her.
At least for now.
McKenzie’s clerk, Thomas, was waiting for their entire party just outside the gate. And what a party they made. Not only were the marquess, his two friends and Hamilton in their group, somehow the marquess’s dogs, barking loudly, had joined them.
“Come this way, Gov’nor, the men ’ee seek are by the wall over thyar,” Thomas said.
“Over thyar, do ’ee not see?”
Conversation ceased, replaced with silence. Dead silence.
Their entire entourage, even the dogs, stopped completely still. No one said a word; no one moved. Then the dogs started to whine, and the shuffle of feet could be heard—moving away.
It was he, the Indian she had glimpsed from the boat, along with a few companions.
“Why, Thomas,” said one of the men, “they are—”
Now, it wasn’t as though their party had never seen an Indian until this moment, nor was it possible that anyone in this party had thought never to encounter an Indian in this country. After all, they had glimpsed enough of the native population from the steamboat as it had made its way up the Missouri.
But never had the people in this group seen primitives such as these—at least not so close to their own person. Warriors, all, were these savages and, by the looks of the heathens, dangerous.
But Katrina stared at none other than him.
She opened her mouth as though to utter something…some scathing comment, perhaps. But when no words issued forth, she closed her lips.
“This one hyar’s name’s White Eagle.” Only Thomas seemed able to speak. “Them three behind him are Night Thunder and Good Dancer. The woman is married to Good Dancer, near as this ole coot can tell. Blackfeet, they are. Gov’nor?”
“Indians?” This from Katrina, at last, her glance never wavering from him.
“Yes, ma’am. But they’ll get ’ee through Blackfoot country all safe. They knows the way.”
“He goes too far!” She glanced toward the clerk.
“My uncle goes too far this time.”
“You tell the man,” the marquess spoke up from behind her. “Yes, my dear, tell the man.”
Katrina gazed over her shoulder. The marquess had positioned himself to her rear, his own men standing, as though in a line, behind him.
“Does your uncle not think favorably of you, Miss Wellington?” This from Hamilton, who seemed as dumbfounded as the rest.
She ignored the Englishman, glancing instead at him, the Indian, the same one who had so disturbed her thoughts, the one called… “What is this man’s name again, Thomas?”
“This one hyar, ma’am? He’s White Eagle. He’s their leader, near as I can tell, a chief maybe.”
White Eagle. So, that was his name. Katrina stared at the Indian. He, back at her. The man looked dangerous—foreign, frightening…handsome. Handsome?
He still wore no shirt, exposing to her view that muscular chest she had glimpsed the previous day. And she would have looked at it, at him, had she been of the mind. But she wasn’t.
She swallowed with difficulty and, allowing her gaze to drop no farther than the bridge of the Indian’s nose, asked of him, “Does my uncle bring word to me?”
The Indian just stared at her. No grin, no recognition of her, no intimation that he had seen her, too, the previous day—nothing, not even an acknowledgment that she had spoken.
She raised her chin. “Do these Indians not speak English, Thomas?”
“Guess they do well enough, ma’am. They been tradin’ with us long enough now to have learnt it. But ’ee is a woman. No Blackfeet is goin’ to speak to ’ee b’cause of that, beg pardon.”
Katrina looked at the Indian from down the end of her nose. She said, “Then ask him for me if he brings me word of my uncle.”
Thomas stepped up to her side. “Very well, ma’am. ’Ee heard her, Injun. Does the lady’s uncle send word?”
The Indian didn’t move, didn’t speak, didn’t even shift his weight. He just stared, his glance never wavering from her.
“Speak up there, you primitive animal,” Hamilton demanded.
None of the three Indians, and especially not White Eagle, paid the Englishman the least attention.
“Are ’ee sent here from the woman’s uncle?”
Nothing. No response at all, until, at last, piercing Katrina with his glance, the Indian said, “I have news for the woman alone.” Oddly enough, the man spoke in unbroken English and, Katrina noted, his voice, low and baritone, was peculiarly pleasant, almost melodic.
“Alone?” Hamilton again spoke up from a safe distance away. “Is the Indian mad? Does he presume to think we would leave the lady unaccompanied with him, so filthy a creature as he is?”
The Indian didn’t move a muscle, nor did he indicate in any way that he’d even heard Hamilton’s comments.
Katrina stepped forward, away from the crowd. Glancing around behind her, she ordered, “Leave us.”
“What?” This from all five men.
“Leave us, but take this man’s Indian friends with you. I will do as he asks and speak with him, but only with him. Here, Mr. Hamilton, give me your pistol that I may defend myself, if I must.”
“But milady,” Hamilton protested, “surely you can’t mean to—”
“Mr. Hamilton, your pistol, please.”
The Englishman looked as though he might protest further, though he nevertheless pulled the weapon from his coat and handed it to Katrina.
“Leave us.” Again she addressed the men who remained behind her without turning toward them. “I warn you, Indian,” she said confidently, “I can use this firearm Mr. Hamilton has given me as skillfully as any man. So do not think me defenseless that you might take advantage of me.”
The Indian said nothing, nor did he give her any sort of acknowledgment, not even by the bend of his head or a flicker of emotion across his features.
Katrina listened to the fading footsteps of the men behind her. After a nod from White Eagle, the Indian’s two companions followed.
The deference shown to this man did not escape her notice, but when she spoke, she made no mention of it, saying only, “What you ask is highly irregular and impolite. Hear me now, Indian, I am humoring you only because I wish to know what my uncle has to say. That is all.”
Glancing directly at her, he replied, “I will speak to the white woman only within the walls of the fort.”
“You will not,” Katrina countered. “You asked for an audience with me alone. You have it now.”
The Indian didn’t utter another word, just gave her a peculiar look and made to move away from her.
She reached out, grabbing at his arm, effectively staying him. He glanced down at her hand as it lay upon his arm, then back up at her. Something…some little excitement passed between them as they stared at one another, the intensity causing Katrina’s knees to buckle. Several moments passed as they stood there, sizing one another up.
At last, Katrina stuck out her chin and asked, “Who do you think you are, Indian, that you gape at me? Do you not know it is impolite to do so? Now, you will tell me what it is you have to say to me, right here and now…or not at all. Do I make myself clear to you?”
The Indian had become perfectly still as she spoke; his gaze roamed from the top of her bonnet to the very bottom of her skirts. Katrina watched him, ignoring the tingling sensation which spread throughout her nervous system. Fear, she supposed.
Odd, too, but she noticed he smelled good: of wood and smoke, of grass and mint—she had heard that the Indians chewed the leaves of the mint plant to stave off hunger, as well as to scent their breath.
His skin felt warm, too, moist and…strange, there was no hair upon the flesh of his arm where she touched him.
He was close to her, too close. The wind suddenly blew a lock of his long raven hair over her hand where she still touched him. The feel of those strands against her skin was fleeting, sensual, its effect sending shivers through her body.
She glanced up, startled, and wondered if the Indian had felt it, too, this strange sensation, but his expression revealed nothing.
She didn’t know how it was possible, yet she considered this man, this Indian, handsome almost beyond belief, in a primitive sort of way, of course. Not a man she would ever admit to being attracted to, particularly since he was nothing more than one of the savages that this country produced. And yet, she couldn’t help but admire the straight, imposing figure he cut as she looked up to where he stood over her. With his shoulders back, displaying his sculptured form, he looked as though he were a work of art, not a person of substance.
Something within her reached out to him, and she felt as though she knew him, his thoughts, his passions. It was as though there were a part of him that matched her perfectly…
She gave herself a shake. What was wrong with her? This was not the first time she’d felt as if there were something between them. It had happened the first time she’d glimpsed him, there from the boat…
She stared up at him then, in silent challenge, if only to purge this sensation from her consciousness. Yet, all the while, her touch upon his arm never relinquished its hold. His eyes were black, she noted, the darkest eyes she had ever seen, and they revealed nothing.
Suddenly, his look turned sardonic, and he broke eye contact with her, pulling his arm back, out and away from her grasp.
He turned from her then, suddenly and without warning. He began walking away from her at a steady gait, following on the footfalls of the other men. The Indian was treading, it would appear, toward the main entrance of the fort.
Katrina stood still for several moments, watching him, until she suddenly realized what he was doing. This man—this mere Indian—was defying her. She had made demands of him; he had told her nothing. Nothing!
Somehow this fact disturbed her more than any other detail she had observed about him. Blast!
She had to try to detain him. She took one step forward, and called out, “It was you who demanded to speak to me alone, Indian.”
No response, not even a catch in his stride.
“If you wish to talk to me, do it now, for I will not see you once we are in the fort.”
The man didn’t turn around, nor did he say or do anything further, except to present her with the view of his backside as he continued to walk away. She should have been appalled by the man’s bad manners and by his dress, or rather, its lack thereof. In truth, she was…almost.
She watched him, his lean, sculpted figure an unusually strange and exciting sight. And then she saw it, the man’s breechcloth fell apart from the outline of his leggings now and again, presenting her with an occasional view of a portion of hard, muscular buttocks.
Katrina was almost struck dumb with the observation. Never, not once in her life, had she ever witnessed so much of a man’s anatomy.
How utterly heathen. How primitive.
She didn’t, however, glance away. “I won’t meet with you,” she announced again. “And that’s my final word on the subject.”
Her challenge had no effect on the Indian’s actions.
Katrina was fuming. She felt like shouting at the man; she felt like pummeling him, but she refused to reduce herself to a show of temper.
She did, however, stamp her foot. The insolent barbarian. And to think she had been admiring his looks.
She picked up the front of her skirt, her white petticoats contrasting oddly with the brown of the earth beneath her feet. She would follow that Indian back into the fort. Not because she had to, she reminded herself. After all, she was residing within the walls of the fort. She had a right to be there. This Indian did not.
Oh, but she didn’t like this. It was she who should be the person putting forth demands. It was she, not this man, White Eagle, who was the civilized one here, the more intelligent one.
So why was she the one left staring after him?
Well, it made no difference. There was at least one action she would take as soon as she met with this man: She would ensure he would hear her opinions of him and his insolence—that is, if she met with him.
She wasn’t certain at this moment that she would even permit the man an interview. There must be some other way of soliciting news of her uncle.
The Indian turned around at that exact moment, catching her staring at him, and goodness, but it looked as though he smiled at her. Did he know her thoughts? Could he see her frustration? Worse yet, had he felt her gaze upon that more intimate portion of his anatomy?
How dare he! Oh, what a wicked, wicked man!
She threw back her head and thrust out her chin. Ah, but it would please her to tell this Indian what she thought of him…and soon!
Make no mistake.
White Eagle turned his back on the woman and walked away from her, a grin tugging up the corners of his mouth.
In truth, he had enjoyed the confrontation with Shines Like Moonlight…but he would never let her know it. Not when she had dared to try to command him, a Blackfoot warrior. Such was the height of bad manners.
Yet, he could appreciate her spirit, her courage in confronting him when even the men who had surrounded her had shied away from him. Too, he acknowledged her unusual beauty; in truth, she had overwhelmed him with the allure of her feminine charm, more pleasing in close proximity than from a distance. He could still smell the sweet fragrance of her, hear the silvery timbre of her voice, and if it hadn’t been for her lack of manners…
Certainly, she was fairer than he’d anticipated she would be, but this wasn’t what bothered him about her. No, it was her touch, the simple graze of her hand upon his arm. With that touch…
He grimaced. And he wondered if she knew she had stirred something to life within him, something sweet, something carnal, something completely sexual. It was one of the reasons he had turned his back on her—that, and her insolence.
Hánnia! He should have more control. He was not some young boy, unable to control the physical urges of his body; and yet, even now he could feel the result of her effect on him down there in the junction between his legs. It was good that he had left her before his physical reaction to her became more pronounced.
Did she remember him?
A picture flashed in his mind, an image of a child, frightened and crying, clinging to him as he had hung onto the crest of a hill, both he and the child watching the gushing floodwaters rush past them, its danger only a short distance away. He had almost lost her in those waters.
He remembered again that he had clasped her to him then, whispering to her, giving her as much comfort as he was able, until long after the danger had passed. But that had been much too long ago. They had both been different people then, children.
That the child in her had grown up was evident. That she had reached adulthood without the guidance of a mother or a father to point out the necessity of courtesy and good manners was even more conspicuous.
Would she remember him given more time?
White Eagle thought back to the world he had known so long ago, to the people he had befriended, to a little white girl he had admired—a girl with yellowish-gold hair—to the child’s father and her mother.
They had perished, her parents. The girl had barely survived, and her father’s brother had sent her away long ago.
So, her uncle had been right about her. The woman he had met today was spoiled, a person completely devoid of maidenly gentleness. She spoke when not asked, demanded when a man’s mind was already settled; in truth, her spirit towered over the white men who had accompanied her.
Did she rise above these men because she had bullied them into submission with the same womanly harping and angry tongue she had shown to him? Or was she merely stronger-willed than they?
Whatever the reason, White Eagle despaired of the intervening years since he had last seen her.
If he reminded her of it, would she remember?
It was doubtful. She had been before the age when a child comes into its senses, and he had been no more than a young boy. He’d kept a lonely girl company during those times when her father and uncle had journeyed to his tribe on trading excursions. If he told her what he knew of her, of her family, would any good come from it?
He did not think so. This person he had observed today had been as someone alien to him—certainly not the girl he had remembered…had once known.
In truth, he had caught her looking upon him with not only a womanly sort of attention, but with contempt, the same sort of foreign attitude that White Eagle had witnessed upon the countenance of the white man.
He didn’t like it.
No, it was better that he keep what he knew of her to himself. It was apparent she did not recall her life before the white man’s world, and he was certain she would not care to hear what he had to say to her.
So be it.
He entered the fort, taking his place amongst his friends. Good Dancer’s wife had already started setting up their camping lodges in the area surrounding the fort’s flagpole. One for himself and Night Thunder, the other for herself and her husband, Good Dancer. That Good Dancer’s new wife had demanded to accompany them on their journey did not bother White Eagle, nor did it seem strange to him.
The young couple had just been married, after an unusually long courtship. Of course they would want to be together now. Such was to be understood. Such were the ways of married people.
Besides, he’d wanted a woman along to keep Shines Like Moonlight company and to provide her with a chaperone. White Eagle grimaced as he adjusted his breechcloth, certain Shines Like Moonlight would need that chaperone.
He glanced around him, at his place within the fort. He had noticed, when he had first come here, that several half-breed hunters resided within the tepees around the flagpole. This seemed only right to White Eagle; that these half-white, half-Indian men chose to live not in the square, wooden houses of the white man, but rather in the more comfortable lodges of his own people.
At least this is how it appeared to White Eagle.
He could not know, nor would he understand that to some within the fort, the mixed-bloods were not on an equal footing with the more European breed of men, that such would not be allowed the right to live in the square, wooden houses.
And so, not knowing, White Eagle settled down, content for the moment, to initiate the necessary chores needed for the return journey to Fort McKenzie. Indeed, the time consumed in fashioning arrowheads, making a new shield and manufacturing a new spear was time well spent.
He was certain that Shines Like Moonlight would delay a meeting with him for as long as she was able. This didn’t bother him. Why should it? Time was not an enemy to him, and White Eagle was full-blooded Indian; he was a patient man.
He smiled. Perhaps here was something else he could admire about this woman: She had a stubborn strength of character. And this was good.
She would not be one to come a cropper in an emergency. Such people were few. Such people were valuable.
He shrugged. Whatever the case, his next few days within this fort promised to be far from dull.
Well, that’s all for now. Look for the book in a few days. At present, it’s undergoing the final proof reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Oh, and this is the cover to the left is the cover of the book currently up at Amazon. This cover was done when I was writing for Samhain Publishing.
Indeed, all of these covers have a special place in my heart. I am, however, extremely drawn to the new cover. Hope you’ll like it, too.