BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER — Another Excerpt and Give-Away

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday!  Hope y’all are doing well today.

I’ll be giving away a free e-book of BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER today.  You only have to leave a thought on the post in order to enter into the drawing.

And I thought I’d leave you with another excerpt from the book.  Hope you’ll enjoy it!

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER Excerpt

by

Karen Kay

PROLOGUE

Summer, 1879

The Season of Festivals

The Forks of the Big and Little Piney Creeks

Wyoming

 

As he stood within the great circle of the many camps, the boy, Maká Cí?ala, Little Skunk, squared his shoulders and raised his head, ready to receive the honors that were due him.  As was tradition, all the tribes of the Lakota people were gathered together for the summer races, games and festivals.  Although it was only midday, all of his family surrounded him in the center of the circle, and, as was also tradition, his band’s highest chief, Kicízapi Wa?té, Good Fight, held the two eagle feathers that Little Skunk was to receive.

Little Skunk was proud both of himself and his nation, the ?kpap?a, which he represented.  Although he was only twelve winters old, he was already acting as a man—he’d been a scout for several of the war parties this summer and had brought many honors to his family.  But this…  This was an accomplishment a boy of his age had never before won: for the past two days, he had competed with adults in his tribe’s foot races, and he’d won every event.

It was a bright day, and a warm one, with the afternoon sun shining upon him as though to touch him with the care and respect of a father.  He felt the tender sunlight on the top of his head and shoulders, and he held his head high.  Then, the drums began to beat, and the singers commenced to chant the honoring song.

Holding up the two feathers to the wind, the chief, Kicízapi Wa?té, said, “Today, Maká Cí?ala becomes a man.  He has gained the highest achievement in our foot races, and, because he has bested even the greatest men amongst us, he has won the right to earn himself a new name.  In honor of this great occasion, Maká Cí?ala’s grandfather, Waki?ya? Paza Tosa?, Blue Thunder Striking, has given his name to his grandson, who shall bear his name with great honor.”

The old chief paused as Little Skunk’s mother stepped forward to offer the chief a newly-made blanket, which the chief accepted.  He nodded and, opening the blanket, threw it around Little Skunk’s shoulders before offering the two eagle feathers to him.  “Blue Thunder Striking,” the chief said, “we of the ?kpap?a know that, from this day forward, we will look to you for many good deeds.  I give you these feathers to forever tell of your accomplishments.”  The old chief smiled at Little Skunk, then said in closing, “The honoring ceremony is now done.”

Blue Thunder’s mother and aunties stepped forward to give him the hand-stitched quilts that had been several months in the making.  Blue Thunder smiled and accepted the many gifts from them.  Traditionally, these blankets were not his to keep; rather, he was to give them to the people to honor his deeds this summer.  Stepping lively toward the side of the circle where people were sitting, he paced around it, offering the gifts to as many people as he could reach until all but one of the gifts was left.  This present was special, for he had made it himself.  This gift was for her.

Ci?cá Wací, Dancing Child, was about two winters younger than he.  But, though the distance between their ages might have been great for their young hearts, Blue Thunder couldn’t recall a time when he hadn’t loved her.

Her mother came from the Brulé band of the Lakota.  However, because her mother didn’t live with the Brulé, he saw Ci?cá Wací only during the summer when she was visiting her grandmother.

He still remembered the first time he had seen her.  He had been seven winters that summer and she, five, and he remembered it as a great occasion, for her grandmother had made a miniature lodge and given it to Ci?cá Wací:

 

She had invited him to play with her in the miniature tepee, and he’d accepted his role in her game as being her pretend husband.  That day, as soon as he’d ducked down to enter the lodge, he had seen that she had placed two different dolls upon small, buckskin blankets within the little tepee.

She had cautioned him to remain silent, since the dolls were “sleeping.”  Then, she’d gone to the women’s side of the tepee and had made a “soup” consisting of water and berries which she had served him in a large turtle shell.  From her tanned skin to her nearly-black eyes and the two dark-haired braids which fell down her back, she had captivated him, and his young heart had rejoiced.

They had played then, pretending to be married, and had continued their game into the coming days of summer.  Indeed, at summer’s close, he had begun to think of her as his wife in reality.  And, on that late summer day when she had told him she was to leave the next day, he had been so distressed, he’d said to her, “Since you are my wife, I would like to give you a gift before you go.”

She giggled and looked away.

“Well, what do you say?”

She stared up at him, her black eyes round and big, and smiled at him.  “I would like that.”

He didn’t know what to give her and, in the end, handed her the only possession that was truly his—a single strand of white deerskin with an image of a lone, blue prairie flower upon it.  He had, himself, painted the picture of the flower on the slender string.

Taking hold of the deerskin from her, he tied it as a necklace at the back of her neck, then said, “It is yours now.  I will never ask for it back.”

As she smoothed her hand over the necklace, she said, “I will love this and treasure it all my life.”

“Wa?cá Skúya, Sweet Flower; it is your new name in honor of this gift.  I give it to you.  It is a good name and is a better name than Dancing Child.  Tell your people.  It is your new name.”

“You give me great honor, and I will tell my people.”

From that day forward he had addressed her as Sweet Flower.  That her own people had still called her Dancing Child hadn’t caused him any worry, for he’d always known someday he would make her his wife, and, when that day came, she would become known as Sweet Flower.

 

At last, he found her in the crowd of people and, stepping near her, grinned at her.

She smiled while looking down, then said, “I am very proud of you.”

He laughed.  “As well you should be.”

Once again, she smiled.

Taking her hand in his, he led her toward the side of the crowd, out of view from most of the people.  As soon as they reached a private spot, he turned to her and said, “I have a special gift for you.”

Her smile widened, and she looked down as a proper, young Lakota maiden was expected to do, her demeanor shy.

“Hold out your hand,” he said, reaching into a bag and extracting something from it.

She did so, and he placed two strings of blue, white and pink-beaded earrings in her hand.

“For me?”

Hau, hau.  There is a woman from the Oglala tribe who makes the owi?la like these.  When I saw the earrings she was creating, I knew I had to make a pair for you.  She taught me how to do it.”

“They are very beautiful, and I love them,” she said. “I will always love them because they are so pretty and because you made them for me.  But, since I thought you might win today, I made something special for you, too.  If we go to my lodge, I will show you what I crafted for you this day.”

Hau, hau,” he said.  Then, because a man must always lead a girl and never walk behind her, he added, “Follow me.”

She did as he instructed.  As soon as they entered her little tepee, she stepped to the back of the lodge, and, turning so she faced him, she presented him with a recently-picked bouquet of flowers.  They were prairie violets and were very pretty.

As was the Indian way, she stared down at the floor of the tepee, which was little more than grass and dirt.  When he took the flowers from her and their hands touched, he felt so good inside, he knew he would love Sweet Flower always.

He said, “Have you any water, for I would keep them alive so they will always remind me of you.”

She laughed, then said, “I do have water, and it is in a pouch.  It will be perfect for them.  I give you not only the flowers, but my own parfleche bag.”  She giggled a little and looked away from him.

Carefully, he placed a finger under her chin and turned her face toward his own.  “Tell me, when we get older, will you marry me?”

Still not looking up at him, she said, “I will, if you would still want me to.”

He brought her chin up so she was forced to look into his eyes and said, “I will always want you to be my wife, for I would spend my life with you.  You are first in my heart, and I swear it will always be so.”

Ha?, ha?. I feel the same as you.”

He grinned at her. “Then let us commit ourselves to one another.  I wish we could marry now, but we are still too young.  Our parents would never allow it.”

“I know what we might do.”

“Hmm…”  He frowned.

“Let us tattoo one another with our own design,” she suggested.  “In this way we will always know we belong together.”

“This is a fine idea.”  He smiled.

She grinned back at him, then said, “I have a sharp bone that I use for sewing.  My grandmother gave it to me.  We might use it to prick our skin.”

“This is good,” he replied.  “And the violets you have given me will make a blue color for the tattoo.  But what design should we make?”

She shook her head.

“It should be simple, perhaps four small dots,” he said.  “One dot would show that we are of one mind; another could say we are of one heart.  The third dot might be one to indicate we will be of one body when we are older, and the fourth dot should be to signify that we have met soul to soul.”

She laughed and said, “What you say is pleasing to me.”

“Do you agree?”

“Oh yes,” she laughed.  “Always I will love you.”

“And I, you.”

“Stay here,” she said, “while I go to my grandmother and ask her to give me the sharp bone I use to sew.”

“I will.  But where should we put the tattoo?”

“Perhaps on the neck?”

“Maybe.  But, wherever we decide it should be, it must be in a place on our bodies that will be hard for others to see, for it is to be our secret…at least until we marry.”

Ha?.”

“I know where we could put it: we will place this tattoo on the upper back, close to and within the hairline, so it will not be seen by others.  Yours will be on the right side, and mine will be on the left.”

She smiled up at him shyly.  “I will go at once to my grandmother and ask for my sharpened bone.  Will you wait here for me?”

Hau, I will.”  He looked at her longingly.  “I would wait a lifetime for you.”

She giggled and bent to leave the little lodge to run to her grandmother’s tepee.  Soon, she returned with the prized bone she used for sewing.

As the afternoon turned to evening, they etched their tattoos onto each other, the small dots hidden by their hairlines.  When, at last, it was done, he reached out to take her hand in his own.

“It is done,” he said.  “We are married now, and someday soon we will be old enough to live together so others will know we two are of one heart.”

Shyly, she smiled at him and said, “Ha?, it is done, and I am glad of it.  With all my heart, I will always love you.”

 

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER is now on sale at Google Play for 20% off with the coupon:  GUGZUW22LH4U1

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER:  Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/4k6ahyfr

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BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, New Release & E-book Giveaway

Howdy!

Hope your weekend was great!  I must admit that with a new release, there is so much to do, I feel slightly scatterbrained.  So please bear with me, if you please.

I will be giving a free e-book of my new release, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, to one of the bloggers here today.  I hope you’ll leave me your thoughts on the excerpt I’m about to give.

So, without too much fanfare, let me leave you the short blurb of the book and an excerpt.

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER

By

Karen Kay

He rescued her from danger. Then she stole his heart.

Working as a trick rider for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, Blue Thunder of the Lakota Nation joins forces with two Assiniboine warriors in their mission to stop a hidden enemy who means to destroy the American Indian people. As a child, he’d witnessed the massacre of his friends and family, including the girl, Sweet Flower, whom he’d vowed to marry. The loss has left him with a burning ache and a prejudice against the white man. So how can he fall for a woman like Marci Fox?

Something terrible happened to Marci when she was a child; something that keeps her from remembering her early life. She jumps at the chance to travel from England to New York with her friends working with the Wild West show. But a last minute hitch means the only way to get there is to pretend she’s married to Blue Thunder. Her attraction to him is deep, yet something stands in the way of true happiness—the ghosts from his past and his commitment to a mission that could get him killed.

But soon, Blue Thunder and his friends must discover who the true enemy is and stop his evil plans before he can harm more of their people. Could uncovering the treachery get Blue Thunder killed? And, even if he survives the threat, can Blue Thunder and Marci overcome their past and discover the sweet flower of true love?

Warning: A sensuous romance that might stir one’s heart to look for, discover and ignite a soul-stirring, forever love.

 

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER

An Excerpt

It was around ten o’clock in the evening, and the show’s last performance of the day was over for the night, although the arena was still lit.  It was interesting to see how the new electric lightbulbs could throw such a glow over the performance area.  Looking outward and up, Marci could barely see any stars, for the reflection of the light dimmed the brilliance of the stars and moon.

It was a cool, clear evening, though it was also humid, and, as Marci sat on the bleaching boards which were sheltered under the canvas tarp, she thought back to their performance this evening.  Her own and Blue Thunder’s performance had, once again, gone over well with the audience.  And, this time both she and Blue Thunder had stayed behind after the others in order to accept the applause from the crowd.

At present, however, Marci was looking out upon the arena, and she was not pleased.  She was seated in the southeastern section of the stands, in the third row up, watching as Blue Thunder and his friends performed an American Indian–style song.  Blue Thunder and Wind Eagle were singing while Iron Wolf accompanied them with his flute.  Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder also appeared to be the ones who were setting the rhythm for the song, Wind Eagle utilizing a handheld drum and Blue Thunder shaking rattles.

But, it wasn’t their singing that bothered Marci.  Indeed not.  Rather, it was the usual crowd of women surrounding them who were causing her displeasure.  Was the young lady whom Blue Thunder had “rescued” last night one of those girls?

Soon their song ended, and the young ladies stepped into the arena and flocked toward the three young men.  Holding up their programs for an autograph, the women’s giggling and laughter sounded gay and free and could be heard all the way up to where Marci sat.  However, their enthusiasm was causing the opposite sentiment within her.  Worse, Blue Thunder and his two friends looked as though they were thoroughly enjoying the feminine attention.

As Marci sat on the sidelines frowning at them, she was engrossed in her own thoughts.  Neither Luci nor Jane was here with her.  Both of them were attending to and watching their children, and, although Luci also performed with the show, since she had given birth to her son, she had taken to hurrying home as soon as the show ended, leaving her husband to attend to their horses.

“They are most popular, are they not?”

So engrossed was Marci in her thoughts, she jumped at the sound of Shooting Star’s voice.  She had almost forgotten that the pretty, young maiden had come to sit down beside her.

Glancing to the side, Marci smiled at the girl who had already become a good friend.  Marci answered her question, saying, “Yes, they are quite popular.”

Astutely, Shooting Star stated, “But, it is easy to see they love their wives, and so there should not be jealousy.”

“No, there shouldn’t be,” agreed Marci as she glanced away from her friend.  “But, sometimes I simply can’t help it.”

“I think it would be difficult for me to see all the girls around them, too, if it were my husband down there.”

“Yes, and look at the blonde woman.”  Marci’s voice sounded hard, even to her own ears.  “Do you see she is putting her hands all over my husband’s chest?  She’s touching him everywhere as though she were making love to him in front of everyone.”

“Yet, he does not seem to like it.”

“Doesn’t he?  I don’t see him shooing her away, and he is, after all, a man.”

“But, he knows he is your husband, and he has been brought up traditionally, and in the old ways.  He loves you very much.  A woman has only to witness the way he looks at you to know you are in his heart.”

Marci was silent.  Yes, she was in his heart…in second place.  True, he had confessed this almost from the beginning and without much fanfare, but this didn’t mean her heart was not now a little grieved over it.

But, she wasn’t about to tell this story to another person, even if Shooting Star might understand.  He wasn’t to blame for feeling the way he did about Sweet Flower, anyway.  He had loved and lost her, and it had happened in as terrible a manner as possible.  She understood why he would still love the young girl from his past.

What she still didn’t understand was why he had escorted another woman home last night.  Although he claimed his action was innocent and that he was only helping the woman and her escort, Marci still didn’t know what she was going to do about it…or about him.

As she glanced down into the arena, she could see the young lady—a pretty blonde—still touching Blue Thunder, and, although he wasn’t acting in a return fashion, he also wasn’t putting her away from him or turning his back upon her.

Marci could no longer watch this without feeling a seed of revolt rising up within her.  And, when the blonde began to touch him in a downward fashion, her fingers moving toward his breechcloth, Marci stood up, ready to leave.  She couldn’t stay here and watch this; she also couldn’t interfere down there without causing a scene.

Or could she?  Why shouldn’t she create a stir?  Indeed, why shouldn’t she let all these women know she had a rightful claim upon this man?  She wouldn’t be spiteful or mean about it.  She would simply let it be known.

“Are you going somewhere?” asked Shooting Star, looking up at her.

“I am,” answered Marci.  “I’m going down there to stand next to my husband.”

Shooting Star giggled.  “This is an excellent idea.  If I were the one having to endure this, I think I would do the same.  Indeed, I think I will sit here and watch.  I might learn something.”

Marci laughed.  “Unless you’d like to come with me.”

“Thank you, but no.  I will enjoy looking on as the other girls come to understand he is not free to give his love.”

Marci grinned at her friend, then, looking forward, she stepped toward the stairs which led down into the main arena.


It didn’t take Marci long to find her way onto the field and become part of the crowd of girls surrounding the three men.  Threading her way through the throng toward Blue Thunder, she eventually came to his side, and, with the blonde on one side of him and she on his other, Marci stepped in toward him as closely as possible and said loudly, “Do you see how they ooze all over you?”

He looked down at her and grinned.  “I am glad you have come here, my wife.”

“Wife?”  The word echoed on the air around these young women.

Marci placed her hand upon Blue Thunder’s arm and murmured in as husky a voice as she could manage, “I am tired of hearing these people talk about how handsome you are, and oh-so strong.”  Marci looked up at him, fluttered her eyelashes and frowned.  “And the gifts they bring you.  ‘I will have to bake you a cake so you will notice me…or maybe I’ll make you an apple pie.’  And then they hug you like this.”  She cuddled up to him.

Although Blue Thunder was still signing the programs from the young women around him, he broke out with laughter.  “How could I not notice you, my wife?”

“I don’t know,” she replied in a smooth voice.  Looking toward the other side of him, she noticed the young and pretty blonde had ceased to caress him and had even backed away.  “You seem to be able to do it well, my husband.”

“Indeed, this is not so.”  He was still laughing, although, after a moment, his chuckling turned to a smile.

“It is how I see it,” said Marci.

“Then let me show you how I see it.”

These words, however, did not prepare her for what happened next.  After Blue Thunder finished signing a program, he turned to Marci, took her in his arms and swung her around and around, even within the crowded space.

Settling her down in front of him, he murmured, “Tell me now that I take no notice of you.”

“I cannot do it now, my husband.”

“I am glad to hear it,” he said.  “But”—he smiled at her suggestively—”I think we should leave here at once and attend to other ‘things.'”

“No,” she replied easily as she scooted out of his arms.  “Not tonight.  Maybe not tomorrow night, either.  But, there are others here who seek your attention, if you dare to challenge the convictions of my Faith again this night and accompany one of these women home….”

Again, her comment was met with a round of Blue Thunder’s laughter, which appeared to be contagious, for she heard other masculine hilarity, as well.  Marci looked quickly around the crowd and could see that both Wind Eagle and Iron Wolf were trying without much success to contain their own good humor.

“Do not bother coming home,” she warned Blue Thunder, “unless you intend to sleep outside our lodge…again.”

Although she knew she was teasing him relentlessly, she was yet surprised when he gave her highly-padded rear end a quick whack with one of the programs he held.  When she turned around to scold him, she was met with his much-too-handsome and crooked smile.  Indeed, so caught up was she with his good looks, she forgot what she had been about to say, and, instead of speaking at all, she turned her back on him and gave her long hair a quick shake as she walked away, ensuring her hips were properly wiggling.

His laughter was like music to her ears.

Well, that’s it.  Hope you enjoyed the excerpt.  Please do leave me your thoughts and please do come on back tomorrow evening to see if you have won the free e-book.

On sale now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KOBO, ITunes and Google Play.

Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/4k6ahyfr

KOBO: https://tinyurl.com/3abxfuh

B & N: https://tinyurl.com/exadvx7n

Google:  https://tinyurl.com/uavkxz4

ITUNES: https://tinyurl.com/w2z7adxk

 

 

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER on Pre-Sale

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.  Hope y’all are doing well in this ever changing world.

It’s the 10th of August.  In just 7 more days, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER will be released.  And, for a short time, it is on a pre-sale order for $3.99.  On its release date (or shortly thereafter), the book will go on sale for $4.99.  So, go ahead and order your copy today.

Well, I thought I’d leave you with another excerpt of the book.  If you have read the other books in this series, you know by now that it’s called The Wild West Series because all of these books are set against the backdrop of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  The young heros in these three books — two Assiniboine Indians and one Lakota — become the most popular “act” in the Wild West Shows and often are surrounded by women (which actually did happen — mostly abroad).  And so the scene I’m about to post is about the “Attack Upon a Settler’s Home,” which truly was an act performed in the show.  The hero in the book and the heroine are at odds when this scene happens.  So here we go.  I hope you’ll enjoy the excerpt.

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER

By

Karen Kay

 

It was afternoon and the first show of the day was in progress.  The bleaching boards—which were set up beneath the canvas tents—were full of spectators, with several people having to stand on the sidelines of the field to watch the show.  Oddly, some of the conversations of the crowd could be heard even down into the arena.  Perhaps this was because the day was overcast, cold and dark, which suited Blue Thunder, for he was not in a good mood.

He watched as his wife took up her position in the act’s “Indian encampment,” his anger slowly becoming a boiling chaos of fury within him.  Earlier, he had told her she was not to perform in this skit, which would involve a white man “rescuing” her.  The enactment would necessitate the cowboy’s raising her up from the ground and settling her before him on his horse.  And, the cowboy’s arms would be around her—his wife.

Yet, there she was, getting into position for the performance.  Apparently, it had been at the suggestion of the maiden, Shooting Star, to substitute Marci for one of the cowgirls…something Marci had failed to mention when he had seen her earlier today.

But then, she wasn’t speaking to him.

Unfortunately, his role in the new exhibition was not that of her captor.  And this was another problem for him.  His role in the enactment was simply to be one of the warriors fighting with the soldiers because this kind of engagement was his specialty.

As he now stood at the eastern side of the arena, he watched his wife’s Indian ‘captor’ bend down to sweep her up onto his pony, placing her in front of him and hugging her closely to him.  Was he, Blue Thunder, supposed to watch this and do nothing?

As another bout of rage stirred within him, he knew this was a casting mistake.  But, he was incapable of doing nothing.  Whether there was a crowd watching or not, whether his role in the enactment was different or not, he was not going to stand to the side of the arena and do nothing.

Luckily, he held the reins of his favorite pony in his hand, and, as he jumped up to his seat on the horse, he spurred his pony—a fast-running American paint—toward his wife and her captor.

****

Since Marci was a substitute for the cowgirl originally cast in this part, she had missed the practice which would have shown her how to accomplish this stunt properly.  At present, all she knew was the advice from one of the other performers: let it happen.  Do not do anything; her captor knew what to do.

So it seemed to her she was doing well since she hadn’t made a mistake.  Her Indian captor had sped toward her, had lifted her up off the ground and had placed her before him on his mount.  At present, she was fighting to keep her seat on the pony, and perhaps that was why she didn’t see Blue Thunder racing his own horse toward them.

But, within minutes she became aware of another pony running up to and next to her own.  What was this?  This wasn’t in the script.  No sooner had the thought materialized, however, when she felt a strong, masculine arm come around her waist, gathering her up and lifting her off the pony she was on, and then settling her none too gently upon another pony…his pony.  And, this new captor had the audacity to race away with her.

Concern and anger stirred within her; this was not a part of the act, and, in reaction, she physically fought her new “captor.”

“Be still.”

It was Blue Thunder’s voice.

“What are you doing?” she asked.  “Buffalo Bill will be furious.  This is not the way this scene is supposed to be played.”

“It’s the manner in which the skit is going to be done from now on.”

But, Blue Thunder hadn’t reckoned with the other Lakota actor who was supposed to be her “captor,” and soon the original Indian who had raced away with her caught up to Blue Thunder, and, reaching out, grabbed her back onto his own mount.  Blue Thunder, however, was not to be outdone.

Speeding his pony right up to the other actor’s mount once again, Blue Thunder shouted, “This is my wife.  I am doing this scene.  Chase me if you like, for it will add more drama to what we do, but she stays with me.”

Hau, hau,” came the response from the other show Indian as he allowed Blue Thunder to steal Marci again and settle her onto his paint, a chase between the two of them resulting from the confusion.

“Blue Thunder, you’re going to get me in trouble,” Marci shouted above the noise of the horses.

Wašté!” he responded.  “Then maybe they’ll get someone else to play your part.”

“Blue Thunder, please don’t do this!  I want to be in the play.”

She felt more than heard his sigh before he murmured, “If it be truly your wish to be a part of this, then I will not stand in your way, but I will be the one to capture you.  No one else.”

“Only if Buffalo Bill approves of it.”

“Do you think I care if he approves?  I will do the stunt.  He will have to bow to my wishes, not the opposite.”

Blue Thunder galloped his little paint into the “Indian encampment,” and, reigning in his mount, allowed Marci to slide down off the horse.  Shooting Star was already there within the “encampment,” and, in very little time, both she and Marci were enacting the pushing-and-pulling fight scene between them.

Blue Thunder started away, leaving the two women to their performance, when suddenly Ted Bigham rode into the “Indian encampment,” his mount a medium-sized roan.  Worse, Bigham reached down to lift Marci up, off her feet, and placed her onto his own mount in front of him, embracing her within his arms.

Was this supposed to be part of the skit?

As he watched Ted Bigham’s “rescue” and stared at Bigham speeding away with this wife, Blue Thunder’s jealousy spun out of control.  And, as the green envy of possessiveness filled his head, he knew he had to act.

She was his wife, and he didn’t want any other man’s hands upon her.  This particularly included Ted Bigham.

Although Blue Thunder knew his part in this scene was to fight a soldier, fall off his horse and “die,” he decided the only man he would wage war with was no longer within the staged Indian encampment, as was called for in the enactment.  No, he would fight Ted Bigham.  No other.

As he jumped onto his waiting paint, Blue Thunder urged the pony into top speed, heading after Ted Bigham, and, catching up to him and his wife, pulled Marci off Bigham’s roan.  Instead of depositing her onto his own pony, however, he set Marci on the ground as gently as was possible, given the fury of his mood.

Then, turning his steed back toward Bigham, he made a quick decision: if Buffalo Bill wanted a fight, he, Blue Thunder, was going to give it to him.  But, this was not going to be some fake battle; this would be the real thing.  And, perhaps a fight for real might cool Blue Thunder’s fury.

As Blue Thunder sped his pony up to Bigham’s, he heard the other man shout out, “Hey, don’t fight me!  Not fer real!  I’m not romancin’ yer wife!  It’s part of the act.”

“You were with her last night!”

“Only cause she needed some em ta help her!  Did ya wish me to let her roam the campground alone at that time of night?  Think!  My interest is in someone else!”

Even through his rage, Blue Thunder realized the truth of Bigham’s words.  He’d seen the looks the other man had bestowed upon the Indian maiden, Shooting Star.

“That may be,” shouted Blue Thunder, “but, I will play this scene with my wife, not you!  You are not to touch her!”

“Ya got it, partner.”

Wašté!  I am glad to hear this!  Let’s make a good fight between the two of us!  Let Buffalo Bill see our own script!”

“Agreed!”

They each one galloped their ponies a little apart until they were facing each other, and, like the jousting knights of old, set their horses into a run toward each other.  Waving fake swords and spears in the air, and with Blue Thunder screaming his war whoops, he and Bigham set upon each other, knocking one another from their seats.

As they each one jumped to their feet, they began to wrestle and fight as though it were truly in earnest.  All at once, Blue Thunder shouted out, “You will have to be the one to ‘die.’  Not I.  Do you understand?”

“I do, and ya got it, partn’r!”

Then, with a simple swipe of his wooden knife, Blue Thunder took Ted Bigham down, the man lying upon the ground as though dead.  Blue Thunder didn’t hesitate a moment, but jumped back onto his paint and set it racing back to where Marci stood, who he assumed had witnessed the entire scene.  She didn’t try to run away.  Instead, she stood still, making it easy for him to pick her up and deposit her behind him.  Then, giving the traditional Lakota war whoop, he sped out of the arena with his prize neatly settled behind him.

As soon as he’d settled his pony to a halt, he felt his wife slip off the horse.  He jumped down, also, and, with a few steps, came to tower over her.  Without another moment passing by, he swept her into his arms and kissed her, long and hard.

Pulling away, he gulped.  She did, also.  And, then he kissed her again, this time sweeping his tongue into her mouth, his intention to fill her senses with his own scent and taste.  She was his.  No one else’s.

He took a moment away from the kiss to say, “You are mine, do you hear?  If you are to be in the play, I will not forbid it, but I will be the one to capture you; I will get you as a prize.  No one else.  Do you understand?”

Suddenly, and to his astonishment, his wife smiled at him.  And, when she uttered, “Yes, my husband.  As you say, my husband,” Blue Thunder had to admit her response pleased him.

 

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER:  https://tinyurl.com/4k6ahyfr

 

 

 

And have you seen what’s coming up on Friday?

14 Years Comin’ Up! Let’s PARTY!

Are you ready to party?

Because we are!

Because we’re celebrating our 14th birthday!

Because 14 winners will win a $14 Amazon gift card!

JOIN US on Friday and play to WIN!

 

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.

https://tinyurl.com/svyqbxt

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.

 

https://tinyurl.com/qtl7hsu

A Navajo Hex and Giveaway

When I was nine years old, I lived on the Navajo Indian Reservation. My dad, who has long had a deep and abiding respect for Native Americans, saw this as a chance to give back with his life, so he took a job as an accountant with an arts and crafts store in Window Rock, Arizona—capital of the Navajo Nation. We obtained a house just across the border in New Mexico, in a small town aptly called “Navajo,” supported by a local sawmill. It was 1975.

Navajo, New Mexico (photo taken by author)

One day at one of the stores that employed my father a worker found a Styrofoam cup tucked away on a shelf. Inside were various items that included a torn corner of a $5, $10 and $20 bill. It was immediately clear to those who discovered it that a hex had been placed. Soon thereafter, a medicine man was called. Since it involved all the employees, my dad was allowed, despite being a white man, to participate in the ceremonies conducted.

 

Window Rock, Arizona (photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

At the first ritual, the medicine man found a buried pot outside the building at the base of the famous local landmark, the window rock. This was accomplished when his hand trembled over the exact location. On the outside of the pot, stick figures represented the employees, and lightning bolts painted above indicated death by lightning strike. At the time, we were having terrible storms every day. Inside were pieces of coral, turquoise, and silver, and a section of human skull.

At the second ceremony, a bowl filled with some type of tea was passed around to ingest, and then each employee was asked to look into a crystal to identify who had placed the hex. My dad says he saw nothing, but it was generally agreed that the perpetrator was a former employee who had been fired. She was part of a major Navajo clan, and her dismissal had possibly angered the wrong people. But the curse spoke of deeper problems within the Navajo and their way of life. The crafts people—those who made Indian jewelry and the iconic Navajo weavings—were at odds with the administration, which included my dad. There were those who wanted progress, and those who didn’t. At the conclusion of the ceremony, after a sand painting was created, the piece of skull inside the pot was burned. Two female employees reported instant relief from a terrible headache that had plagued them all evening. Back at home, at the same time, my mother said I’d been distraught and crying for hours from pains in my head, which immediately stopped when the bone was destroyed. It seemed family members had also been included in the hex.

My dad never attended the third, and final, observance—the Blessing Way—because we had moved back to Phoenix. He has always joked that the hex was never fully removed. As evidence, he cites various mishaps that occur whenever he and my mother return to the Navajo Reservation: car breakdowns, money stolen, and in one instance missing a critical turnoff because five Indians stood in front of a directional sign.

In my recently re-released standalone historical western novel INTO THE LAND OF SHADOWS, I included the hex in the story. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy.

It’s been five years since a woman came between Ethan Barstow and his brother, Charley, and it’s high time they buried the hatchet. When Ethan travels to Arizona Territory to make amends, he learns that Charley has abruptly disappeared after breaking more than one heart in town. And an indignant fiancée is hot on his trail.

When Charley Barstow abandons a local girl after getting her pregnant, Kate Kinsella pursues him without a second thought. She’s determined he set things right, and even more determined to end her own engagement to him, a sham from the beginning. But an ill-timed encounter with a group of ruffians lands her in the company of Charley’s brother, Ethan, who suggests they search together.

As Ethan and Kate move deeper INTO THE LAND OF SHADOWS, family tensions and past tragedies threaten to destroy a love neither of them expected.

A sensuous historical western romance set in 1893 Arizona Territory. Into The Land Of Shadows is a stand-alone, full-length novel with paranormal elements.

This book was previously published in 2013 under the same title. While the text and cover have been updated, the story remains the same.

Read Chapter One and find buy links at https://kmccaffrey.com/into-the-land-of-shadows/

So, have you or anyone you know ever had any experience with hexes? Ever read about any in books?

Kristy McCaffrey writes contemporary adventure stories packed with smoldering romance and spine-tingling suspense, as well as award-winning historical western romances brimming with grit and emotion. Her work is filled with compelling heroes, determined heroines, and her trademark mysticism. An Arizona native, she resides in the desert north of Phoenix.

Website:  https://kmccaffrey.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKristyMcCaffre

 

 

 

HAPPY 25th ANNIVERSARY TO US!

Howdy!

It’s my husband’s and my 25th anniversary today!!

So, I thought we might talk about love today, and, if you will bear with me, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my own very personal story of finding love with my husband, Paul.  The year was 1995 — late in the year — and my third book, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN had recently been turned in to AVON/HarperCollins for editing.  As I awaited the editing process, my attention went to another story and I had begun work on that.  That story is GRAY HAWK’S LADY.

My own tale of finding love again began with a kiss.  But let me backtrack.  I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because at that time I had considered California my home, although I wasn’t born there.  Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons.  After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again.  Sigh…and here I was a romance writer.

So I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own.  One of my best friends (whom I have known and loved since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date.  I didn’t want to go and told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….

But she insisted and I found my self consenting to one date.  That was in January of 1996.  GRAY HAWK’S LADY was due to my publisher (AVON) in July of 1996, but I had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.

So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date.  (I believe it was Paul’s first blind date, also.)  The gentleman (Paul) picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots, and, since I am interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great.  He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana because the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.

The date was good, but perhaps a little conservative.  I think I was a little stand-offish.  (Remember I wanted nothing to do with men, romance, marriage.)  We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me.  So, I put it behind me.  He never called during the week that followed, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening and so eventually, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, “so long” sort of thing.  To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me.  She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.”  and I said, “Oh, no, I don’t think so.  Let’s just relegate that date to the past and we’ll just get on with our lives” …or something like that.  And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”

I had no idea that she would call his brother.  I am told that they talked, and that the upshot of it was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date.  Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends.  So I accepted.

Goodness!  Little did I know what was in store.  On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends.  He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me.  Now, this was quite some kiss.  He meant it. And I became very aware he meant it.   His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt as though my world were spinning — but in a good way.  Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, thought to myself, “Who is this man who can make me pay attention to him with no more than a kiss?”

Well, that was that.  We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him and we were married in May 1996.  Our first date was February 3rd 1996.  So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  Well, a lot, I’m afraid.  As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of writing that book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course that love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  That first kiss and my emotional reaction to it is recorded in that work.  Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book.  His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.  Interestingly, I’ve recently had the occasion to read the book again, as it will be coming out soon in the 25th Anniversary edition of the book, and I was reminded while reading the book how much I fell in love with this man.  As I was reading it, I said to my husband that all the love I felt for him is in that book.  Indeed, I think the character of Gray Hawk underwent a change in personality and became more and more the personality of the man I love.

Interestingly, I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can not bring myself to take them down, even though it’s 25 years later.  People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile.  To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day.

I’ll tell you true that I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love does not diminish; it grows and grows and grows.   He stole my heart with that first kiss.  (I’ll knock on wood here.)  As the — gee, was it the Ronettes who once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” —  it has always seemed to me that it started with that kiss.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll come in and leave a message.  I would love to hear about your own personal love stories.

To the left here is the e-book cover of GRAY HAWK’S LADY, but, as I said, it’s going to be coming out fairly soon as a 25th Year Anniversary book so instead of giving this book away, I’ll be giving away a paperback copy of the book, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR.

And please remember to check back on Wednesday or Thursday evening to see if you are a winner!

Happy Anniversary to the man I love!

 

American Indian Trivia, Names & Give-Away

Howdy!

Welcome!  Welcome!

Have you ever wondered what goes into an American Indian’s name?  One of the first things I do when starting a new book is name the hero of the story.  But, why are “eagle,” “hawk,” “horse,” “buffalo,” “bear,” good names for a hero?  Well, there are some rules and I thought I’d talk about them.

The Sioux had three different classes of names.  The first name would show the order of children…like First Child, or First Born Son.  The second class of name (at least in the Lakota society) was the honor name or public names.  The third name was a nickname (sometimes an unflattering name).  Sometimes a man might gain a honoring name different from one of his childhood and this is sometimes called a “deed” name.  And sometimes childhood names remained with a person for all of his/her life.

An honoring name is given usually by the clan medicine-man in a public ceremony.  In the story I’m writing currently called, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, the opening scene in the book is a scene where a boy is being given an honoring name.  His grandfather bestows his own name on the boy, BLUE THUNDER STRIKING.

Trivia question:  did you know that Crazy Horse was given his name by his father, who then took a lesser name?  The name Crazy Horse was given to him because of a great deed he performed.

Many years ago, when I was adopted into the Blackfeet tribe in Browning, MT, I was given an Indian name, but it was bestowed on me by the chief of the tribe, Chief Old Person.

In the story, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, the boy had been given a nickname prior to his honor name, and that name was somewhat unflattering…Little Skunk.

Deed names usually require some act of courage and so the courageous act is celebrated by giving that man or boy a name from some fear-inspiring animal, like a buffalo, a bear or wolf.  A noble sort of name might be given to a man from one of the nobler birds, like the eagle, the hawk the owl.  Sometimes the character of the courageous act is given along with the name.  For instance, swift or strength or endurance and these give the name a descriptive element, like Challenging Wolf.

Here are some honoring name for boys:  White Eagle; Black Buffalo; Red Wind; Storm; Kills the Man; Shadow Hawk.

What about names for girls?  Well, there were some rules here, as well.  No Indian girl was permitted to wear the skin of a bear or a wolf, a cat, etc.  Nor could she wear eagle feathers as these were masculine representations.  Instead a girl could wear the skins of a doe, ermine, mink, etc.

As far as names were concerned, girls were usually called after the fawn, mink, beaver.  While only boys could have the names of the fiercer animals.  Both boys and girls could be named after the wind or water or sky, but not by the name of Fire.  At least these were the rules in Lakota society.

Here are some names of girls:  White Bird; Sky; Jingles; Earth Maiden; Laughing Maid, Swan Maiden.

Also, often in the stories I write, the hero will give the heroine an Indian name, sometimes flattering and sometimes not.  In the story THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, the hero first named the heroine, “Deceiving Woman.”  Later, it changes, of course.

So, I thought I’d leave you with an excerpt from my most recent book, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE, and I’ll be giving away a free copy of the book today.  So do please leave a comment.

IRON WOLF’S BRIDE

Excerpt

CHAPTER SEVEN

 

 

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 he 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 he 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.

 

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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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GRAY HAWK’S LADY — My Own Personal Story of Love and Romance

Howdy!

Ah, February — a true month of love.  At least for me.  My husband and I just celebrated the 25th Anniversary of our first kiss.  So very, very special and I hope you’ll bear with me as I tell you a little about our personal story of finding love.

The year was 1995 — late in the year — and my third book, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN had recently been turned in to AVON/HarperCollins for editing.  As I awaited the editing process, my attention went to another story and I had begun work on that.  This is the story is GRAY HAWK’S LADY.

My own tale began with a kiss.  But let me backtrack.  I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because at that time I had considered California my home.  Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons.  After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again.  Sigh…
 
So I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own.  One of my best friends (whom I had known since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date.  I didn’t want to go and told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….
 
But she insisted for a while (several days) and I found my self consenting to one date.  That was in January of 1996.  GRAY HAWK’S LADY was due to my publisher (AVON) in July of 1996, but I had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.
 
So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date.  The gentleman picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots, and, since I am interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great.  He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana because the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.
 
The date was good — okay.  I think we were both a little shy of each other.  We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me.  So, I put it behind me.  He never called, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening, so after about a week, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, so long sort of thing.  To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me.  She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.”  and I said, “No, no, I don’t think so.  Let’s just relegate that date to the past and go on from here.”  And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”
 
I had no idea that she would call his brother.  I am told they talked, and that the upshot of it was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date.  Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends.  He was divorced.  I was divorced.  We could do things together.  (Mind you, he was also very good-looking.)  So I accepted.
 
Goodness!  Little did I know what was in store.  On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends.  He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me.  Now, this was quite a kiss.  He meant it. And I became very aware of that.   His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt as though my world were spinning — but in a good way. 
 
Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who is this man?  This man who can make me pay attention to him with no more than a kiss?”
 
Well, that was that.  We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him.  He proposed to me in March and we were married in May 1996.  Our first date was February 3rd 1996.  So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.
 
Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  Well, a lot, I’m afraid.  As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of writing this book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course this love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  That first kiss and my emotional reaction to it is recorded in that work.  Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book.  His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.

 
Did I mention that one of my earrings (the night of that first kiss) fell off during the kiss — and I have pierced ears…!
 
In May of this year, we will have been married 25 years.  Interestingly, I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can’t bring myself to take them down, even though 25 years more or less have gone by now.  People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile.  To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day.
I’ll tell you true that I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love does not diminish; it grows and grows and grows.   He stole my heart with that first kiss.  (I’ll knock on wood here.)  As the — gee, was it the Ronettes that once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” —  it has always seemed to me that it started with a kiss.
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll come in and leave a message.  I would love to hear about your own personal love stories.
 
Will I be giving away GRAY HAWK’S LADY today as a Valentine’s Day Gift?  You bet I will.  I’ll be gifting that book to 2 (two) lucky readers today, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.  Please know, also, that all rules for Giveaways apply — they are listed off to the right here of the page — at the very top.
 

Happy Valentine’s Day!