She Paints My Soul
The Medicine Man Book 3
by Karen Kay
Genre: Native American Historical Romance
CAN HER LOVE HEAL THE MEDICINE MAN’S HEART?
In spite of her fear of Indians, Sharon Wells travels from her home in St. Louis to Indian Territory in the northwest, along with her fiancé, and her friend Amelia, who is determined to return to Blackfoot Country. An orphan, Sharon yearns to be married and have a family of her own. She’s loyal to her fiancé, even when he carelessly puts her life in danger.
Strikes Fast, of the Crow People, was once on the path to becoming a medicine man, but he has lost his way. When nearly all his family were killed in a Blackfoot raid, he went on the warpath to avenge the ghosts of his murdered family. But he’s carried revenge too far, and the blood of innocents has left him feeling no longer human, without empathy or sympathy. But the beautiful white woman, Sharon, ignites a spark in him. When she’s captured in an Indian raid and her fiancé does nothing, Strikes Fast hopes his heroic deed of rescuing her might return him to the good graces of the Creator, from whom all medicine men receive their powers.
Strikes Fast’s handsome masculinity calls out to Sharon, as her beauty and her kindness calls to him. Trapped together in a blizzard, surrounded by danger, and despite the many reasons they shouldn’t be together, their growing love is undeniable. Can they find a way to heal one another and create the family each of them is longing for?
Warning: A sensuous romance that might just melt a gal’s heart
Fort McKenzie, built where the Missouri and the Marias Rivers meet Northwest Indian Country
The Season of Home Days, August 1840
Sharon Wells screamed and awakened to the sound of bullets spitting overhead, followed by ear-shattering explosions. Placing her hands over her ears, she hunkered down in her bedding of soft furs and blankets, reaching toward the place where David, her fiancé, should have been.
But, he wasn’t there. Bringing up her hands to cover her head, she tried to become invisible while the whiz of bullets crackled overhead.
What is going on? Why am I under attack? And, where is David?
Because the night had been warm and pleasant, both she and David had spent the evening in each other’s arms under a canopy of stars. A painter, David had earlier placed his art equipment of canvas, easel and paints on a wide ledge overhead. From there, David had said he hoped to capture the early-morning sunrise, immortalizing its image onto the canvas.
Shaking, Sharon assumed a fetal position, and, so great was her fright, she began to convulse as though she were seized by a fit, there under the cover of the soft fur blankets.
Wherever you are, please hurry back to me, David!
Peeking out from the warmth of her covers, Sharon saw it was still dark; it perhaps being the time of day when the world was blanketed in the extreme darkness before dawn. Had David awakened and left her to climb the bluff, hoping to paint the beauty of the sunrise?
If so, why hadn’t he taken her with him, especially since he often bragged about how she inspired the best artistry in him?
She wasn’t allowed to answer the question, however, because suddenly, and from out of nowhere, the running feet of perhaps hundreds of men rushed by her, seemingly without seeing her. With a force of will, Sharon controlled her quivering and, unable to stop herself, peeped out again from beneath her blankets.
The sight of Indian warriors made her sob, and she thought she might faint. Each one was stripped of all clothing except for his breechcloth and moccasins, and each was painted in black, white or red colors which covered his face and body. Each man she could see was carrying a rifle, as well as the more familiar Indian garb of quiver, arrows and a bow.
As she shivered and tried to make herself invisible, a feeling of utter terror overtook her. Why, oh why had she ever agreed to come to this far western land?
Luckily for her, during the night she and David had placed their bedding beneath a tall pine tree and the enemy warriors were ignoring the tree, racing by her as though they were each one hurrying to be the first to launch an attack upon some poor victim. Was their target the Pikuni camp? Or were they attacking the traders’ fort?
Trying to force her body to be as motionless as possible, she was aware she wasn’t able to do it. She was shivering, and she cried silently as she waited until there were no more warriors fleeing by her. Then she stirred uneasily, because her thoughts were of two minds: she desperately wished to arise and climb the bluff in search of David, but fear kept her in place, mute and fearful of making a single move.
Meanwhile, down below in the Indian encampment came echoes of the awful sounds of blasts and screams. Had the Pikuni people awakened to find themselves facing this horror?
It was then that she excused David for his absence, since it was he who had suggested they spend the evening on this butte. Had he not done so, she might even now be experiencing the fate of the people below.
But, what about my dearest friend, Amelia, who will still be down there in the Pikuni camp? Should I leave my hiding place and rush to try to find her?
Instinctively, Sharon knew she didn’t dare go down into the Pikuni camp. Instead, she would pray that Gray Falcon, Amelia’s beau, would protect her.
Then upon the early morning atmosphere came the sound of many pairs of heavy feet running back up the butte as quickly as possible. Was the enemy fleeing? Had the Blackfoot warriors sent them scurrying?
Yes. It seemed to her as if the enemy were in full retreat. Too late it occurred to her that she should have left her hiding place and climbed the tree above her for added protection, but there was not the time to scamper up it now. Instead, she covered her mouth to keep from screaming and tried to control her shivering. And, crouching down, she waited.
Hours seemed to pass before the sound of the battle was little more than a single shot heard here and there. Down below in the Pikuni camp came the inevitable wails of the women. Obviously, people had been either injured or killed.
Still, Sharon waited and waited, so terrified she could barely move. However, as time went on and she heard no more sounds of the battle, she raised her head and peeped out from the blanket of furs. No one was about.
Slowly, she sat up onto to her knees and glanced quickly around the environment. In the east she could see the beginning of a gray haze announcing the coming of the sun. Would now be the right time to set out to find David? It was still dark enough to provide cover for her, yet it was light enough so she wouldn’t lose her way.
Picking up the buckskin blanket and throwing it over her head and shoulders both for protection as well as a disguise, she came up to her feet and stepped toward the path leading upward toward the high butte—the one where she and David had set out his equipment.
Hopefully, David, too, had successfully hidden from the enemy warriors. She forgave him his negligence and perhaps even his cowardice since she couldn’t imagine him fighting these Indians; he was ill-equipped to go into battle, for one reason. Although he always carried a gun for self-defense, he would have been caught unprepared to fight off this kind of enemy.
Deeply relieved at still being alive, Sharon breathed in a long breath and, letting it out, stepped a foot upon the path leading upward. That’s when the awful yelp of an Indian war whoop spilt through the air. It sounded close to her, and, spinning around, she beheld a horse and its rider speeding toward her.
Momentarily, she was struck with the unreality of what was taking place. The rider on the horse was a huge man, was painted in black stripes covering his face, and, below his shoulders, he looked to be naked. The sight sickened her.
It was a reality she could not believe was happening to her, and one she had hoped to never experience in this strange and foreign land. Watching with horror as the man—looking more fiend than warrior—raced toward her, she felt as though this were no more than a nightmare and she merely needed to awaken and the awful sight would be gone. But, as he came closer and closer, she realized this was no dream.
As quickly as possible, she threw off the blanket and ran up the path, her screams for help loud to her ears. But, no help was to be seen or experienced this morning.
Again she wondered, Where is David?
As the enemy darted toward her, she suddenly discovered she possessed a spark of courage, and, realizing that fleeing would do her no good—she could not outrun a horse—she stopped her flight. She would take her stand here.
She turned then to watch the big ugly warrior ride toward her as though he would knock her down and kill her with one simple movement of his lance. Oddly, she wondered if the man would fetch a good price for her scalp because of the unusual coloring of her hair. It was strange because she felt suddenly unafraid. Indeed, if David were dead and if this were to be the place where she would die too, she would face the event with as little flinching as possible. After all, death came unto all creatures upon this earth. She wished, however, that the event weren’t happening to her so soon in this life.
Even though the warrior’s actions were quick, it seemed to her as if the events taking place around her were in slow motion, giving her more than enough time to consider her own death. After all, mightn’t death be preferable to being taken captive by an enemy? Hopefully, the end of her would be quick and with as little pain as possible.
She watched as though from above herself as the horse continued to speed toward her, and, coming right upon her, the warrior’s big arm came out to grab hold of her. She was jerked upward and thrown before her captor onto his racing steed; she faced downward as the awful scent of a sweat-drenched man and horseflesh made her gag. It was a painful position; she had been thrown onto her stomach, and, closing her eyes, she prayed to God for a quick death and an everlasting salvation.
It was her last thought before, thankfully, she lost all consciousness.
She Captures My Heart
The Medicine Man Book 2
Two Worlds. Two Hearts. A Forbidden Passion.
Amelia McIntosh was only fourteen when she fell in love with the young and handsome Gray Falcon of the Blackfoot Tribe. He’d helped her through a difficult time, and, for him in turn, she’d opened up a vital part of the medicine man’s world. Five years later, Amelia is still in love with the mesmerizing Gray Falcon, but her refusal to marry anyone but him has created a dangerous problem for her and her family.
When Amelia—the pesky little girl from Gray Falcon’s past—returns to the Northwest, he can’t help but notice she has blossomed into a beautiful, desirable woman — one who sets his heart aflame. Yet, he must resist her feminine charms because, though she is a friend, what she asks of him is against all Gray Falcon stands for as a medicine man.
United only in love, will love, alone, be enough to stave off a world threatening to pull them apart?
Warning: A sensuous romance that might cause a gal to capture the heart of her own true love.
The Trading Room at Fort Union
The Northwest Indian Country
“Where can I find A’sitápi?” Gray Falcon asked in the language of gestures, though he spoke the last word in Blackfeet. “Have you seen her? I have come for my buffalo lodge and other possessions; they were left with her before I departed from here several months ago.”
“Pardón, Monsieur, only de Americanine or de French do I speaks.”
Gray Falcon shook his head, one of the few physical responses understood by all the tribes, as well as by the traders. In response, the trader, Larpenteur, shrugged his shoulders. And, since Gray Falcon had brought no furs to trade, Larpenteur dismissed him by turning his back on him. Then, without a word, Larpenteur stepped to the door of the trading room and was soon gone.
Gray Falcon sighed in response, clearly frustrated. Why had none of these traders learned the language so common to the people who lived on the prairie?
His asking this question brought to mind one of the reasons he had made the long journey to this fort: A’sitápi. Were she here, he would be able to make himself understood.
But, where was she? Had she taken her pony for a ride outside the fort? Perhaps. In truth, were she anywhere within the fort, she would have sought him out by now. The thought made him grimace.
She was more of a pest than a friend. And yet, friend she was. Indeed, she was probably his greatest ally within this fort, although he would have never sought her out deliberately.
Saa, no, she had come to him last winter, invading his home in her quest to find her sister who had been lost in the midst of a blizzard. But, even when she’d learned he couldn’t help her, she had refused to leave.
He hadn’t known what to do with her. Factually, he shouldn’t have been alone with her; she was too young to be anywhere near him. She was also one of the daughters of the fort’s Trader and the younger sister of Ikamóso-niistówas-siitámssin, wife of his friend, Eagle Heart.
Hannia, the young girl could have caused trouble for him and for herself, also. Luckily for him, his uncle and auntie had stepped in to act as chaperones.
Yet, over time he had become accustomed to her presence in his life, for she had made herself a frequent guest in his lodge—all too frequent. Perhaps he had become too used to her, causing him to forget she was also the favored daughter of the fort’s Trader.
What to do now? He certainly couldn’t ask his question of any of the Indians standing here within the trading room. All of them, with only a few exceptions, were enemies of the Blackfeet.
Pushing himself away from the trading table, Gray Falcon turned and stepped to the back wall and, settling in, glanced around the room. The trading room was only moderately busy this day, which was unusual for the season of “when the geese come,” since this was the best time of year to trade.
Deliberately he struck a leisurely pose, although he was ever alert and awake. And, as any scout must do, he glanced about the room quickly, reacquainting himself with this place, memorizing the differences between how it was now and how it had been several moons ago.
As he leaned back against the wall, he glanced casually at the long counter used for trading, or trading table, as it was known to the Indians. At present, there was a large buffalo hide spread upon it. Off to the side of the table were several beaver belts, mink, and even raccoon and skunk furs.
Many wooden shelves stood against the back wall, and at present, there were stacks of many furs, as well as neatly folded woolen blankets, on those shelves. Gray Falcon had become used to the sight of the mounted moose horns which were placed on both sides of the counter. Today these were displaying many different items of clothing, from belts and hats, to moccasins and a few fur-lined jackets.
Presently, four Blackfoot men—all of them friends and known to Gray Falcon—stepped into the room and trod toward the counter. Laying their stacks of furs on the counter, they waited patiently for Larpenteur to return.
With the addition of his four friends, there were now five Blackfoot men in this room, including himself. Glancing around, he counted eight men from the Crow tribe, four men from the Assiniboine tribe and two from the Gros Ventre. He reckoned these were fairly good odds if there were to be a fight, for a Blackfoot man counted as three men for every one man from another tribe.
Realizing there would be nothing more to be learned here, Gray Falcon pushed himself away from the wall and trod silently out of the room. The solidly built entrance gate was open and was only a few steps away. But, before leaving, he took possession of his own weapons, pulling on his quiver full of arrows, picking up his bow and lance, tying on his knife sheath and grabbing hold of his muzzle-loading rifle, shoving it across his shoulders and back.
He was about to step out of the fort when suddenly, from behind, someone jerked him around and punched him in the stomach. The blow knocked him backward, and, after rocking on his feet, he slumped to the ground. Immediately, before he had recovered from the first assault, strong arms jerked him upward and another strike followed, an upper cut to his jaw. The solid punch landed square in his face, and, as he spun around, his nose began to bleed.
Gray Falcon could barely stand, but was still aware enough and quick enough to jerk an arrow from his quiver, setting it against his bow, pulling back the string and pointing it directly at his attacker—his intent clear. He accomplished this so speedily, his attacker stepped back, his face red with fury.
Alarm rocked Gray Falcon’s world: this was A’sitápi’s father. Still, his aim did not falter.
But, why was her father so angry with him? Was it because of the recent fight in the Beartooth Mountains? Surely not. Hadn’t they settled their differences honorably?
Gray Falcon was not left long to find out.
“Ya dirty Injun,” began McIntosh. “Yer the one’s been sniffin’ ’round my youngest daughter’s skirts, ain’t cha? Well, no more. She’s gone back ta her home far away, do ya hear? Now, get out of here. Don’t ever come back. Next time I see yer face, I’ll kill ya. Ya got it? Ya understand?” McIntosh waited barely a second before again spitting out, “Ya filthy Injun. The likes of ya ain’t welcome here. I’ll kill ya next time I see ya. And, this ain’t a simple threat. I promise ya. I’ll kill ya. Now, get!”
No translation was needed; Gray Falcon understood. This concerned this man’s daughter, A’sitápi. The long-anticipated trouble had, at last, arrived.
Gray Falcon could feel his lips swelling, was aware blood was gushing from his nose, and, though he could taste his own blood, he forced himself to stand up straight and scan in a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree circle around him without taking his eyes off his opponent. Good. No one stood behind him.
Gradually, with bow and arrow still trained on the Trader, Gray Falcon backed out of the gate, stepping onto the grassy terrain of the plains. He didn’t say a word.
Several of his Blackfoot friends immediately surrounded him, their own bows and arrows drawn. Likewise, five of the fort’s engagées formed a line against them, their pistols trained on the Indians. McIntosh spit forcefully at Gray Falcon, although the moisture fell short of its target.
“Don’t ever come back here!” shouted the Trader. “None of ya.” And, this said, he pushed the gate closed.
That’s when it happened.
At once, Gray Falcon recognized the “talk” so common to his tribe’s medicine men—the silent spirit-to-spirit speak. Had he not been in a life-and-death situation, he might have rejoiced; such was its importance.
For most of his life, he had thought he might never acquire the ancient skill of communication commonly used by many scouts and by all medicine men. But, try though he might, he had not yet accomplished it—even though he came from a bloodline of medicine men.
Yet, he had “heard” the thought clearly.
It came again. “What is wrong?” He now recognized the speaker. It was A’sitápi reaching out to him.
A’sitápi? The pesky white girl? The same girl and favored daughter of the Trader who had this very moment beaten him up?
Though it was puzzling how a white girl was able to speak to him in the mind talk, he answered her in the same manner, saying in thought, “I have been looking for you at the fort. Where are you?”
“St. Louis. My father sent my mother and me away.”
“Your father hates me.”
“I know,” she responded in the thought speech. “He has forbidden me to see you again.”
“Did you tell him about our friendship?”
“No. I promise I didn’t, although it has been out there in the open for anyone to see. Still, someone else must have whispered it to him. After Father came back from his trip out west, he was like a man possessed. He might not have been able to keep my sister from marrying Eagle Heart, but he was determined I would never marry an Indian.”
“We are not involved in that way!”
“But, I’d like to be and he knows it.”
“Did you tell your father this?”
“No. He was too angry at me…and at you.”
“You are too young for me, and, even if I were inclined to like you in the way you suggest—which I am not—you would have to grow up first. You are only fourteen winters old.”
“I am soon to be fifteen. I know some girls who have married at this age.”
“Do not say this to me. You know you are too young for marriage, as I am, too. And, even if we were both older, you are too bold. It is a man’s task to ask the woman for marriage, not the opposite. And, it is doubtful I would seek you to be my wife since you are white and I am not. We have become united in a cause: your sister and my friend.
That is all.”
“Yes, I know. But, I can’t help what’s in my heart.”
He didn’t answer for a long while. At last, however, he said, using thought alone, “I am now forbidden from ever entering your father’s trading post, and your father has threatened to kill me if he ever sees me again.”
“I’m sorry,” she said in the mind-to-mind talk. “Before I left, he told me he would kill you if he could, and I didn’t know what to do to prevent you from coming back to Fort Union. But, I’ve had no way to contact you except through the means of the thought-to-thought speak. I’ve been trying to do it, really I have. But, I have not accomplished it until now. I’m sorry my father has treated you this way.”
“He will never let us continue to be allied with each other, regardless of the cause. Never again.”
“But,” Gray Falcon added, “take heart; it is not so bad. We are even now ‘talking’ to each other. He cannot stop what remains of our friendship if we continue to speak to one another as we are now. In this way, we can resist him and never be too far apart.”
“Do you really mean what you’ve said? Do you, then, like me a little?”
“We are friends. Of course I like you a little.”
“Only a little?”
He didn’t answer. At length, glancing around at his fellow Blackfoot allies, he said in mind speak, “I must go.”
“You are injured, aren’t you?”
“I must go. Tonight, I will reach out to you again.”
The communication ended.
Gradually he, as well as his friends, withdrew to a safe distance from the fort, their weapons still drawn. He felt a gentle touch upon his arm and, looking down, saw his auntie beside him.
She said nothing. Instead, with a careful hand, she took him by the arm and guided him to her lodge, and, looking back, Gray Falcon saw the Blackfoot warriors covering his retreat.
Sun, the Creator, had been with him today, ensuring he would come away from this confrontation with his scalp and his life still intact. This was without doubt. And, he had taken a giant step into becoming a medicine man. He had spoken the thought speech, and with a girl who wasn’t even Indian.
Perhaps the day wasn’t so bad, after all.
She Steals My Breath
The Medicine Man Book 1
Her Beauty Takes His Breath Away… Only She Can Restore It
Eagle Heart of the Blackfoot Nation has not come to the trading post, Fort Union, to trade, but to find his missing brother. The medicine man has never seen a white woman, but, when she walks into the room, her beauty literally steals his breath.
Laylah McIntosh has assets besides beauty that make her valuable to her father, the fort’s trader: her skill with numbers, her photographic memory and her knowledge of the sign language used by all the tribes. But, when she’s injured and caught in a fierce blizzard, it is Eagle Heart, alone, who rescues her.
Forced into each other’s company, their attraction deepens. But a union between them is forbidden in both their worlds.
Can their love find a way to survive? Or will their differences separate them forever?
Warning: Sensuous romance and a love written in the stars could cause a gal to go West in search of love and adventure.
Eagle Heart was honestly worried, and, to counter this, he reached out into the environment, looking for She-steals-my-breath in the age-old manner of communication known and practiced by and between medicine men, as well as the Indian scout. Was she still alive?
He could no longer check his path for accuracy. The snow was too thick and spinning about the ground, and he could not see even a few hand lengths in front of him. There was now danger of losing his direction, as well. But, he wouldn’t be turned away. No woman as beautiful as she should be made to die because her man did not understand the dangers of this land.
He reached out to her with his mind until he thought he’d found her, then said to her in the ancient way of medicine men, “I am coming for you. You must talk back to me with your mind so I can locate where you are. The snow is too dense, and I could lose my way. Can you speak to me with your mind so I can find you?”
“Yes,” came her response.
With relief, he let out a deep breath. She had heard him and had even spoken back. He reached out again with his mind and said, “It is I, Eagle Heart, from the Pikuni tribe. Are you cold?”
“Yes. My fingers are frozen, I fear.”
“Are you hurt?”
“Yes,” she answered with her mind. “I can’t move my right leg and my right arm. I fell upon them. My spine is hurt, too, I think. Maybe it’s broken, for the agony in my spine when I try to move is very painful.”
“I understand. You must remain warm, for the blizzard is coming upon us fast. I am going to see if there are wolves close to you who might come and surround you to keep you warm until I can get to you.”
“Wolves? I’m afraid of wolves.”
“You will not be afraid of these. I will try to find them and speak to them so they can come to you. If I locate them, they will help you and keep you from freezing. Do not be afraid of them.”
“But, how can you do this?” she asked. “Talk to wolves?”
“I am speaking to you this way. I can also speak thusly to the wolves. I will send them to you. Do not be afraid of them.”
The communication between them stopped, and, quickly, he reached out to her again and said, using the same ancient manner of communication, “You must keep talking to me with your mind even if I do not answer, for I am also seeking to find the wolves. Wait! I have found them. They are close and will come to help you. Let them keep you warm.”
“I will try,” she silently spoke back to him. “If I am to continue talking to you, as you say, what shall I tell you? I know not how to help you find me, and I am afraid for my life because I am so cold. Is there something else I could talk to you about to keep my mind off my fear?”
“Tell me about yourself. Why are you here? Are you in love with the man you are to marry?”
He sensed she might have found a little humor in his question. This was good. If she could laugh—even a little—perhaps she wouldn’t center all her attention on her fear.
She silently spoke again in the mind-to-mind speak and said, “My name is Laylah McIntosh, and I have come here to help my father and also to marry the man I am engaged to.”
“Do you love him?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Then I will tell you honestly,” she told him, “that I don’t know if I love him or not. I have believed I am in love with him, but recently I am beginning to experience doubts.”
“How old are you?”
“I am eighteen years old. How old are you?”
“I am twenty and four snows.”
“Snows? Do you mean years?”
“Mr. Eagle Heart, the wolves are here. I am afraid of them.”
“Do not be. Let them lie next to you. They have answered my plea and are there to help you. You are close to me now. I have found the coulee, for I almost fell into it when I dismounted from my horse.”
“Are you certain it is the coulee I am in?”
“Yes. The snow here is already deep. I do not wish my horses to lose their footing, so they and I must climb down to you slowly, one step after another.”
“I understand. Should I keep talking to you with my mind?”
It was a slow, tortuous climb down the incline. But, at last, he and his ponies managed to step onto a more level ground and he found her lying there before him. Indeed, he almost stepped on one of the wolves who had come to surround her. He then said to her with his mind only, “I am here, but you must continue to speak to me silently and with your mind, for I must construct a shelter for us. Do not let yourself sleep. Stay awake.”
“Very well. Should I continue to talk, then?”
“Yes. Can you see me?”
“No. The swirling of the snow is too thick.”
“I am going to bend down toward you. Do not fear me. I am going to feel your body for injury. I shall try to touch your arm, your leg and your spine.”
So saying, he bent toward her while the wind blew the snow around them. Reaching out to her, he felt underneath the blankets placed over her and ran his hands along her right arm and right leg. He said in Blackfeet, “I believe both your arm and your leg might be broken. I cannot feel your spine at this moment. I will need to move you carefully into a shelter, where I can determine if you have broken bones or if your muscles are merely strained.”
“I don’t understand you,” she said in English, but he was aware of the concept of what she said anyway.
He nodded, then realized the snow was so thick, she couldn’t see the movement. He repeated his words, but with the mind-to-mind talk only. Then he told her, “I must make us a shelter and a travois so I can move you without further injury. Do you understand?”
“I have a warm buffalo robe to place over you to keep you as warm as possible. Stay close to the wolves and allow them to share the robe while I make a shelter and a travois to carry you. You have only to reach out to me with your mind if you need me. Thank you, my friends. My family. Please stay with her a little while longer. And, even when the storm passes, please stay close to me if you can. I might need your help again.”
Only then did he rise to his feet, and he soon left to build a shelter that might keep them warm against the storm. And, it had to be quickly done.
Laylah felt a little warmer, but she was still very cold. It seemed as if the temperature had dipped even further, causing her to wonder if the air in the canyon was well below freezing. She couldn’t feel her fingers anymore and her toes were now following the same pattern as her fingers.
With her mind, she reached out to Eagle Heart and said, “I believe I am freezing to death.”
He didn’t answer. Was he still there? She panicked. “Eagle Heart, are you still here?” she yelled out in English.
“I have not left you,” he answered without words. “I must secure a shelter. Keep awake. Do not freeze. It will be ready soon. Instead of the cold and snow, think of a fire and how warm you are as you sit beside it.”
“I will try.”
The communication dropped then between them, and she felt so sleepy of a sudden, she could barely keep her eyes open. But, she tried to envision a fire and its warmth.
She wasn’t aware how long it was before she felt him beside her again. Carefully, and yet with manly strength, she could feel him lifting her onto some contraption that she thought must be made out of wood, for she could feel some of its branches beneath her. Then, she was aware they were moving through the spinning, heavily-falling snow.
But soon, a particular kind of tiredness closed in upon her.
“Do not sleep,” he said, using his mind only.
“No, do not do it. We are almost at the shelter. Keep awake. Speak to me, either with your mind or words.”
“Yes, you can.”
“I tried thinking of the fire. But, I was so cold, I couldn’t do it any longer.”
“Then, tell me of things you find joy in.”
“Christmas, new clothes. Fashion. Strips of cloth I use to curl my hair. And you. I am suddenly thinking you bring me joy.”
“You flatter me. We are here at the shelter at last. Do not leave me.”
“It’s so hard to keep from sleeping.”
Suddenly, his arms were around her, and she was so cold she didn’t feel the pain when he picked her up. Soon, he was carrying her into a place of warmth.
He deposited her onto something soft, and, without pausing a moment, he began to rub her hands and then her feet. It went on and on. She felt his hands all over her.
Suddenly he was speaking to her in concepts only again. “Do not be alarmed. I must remove your clothing, for it is wet and frozen. I have a warm robe that is not wet, and I will wrap you in it. I will have to move you a little to remove the clothing from you. I might have to cut some of your clothing from you.”
She didn’t answer. It was beyond her.
Again, with his mind alone, he said, “Talk to me.” When she didn’t answer, she heard him speak to her in his own language. She tried to communicate back to him, but found she couldn’t and so remained silent.
However, she held on to the sound of his voice, afraid to sleep for fear she might not wake up. There was a quality about his words she found beautiful, and she responded to his voice and to him, refusing to give in to the darkness. Indeed, it was as though with his touch and his voice alone, he were keeping her alive and conscious.
She felt him pick her up and wrap her in something very warm, and, as she settled back into its heat and against her bed, sleep claimed her at last.
Bestselling author of Native American Historical Romance, KAREN KAY is a multi-published author of romance and adventure in the Old West. She has been praised by reviewers and fans alike for bringing insights into the everyday life of the American Indian culture of the past.
As Reviewer, Suzanne Tucker, once wrote, “Ms. Kay never fails to capture the pride, the passion and the spirit of the American Indian…”
KAREN KAY’s great grandmother was Choctaw, and she is adopted Blackfeet. Ms. Kay is honored to be able to write about the rich culture of a people who gave this country so much.
“With the power of romance, I hope to bring about an awareness of the American Indian’s concept of honor, and what it meant to live as free men and free women. There are some things that should never be forgotten.”