(The Clan of the Wolf Book 2)
He saved her life, then stole her heart….
To escape an arranged marriage, Mia Carlson, daughter of a U.S. senator, instead elopes with the man she loves. As they are escaping from her Virginia home, heading west, their wagon train is brutally attacked, leaving Mia alone and in grave danger. Rescue comes from a most unlikely source, a passing Lakota scouting party, led by the darkly handsome Indian, Brave Wolf.
Although Brave Wolf has consented to guide Mia to the nearest trading post, he holds himself apart from her, for his commitments lie elsewhere. But long days on the trail lead to a deep connection with the red-haired beauty. Yet, he can’t stop wondering why death and danger stalk this beautiful woman, forcing him to rescue her time and again. Who is doing this, and why?
One thing is clear, however: Amid the flurry of dodging assassin bullets, Brave Wolf and Mia come into possession of a powerful love. But is it all for naught? Will Brave Wolf’s obligations and Mia’s secret enemy from the past finally succeed in the sinister plot to destroy their love forever?
Warning: Sensuous romance and cameo appearances of Tahiska and Kristina from the book, Lakota Surrender, might cause a happily-ever-after to warm your heart.
Enjoy this excerpt from Brave Wolf and the Lady, Book 2 in The Clan of the Wolf series.
The ravine was probably twenty feet deep, and she cautiously made her way down into it, stepping a careful foot, as he had instructed her to do, so that rocks and dirt didn’t create noise or a landslide. At last, reaching the bottom of the coulee, Mr. Lakota turned his back on her and without saying a word to her, he set to work.
She took stock of where she was. This place was not more than thirty feet across, and it was dry at this time of year. Espying a large rock, she paced over to it and sat. For a moment, she focused her attention onto Mr. Lakota, who was briskly at his work. He was moving stones, grass and vines from place to place, and appeared to be landscaping the ground around a shelter he was constructing. Was that an odd sort of lean-to he was building?
Perhaps. She noticed that he had found a deep cut in the coulee’s wall which resembled a narrow-like cave, and that he was taking advantage of the spot, using whatever the landscape offered in order to create an entrance on one side of it.
She looked on with fascination as he positioned enough long grass over the top of the structure to form a roof. His actions were swift, yet exact, and it was with an inherent respect that she realized the numerous rows of grass and twigs he was creating, which were inches deep, would keep out the elements.
Without really realizing where her thoughts might lead her, she watched as he bent, then stood, then squatted while he concentrated on his work. His leggings were skin-tight, and he had discarded his shirt and now wore little more than a buckskin vest over his chest. His leggings came up high on his thighs, but were not far enough up to breach the naked gap where the outline of his buttocks and his thighs met….
All at once, she realized where her attention was centering, and she looked away
Self-incrimination was swift, and she worried again that something was very wrong with her.
Gazing anywhere but at him, she focused her attention on the dry stream which lay before her. Farther away, to the south, there appeared to be water in its bed. Perhaps she should investigate. It seemed a better option than monitoring the actions of this very virile man.
Rising up, she stepped toward the dry stream’s bed, and followed it southward to where water still remained. Looking father away in the same direction, she could discern that the small river branched out into a full-fledged rivulet.
Perhaps some other waterway or underground source flowed into it there, for it looked to be about three or four feet deep. Maybe she would be able to bathe there, for it looked close enough that Mr. Lakota could stand guard over it, yet far enough away to provide her with some modesty.
Snarl, yelp, snap!
What was that?
Fear washed through her. Was she in trouble?
She swung around to glance back in the direction where she’d left him. But where was he?
Panic consumed her. Had he left her?
“Mr. Lakota!” She called again. Then, louder yet. “Mr. Lakota, where are you?”
Nothing… No answer…
“I am…here.” The tone of his voice was deep, reassuring, but farther up the slope.
Relief swept through her. Still, it took several moments before she was able to respond, saying, “Where? I still don’t know where ‘here’ is.”
With that masculine grace which seemed to be as much a part of his stride as was his careful pace, he stepped out from the tall grasses that grew at the top of the coulee.
“Oh, there you are.” She looked up. “But how did you get up there?”
“I climb. Did you not see…wolf?”
“Wolf hungry…crazy. Watching you.”
She caught her breath before she uttered, “A wolf, looking at me as though I were what? Food?”
“Could be. Had to…kill him. Not like to kill wolf.”
“But how did you know there was a wolf there? Or that there was any danger at all?”
“My…duty to know.”
“Yes, yes. However, I still don’t understand how you could be aware that there was—” She cut herself off short, and paused. “You were so intent on building that lean-to. How do you do that? How do you know of happenings far away from you?”
He shrugged as he stepped down the slope and came down farther into the coulee. “I am…toƞwéya, scout.”
He said these words as though they alone explained the world around them from his point of view. And when she encouraged him to expand upon that a little, and said, “Yes…?” he did little more than nod at her.
“Hear wolf growl?” he asked.
“Wolf…pounce…on you before I kill? Spit and…howl? Bite you?”
His expression didn’t change at all, as he said, “Wolf…rabid. Out of…mind. Had to kill.”
The wolf was rabid?
All at once, the enormity of the danger she’d been in struck her. She swooned, but he’d come to stand close to her, and, clutching hold of his arm, she steadied herself.
“If it had bit me, then I would surely die a most horrible death.” She swallowed hard and continued to speak as though the words were drawn from deep within her soul. “I am obliged to you once again, Mr. Lakota. I—I hardly know how to repay you.”
“No…claim on me,” he said. “It my…duty.” He touched her hand where she still gripped his arm, and he loosened her fingers. But as soon as she stood on her own, her knees buckled under her, and she fell.
He caught her before she reached the ground, and, as his arms came around her, she gazed up into his eyes. They were the color of a crystal-blue sky, and looked so foreign in contrast to the deeply tanned color of his skin. So strange a combination for an Indian.
Then it happened. His head came down toward hers, and his lips were only a fraction of an inch from hers. She was ready for the embrace, and she opened her lips in anticipation of his kiss. But it never materialized.
As though they had both turned to stone, neither one of them moved. Nor did either of them step away from the other. However, neither took action to close the miniscule distance between them.
Her whole body was on fire, and she could barely speak as she asked, “Are you going to do it? Are you going to kiss me?”
“I…dare not,” he whispered, and so close was he, she could feel the movement of his lips on her own as he spoke.
She whispered, “For what you have done for me, I owe you much. If you wish to—”
He put a single finger over her lips. “Do not say it. You…owe me nothing. If I…kiss you, it…be because I want kiss you, not because you…owe me anything.”
“And do you want to kiss me?”
“Hau.” He shut his eyes.
“That word means yes?”
He didn’t answer.
“Do you not do it because of your pledge to Walks-in-sunshine?”
Again, no answer.
He let his arms fall from around her. With a deep breath, he stepped back from her, putting a little distance between them. When her knees wouldn’t stand under her weight and she stumbled, he quickly moved to catch her, but he placed no more than a single arm around her waist.
He said, “No kiss…because one kiss not enough.”
His words stirred her, caused her to realize that he was as moved by her as she was by him, and, in consequence, she might have gone to pieces and plunged to the ground altogether. She didn’t. But only because he held onto her so tightly.
“These…words,” he continued, “we must not say to…each other. Long…trek. Must not…touch again.”
“Forbidden,” was all he said. “Come. We set up…camp. You sleep.”
“And will you sleep, also?”
“Not tonight,” was all he answered, and when he let go of her to turn to walk back in the direction toward their camp, she found her feet were at last able to hold her, and she fell into step behind him, afraid now to be left alone.
So, she thought to herself, the problem between them wasn’t all because of her lessening of morals. Apparently, he perceived the pull of their attraction, too. The only difference between them was that he intended doing nothing about it, while she…?
What was she thinking? She loved Jeffrey, not this man. Therefore, her intent was to do nothing about it, also.
Still, she felt almost helpless to stop admiring the beauty of that bare place where his leggings and breechcloth didn’t quite meet. She did force herself to look away, and as she did so, she pledged that she would resurrect the lessons of her morals, which at present, seemed to be so lacking.