In the midst of a battle for leadership at their Ojibway community, two enemies of opposing families fall in love…
After suffering a humiliating divorce, infuriated Catholic Jude Matawapit bolts to his family’s Ojibway community to begin a new job—but finds himself thrown into a battle for chief as his brother-in-law’s campaign manager. The radical Kabatay clan, with their extreme ideas about traditional Ojibway life, will stop at nothing to claim the leadership position and rid the reserve of Western culture and its religion once and for all, which threatens not only the non-traditional people of the community, but Jude’s chance at a brand-new life he’s creating for his children.
Recovering addict Raven Kabatay will do anything to win the respect and trust of her older siblings and mother after falling deep into drug addiction that brought shame and anger to her family. Not only does she have the opportunity to redeem herself by becoming her brother’s campaign manager for chief—if he wins, she’ll have the reserve’s backing to purchase the gold-mine diner where she works, finally making something of herself. But falling in love with the family’s sworn enemy—the deacon’s eldest son, Jude—will not just betray the Kabatay clan. It could destroy everything Raven believes in and has worked so hard for.
Jude headed up the shoveled walkway and pushed on the glass door. All was quiet inside the diner. He’d timed his break perfect at eleven o’clock. The breakfast crowd was gone, and it was too early for the lunch crew. Only Hank Snowball occupied a table near the back next to the window.
Jude strode up to the counter. Raven appeared from behind the swinging doors, having probably heard the bell tinkling overhead when he’d first arrived.
“Hey.” He removed his parka, slung the coat over the back of the stool, and sat. “I guess those lessons are going well, hmm? I haven’t heard from you.” He set his cell phone on the counter.
“I haven’t heard from you, either.” She flipped over his mug and poured the coffee.
He’d itched to call, but the kids’ reaction had kept floating through his mind. Yes, they seemed fine, but he’d had to make sure they had his attention before he tried sneaking around again.
“Honestly, my paperwork’s this high.” He raised his hand off the counter to indicate a stack of work. “And I had to settle in my kids.”
“How’re they doing?” Raven’s dark eyes brightened with curiosity.
“Fitting in. They like school. They know a lot of kids from their visits here. Same thing at church.”
She set her hand on the counter. Another good sign. She hadn’t made an excuse of being busy.
“Becky has a sleepover at a friend’s tonight, and Noah wants to stay at his grandparents’. It’s a sibling rivalry thing. When one’s at a sleepover, the other has to sleep somewhere else, too. It’s not any different up here.”
Raven’s skin glowed. “Cute. My nieces and nephews are the same way.” She pushed the menu in front of him. “What can I get you?”
You. Yep, he’d missed her. Missed their talks. Missed the flirting. Missed the company of a woman as stunning as Raven. “A bagel. And…” He leaned in. “Seeing how I have the night off…”
She squared her shoulders, and her gaze darted about. Jude’s shoulders also tensed. Second thoughts? God, no. Please. Hopefully she hadn’t changed her mind.
“I… Gosh, there’s so much going on. Nominations are on Monday night…” She clicked her painted nails on the counter.
“I’m a dad. I don’t get nights off too often. Say yes. Please.” He kept his voice low. And he meant please.
Her deep gaze pierced his, searching. Deep enough that he held his breath while the seconds passed, seconds seeming to drag on long enough to punch his contracted abs. Finally, she nodded.
“Okay,” Raven whispered, leaning in slightly. “We…can. Where’re we going? I—”
“I’ll get you. Take a walk down Turtle Road.”
She folded her arms across her flat stomach and again nodded. “What time?”
“Seven. I’ll have the kids dropped off by then. You can show me the camp. Do they still keep the road plowed?”
A ride out to Geoff’s Camp was the perfect spot. The small resort closed for the winter, but people still used the road. At least Jude hoped so.
“Yeah. They do.”
“Then that’s what we’ll do. I’ll bring along some hot chocolate.”
The bell over the door tinkled. Jude swiveled in his seat as two old women came in. When Raven dashed off, he couldn’t resist checking out her long legs and perfect ass. The minutes would drag until he saw her again.