Seneca warrior White Thunder discovers a near-drowned beautiful white woman by The-Lake-That-Turns-to-Rapids. In the safety of a nearby cave, he revives her and cares for her, but she has no memory of past events—nor even her own name. Gradually, Sarah’s memory returns, and she knows that another young woman, Marisa, whom she once traveled with, is in grave danger. Only Sarah holds the key to saving them from an evil man who holds the power of life and death over both women. Honor-bound by his oath to his wife, Wild Mint, who was murdered fifteen years earlier, White Thunder is torn. How can he help Sarah when he must finish his sworn mission to find Wild Mint’s killer? With the French and Indian War raging around them, White Thunder and Sarah fall in love against all odds—but will they survive to share the life they’ve hoped for together?
Her touch was as cold as a blizzard in the dead of winter. He reached out for her, but she giggled and moved out of his grasp.
He followed her. “Wait for me,” he called, but she had the advantage of floating over the grasses and tree trunks.
She stopped suddenly, allowing him to catch up to her. She gazed up at him and smiled, her round and pretty face mirroring her delight. Then she pointed to the plant that grew directly beneath her feet.
He recognized that plant. It was one his grandmother had often collected. Its root was used for…
He awoke from his sleep suddenly. Where was he?
Glancing around him, he realized he had never left the cave. It had been a dream, of course. Looking up, he took note of Little Autumn in the foreground, working over the fire, and he sighed.
Ah, she was beautiful..
She was stoking the flames of the blaze in an effort to cook something, which smelled very much like a stew. The aroma of it was intoxicating and rich with the scents of bone broth, wild spices and fresh herbs, and as he inhaled deeply, his stomach growled.
Narrowing his gaze on her, he studied this woman more closely. Her beauty was, indeed, without comparison, and remembering all she had told him earlier, he found it singularly odd that, indentured servitude or not, she had never married.
Her hair had escaped the knot she’d used to tie it back, and golden-blonde tendrils fell in loose ringlets around her face. Her dress was simple, a casual affair consisting of a tight-laced structure that made her waist look as if he might span it with his hands. Petticoats that were stiff and hooped on the side brought her a measure of dignity, though the front of her gown was dangerously low at her chest, beneath which her nipples played an enticing game of peek-a-boo with him.
A curl bounced around her face while she worked, and he knew a desire to twirl its softness around his finger so he could study the differences in its color, from pale blonde to tawny to daffodil. She was a delicately built woman, small and feminine, and without consciously willing it, his loins stirred to life as he watched her at her task.
To counter the effect she was having on him, he sat up, yawned and stretched. “I believe I know how to keep you from becoming pregnant.”
She clasped her hand to her chest and sent him a surprised look. “You gave me a fright, sir. I didn’t know you were awake.”
“I have roused myself only recently.”
“Yes, you have been asleep for some time. I’m glad you were able to rest easily and long. I have meanwhile made us a soup for our supper. There were many roots and vegetables that you collected, and I have used some of them.”
“It smells like a feast, and I am hungry.”
She picked up one of the shells that he had fashioned into a bowl and using it, scooped out some soup. “Shall I bring the stew to you?”
“I can come there to you.” He struggled to get to his feet. It wasn’t as easy as he’d thought it would be, and he had almost collapsed before she rushed to his side to steady him.
“What are you thinking?” she scolded. “You need rest in order to recover. One would suppose, the way you are acting, that you battle with bears daily.”
He smiled. “Almost.”
She helped him to sit back upon his bed, then straightened the blanket and pine boughs around him. “I’ll bring you the soup.”
“Good.” He shut his eyes. “Good.”
She was gone only a moment. “Careful,” she said as he made to take the shell full of broth and vegetables out of her hands. “It’s hot.”
He grinned at her and caressed her fingers as he accepted the shell. When she didn’t pull away, he stared straight into the depths of her gentle blue eyes, as though by doing so, he might see into her soul.
He murmured, “I was watching you as you worked.”
“Were you, sir?”
“And what did you see?”
“A beautiful woman. A woman I would like to spend the rest of my life with, if only things were different.”
She gazed away from him. “But they are not different.” She pulled her hand away from his. “Do you like the soup?”
He took a sip. It was very good. “You spoke true. You are an excellent cook.”
She smiled at him, and as she did so, it was as if the sun shone upon him, even in this dark and dreary cave. It was the sort of grin that made him feel as if he were seventeen again, complete with all the wild impulses of the very young. So lovely was she, he might likely die a happy man to simply look at her.
Upon that thought, he drank the rest of the soup without once dropping his gaze from hers. Indeed, with his eyes, he caressed her. At last, the stew was gone, and he handed the shell back to her.
“Would you like some more?”
“Nyoh, yes, please.” He watched as she came up to her feet and stepped toward the fire, admiring the feminine sway of her hips as she moved. When she returned, he again caught her hand, only this time he didn’t let it go. “I have found a remedy for one of our problems.”
“Yes, I have come to realize there is a root that grows with profusion in these woods, and that, if I prepare it in the correct manner, it might well keep you from becoming pregnant. I used to watch my grandmother make medicine from these roots. Hopefully, it is not too late in the season for me to find this plant and pull it up, roots and all. I will begin a search for it as soon as I’m able.”
As he stared at her, he took note of the rosy color flooding her countenance, even as she glanced away from him. But she didn’t withdraw her hand from his.
In due time, he said, “In my dreams, Wild Mint showed me this root. I had forgotten it. But I was never apt at learning all that my grandmother knew, though she did try to instruct me.”
Sarah frowned at him. “It is a shame your grandmother wasn’t able to teach you all of her skills. I’m certain she knew much more about these things than I will ever know. But, sir, I would like to note an observation.”
“Has it ever come to your attention that you speak of Wild Mint as if she were a living being?”
“Indeed I do. That is because she does live, but no longer in the flesh…”