The Wild West Series Book 1
A vision foretold his tribe’s doom. Is the flame-haired beauty the trickster or his true love?
Lucinda Glenforest’s father, a general who’d fought in the Indian Wars, taught his flame-haired daughter to out-shoot even the best men the military could put up against her. When Luci’s sister is seduced and abandoned, it’s up to Luci to defend her honor in a duel. Although she wins, the humiliated captain and his powerful family vow vengeance. The sister’s only hope is to flee and hide until their father returns from his overseas mission. Out of money, Luci hatches a plan to disguise herself as a boy and use her sharpshooting skills in Buffalo Bill’s Wild
The chief of the Assiniboine tribe has a terrifying vision, that someone called the deceiver, or trickster, spells doom for the children of his tribe. He enlists Charles Wind Eagle to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, in hopes of appealing to the President of the United States for help, and to find and stop the deceiver. When Wind Eagle is paired with a girl whom he knows is disguised as a boy, he believes she might be the deceiver. Still, she stirs his heart in ways he must resist, for he has a secret that can never be told, nor ignored. And Luci can never forget that her father would destroy Wind Eagle if she were to fall in love with him.
Forced to work together, they can’t deny their growing attraction. Will Luci and Wind Eagle find a way through the lies to find true love? Or will they be consumed by the passion of deception and slander?
Warning: A sensuous romance that might cause a girl to join the rodeo in order to find true love.
As Lucinda gazed around the clearing where she was to meet up
with Charles Wind Eagle, she continued to bask in her good luck.
Despite Jane’s fear of consequences, Luci felt certain that Charles Wind
Eagle would do her no harm. If anything, her own emotions were more
ecstatic, for she rejoiced in the prospect of working with a man who was
known to be the best archer in this part of the world. But more so than
that, was the knowledge that her disguise was good, and that Mr. Cody
had not asked or had even seemed to suspect that she and Jane were on
the run from the police.
Or so she hoped.
Of course, she would be required to learn and to practice shooting
an arrow as accurately and as fast as her instructor, Mr. Wind Eagle.
And that would take some practice. But Luci felt certain that within a
few weeks, she’d be firing off arrows as well as the best.
His would be a shorter learning experience, she assumed, for she
was fairly certain that she would find that he could draw and pull the
trigger of a gun almost as fast and as accurately as she. There was little
she could do about their upcoming and uneven learning experiences.
However, she made a promise to herself that she would practice hard in
order to shoot an arrow as fast as he, even if it meant arising earlier in
the morning than usual and working on the skill until late into the
He had chosen well for their first practice. These wooded grounds
were as far apart as possible from the living quarters of the rest of the
troupe. As Mr. Eagle had said, it was here that the noise of their
shooting would draw as little attention as possible.
To her chagrin, Charles Wind Eagle was already standing and at
ease at their designated point when she stepped into the clearing. Drat,
she had assumed that she would beat him to these grounds, but she had
been wrong about that.
It was early morning, six o’clock to be exact, and the sun was only
now starting to peep up in the eastern sky. Still, that light, dim though it
might be, was enough to allow her to see the man clearly.
He turned when he detected her presence, and paced toward her
casually. She frowned. Was that the hint of another smile upon his
Yes, it was. She wondered why. Wasn’t it disconcerting enough
to have to be taught a skill by a man who was uneducated, a possible
heathen, and whose people had been at war with her own? That he
should grin at her so easily didn’t fit in with her father’s learned lectures
on the nature of these people. Indeed, if her father were here right now,
he would remind her that there was nothing to recommend the American
Indian; not socially, not mentally or scholastically, and certainly not
Yet, as she looked outward, taking in Mr. Eagle’s tall form as he
slowly paced in her direction, she thought he might possibly be one of
the handsomest men of her acquaintance. Odd, that. From her father’s
colorful description of the Indian, she had thought that this race of
people was ugly beyond description.
But if this were so, her father had undoubtedly never met a man
like Mr. Wind Eagle. Despite herself, her eyes were drawn to his tall,
dark looks. As she gazed at him now, she decided that he might be in
his early twenties, and she calculated that he must stand at about six foot
tall, maybe a fraction less. With black hair, dark brown eyes and a
tanned complexion, his image was purely exotic. His eyebrows were
sparse, though groomed perfectly, and his nose was not hawk-like as
was commonly assumed where Indians were concerned. Rather, his
nose was straight; it was not long and it was, in fact, good-looking; his
lips were full with a well-defined cupid’s bow. His shoulders were so
broad that the “V” which so distinguished the masculine chest and waist
seemed exaggerated. His leg muscles seemed thicker and more
muscular than what she more commonly observed in the male of the
species. But what she couldn’t understand was how he seemed to move
with a grace that defied logic for a man of such masculinity.
His choice of clothing deepened his good looks, also. He wore a
light blue bandana tied around his neck and a short string of blue, white
and red beaded earrings fell from his earlobes. The effect of those
earrings, however, was not feminine; rather on him, it exuded manliness.
His figure was slim, with lean hips, but his long legs seemed to be
unusually muscular, and he wore navy-blue trousers that looked to be
made of cotton; they were beaded and fringed, and, at the bottom, those
pants disappeared into his moccasins. That this particular piece of
clothing was tight-fitting drew too much attention to his legs, and she
quickly decided not to look there. The American Indian breechcloth that
he wore was made of deep blue and white cotton; it was fringed in light
blue and fell to about mid-thigh. She had never before witnessed a man
dressed in breechcloth and trousers, and she wondered why the style was
not more well-known, for the striking look of it was quite masculine.
His feet were shod in blue, white and red beaded moccasins which
were obviously made of leather. His hair was braided and pulled back
from his face, where an attachment held his braided hair together, while
feathers stood up at the back of his head. Long bangs fell down over his
forehead; an odd style for a man.
His shirt was a deep red in color with a white, beaded vest pulled
over it. That vest was tied in front with what appeared to be buckskin
strings, and four squares of blue beads with a white beaded cross in the
middle of it decorated the vest, front and back. Arm guards, made from
metal, were placed above the elbow and at the wrist. Luci, who had
never seen an Indian up close and personal, was impressed not only with
his good looks, but she thought that if she were a boy for real, she would
not want to face this man on the battlefield.
“Mr. Lou-ie.” He pronounced her name in his deep voice with a
slight accent, although it was pleasant. As she gazed up at him, she
caught a gleam of humor in his eye, as he continued, “Later, we will see
to your accuracy with a gun. For now, we will begin your training with
bow and arrows. You will need a bow to start your training, and we
could borrow one of mine for today, but, I think not, for you are smaller
She nodded, and pulled her hat down over her eyes. His voice was
low, slightly hushed and baritone; there was also a quality to it that
caught one’s attention. What she really needed, she decided, was to stop
gaping at him. He was, after all, beneath…
She didn’t finish the thought, for this man certainly did not fit that
lowly description she had often heard in her home. Even though she
loved her father dearly, she realized that if Mr. Eagle were at all
representative of the Indian people, then her father’s accounting of them
left too much unsaid.
But Mr. Eagle was continuing to speak, and he uttered, “We will
look in the midst of these trees for a piece of wood,” he gestured at the stand of trees behind her, “that will be of the kind we need to make your
bow and arrows.”
“But—” her voiced squeaked, and she lowered it as she continued,
“I thought we were going to practice shooting.”
“We are,” he agreed. “We must, as soon as we make a proper bow
and some arrows for you.”
“But couldn’t I borrow or pay for a bow and some arrows from
you, or your own people? After all, it seems a terrible waste of time to
go to the trouble of making my own, when I would gladly pay for a
product already made.”
“And have any of these people you mention ventured to suggest
that you are free to borrow them or purchase them?”
“Well, no, but then I don’t know them or—“
“Among my people, it is considered ill-mannered to ask for an
object of some value that has not been offered. So we will not take that
path. Instead, we will find the right wood, and I will instruct you in how
to make the bow and the arrows you will need. Come,” he clapped her
on the shoulder, causing her to trip forward. He tsk, tsked at her. “If we
are to compete in these contests, you will need to build some muscle
there, my young fellow. I will teach you.” His words were filled with
so much humor that she thought he might be laughing at her. But when
she gazed up at him and looked into his eyes, his countenance appeared
to be somber…except for that slight gleam in his eye.
“But that will take a long time.”
“Not too long,” he replied, then he winked at her. “Come, let’s see
what kind of wood we can find for your new bow.” With this simple
utterance, he turned and stepped into the woods.
The bow with which they are armed is small, and apparently an
insignificant weapon, though one of great and almost incredible power
in the hands of its owner, whose sinews have been from childhood
habituated to its use and service. The length of these bows is generally
about three feet, and sometimes not more than two and a half. They
have, no doubt, studied to get the requisite power in the smallest
compass possible, as it is more easily and handily used on horseback
than one of greater length. The greater number of these bows are made
of ash, or of “bois d’arc” (as the French call it), and lined on the back
with layers of buffalo or deer’s sinews, which are inseparably attached
to them, and give them great elasticity.
—George Catlin, My Life Among the Indians
“Do you know your trees?”
She coughed, obviously lowering her voice. “Not as well as you, I
Wind Eagle chuckled. Humor, teasing, poking fun at her disguise
might be his only means of declaring war against this deceiver, and he determined that he would enjoy this act of discovery and the unmasking
of this woman’s true intentions. For the moment, he ignored his past
experiences and the memory of other women—two women who had
been close to him—who had chosen a similar path as this one.
Oh, to be sure, if he found this girl to be the one who meant harm
for his tribe, he would act. But meanwhile, he intended to tease her
about her deception as cleverly as possible, and often.
Knowing well that the east harbored many ash and hickory trees,
and that this was the wood in this area of the country that made the best
bows and arrows, he deliberately led her astray, and suggested, “The
willow tree might do well for your bow. What do you think?”
“If you suggest it, it must be so.”
He grinned at her and was barely able to contain his laughter.
“Well, come then, let us gather much of its wood and set you to work.
Look for branches littering the ground, for these are already dead.”
“Already dead? Is that important?”
He grinned at her. “You wouldn’t wish to kill a tree, would you?”
He watched her as she frowned. At length, she said, “I…have
never thought about it.”
“Then you must consider it, for a tree holds the same sort of life
that we all do, only in a different form.”
“I’m not certain that’s correct. Aren’t trees and other life forms
here for our ease as human beings?”
“Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean that one should take a life without
“Why?” she continued to argue. “They are only plants, and you
must admit that a man must kill a tree in order to build houses, and,
since all people need shelter, there is no shame in that.”
“Of course you are right, and there is no shame in that…but…” he
trailed out the expression, “…it does not follow that one should take a
life without need. Ask yourself: is the tree not alive? Does it not enjoy
the thrill of life flowing through its many branches?”
“I…I don’t know,” she sighed. “Is it important? I mean, all of the
homes that you see here in this town, all of the businesses, the structures
on these streets—they are all made of wood. Without this, where would
“Much better, I think,” he replied. “But we will not argue that.
Consider, if you will, would you kill a tree or its limbs, only to make
yourself a bow? Is your need greater than the life of this tree?” He
gestured toward the weeping willow tree.
“I…but clipping the limb is like cutting hair, is it not?” Why she
seemed compelled to continue their argument, he didn’t know, and he
could only speculate that the reason might be because his point of view
was foreign to her. But she was continuing to speak, and he gave her his
attention as she muttered, “It doesn’t hurt the tree, after all.”
“And you know with certainty that this is so?”
“Of course I do.”
“I might argue with you about that. But, at present, that is another
point we should not debate. Instead, let us approach the tree, and ask it
if it hurts to trim its limbs.”
“What? Surely you jest.”
He gave her a serious look. “Would I tease you?”
“I…I don’t know you well enough to be able to give you an honest
answer about that.”
He smiled at her. “Perhaps I tease you. Maybe I don’t.” Grasping
her gently by her shoulders, he prodded her toward one of the many
weeping willow trees that grew in these woods. “Listen to the tree as we
try to discover whether it has feelings or not. You must spread your
arms around it, for a tree lives in a different time than we human
When she held back, he urged, “Come, get closer to it; spread your
arms around the tree, and listen.”
He heard her sigh, yet she did as asked and stepped up to the tree,
spreading her arms around it, although, like a woman’s arm span, they
reached only a little about the circumference of the willow. Then he
asked, “Do you hear it breathe?”
“Do you feel its life?”
“No… Wait. I do feel something.”
“What did you say? What does that mean?”
“Good, yes, fine; also a greeting. That is what hau, hau means.”
“Oh.” She repeated, “Hau, hau.”
“Ah, but that is how Nakoda men say those words. Women say,
‘haƞ, haƞ.’ Can you repeat that?”
“And which of those expressions would you say, if you were to be
She gave him an odd, startled look, but she said, “That’s a strange
question for you to ask me. Hau, hau, of course.”
He winked at her. “Of course.”
“With any wood, you must look for as straight a piece of it as
possible. Try to find one that is free of offshoots and knots. You will
want as large a log as you can find and is easy to manage.”
“But I thought that one had to fell a tree to get the wood needed for
“Sometimes, that is true,” he replied. “But this wood that
surrounds our camp is full of large branches that have only recently
fallen, and these will do. Over there—” he pointed, “do you see that big
She nodded and followed him toward it. He picked it up and
presented it to her.
“Do you perceive that it is still wet? Would make bad firewood,
but good material for bow. Do you have a large, firm piece of flint?”
“Here, use mine.” He pushed a piece of flint into her hand, where she stared at it, dumbfounded.
“Ah…all right,” she acknowledged. “But, couldn’t I just go out
and buy a bow and some arrows? If not from your people, there might
be a store in this big city that would carry what I need.”
“Not good. Do we compete Indian-style, fairly matched, or do you
wish to cheat?”
“Think well on what I ask, for your answer will determine your
character, I think.”
It was a serious question, yet within his gaze, his eyes twinkled as
though he were sharing a good joke with her. Even one side of his lips
slanted upward, in a half-hearted grin.
She sighed. It would appear that learning to shoot a bow and
arrow as accurately as he did was going to be a little harder, and require
more work than she had assumed. Yet, she would not be turned away,
and she would not be bested by him on a personal basis. Angling him a
sharp stare, she confessed, “I suppose I would rather buy a bow and some arrows, but, if that is cheating and if that gives me an unfair
advantage over you, a man who has shot a bow and arrow for all his
life,” she continued sarcastically, “then I will do all I can to make a bow
and some arrows as you instruct, but—be warned.” She turned the
sarcasm in her voice into as low and as stern a manner as she could,
saying, “I don’t trust you. There is a light in your eyes that makes me
doubt your sincerity. Although we have only just met, there are now
many times when I have seen humor in your manner as you speak to me.
Do you think that I am stupid?”
“Hiyá, I do not.” He laughed, the action making light of his words.
“But,” he continued after a bit, “I believe that you might be hiding a
truth that I have yet to discover.”
“Baaa…” She made the sound as she blew out a disgusted breath.
Nevertheless, she looked away from him.
“That is what I suspect, but come, we will let the future tell us the
truth. For now, let us set to work and make that bow. Then I will
instruct you on the best way to create arrows that shoot straight every
time. Are you ready to begin?”
She glanced up at him suspiciously, if only because he had given
in to her doubts about him much too quickly. All she said, however,
was, “Yes, let’s start.”
For answer, he merely winked at her, and, clearing a spot on the
ground on which they were to work, he showed her how to use the flint he had given her as a tool to separate the bark from the wood. And, as
the sun arose in the eastern sky, showering her in its light, she threw
herself into the chore, ignoring for the moment that the task was labor
intensive and that the temperature was getting hotter, and hotter….
“The day is warm,” he observed after they had been working over
the making of the bow for several hours. It was true. Had he
deliberately given her a seat in the sun, while he basked in the shade?
Even now, she could feel the beads of sweat that were gathering over her
brow, several making paths down her face, and dripping down the end of
“Why don’t you do as I do,” he suggested, “and take off your
She glanced up at him to witness again that ever-present gleam of
humor in his eye. As her gaze met his, he again winked at her. She
looked away. Why did he seem to be so perpetually in a good mood?
And why did he appear to be continuously laughing at her? Hadn’t her
father said that these people were glum and sullen? She didn’t answer
He continued, “Let us take our leave from this task and journey to
the water that is hidden from the many eyes of the Showman’s performers. There we could cool off from this heat by swimming as
nature intended, as naked as the day we were born.”
Momentarily, she paused, shocked. At last, however, she managed
to mutter, “Ah…no thanks.”
“No?” Again that note of humor entered into his expression.
“Then perhaps we might journey to the arena, where we can both show
each other the strength of our skills.”
The idea of ceasing this project, if only for a moment, seemed to
her to be a gift from the gods, and she at once agreed, saying, “Yes.
That would be most welcome.”
“Then come, follow me,” he encouraged, rising to his feet. “I will
show you the way to the arena that the Showman uses for his exhibition.
That place is somewhat distant from here.”
“Yes, good. How many weeks do we have for practice before the
“Several, I believe. Do you worry about that?”
“Absolutely not. I am certain I can learn to shoot an arrow as well
as you in only a week.” She frowned at him as she sarcastically added,
“Although you have had a lifetime to perfect your skill.”
His only answer to her ill-humor was a round of what appeared to
be good-hearted laughter, and, truth be known, it was given at her