Friday, August 17, 2018

The Clan of the Wolf

The Princess and the Wolf
The Clan of the Wolf Book 1
by Karen Kay
Genre: Historical Romance


Refusing to believe the rumors that the European prince she was forced to marry had died in a far-off land, the princess, Sierra, sets sail to America, bent on revenge and determined to learn the truth. Because she will require a scout to guide her through the wilderness, she calls in a favor from the man who had betrayed her long ago, the man she had once loved deeply and had hoped to wed, the noble Cheyenne scout, High Wolf.

Many years before, a European prince had invited High Wolf to travel an ocean and as a brother, to live as a member of the royal family. There High Wolf had fallen in love with the princess, Sierra. But instead of an engagement and the planned wedding, the princess had treacherously married his friend, the prince. Betrayed and broken-hearted, High Wolf sailed back to America, determined to forget the princess. But a promise given to her years earlier brings her back into his life, igniting a desire he must resist, for to surrender to her again is unthinkable.

Forced into one another’s company, with the threat of life or death around every corner, overcoming their prejudice might be their only means of survival. But can either of them trust in a love, once betrayed? Or will their past force them apart again, this time forever?...

This book has been previously published.

Warning: A sensuous romance that might fan the flames of desire. Be warned. You might fall in love all over again.

Three best friends with a strong bond are put into an unacceptable situation. Forced to marry for family alliance and political reasons, all three make a plan of escape. Unfortunately, things do not go as planned. Even worse, a man who is trusted, because that is the way the society believed in things, turns out not to be trustworthy. He is in fact evil!

I only wish there had been a bit of the book, even a brief look, between the set up and ten years later.
While we do get to see glimpses later, I would have liked a little bit sooner.

Wow- ten years of being married, yet not. Of feeling the ultimate betrayal and total misunderstanding. And oh- the attraction that does not die!

I enjoyed and was at times annoyed by this interesting historical novel.
I loved the strength of the characters and the situations their author made them endure.
I think this is an under presented aspect of history.

Enjoy this excerpt from The Princess and the Wolf

“The housekeeper tells that tis well known the prince would divorce her, were he here,” said the kitchen maid.
“Aye, that he would,” replied the housemaid. “And good riddance, says I. It was she that drove him away. That she did.”

Gossip between servants at
Prince Alathom’s  Castle

“Do you wish anything else before we go ashore?”
“No, Maria,” answered Princess Sierra, watching from her perch high above the dock, as Governor Clark stepped from the carriage, accompanied by an Indian maiden. “I do not require anything else at the moment. You’ve done quite well, my friend, despite the demanding conditions of this vessel.” She gave Maria a brief smile. “Would you please find Mr. Dominic and inform him that I am ready to leave this ship?”
“Yes, Your Highness. At once. Do we go to greet Governor Clark, then?”
“I believe so,” said the princess. “And for this task, I will have need of you both to accompany me.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” Maria said, curtsying before she turned to do as bid.
Sierra smoothed a white-gloved hand over the blue and white muslin of her very full skirt, pulling the lace that bordered her walking dress into place. Straightening her shoulders, she settled her blue and white-lace mantle over the double bouffant of her sleeves, buttoning the mantle’s closure at the neck. Briefly, she touched her wide belt, which was made of the same light blue color as her dress, pulling it a little more tightly around her waist so as to accentuate its most tiny aspect. A white straw bonnet, adorned with ribbons of blue and tied at the neck, completed the image of the fashionable royal that she was.
Opening her blue and white parasol, Sierra narrowed her eyes, placing a hand gently over her forehead as though it were an extra shield from the sun. She frowned.
From her view of it, there seemed to be no sign of the man she had instructed Governor Clark to hire. Had she needlessly tortured herself over this first meeting with High Wolf?
Perhaps he hadn’t yet arrived.
Or maybe, she thought on a grimmer note, he wasn’t coming. Had he mayhap learned that it was she behind the request?
For a moment, she worried over the possibility. As absurd as it might appear, such a thing was possible: He might know of her coming. He’d always seemed to have ways of gleaning information about things—ways that she had never understood. Perhaps he had discovered her scheme well ahead of the fact.
At that thought, Sierra tried to swallow her disappointment.
It wasn’t that she was looking forward to seeing him again. No. It was only that he, and he alone, could lead her to Prince Alathom, and it was Prince Alathom she needed to find and challenge, Prince Alathom whom she would repay in kind...if need be...
Squaring her shoulders and setting her features into as delightful a smile as she could, Princess Sierra pulled unconsciously at her mantle, noticing as she did so that her fingers shook with the effort.
It was then that she caught sight of something in her peripheral vision...something familiar. She turned her head carefully to the left, her eyes colliding with and staring hard at a pair of dark eyes looking directly back at her.
Her stomach flipped over twice before it at last performed a dive toward her toes. She inhaled swiftly to try to quell the reaction.
It was he, High Wolf. He had come, after all.
As impossible as it might seem, she stared back at a face that she had once thought never to see again. Yet, there he was; there, across a very short distance.
And unable to curtail it, she was suddenly awash in nearly palpable relief.
Relief? Nonsense. It was probably more to the point to say that she was glad that her scheme now contained the element of possibility, the possibility of success.
But if he were to be caught looking up at her, she would be staring back down at him as well, almost as though she were hungry for the sight of him…although she corrected herself, this last thought was ridiculous.
Again, she reminded herself that he, as well as the prince, had betrayed her. In different ways, perhaps. But betrayal was certain treachery after all, regardless of the circumstances. And faith, once lost, could never be restored.
Still, despite the intervening years, an all too familiar pain shot through her, and without her conscious will, she found herself scrutinizing the man she had once thought herself to be in love with...a man who had left her for no more than three hundred gold dukaten.
He looked much the same as he had ten years ago, yet different. Whereas High Wolf had been little more than a boy then, he was now very much a man, and he looked bigger somehow, though he was still extraordinarily slim. Perhaps it was because his chest was wider, larger...or perhaps he was more muscular.
He looked...better, more handsome, more virile.
Sierra grimaced at her thoughts and decided to scrutinize something else less potent...his manner of dress, for instance...
Gone were the fashionable trousers and high leather boots that she remembered him wearing in the past; in their place were buckskin leggings, breechcloth and moccasins. Gone also were the carefully stitched linen shirt and cravat so precisely tied, supplanted now with a long buckskin shirt, fringed, with the bottom of it hanging down almost past his breechcloth. An ornament of what looked to be a concatenation of beads and bone, in the shape of a breastplate, hung down over his chest. It was a sight she had never beheld until this moment.
Instead of a hat, however, he now wore feathers on his head—or at least there was one feather sticking straight up behind him. And his hair...
Relegated to the past was the fashionable haircut she recalled so well, displaced now by long, black hair that hung well past his shoulders.
He looked...Indian, alien from all she had ever known and loved. Yet his countenance was, contrarily, as familiar to her as a well-rehearsed play.
And she wondered: Despite their past, would he help her?
Not if he knew her purpose.
Only too well, she recalled that High Wolf considered the prince to be more than a friend. To him, and perhaps rightly so, Prince Alathom was a brother, a brother in fact as well as in deed. Besides, High Wolf would hardly condone her murderous plan...a scheme she fully intended to execute if the prince refused to return to the Continent, whereupon he would take up his responsibilities.
Indeed, she would be satisfied.
Those at home thought she knew nothing of their wagging tongues; they believed their whispered insults were discreet. But Sierra did know. She did care. And he would pay.
Oh, yes, he would pay.
Which meant, she realized, that the real reason for her journey must remain a well-guarded secret; from Governor Clark, from her guides and especially from High Wolf.
She only wondered if she could successfully hide her motives from High Wolf. After all, as she had already surmised, High Wolf was an extremely perceptive man. Might he guess?
Well, it was up to her to keep her secret well hidden. She only hoped she was up to the task.
He stared at her as though he had come face-to-face with his worst nightmare—or maybe his best fantasy. Princess Sierra? Here? Now?
His heart skipped a beat, then picked up its pace, pounding onward in triple speed. High Wolf caught his breath before forcing himself to breathe in and out. In a daze, he stared up at her, feeling as though he were caught in an illusion.
Had she come for him? Had she traveled all this distance to reach out to him, realizing after all this time that she could not live without him, as she had once proclaimed?
Or was she a mere mirage, the same sort of image that haunted his dreams?
Without warning, the desire to run to her, to take her in his arms and embrace her, was almost more real than the solidness of the ground beneath him. Of its own will, the memory of the taste of her, the scent of her, the sweetness of her embrace, overwhelmed him.
And he knew he needed, he wanted to kiss her. Now. In truth, so strong was the desire, he had taken a few steps toward her before he became once more fully aware of himself, and stopped.
The prince. How could he have forgotten the prince—as well as her duplicity—so easily? Where was the prince?
Odd, he thought, how the mind could forget the pain, the anguish, the loss. For a moment, all had been gone, replaced by the simple joy of seeing her again. Odd, too, how his body was even now reacting, that most manly part of him pulsing with every pounding of his heart, remembering, anticipating...what could never be.
He groaned. He had to bring himself, his thoughts, his body under control, quickly.
Concentrate on her faithlessness, he cautioned himself. Hers and Prince Alathom’s.
He glanced to the side of her and all around her. Where was the prince?
And then, as though it came through the fog cluttering his mind, a thought came to him. Governor Clark had hired him, had told High Wolf that he was to escort and protect a royal party, one that was coming to the Americas for a wild-game hunt.
It was the prince and princess . It had to be.
Had the two of them asked for him, personally? For old time’s sake? Was that why Clark had sent for him?
Or was this mere coincidence?
Coincidence? He sneered. High Wolf knew there was no such thing.
Had the two of them no compassion? No pity?
Surely they were aware of what the mere act of seeing them again—together—would do to him.
Or did they think that they could renew friendship? That he would have forgotten?
Well, he had not forgotten; he could not.
Breathing in deeply, High Wolf calmed himself. He was letting his emotions take control of his mind, even of his body. It was possible, he conceded, that he was not thinking clearly, putting elements together that did not necessarily go together.
Besides, he didn’t have to take the job at hand. He had not pledged his word.
And it wouldn’t be as if he were deserting the prince and princess, either. After all, there were these two disreputable trappers that Clark had hired as well.
Wearily, High Wolf glanced at the two shabbily dressed men. Yes, let them have the assignment...while he, High Wolf, quietly disappeared...
Surely, that would be best. For indeed, if this were his initial reaction to the princess—and at this great a distance from her—what would be his fate if he were to witness her beauty closer to hand?
At that thought, a rush of desire swept through him that was as uncontrollable as it was unwelcome. In truth, so swift was his reaction, he rocked back on his feet.
The response shocked him as much as it excited him. And High Wolf knew he had best renew his intention to leave—quickly...
Yet he didn’t budge so much as an inch. In faith, he could not have turned away from her now had he been a saint. Not yet.
Contrarily, another part of him reasoned that little harm could come from feasting his sights upon her for a while longer. Perhaps the image gained could serve to fuel the fiber of his imagination in the lonely nights ahead of him.
Make no mistake, Princess Sierra had always been the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, and it appeared she had changed little, except to have blossomed. More curves, more womanly features.
As he stared, his heart warmed to his subject. Dark curls bounced around her face while her bonnet hid the rest of her coiffure. Oval face, high cheekbones, eyes that he knew were as green as a prairie in spring. Even from this distance, he could attest that her skin still glowed with health and vitality. It was one of the features he remembered most about her. Her skin had been luminous, clear; had shone with a radiance even under cover of darkness, as though she might be lit by a fire within.
How he had loved to run his hands over her face, her neck, those curves...
Cease this, he cautioned himself, letting out his breath.
Yet the mind was often a mysterious thing, and despite himself, his thoughts rambled on. At five foot four, she had always been a slender little thing. He recalled that he had once spanned her waist within the outstretched grip of both his hands. They had laughed about it.  All three of them. Himself, Prince Alathom and the princess.
Odd, how close the three of them had once been, so close they had shared most everything.
High Wolf sighed.
Perhaps it was the way of the world that some things—even good things—were destined to end. Maybe that was why one should reach out for all the happiness he could have, while it still lay within his grasp.
Taking a few steps away, High Wolf at last turned his back on the sight of her. Best to disappear now, as quickly as possible. For of one matter he was entirely certain: He would not escort the princess and the prince. Not now. Not ever.
He took a few steps away.
“High Wolf!”
His insides plummeted at the sound of her voice. Yet he remained steadfast in his decision and kept walking, ignoring the call.
“High Wolf, don’t go!”
Don’t listen to her, he counseled himself. Go now, before she has a chance to weave her spell around you. Go at once .
But even as he thought it, an odd music, a rhythm perchance, began to pound through his mind, reminding him of other places, other times...


“Ho’neoxhaa’eho’ese,” she pronounced his name in Cheyenne as soon as she stepped within a few feet of him. “It has been a long time.”
She did not offer her hand, and her words, softly spoken, cut through him, as though the sound of her voice were blazed in steel. Yet High Wolf simply nodded, trying to shake off the feeling of being ill-at-ease.
In contrast, she seemed all poise and assurance; she even smiled. However, he took careful note, no happiness reached those green eyes before she asked, “How have you been?”
“I am well,” he replied, his voice, usually full-bodied, no more than a dull monotone.
She seemed unaware of any problem with him, however, and replied, “That is good. That is good, indeed.”
“And you?” he inquired politely.
Again, she grinned up at him, before saying, “I am well, as you can see.”
High Wolf inclined his head toward her, catching her eye before he said, “And your husband?”
She flinched as though he might have dealt her a blow, and oddly, her face drained of color, her eyes becoming suddenly dull. Hurriedly, she glanced away.
Frowning, High Wolf ventured further, “Is he in company with you?”
However, the princess did not deign to answer; her gaze looked instead out upon the dock as though it were of great interest—a dock that was streaming with people. “Mr. High Wolf,” she said at last, “over there, due west of us”—she nodded toward the spot—“there is a patch of level ground that looks fairly well deserted of people. I would very much like to take a turn in it, if you would be so kind as to accompany me.”
Take a turn. He hadn’t heard that phrase, hadn’t spoken that phrase in well over ten years. Hearing it again, unfortunately for him, had the effect of turning back time.
Politely, out of a habit from long ago, he bowed at the waist. “I would be happy to join you, Your Highness,” he said, “at some other time. But I am afraid that I have...other business that calls my attention at the moment.”
She acknowledged him with a delicate dip of her head. “I understand,” she said. “I am assuming this business relates to Governor Clark and his hiring you as a guide?”
High Wolf said nothing in reply.
“And I am sure you have already surmised that I am to be the party you are to accompany into the interior.”
He blinked at her, his only acknowledgement.
“And you are considering declining, now that you know more of the facts?” She might have asked it as such, but he knew her words were no question.
He shrugged, saying, “As you say.”
“Very well,” she acknowledged, “although I find it monstrous ill that you can turn so easily away from a promise.”
He raised an eyebrow.
“For you see,” she continued, “I am calling in a favor you once granted me. A favor, you had once said, that would send you to me in a moment of distress. If I remember correctly”—she gave him a sly look—“you vowed to come to my aid if I did no more than call upon you.”
He didn’t blink—not even a single eyelash—as he countered, “All such promises came to nothing, Your Highness, on the day you became Prince Alathom’s wife, by the very nature of that act.”
When she frowned, he went on to observe, “Did you not vow to forsake all others? That would include me, would it not?”
“Perhaps,” she said, then grinned up at him, while High Wolf suddenly found himself at odds, disliking her, while all the while longing to take her in his arms. Instead of doing either, however, he stepped back, away from her.
But she continued, “If I remember correctly, there were no restraints upon your favor when you made the vow, although I do admit it was a long time ago. You merely said, ‘Ask, and I will come.’” She smiled at him flirtatiously. “Perhaps your favors expire with time if not used?”
He shrugged off the insult. “It was the heartfelt promise of a boy from long ago. You have a husband now to attend to your needs.”
“But that is precisely the reason for my visit, Mr. High Wolf,” she said, her expression suddenly modest. “For you see, to all the world, I no longer have a husband.”
High Wolf went very still, his outward demeanor showing little of his agitation. Instead he watched her watching him; saw her scrutinize him, her glance perhaps hoping to find some weakness in him. But High Wolf was too well versed in the ways of a scout, and much too observant to be affected by such an overt contemplation, and with ease, he carefully hid the sudden quickening of his heart.
But she was continuing to speak, and said, “Now, please, Mr. High Wolf, let us take that turn.” And sweeping her skirts with a grand gesture, she stepped toward the place she had earlier indicated, though shortly she turned back. “Mr. Dominic,” she called over her shoulder, “please inform Governor Clark that I will join him soon. I shall be only a moment.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” said Mr. Dominic, and bowing, turned away.
Slowly, Princess Sierra pivoted around, her gaze capturing his . “Now, Mr. High Wolf,” she said, “shall we?”
And High Wolf, bound by an imprudent oath from his past, had no other option—at least none at the moment—but to hear her out. And though he wished himself somewhere else—anywhere else—he followed her lead.


A shadow crept over the water, moving steadily forward. It was looking for something, or someone. But what? Or rather, who?

Such a romantic opinion of the land was short-lived, to be sure; a mere illusion. By evening, Princess Sierra was once again to be found on deck, leaning against the railing, gazing down into the depths of the muddy and frightening waters of the Missouri River.
The boat was in readiness to move into position for its nightly mooring, and every voyageur was involved in the process of maneuvering the Diana through the heavy currents of the river. Perhaps that was why the air was heavy with smoke, much more so than usual. Or maybe it had something to do with the wind, which had shifted from the west to the north.
Dusk had yet to fade into darkness. Indeed, it was still quite light out, despite the fact that the sun was ever so gradually setting. Odd how the land picked up the pink and golden hues of the sky at sunset, the land magnifying the sunset’s intensity by creating the illusion that sky and land were one and the same. It gave a body the feeling of space, as though a person’s troubles gained room, moving away and dissipating.
But Sierra’s problems were far too large for the simple act of gaining space to solve them. The rift between herself and the prince, between herself and High Wolf, was too immense to make the grievance so easily resolved.
Still, glancing away from the sunset, she brought her sights back to the water, noticing how even the river mirrored the sky; the pinks, the blues, the golden hues. For a moment, if a moment only, these sights gave her peace.
Leisurely, she glanced toward a large stick, which had become caught up in the current, the force of the river itself spinning it, making the stick look as though it were though it might be a dancer.
It reminded her of another place, another time...a happier time. And without consciously wishing it, she remembered...

Wide-eyed, Sierra Morena Colheart watched the toy ballet dancer spin in time to the tinkling strain of the music box. She stared at the miniature dancer, fascinated, until the music at last slowed and the dancer stopped. Glancing up at herself in the mirror, the sixteen-year-old princess smiled at her own image; her grin, young and fresh, was full of vigor. Indeed, it was the giddy gesture of a young woman in love.
Ah, she thought. Tonight was the night. Tonight it would happen. Dreamy-eyed, she stared out her window, only to witness the reddish rays of the setting sun.
Goodness, how long had she sat here, lost in thought? What was the time? Was it already half past six, the scheduled time she was to meet High Wolf? Was he even now awaiting her in their own secret place?
Glancing at the grand, old clock in the corner of her room, she realized she was “going before herself again,” as High Wolf had often said of her, which meant, she supposed, that she was living in the future instead of the present. The clock read only a quarter to five.
Still, she had much to do to prepare for the evening. Where was her maid?
Arising from her seat at the vanity, Sierra felt the urge to run to the rope that would summon Maria. But instead, she cautioned herself into taking steps that were as precise and dignified as her anxious heart would allow. But even then, a silent voice reprimanded:
“A monarch never hurries. Others will wait. You must learn, Princess Sierra, purred Father Junipero, “to sweep into a room as though you own it, and everyone in it.”
But sometimes, thought Sierra, she wished to simply let go of convention and formality. Wasn’t that what High Wolf often did? And if there were one wish Princess Sierra desired more than anything, it was to do everything that High Wolf found exciting.
Still, the habits of the last sixteen years could hardly be ignored, and she walked as calmly as she could to her door, where she rang for her maid.
Almost at once, Maria knocked gently at the door.
“Yes, Maria, do come in.”
Maria did as bid, bowing as she came farther into the room. “May I be of service, Your Highness?” she asked.
Sierra grinned. “Yes, you may, Maria. I need to dress for this evening, for it is to be a very special evening.”
Maria nodded. “Yes, Your Highness. That it is,” she said. “Have you thought of what you might wear? The yellow gown always looks well on you, as does the blue. Although since this is to be a special night, you might think of wearing the new gros de Naples gown. What do you think?”
“Hmmm. The gros de Naples, I think, but not the brown one. The pink one with the satin flowers and pearls. And of course I’ll need my long gloves, the pink pair.”
“Yes, Your Highness. The pink pair.”
“Oh, Maria, think of it,” urged the princess, holding up a pelisse robe to her bosom while she spun about in place. “This is the night my engagement is to be announced. It is to be the best night of my life. I just know it. I can feel it.”
Maria grinned back happily. “Yes, Your Highness,” she said matter-of-factly, and stepped to the closet, where she extracted a pair of white slippers.
“The pink ones, please, Maria.”
“Yes, of course,” agreed Maria, replacing the white pair. “And your hair? Would you prefer ringlets at the side of your face, as you usually wear, or curls?”
“Ringlets, I believe, as well as...
“Ah, yes, pearls. Pearls to ornament my hair tonight instead of a coronet or tiara.”
“Yes, Your Highness. It will be beautiful. You will be beautiful.”
“Do you really think so?”
“I do.”
“But we must hurry, I think. I’m to meet with High Wolf and the prince before the ball, and I don’t wish to be late.”
“Heaven forbid, Your Highness.”
For a moment, Sierra stopped, glancing askance at her maid. And then, without a word being spoken between the two of them, both females broke out in laughter.
Maria said, “I think the gentlemen will wait, do you not think so, also?”
“I believe you are right,” said Sierra. “The gentlemen will wait. But still, I would not cheat myself of a single moment that I might spend with High Wolf.”
Maria smiled. “Ah, to be so much in love. I wish it were I.”
“Someday it will be, Maria. But for now we must hurry.”
“Yes, Your Highness. We must. Now, if you would be so kind as to be seated, I will begin work on your hair.”
“Yes, Maria,” said the princess, dutifully taking her place at the vanity. “Anything you say, Maria,” she said, grinning widely and catching her maid’s gaze before both young women succumbed once again to a fit of giggles..
“Princess Sierra? Your Highness, shall I turn down your bed?”
Sierra jumped, startled. Maria’s voice, so close at hand, awakened her from out of the past, but none too gently. She took a moment to compose herself before saying, “Ah, no, not yet, Maria. I think I may watch the sunset for a while tonight. For in truth, you caught me deep in thought.”
“Did I?” asked Maria. “I am so sorry. And yet, it is a beautiful sunset. I can easily see how one could get lost in it.”
Maria hesitated, as though waiting for her mistress to say more, but when Sierra remained silent, Maria spoke up, saying, “If you don’t mind, I believe I will go on below and prepare your bed anyway. Perhaps an early bedtime for me, also, will refresh me.”
“That would be most advantageous,” said Sierra. “In the meanwhile, I think I’ll go topside and have a talk with our captain about this journey and when we might at last arrive at our destination.”
“Ah,” said Maria, “that would be most opportune.”
“Thank you, Maria.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” said Maria, and curtsying, she retreated.
But Sierra never did seek out the captain, nor did she change her position from against the rail. Too many thoughts had been brought back to mind; too many recollections were close to hand. And without consciously willing it, her mind replayed that most memorable night...
“My father said he would be announcing your engagement tonight,” said Prince Alathom.
Both Sierra and High Wolf grinned at each other, while High Wolf took her gloved hand in his, bringing it to his lips, where he pressed a kiss upon it. He said, “You are the most stunning creature in all the world .”
Sierra blushed, then grinned and looked shyly away. “There are many more young women who are prettier still than I. Many.”
“Where?” asked High Wolf. “Show them to me, for I do not think they exist.”
Sierra merely smiled rapturously up at him while Prince Alathom groaned aloud, saying, “I’m going to have to teach you some new forms of flattery, my fine friend, for I tire of hearing the same words said over and over.”
“Tire all you like,” High Wolf objected. “You may go elsewhere if you don’t like it, for I speak only the truth as I see it.”
Despite all her upbringing to the contrary, Princess Sierra giggled. Just then, as though in accompaniment to the merry sound of the three friends’ laughter, the strains of violins and cellos reached out to them.
“Oh, High Wolf, Alathom, the dance begins,” Sierra observed. “And I am so very anxious to dance. Shall we go?”
“We shall,” agreed High Wolf as he linked her arm with his, leaving Prince Alathom to follow along behind them, a circumstance to which the prince had never given objection.
“Alathom?” the princess called out over her shoulder.
“Please, come up on the other side of me, that the three of us may enter into the room together and be announced at the same time.”
And without another word, Prince Alathom did exactly as asked...
Loud bells rang out unpleasantly, interrupting her reminiscence.
What was that? Fire? Here? Now? Was that why there had been a smoke-heavy odor in the air?
“All hands on deck,” rang out the call. “All hands on deck. Fire!”
Without further pause, what had once been a calm evening turned riotous. Men rushed by her, below her, above her. Horses whinnied in the haul, while the hogs shrieked.
Sierra stood still, frozen, watching, barely able to comprehend the danger as being real. It had seemed so quiet only a few moments previous. Where was Mr. Dominic? Where was Maria?
She needed to find Turning, she backed up from the railing, intent on running away. However, she did no more than set herself into the path of a voyageur, who had suddenly come upon her. Inadvertently, she knocked him to the deck.
“I’m so sorry,” she apologized as she threw herself forward and out of the way. Quickly, she clung to the rail as the man jumped to his feet and sped away, all without uttering a word.
“Your Highness.”
It was Mr. Dominic. Somehow he had found her.
“Your Highness, you must come this way.” Taking hold of her elbow, he gestured toward his left. “I will see you safely into the lifeboat.”
“A lifeboat?” Abruptly, the panic of those around her took substance, became more of a reality. Still, “Surely that’s not necessary, is it? These men are undoubtedly able to put out a fire.”
“That they probably are, Your Highness, but there is still danger in staying here. If the voyageurs do manage to put out the fire, you can always reboard. But first you must be safe.”
“Do you know what has caused this?”
“Yes, Your Highness. The cotton being carried upriver caught fire, and has nearly consumed the lower level. It has been discovered too late, I fear. Now, come. There is no time to lose.”
Taking her arm, he propelled her along with him as he fought his way toward the lifeboat, shoving through the hurrying crowd of voyageurs. Confusion reigned supreme, and men rushed by them with little regard to what they did, more times than not pushing Mr. Dominic and Sierra out of the way.
Within moments, although it seemed to Sierra to take a lifetime, the two caught a glimpse of the lifeboat. Through the haze of smoke, they could see that several other passengers were scrambling toward it.
Sierra stared around her, coughing as she inhaled soot and smoke. “Where is Maria?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” answered Mr. Dominic, “but I am certain she will find her way here on her own.”
“Find her own way?... Mr. Dominic, do not lie to me. If she could easily come here, she would be here. Why is she not?”
Mr. Dominic didn’t answer.
“There must be trouble, I fear. Please, go and see to her.”
“I cannot, Your Highness. My first duty is to you, and we must get you quickly aboard this lifeboat, while there is still room aboard her.”
“Yes, you are right, I must, but you will not stay with me a moment longer. You are to go and find Maria.”
“Your Highness,” pleaded Mr. Dominic, “you cannot not ask me to desert you. It would cause me great alarm, for not only are you my first concern, I am duty-bound to your father, having promised him that I would not leave your side.”
“Mr. Dominic, how could you make a promise like that to my father?”
“It seemed little enough to ask.”
“Yes, well, you can ease your mind, Mr. Dominic. You have done your duty. My father could not have foreseen all situations that would arise on this trip.”
Mr. Dominic didn’t answer.
“Do you not see? I cannot leave this vessel until I can determine what has happened to Maria. What if she has fallen somewhere? My mind would never rest easy if I saved myself and deserted her.”
“But Your Highness—”
“It is either you go to see about her, or I will do it, myself.”
Mr. Dominic looked uncertain.
“Man the lifeboat!”
Eyes wide, Sierra grabbed hold of Mr. Dominic’s sleeve. She pleaded, “Tell me, is there another lifeboat aboard this vessel?”
“No, there is not, Your Highness.”
“Then you must leave this instant. You must find Maria, stay with her and keep her safe. Do you hear me? I will gladly step into this lifeboat, but not until you—”
Suddenly, Mr. Dominic bent over and picked her up, setting her into the boat. Then, straddling one leg over the side of the boat, he began to climb into it.
But Sierra would have none of that. She jumped up from her seat, straddling the boat herself, her pose an obvious dare. “Please.  I command you to find Maria this very instant. I would be of little help to her, as I cannot swim, but if you do not go, I will.”
“Your Highness, I beg you. I...” Mr. Dominic trailed off his objection, looking, for all that he was big and muscular, as though he might wail. But at last he appeared to capitulate, releasing his straddle from the lifeboat.
“Now go!” It was Sierra commanding again. “Before more time is wasted, go! I promise that I will ride this lifeboat to shore. Do not worry about me. I will await you both from the safety of the shoreline. Go quickly!”
Mr. Dominic looked as though he would raise yet another objection, but, as the flames climbed higher into the smoke-laden sky, and with little choice other than to obey his monarch, Mr. Dominic turned and fled in the direction of the maid’s cabin.

Chapter 9

“ ’Tis said she is the cause of our own prince’s death.”
“Aye,” said the housemaid, “that she is. ’Tis rumored as well that he died rather than return here to her side.”
Gossip between servants at
Prince Alathom’s castle

Brave Wolf and the Lady
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?

Traveling to an unsettled area to escape an arranged marriage, Mia is from a privileged family.
On her own after everyone in her wagon train is murdered, her life depends upon a half white Indian man who has pledged to take her to safety. As they travel, their mutual attraction grows and moral dilemmas escalate. Can they remain strong and true to their own values?
Is their love for each other real or caused by circumstances? Would any of it matter to Mia's father, who wants her to marry for his benefit?

A sweet story about survival both physical and spiritual. 
What is the true nature of love?
Can two people of truly different backgrounds find common ground and build a future?

As we join in their journey we also learn more about the Lakota people and language.

Enjoy this excerpt from Brave Wolf and the Lady,
Book 2 in The Clan of the Wolf series.

     She awoke slowly, and to the scent of the fresh, wet dew that had settled over the entire landscape.  The cloud-like moisture that hung over everything made for a gray morning, yet there was something comforting about it, all the same.  In the distance, the sound of many different bird songs filled the air with music, and she wished that she could distinguish one song from the other.  But she couldn’t, and she sighed at her inability.
          Soon a deep, masculine voice, raised in song, drifted to her on the breeze.  Of course, the voice had to belong to Mr. Lakota.  What time was it?  Where was he?  He sounded far away. 
          Already the low-to-the-ground moisture was giving way to the new day.  Was that really a pinkish-orange sun showing through the scattering of the steel gray mist and light-colored blue clouds?  Obviously it was morning, and soon they would be back upon the trail.  Shame.  She would have liked to linger here if only to “catch her breath.”
          She started to rise, but winced when her muscles refused to obey her.  Fair enough, she thought, and she lay back down, only to find herself staring straight up.  Dawn crept into the sky slowly today, but even still, faint colors of orange and pink were settling into the gray-blackened sky.  The feel of the wet mist touched her everywhere, bringing with it the scents of mud, grass and prairie flowers.
          Below her the ground was soft and giving, encompassing her weight with ease.  The blanket that he had laid beneath her was warm, and for a moment, she experienced a feeling of well-being.
          But the awareness was quickly gone, replaced instead by the utter realization of her loss.  The tears, which were never far away, blurred her vision.  She sobbed, then she checked it.  She didn’t want him to know she was awake.  Why she felt this way, she didn’t understand.  She only knew that these few moments alone felt important to her well-being.
          Luckily, he appeared to not notice her at all, for his singing continued, his voice deep and baritone.  In many ways it was soothing to listen to him, but after a while she began to wonder what he was doing, and why he was singing at such an early hour of the morning, and to whom was he paying tribute?
          Turning silently onto her side, she saw him at last, and despite herself, she found the sight of him inspiring.  He was facing east, his arms outstretched, as though he welcomed the misty warmth of sun into them.  Perhaps he was. 
          She watched him for the spread of a few more moments, admiring the muscles in his broad shoulders.  The two lengths of his hair-braids fell down over his back, a back which narrowed in a V-shape into his breechcloth.  An eagle’s feather waved back and forth in the ever-present wind, and she was reminded that there was a beauty to this moment that even she didn’t understand.
          That’s when she realized it. 
          He was praying.
          She sat up smoothly, so as not to distract him.  Was she wrong about that?  No.
          He was standing, his legs apart, his arms open.  And he sang and he sang.
          There was a wonderment to the moment that reached out to her, but rather than such pleasure bringing her relief, her appreciation brought on more tears, which fell gently onto her bosom.   That’s when it struck her: she hadn’t talked to the Lord since she had laid Jeffrey in the ground.  Perhaps there was reason for that lack, for she couldn’t understand why God had taken a person so precious from her.
          Watching Mr. Lakota carefully, she discovered a need in her to do the same.  Perhaps a talk with the Lord might help her to understand her loss.
          She rose up to a sitting position, and from there she came to her knees, and then onto her feet.  She took up her rifle, placing it in the crook of her arm, as she stepped toward him, and reaching him, she fell to her knees.  With head bowed, she brought her free hand to his, taking his in her own.
          It gave her comfort to know he was there, to know that he, too, was praying.  Perhaps between the two of them, God might smile more favorably on her...on them both, and perhaps He might forgive her the anger, the absolute horror, that even now stirred in her soul...
          Her hand squeezed his, and he realized its gentle pressure brought him pleasure.  It wasn’t that he was surprised by her appearance by his side, for he’d known when she had awakened, and he’d heard her footfalls, quiet though they had been. But her action in touching him created a flood of feeling within him that he was not prepared to understand.  It was the first time she had reached out toward him, and he was surprised that he liked it.
          Leaving his hand held tightly within hers, he glanced down at her as she knelt by his side.  Her hair, tousled from sleep, shone with a wild, reddish hue, here beneath the grandiose of the pink and golden sky.  Her eyes were shut and her head was bent toward the ground.
          He understood.  She had come here to pray with him and to give thanks to the Creator for a new day.  After a while, he gazed away from her, turning his attention back toward the early morning sun, as the misty world around them exploded with a mirage of colors, steel gray of the sky, orange, pink and blue rays of the morning light. 
          “Hepela hepela!
          “Onsimala ye.  Omakiyi ye.
          “Cante’was’teya o’ciciyin kte.

          “Hepela hepela!
          “Onsimala ye.  Omakiyi ye.
          “Cante’was’teya o’ciciyin kte.

          “Hepela hepela!
          “Onsimala ye.  Omakiyi ye.
          “Cante’was’teya o’ciciyin kte.

          He finished the song, yet he didn’t relinquish her hand.  They stood thusly, each seemingly reluctant to bring the moment to a close.  It was as though time itself had ceased to be, and though slow to acknowledge his feelings, he felt a part of him draw closer to her.  From out the corner of his eye, he saw her make the sign of a cross over her head and chest, and he realized her prayer had come to an end.
          At last she looked up at him, and he turned his gaze on her entirely.  Her eyes looked like large, doe-colored jewels in her heart-shaped face; they appeared to question him, and he held that look, until at last, she gazed away.  At length, she struggled to her feet and he took her weight upon him easily as he helped her up. 
          Neither of them spoke.  There seemed to be no need.  At last she voiced, “Thank you.”
          He nodded briefly.
          She let go of his hand then, and he surprised himself by the bereft feeling he experienced at its loss.
          He said, “ is to...welcome giving thanks to...Creator. here every...morning...if”  His voice, he noted, was husky, and he was stunned by that fact.
          “I would like that,” she murmured in a tone that sounded as throaty as his.  She glanced toward the ground.  “I would like that very much.”
          “Waste, good,” he voiced with a quick motion of his hand away from his chest.  “It...good.  Now...we must...prepare.  Long...trek we have...this day.”
          “Yes, yes, of course,” she spoke quickly, glancing away from him before she turned to take the necessary steps back to the place where she had slept.  He watched her momentarily as she picked up the blanket that had buffered her from the ground during the night.  He saw her fold it and place it in one of his bags.
          That’s when he realized that she would be wanting a bath.  All creatures needed the cleanliness of the water, but women in particular seemed to enjoy these necessities excessively, even when on the move.  It would be his duty to locate a secluded place, free from the danger of enemy eyes, where she could freshen herself.
          Idly he realized she would require freedom from his wandering glance as well.  It was not a comforting thought to realize that an image of her body, completely naked, entered into his imaginings.  With force of will, he refused to think that thought again...
          She hobbled a little to try to catch up with him.  He turned back toward her, squinting at her.
          “You...find...leather of...shoe?”
          “I...I did not.  I searched for it everywhere.  But...”
          He stepped back toward her, retracing his path.  As he came up level with her, he ordered, “You...stay...”
          “I am no dog, sir, to be told to sit, stay or roll over.”
          He grinned at her.  “I...not...confused about...that.”
          She crossed her arms over her chest.  “I looked and looked for the sole of my shoe, but I couldn’t find it.”
          “I will...find it.”
          “No.  I’m afraid to be left alone.”
          His fleeting look at her was enough to cause Mia to realize that her defiance frustrated him.  After four days of travel with this man, she had become used to witnessing the tiny nuances that told of this young man’s emotional moods.  Years from now, she thought, he would most likely master those miniscule flickers of concern.
          For now she was glad to have acquired some means to recognize his frame of mind.  She said, “Please don’t be upset with me.  The pea vines and other prickly bushes are constantly stinging me and tearing at my dress.  It’s so much easier to find a piece of my clothing hanging from a bush, than it is to locate the bottom of my shoe stuck in the mud somewhere.  The tall grass alone makes it hard to see the ground clearly, and when I bend to look to try to find it, I get pricked.”
          He nodded.  “You speak...true.  This...why I go...find it.  Easier for me.”
          “I...can’t.  I can’t be without you.”
          For a moment she caught a surprised light in his eye as he regarded her.
          “Don’t you see?” she went on to explain.  “What if something happened to you?  What if you didn’t return?  I would rather be with you and face what you face, even if that be death, than to stay here on my own, unknowing.  Without you I would die here in this world of grass and vines.”
          The curious look was gone, and in its place was a glimpse of...  Was that admiration?
          He said, “Understood.  Will try to...teach you way...of prairie.  Then not be...afraid.”
          “Good,” she acknowledged.  “I would appreciate that, but that’s in the future.  For now, I must go with you.”
          He drew his brows together in a frown as he stepped toward her.  Nevertheless, he uttered, “Then walk...low to ground.  Like this...”  He bent over double. 
          “All right, I will.  But why must we spend so much time trying to find this?  What difference does the bottom of a shoe make?  Truly, who’s to see it in this environment of dirt and grass?”
          “Land full...”  He waved his hands out and away from him.  “...of Indian tonwe’ya, scouts.  If find shoe...they follow...our...trail.  Us they kill...maybe.”
          “Oh,” she frowned.  “I see.  Is that why you’ve had me go back over the trail so many times to find the pieces of my dress when I’ve torn it on the bushes?”
          “It is so.”
          She sighed.  “Then I had better help you, I suppose, and be more careful where I step a foot, for it was in a muddy patch of ground where I lost my shoe’s sole.”
          “Waste, good.  Ito’ come.”
          Mimicking him, she grappled with the rifle to find a comfortable position, then she bent over at the waist, following him as they made a slow progress back over their tracks.  Amazingly, she had no doubt that he would find that stray piece of leather, and he did not disappoint.  Within a relatively short time, he held the wayward sole of her boot in his hand.
          She limped toward him, and reached out for it, but he did not immediately give it to her.  Instead, he made a sign to her, and turning away, he indicated that she should follow him again, traveling once more in that bent over position.
          Shutting her eyes on a deep sigh, she realized she had little choice but to do as he asked.
Brave Wolf and the Lady
Book 2, The Clan of the Wolf Series
Karen Kay

Writing under the pen names of Karen Kay and Gen Bailey, Karen is a multi-published author of Native American historical romances. She has been praised by reviewers and fans alike for bringing the historic American Indian culture to life, and she has been nominated for several different awards. Karen's great-grandmother was Choctaw Indian, and because of this, she is honored to be able to write stories that depict the Native American point of view.

All of her books concern the Native American culture, and says Karen, "With the power and passion of romance, I hope to bring about an awareness of the vital forces that helped shape the American Indian culture. There are some things that should never be forgotten."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for hostessing this blog today, and thank you for reading and reviewing the books. Thank you. So very appreciated that you spent your time on my behalf. And such a beautiful website.


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