Happy Wednesday, and thanks again to Angelica Dawson for organizing the MidWeekTeases!
This week’s tease comes from my WIP, the dark frontier romance RED BLACK DAWNING.
In this scene: Two days and two nights after the Cross Mountain massacre, Tókwar decides to take care of his captive, a Cheyenne dog soldier wounded during the raid.
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“I’ll fix your leg,” Tókwar offered.
The young Cheyenne glared. “About time. Are you waiting to see me crawl to the river like a wounded snake?”
Tókwar held back a, “You are a snake.” It must cost a warrior a great deal to ask for help, especially from an enemy. Without a word, he grabbed his outreached arm for the second time today and helped him up.
Physical and mental exhaustion wore him out, but he had no right to complain: the woman was even more tired. He grounded his teeth and half-carried, half-pulled the limping young man, as heavy as a dead body, to the beach. “How far?”
Face constricted with pain, the Cheyenne nodded ahead. “There. So I can sit in the water.”
They waded into the cool stream, water sloshing around their ankles, and stopped at knee level. Tókwar held the young man’s arm while slowly lowering him.
Grimacing, the Cheyenne sat in the current with water up to his ribs and shifted until he found a comfortable position. Hopefully, the coldness would numb the throbbing in his broken leg. He scrubbed his hands before splashing water onto his face and blowing out air. It had to have been a long wait, tied to a wagon wheel for two days and two nights. He loosened his braids, tilted his head, and wet his long black hair in the swirling stream.
Tókwar threw a look back to the wagons. They were only thirty feet away, but he didn’t like leaving the woman and the baby unattended. With the decomposing bodies nearby, wildlife had to be roaming—he just hadn’t observed any other than vultures yet. His worst fear was a wild dog bold enough to sneak into the shelter, pick up the baby, and run off with it. Knee-deep in the river, he wouldn’t be able to stop it.
Whether the white woman survived, he had to move on as soon as possible and seek protection for the baby’s sake. Either south, to the tribe his sister married into near the White River, or west, to the Yamparika Ute camp he saw days ago while traveling along the Yampah. He wasn’t sure which was the safest route.
When he gazed back at the young warrior, he was rubbing his chest, stomach, and arms to remove several days’ worth of dirt. Sitting in the river current, he looked like a wet package of long and strong muscles, much like himself. The difference between them was the warrior had trained for combat, while Tókwar took pride in staying fit to provide food for his family.
The Cheyenne wasn’t of much use now with a bad leg. He would most likely choose to tag along until he could travel on his own. But if they sought protection from the Ute, he would be given a deadly welcome.
He paused and glanced up, eyes thinning. “You can stop staring.”
Tókwar chuckled. “I never thought I’d help a fearless warrior to wash.”
The Cheyenne held his look, a spark of humor lighting his black pupils. “As long as you keep your hands to yourself.”
“I would rather have to marry a white woman and bed her for the rest of my life than touch a Cheyenne dog soldier.”
The young man sent a knowing glance to the wagons. “That might very well be what awaits you,” he quipped.
Tókwar contained a smile. The tension between them was easing, and it hit him: by bringing these two representatives of enemy tribes together, Creator proved he had a plan—he wanted them to make peace.
Copyright (c) 2018 Lea Bronsen
Anno 1865. Three regional conflicts, three conflicted hearts.
As the Indian Wars rage in Colorado, Ute hunter Tókwar wanders without purpose after finding his wife and unborn son murdered and mutilated by white trappers. Sick with grief, he’s about to leave for the Spirit World when he witnesses a joint Arapaho/Cheyenne attack on a convoy.
Heavily pregnant Annabelle is the daughter of a cotton plantation owner and his black slave. While her fiancé, a renegade Confederate soldier, is imprisoned at Camp Douglas, she flees the Civil War-ravaged Arkansas with a group of settlers to build a new home at the western frontier.
Dog soldier Hevo thirsts for blood. With his band of warriors on the prowl, he aims to avenge the innocents slaughtered at Sand Creek and wipe out all Pale Faces. His plan comes to an abrupt halt when he’s wounded during a raid gone wrong and forced to assist an enemy Ute deliver a baby.
Becoming responsible for a newborn amid the chaos and pain gives Tókwar some solace, but he knows it’s temporary. The beautiful, feisty mixed-blood mother is restless, and despite his growing attraction for her and fatherly love for her son, he and Hevo must travel east and return her safely to her man. But how will he enter the Pale Faces’ war zone without risking his life—or once more losing his heart?
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