By: Mary Suzanne | Other books by Mary Suzanne
Published By: Romance Divine LLC
Published: Feb 15, 2013
ISBN # 9781935757757
Published By: Romance Divine LLC
Published: Feb 15, 2013
ISBN # 9781935757757
Word Count: 43,173
Available in: Adobe Acrobat, HTML, Epub
Flame by Mary Suzanne - Romance>Action/AdventureYoung Calley McNight leaves Boston to pursue a new life and freedom in the western territory, and finds beauty in the prairies and forests, and in the indigenous inhabitants. The first savage she meets, a man unlike any other she ever met in proper New England, steals her heart. Lakota would be the next Chief of his tribe and he would make Calley…his woman. Could their love survive the dangers of the new American wilderness and the clash of two cultures? Nothing burns hotter than a man’s love for the woman he calls…FLAME.
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A brilliant flashing color caught her attention. Off in the distance, she saw a cloud of dust rolling across the sun-baked plains. I think someone’s trying to catch our wagon.
Calley eyes narrowed against the glaring sun trying to discern the identity of the lone rider. As the horse drew nearer, her eyes widened. A man, with shoulder-length, black hair, sat astride a tall, spotted pony. He drew alongside the wagon and stopped his prancing horse.
Suddenly, several thoughts drifted through her head. His bare chest resembled the color of teak. She noted the red jagged lines painted on the stranger’s face. Beneath the bright paint, she could see his fine chiseled features. He certainly was a handsome and strong looking specimen. Her gaze drifted down his body, taking in the beige buckskin material on his muscled thighs. He wore woven moccasins on his feet.
There wasn't a doubt in her mind that he was one of the Indians she'd heard so much about from the many settlers they'd met on the trip. Savages were what most people called them because of their rampages on the white settlements. Instead of fear, she felt intrigued by their unexpected visitor. A thrill of excitement raced through her body simply looking across at him.
As his restless pony drew even closer to the wagon, she gazed into the black pools of his eyes staring at her intently. She tried to find some sign he meant to harm her, but all she saw was a softening of his handsome features and the sudden warmth filling his dark gaze.
"Who are you?" She tried hiding the tremble in her voice. No way must Calley show any sign of fear because she didn't know what the outcome would be for her, or her mother. For the longest time, he sat back on his mount and continued to stare across at her. Calley did the same, swallowing the lump forming in her throat.
"Lakota,” he eventually answered in a soft, velvety tone. "What is your name?"
Amazement filled her over how well he spoke the English language. The way most people talked, every tribe of Indian had their own language.
They both continued, keeping a close eye on each other. The silence stretched long between them. At first Calley felt unsure about trusting him, but something in his dark gaze and his expression told her she could.
Her mother’s indrawn breath alerted Calley that Mrs. McNight had noticed their painted visitor. "Calley!" Martha cried in a shocked tone, leaning through the opening. "What's going on?" She gripped Calley’s shoulders protectively with fingers that trembled.
Calley glanced over her shoulder and saw the ashen color of her mother's face. Martha's eyes met Calley's and Calley saw her fear.
"We have a visitor,” Calley said quickly, hoping to soothe her.
"Your father should be along any minute,” Martha uttered, with a tremble in her voice.
Calley realized her mother was saying whatever popped into her head. Her father was a day's ride ahead of them hoping to reach the log cabin and grazing lands with the cattle before nightfall. We’re going to have to do a lot of traveling to catch up to him, Calley thought silently.
"You are safe from harm,” Lakota spoke directly to Martha, but his gaze soon returned to Calley.
As his dark eyes continued to watch her, Calley felt a fluttering sensation seize her chest. She hadn't felt this way since the night of her first dance back in Boston. She quickly noted the look of honesty in his eyes and on his face and his words did hold the sound of sincerity. There was a genuine warm look in the dark eyes watching her so closely.
"We're going to have to be going, Calley,” Mrs. McNight said, climbing over the seat next to her daughter. Martha forgot the food as she grasped the reins from Calley's fingers and strapped the horses to nudge them forward. She raised the straps again and brought them down with more force.
"I saw your man a few miles ahead,” the Indian told her, keeping his prancing pony level with the moving wagon.
A crimson flush spread across Martha's cheeks listening to him. "If we hurry, we can catch up to him by this afternoon." Martha made a concentrated effort in pushing the horses even faster. Speed was essential now.
Calley turned her head and met the piercing black stare of the Indian again. There wasn’t any evidence that she could see that he meant to do them harm. She smiled at his rugged features before the wagon moved past and blocked out the sight of him.
Lakota didn't make a move to follow them any further. He sat astride his horse watching the wagon disappearing across the rocky plains, until it was only a flyspeck on the horizon. There was an excitement stirring in him over the beauty of the red-haired woman called Calley. Never in his life had Lakota seen such flame colored hair, or brilliant green eyes on a white settler.
A new set of emotions erupted in him that was hard for Lakota to understand. Something drove him to follow the wagon at a safe distance and find the location of their new homestead. He nudged his mount forward and continued behind them at a slow trot.
"The nerve of that savage!" Martha glanced quickly over her shoulder to see if he was following them. Narrowing her eyes in the brightness of the day, she couldn't see any sign of him, or his spotted pony. "Thank the good Lord he's not behind us." A heavy sigh left her lips.
"He said he wasn't going to bother us and I believe him,” Calley quickly defended the Indian. Again, she felt the fluttering sensation in her chest and wondered at the cause. Something about him made her react this way.
Calley eventually reached the spot where she had first seen the outline of the man. Not moving, she felt, rather than saw, someone standing behind her. The heat radiating from another human reached out to her causing a quiver to race down her spine. An eerie feeling overwhelmed her as she turned quickly.
Calley's eyes widened when she came face to face with the handsome Indian she'd met on the trail just a few months earlier. There was a look of astonishment filling her green eyes as she stared into his dark features without saying a word.
Today, his skin looked scrubbed clean of any of the garish paint he had worn before. This gave her the chance to study his features more carefully. She continued to gaze up at his finely chiseled bone structure and the thick, jet-black hair falling gracefully along his shoulders.
A few moments passed without either of them saying a word. Eventually, she blurted out, “What are you doing here?" Calley couldn't control the wild beating of her heart and the words had rushed from her in a breathless tone. She nervously gripped the basket of berries she held close to her chest.
"I had to see you again." His voice sounded both soft and husky at the same time as he uttered the simple sentence.
She didn't take her eyes off him as he talked and noticed the same gentleness as before filling his dark eyes. It was a certainty that she hadn't been wrong in her assumption of him at their first meeting. In the months since her family had arrived on the riverbank, she'd thought of him often. She often wondered how far away he lived.
Another question filling her thoughts was how he occupied his daily life. Now, she was seeing him again, and she couldn't control the emotions quickly speeding through her. Her eyes slowly drifted across his chest. He wore a tan buckskin shirt, with matching leggings.
She suddenly felt shy over having stared at him so long. A flush of embarrassment colored her cheeks to a delicate, pink hue. A flustered sensation filled her as she slowly looked down at the thick green grass covering the area where they stood.
She finally found the courage to look up at him again. "Why did you have to see me?" she eventually asked, her words tumbling unevenly from her. Heat filled her body and coursed through her veins simply standing so close to him. She couldn't understand why he affected her in such a strange way.
"You are one of beauty and I have longed to see you,” he answered honestly. "When I watch the flaming sunset each night, I am reminded of you. Your hair has the bright sunset running through it."
Her heart speeded up when her eyes locked with his. She was overwhelmed at his words; she felt speechless. As she heard his confession, she could tell he spoke from his heart. The invisible spark between them sizzled in the afternoon heat. She felt the quivering sensation filling her body until she felt ready to explode with the pressure of it.
Calley pulled her gaze away and looked down again at the basket she clutched tightly. This gave her a few moments to calm the massive upheaval taking place in her body. She glanced shyly up at him again. "I must get back before my parents miss me,” she murmured softly.
Although she uttered the words, she didn't really want to leave him. Something held her in place instead of turning away and heading for home. It was something so silent and powerful that she felt the hold almost paralyzing her. The need for her to stay with him a little longer was there, but she didn't have any idea what was causing the reaction in her.
"Please…stay a little longer." He reached out and removed the bulky basket from her hands. "I do not know when I will be able to return to see you again."
Lakota's mind filled with the approaching winter hunting season. His father expected him to join the other braves in search of food for the entire camp. It may be months before he could return to see the vision of beauty standing before him. Each moment with her seemed so fleeting that he wanted to capture every little memory to hold in his thoughts to keep him through the winter months.
He bent over and placed the basket on a withered tree stump near them. As he straightened, he had gathered a bouquet of yellow flowers. After handing her the bouquet, he kept one and reached over placing it behind her ear. He then lifted his hand and slowly let his fingers move through the long strands of red hair cascading down her shoulders. She remained motionless while his brown fingers slid through the thick mass with tender strokes. A smile curved his lips over the enjoyment he felt. When his hand touched her shoulder, Calley didn't offer to move, refusing to end the moment. The caress was ever so slight, and she felt a new quiver racing through her at his touch.
On impulse, she raised her hand and touched the long strands of black hair resting on his shoulders. His face revealed his pleasure over her gesture.
"What did you say your name is?" she asked, glancing away from his probing stare. He had told her on the trail, but that had been so long ago she'd forgotten.
Embarrassment over her boldness in touching him singed her cheeks to a bright red. Calley couldn’t remember acting so brazenly before.
"I am Lakota, and our campground is north of here."
"Maybe we'll meet again, Lakota, but I really must go before my parents start looking for me." She didn't want to leave, but she turned toward the clearing.
"I will come again, Flame,” his words followed her as he watched her walk toward the edge of the woods.
The large beast bared his teeth and a loud growl erupted from his massive chest. Just on the point of resigning herself to a horrible fate, a head bobbed out of the water close to her. Dark, wet hair glistened in the sunshine, and a crude knife flickered from the hand Lakota lifted in the air. The giant animal swung his paw, slicing the unprotected shoulder of Lakota. Red spurted from the wound, spotting the river with a bright pink tint.
She watched in terror as the bear lunged at Lakota for the second time. The animal was successful in dragging his prey under with him into the dark depths of the water. She shook her head to clear it. As she continued to watch the scene, the enormity of it suddenly spurred her into action. She swam to the shore quickly and scrambled out onto the bank. Shivering with fright, she slipped into her clothing while watching the turmoil going on beneath the turbulent water. She sent up a silent prayer, hoping God heard her plea.
To her horror, everything became silent. She couldn't hear a sound in the quiet afternoon, except the chirping of birds nearby in a tree. Placing her trembling fingers across her lips, she stifled the sob that rose in her throat. She was on the point of believing the worst had happened. In her heart, she felt the bear had succeeded in killing its prey. When a ripple started across the surface and Lakota's head shot up, a deep sigh exploded from her chest.
He had a red mark deeply embedded on his cheek in his teak colored skin. As he swam toward her, she noticed the brown bulk he dragged behind him. When he managed to reach her, Calley could feel the tears of thankfulness brimming in her eyes and falling down her pale cheeks.
"Oh, Lakota, the bear hurt you," she cried, lifting her dress and tearing off a piece of her petticoat.
He slumped down wearily onto the bank near her. For the first time, she noticed he was wearing only a brief loincloth. She should have been embarrassed over the situation, but with all that had happened, she didn't give his lack of clothing a second thought.
With gentle strokes, Calley wiped away the oozing blood on his arm. The wound was deep, deeper than the claw mark that had sliced his cheek. She tore a piece of material off her skirt and began bandaging his wounds. He lay still, watching her work as she tied the makeshift bandage in place.
"I will be all right," he reassured her, leaning his weight on one elbow as he gazed up at her.
"Look at your face," she said in agitation, wiping the injured area with tender strokes.
Just the thought of how the bear might have killed him while he saved her brought emotional tears to her eyes. Her feelings for him ran deeper than she'd wanted to admit to herself, and now she was finding the extent of them.
From the first moment she'd met him on the trail, Calley knew there was something that she couldn't explain between them. She quickly lowered her lashes before he could read the private thoughts erupting in her eyes.
Lakota reached up and lifted her chin with his fingertips. Their eyes locked in that instant and she couldn't pull her gaze away from his. The attraction was back in full force, Lakota pulled her down next to his muscular body until they were lying side by side. She felt his arousal through the thin material of her dress. Instead of feeling frightened by it, her only thought was to comfort him.
The deep pull he had over her emotions created havoc to her senses. Her only thought was to get closer to him and she managed to do this with very little effort. Calley felt his muscular arms cuddling her body against his strong length, and a sensation of euphoria rose in her.
His lips slowly covered hers. The possession ignited a fire in Calley. As if in a dream, she touched his long hair, letting her fingers glide easily through the thickness. She moved her mouth and placed her lips on his wide shoulder. She caressed the brown skin, gently kissing his throat and reaching up to his full mouth again.
The second kiss began slowly as Calley felt only the slightest bit of hesitation over what she was doing. Opening her lips to his, she tasted the sweet, rich flavor of his tongue. She felt the shudder racing through him as he claimed her parted mouth repeatedly.
While he kissed her, she could hear his whispered mumbling near her ear. She couldn’t understand any of his native tongue. The only word she did understand was his murmuring of finding his flaming vision…Flame