(Blackfoot Warriors Book 1)
Different worlds, one heart.
Blackfoot Warriors, Book 1
When Lady Genevieve Rohan joins her father in the farthest reaches of the American West, she expects to bring a bit of genteel English charm to his dry, academic existence. Instead, she finds her father desperately ill, and it’s up to her to finish his study of the Indian and publish his work—or face the wrath of his creditors.
Her troubles mount when the men hired to capture a member of the Blackfoot tribe don’t bring her a docile maid to study. They present her with a magnificent warrior—proud, outrageously handsome and simmering with fury at the loss of his freedom.
The white woman is beautiful beyond compare, but Gray Hawk can’t think past his plan to exact revenge against this meddling foreigner. It’s ridiculously easy to escape, then turn the tables and take her captive. When anger turns to passion, then to love, he embarks on a new quest. To claim the stubborn, red-headed vixen as his own.
Yet as their hearts strain toward each other, pride conspires to pull them apart…unless they can each find a way for their hearts to become one.
Warning: Sensuous romance that contains a raging, simmering love, consumed by its fire and destined to explode at any moment.
This book is the 25th Year Edition
Why didn’t the savage look away? And why didn’t he join in the laughter? Laughter the others in his tribe were enjoying…at her expense.
Genevieve shuddered and glanced away from the window, her gaze catching on to and lingering over the simple, hand-carved furniture that had been given to her for her “use.”
The room was clean, but that was all it was.
There was nothing in the room to recommend it—no feminine touches here and there, no lacy curtains to cushion the windows, no crystal or china to brighten each nook and cranny, no tablecloths, no rugs…no white women, period. Except for her.
She had thought, when she and her father had reached St. Louis, that she had come to the very edge of civilization, but she had been wrong. At least there, she and her father had been able to rent a house where they had enjoyed all the comforts to which they were both accustomed.
But here, away from any sort of civilization, she felt destitute.
Genevieve sighed, her white-gloved hand coming up to bat at a fly hovering around her face.
“Robert,” she spoke out. He bent toward her where she sat at the crude wooden table at one side of the room, and said, “Go ask Mr. McKenzie if there is any truth to the rumor that these Blackfoot Indians are leaving today. Oh, and Robert,” she added as her manservant rose to do her bidding, “please ask Mr. McKenzie if those two half-breed trappers I met yesterday are still in residence at the fort, and if they are, please tell him that I wish to see those men at once.”
Robert nodded, and, as he set off to carry out her wishes, Lady Genevieve turned back toward the window and looked out at the Indians, her gaze riveted by the dark, ominous regard of that one mysterious Indian man, but only for a moment.
She averted her glance, a certain amount of healthy fear coursing through her.
And why not? These Indians, though dignified enough in their savage appearance and dress, wielded enough untamed presence to instill terror into the hearts of even the most stouthearted of trappers and traders.
A shiver raced over her skin, the sensation bringing with it…what? Fear? Assuredly so. She had been gently raised. And yet…
She lowered her lashes, again studying the Indian in question, her head turned away and her hat, she hoped, hiding her expression. The man stood there among his peers, all ten or eleven of them. All were here at the fort to trade; all had come to this room to see—what the interpreter had said they called her—the mad white woman.
But none of the other Indians affected her like this one Indian man. He, alone, stood out; he, alone, captured her attention. Why?
Perhaps it was because he was too handsome by far, primitive and savage though he might be.
Was that it? She concentrated on him again. Perhaps it was the energy that radiated from him…maybe….
She tried to look away, to fix her gaze on something else, someone else, but she found she couldn’t. No, she examined him more fully.
He wore a long skin tunic or shirt, generously adorned with blue and white geometric designs. His leggings fell to his moccasins, and everywhere, at every seam and extending down each arm and the length of his tunic and the leggings themselves, hung scalp locks, hair taken from the human head. Though black was the main color of those locks, now and again she saw a blond or brown swatch of hair: white man’s hair. It made her shiver just to think of it.
The Indian’s own black mane hung loose and long, the front locks of it extending well down over his chest. His eyes were dark, black, piercing, and he seemed to see past her guard and defenses, peering into her every thought. In truth, she felt as though he glimpsed into her very soul.
Genevieve tossed her head and looked up, the brim of her fashionable hat sweeping upward with the movement. She tried to pretend she hadn’t been staring, hadn’t been inspecting. It was useless, however.
Had she but known, the sunlight, pouring in from the open window right then, caught the green chiffon of her hat, accentuating the color of it. And her hair, the auburn-red locks of it, glowed with a health and vitality equally appealing, and there wasn’t a savage or civilized gaze in the place that didn’t note the lady’s every move, her every expression. She, however, tried not to notice theirs.
She forced herself to look away…from him. She didn’t want to think about him. She needed to concentrate on her own purpose for being here. She hadn’t made such a long, grueling journey to sit here and gawk at one Indian man, compelling though he might be.
She had to find some Indian child or maiden here, now, today, willing to come back with her to St. Louis. She must.
She would not accept defeat.
It should have been a simpler task than it was turning out to be. Hadn’t she made it plain that she meant no harm to these people? That she and her father would only detain the person for a few months?
Hadn’t she told these people that she would return the person who volunteered back to their tribe at the end of that time, handsomely rewarded?
She had thought, back there in St. Louis, to lure one of the Indians with a trinket or two, a gown, a necklace for the women, money—anything, but some treasure no one could ignore. It should have been simple.
She had reckoned, however, without any knowledge of the dignity of the tribe in residence here at the fort: the Piegan or Pikuni band of the Blackfeet. It was a grave miscalculation on her part.
If only she had been more prepared to offer them something they might consider valuable. But how could she have known this?
Wasn’t this the problem? No one knew the Blackfoot Indians. It was this fact and this fact alone that made her father’s manuscript so valuable.
Genevieve sighed. It got worse.
She had such a short time in which to work, too. Only today and perhaps tomorrow.
She had tried to convince Mr. Chouteau, the part-owner and captain of the steamship, to stay at Fort Union a little longer. She had argued with him, using every bit of feminine guile that she possessed, but to no avail. He had remained adamant about leaving on his scheduled date.
The river was falling, he’d said. He had to get his steamship, the Yellow Stone, back to St. Louis before the Missouri fell so low that the ship would run aground.
It was not what she wanted to hear. It meant she had only a few days to accomplish her ends. It also meant that she might be facing failure.
No, she would not allow herself to fail.
“Milady.” Robert materialized at her side, his large frame blocking out the light as he bent down toward her. “Mr. Kenneth McKenzie says the Indians are preparing to leave on a buffalo hunt and will most likely be gone by tomorrow. I have taken the liberty of arranging for the two trappers that you seek to come here to see you.” Robert seemed to hesitate. “Milady, might I offer a word of caution?” he asked, though he went on without awaiting her reply. “The two men that you seek are known to be scoundrels. It has also been said of them that they have often been dishonest in their dealings with the trading post here as well as with Indians. It is my opinion that you would do well to—”
“What else am I to do?” Lady Genevieve interrupted, though she spoke quietly. “Robert,” she said, not even looking at him, “you know the dire circumstances of this venture. How can I possibly go back to St. Louis with nothing to show for my journey? And worse, how could I ever face my father again? You know that his condition is even more delicate now. If I were to fail…”
“But, milady, surely there must be another way besides dealing with these trappers.”
Genevieve raised her chin. Focusing her gaze upon Robert, she said, “Name one.”
Robert opened his mouth, but when he didn’t speak, Genevieve once again glanced away.
“You see,” she said, “even you know it is true, though you won’t say it. There is no other way. Mr. Chouteau keeps telling me that the steamship is to leave tomorrow or the next day. I must be on it, and I must have an Indian on board, too. I wish it were different. I truly wish it were. You must know that if I could change things, if I could make them different, I would.” She paused. “I cannot.”
Robert stared at her for a moment before he finally shook his head, but he offered no other advice.
Genevieve said, “I will see the two gentlemen as soon as they arrive. Please ensure, then, that they are shown to me immediately.”
“Yes, milady,” Robert said, rising. He stood up straight, and, as Genevieve glanced toward him, she was certain that her trusted bodyguard stared over at the Indian, that one Indian man.
But the Indian’s menacing black gaze didn’t acknowledge Robert at all. Not in the least. No, the Indian stared at her. Only at her.
Genevieve rose to her feet, averting her eyes from the Indian, although in her peripheral vision she noted every detail of the man. She shook her head, intent on shifting her attention away.
And then it happened. Despite herself, she turned her head. Despite herself, she slowly, so very leisurely, lifted her gaze toward his.
Her stomach fell at once, and the two of them stared at one another through the panes of glass for innumerable seconds.
She knew she should look away, but she couldn’t. She watched the man as though she wished to memorize his every feature, as though she needed the memory for some time distant, to be brought to mind again and again. And as Genevieve kept the man’s steady gaze, she felt her breathing quicken.
Suddenly he smiled at her, a simple gesture. It should have had no effect on her whatsoever.
But it did, and Genevieve felt herself go limp.
All at once, as though caught in a storm, her senses exploded. Her heartbeat pounded furiously, making her bring her hand up to her chest.
And, even as she felt herself beginning to swoon, she wondered why she was reacting so. One would think she had never before caught a man’s smile, had never before seized the attention of one simple man.
She heard Robert calling her name, and she breathed out a silent prayer of thanks for the interruption. She shut her eyes, which proved to be her only means of defense, and, taking as many deep breaths as she could, tried to steady the beating of her heart.
“Lady Genevieve.” She heard Robert call to her again.
“Yes, Robert, I’ll be right there.” Her voice sounded steady, though she hadn’t been certain she would be able to speak at all.
She opened her eyes, but she didn’t dare glance at the Indian again. She couldn’t risk meeting his gaze even one more time. And so she turned away from him, walking as swiftly as possible from the spot where she had been so recently seated, her silky gown of lace and chiffon whispering over the crude wooden floor as though it alone protested her departure.
She would never see the man again, never think of him again; of this she was certain. But even as this thought materialized, another one struck her with an even greater force: she fooled herself.
She would think of him, perhaps too often, over and over again, and in the not-too-distant future. She wouldn’t be able to help herself.
She knew it. Truly the Indian was a magnificent specimen of man. Yes, that was the right word. Impressive, splendid.
Utterly, completely and without question magnificent.