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Authors: Georgina Gentry - Iron Knife's Family 01 - Cheyenne Captive

Cheyenne Captive

BOOK: Cheyenne Captive
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BOUND BY DESIRE

Summer struggled against her bonds, but she was helpless. She tried to cry out, but his hand covered her mouth, muffling the sound. She paused and the hand moved slowly across her cheek, down her slender throat. Her pulse raced unexpectedly. Her whole experience with men consisted of one or two chaste kisses behind the palms at the annual debutante’s ball. Her eyes held his, and it was he who looked away as he pulled the big knife from his belt.

“Please don’t kill me,” she asked simply, knowing she couldn’t stop him. He paused, the firelight gleaming on the blade.

“I will never hurt you, Little One,” he promised with a shake of his head. He reached, and with one lightning move, cut the bonds that bound her wrists from behind her.

Summer crouched, ready to run past him.

“Not so fast, my frightened little deer,” he said smiling. “Now you are going to repay me for saving your life. And I expect you to be very grateful.”

“You said you wouldn’t hurt me!” she cried.

He shrugged. “What’s one more man to a saloon girl? Do you think I do not recognize what you are? I said I wouldn’t hurt you, I didn’t say I wouldn’t love you!”

C
HEYENNE
C
APTIVE
GEOGINA CENTRY

ZEBRA BOOKS
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.

To “Murph”
My Irish-Indian “once-in-a-lifetime” love

Prologue

In September, 1858, the Butterfield Overland Stage began its first cross-country routes, finally linking Eastern civilization with the roaring gold camps of California. Already, the Oregon trail and the Santa Fe trail carried a seemingly endless train of covered wagons into and across once uncharted wilderness.

Our young nation trembled on the brink of the coming Civil War. “Bloody Kansas” struggled toward statehood, enmeshed in the conflict of the Jayhawkers and John Brown’s antislavery zealots, and there were rumors of gold in the “Shining Mountains,” the Rockies.

The Fitzpatrick Treaty of 1851 had kept an uneasy peace among the Plains Indians, broken occasionally by minor scrimmages against each other or the hated “Bluecoats.” Beset on all sides by broken promises, worthless treaties, and the beginnings of the wholesale slaughter of the buffalo, the Plains tribes struggled valiantly to survive and hold on to their way of life.

Less than two decades hence, the savage Cheyennes would join up with the Sioux to annihilate Colonel Custer at the Little Big Horn. In three decades, the final chapter would be written at bloody Wounded Knee Creek. But for now, the tribes struggled against the immediate problems of white encroachment, whiskey, smallpox, and cholera.

Always, the white tide of immigrants swept forward, taking more land, more water, more timber. Hotheaded young braves talked war, but wise chiefs tried to hold them back, knowing the government hoped for an excuse to destroy the Indians, herd them like cattle to reservations. The discovery of gold at Cherry Creek in the Rockies marked the beginning of the end of the bloody tragedy. Now, the whites clamored even for that formerly worthless land, those last few acres promised to the mighty Cheyenne, the Arapaho, the Shoshoni, and the Sioux.

This then is a love story of two warring cultures, and a forbidden passion played against the gigantic panorama of the early West. Forever branded on the pages of history is the tale of beautiful Summer Van Schuyler, stolen in a stagecoach raid by the savage half-breed, Iron Knife, in that brief moment before the Civil War turned lives and land into fire and ashes....

Chapter One

September, 1858

 

Summer Priscilla Van Schuyler had never given a thought to the possibility of being raped and murdered by a band of renegade-Indians. With all her other problems, Indians were the last thing on her mind as she fled down the dark street to board the 3:30
A.M.
stage out of Fort Smith.

The bearded driver eyed her with suspicion as he took her small bag. “You all alone, miss?”

“Well, yes.” She avoided his dark eyes with her pale blue ones. “I have a job to get to in San Francisco,” she lied lamely. That city seemed like a safe destination because of its distance. All she’d managed to grab was one small bag, forgetting even her corset in her headlong flight from the hotel.

The driver said nothing more as he loaded her bag and helped her into the coach, but she felt his eyes taking in the cheap red dress that clung revealingly to her tiny waist and full bosom. Her face flamed as she settled herself. She was glad now she had traded clothes with the dance-hall girl. Her own blue silk, Parisian-made gown would have brought her too much notice and too many questions. Wealthy girls of good family did not travel alone.

Overhead, she heard the driver climb up beside the guard and crack his whip. Summer heaved a sigh of relief as the Butterfield Overland lurched away. With any luck, she would be miles away before her maid awakened back at the hotel.

There was only one other passenger, a fat man snoring loudly, his doughy hands clasped across his plaid vest. He reeked of cheap, barbershop hair tonic. Finally, Summer dozed off, too, as the stage swayed rhythmically and the hours passed as they headed southwest across the corner of the Indian Territory.

She was startled awake by the sudden speed of the coach and the driver’s shout, “Indians! Indians!”

The guard leaned down to shout in the window, his gray hair blowing in the wind. “We’re being attacked! Cheyennes!”

Summer crashed to the floor as the coach raced forward, the driver cracking his whip to urge the snorting horses on. Choking on the swirling dust, she leaned out the window to peer behind the stage. The east gave an agonizingly slow and bloody birth to dawn, barely outlining a half dozen whooping Indians on paint ponies a few hundred yards behind.

The fat little man stared out his window. “It’s Cheyennes, by God! And they’re gainin’ on us!”

She clamped her soft hands over her mouth for a moment, willing herself not to panic. Torn between excitement and terror, she watched sweat bead on the man’s upper lip, his hands tremble as he dug in his valise.

“Lucky I still got my old Colt dragoon from my army days!” He cocked the big pistol and commenced firing out the window.

Summer vowed she would not give way to hysteria as she gripped the seat with white knuckles. The roar of the pistol and the guns above her set her ears ringing, and the interior reeked with the smell of gunpowder and the fat man’s sweat.

The coach bounced wildly, and she felt her hairpins loosen in the chignon of long blond locks that now cascaded down her slender neck.

A scream of agony, and the guard fell from the top of the stage, falling past her window and into the dust of the road behind them.

Summer never knew what happened next—maybe they hit a rock in the road, or maybe an arrow brought down one of the team horses, but the coach lurched abruptly. Everything was topsy-turvy, turning over and over in a swirl of cheap red satin and white crinoline petticoats. She lay where she fell a long moment, uncomprehending, the horsehair cushion harsh against her creamy cheek.

Dazed, she crawled across the plaid vest of the hapless fat man. His dead eyes stared in a last, surprised look at the doorpost, which had given him a fatal blow across the forehead. Blood ran scarlet down the pasty skin.

The coach wheels still whirled and creaked as she crawled out of the wreckage into the September chill. The stage horses, broken free, stood trembling and lathered under a nearby blackjack oak. Shouts and hoofbeats warned her the savages were almost upon her.

Looking around for the stage driver, she found him, three arrows sticking at odd angles from his back.

She promised herself that she wouldn’t cry and she wouldn’t faint as tears threatened to overflow her big eyes. With teeth clenched to stop her lips from trembling, she crawled back into the overturned stage, wrenching the pistol from the dead man’s fingers. Fear tasted like bitter metal to her mouth, and she gagged on the sweetish smell of blood. Oh, how she wished now that proper young society ladies were taught to shoot instead of-waltzing and speaking French.

Hiding behind the wrecked door, she watched the Cheyennes joking and laughing as they fanned out and crawled toward the stage to finish off any survivors. If she could only hold them off for a little while, the stage would be overdue at the next stop, and a search party might be sent out. And back at Fort Smith, Mrs. O’Malley had surely recovered from the sherry and would send help for her missing charge. But the maid didn’t know she was on this stage, wouldn’t know where to look, Summer remembered with a sinking heart. Anyway, she couldn’t hold the savages off ten minutes, she realized, checking the Colt’s chambers. She only had one shot left.

Frantically, she dug into the dead man’s valise, hoping to find more ammunition. There was none. Should she use the last bullet on herself? She recalled the story in the
Boston
Journal,
hinting at the terrible things Indians did to white women.

No, she decided, lifting her chin in that stubborn way of hers, she was going to get one more of those murdering savages and the devil take the hindmost!

Overhead, the sky clouded and a drop of rain plunked on the coach. Encouraged by the lack of movement from the wreckage, the Indians stood and moved toward her.
Why, they’re drunk!
she realized, trying to cock the pistol at the nearest swaying figure.

She steadied the barrel against the window edge to stop her own trembling and pulled the trigger. The recoil threw her across the floor, and her ears rang. But over the roar, she heard the unmistakable howl of a wounded man, and peeked to see a dirty, pock-marked savage clutching his arm and dodging behind a boulder.

Darn! She had only creased him. Why was it acceptable for a proper Boston girl to learn to ride but not to shoot? Regretfully, she reached up to touch the tiny miniature of her mother hanging from a fine gold neck, chain. She had been too sentimental last night to part with it when she had sold her other jewelry to pay her passage. Well, she’d see those bloodthirsty savages didn’t get it! Summer jerked at it, breaking the delicate chain as she did so, tucking it carefully under one of the seat cushions.

Then, resolutely, she gripped the big Colt by its barrel, wondering just how much damage she could do with a gun butt before it was twisted from her hands and her skull cleaved by a tomahawk. She intended to go down fighting. Not for her the weepy hysterics and the begging for mercy! Some of the bluest blood in Massachusetts might flow in her veins, but somewhere in her past was a tempestuous vixen, coming through now, ready to claw and fight.

She could hear the braves rustling in the weeds just a few feet away. She held her breath, waiting, not wanting to give away her position, but knowing they must hear her heart hammering.

Any minute now, they would realize that her gun was empty when no more shots were forthcoming. Summer wondered for a split second if it would hurt as she died, and almost regretted that she had not obeyed her father.

The pock-marked one she had creased with her last bullet was at the end of the coach now. He was close enough for her to see the red paint smeared on his dirty face. She waited, gripping the pistol barrel with clammy fingers.

And then he exploded up out of the grass, jerked open the door and grappled with Summer.

“How dare you!” she screamed in fury. “How dare you attack a Van Schuyler! I’m not afraid! Do you hear? Not afraid!”

He seemed momentarily stunned both by her furious anger and her attack as she beat him about the face with the gun butt. Then she screamed in pain as his knife flashed, slashing her arm, and she dropped the gun.

Dizzy, she staggered as she fought him and smelled the rancid stink of him. His hands were like iron bands on her small wrists as she struggled, and then his arms went around her narrow waist, lifting her clear of the wreckage and carrying her out on the open prairie.

“You pay, white whore!” he said in broken English. “You pay now for everything!”

“Let go of me!” she shrieked, struggling. “Let go of me!”

But his brute strength overpowered her, and he dragged her out on the grass. The others ran out of the brush, dancing about, laughing and pointing at her. It must be high humor, she thought, to have been held at bay by a mere slip of a girl with an empty gun.

“You pay now, white woman!” her captor said again. “You pay for making Angry Wolf look the fool to his men! Tonight your mane of gold hair hangs from my lodge pole!”

Weakly, Summer struggled as he pulled her closer to him. The others yelped and danced about, helping themselves to trinkets, money from the strongbox, the coach horses. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a knife flash over the fallen driver and willed herself not to faint as the culprit waved the scalp for the approval of the others. Then, satisfied with their loot, the pack gathered around Angry Wolf and his captive. They chortled and poked at her as they swayed drunkenly, seemingly excited over what was about to happen. Now they fell silent, like hungry wolves waiting to tear apart one small rabbit.

Angry Wolf jerked Summer hard against him. Her breasts ached from the hard pressure of his chest and she could feel the heat of his hands through the back of her flimsy crimson dress. His eyes gleamed moist with eagerness, and now his hot mouth was on hers, forcing her lips open, cutting off her screams. Summer gagged on the whiskey taste of his mouth and closed her eyes against the lust in the circling faces. The Indian twisted his hands in her blond curls, trying to force her to the ground.

Struggling, she attempted to run. But as she broke away from him, his fingers caught the low-cut bodice of the red dress, jerking her around. The fabric gave way, ripping almost to the waist, exposing her full, perfect breasts.

The pack set off a howl of approval, stamping their feet, eager now for their turn at the captive. She pulled her tattered bodice together, backing away slowly. It was impossible not to see the hunger in the drunken eyes as they devoured the image of the rose-tipped mounds. Angry Wolf’s chest heaved, and he licked his thin lips. His eyes never left her breasts and his manhood was very apparent under the skimpy loincloth.

“Now, white bitch,” he breathed heavily, “we will teach you what you were born for and use you like a dog pack does a bitch in heat, again and again!”

He fingered the knife in his beaded belt and moved toward her stealthily. “And when we have had enough of your body, we will enjoy you in other ways, taking a very long time to finish you, making you beg for death!”

The others shouted approval at his words. “Tell her, Angry Wolf, tell her what we will do to her pale body with fire and blade! But let us get on with the sharing of her!”

Desperately, Summer backed away, but the pock-marked one grabbed her, lifting her completely off the ground as he buried his face greedily in her breasts. He swore angry Cheyenne curses as her nails raked his face and tore at his beaded shirt. He wrapped one leg around her long, slender ones and tripped her, falling heavily on her as they went to the grass. His mouth cut into hers brutally, and he struggled to jerk her dress up, forcing himself between her thighs.

Abruptly, she was aware of three riders charging into the confusion and her attacker being jerked away from her, thrown to his feet, and he stumbled backward. She raised weakly on one elbow, modestly pulling at her torn clothing and watching as her big Indian rescuer engaged in a hot argument with the one called Angry Wolf.

The three new Indians were obviously sober and wore no paint. Perhaps they had been hunting in the area, because two rabbits hung from the leader’s Appaloosa stallion. She wondered if this were a prearranged meeting place or if the three had been drawn to the scene by shots or Summer’s screams. The two men shouted at each other angrily, and there was much pushing and gesturing.

She studied her rescuer, thrilling in spite of herself at the knowledge that these two stallions clashed because of her.

The new Indian was much larger than the others, and not as dark. It dawned on her that he had white blood, for although he dressed like the others in beaded buckskin, his skin was lighter bronze.

His ebony hair pulled to a braid over his left ear, the right shone with an earring, a large gold coin. Scars showed in the neck of his open shirt and powerful muscles rippled as he gestured. Around his neck, he wore a small white object on a thong and a big knife with a bone handle hung from his belt.

He spoke with authority, gesturing in fury toward the overturned stage, and the others hung their heads and backed away. His two friends sat their horses like stone sentinels, seemingly awaiting his orders. Only Angry Wolf seemed defiant now. The others sobered and ducked their heads like small boys caught in mischief by three older brothers.

The tall one was handsome in a savage way, Summer thought, although his face was weathered and his nose broken. She had no idea how old he might be, but he was certainly much more than Summer’s eighteen years.

Thunder echoed in the distance, and a drop of cool rain fell on her bruised lips—then, another.

Angry Wolf spoke in English this time, leering wickedly at her, and she knew he wanted her to hear. “This white squaw is worth nothing, my brother Dog Soldier, only a small plaything for men to enjoy!”

“You, Iron Knife,” he gestured to the big man, “you and your cousins forget the Treaty and this worthless peace and share along with us! We will give you some of the loot we have taken from the stage and you, too, may lie on this woman’s silken belly. When at last we grow tired of her, we will cut her throat with a tiny slash, and watch her writhe as her life bubbles out into the dust! Then we will leave arrows and other things from our hated enemies, the Crow and the Pawnee so the soldiers will chase them!” He fingered the hilt of his knife. “It will be a good joke!”

BOOK: Cheyenne Captive
3.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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