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

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BOOK: Cheyenne Captive
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“You know it is a terrible tabu of the Cheyenne to commit murder among our own! You would be exiled for four years and my cousins would seek revenge!”

Angry Wolf shrugged. “As I said, they will never know! Since you will both be missing, they may think you have dishonored your people and returned to the white civilization to live with your woman!”

Behind him, on the bank, Summer hesitated with the dagger in her hand and looked toward the Appaloosa stallion grazing nearby. Why should she care what happened to either of the men? All she had to do was let them fight it out to the death while she took the swiftest horse and fled. She knew which direction to take now, and she did not think either man could catch her if she rode the fine stallion. What did it matter which man was killed? Why should she care about the wounded Dog Soldier? And yet . . .

Even as she turned toward the horse, she stopped and looked back to the battle in the water. Iron Knife would surely lose. He was at a clear disadvantage, wounded and weaponless, as the other moved in for the kill.

In that moment, the squat Indian lunged, cutting the other a glancing blow on the shoulder. They meshed, struggling in the racing water, churning it to bloody foam like two great stags in an age-old battle. Iron Knife hung on valiantly but his opponent, using his heavier weight, took him to his knees in the boiling current.

As she watched in growing horror, Angry Wolf dropped the knife, but lifted a rock from the bottom and struck the other a glancing blow. Iron Knife staggered, seemed to slip on the slick bottom. He went down in the foaming water, and the squat Dog Soldier had him by the throat, holding him under, drowning him.

This was her last chance to run for the horses,
she knew that. In another minute or so, her attacker would be finished with his murder and coming after her. Still, she hesitated. Her head told her to run, but her heart told her something else. Without even realizing it, she ran for the water, her hand still clutching the dagger.

Angry Wolf had his back to her, intent on murder. She was almost upon him, running lightly and unencumbered by clothes across the sand. Summer was in the water before he seemed to hear her. His hands let go of Iron Knife’s throat as he turned abruptly to face her.

He made a futile grab, but her anger made her swift. As he lunged, she dodged his arm and plunged the knife deep into his chest, then jerked it free.

His mouth opened in disbelief and fear spread across his face. He gave a weak cry as he staggered, the scarlet stain spreading down his chest into the water. He made a threatening gesture, then clutched at his fatal wound as he fell backward into the current and was swept away.

Summer stared in shock, the bloody knife hanging limply from her numb fingers. She had killed a man!

Iron Knife staggered to her side, still choking and coughing from the water. Together, they watched a long moment as the body washed down the stream and on over the rapid.

She looked up at him and then at the bloody knife in her hand, suddenly feeling very faint. “I—owed you that,” she said simply, and swayed on her feet.
But deep in her heart, she
knew she lied. That wasn’t the reason the had done it.

Quickly, he caught her in his arms, and lifted her as she collapsed, carrying her to the shore. The sun came out from behind the clouds in sudden brilliance as the warrior stood on the sand and cradled her gently in his powerful arms, looking down at her.

Summer stared at the bloody knife in her limp fingers that now draped across his broad shoulders. It occurred to her that it was still not to late for her to stab him in the back and run away, freeing herself from the Indians forever. She need only take his horse and head for the fort. No one need ever know what had happened here. She could keep the secret.

For a long moment, he looked deep into her eyes as the sun warmed them. Finally, he spoke. “Will you now kill me with my own knife, Summer Sky?”

Her mouth dropped open at his question and at the realization that he made no move to protect himself. Her fingers unclenched, and the dagger clattered harmlessly to the ground behind him.

“I might have killed you!” she whispered.

He still held her naked, wet body swinging lightly from his strong arms. “I was willing to bet my life that you wouldn’t!”

“You’re a reckless fool!” she challenged. “Why were you so sure? I didn’t know myself for a moment what I would do!”

“I knew, my Summer Sky! I knew the moment you came into the water to save me instead of running for the horses!”

She could only look dumbly up into his eyes, her emotions a tangle. He bent his head, and his lips brushed hers, light as a butterfly’s wing caressing a flower. It was a hesitant kiss. He seemed almost awaiting her command to pull back. He seemed to expect her rejection which would be swiftly followed by the sting of her hand across his scarred face.

She was surprised by his hesitancy, this bold savage who had tasted her lips with such assurance in the past. And this, perhaps, triggered her own reaction. She seemed to have no control over her own body as she felt her arms reach around his sinewy neck. Her soft hands pulled his bronzed, bleeding face down to hers, and she kissed him in a way that she did not know she knew.

He started in surprise as, instinctively, her mouth explored his deeply, thoroughly. Then, he was all man, crushing her to him as she still swung in his embrace.

She wasn’t sure what would happen next, but she knew he would let her decide.

Or would he?

Chapter Five

Had her actions unleashed a wild thing she couldn’t control?
She trembled, torn by mixed emotions as he carried her clear of the water and laid her gently on the hot sand.

He looked down at her from his great height with dark, smoldering eyes, and the sun was not so warm to her damp skin as the fire of his gaze.

Without a word, he pulled off the wet buckskin shirt and leggings and draped them over a bush to dry. He turned back to stare at her again, a virile animal, clad only in a brief loincloth. The eagle bone whistle still dangled around his neck and the sun reflected off the cavalry button earring and the sheen of his muscles.

She was not ashamed of her nakedness as once she had been, responding with a primitive savageness of her own, glorying in his appreciative glance.

“You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, Summer, and I have seen many!” he said as he strode to his horse. She felt her skin burn with a blush as she raised on one elbow, watching him dig in his saddlebags, tossing aside the useless quirt.

He came back to her with a small vial of ointment, and swore under his breath, white man’s swear words, as he examined her injuries. She felt his hard hands stroke her skin with suppressed fury as he rubbed the soothing medication on her wounds.

“You have been hurt too many times already,” he muttered through clenched teeth, “and I keep promising that no one will ever hurt you again!”

“This wasn’t your fault,” she quieted him, his anger terrible to see. Summer took the ointment from his hands, and rubbed it into the cut above his eye and the small wound on his shoulder. He lay down on the warm sand beside her, and his eyes closed as she touched him gently. Her fine hands caressed the ropy muscles of his chest, and as she touched the sun dance scars, his big hand caught her wrist and held her as his eyes opened and looked intently into hers.

She was acutely aware of the power of him; the hand that clasped her wrist could just as easily break her back. She stiffened for a long, tense moment, but his grasp did not hurt her and, somehow, she was not afraid.

“Let go of me,” she ordered softly, but he did not. His eyes bore hotly into hers as he held her wrist.

“You ran away from me,” he accused.

She shrugged. “I wanted to go back to my own people so I simply stole a horse and went.” She would not complicate things by telling him of Gray Dove’s part in all this; about her sending the now dead brave out to track her down and make sure she never made it back to the fort.

“If I had not followed, you would have been violated and dead by now. I seem to spend much time protecting you.” He let go of her wrist, and reached up to touch a long, blond curl that cascaded down her neck near her bare breast.

She shuddered, thinking of Angry Wolf. “Was I going in the wrong direction? He said I was.” Summer was keenly aware of his fingers playing with her hair, lightly brushing her skin, but she did not move away.

He nodded. “You were going north, not southeast,” he answered. “I would have thought you had a better sense of direction than that. If Angry Wolf hadn’t caught up with you, you still wouldn’t have made it back to your people. There is nothing the way you were headed but wilderness and wild animals. You would have died or been captured by another tribe’s scouting party.”

“Would you have cared?”

His hand paused in its stroking, and he hesitated as if loath to admit it. “Does a man care if his heart is torn from his body?”

Automatically, she reached out and touched his lips with the tips of her fingers, very much aware of his rising manhood under the skimpy loincloth. She knew he breathed deeper and heavier as his fingers moved nearer her breast.

He wanted her badly, she knew that, as a woman always knows. It was a part of her own primitive heritage that money and generations of civilized blue blood could not erase.

Could she barter for her freedom?
“If I let you make love to me, will you let me go back to the fort?”

Swearing violently, he rose to his knees, his hard hands grasping her soft shoulders. “Do you bargain with me like a common whore?” he raged. “Toying with me, realizing that I could take you by force this very minute as I could have taken you any time these past few days?”

She had pushed him too far, and she was frightened, feeling his fingers dig into her shoulders. But she raised her stubborn chin in that direct, unsettling gaze and looked straight into his eyes. “You don’t want me that way,” she whispered, “otherwise, you would have already taken me!”

His fingers unclenched, leaving small red marks on her flesh from the pressure. “Am I such a fool that it shows in my face?” He looked away sharply. “Never have I let a woman humiliate me in the way you have done.”

But she persisted, turning his face back to hers with her fingertips. “If I love you willingly, will you let me go?”

“Is the thought of me so terrible that you would sacrifice your virginity to escape my embrace forever?” He caught her hand, turned it up, and kissed the palm. “There is nothing to keep me from saying ‘yes’ and then going back on my word after I have claimed your body.”

She looked up at him earnestly. “You would not trick me that way. Somehow, I know it.” But she wasn’t quite sure what she would do if he offered to exchange freedom for violating her maidenhood.

“Summer, I cannot lie to you,” he said softly, kissing her fingertips, “I would do anything to make you happy, even set you free. But the Council has forbidden it, thinking you will bring the soldiers back for a terrible revenge on our camp. I feared to tell you, knowing you would be wild with anger.”

He kissed her hand again. “Accepting you from the Council to warm my bed was the best I could do for you. There were some who wanted to kill you or trade you off to the Comanche.”

“But you knew I would realize sooner or later that you weren’t going to allow me to leave. What did you expect to gain by the delay?”

He hesitated. “I thought that if I kept you long enough, you might come to care for me, and if not . . .”

He paused and his voice trailed off.

“And if not ... ?” she prompted.

“If not, I love you enough for both of us. If you cannot care for me, it is almost enough to have you near, to be able to look at you. I guess I know now that you could never care about me. I’m not white enough or rich enough.” He let go of her hand, and his gaze seared into hers. “But know this, Little One, no man, white or brown, will ever love you as I do!”

His eyes asked an unspoken question and she hesitated, not sure of the answer herself.

She was sure that no man, not even Austin Shaw, had ever offered such deathless devotion. But how did she feel herself about the man crouched on his knees facing her?

A woman can give her virginity but once, whether she be a rich heiress or a poor serving maid.
Many men had hungered for and courted Summer Priscilla Van Schuyler—men rich and powerful, men who loved her with varying degrees of adoration. She had held back, slow in making her choice, knowing she could give the precious gift but once. Until now, it dawned on her,
until now, just now, never had she met a man she wanted to share love with.

“Summer?” His dark eyes asked what his lips did not.

If she said “no,” would he take her anyhow? Did she want to say “no?”
She hesitated, fighting her rising flood of emotions. This was her decision to make; he was awaiting some signal from her.

She knew then that this was the man and this the time; the moment she had waited for all her life. There were no consequences, no thought of right or wrong or tomorrow.
There was only this moment and this man . . . her man . . .

Her heart, not her conscience, made the final decision for her. Emotion guided her. Almost without realizing it, she made the gesture she knew he had been waiting for. Very slowly, she held out her arms to him, and that was all he needed. He crushed her against his massive chest, fell with her to the hot sand.

“Summer . . . Little One . . .”

“Yes!” she murmured. “Oh, yes!”

His lips brushed her eyelids and the pulsing hollow of her throat. His strong fingers tangled in her blond mane, arching her body against the white sand as his mouth sought hers. She had never been kissed like that, his probing tongue invading her mouth as he whispered feverish endearments.

She kissed him back with a surging passion that surprised her, returning his kisses in a way that again she did not know she knew.

“Dearest!” she gasped. “My dearest!”

She ran her hands down his muscled back, touching the whip welts tenderly. The taste of his mouth was sweet on hers.

His warm breath caressed her ear as he breathed against her hair. She felt his heart thudding against her, his male hardness rising. Her hand went down to explore, glorying in the size and strength of his passion.

Summer moaned aloud as his lips brushed her ear, nibbled at the lobe, and his mouth came back to reclaim hers. She marveled at his gentle savagery. His kisses were hard, but not violent. She felt his lips travel down her throat to her breast, and she gasped in sudden pleasure at the unaccustomed feel of a man’s mouth on her taut nipple. Her hands locked behind his head, willing him never to leave that fount of ecstasy. But he pulled away, to the other breast, and then down between them to the soft hollow of her belly.

Instinctively, she knew what she hungered for, and she spread her legs, stripping the loincloth from his magnificent maleness as she pulled him toward her. She trembled as she felt his lips caress her inner thighs, but she wanted more. She fried to pull him to her, but he hesitated on his elbows, looking down into her eyes.

“Why—why do you wait?” she gasped. She must have him now, this moment. This was what she had been born for, so that this warrior could pump his seed into her waiting vessel.

Still, he hesitated, his face troubled. “Little One, I am built very big! You are a virgin—”

“I’m
your
virgin!” she breathed against his lips.

“But I have promised you will never be hurt again!” he protested.

“Hurt me!” she begged as she kissed him deeply. “Hurt me as I want to be hurt!”

His hands cupped her small hips as he entered her sweetness. Summer moaned at the feel of him surging within her, and tried to pull him deeper into her very being. She could feel him holding back, testing her maidenhood, not giving her his full length.

She was like a wild thing in her newfound passion, wrapping her long legs about him, digging her nails into his lean hips.

“Easy, Summer!” he gasped into her ear. “Take it easy! I’m trying not to hurt you, but I cannot help myself with you doing that!”

In answer, she pulled him down harder, wanting all of him, all he had to give, surprising herself with her capacity for passion.

“More!” she demanded. “Don’t hold back! I—I want you!”

He took control of the situation then, not holding back any longer, driving hard and deep against her maidenhood. She dug her nails into his back, gasping with animal delight as his big hands tilted her small hips up so that he could give her his full length.

“Summer,” he whispered as he kissed her, “are you coming with me?”

For a moment, she did not understand what he meant, knowing so little about love, not knowing there could be more than this new excitement. But then he clasped her to him and shuddered, emptying himself into her. She could feel the throb of him right to the core of her being. She was almost frightened, not understanding as her own body shuddered, tightening its hold on him. And then it was almost like dying—a little death, a wonderful death. She felt she floated in a sweet blackness for endless seconds and then she began to weep as her body slowly returned to life.

He kissed the tears from her eyes. “I have hurt you,” he said regretfully, trying to move off her belly.

But she kept him a prisoner of her slim legs, and tightened her arms about his neck. “No, you haven’t hurt me!” she wept. “It’s just that I never felt anything like that before! It fett—wonderful.” She reached up to touch his bronzed face.

But he disengaged himself and rolled over on his side, cradling her blond head on his broad shoulder. “You are truly my woman now, Summer Sky, and God help the man who even looks at you as if he would share your deep sweetness!”

She felt safe and contented lying there in his arms. “I think I will never want any man but you.”

“You say that now because I am your first, and I think, no matter what they say, women never quite forget their first man, but someday . . .”—his voice trailed off as his callused hand brushed the soft skin of her cheek—“someday, my love, I think you will regret this, giving yourself to a penniless savage by a creek in the wilderness when most women drive a much harder bargain.”

“No, never!” she retorted hotly. “I won’t regret it! I love you like I never knew love could be!”

“Even if you lie, I am content with that for now,” he whispered as he tightened his protective embrace. “But it will come! You will regret this, even hate me, wanting to return to your own world to lie on a silken bed in the arms of a rich white man.”

“Would you care?” she teased.

“Given the chance, I would kill him,” he promised simply, and looking into his eyes she knew he meant it.

A frown crossed his face as he remembered. “Has not a man already died today over possession of your body?” The thought seemed to disturb him, and he rose and walked over to pick up his knife from the creek bank, staring at the rushing water. “Once we were friends, but he seemed determined to die. Murder is a terrible tabu of my people.”

Summer scrambled to her feet. “He would have killed you without regrets if I hadn’t gotten there first.”

“Yes, he would have.” The warrior nodded, and stooped to wash the knife in the stream, stuck it in his belt. “It was more than you or even Gray Dove that came between our friendship. I think it was my white blood. Ever since his family was wiped out by the epidemic, he was ruled by mad hate, almost as if he wanted to die.”

BOOK: Cheyenne Captive
4.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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