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Authors: Kathleen Eagle

Reason To Believe

BOOK: Reason To Believe
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Reason To Believe by Kathleen Eagle

Young lovers from starkly different lives and worlds, Clara and Ben Pipestone came together in passion and in tenderness. But their marriage could not endure deception—or the betrayals of a tormented, searching soul. And now, though time and pain have torn them apart, they reunite for the sake of their troubled teenaged daughter— embarking upon a rugged winter journey across sacred land in symbolic remembrance of Ben's Lakota ancestors...and to reclaim something beautiful but lost—and as eternal as the stars.


"I hate you." She hissed. But she turned to him and held him tight, shuddering in his arms and weeping against his neck. "I hate you so much, Ben Pipestone."

"What can I do?" The fires of hell burned in his throat. "Just tell me, honey, what can I do?"

"Tell me it isn't true." She sobbed. "Tell me you didn't really..."

"I can't." And it was killing him. "I won't lie to you anymore. All I can say is I'm sorry." "Why doesn't that help?"

"Because it doesn't make it go away. If you want me to go—"

"I don't." The embrace of the man who'd betrayed her seemed an improbable place to find comfort, but there it was. "I don't want to hurt alone. And I don't want to hurt with anyone else."

"Jesus" he whispered, "we make a hell of a pair."


AVON BOOKS A division of
The Hearst Corporation

1350 Avenue of the Americas

New York, New York 10019

Copyright © 1995 by Kathleen Eagle

ISBN: 0-380-77633-2

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 94-96256

Axelrod Agency, Inc., 66 Church Street, Lenox, Massachusetts 01240.

First Avon Books Printing: February 1995

Printed in the U.S.A.


For the runners and the riders, and for all those who offered support. May the sacrifices be known, the injustices be rectified, and may the healing touch battered hearts everywhere.


Mid-October 1990

Anna Pipestone tucked the bottle of Obsession for Men beneath the pile of stuffed animals that served as sentries in the dark corner of her closet. It was a safe place to store all the booty she'd stolen since her friend Jennifer had introduced her to the thrills and skills of shoplifting two months ago. As long as the closet didn't look too messy, she knew her mother wouldn't bother it.

Each small item in her stash was like a trophy, snatched right out from under the nose of a certain bigheaded clerk who manned the cosmetics counter at Dalton's. Sadly, Anna had lost out on the last trophy—an umbrella offered free with any fifteen-dollar purchase—when a skinny guy in a black leather jacket had stopped her the second she'd stepped over the line into the mall. "Store security," he'd mumbled past a lip full of chew. At first she'd thought he was just some horny kid trying to hit on her. People always found it hard to believe, just looking at her, that she was only thirteen. But he'd been careful not to touch her, and it was a good thing. She'd have popped him a good one. She'd seen a show on TV about bogus strip searches by guys who looked just about as sleazy as this one. Besides, cops weren't supposed to chew snuff.

But this one did. And in her defensive mode Anna had almost forgotten about the damned umbrella. At her hearing she'd tried to tell the juvenile court referee that she'd just taken the giveaway sign at its word and missed the fine print about having to buy something, but he hadn't bought it.

Neither had her mother. The best part of it was, Dalton's was her mother's favorite store. Anna sat back on her haunches and smiled at the white bear her dad had given her for her eighth birthday. She still remembered these things. Who'd given her what for which birthday. Her dad was always saying she wasn't getting any more stuffed animals, but then her birthday would come around, and he'd be the one to give her another bear. Her mother favored clothes and maybe something for her room, like the new yellow comforter on her bed.

Anna didn't like the room's yellow and white decor anymore. She'd tried to tell her mother she wanted to change it to red and black, but Miss Clean and Straight wouldn't listen. As soon as the furor over this crappy probation she was temporarily chained to blew over, she was going to get herself a few cans of black paint and put the daisy wallpaper out of its perky misery.

She pushed herself up off the floor, then flopped on the bed and snatched the morning paper off the alarm clock that sat on her nightstand. According to Daisy Duck's white-gloved fingers, it was almost two o'clock. She was skipping fifth period. She'd have to get moving if she was going to make it to sixth. She didn't skip class very often—detention was a pain in the ass—but somebody had asked her if that Pipestone guy in this morning's paper was related to her. Even though she hadn't looked at the paper, she'd said he wasn't. She didn't ask what it was about, and she didn't want to check out the story in the school library. If it was something about her dad—if he'd fallen off the wagon and gotten picked up by the cops or gotten in a wreck—she'd wanted to be alone when she read about it. She'd gotten a ride home with Jennifer and her scuzzy boyfriend.

But the story wasn't about Ben Pipestone. It was about the upcoming annual Big Foot Memorial Ride. The article quoted Dewey Pipestone, Anna's grandfather, as saying that he was getting too old to be the spiritual leader for the Lakota on such an arduous venture, but there was no one to take his place. Anna knew that the remark was an oblique reference to her father. Dewey Pipestone was determined to live to see his son succeed him as carrier of the Sacred Pipe. Ben's standard reply was, "Guess the ol' man's bound to outlive me, then."
Dewey would say. And round and round it went.

Round and round, Anna thought. Just like her and her mom. The ol' lady had only one person left to rag on, now that she'd kicked Daddy out, and that was Anna. Well, if the woman was going to bitch anyway, might as well give her something to bitch about. And as long as Anna was already skipping school, she figured she might as well have some fun. Jennifer Hardin wasn't exactly deep, but she was good for a few laughs. Maybe a little party or something.

Anna reached for the white Princess phone beside the bed. The
snagged her drifting attention, and she dropped the receiver back in place.

It had been a while since she'd seen her grandfather. He'd had a crappy-sounding cough ever since she could remember. An old man's way of hacking. She couldn't imagine he'd gotten any younger. Two weeks was a long time to spend in the saddle, especially in December,
South Dakota
in December.

Of course, it would have to be a lot easier nowadays than it had been the first time around. Anna had read something about it in school—about a paragraph's worth in the eighth grade history book about the "Battle of Wounded Knee"—but she'd also heard it from the Indian side. A century ago, back in 1890, most of the people had walked those two hundred and some-odd miles, and they'd done it because they had no choice. They were being hounded by the U.S. Army.

But Anna's grandfather
have a choice. He didn't have to risk his health, not in this day and age. He could turn the pipe over to someone else. He was too old to be spending eight or ten hours a day on horseback for two weeks and camping out in the winter.

But Anna could do it. She had a long Christmas vacation coming. Her father wasn't interested, and she could just about imagine what her mother would say. But so what? Those two were so screwed up, it wasn't funny. She'd told them once that if they ever split up, she wasn't going to stay with either one of them. She wasn't going to visit them or let them come to her wedding or baby-sit their grandchildren, nothing. When she'd said it, she wasn't thinking it would actually happen.

It had happened to Jennifer Hardin and a bunch of other kids she knew, but it would never happen to her. Her parents had had a hard enough time getting together, what with her dad being an Indian, her mom being white. They'd had a few problems, big deal. Her dad was working on his problem. As for her mom's problem, well... being too damn good probably wasn't curable. The woman just couldn't be wrong, couldn't cross over the line, couldn't make a mistake.

But Anna could do it. She could do anything she damn well pleased. Who would stop her? Near as she could tell, her dad hadn't even tried to stand up to her mom. He'd just tucked his tail between his legs and moved out. And now her mom couldn't look at a picture of him or find one of his socks in the back of the drawer or even make a pot of goulash without getting all teary-eyed. If she thought she was hiding all that sniffling from Anna, she was definitely mistaken.

What had he done? Anna wanted to know. She got no answers. She'd stopped asking. She had her own life, her own friends, her own stuff to do. Great stuff, too. Just ask her, and she was ready. Just
her, and she'd try it. Like this ride, for instance. Just let somebody say the word
and she'd tell them just where they could go.

Anna could do it.

Chapter 1

It was the song playing on the radio that made Ben Pipestone tighten his two-fisted grip on the big steering wheel of his old red and white Chevy pickup. Somebody up there had to be orchestrating moments like this, putting "Me and Bobbie McGee" in the DJ's hands just as Ben was approaching the newly resurfaced driveway of his former home. Some all-seeing body who had nothing better to do than to mess with a man's head just when the sorry bastard thought he was finally getting it on straight.

He doubted that Tunkasila had much time for him these days. Probably not Jesus, either, or the Virgin Mary or anybody in the upper echelon of the Spirit World. He'd bet on his old buddy, Iktome. It was just like the wily Lakota Trickster to play on the sentimental bone a guy could have sworn he didn't have in his body.

Clara was the one who was always getting sentimental over songs, but there Ben sat, staring at the house and letting his throat tighten up over foolish memories. It hurt to swallow, but he actually savored the fleeting twinge. Yeah, pour on the pain, he told himself. Pain was good. Physical pain was the kind of a challenge a guy could really sink his teeth into and hope to beat.

The best way to kill it—well, maybe the second best— was to get busy and concentrate on the here and now.

Forget the past and face the present. Deal with the condition of the driveway right in front of him. Take note that the guy who had sold him on the asphalt had done a nice job, which was good to know since Ben had paid the bill simply on Clara's terse approval. No detailed report, no "Thanks, we needed that." All she'd said was, "Yes, it's fine." So he'd taken what satisfaction could be had in writing a check for the balance owed on the job. After all, it was still his house, at least partly, if not his home.

The yard needed some work, though. Clara was a great one for putting in flowers in the spring, but after the first frost, she'd always left the dead stuff for him to take care of. Not that he'd minded much. This was the first house he'd owned, and he'd never had a yard before. Probably never would again, not one like this. He figured he might as well drive back up to Bismarck and take care of the fall cleanup next week, sometime when no one would be home.

The thing he'd liked most about the house was the view of the river bluffs from the big window in the front room. Clara had had her list of requirements, but he'd mortgaged his soul so that he could see forever on a clear day. And in North Dakota you could count on plenty of cloudless sky. Someday he was going to buy the adjacent farmland, he'd told Clara. Plenty of room to keep a couple of horses. Some primal part of his brain still measured his personal worth in horses.

The late afternoon sunlight slanted across the field behind the house like long fingers reaching for the last biscuit on the table.
Don't reach,
Ben could hear Clara saying in that soft, crisp tone she took when she was being the authoritative mother.
Ask, and it shall be passed.

Ask, and it shall be passed.

How about, ask and it shall be

Not likely. Not after what he'd done.

He set the brake and draped his wrists over the top of the steering wheel, rubbing his chin on the shoulder of his denim jacket. Softly, absently, he added his deep voice to the song's final refrain as he gazed out the pickup's side window. The backyard had faded to yellow-green, but the autumn sun had turned the alfalfa stubble to pure gold. The hollow echo of one single yesterday was all he had to hang on to most nights. It wasn't always the same one, but he tried to stick to the good ones. The days when the troubles were still far away and the nights when he'd slept nearly guilt-free. Those were the yesterdays he believed in.

BOOK: Reason To Believe
4.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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