Where the Rain is Made Excerpt

Where The Rain Is Made
K. Celeste Bryan

The Wild Rose Press


Where the Rain is Made


Setup:

Cesca and Meko meet for the first time when he kidnaps her during a Cheyenne raid on her homestead.


Excerpt:


In the pale light of morning, Francesca spied the tall prairie grass ahead, smelled the ashen waters of the river. A blue jay screeched from a low-hanging branch as she passed with the derringer clutched in her hand. Thank God her father had taken the time to show her how to shoot it. A single shot, that’s all that stood between her and death.

She remembered the acrid, black smoke and the direction from which it had come―Auraria―the miner’s camp. Her father must be dead too. Please God, don’t let them find me. Tall spikes rose to her hips and rustled against her cotton pants as she threshed toward the river, hoping against hope she’d gone undetected. A desperate desire to survive coursed through her blood. She’d grab a hefty branch, float down the river so they couldn’t track her, would never find her.

Moments later, she emerged from the tall grass, and there on the opposite bank of the river, stood the most frightening sight she’d ever laid eyes on.

She froze and her heart pounded in triple beats. Pewter eyes locked with hers and she uttered a low cry of fear. Grotesque war paint covered his face and fresh scalps hung from his waist, still dripping blood. His face lacked expression, neither loathing nor rage, just a bland acknowledgement he’d found her.

She recovered her senses and raised the derringer, her hands shaking like a rattler’s tail. Don’t come near me!” Her voice trembled. “I know how to use this, and if you take one step toward me, I’ll shoot.”

A brief second of admiration flashed in the silver orbs, and something else. Oh, god, had he seen through the ruse, knew she wasn’t a boy? Her heart sank. Treading through the shallow water, he advanced slowly with her retreating, tripping over her feet. She drew back on the trigger and fired. Morbid fascination gripped her as the bullet whirred by his head and carved out a shallow furrow along his temporal bone. A stream of blood trickled from the wound and ran down his cheek. And what cheekbones they were. Every feature of his face finely-chiseled, it reminded her of the pictures she saw in one of her father’s picture books.

She turned and sprinted toward the marsh grass and then a rock-hard body slammed her to the ground forcing a long breath of air from her lungs. She clawed at the earth, crushed by his weight as sand and damp moss spiraled up her nose. She struggled to maintain consciousness, the pain in her ribs robbing her of precious air as strong hands bound her hands behind her back.

Then darkness found her.

* * * *

I Am The Wind thought he’d crushed the boy in the desperate lunge to bring him down. Lying across his small frame, strange sensations coursed through him, yet even before the lad drew back on the hammer, his pulse had launched into rapid beats. He rolled him over, his innards stirring with an odd sort of heat. No wonder the People called them ghost face. Smooth and satiny, the white-eye’s skin bore a resemblance to the alabaster shell stones found along the river banks.

He flicked the straw hat aside, astonished to see a profusion of black hair framing the delicate face. Long, bristly lashes rested against the pale cheeks, and although slack, the lips were full and pink. He traced them with his thumb before moving on to the soft curve of the jaw line, mesmerized by the classical features in the oval face. Heat coursed through his blood.

I Am The Wind sat back on his haunches and studied her, then cursed under his breath. K√Ęse’eehe, young woman. He should have known. Didn’t the frantic pounding of his heart, the sudden tightening in his loins warn him when he first looked into the dark green eyes?

With great difficulty, her chest rose and fell. Had he broken her ribs? He unbuttoned her shirt, and discovered the wide strips binding her chest. So the little wildcat wanted to hide her gender, wanted everyone to believe she was a boy. He hauled her up gently and draped her across his arm, searching for the end of the fabric. The soft swell of breasts rose up to meet him, nearly knocking the air from his lungs as he unwound it. He unbuttoned her pants, expecting to see a crushed pelvis. Narrow hip bones, spanning the length of his hand, topped the long, sleek limbs. Nothing appeared broken. Briefly, her eyelids fluttered and he thought she might awaken, but they stilled again and her breathing returned to normal.

A soft whistle from his lips brought Night Walker splashing through the water. He lifted the woman from the ground, mounted, and cradled her in his arms with her face snuggled into this chest. The acrid smell of smoke reached his nostrils as he rode from the banks of the river.

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