Monday, April 13
Sage Eagle did all the pre-trip checks on the tribal van. Everything looked good. He made sure his box of condoms were in the glove compartment. He might be being overly optimistic, but he needed to be prepared. If Dancing Bear was up to her usual matchmaking tricks, he’d have a whole day alone with Phoenix and if she let him kiss her, he knew he would want more if she allowed.
Over the weekend, as she gave input on her house, he had been tempted to let her know what Dancing Bear was probably up to, but he couldn’t… she might have refused to go with him. In this case, it was probably better to ask for forgiveness than forewarn her.
His sleep had been restless, his dreams full of loving her. He changed his sheets every morning and hoped that he wasn’t wrong for feeling optimistic. He would find out today… Somehow, he would pry out of her what she thought of him. If it was bad, he’d never push her again, but if it was good, he’d somehow persuade her to let him sample her warmth.
He knew she was nervous about being in public. It was unlikely that her ex would be in Rawlins, looking for her, but until she went and found her fears to be unfounded, she wouldn’t be able to relax. She wouldn’t be able to heal – or able to love him.
“You’re not going to believe this,” his father said, joining him.
“Woxi has found something the others must do today...”
He grunted with his nod. “A load of glass and tires in Casper. Ginna, Waana, Wahn’za and A’ra are all going.”
“Four?! Why do we need four on that run?”
“You know Woxi… Son… try not to scare Coonagwi...”
“Don’t worry, Da. I’ve already seen what she can do when she’s mad. You know she kicked Hooxa, right?”
“Before or after you slugged him?”
“Before! I didn’t know about it or I might have slugged him harder!” Sage Eagle sighed. “Da… I’m worried that Hooxa might be out of control.”
“What would you have me do?”
“I’m not sure right now. Keep a closer eye on him… Woxi thinks his karma is near, but I don’t want any more broken hearts caused by his carelessness.”
“I will bear that in mind.” Nighthawk turned. “Here comes Coonagwi. Be good to her. She has been through a lot and needs gentle understanding.”
“She is more than capable of standing up to me!”
“All the same...”
Sage Eagle watched as Phoenix approached, Dancing Bear and Rose with her. Her newly dyed hair definitely made her look more native, though her skin remained fair, like hawthorn blossoms. “Good morning, Coonagwi,” he greeted.
Phoenix felt very nervous. Where were the others who were meant to go with them to Rawlins? Did Dancing Bear really expect her to spend an entire day with just Sage Eagle?! She couldn’t make a fuss though – not with Dancing Bear and Nighthawk watching. What would they think of her if she refused this task just because she was afraid to be alone with Sage Eagle for a whole day?! At least they were no longer fighting or ignoring one another. Over the weekend, they worked together on her house like old friends rather than rivals. Was this all because of her peace offering?
“It won’t take too long to get to Rawlins,” Dancing Bear told her, like there was nothing strange. “Make Sage Eagle show you all the thrift stores to see what you can find for your house – especially cast iron if you see any. Then, you’re to pick up canning things from the big store and meet our seafood supplier.”
“Okay,” Phoenix replied with a toss of her freshly redyed black hair. “Where are the others?”
“They had to go to Casper for more earthship materials,” Dancing Bear said with a shrug. Instantly, Phoenix understood that she had deliberately reallocated her safety! But in front of the others, she didn’t want to make a scene – especially with Rose there. She wouldn’t frighten them. “Are you going to be okay, Rose?”
Rose nodded with a grin. “Play games with kenbi!”
“And make cookies!” Dancing Bear reminded.
Rose’s face lit up. Phoenix knew her daughter would be happy.
“If need be, we can have Deheyi and Haiwi come over for awhile.”
Rose nodded excitedly. “Please!”
Dancing Bear nodded with a reassuring smile.
The van started and Phoenix realized Sage Eagle was now behind the wheel. She got into the passenger side, then closed the door, not hardly daring to look at the handsome man she was going to get to spend the day with! Instead, she looked at Rose and waved as the van moved. Her heart beat fast and her breath caught before she took a deep breath of calm, trying not to be so nervous.
Had it really been only a month ago when she came to this valley, a shattered shell of her former self? Had she really come so far in these few short weeks as to pour coffee down the front of the chieftain’s youngest son and yet still manage to gain a level of respect and peace with him? It was overwhelming to think about all that had happened. She should take some time to write it all down so that she’d always remember this time – and the journey she’d been through on the road to recovery. More than one person seemed to think that her willingness to humiliate Sage Eagle as she had proved that she was able to fend for herself now.
“Do you know where we’re going?” Sage Eagle asked, pulling her out of her thoughts.
“Rawlins?” Phoenix replied hesitantly. “I think I went through it on my way to Ba’a O’ng, but I don’t know anything more than that. I hope you know!”
He laughed merrily – a sound she hadn’t heard before from him – and it was a beautiful sound. “I was teasing you,” he replied, looking at her with a grin that melted the last barriers she’d erected around her heart. She laughed with him and knew she was in trouble for sure, but no longer cared. Whatever lay in store for her today, she would take it – just so she could be with Sage Eagle.
Back to the prologue
Available to purchase at Books2Read. Print version will be available soon.
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Previous Swan Valley Stories:
- Native Concession either in ebook form or [print]( . (June 2014, approximately 9 months before Phoenix.)
Swan Valley is a fictitious American Indian reservation located in the Great Divide Basin of Wyoming, USA. The Neme'o'ng (Swan People) are based on the idea of blending the Shoshoni and Arapaho peoples - as might have happened if they were stranded in a desolate area as a small band of misfits. I have developed their language from the same ideas.
Please read my note on romance, teenage intimate relationships and underage sex. I apologize if my understanding conflicts with your sense of morality, but I'm only looking at things realistically, not ideologically. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing!
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