The Angel and the Warrior
Berkley Sensation Historical Romance
It was then, by chance that she gazed up, and there, off in the distance, beneath a fiery-red sunset, she spotted Swift Hawk. At once, everything in her immediate environment, except him, faded to a dim blur, as if he, and only he were real.
She watched as Swift Hawk strode through the tall grasses, grasses and vines that rippled in the wind; his pony, weighted down with something, followed in his wake. That the grass hampered his tread didn’t seem to slow his stride. In turht, he looked determined.
He was quite a sight to behold, and she thought she would never forget the beauty of it, for the tall grasses mirrored the extravagance of the sunset, their whitish tops casting a pinkish-red glow over the land, the sky, and over him. And for a moment, a lump formed in her throat.
She drew in a deep breath, and as she did so, she sniffed, at once cognizant of the fragrant, late afternoon scent of grass, dirt and pure, oxygen-filled air.
He was back. The good Lord be praised. And if his glance told her anything, it spoke volumes, for he looked unswervingly at her. Hope blossomed, and for a moment, the native grace of the landscape reflected her mood, giving Angelia’s spirits a buoyancy that she hadn’t felt for many a day.
“Miss, ah, miss?”
But Angelia didn’t hear the old geezer by her fire; she had eyes and ears only for him.
Swift Hawk’s stride brought him directly toward her’s and her brother’s campfire, and within moments, he was there in front of her, for he had stopped his pacing only inches from the blaze. His pony snorted behind him, then commenced to munching on the grass.
Swift Hawk stood, his long, buckskin-covered legs far apart, arms crossed over his broad chest. And he stared down at her.
Gazing upward, Angelia drew herself onto her knees while her brother turned over in his sleep, as though nothing — not the old man, not even Swift Hawk — would interfere with his nap. Angelia squinted up at Swift Hawk as the evening sunset outlined him in reds and pinks and oranges. She tried to study him, attempting to determine what she could witness with his countenance.
Silently he stared back at her, and beneath the heat of his gaze, Angelia let her own glance drop to the ground. Cautiously, she breathed in and out, hardly daring to say a word.
And then he spoke to her, saying, “I have come to tell you that I have made my decision.”
“Miss,” piped up the old geezer, “Have ye heard nothin’ I’ve been sayin’ to ya?”
With her right hand, Angelia shushed the man, while she spoke directly to Swift Hawk. “Have you?” she voiced, bestowing a smile to Swift Hawk.
“Haa’he, I have.”
“Consortin’ with Injuns!” declared Mr. Wooster, coming up to his feet and shaking a finger at her. “Ye’ll come to harm, I tell ye.”
“Yes, yes, Mr. Wooster. Thank you. I’ve heard you,” Angelia said, though the man, for all the attention she paid him, might have been invisible.
Angelia waited, for Swift Hawk did not at once elaborate on what his decision was. However, unable to bear the anticipation, Angelia brightened her smile, cast Swift Hawk the most flirtatious gaze she possessed, and said, “Yes?”
Looking away from her, Swift Hawk stiffened.
“Of all the…” The rest of wahtever censure Mr. Wooster had to say was lost to the wind, for he left forthwith; unfortunately his stench lingered behind him.
But neither Swift Hawk, nor Angelia paid the man an ounce of attention.
Smiling, Angelia again coaxed, “Yes?”
And Swift Hawk said, “I have decided that I will help you and your brother.”
She gulped. “You have?” Slowly Angelia stood to her feet. “You will?”
“Haa’he, I will. I will teach him to scout.”
The Angel and the Warrior
By Karen Kay
On Sale September 2005
Copyright © 2005 by Karen Kay Elstner