White Eagle’s Touch
White Eagle’s Touch
by Karen Kay
Blackfoot Warriors Series
Blackfoot Warriors, Book 2
Two worlds. Forbidden love.
Katrina Wellington is vexed. She must marry to obtain the rest of her inheritance. But her uncle, who left her in New York with a governess to make his fortune out West, has suddenly decided he must approve of her fiancé before he will loosen the purse strings to her dowry.
Swallowing her outrage, the socialite treks to the same wilderness that claimed her parents’ lives years ago. Some small part of her is crestfallen that her uncle is not waiting with open arms. Only three guides, Indian guides, await her, and one of them is far too handsome for his own good.
At first, White Eagle does not like the spoiled, willful niece of the white trader. When he catches a glimpse of the vulnerability behind her prickly exterior, he can’t resist challenging the dazzling beauty to rediscover her true inheritance—the inner strength bequeathed to her by her parents.
Close contact on the trail soon arouses a soul-stirring passion and in its turn, love. But love may not be enough to sustain a relationship that is forbidden in both their worlds.
Available on Kindle Unlimited
Excerpt from White Eagle’s Touch
“Has a right?” Katrina leapt to her feet. Benjamin Lloyd followed her up onto his, the man’s slight stature detracting from, rather than adding to the strength of his argument. At five-foot-five, the lawyer’s eyes were just level with hers. “Has a right?” Katrina repeated. “Do you think so? What does the law say about my uncle’s abandonment of me? About desertion?”
“Katrina, you know that your uncle did not truly desert you.”
“Didn’t he? I have not seen him for fourteen years. What is that, if not abandonment? Or are you speaking of the succession of nannies and governesses, the multitude of servants he hired?”
She puckered up her face and leaned forward. “This can’t be truly legal.”
“It most certainly is.” Benjamin Lloyd slapped his hand on his desk.
“Benjamin, don’t you talk to me this way.”
“Then start speaking sense.”
Katrina blew out her breath, shaking her head at the same time “I am I . . .Does my uncle hate me so greatly?”
“Hate you? Cease this sort of talk at once. I’m sure that isn’t the reason–”
“He must,” Katrina insisted, her chin hiking up into the air. “I have always suspected it to be so. Why else would he never visit me, never write to me, never . . . ?”
She stopped, her glance falling away from Benjamin’s before she continued, “Do you know that when I was a child, I used to write to him? I used to think of him as something of a knight. Did you know that, Benjamin? I used to dream of him coming to get me here; I used to envision . . .” Katrina glanced away into a corner of the room. It was some moments before she spoke again, saying, “But that was all so long ago, wasn’t it?”
“Katrina, I didn’t know that–”
“How could you?” She sighed. “He wants me to go there, you say? He is demanding that I travel out West and meet with him, if I desire my inheritance?”
“And he would provide my transportation there?”
“I know of no reputable coaches that travel that far.”
“You are right,” Benjamin Lloyd was quick to note, “but I have looked into this, and I could make travel arrangements that would be quite comfort able for you. Firstly, I could hire a private coach that would carry you all the way to St. Louis. I would ensure your comfort and your safety, that is, if you decide to make the trip.”
“If I decide? I thought I had to–”
“You don’t have to go, Katrina.”
“But didn’t you just say that–”
“You wouldn’t have access to your dowry, of course, nor to the whole of your inheritance, until you are twenty-five, the age your father set down in his will as the time to receive the remainder of your legacy.”
“Twenty-five. Six years away . . . You know that I can’t wait that long. I barely have enough funds to pay my current bills. What would I do for six years?”
“You would have to be most frugal, my dear.”
“Frugal? Penniless is more the correct word.”
“Yes, well. . .”
“Benjamin, this carriage that you would hire for me”–Katrina returned her glance toward her solicitor–“would it see me all the way to the Northwest Territory?”
“Well, no, there are no roads that travel that distance, but it would take you to St. Louis, and from there, I could arrange your passage aboard a steamboat to Fort Union in the Northwest Territory. And there you would meet with your uncle.”
“I see. Whatever, do you suppose, possessed my father and uncle to become traders?” “Hmmm . . . What did you say, Katrina?”
“Traders,” Katrina glanced away. “It’s a savage and uncivilized life that they chose for themselves, wasn’t it? Trading European goods for the furs of the Indians. Why do you think they chose it?”
“Perhaps for the adventure. Mayhap for the money. They did accumulate quite a fortune for themselves . . . and for you, my dear. Might I re mind you that all the wealth and enjoyment that you have possessed thus far in your life has come down to you from the richness of that trade?”
“Yes,” Katrina said on a heavy breath, “all my enjoyment.” Then, lowering her voice, she whispered, “And all my sorrow.”
Katrina didn’t answer. Instead, she raised her chin, and asked, “Is that all, then? I have only to go there and meet my uncle and then I might have–”
“And your fiance.”
Benjamin Lloyd cleared his throat. “Didn’t I mention that to you?”
“No, you did not.”
“Oh, yes, well, your uncle here stipulates that he must meet and,” Benjamin Lloyd lowered his voice, speaking quickly, “. . . and approve of said fiance before the distribution of–” “Meet? Approve?”
“Yes, well…” Katrina leaned over the desk. “What further madness is this?”
Benjamin Lloyd fingered his collar. He leaned backwards. “I was certain I had told you that. I was . . . why, here it is. This document says”–he shook out a piece of paper–“when the party of the first– your uncle–shall meet and approve of matrimonial choice of said ward–that is you–any hitherto obligation of said ward will be discharged and the distribution of funds shall commence–”
“He wants to meet my fiance?”
“Why does he want to . . . This makes little, if any sense at all. First, he asks me to place myself in danger to go and meet him, and now he is demanding to approve of my fiance?”
“In danger, my dear? I’m not sure I would use those terms to…”
Katrina no longer listened to the lawyer’s ramblings. No, she had already lifted the hem of her pink satinet dress, stepped away from her chair, and begun to pace beside the solicitor’s desk.
She stopped suddenly, intercepting the lawyer, as she said, “Well, I am certain of it now. My uncle hates me.” “Katrina . . .”
“It’s the only possible explanation. Perhaps my uncle hated my father, as well as me, and it is only in this way that the awful man can seek full revenge.” Katrina hurriedly dropped the hem of her skirt and turned around, stepping briskly to her solicitor’s desk, the bustle under her skirts swaying with her movement.
Benjamin Lloyd, however, watching her, did nothing more than swallow noisily.
“Well, at least I understand my uncle, now,” she said. “He hates me, has hated me all my life, and this is his way of getting back at me.”
“Katrina, I’m not sure that I–”
“I always wondered why my only living relative never came to see me, why all the nannies and servants . . .”
“Now, Katrina, I don’t see that this makes any difference to what is being asked now. The servants and the maids, the–”
“Don’t you?” Katrina interrupted, turning away and presenting her back to the spectacled solicitor. Briefly she glanced into a corner of the room. A moment passed. Another. At last, though, she took a deep breath and, pivoting to confront her lawyer, looked directly at him. “You’re probably right, Benjamin. None of the past matters anymore.”
“Please, my dear, I know that this is all so unexpected. Naturally you are upset and–”
“I will go.”
“Now, now. Don’t make too hasty a decision. It’s best to think it over carefully before . . . You will?”
“Yes, I will. My uncle wants to see me. I will go. He never came here to see me, but I will go to him. Besides, what choice do I have? If I don’t do this, I will lose all reputation here, what with no more available funds to draw from.” She turned so that the pink bonnet she wore did not obstruct her view of the solicitor. “My uncle has played an excellent game with me, I think. A game of chess, if you will. He has laid siege to my queen for the moment. Do you know that? I thought to marry in order to avoid my uncle and draw upon the rest of my inheritance without ever a word to him. I thought I had placed my uncle’s king in checkmate. Now I see that I had a more worthy opponent than I had at first envisioned.”
“Katrina, what are you saying? You might be taking this too much to heart. Perhaps, my dear, it would be best not to judge your uncle until–”
“He will not win, though.”
“Katrina, I don’t think that…”
But Benjamin Lloyd might as well have remained silent. Katrina had already collected her purse and umbrella, marched to the room’s door and flung it open before she turned back toward him. Her lips parted for a moment, as though she might say something further, but with a definite shake of her head, she merely stated, “Good day, Benjamin.”
And with that said, she delayed no longer. Picking up the front of her dress, she swept through the door, her head held in a stiff, defiant angle.
And there was no one, not a single person at this moment, who would have interfered with her without cost.
At least no one in New York City.
Copyright © 1998 by Karen Kay Elstner