KAREN KAY, Writing as GEN BAILEY
Available on Kindle
Release date: October 2018
The sun was a low, pinkish orange orb in the sky, announcing its departure from the day in glorious streaks of multicolored sunlight. Shafts of light, streaming from the clouds, beamed down to the earth, looking as though heaven itself smiled kindly upon the land. And what a magnificent land it was. The birch trees were yellow, the maples red, and the oaks announced their descent into a long, winter sleep with multicolored oranges and golds. The hills were alive with autumn hues, while the air was filled with the rich, musky scent of falling leaves.
Into this world of beauty came the delicate and pale figure of a woman, looking as though she had been plopped down on a large, flat rock. To a casual eye, it might have appeared as though she were engaged in nothing as untoward as taking in the sun. However, closer inspection would have shown that she had only recently been washed to shore.
Soon, the lone figure of a man emerged from the forest. Buckskin clad, he was tall black-haired and brown skinned, with a Mohawk hairstyle that hung long and well past his shoulders in back. He’d been hunting this day, very far from his home. From deep within the forest, he’d felt the breeze and heard the rustle of the water. It had called to him.
Stepping quietly toward the lake, he looked up, his gaze one of admiration for all this, the splendor of the woodlands. Squatting down, and setting his musket onto his lap, he bent over to partake of a drink from the water’s cool depths.
However, instantly he sat up, alert. From out the corner of his eye, he’d caught the movement of something, and glancing toward it, he recognized the image of a piece of clothing; it was a woman’s skirt. Rising up, he stepped toward it to get a better look, if only to satisfy his curiosity.
That’s when he saw her. She was a white woman, blond haired and slim.
Was she alive?
Hauling himself up onto the rock where she lay, he stepped toward her and bent over her. He placed his fingers against her neck, feeling for a pulse. Her body was cold, so very, very cold and he was more than a little surprised when he felt the sure sign of life within her.
The pulse was weak, but it was still there.
Turning her slightly, he was surprised at her pale beauty. Of course, being Seneca and from the Ohio Valley, he’d had opportunity to witness the unusual skin color of the white people. But it wasn’t as familiar a sight to him as one might reckon.
Who was she? How had she gotten here? And what had happened to her?
Glancing in all directions, he took in the spectacular sights of the forest. Where did she belong? Who did she belong to?
There was nothing here to answer him; nothing to be seen, no other human presence to be felt within the immediate environment. There was nothing but the ever expansive rhythm of nature.
Using his right hand to brush her hair back from her face, he noted again how cold she was, however, he couldn’t help but be aware of how soft her skin was, as well. Putting his fingers against her nostrils, he could feel the weak intake and outflow of breath. She was alive, barely.
Did he dare take her away from here? A white woman?
He hesitated and waited. He watched. Nyoh, he was the only one here, the only one to settle her fate.
That decided him. If she were to live through the night, he had best take care of her. She needed warmth, nourishment and a chance to heal.
Bending down, he spread his hands over her torso. Depending on the type of injury he might discover, he would either nurse her here or take her to a more protected spot. He ran his hands gently down each of her arms, including her hands and fingers. He felt for anything broken. He found nothing.
Spreading his fingers wide, he sent his touch down the sides of her ribs, ignoring her ample breasts. Though his scrutiny was fast, it was thorough. Amazingly, he found nothing.
He continued his search down each of her legs. Surely, he thought, there must be some clue that would tell of her recent history. Perhaps she had broken her neck or back? Gently, he tested the theory, sending his fingertips down over the muscles and bone structure of her neck. Nothing. Nothing substantial to indicate a problem that might claim her life. Turning her lightly onto her side, he felt along her spinal column. Several bones were out of place, but nothing was broken.
He frowned. Again, he wondered, what had happened to her? What was a white woman doing in the woods alone?
His jaw clenched. There had to be someone close-by. Otherwise, there was no sense in this.
But, glancing up and looking askance again, he realized that the puzzle of her appearance would not be solved here. His examination of her had at least established on fact: she was fit to travel.
Taking her up into his arms, he was more than aware that she felt light in his grasp. Quickly, he stepped down off the rock. Not knowing exactly how she had come to be here, he kept his attention attuned to the environment, listening for a sign of other life…anything to indicate the presence of another in the surroundings. She was a beautiful woman; surely she belonged to someone who would miss her.
But again, he could sense nothing unusual.
Enough. She required care.
Quickly he shot toward the security of the woods. If someone were here watching, the trees and bushes offered sanctity, at least it would hide the direction of his path. But where would he take her? He hadn’t yet constructed a shelter for the night, and it was already late in the day.
Perhaps…if his memory served him correctly, there was a cave nearby that might lend itself well for their purposes, providing of course that a bear or other animal hadn’t already laid claim to it.
As White Thunder hurried toward that spot, he gazed down into the pleasing features of the woman, realizing that his curiosity about her hadn’t abated. However, there would be time enough to discover who she was once they were safely sheltered. For now he had best hurry to see if the cave were occupied or vacant.
Balancing her weight and his musket into more secure positions, he darted through the forest, quietly disappearing into it.