Wolf Shadow’s Promise
by Karen Kay
He had vowed to make her his wife when she was a mere girl. But now that Alys Clayton was a woman grown and ripe for the love of an honorable man, Moon Wolf knew that man could not be him. For she had since been named Wolf Shadow, a warrior pledged to protect his people. A well-born beauty like Alys deserved much more than a revel Indian could give her. And Moon Wolf loved her too much to deny her anything…
Alys had long waited for the day when she would be reunited with the darkly handsome suitor who had filled her young heart with yearning. And once in Moon Wolf’s tender embrace, she longed to fulfill their vow of love. But Moon Wolf struggled against his passion, stubbornly denying her the one thing that would make her truly his. Now Alys was determined to show the noble warrior that he need not walk alone and that theirs was a love meant to be…
Excerpt from Wolf Shadow’s Promise
Eight year-old Alys Clayton has come to the aid of two misfits who are under attack, not only from a very unsuitable teacher, but from the hot pursuit of irrational classmates. Leading them away from Fort Benton through a series of caves, she is at last able to set them free.
“The boy remained silent, though when he gazed down at Alys, he suddenly smiled, the first cheerful emotion Alys had seen on his face. The action made him look younger still, innocent and oh, so very handsome. Alys gaped at him, her virginal imagination stirring. Long dark hair flowed back from the boy’s face, the cooling breeze from the falls bringing tiny droplets to his skin; dark eyes, surprisingly full of approval for her, watched her closely; tanned skin, full lips, young, lean body…Alys couldn’t help herself. Gazing back, she fell instantly under his spell.
Slowly, the boy took a piece of jewelry from around his neck. A round, single white shell, on a chain of bleached buckskin. He drew it over Alys’s head, settling it onto her breast.
“SOKA’PII, good.” His right hand signed out the meaning of the word in a single gesture. “Looks good on you.”
With the tip of his finger, he tilted her face up toward his. “I will remember you always, young white girl, and what you have done for me and my sister.”
So, thought Alys, the Indian girl was his sister. Pleased by the realization, she said, pointing to herself, “Alys.”
“AA-less,” the young lad rolled her name smoothly over his tongue.
She pointed to him. “And your name is?”
He raised his chin. “A warrior does not repeat his own name. To do so would be dishonorable.”
“But I would like to know…”
She was interrupted by the boy saying something to his sister, again in that strange tongue.
With a quick glance up at Alys, the Indian girl spoke and,, pointing to her brother, said, “KI’SOMM-MAKOYI.”
“KI’SOMM-MAKOYI,” Alys whispered. “That is your name?”
“What does it mean?”
“I cannot say.”
He took a deep breath, grinned at her slightly, then said, pointing to himself, “This one is called Moon Wolf.”
She smiled up at him. “Moon Wolf, I will never forget you.”
He stared into her eyes, his look serious, before he volunteered, “Come with us, young Aa-lees. Come with us and I promise that when we grow older, I will take you for wife and show you great honor for what you have done for us this day.”
Under any other circumstance, Alys might have chuckled, the thought absurd for one so young. Yet, there was a somberness to his words that she couldn’t discount.
“I cannot,” she replied, her voice sounding strangely adult, “I would bring you more trouble if I went with you. No one in the fort would rest until I was found.”
He inclined his head. “That is true. For a small girl, you speak with wise tongue. But still,” his chin shot up in the air, “no matter what others would do, I would honor you in this way.”
His words, or perhaps something in his manner reached out to her, its effect on her profound, and she felt herself responding to the boy, tears of appreciation, maybe even joy, coming to her eyes. She said, “I cannot. My mother would miss me too much.”
He remained silent for many moments before he, at last, nodded. “So it will be,” he uttered, “but know that, though you choose to stay behind, I will carry your image with me here,” he held his hand to his heart, “for so long as this one should live.”
Alys stared. These were strong words, a powerful declaration, for a boy not much older than she, and Alys contemplated him in silence for several seconds, afraid to move least she spoil the moment. Belatedly, he brought his hand up to run his fingers over her cheek, his graze gentle; one of his fingers reached up to trace the path of her tears, before bringing that same finger to his own cheek. “And now,” he whispered, touching his face with her own teary substance, “a part of you is a part of me.”
Copyright © 2000, 2017 by Karen Kay Elstner