The Matawapit Family Series Book 4
by Maggie Blackbird Genre: Inspirational Contemporary Romance
When two former enemies fall in love, family secrets threaten to destroy their fragile union and everything they hold dear.
With their extreme ideas about traditional Ojibway life, the radical Kabatay clan have made enemies in their fight to rid the reserve of Western culture and its religion. Disowned by her family for daring to love the church deacon’s eldest son, Jude, Raven Kabatay longs to put an end to the feud started by her mother, brother, and sisters against the Matawapits…people she’s come to think of as her own since Jude changed her life.
Jude Matawapit suffered a humiliating divorce after his wife left him for another man, but with Raven, he’s created a beautiful, new sanctuary after losing his previous one, and his new haven is everything he’s ever wanted for himself and his children. Only two things could destroy his pristine bliss: the secret he holds close to his chest, and the vengeance Raven’s family wants to exact on the Matawapits. A secret and vengeance that could cost the unlikely lovers their hard-won, much longed for happily ever after.
Jude loved his kids, but not on a Saturday morning when they were bickering in the backseat of the truck.
“Dad, I’m old enough to ride in the front now.”
“No, you’re not. If the airbag goes off, you’re toast.” Jude glanced in the rearview mirror at his son.
“I’m gonna be nine. I’m old enough.”
“Nope. And we’re already here.” They’d driven to the diner, although they only lived a road over, because they were going to Mom and Dad’s afterward so the kids could play outside.
“I’m out first. Haha.” Noah slammed his door.
“You always gotta be first. Not fair.” Rebekah flung aside her seat belt and dashed after her brother.
Hauling himself from the vehicle, Jude dragged his feet after the kids. Breakfast should be interesting if the children were more hyper than a hamster tearing round and round on a wheel. He pushed on the diner door. The kids had already claimed a table by the counter.
“Good morning, Miss Kabatay.” Noah had replaced his horns with a halo, beaming at Raven as she came through the swinging doors.
Only a couple of old-timers were around at eight in the morning.
“I wasn’t expecting you so early.” Raven’s painted red lips spread into a wide smile. Her hips moved in the familiar wiggle Jude could have watched for hours.
With catlike grace, she glided around the table, setting out menus.
“They already know what they want.” Jude removed his jacket and slung it over the spare chair of their table of four.
“Pan-a…pancakes, Miss Kabatay.” Rebekah beamed up at Raven.
“Me, too.” Noah drummed his fingers on the table. “Guess what? Guess what?”
“What?” Raven’s dark eyes twinkled at him.
“Dad’s coming with us next weekend to visit Mom.” Noah’s big smile stretched to his ears.
If only Jude could do a head-desk right now.
Raven grinned back, but her dark eyes lost their sparkle. “Your dad told me last night. I think it’s great.” Even her words were strained.
“Are you gonna come?” Rebekah asked innocently.
“No. I…I work on Saturdays. So, it’s pancakes for both of you?”
The kids nodded and kept grinning.
“Oatmeal and toast on brown for me,” Jude said. He tried to smile, but his curving mouth held about as much enthusiasm as Raven’s dead eyes.
The Matawapit Family Series Book 3 Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Romance
In the midst of a battle for leadership at their Ojibway community, two enemies of opposing families fall in love…
After suffering a humiliating divorce, infuriated Catholic Jude Matawapit bolts to his family’s Ojibway community to begin a new job—but finds himself thrown into a battle for chief as his brother-in-law’s campaign manager. The radical Kabatay clan, with their extreme ideas about traditional Ojibway life, will stop at nothing to claim the leadership position and rid the reserve of Western culture and its religion once and for all, which threatens not only the non-traditional people of the community, but Jude’s chance at a brand-new life he’s creating for his children.
Recovering addict Raven Kabatay will do anything to win the respect and trust of her older siblings and mother after falling deep into drug addiction that brought shame and anger to her family. Not only does she have the opportunity to redeem herself by becoming her brother’s campaign manager for chief—if he wins, she’ll have the reserve’s backing to purchase the gold-mine diner where she works, finally making something of herself. But falling in love with the family’s sworn enemy—the deacon’s eldest son, Jude—will not just betray the Kabatay clan. It could destroy everything Raven believes in and has worked so hard for.
Raven was the type of girl Mom and Aunt Patti would’ve disapproved of when Jude was in high school. But he wasn’t in high school. He was an adult, and he and Raven sported thick bruises from life’s many kicks.
“Do I get a ride home again?” Flirting was new. He hadn’t flirted in years. Unless his ex-wife counted.
“Sure. It’s cold outside. Y’know, I could’ve gotten you.” Raven’s hands trembled.
She was nervous. So was he. Heart pattering a little too fast. Saliva gone sticky in his mouth. A smidgen of sweat at the back of his neck. He’d only gotten divorced last month, after a year of separation required by the province of Ontario. Raven was a recovering addict sorting out her life. But she’d been sober for two and a half years.
“We should…” She licked her lips. “I guess we’re done, hey?” She reached for her parka.
Jude’s stomach drooped a smidgen. He stood. “You’re right. We should get going. I have to finish packing.”
“Going back for the weekend?” Raven zippered the coat.
“Bright and early. Emery and I are returning the U-Hauls. And I need to get my kids and the truck.” Jude forced himself to the teacher’s desk. He donned his coat and slid the files into his briefcase.
Part of him anticipated seeing Noah and Rebekah, but the man who’d spent since the age of nineteen enjoying a healthy sex life needed a companion for the night. He was more than a father, teacher, so-called Eucharistic minister, so-called lector, and so-called member of the Catholic Men’s Association. He was a flesh-and-blood man. And his flesh burned hot for a real woman, not one on his laptop undressing ala burlesque style.
Jude swiveled, clutching the briefcase. Raven stood at the doorway, hugging the books against her chest.
“Yep.” Jude strode across the floor.
They meandered down the hallway as if neither wanted to reach the main door. Jude wasn’t in a hurry. He was returning to an empty house that wasn’t a home yet. Once the kids arrived, maybe they’d add something to the cold place devoid of warmth only a family produced.
“You working tomorrow?”
“Yeah. I get Sundays and Mondays off.”
“Those the quiet days at the diner?”
“Sunday is, but Mondays are nuts.”
Their footsteps were the only sound present. A click click from his boot heels, and a smoosh smoosh from her mukluks, reaffirming they’d reached the dreaded uncomfortable silence.
Jude couldn’t ask for a date. His parents would freak. His brother and sister would freak. Okay, maybe not Emery. But Bridget…oh boy.
Raven pushed on the door. A blast of cold and the familiar scent of winter swept into the building.
“How’s your, err, brother doing?”
“He’s fine.” Even with the icy air nipping at their skin, Raven didn’t dash for her truck. She kept dragging her feet along the walkway.
Jude ambled beside her. He stole a peek at her face hidden by the faux fur lining of her upturned hood. Screw it. He’d been alone for too long.
“How about a coffee?”
Raven stopped. Her mittened hands drew the books even tighter against her parka. Tight enough to show off her flat stomach hidden beneath the barrier of clothing.
“We…um…yes, sure, but can we go somewhere besides the diner? I…um…I work there all day. It’s, uh, the last place I wanna be.”
Jude swallowed. “Sure. Where do you wanna go?”
“Uh…what about the staff room? We’re already here?”
“True.” Downtown and Old Main were the hub of the reserve. And they both lived in the busiest areas of the community. “I’d like to say yes, but I can’t use the school for…err…personal business. And having a cup of coffee off the clock would be…personal.”
“What about the church?”
“The church?” Shock gripped Jude’s spine. Miss Anti-church and religion was willing to go to a place she hated, just so people wouldn’t see them together, but was desperate enough to be with him that she’d step inside a place she considered the annihilation of their once prosperous race?
Dad had given Jude a key, first thing he’d received upon moving here. Funny how he’d been annoyed at receiving it, thinking he might be able to put in his obligatory Sunday for the sake of his kids and family. Now it came in handy.
“Okay. To the church.” There was a nice seating area at the back where the chair lift staircase was located.
The Matawapit Family Series Book 2 Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Romance
A single woman battles to keep her foster child from his newly-paroled father—a dangerous man she used to love.
Bridget Matawapit is an Indigenous activist, daughter of a Catholic deacon, and foster mother to Kyle, the son of an Ojibway father—the ex-fiancé she kicked to the curb after he chose alcohol over her love. With Adam out on parole and back in Thunder Bay, she is determined to stop him from obtaining custody of Kyle.
Adam Guimond is a recovering alcoholic and ex-gangbanger newly-paroled. Through counselling, reconnecting with his Ojibway culture and twelve-step meetings while in prison, Adam now understands he’s worthy of the love that frightened him enough to pick up the bottle he’d previously corked. He can't escape the damage he caused so many others, but he longs to rise like a true warrior in the pursuit of forgiveness and a second chance. There's nothing he isn't willing to do to win back his son--and Bridget.
When an old cell mate’s daughter dies under mysterious circumstances in foster care, Adam begs Bridget to help him uncover the truth. Bound to the plight of the Indigenous children in care, Bridget agrees. But putting herself in contact with Adam threatens to resurrect her long-buried feelings for him, and even worse, she risks losing care of Kyle, by falling for a man who might destroy her faith in love completely this time.
Adam took another drag. “I’m talking now, ain’t I?”
“True.” The heat in his gaze seemed to touch Bridget’s cheek. She rubbed the purse strap.
“I don’t got nothing to hide. ’Kay?”
“You were hiding something last time?”
“Nope. But I know my not speaking pissed you off.”
“There’s no reason to bring up the past. I told you I’d help and that’s what I’m doing.”
“Yeah, you agreed to help…” His gaze roamed around her face. Bridget recoiled and glanced away.
“Y’know,kwe, we’re doing a lot of dancing.”
“Lookit me.” She forced herself to raise her head. His dark eyes smoldered. He leaned forward. His hand stretched out, and he ran his strong fingers along her braid. Sensuous heat and angry lightning erupted under Bridget’s skin. “Don’t you dare.” The words hissed from her mouth.
“What’re you afraid of,kwe?”
“Quit calling me that.” The order snapped from deep inside Bridget’s constricting chest. “You have no right calling me by that name. Not after what you did.” She stood and yanked her purse off the bench. He tilted his head up, his jawline tightening. “I know what I did,kwe. You remind me all the time.”
“I do no such thing.” How dare Adam turn this around as her fault.
“Yeah, you do. It’s in your eyes. They hang me like a noose. It’s in your lips. They condemn me like a villain. It’s in your voice. You slap me with your tone.”
“What’d you expect after what you did?” she huffed out. “You were charged with aggravated assault. The judge had every right to throw the book at you.”
“I know what I did,kwe.” Adam’s voice remained flat. “I live with it every day. I don’t take the easy way out and blame it on the booze.”
“You were skidding around four months. I can only imagine what else you did.” And no, she wasn’t jealous.
“I drank. I drank some more. I did something really bad to another human being. Got arrested. Sat in remand until my trial. I won’t say he deserved it. I won’t say anything. I did it. I went to prison for it.”
“And did youonlydrink?” She silently cuffed her rear end for continuing to poke at the damned same question. Adam’s thick lips tugged at the corner. “If you mean was I out screwing around? Nope. You’re the only woman for me,kwe.” Delight exploded through Bridget’s veins. Then she clamped a lock on her heart. Only a moron bought his answer. He’d been drunk for four months in Winnipeg. He must have picked up some woman in a bar.
“I was hurting bad.” His voice sagged. “You think I was happy when you told me to fuck off? You killed me,woman.” The sharp tone of his last statement was pure insult, an affront to the feminine strength that had dragged Bridget up from the depths of Hell where Adam had stuck her. “If you want to continue speaking, tellDirty Harryto leave. I only deal withMr. Darcy.” Adam stood and set his enormous hands on his hips. “Mr. Who—? Look, I’ll tellDirty Harryto take a hike if you call offSarah Conner. I’m not theTerminatorsent back in time to harm you.” At his full height, Adam towered over Bridget, made her five-nine stance shrink to a doll. He’d reduced her to a doll, helpless in the possession of his hands, made to dance, talk, or walk under his orders. Heat built in her lungs. She was too independent to draw back and scuttle away. No man provoked fear in her. The worst part was, she didn’t fear Adam’s physical presence, she feared the thick, steamy aroma of testosterone he forever used to challenge her, weaken her, seduce her. The masculine aroma dripped from the pits of his arms, his thick chest, and the bulge of his biceps.
“Out of my thirty-eight years, I fucked up thirty-seven of ’em. I ain’t fucking up again.”
“Thirty-seven?” His scent kept assaulting Bridget’s knees, swirling around her, until she wobbled.
“Yeah. Thirty-seven. I can’t count the year the three of us were a family. Me. You. Kyle.” Bridget’s resolve continued to crumble. Adam kept dusting her femininity with his husky declarations, fierce scent, and sensual stare.
The Matawapit Family Series Book 1 Genre: Contemporary M/M Inspirational Romance
It’s been ten years since Emery Matawapit sinned, having succumbed to temptation for the one thing in his life that felt right, another man. In six months he’ll make a life-changing decision that will bar him from sexual relationships for the rest of his life.
Darryl Keejik has a decade-long chip on his shoulder, and he holds Emery’s father, the church deacon, responsible for what he’s suffered: the loss of his family and a chance at true love with Emery. No longer a powerless kid, Darryl has influence within the community—maybe more than the deacon. Darryl intends on using his power to destroy Deacon Matawapit and his church.
Hoping to save the church, Emery races home. But stopping Darryl is harder than expected when their sizzling chemistry threatens to consume Emery. Now he is faced with the toughest decision of his life: please his devout parents and fulfill his call to the priesthood, or remain true to his heart and marry the man created for him.
This is very erotic book about a spiritual journey.
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Darryl sat up. He flung aside the covers. When he rose, the bed creaked. He paced the room. Emery twisted his fingers into the blanket.Don’t assume the worst.His earlier performance between the sheets couldn’t have been that horrible. Although he was out of practice, having sex was natural—at least he’d assumed everything he’d done had come naturally.
“I don’t know how to say this. I don’t even wanna say it.” Darryl huffed back and forth, pushing hair from his face. For a man quite vocal about his feelings, being unable to speak his mind meant Darryl had something horrific to say. Emery tugged at the threading on the blanket.
“First, you believe your god wanted our quest to happen, right?” Darryl kept pacing.
“Yes.” The humidity had returned, but wet chills peppered Emery’s skin. He wouldn’t say anything else. Hearing out Darryl was important to him, no matter what came from his mouth.
“Second, what we did tonight means everything to me. I mean everything.” Darryl stopped and turned. Ten years ago, Emery had said the same thing. A week later, Darryl had bolted for Winnipeg. This was worse than being stabbed in the heart. God must be punishing Emery for his earlier actions.
“Don’t.” Darryl thrust his finger forward. “Don’t even go there.”
“G-Go wh-where?” Emery reached for the leftover glass of water on the nightstand. He gulped down the last of the drink.
“I know what you’re thinking. What we did wasn’t wrong. You told me you felt it here.” Darryl tapped the lower left side of his chest.
“I did.” Hand trembling, Emery set aside the glass and resumed tugging at the blanket threading. Although Darryl smiled, the reddish-brown color of his skin drained away. He set his hands on the mattress, leaning in slightly. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“And it’s why I have to say this.” Darryl lowered his head. Whatever he said, Emery would try to understand. In the past, he’d begged for Darryl’s understanding, which of course he’d never given, but that didn’t mean Emery couldn’t offer support.
“Our vision quest really opened my eyes. I mean really opened my eyes.” Darryl kept his head down. His long black hair skimmed his chest.
“It—” Darryl held up his hand. “Let me finish.”
“I was wrong to tell you what you feel is incorrect. If you wanna believe your god is telling you what we did is a sin, then who am I to demand you change your beliefs.” Darryl raised his head. His Adam’s apple bobbed. “When I left everything in Creator’s hands this weekend, instead of shoving my opinion down your throat, we finally respected one another’s ideas and views.” He sat on the blanket and tugged until the handful Emery held grazed Darryl’s knuckles. “See? This is what we did. We met in the middle.”
“Yes, we did.”
“I know how much your god means to you. I know you love this god more than anything on Earth.” Emery’s chest swelled. Darryl did understand.
“You wouldn’t have committed five—or is it six?—years to the seminary if this god didn’t mean everything to you. He asked you to discern, and you listened, just like you listened this weekend. Y’know how much I admire that?” Something resembling balls of cotton swathed Emery’s spine.
“And this is why I have to say what I’m gonna say.” Darryl’s gaze was searching. The wet chill reappeared on Emery’s skin.
“The old me—before our vision quest—would’ve felt like I won, y’know? Won what we’ve been debating for ten years. But there’s no winning when it comes to what people feel.” Darryl draped his fingers around Emery’s wrist. “I can’t say enough how much I love you. This is the hardest thing I ever did ‘cause all I want is you.” Emery’s pulse froze. He was getting dumped. After he’d broken his commitment to the seminary and believed this was God’s will, he was being sent packing. When he tugged to snatch his hand away, the grip on his wrist tightened. “Let go.”
“Not a chance.” Darryl scrambled across the bed. Before Emery could fling aside the blankets he sat cross-legged under, he was gathered in Darryl’s arms. Tears streamed down Darryl’s round cheeks What was he crying about? He was the one sending Emery away. “What do you want from me?” His throat crackled. He coughed.
“Will you please listen to me?” Pleading saturated Darryl’s words. “Do you know how hard this is for me, when I wanna beg you to stay—beg you not to leave me again?”
“You-You want me to stay?” Emery shuddered.
“Yeah, but I promisedGitche ManidooI’d set you free.” Darryl’s nails dug into Emery’s shoulders. “You gotta go back to the seminary. You can’t have any regrets. I know you too well. Everything is great right now, but sooner or later you’re gonna doubt your decision and wonder if you failed your god. If it’s gonna happen for us, I don’t want you second-guessing yourself. It’s why you gotta keep discerning. When you write your letter to the bishop in January, that’s when I hope you’ll decide.”
An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie resides in the country with her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes. When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye, or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house, making more wonderful memories with the people she loves most.
Just as every town isn’t the same, neither are First Nations communities.
I write romance starring Canada’s Indigenous People. Why? Because I’m Ojibway LOL. I was raised on the rez aka a First Nation community. My bloodline is Ojibway on my mother’s side and my father’s side. And it’s the same for them, too. Our bloodline is rich and deep in the Anishinaabe Nation.
I worked for the band (what some in the US might know as a tribal office). And I also spent fifteen years working for an aboriginal organization before I began my career in writing. Working for this organization helped me understand not all First Nations communities are the same.
In my Treaty area, there are twenty-four. I’ve worked with and visited over thirty of them. Assisting individual Indigenous people, communities, and organizations opened my eyes to how different we are, yet how similar we are. Dialects change. For example, some will say shooniyaa while others will say zhooniyaa. Sweat lodge ceremonies differ slightly, tradition differs slightly, etc. Everyone has their way of doing things, just as the spelling of Ojibwe, Ojibwa, and Ojibway are all correct. I grew up learning how to spell the name as Ojibway, so it’s what I use to this day.
All of the First Nations communities are fictional in my books. For the Matawapit Family Series, I based then at the remote Ottertail Lake First Nation that can only be accessed through plane or a winter road. The winter road is quite common for northern reserves. When the lakes freeze over, ice roads are made. They are available where I live, too. We have a saying called “up the lakes,” which means going off the grid in the Western world.
For other stories, I made the communities accessible. Some are a stone’s throw from a major city/town, while others have to travel a good hour our two. So I hope you check out my other books/short stories to see the different communities the characters hail from.
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