The Princess and the Wolf
The Clan of the Wolf Book 1
by Karen Kay Genre: Historical Romance
TWO HEARTS BETRAYED
Refusing to believe the rumors that the European prince she was forced to marry had died in a far-off land, the princess, Sierra, sets sail to America, bent on revenge and determined to learn the truth. Because she will require a scout to guide her through the wilderness, she calls in a favor from the man who had betrayed her long ago, the man she had once loved deeply and had hoped to wed, the noble Cheyenne scout, High Wolf.
Many years before, a European prince had invited High Wolf to travel an ocean and as a brother, to live as a member of the royal family. There High Wolf had fallen in love with the princess, Sierra. But instead of an engagement and the planned wedding, the princess had treacherously married his friend, the prince. Betrayed and broken-hearted, High Wolf sailed back to America, determined to forget the princess. But a promise given to her years earlier brings her back into his life, igniting a desire he must resist, for to surrender to her again is unthinkable.
Forced into one another’s company, with the threat of life or death around every corner, overcoming their prejudice might be their only means of survival. But can either of them trust in a love, once betrayed? Or will their past force them apart again, this time forever?...
This book has been previously published.
Warning: A sensuous romance that might fan the flames of desire. Be warned. You might fall in love all over again.
“The housekeeper tells that’tis well known the prince would divorce her, were he here,” said the kitchen maid.
“Aye, that he would,” replied the housemaid. “And good riddance, says I. It was she that drove him away. That she did.”
Gossip between servants at Prince Alathom’s Castle
“Do you wish anything else before we go ashore?”
“No, Maria,” answered Princess Sierra, watching from her perch high above the dock, as Governor Clark stepped from the carriage, accompanied by an Indian maiden. “I do not require anything else at the moment. You’ve done quite well, my friend, despite the demanding conditions of this vessel.” She gave Maria a brief smile. “Would you please find Mr. Dominic and inform him that I am ready to leave this ship?”
“Yes, Your Highness. At once. Do we go to greet Governor Clark, then?”
“I believe so,” said the princess. “And for this task, I will have need of you both to accompany me.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” Maria said, curtsying before she turned to do as bid.
Sierra smoothed a white-gloved hand over the blue and white muslin of her very full skirt, pulling the lace that bordered her walking dress into place. Straightening her shoulders, she settled her blue and white-lace mantle over the double bouffant of her sleeves, buttoning the mantle’s closure at the neck. Briefly, she touched her wide belt, which was made of the same light blue color as her dress, pulling it a little more tightly around her waist so as to accentuate its most tiny aspect. A white straw bonnet, adorned with ribbons of blue and tied at the neck, completed the image of the fashionable royal that she was.
Opening her blue and white parasol, Sierra narrowed her eyes, placing a hand gently over her forehead as though it were an extra shield from the sun. She frowned.
From her view of it, there seemed to be no sign of the man she had instructed Governor Clark to hire. Had she needlessly tortured herself over this first meeting with High Wolf?
Perhaps he hadn’t yet arrived.
Or maybe, she thought on a grimmer note, he wasn’t coming. Had he mayhap learned that it was she behind the request?
For a moment, she worried over the possibility. As absurd as it might appear, such a thing was possible: He might know of her coming. He’d always seemed to have ways of gleaning information about things—ways that she had never understood. Perhaps he had discovered her scheme well ahead of the fact.
At that thought, Sierra tried to swallow her disappointment.
It wasn’t that she was looking forward to seeing him again. No. It was only that he, and he alone, could lead her to Prince Alathom, and it was Prince Alathom she needed to find and challenge, Prince Alathom whom she would repay in kind...if need be...
Squaring her shoulders and setting her features into as delightful a smile as she could, Princess Sierra pulled unconsciously at her mantle, noticing as she did so that her fingers shook with the effort.
It was then that she caught sight of something in her peripheral vision...something familiar. She turned her head carefully to the left, her eyes colliding with and staring hard at a pair of dark eyes looking directly back at her.
Her stomach flipped over twice before it at last performed a dive toward her toes. She inhaled swiftly to try to quell the reaction.
It was he, High Wolf. He had come, after all.
As impossible as it might seem, she stared back at a face that she had once thought never to see again. Yet, there he was; there, across a very short distance.
And unable to curtail it, she was suddenly awash in nearly palpable relief.
Relief? Nonsense. It was probably more to the point to say that she was glad that her scheme now contained the element of possibility, the possibility of success.
But if he were to be caught looking up at her, she would be staring back down at him as well, almost as though she were hungry for the sight of him…although she corrected herself, this last thought was ridiculous.
Again, she reminded herself that he, as well as the prince, had betrayed her. In different ways, perhaps. But betrayal was certain treachery after all, regardless of the circumstances. And faith, once lost, could never be restored.
Still, despite the intervening years, an all too familiar pain shot through her, and without her conscious will, she found herself scrutinizing the man she had once thought herself to be in love with...a man who had left her for no more than three hundred gold dukaten.
He looked much the same as he had ten years ago, yet different. Whereas High Wolf had been little more than a boy then, he was now very much a man, and he looked bigger somehow, though he was still extraordinarily slim. Perhaps it was because his chest was wider, larger...or perhaps he was more muscular.
He looked...better, more handsome, more virile.
Sierra grimaced at her thoughts and decided to scrutinize something else less potent...his manner of dress, for instance...
Gone were the fashionable trousers and high leather boots that she remembered him wearing in the past; in their place were buckskin leggings, breechcloth and moccasins. Gone also were the carefully stitched linen shirt and cravat so precisely tied, supplanted now with a long buckskin shirt, fringed, with the bottom of it hanging down almost past his breechcloth. An ornament of what looked to be a concatenation of beads and bone, in the shape of a breastplate, hung down over his chest. It was a sight she had never beheld until this moment.
Instead of a hat, however, he now wore feathers on his head—or at least there was one feather sticking straight up behind him. And his hair...
Relegated to the past was the fashionable haircut she recalled so well, displaced now by long, black hair that hung well past his shoulders.
He looked...Indian, alien from all she had ever known and loved. Yet his countenance was, contrarily, as familiar to her as a well-rehearsed play.
And she wondered: Despite their past, would he help her?
Not if he knew her purpose.
Only too well, she recalled that High Wolf considered the prince to be more than a friend. To him, and perhaps rightly so, Prince Alathom was a brother, a brother in fact as well as in deed. Besides, High Wolf would hardly condone her murderous plan...a scheme she fully intended to execute if the prince refused to return to the Continent, whereupon he would take up his responsibilities.
Indeed, she would be satisfied.
Those at home thought she knew nothing of their wagging tongues; they believed their whispered insults were discreet. But Sierra did know. She did care. And he would pay.
Oh, yes, he would pay.
Which meant, she realized, that the real reason for her journey must remain a well-guarded secret; from Governor Clark, from her guides and especially from High Wolf.
She only wondered if she could successfully hide her motives from High Wolf. After all, as she had already surmised, High Wolf was an extremely perceptive man. Might he guess?
Well, it was up to her to keep her secret well hidden. She only hoped she was up to the task.
He stared at her as though he had come face-to-face with his worst nightmare—or maybe his best fantasy. Princess Sierra? Here? Now?
His heart skipped a beat, then picked up its pace, pounding onward in triple speed. High Wolf caught his breath before forcing himself to breathe in and out. In a daze, he stared up at her, feeling as though he were caught in an illusion.
Had she come for him? Had she traveled all this distance to reach out to him, realizing after all this time that she could not live without him, as she had once proclaimed?
Or was she a mere mirage, the same sort of image that haunted his dreams?
Without warning, the desire to run to her, to take her in his arms and embrace her, was almost more real than the solidness of the ground beneath him. Of its own will, the memory of the taste of her, the scent of her, the sweetness of her embrace, overwhelmed him.
And he knew he needed, he wanted to kiss her. Now. In truth, so strong was the desire, he had taken a few steps toward her before he became once more fully aware of himself, and stopped.
The prince. How could he have forgotten the prince—as well as her duplicity—so easily? Where was the prince?
Odd, he thought, how the mind could forget the pain, the anguish, the loss. For a moment, all had been gone, replaced by the simple joy of seeing her again. Odd, too, how his body was even now reacting, that most manly part of him pulsing with every pounding of his heart, remembering, anticipating...what could never be.
He groaned. He had to bring himself, his thoughts, his body under control, quickly.
Concentrate on her faithlessness, he cautioned himself. Hers and Prince Alathom’s.
He glanced to the side of her and all around her. Where was the prince?
And then, as though it came through the fog cluttering his mind, a thought came to him. Governor Clark had hired him, had told High Wolf that he was to escort and protect a royal party, one that was coming to the Americas for a wild-game hunt.
It was the prince and princess . It had to be.
Had the two of them asked for him, personally? For old time’s sake? Was that why Clark had sent for him?
Or was this mere coincidence?
Coincidence? He sneered. High Wolf knew there was no such thing.
Had the two of them no compassion? No pity?
Surely they were aware of what the mere act of seeing them again—together—would do to him.
Or did they think that they could renew friendship? That he would have forgotten?
Well, he had not forgotten; he could not.
Breathing in deeply, High Wolf calmed himself. He was letting his emotions take control of his mind, even of his body. It was possible, he conceded, that he was not thinking clearly, putting elements together that did not necessarily go together.
Besides, he didn’t have to take the job at hand. He had not pledged his word.
And it wouldn’t be as if he were deserting the prince and princess, either. After all, there were these two disreputable trappers that Clark had hired as well.
Wearily, High Wolf glanced at the two shabbily dressed men. Yes, let them have the assignment...while he, High Wolf, quietly disappeared...
Surely, that would be best. For indeed, if this were his initial reaction to the princess—and at this great a distance from her—what would be his fate if he were to witness her beauty closer to hand?
At that thought, a rush of desire swept through him that was as uncontrollable as it was unwelcome. In truth, so swift was his reaction, he rocked back on his feet.
The response shocked him as much as it excited him. And High Wolf knew he had best renew his intention to leave—quickly...
Yet he didn’t budge so much as an inch. In faith, he could not have turned away from her now had he been a saint. Not yet.
Contrarily, another part of him reasoned that little harm could come from feasting his sights upon her for a while longer. Perhaps the image gained could serve to fuel the fiber of his imagination in the lonely nights ahead of him.
Make no mistake, Princess Sierra had always been the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, and it appeared she had changed little, except to have blossomed. More curves, more womanly features.
As he stared, his heart warmed to his subject. Dark curls bounced around her face while her bonnet hid the rest of her coiffure. Oval face, high cheekbones, eyes that he knew were as green as a prairie in spring. Even from this distance, he could attest that her skin still glowed with health and vitality. It was one of the features he remembered most about her. Her skin had been luminous, clear; had shone with a radiance even under cover of darkness, as though she might be lit by a fire within.
How he had loved to run his hands over her face, her neck, those curves...
Cease this, he cautioned himself, letting out his breath.
Yet the mind was often a mysterious thing, and despite himself, his thoughts rambled on. At five foot four, she had always been a slender little thing. He recalled that he had once spanned her waist within the outstretched grip of both his hands. They had laughed about it. All three of them. Himself, Prince Alathom and the princess.
Odd, how close the three of them had once been, so close they had shared most everything.
High Wolf sighed.
Perhaps it was the way of the world that some things—even good things—were destined to end. Maybe that was why one should reach out for all the happiness he could have, while it still lay within his grasp.
Taking a few steps away, High Wolf at last turned his back on the sight of her. Best to disappear now, as quickly as possible. For of one matter he was entirely certain: He would not escort the princess and the prince. Not now. Not ever.
He took a few steps away.
His insides plummeted at the sound of her voice. Yet he remained steadfast in his decision and kept walking, ignoring the call.
“High Wolf, don’t go!”
Don’t listen to her, he counseled himself. Go now, before she has a chance to weave her spell around you. Go at once .
But even as he thought it, an odd music, a rhythm perchance, began to pound through his mind, reminding him of other places, other times...
Brave Wolf and the Lady The Clan of the Wolf Book 2
He saved her life, then stole her heart….
To escape an arranged marriage, Mia Carlson, daughter of a U.S. senator, instead elopes with the man she loves. As they are escaping from her Virginia home, heading west, their wagon train is brutally attacked, leaving Mia alone and in grave danger. Rescue comes from a most unlikely source, a passing Lakota scouting party, led by the darkly handsome Indian, Brave Wolf. Although Brave Wolf has consented to guide Mia to the nearest trading post, he holds himself apart from her, for his commitments lie elsewhere. But long days on the trail lead to a deep connection with the red-haired beauty. Yet, he can’t stop wondering why death and danger stalk this beautiful woman, forcing him to rescue her time and again. Who is doing this, and why?
One thing is clear, however: Amid the flurry of dodging assassin bullets, Brave Wolf and Mia come into possession of a powerful love. But is it all for naught? Will Brave Wolf’s obligations and Mia’s secret enemy from the past finally succeed in the sinister plot to destroy their love forever?
She awoke slowly, and to the scent of the fresh, wet dew that had settled over the entire landscape. The cloud-like moisture that hung over everything made for a gray morning, yet there was something comforting about it, all the same. In the distance, the sound of many different bird songs filled the air with music, and she wished that she could distinguish one song from the other. But she couldn’t, and she sighed at her inability.
Soon a deep, masculine voice, raised in song, drifted to her on the breeze. Of course, the voice had to belong to Mr. Lakota. What time was it? Where was he? He sounded far away.
Already the low-to-the-ground moisture was giving way to the new day. Was that really a pinkish-orange sun showing through the scattering of the steel gray mist and light-colored blue clouds? Obviously it was morning, and soon they would be back upon the trail. Shame. She would have liked to linger here if only to “catch her breath.”
She started to rise, but winced when her muscles refused to obey her. Fair enough, she thought, and she lay back down, only to find herself staring straight up. Dawn crept into the sky slowly today, but even still, faint colors of orange and pink were settling into the gray-blackened sky. The feel of the wet mist touched her everywhere, bringing with it the scents of mud, grass and prairie flowers.
Below her the ground was soft and giving, encompassing her weight with ease. The blanket that he had laid beneath her was warm, and for a moment, she experienced a feeling of well-being.
But the awareness was quickly gone, replaced instead by the utter realization of her loss. The tears, which were never far away, blurred her vision. She sobbed, then she checked it. She didn’t want him to know she was awake. Why she felt this way, she didn’t understand. She only knew that these few moments alone felt important to her well-being.
Luckily, he appeared to not notice her at all, for his singing continued, his voice deep and baritone. In many ways it was soothing to listen to him, but after a while she began to wonder what he was doing, and why he was singing at such an early hour of the morning, and to whom was he paying tribute?
Turning silently onto her side, she saw him at last, and despite herself, she found the sight of him inspiring. He was facing east, his arms outstretched, as though he welcomed the misty warmth of sun into them. Perhaps he was.
She watched him for the spread of a few more moments, admiring the muscles in his broad shoulders. The two lengths of his hair-braids fell down over his back, a back which narrowed in a V-shape into his breechcloth. An eagle’s feather waved back and forth in the ever-present wind, and she was reminded that there was a beauty to this moment that even she didn’t understand.
That’s when she realized it.
He was praying.
She sat up smoothly, so as not to distract him. Was she wrong about that? No.
He was standing, his legs apart, his arms open. And he sang and he sang.
There was a wonderment to the moment that reached out to her, but rather than such pleasure bringing her relief, her appreciation brought on more tears, which fell gently onto her bosom. That’s when it struck her: she hadn’t talked to the Lord since she had laid Jeffrey in the ground. Perhaps there was reason for that lack, for she couldn’t understand why God had taken a person so precious from her.
Watching Mr. Lakota carefully, she discovered a need in her to do the same. Perhaps a talk with the Lord might help her to understand her loss.
She rose up to a sitting position, and from there she came to her knees, and then onto her feet. She took up her rifle, placing it in the crook of her arm, as she stepped toward him, and reaching him, she fell to her knees. With head bowed, she brought her free hand to his, taking his in her own.
It gave her comfort to know he was there, to know that he, too, was praying. Perhaps between the two of them, God might smile more favorably on her...on them both, and perhaps He might forgive her the anger, the absolute horror, that even now stirred in her soul...
Her hand squeezed his, and he realized its gentle pressure brought him pleasure. It wasn’t that he was surprised by her appearance by his side, for he’d known when she had awakened, and he’d heard her footfalls, quiet though they had been. But her action in touching him created a flood of feeling within him that he was not prepared to understand. It was the first time she had reached out toward him, and he was surprised that he liked it.
Leaving his hand held tightly within hers, he glanced down at her as she knelt by his side. Her hair, tousled from sleep, shone with a wild, reddish hue, here beneath the grandiose of the pink and golden sky. Her eyes were shut and her head was bent toward the ground.
He understood. She had come here to pray with him and to give thanks to the Creator for a new day. After a while, he gazed away from her, turning his attention back toward the early morning sun, as the misty world around them exploded with a mirage of colors, steel gray of the sky, orange, pink and blue rays of the morning light.
“Onsimala ye. Omakiyi ye. “Cante’was’teya o’ciciyin kte.”
“Onsimala ye. Omakiyi ye. “Cante’was’teya o’ciciyin kte.”
“Onsimala ye. Omakiyi ye. “Cante’was’teya o’ciciyin kte.”
He finished the song, yet he didn’t relinquish her hand. They stood thusly, each seemingly reluctant to bring the moment to a close. It was as though time itself had ceased to be, and though slow to acknowledge his feelings, he felt a part of him draw closer to her. From out the corner of his eye, he saw her make the sign of a cross over her head and chest, and he realized her prayer had come to an end.
At last she looked up at him, and he turned his gaze on her entirely. Her eyes looked like large, doe-colored jewels in her heart-shaped face; they appeared to question him, and he held that look, until at last, she gazed away. At length, she struggled to her feet and he took her weight upon him easily as he helped her up.
Neither of them spoke. There seemed to be no need. At last she voiced, “Thank you.”
He nodded briefly.
She let go of his hand then, and he surprised himself by the bereft feeling he experienced at its loss.
He said, “Custom...it is to...welcome day...by giving thanks to...Creator. You...may...be here with...me every...morning...if you...like.” His voice, he noted, was husky, and he was stunned by that fact.
“I would like that,” she murmured in a tone that sounded as throaty as his. She glanced toward the ground. “I would like that very much.” “Waste, good,” he voiced with a quick motion of his hand away from his chest. “It...good. Now...we must...prepare. Long...trek we have...this day.”
“Yes, yes, of course,” she spoke quickly, glancing away from him before she turned to take the necessary steps back to the place where she had slept. He watched her momentarily as she picked up the blanket that had buffered her from the ground during the night. He saw her fold it and place it in one of his bags.
That’s when he realized that she would be wanting a bath. All creatures needed the cleanliness of the water, but women in particular seemed to enjoy these necessities excessively, even when on the move. It would be his duty to locate a secluded place, free from the danger of enemy eyes, where she could freshen herself.
Idly he realized she would require freedom from his wandering glance as well. It was not a comforting thought to realize that an image of her body, completely naked, entered into his imaginings. With force of will, he refused to think that thought again...
Writing under the pen names of Karen Kay and Gen Bailey, Karen is a multi-published author of Native American historical romances. She has been praised by reviewers and fans alike for bringing the historic American Indian culture to life, and she has been nominated for several different awards. Karen's great-grandmother was Choctaw Indian, and because of this, she is honored to be able to write stories that depict the Native American point of view.
All of her books concern the Native American culture, and says Karen, "With the power and passion of romance, I hope to bring about an awareness of the vital forces that helped shape the American Indian culture. There are some things that should never be forgotten."