Journey of the Heart, Chp. 11, last part
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|Tue, 05-06-2003 - 9:30am|
I’ve been out of town a while, so that’s why you haven’t heard from me. Any and all feedback is welcome.
CHAPTER ELEVEN, LAST PART
That evening a great celebration took place in honor of the newlyweds. Kathryn noticed Elizabeth’s bright smile, indicating her joy, but when Kathryn took her hand, she noticed it trembling.
"I’m very nervous about tonight. Suppose he hurts me?" Elizabeth said below the laughter and singing of the celebration.
Kathryn, in all her ignorance wasn’t sure what words might bring Elizabeth comfort. Thank goodness she didn’t have to worry about such things.
"Why would he hurt you?"
"Al was always rough. I don’t know if I could bear it if Dancing Cloud were worse than Al. He’s a savage, after all. How gentle could he be? Today, all he did was talk. He asked about my life before this. He seemed genuinely interested. We had quite a time trying to understand one another, and finally resorted to drawing pictures on the ground." She giggled, staring at the camp fire before her. "He didn’t even try to touch me. Maybe he really doesn’t find me attractive? I suppose that would be a blessing in disguise. But he surprises me sometimes. Just out of the blue, he’ll take me in his arms and kiss me. Without even asking! I suppose that’s the savage in him, and honestly," her cheeks bloomed pink, "I quite enjoy it."
Kathryn stared at her friend in amazement. How could she be so open about the sensations Dancing Cloud brought out in her? She could never say the things her friend shared with her now.
The dancing and singing of the Indians captured their attention. Feathers, quills, earrings and other unusual ornaments waved from their hair and clothing. As if in a dream, she watched the performers dark, fascinating bodies glisten under the firelight.
Just then, White Eagle grabbed her hands and pulled her to her feet. He spun her around, laughing.
She giggled. "What are you doing?"
"Dance with me!"
"But I don’t know how."
He held her hand and led her around the fire, turning her around and showing her how to place her feet, raising his knees high in the air.
She pulled her focus from his moccasins and cast a glance at his face.
He grinned, and a warmth she’d never known filled her heart. He continued gazing at her, making her pulse race at the sight of his flowing hair and feathers. She was in another world, a world she didn’t belong, and yet it seemed to draw her in, enticing her with its primitive ways.
Later, he led her away from the dancers and they walked side by side toward to direction of the lake.
Why did he wish to be alone? Would he try something? He said he wouldn’t. He had said he was a man of his word. Still, she doubted.
"Have you seen many wild animals since you’ve been here?" he asked.
"I saw a bear. Thankfully, it was on the other side of the lake, and when it saw me and the others coming, it ran away." She chattered, hoping the conversation and her babble would be enough to distract him from trying anything. After all, he was her husband. He could do anything he liked and no one would stop him. The only safety and comfort she had was his word.
She cleared her throat. "I also saw several deer when we went to gather wood," she added. "Some were roaming on the other side of the hill to the south of the village. The ladies showed them to me. They said your people normally live off of the buffalo." She sighed, staring out over the hill and beginning to relax again. "They also said with the building of the railroads and the growing number of settlers, the buffalo are becoming scarce, and because they roam the plains, you now use other animals to meet your needs."
The moon and stars shimmered in the night sky, and the shadows of the distant trees and steep hills reflected off of the lake.
"Isn’t that beautiful?" She turned to him, pointing to the lake, but he was nowhere to be seen. Just a moment ago, he had been right next to her. Where had he gone? Had she lulled him into boredom?
The rustling of leaves and the snap of a twig behind nearby trees and bushes caught her attention.
"White Eagle?" She tried to keep her voice calm. He had to be near. He wouldn’t leave her alone out here in the dark . . . would he?
"White Eagle, is that you?"
A low, guttural growl came from the direction of the sounds.
Her hair stood on end.
A shadow emerged, and she froze.
The shadow came closer. Suddenly the beast was on her and its growl reverberated in her ear. White Eagle’s large hands seized her around the waist, picked her up, and swung her around.
"Put me down! How dare you frighten me so."
He set her on the ground, roaring with laughter.
Still trembling, she swung her fists at him.
He jumped back, laughing.
She hitched up her skirt and chased after him, but he kept just out of reach. She finally picked up a pine cone and threw it. He ducked, and it missed.
His laughter echoed over the lake and hills. It was infectious, and finally she giggled.
"You frightened me! That was not funny," she said between her own laughter and relief that it was indeed him.
He took her under his arm, still chuckling. "If there were any wild animals, you’ve scared them away with your screams," he said.
She glanced around them, looking for any other dark shadows of creatures in the night. "Would the animals come so close to the teepees?"
He chuckled. "Not tonight with all the noise." The beat of the drums and singing from the festivities carried from behind them.
They walked on in silence. She leaned her head against his chest as they came to the water’s edge. The excitement and intrigue of the evening warmed her, and for the first time she had a sense of belonging, now that she was married to White Eagle, though they weren’t really married, of course.
The waters rippled in the reflection of the moon. All was still and quiet, except for the celebration in the distance.
"Tell me how your parents died," he said.
She shrugged. "My mother died giving birth to me, and when I was twelve, my father died of pneumonia."
He squeezed her closer.
"It happened so long ago, it hurts a lot less now. Besides, I never knew my mother." She snuggled against his chest. Maybe she shouldn’t be doing this? After all, they weren’t really married. But it was so comfortable, and his warmth invited her; she no longer cared whether it was proper or not.
There was a long silence. Finally, she looked up at him and noticed his frown.
"Why are you unhappy? This should be a joyous occasion."
"Why should I be happy when we are not really married?"
She pulled away. "This wasn’t my idea." She noticed the frown deepen, and decided to change the subject. "Is it true your mother died during the Sand Creek Massacre?" She wanted to kick herself. The change of subject was supposed to lighten the mood, not darken it. With his questions of her parents, this was the first thing that came to her mind.
He breathed deep. "The day of the attack, she was helping other women escape. I couldn’t get to her in time. I was fighting my own battles, and when the soldiers finally left, it was too late. She had been killed."
"I’m so sorry," she said, ashamed for having asked.
He turned to her and gazed at her face. The familiarity and warmth she had felt when they first met came over her.
"You are beautiful," he said.
Could he really be talking to her? Nobody had ever called her beautiful before.
He pointed to the lake. "See how the moon reflects off of the waters? Do you find that beautiful?"
"Yes, it’s lovely," she said, gazing at the ripples of water, and for the first time in her life learning what it was like to be protected and cherished.
"You are more beautiful than the moon on the lake." He turned to her and ran his fingers along her braid, loosening it.
She tingled at the feel of his hand in her hair.
"My people believe you have been touched by the Spirit of the Sun because your hair shines like gold."
He wrapped her loose tresses around his fist and took in its scent.
A shiver skimmed down her neck.
He drew her chin up, his eyes intense and smoldering.
"Wife," he said in Cheyenne. His tone, low and husky.
Did he realize she understood his words?
His nearness awakened a hot passion that snapped through her body.
He leaned closer to her face.
Her heart skipped a beat.
His lips brushed against hers, lightly, softly. His thumb traced the bridge of her nose, and the warmth of his touch invited her. She felt his hand in her hair, and he pulled her to him, deepening the kiss. His fingers brushed against her cheek and moved down to her neck, following the trail with hot kisses. His ragged breath feathered against her skin, and again, he claimed her mouth, ravaging her lips. She melted under the heat, becoming dizzy with desire, giving in to the intense pleasure that coursed through her veins.
Suddenly, he seized her shoulders and pulled her away.
When she opened her eyes, he was frowning. Her heart sank.
"Did I disappoint you?" The branding of his kiss remained fresh on her lips, and her breath came in short spurts.
"No." He let out a long, deep breath. "If I go any further, I will break my word. We are not really married, remember?"
Reality slapped her in the face. Her stomach tied itself into knots. Part of her wanted to die in his arms and make passionate love, another part of her remembered who she was and what she was. She definitely wasn’t married, and this man didn’t love her. If he did, he wouldn’t be able to stop so easily with his affections. How she ached to feel his lips on hers again. She was aghast with herself. How could she think such things? How could she have done what she just did? And to think, she wanted more!
He yanked off his shirt.
"What are you doing?"
"I’m going for a swim."
"What? Right now? Why?"
He growled between a half-hearted chuckle. "Because if I don’t, I won’t be able to
keep my word." He turned toward her, his eyes piercing. "You want me to keep my word, don’t you?"
She avoided his eyes. Her heart raced, saying one thing, while her mind raced, saying another. She then nodded slowly, uncertainly.
"Then go, or I will make you mine forever."
She gasped, then hesitated. She’d love to be his forever. Yet, even though he wanted her now, he wouldn’t want her forever. Following her mind, and not wishing for a broken heart, she took a step back.
He pointed toward a nearby rock. "Wait there, I don’t want you walking alone."
She turned and headed for the rock. Why was he being so gruff? It’s not like she had asked him to kiss her. Men. She didn’t understand them at all.