I am hard at work these days. And, I'm loving the new project on my desk. This story will be a full length novel and I don't expect a release until spring at the earliest.
Follow along as I randomly post short snippets and teasers as I write. Become part of this amazing story as it unfolds.
Today, I'd like to share what I have so far on the blurb and first few pages. Working title is, "Wild."
Share your thoughts below. I love hearing from readers. EM
All content is copyright protected Wild (c) 2020 Elle Marlow
All content is copyright protected Wild (c) 2020 Elle Marlow
The Pawnee gave her a name and nothing else.
And she breathes life only because a raven protects her. The Pawnee fear her medicine with the bird and refuse to allow her to live amongst them.
Ally cannot remember her time before she came to dwell in the mountain above the Pawnee, but she knows they fear her raven. Banished, she is permitted to hunt and gather only while they sleep. But hatred and revenge are all around and when the raven takes flight, the solitary life she knows goes with him.
Daniel Sharp never expects to find a woman caught in his bear trap. To make things worse, she is hiding an infant. Daniel came this far west to avoid people at all cost. But it’s his fault she’s hurt, so he takes her and her child back to his cabin to heal. Only, she begins to heal what’s broken within him.
The Pawnee are outside, and they want the infant.
Daniel has two choices, he can turn Ally and her son over to the child’s rightful father, or he could make a stand and fight the incredible odds to keep her and the child as his own.
The Pawnee war chief scrunched his nose at the stench that seared his lungs and rolled his gut. Dead bodies laid in pieces around an overturned wagon, and the busted barrels of whiskey his war party had hoped to steal was now on fire and seeping into the earth.
The combination of whiskey and broken lanterns had caused an explosion that nearly unseated all his riders. The hot fire left behind no survivors and nothing in which to capture as a coop. The failure and the wasted effort curled his fingers into fist as smoke bellowed into his eyes.
Faces blackened beyond recognition forced him to glance away before bile rose to his throat. Looks Mad squeezed his eyes closed. He could not be caught displaying his weakness in front of the others. To do this would result in shame. The same type of shame that Hunting Fox now carries. Not wanting the same punishment, Looks Mad shoved aside his repulsion and took command. Raising his chin to mark his importance, he pointed a finger at a broken wagon wheel that smoldered.
“It broke,” he said to the other warriors who gazed at the wreckage with disappointment. The burning wheel slowly turned to charcoal before their eyes. It had shattered because they chased this wagon for miles across rough terrain. Looks Mad blamed himself for the poor outcome. If he would have just pushed his warriors ahead of this wagon, they could have waited for it and then ambushed the drivers. The surprise attack would have resulted in a coop that would have earned him a permanent place as war chief.
Next to him, Hunting Fox flung an arm out wide. Looks Mad felt the other warrior’s unspoken blame and the tension in the air made him clench his jaw. Hunting Fox was forever a cactus thorn under his skin, as he held a grudge for losing his position as war chief. Yet, even now, Looks Mad knew he could not show his distaste for Hunting Fox. It would be beneath him to reveal his feelings.
Hunting Fox inhaled before again, jutting out his arm in frustration. “Now I have no coop to give Chief Blue Crow! I ran my horse’s legs to the ground for nothing!” he shouted, angrily yanking his horse’s head toward the pair of heavy horses that had pulled the wagon. Hunting Fox dug his heels in deep and raced off at a run.
The wagon’s horses laid just beyond a series of flat boulders, somehow escaping the fire. But they struggled within a tangled web of leather harnesses and leads. At least one of them was alive enough to squeal for release.
Looks Mad squeezed his horse to follow behind Hunting Fox. In part, because like Chief Blue Crow, he too did not trust the quick-tempered Hunting Fox. But he understood why Hunting Fox wanted to see if the animals could be saved. A pair of heavy horses would be better than nothing to present to the chief. But even then, Looks Mad doubted it would be enough for Chief Blue Crow to change his opinion of Hunting Fox.
The mare lifted her head to watch their approach. Her low bellow reflected both her fear and her hope of rescue. Hunting Fox and Looks Mad silhouettes could easily be seen mirrored in her big dark eyes that watered. Hope surged in Looks Mad that she could be salvaged, but before he could dismount to examine her, Hunting Fox threw a hatchet, impaling the weapon deep into the animal’s skull and killing her instantly.
“I do not feel for these people or their slow and stupid horses. They do not belong here,” Hunting Fox said to the others, who had caught up and nodded in agreement. Looks Mad swallowed down the urge to shout at the men. They should not agree to such a killing. There was no honor to be found in it. Besides, Hunting Fox should have asked for his permission to kill the animal and he did not. Another blatant show of disrespect.
The other horse had stopped moving and his eyes glazed over in death. Looks Mad hated watching animals die as much as he did people. Before he could issue a command, Hunting Fox began to speak.
“Father Sun is high above our heads. If we do not travel to the village now, we will not see our people before dark. My belly rumbles from hunger and my body aches for the breasts of my woman.”
Looks Mad bit his tongue. When the other warriors ignored Hunting Fox and rightfully looked to him for direction instead, he exhaled in relief. He would deal with Hunting Fox and his childish behavior another time.
“There is nothing here. We leave now.”
Looks Mad pointed his red horse toward the village, but a swath of bloody cloth swayed from the branch of a tree, spooking his animal. The cloth was not burned, just bloody.
He jerked his gaze away, pretending not to notice. If there was a woman out here, she would not live long any way. He did not want to see any more killing today. He shook his head at thoughts. Maybe his advancing years were stealing the fight from him. Even so, he could not understand why the whites would come to this land when they were too weak to survive in it.
“There are small, narrow footprints that run from this place!” a warrior shouted from behind. Suddenly, the warriors behind him all broke out in war cries.
Looks Mad shook his head, pushing down the part of him that wanted to order his war party to forget what they’d found. Reluctantly, he turned his horse to face the rest of the warriors.
“She is on fire. She dies now or dies later. Makes no difference.” Hunting Fox grunted. “Her death song will be long and victorious in my ears.”
“That is the sky. That is a cloud.” Ally then turned her head to the faint sounds of a squeak next to her head. “And that is a bird. A raven, I think,” she added at whisper. Ally squeezed her eyes shut and then opened them again. She laid flat on her back in a patch of grass and had no idea how long she’d been there. She knew the name of the things around her, but that was all she could piece together through a throbbing headache.
The baby bird opened his beak wide, bobbing his head searching for food. “Where’s your mother?”
She turned her face toward the sky, hoping she’d see the mother of this baby. But the sky blurred before breaking into ripples just as if she had somehow skipped a rock across its surface. She reached up to touch her head and landed her fingers in a wet and sticky mass of hair. “I’m hurt,” she whispered, squeezing her eyes against the pain it caused. “I can’t stay down. I can’t fall asleep,” she said, struggling to sit upright.
First, the smell of smoke assaulted her, and then the memory of being chased by Indians on horseback. After that, nothing again made sense, but her dress was covered with soot and it layered over her hands and arms.