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by Theresa Scott
Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
Description: As part of a family feud, Chance the warrior takes Haina, a fiery Indian beauty, captive, determined to humble her proud spirit and dominate her body, but Haina refuses to accept any man as her master. For years their families had been fierce enemies, and now Chance had found a way to exact revenge. He would hold the lovely Haina for ransom, humble her proud Indian spirit, and take his fill of her young body. But when Haina refuses to submit to him, Chance realizes that only everlasting love would bring her to the point of surrender. Will Chance be able to deal with Haina in the way she needs or will he be too mucho and want to be her master?
eBook Publisher: Red Rose Publishing, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: December 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [551 KB]
Reading time: 356-498 min.
The sea, off the coast of Ahousat Village
"Keep fishing. Act as if you do no see them," ordered Haina with a frown.
"Yes, mistress," answered Scarface, glancing nervously over his shoulder at the approaching war canoe.
The occupants, several dark-haired young men, paddled strongly towards Haina's small dugout canoe. They were still too far away for her to discern who they were, but none of the men were smiling or waving. She had had no word of raiders in this area lately, so it was doubtful they were enemies, she thought apprehensively. They were coming from the direction of her village, they must have been guests of her father last night, she reasoned. She watched their canoe plough steadily through the waves.
Her eyes darted to the nearest point of land. A small island. There really was no escape should the men prove unfriendly. Very well, the best thing to do was remember she was the daughter of Fighting Wolf, a great Ahousat war chief, and Sarita, his beloved wife and Hesquiat noblewoman.
Haina would prepare to battle if a fight was all they wanted. She straightened her shoulders.
Her smaller dugout canoe bobbed gently on the waves as a new day was born on the west coast. Though Haina was too far offshore to see her village, had she been so inclined she could have easily sighted the huge blue-gray mountains that towered behind, the rounded humps hiding the rising sun. Only pink and orange streaks announced its presence to the mortals below.
Haina and her slave, Scarface, had paddled farther out to sea than she had intended. The only sign of land, the small tree-covered island, was surrounded by sharp rocks jutting out of the gray-green water. Golden brown kelp bulbs with their long flowing tails bobbed on the surface. Haina knew the wily salmon liked to hide under the kelp beds but the jagged rocks kept her from paddling too close to the island.
The Ahousat noblewoman and her slave continued to hang their fishing lines over the side of the dugout while her mind worked feverishly. Rhythmically lifting the line, Haina would pull it up as high as her arm would reach, then let the line drop back to the bottom, the V-shaped hook inviting an unsuspecting fish. All the while, she planned what she should do if the swiftly approaching men intended harm.
Ordinarily, fishing was one of Haina's favorite activities. She loved to dangle her fingers in the dark green liquid, to peer down into the sea's opaque depths in the hopes of seeing a passing fish or even a shark. Sometimes she just liked to lean back and stare at the gray canopy of sky, while a slave paddled the tiny craft through the waves.
Haina loved to listen to the sea noises: the gentle snap under the canoe as it rocked on the waves, the swirling and sucking of her paddle as she lifted it out of the water, the occasional squeak of wood on wood in the canoe, the scream of an impatient sea gull demanding fish for breakfast. And the smell! No aroma was as cool, as fresh, as wonderful as the salty tang of the sea air. Nothing cleared her nose and lungs like that sharp, free scent.
Her love for the sea had drawn a yawning Haina out to her canoe early this morning while the rest of her village slept on, the inhabitants satiated after the grand feast her father, Fighting Wolf, had given the night before. Haina had paddled out to the fishing grounds with only one slave, so certain had she been she would be safe from any slave-hunting raiders straying into Ahousat waters.
And now this. Anxious, she glanced toward the war canoe that was steadily advancing closer and closer. Haina could now see several grim-visage men sitting in the large craft with its gruesome black and white markings.
"What do they want with us?" muttered Scarface, throwing another surreptitious glance over his shoulder.
"Nothing, I am certain," replied Haina. It would not do to let her slave see how worried she was about the approaching men. "I will soon send them on their way." She hauled up her fishing line and noted vaguely that her bait was gone. Little wonder she had caught no fish.
She turned to face the intruders squarely. It would not do to show them any fear, she reasoned. Remembering her proud heritage, she wrapped her noble status around herself as though it were a cedar cloak and straightened her spine.
Surprised, she saw that one of the men had hair the color of dried summer grass. What manner of Indian is this? she wondered. As the unknown canoe came closer, Haina saw that the man had a dark stubble of beard on is face. He's not clean-cheeked like a man should be, she marveled. Every man she knew plucked his beard hairs. How strange he looks.
But no sigh of her thoughts showed on her beautiful, set face. She waited until the men in the war canoe pulled alongside her much smaller craft. Hands reached out and grasped the gunwales of her canoe and effectively locked the bouncing crafts together.
Haina felt anger rise at such brazen disregard of her status. These men had no right to touch her canoe!
Dressed in ordinary brown cedar kutsacks denoting their commoner status, all eight young men were staring at Haina. That they were commoners caused her fears to recede. Commoners would not dare harm a noblewoman.
"I presume you have a reason for daring to interfere with my fishing?" she inquired frigidly of the stubble-cheeked man sitting in the bow. He seemed to be the leader.
Dark blond hair fell to his broad shoulders. A twisted cedar rope headband encircled his forehead. He had a wide, tanned chest. His curling blond chest hair was half-hidden by a bearskin robe tied at one shoulder.
Why, he's like a bear himself with all that blond fur on him. She stared at his hairy arms, too.
And his eyes! Eyes the color of the summer sea were set in a handsome, ruggedly carved face. Those green eyes sent a shiver of warmth through Haina when she gazed into their crystalline depths. Haina stared. She had never seen eyes of such entrancing color.
Cool now, those eyes ranged assessingly over Haina's delicate features. Then, apparently liking what he saw, the stranger had the audacity to give her a lazy grin.
Haina, irritated at his slow perusal, and distracted by his strangeness, dragged her thoughts back to what she had said. When only silence was forthcoming, she said in a louder voice, "Take your hands off my dugout."
To her dismay, she heard soft chuckles from the men in the war canoe. The leader still wore that same infuriating smile. Haina could feel her notorious temper, inherited no doubt from both her father and her mother, starting to rise again. Heart beating rapidly with fear and excitement, she picked up her pointed canoe paddle and looked down at the strong, brown knuckles still holding her boat captive. Blond hair sprouted on the back of his tanned hand.
The she remembered. Her parents had spoken of white men, mumutly, on the west coast. This man, then, must be one of the mumutly. But what was he doing with Indians?
"Leave my canoe alone," she managed. "I am a noblewoman. I will not be threatened by you commoners!"
The men chuckled at her words. Insolent. They are very insolent.
Before the grinning leader could anticipate her actions, she brought the paddle down sharply with a rap across those same knuckles. His grunt of pain both scared and gratified her. They would not find her an easy target for their commoner games! "Now, I will advise you once again," she stated evenly. "Take your hands off my canoe."
The mood of the men suddenly sobered. One of them, a rangy man with lean, corded muscles, and clenched fists, rose abruptly but the leader signaled him back down and muttered something in an undertone. The man obeyed reluctantly but shot Haina an ugly stare.
Surprised by his hostility, Haina quivered inside. Something was very wrong. These strangers were not behaving with the deference that was her natural due as a chief's daughter. She could see they were mere commoners. Why then, were they so upset when she struck the white man? Of course, she would never strike another noble. To do so was death.
She decided to defuse the situation. After all, there were eight of them, all strong young men. She had only Scarface for protection, and he was getting old. "Where are you commoners from?" They were not from her village, she knew. She did not recognize their faces. Besides, her people knew to behave properly around a noblewoman.
After another assessing look, the white man answered. "Kyuquot," he said in the soft drawl of that region. His deep voice sent shivers down Haina's spine. She swung her gaze to his, only to find his entrancing eyes regarding her intently in return.
"Oh," she managed. "Then you must have attended the feast my father gave last night." The stranger had the impertinence to continue staring at her, so Haina decided to put him in his place. "My father, Fighting Wolf, is known throughout our land as a great war chief," she said distinctly. "Perhaps you commoners have heard his name?"
Her sarcasm was ignored. The man merely nodded in response.
Haina did not care for the way conversation, what little there was of it, was going. "Well," she said brightly. "Thank you so much for attending my father's feast. I know he would wish you a safe return on your voyage homeward. It is a long journey back to Kyuquot and I am sure you are most anxious to begin."
Instead of politely releasing her canoe as she had hoped, the men kept their grip on it. She listened as they conferred in undertones. An uneasy feeling stole over her.
Suddenly the white man reached over and removed the paddle from her grasp. Her jaw dropped at his audacity--a mere commoner daring to touch a noblewoman--and she let the paddle go without a fight.
When he reached for her and grabbed both her upper arms, she froze in shock for an instant. What had happened to her determination to fight? she wondered. His hands felt warm on her bare arms, and small goosebumps rose on her skin. His grip was strong. She had no hope of overpowering him.
Her slave, however, was not so helpless. With a cry, Scarface lunged from where he was squatting in the canoe; the point of his paddle aimed at the blond leader's head. The canoes wobbled dangerously. A harsh warning rang out. The leader dropped his hold on one of Haina's arms and raised his free arm to ward off the blow.
He need not have bothered. A fellow warrior struck the slave on the back of the head with a war axe and the slave toppled over, half falling out of the boat. His head dangled in the cold sea water for the space of several frantic heartbeats. Sick with horror, Haina tried to pull Scarface back into the dugout, but he was too heavy. Even the fear-induced strength that coursed through her was not enough for her to lift him.
"Push the body back onboard," the blond man ordered his men. "As for you," he said, turning to Haina, "you are coming with us."
"No, I am not!" she shrieked, pure fury at Scarface's brutal murder overwhelming her fear. "I am not going anywhere with you killers!" She lashed out viciously with her fists while trying vainly to shake loose her captive arm and still keep her balance in the rocking dugout. Several of the men watched warily.
"Guard yourself, Chance. She fights like a wildcat!" warned one of the men.
But the dark blond-haired leader already had both his strong arms wrapped around Haina and was dragging her into the war canoe. Screaming and kicking, canoes rocking perilously, Haina managed to land a strong blow to his chin. He grunted and held her tighter. "Little mountain lion," he muttered.
Subdued at last, panting heavily, breasts heaving, she was pushed down to the floor of the war canoe. Several smelly cedar mats, encrusted with dried salt and fish guts, were tossed over her. Then something that felt like a foot was planted squarely on her back. "If you value your life, little mountain lion," came the soft Kyuquot drawl, "you will lie very, very still."
"You will regret this," she panted. "My father's warriors will tear you into little pieces and throw you to the sharks!"
"Brave words," said the Kyuquot lazily.
Realizing the desperation of her position, Haina went weak all over. Exhausted and frightened, she lay limply in the putrid darkness of the mats. Every breath she took made her want to retch from the awful smell. Fear and anger added to her twisting stomach.
She noticed the canoe was rocking less, and she heard muffled sounds as the men talked amongst themselves. A little later, she felt the canoe grind against gravel, as though they were on a beach.
The next thing she knew, she was waking from a dreamless sleep. She must have fainted, she decided.
The smooth, rolling movement of the canoe beneath her told her the men in the canoe were making fast paddling time. Haina guessed her captors were anxious to return to Kyuquot.
She wondered how long she would be forced to lie under the stinking mats before anyone would remember her existence.