My Native American historical romance, Follow the Stars Home, will be available on August 7. Check out the trailer, which I just finished:
I'm very excited about its release! The story's very dear to me. Here's a sneak peek:
A movement in the trees caught his eye, the slightest shift in the shadows. He lowered the stick and sat still as a tree atop his buffalo skin. An animal would have revealed itself, so he suspected a person hid there. His heart tightened with hope. After waiting a moment, he called, “Hello?”
The moonlight alighted her doeskin dress no matter as she stepped from the shadows into the clearing.
He scrambled to his feet. “Quiet Thunder. You’re here.” His thick voice caught in his throat and his self-confidence abandoned him. Long he’d waited for this moment, but now felt unsure what to do.
Her words rushed out in a strangled breath. “Yes. I heard the cry.”
He held the twig with both hands and twisted it. “I played all afternoon trying to get it right.”
Her eyes widened as she recognized the siyotanka. He’d made the flute hoping to enchant her with its magic. His song must be working—she walked to him as if drawn by it.
“I thought it an elk’s cry.”
The high praise made his breath tangle in his ribs. Grandfather told tales of Lakota who cut cedarwood branches to craft a flute shaped like the long neck and head of a bird with an open beak. The instrument’s sound resembled the call of an elk, powerful medicine supposed to make a man irresistible to the woman he loved.
He lowered his head. “I hoped it would bring you here.” Shyness overcame him, and he could not meet her gaze, only stare at the siyotanka.
“You brought me here.”
Her words were bold with truth. Tonight, he wanted to speak only truth. To hear only truth.
His gaze leaped to hers. Glancing at the bow she carried, he grinned. “You came to shoot me?”
Ducking her head, she said softly, “No.”
When he reached for the bow, his hand grazed hers, and he struggled against the urge to pull her close. “I’ll set them down. Nearby, in case you need them.” Gently, he slid the strap from her shoulder and put both next to the buffalo skin, then extended his hand for her to sit. Nervousness twisted through him, made every action stiff and formal as if performing a ritual. Since childhood, he’d run with Quiet Thunder, shot arrows with her, rode horses with her. Two summers ago when a sticker branch cut her leg, he’d carried her to a stream. Holding her in his arms had awakened new feelings, and since then, his fingers itched to feel her skin every night.
She knelt, and then sat atop her legs. “Are you all right?”
He crossed his legs and sat. “I am now that you’re here.” Biting his lip, he cast his gaze away. Happiness surged through his spirit, filled his skin so full it threatened to burst open.
“Play me your song.” Like the stars twinkling above them, her eyes sparkled, like laughing spirits clustered in crowds along the white carpet of the Milky Way.
He lifted the flute to his lips and gently blew. His song seemed to enchant everything around them. Fireflies glittered like falling embers. The music of the stream mixed with the flute. His heart skipped and danced with the lilting tune, the tune he made for her alone.
When she closed her eyes, he painted her beauty in his memory.
She opened her eyes. “Why did you stop?”
Black Bear stared at her, the fullness in her gaze made his breath flutter like the fireflies. “The moonlight lit your face. You’re more beautiful than ever.” Warmth coursed through his face. He must have enchanted himself with the song. Though he’d thought it many times, he’d never before called her beautiful.
Unable to hold back any longer, he knelt in front of her, and she lifted up to kneel before him. Entwining his fingers through hers, he held them against the scar on his chest where the bone tore through two summers ago. With a voice soft as a trickling stream, he spoke. “I welcomed the pain of becoming a man. Do you know why?”
“Because you wanted to be a great warrior?”
His thumbs caressed the back of her hands. “No. The time of great Sioux warriors is ending. I must learn to be a better hunter. To provide for my family.” A family he wished with all his heart to have with her. His insides lurched when she glanced down.
She tried to slide her hand away, but he held it fast.
“Please let me speak.”
His seriousness silenced her. With a nod, she lifted her gaze to his scar, the mark of his love for her. It spoke of his hopes for their future. From now on, he wanted it to be a reminder of this night.
Soft urgency gave fire to his words, and the fire sparked in his blood. “I know now why you are called Quiet Thunder. I didn’t know I could feel such thunder inside. It overtakes me every night while I try to sleep. In everything I do, I feel your spirit with me. I need to know if you feel the same.” He pressed her hand against his scar so she might feel his heart thudding through his skin. It pulsed with his life’s blood as if to mingle with her own.
When she raised her chin, moonlight illuminated her face, her dark eyes ablaze. “Yes.”
He exhaled a ragged breath and leaned in to touch his lips to hers. When she slid her arms around his neck and pressed close to him, he felt in danger of floating into the laughing stars. With slow purpose, he slid his mouth against hers, fueling desires he’d never before experienced. The effort of holding himself back caused him to tremble. Slowly he lifted his lips and whispered her name fervent as a prayer, his breath stirring her hair.
She clung to him, her arms wrapped tight around his waist like a vine clinging to a tree.