Dancing on Coals
He is an Apache warrior whose parents were killed by whites who then imprisoned him in a white school for years. She is a white woman who has traveled and hunted all over the world. Forced into an uneasy alliance after an ambush by Mexican Rurales, Gaetan and Katherine form a strange bond. When the bond turns to love, can they admit it? Can they bear the consequences?
Excerpt from Dancing on Coals
She tiptoed to the bed as if he could hear her and slid in next to him. Her body heat could at least warm his good side. As she touched him, he rolled, pulling her against him, her back to his chest. His good arm fit under her in the curve of her waist, the splinted forearm hung over her ribs.
A protest slipped from her throat as she started to fight, but he gave her nothing to fight against—he didn’t try to hold her. Because she was free to leave, she stayed, sinking back down and relaxing against him. He was cold, so cold. Diving into a snowbank back home had to be warmer than this, and snowbanks didn’t shiver.
Why had he come to her instead of Echo, Sigesh, Bácho, or Lupe and Itsá? Because of the bond. Probably he would deny such a thing existed, but it did. Getting away from Hierra had forged some strange bond that wove its way around the hate, fear and distrust, and everything that happened after only strengthened that bond.
She touched the icy fingers of his splinted arm. What if she had bound it too tight and cut off his circulation? She pressed his cold fingers flat between both of her hands. At least she could feel that he was still breathing.
The shivering stopped. That had to be good. The hand in hers felt more like flesh. What about the wound? Had he bled through her clumsy bandage? She reached back and felt the cloth. Still dry, at least on the outside. Instead of pressing just his one hand between both of hers, she cupped the fingers of each hand over his, startled when his fingers tightened, curling back around hers.
He didn’t move again. His breathing stayed slow and regular. Keeping her feet against his no longer demanded a martyr’s dedication. If her feet were better, his had to be too, didn’t they? She moved a foot slightly, feeling the extra length of his. Not just his foot, she realized. Her body lay curved inside the larger curve of his. He was taller, every limb longer, his shoulders wider.
For the first time in memory, Katherine felt not just female, but feminine. This was what other women had and she never would. If she had been able to marry a man she wanted instead of one who would have her, it would be like this every night. She would lay in a husband’s arms and feel like this. She swallowed the lump in her throat and blinked away tears. Every one of her brothers could give her a stern lecture on the soul-sapping effects of self-pity.
Tonight she wasn’t giving way to regret or self-pity. Tonight she was staying awake and glorying in every minute of this one chance to know how it felt. He was warm now and sleeping peacefully. In the morning, Echo would set the arm and doctor the wound, and he would be fine. He would. And for this one night Katherine Grant was going to pretend the man holding her was hers and would still be hers tomorrow.
In spite of her every effort, Katherine fell asleep shortly before dawn. When she woke, he was gone.
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