|...shows a fascinating culture...|
live, and as part of the pre-launch promotion I’m discounting
Due to this being a time-sensitive discount it only applies to Amazon direct. Those who read via Nook, Kobo, iBooks, etc, can use the Coupon Code HL73P at Smashwords to gain the same price – but only until 03 March. Get it while you can!
Beneath The Shining Mountains is a parallel coming-of-age story concerning both Moon Hawk, whose starry-eyed belief in the power of love is sorely trialled, and Winter Man who wants to remain free both of a wife and of responsibilities to his people. But the turning of a year tests the lovers, making both rethink their roles. In this excerpt, Moon Hawk is a new bride and the Apsaroke village is on the move to the winter camping grounds
The morning was full of changes. The sky cleared for a while and was as blue as a kingfisher’s wing. The peaks of the Shining Mountains seemed unusually close, and looked, at times, as if they were dancing with white flames; snow, Winter Man knew, being whipped from the high ridges by gales too harsh to contemplate — storm winds. The air chilled, and thick grey clouds reared above the peaks to scud across to the further horizon as if dirty cottonwood seeds blowing before the breeze. The streams began to rise, telling of unseen cloudbursts in the higher reaches.
As an outrider, Winter Man rode beyond the slowly moving column or sat astride his fast, unburdened roan, his keen eyes directed to the deeply folding land either side of the sprawling line, but of the foes he watched for there was no sign.
The land was changing as they pushed south. Pockets of berry-bushes were becoming more numerous and scattered, not merely cleaving to the edges of creeks where the water fed them. The grass, too, was more lush, and of a finer quality. Birch and ash and oak thickets flourished in sheltered delves.
He turned his gaze to the column meandering along the lowlands below. It was a sight which never tired him. So many people . . . So many horses . . . Their noise and colour filled his senses. Who would have thought, during the same journey a year ago, that he’d now have a wife riding there below him? He shook his head. Not he. A complete man — that was what Hillside called him.
Strangely enough, that was how he felt. He’d expected marriage to feel no different from the taking of a new lover, but it did, though he was still uncertain why. Hillside had laughed, and told him to enjoy and not complain. At the time he’d chuckled and nodded his agreement, but Winter Man knew only too well the truth hidden in those words. His contentment with any one woman had never lasted. Despite their marriage, he knew it wouldn’t last with Moon Hawk, either. It was the way of things, something he accepted. Better that he made the most of what he had while it was there to savour.
He flicked his quirt towards his roan’s thigh, and it obediently began to descend the ridge. Boys were hunting jack-rabbits further down the slope, though by the look of it more arrows had been broken than rabbits killed. Two dogs were busily enlarging the animals’ holes, but he decided that the rabbits had little cause for concern.
Altering the weight of the shortened gun cradled in his arms, he heeled the roan sharply in the ribs to quicken its gait. The middle of the day had come and gone. A man was laughed at if his mind dwelt on hunger after travelling for so short a time, but it would be an excuse to visit the column and seek out Moon Hawk. He’d ridden by her position twice just to look at her, though he didn’t think she’d seen him. Perhaps she would enjoy a quiet word, a joke, maybe. It would be something for the other brides to tease her about — a doting husband full of concern for the wellbeing of his wife. She would blush. He liked to see her blush. He’d never known any woman blush as easily as Moon Hawk.
He cantered on to the flatter land, moving parallel and slightly faster than the wide, untidy line. Moon Hawk turned and smiled at his approach, though he knew she couldn’t possibly have heard him. A secret sense, perhaps? A woman’s intuition?
‘How goes your ride? Have you lost any of our belongings yet?’
Her face was a study of affronted pride. ‘Of course not!’
He laughed, as she realised he’d only been joking, and he watced her smile, coyly trying to hide the burning of her cheeks.
‘Is there food for a hungry husband?
Despite hailing from England, Linda Acaster has always been fascinated by the historical lives of the native peoples of the northern plains, and for many years was a re-enactor giving talks to schools and community groups.
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