Each of my stories is my favorite when I’m writing it, but there’s something special about Red Bird’s Song. Maybe because many of the events depicted in the story and the inspiration behind it are true. Red Bird’s Song is based on events that happened to my early American Scots-Irish ancestors in the Virginia colonial frontier. The novel began as historical fiction with a strong romantic element but evolved into a historical romance, painstakingly researched and pulsing with emotion. The romance between Wicomechee and Charity throbs with tension, tenderness, passion and angst.
A bonus for readers, at the end of the book is the account of this Shawnee warrior I discovered in distant branches of the family tree.
Yes, Wicomechee really lived and he comes vividly to life along with the others characters in this adventurous romance with a strong The Last of the Mohicans flavor.
Blurb: Taken captive by a war party wasn’t how Charity Edmonson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather’s vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.
George III’s English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts. As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.
Charity swiped angrily at a tear.
She’d run away, if she had anyone to run to.
It wasn’t right they were all dead.
On impulse, she jumped to the ground. “I’ll go anyway,” she muttered. “Eat nuts and berries and live in the woods.”
“Will you go alone?” a low voice asked.
Sucking in her breath, she whirled around. Less than twenty feet away, grasping his musket, stood a tall young brave. Stripes of red and black paint blurred his striking features. His dark brown eyes riveted her in place. This warrior was like no other and the most savagely handsome man she’d ever seen.
God help her. She should flee now, but could only stare, open-mouthed.
She swept her disbelieving gaze over the loose black hair brushing an open buckskin vest that revealed his bronzed chest and shoulders molded into contours of muscle. An elkskin breechclout left a great deal of his hard thighs exposed. Despite the dread hammering in her chest, a fiery blush burned her cheeks. But it was the sheathed knife hanging on his left side and the lethal tomahawk slung on his right that snapped Charity from her near-trance.
In a rush of memories, she recalled the stories of her father’s death under the scalping knife and neighbors who’d suffered the same violent fate.
No Indians had been spotted in their settlement since the Shawnee grew hostile and war had erupted nine years ago, but the warfare had ended. Hadn’t it?
Clenching ice-cold fingers, she dug her nails into her palms. “What in God’s name are you doing here?” she forced past the dry lump in her throat.
He slid the musket over his shoulder by a woven
strap. A faint smile curved his lips. “You wish to go
live among the trees? Come with me.”
Instinctively, Charity shied back.
The warrior closed the distance between them and
extended a corded arm circled with twin bands of
silver. His voice went from butter to grit. “Now.”
Musket shots cracked above the rapid water.
War whoops rang through the trees. Charity
scrambled back with a shriek.
He lunged at her. Jerked fully to life, she flung
the basket at his chest and spun around. Catching
up her skirts, she raced over the uneven ground
along the river.
She had only the hair of a head start, but by heaven she could run. Hadn’t her brother, Craig, said as much?
Clinging to his praise, she tore through grass
heavy with seed heads. The slap of her shoes and
swish of her petticoats sounded alongside the rapid
water. She sensed but didn’t hear the warrior’s
stealthy pursuit. Dodging rocks masked by the haze,
she hurtled across downed branches, risking a nasty
fall. But what did that matter with the hound of hell
snapping at her heels?
Faster! Heart pounding in her ears, she leapt over a moss-encrusted log and stumbled. Grabbing a bent sapling for support, she righted herself and sprang away through a blur of color. Her chest thudded. She could scarcely get her breath and shot a glance over her shoulder.
Lord, no! Her pursuer’s glove-like moccasins had the advantage over her square-toed shoes, as did his
ground-covering strides. He rapidly narrowed the gap between them. God save her or she’d be killed and scalped like her father.
Summoning every ounce of speed, she spurted
ahead, sides heaving, pain stabbing her chest. She
flew around a bend in the river and stopped short. A
prickly tangle of burdock and brambles blocked the
path. She looked wildly around. No way through.
Shooting to the side, she clamored up the bank.
Down she went, sliding over loose stones,
lurching forward with outstretched hands and
scraping her palms. She ignored the sting and
scrambled up to pelt through tall grass and spikes of
mullein. If she hid among the stand of cedars just
ahead, he might not find—-too late. He’d come.
A scream ripped from Charity’s throat. She grabbed up a stout stick and spun around. Shaking the loose mane from her eyes, she brandished her makeshift weapon. “Stay back!”
He arched one black brow. “You think to strike me with that?”
Before she heaved another ragged breath, he snatched it away. “What now?” he challenged.
She lunged, pushing against his rock-hard chest—like trying to dislodge an anvil. She dug in her heels and struggled to knock him off balance and down the slope. Not a prudent move. She’d unwittingly placed herself in his hands.
He snapped unyielding arms around her. “I have you.”
She twisted, shrieking, in his steely grasp, kicking at his rooted legs and grinding her feet into the earth. The fragrance of spearmint charged the air. How ironic to die surrounded by such sweet scent.
Gripping her tightly, he forced her down to the leafy ground in a press of hard muscle and heated skin. His gleaming black hair spilled over her face as he pinned her thrashing arms. “Stop fighting me.”
“I’ll fight to the end!”
He straddled her and stilled her pummeling legs. “For your life? Have I tomahawk or knife in my hand?”
She gaped up at him, her breath rasping in her throat. Whether he spoke in bemusement or annoyance, she couldn’t tell from his controlled expression, but the weapons remained at his side. And he wouldn’t waste gunpowder and a lead ball on her when he could so easily kill her with a single blow.
“You’ll let me live?” she gulped in short bursts.
“Did I not say you will come with me?”
She searched his eyes for signs of malice and saw none, only a keen watchfulness. Her stomach churned as he clasped her wrists with one hand and reached toward his waist.
A spasm shuddered through her. Had he only been tormenting her? Was he—even now—drawing his knife?
She squeezed her eyes shut, moaning, against the cruel blade. But no fatal kiss of steel met her throat. Instead, firm, warm fingers lightly stroked her cheek.
“I have no wish to do you harm. You are my captive.”
She opened her eyes in breathless tension. There it was again, that piercing gaze. If she hadn’t already been winded, one glance from him would have robbed her of air. She inhaled his scent, both intimidating and strangely compelling.
Her panting eased. “What will you do?” she asked hoarsely.
“Slow you. You run like peshikthe, the deer.”
Native American Romance Novel RED BIRD’S SONG is available in digital download & print fromThe Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.
*Royalty free images. My mother, Pat Churchman took the nature shots and the image of the old family musket.