Ethan Gray is a curator at a national museum . . . most of the time. When he travels through time to help his beloved People he’s Meko, leader of the most revered and feared tribe of the plains. Their worlds are decades apart and yet Meko can’t resist the dark beauty he kidnapped during a raid. Violent battles loom on the horizon, but there’s only one he must win at all costs – the capture of Cesca’s heart forever.
From the windswept plains of Colorado and the harsh life of a Dog Soldier to the placid life of a curator, their love was fueled by passion and kindled by destiny.
Cesca bounded to her feet with hands on hips and there they stood, faced off like rabid weasels. Her head spun and she wavered between fleeing and kissing those succulent lips. Relief claimed her when Strikes First and Good-Looking-Woman appeared beside them.
Meko’s friend took her hand. “Come, little one. We dance now.”
Dragging her gaze from her husband’s angry face, she said, “Oh, no, I can’t. I’m not dressed like an animal.”
“I see the teeth of the elk on your dress. Good Enough. Come, I teach you the steps.”
She glanced over her shoulder and saw Good-Looking-Woman pushing Meko toward the dancers.
With a smile, Strikes First led her through the basic steps, urging her to follow. Cesca dismissed angry thoughts from her mind and focused on his instructions, picking up the dance in short order. Her feet flew over the hard ground, her body moved of its own volition in perfect sync with the drums. She twisted, whirled and dipped, allowing her arms to flow gracefully over her head.
As the fire roared around her, she abandoned everything but the moment. Pulling the bandana from her forehead, she freed her long mass of hair. She was the gypsy, the wild and crazy nomadic wanderer, and her heart burned with the desperate need of forgetfulness.
A trio of young braves joined her, their eyes blazing with desire. She didn’t care. She was one with the Earth now, the sky, and the stars. Slowly, the men circled her, their bodies emulating her sensual moves, their feet mimicking her frantic steps.
His face a mask of dread, Strikes First pushed them away. “Eneoestse! Stop! Eneoestse!”
He searched for Meko among the crowd and Cesca followed his gaze. Strikes First visibly cringed, but Cesca reveled in the black scowl on her husband’s face. At last, she’d penetrated the man’s cool exterior.
The crowd parted. In two long strides Meko reached her and made a futile attempt to grab her wrist. The young braves that had been dancing around her moments ago stood before their leader, heads bowed, faces staid, feet still.
But not Cesca. She wouldn’t shrivel before the great Meko.
She skipped out of his reach, swiveled her hips, and sashayed toward him again. Sweat ran from her forehead and trickled into her mouth, but she wouldn’t stop. She wasn’t done with him yet.
Meko cut her a fierce glare. “Eneoestse!”
“Whatever is the matter?” Feigning sweetness, she offered her best smile. “You wanted me to enjoy myself, celebrate, and so I will.” With the drums roaring around her, amid the resonant notes of the flute, she danced her way to within inches of Meko’s grasp.
Like a cobra strike, his hand came out a grabbed a length of her hair. “Stop, Cesca!”
The muscle in his jaw twitched, an indication her triumphant run would soon end in a volatile explosion. With a yank to her hair, he pulled her from the crowd. A shriek left her lips. And then she attacked, clamping down on his forearm with her teeth. Forced to release her, she watched in horror as blood trickled down to his fingers.
The drums came to an abrupt halt. A thousand eyes fell upon them. Hushed murmurs and shocked gasps came to her through a tunnel. The People waited for the leader of the Dog Soldiers to strike her down, bring her to her knees. They’d never seen one of their own harm a dog man.
He advanced. The deafening silence—total, absolute stillness— rumbled around her. Yet still she wouldn’t yield. She saw Marsh across the fire. Lucifer, his eyes are closed, and is he holding his breath? Had she pushed Meko too far? Did he mean to strike her in front of the People? A dangerous spark flared in the silver eyes, and the scar running eyebrow to jaw went limpid in his bronze face.
Cesca scanned the crowd and wished she could fade away like the smoke of the fire. Who would help her? Good-Looking-Woman had covered her eyes with her fingers, and Strikes First’s head was bent toward the ground. The People reminded her of puppets, all wide-eyed and falling jaws.
In a battle of wills, the sleek black cat advanced, and she stood her ground like a tiger defending her cubs. Without pretense, he swept her from the ground. Cheers and whistles rang through the still night and still she fought him. Launching her foot, she slammed it into his knee, and then aimed for any other vulnerable body part. She pummeled his chest and scraped her nails over his upper arms. Again she drew blood. If only she could turn her body around and claw his eyes out.
Onward he walked, holding her firmly against him. “If you bite me again, I swear I’ll beat you.”
He meant every word, never bluffed. Her foot connected with his shin, eliciting a curse from his lips. And a smile from hers. “What are you going to do, cut my throat?”
As they wound through the village, her eyes searched the dark. Moonbeams bounced off Brown Wing’s lodge and soon they were on the outskirts of camp, heading for the river. The river?
“You wouldn’t dare!” she bellowed.
“Wouldn’t I?” He sloshed through the sludge on the bank and entered the shallow depths. “You’re drenched in perspiration after that public display of offering your body to every young buck in camp.”
“I did no such thing. I was dancing.”
The water rose to his waist and still he walked forward. “I’ve had enough of your tantrums.”
Cesca tangled her arms in his and hung on for dear life, but he yanked on her wrists until she cried out in pain. Pitching her body from his, she hit the depths with a unyielding thud. The water washed over her head and swirled up her nose.
Spitting water and a string of French oaths, she emerged. “Merde! Trou de cul!” For good measure, she tossed in the English versions.
Out of the corner her eye, she spied him standing a short distance from her. “I despise you!” She pushed a drenched forelock off her face. “And what’s more, it’s over between us!”
She’d never seen him so calm. A fines mist enveloped his shoulders and head. He moved not an inch, and she wondered if he was breathing.
The ripples caressed her thighs, but couldn’t douse the heat between her thighs. Meko pushed through the water, his whisper drifting across the space separating them. “It will never be over between us.”
The words threw her dazed mind into total disorder. She thrust an arm out, hoping it would be enough to hold him back but onward he came. Encircling her outstretched wrist, he pulled her to him. His breath fanned the damp tendrils near her cheeks. He grabbed a length of her hair, drew her head back, and bared her throat. Sweet, lingering kisses found the pulse at the base of her throat. His lips slid to the curve of her shoulder and continued their tortuous assault. A hot flame pulsed through her veins when he slipped a hand beneath the water, pressed it against the small of her back and pulled her closer and closer still.
All desire to claw his face vanished. The resistance she intended to offer disappeared. He kissed her again, his tongue searching every crevice of her mouth. Like a stupid fool she clung to him. And worse, moaned.
He broke from the kiss, cradled her in his arms and walked back to shore. Her heart beat out of control. She’d pushed him beyond the brink tonight and now he’d make her pay. One way or the other.