The opening of the cabin door drew his attention. The cover of darkness hid him from view, but he could see her basking in the moonlight. Never had she looked more beautiful. Her dark hair flowed down her back. The doeskin dress molded to every perfect curve.
His body reacted, as it always had, growing hard and rigid. The taste of her lips filled his mouth, the innocent tenderness of her tongue against his own.
Damn, Chris Davis.
“What are you doing?” he demanded, drawing her attention.
“One Wolf, where have you been?” She glided down the steps coming toward him. His heart picked up its pace. Every part of his existence ached to claim his woman.
“You know where I have been, White Deer. Or have you forgotten the tribe you have wanted to belong to since you were a girl?” He spit the bitter words from his lips.
“I see you have now become this white man’s whore.” He nodded toward the cabin door. “I thought you had more pride.”
He grabbed her by the arms, pulling her inches from his face. “Is this what you want?”
“One Wolf, this life is my mother’s vision for me.”
“And your nish ki’s knowledge of your life had nothing to do with a white man.” He reminded her angrily.
“One Wolf, let her go.” Chris’s angry voice filled the night air.
“I asked you to do that once, Chris Davis. Did you not refuse?” His eyes never left hers as he roared his resentment.
“White Deer belongs to me now.” Chris’s tone was livid.
One Wolf threw his head back, a wicked laugh coming from somewhere deep inside him. “White Deer is it now? Only months ago, you could not accept the Cheyenne blood that runs through her veins. Are you telling me now you can accept that blood?”
One Wolf spun her around to face her lover, gripping her shoulders against his palms. “Look at her! Does she belong in your world? She dresses like us. She speaks our tongue. She is her mother’s daughter. She will please her husband as Cheyenne women please theirs. Is this what you want?”
Anguish strained Chris’s face as his eyes fixed on the image he was painting for him. With White Deer in his arms, shoving the truth back into this white man’s world, even Chris couldn’t deny where she truly belonged.
“One Wolf, let me go,” Nichole ordered, pulling hard, she gained her release.
“Chris and I are working to build a life together. You must learn to accept this.”
One Wolf laughed again. “Accept what I know is not right. He cannot even answer a simple question. Sure, he allows you to dress as one of us. He even calls you by your Cheyenne name. But can he truly say, in his heart, he accepts the Cheyenne blood in your veins?”
“How is he any different than you, who only wishes to see the Cheyenne half of my heritage?” One Wolf grabbed her up once again, pulling her roughly against his chest. Chris sprang into action. He ripped Nichole from his grasp, shoving him away from her.
“One Wolf, White Deer could be carrying my child, you’ll not touch her again.”
“A child she should be having of mine!” He shouted. The words penetrated his heart so deep, it felt like a hot knife twisting into his flesh.
“No, One Wolf, it was me her mother envisioned for her, not you.”
One Wolf laughed again. “You speak of visions as if you believe in them. Do you remember I have known you for many years?”
“She belongs to me, One Wolf.”
“Stop this,” Nichole ordered. “Do either of you care what I want? You both claim to love me, but do either of you care that this tears me apart inside? To see two men, who once claimed to be friends, go at each other like two dogs over a bone?”
“Chris, you must understand this is hard for both One Wolf and I. We’ve spent many years as friends, we’ve shared much of our life, and yes, at one time I fancied myself his wife.”
She turned to One Wolf. “But now, One Wolf, you must understand, with Chris is where I belong. I know this in my heart, as sure as I know you and I will always share our past. I have given myself to him as a woman gives herself to her husband.”
“There was a time when you were going to give to me this same honor, or have you forgotten?” The ground felt as if it were slipping from his feet. He had let this go too far. Now, it seemed, he had lost the only woman he would ever love.
“I haven’t forgotten,” she said softly. “But it wasn’t meant to be. Can’t you see this? We’re meant only to share our lives as friends, nothing more.”
Her words finished, shattering his heart. The pain in his chest was more unbearable than anything he’d ever felt before. He stared into those lovely dark eyes, and knew she believed what she said.
One Wolf turned on Chris.
“If you hurt her, I promise you, as I told you before, I will kill you,” he growled. “She deserves the acceptance she seeks. If you cannot give it to her, then I beg you now let her go with me. I can heal her heart.”
Something in the form of guilt flashed from Chris’s eyes, giving a short-lived hope to his heart. The moment Chris wrapped a protective arm about her shoulders, One Wolf knew he didn’t stand a chance against the one thing tying her to her mother. A vision.
His tone grew softer, as his eyes locked and held hers. “White Deer, I give you what you wish, in hopes one day you will come to me with the knowledge it is our hearts which belong together. It is something I have always known, and one day I know you will see it, too.”
He reached out, brushing the back of his hand against the soft skin of her cheek. His eyes drifted closed, as he took in the feel of her. “Nemohotatse, my little warrior.”
He left the couple standing in the darkness, his heart in turmoil. No matter what she told him, he would love her until his dying breath. For only when his heart stopped beating, would his love for her die.