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 HEART STOLEN Chapter One

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Caryl
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PostSubject: HEART STOLEN Chapter One   Tue May 27, 2014 12:33 am

Historical Christian Romance
92,890 Words
HEART STOLEN
Chapter One
                                                               
     Just thinking about him made Sassy want to stick her tongue out like she used to do to her father when he ordered her around. But Charles had married her, and she promised to love, honor, and obey him. She loved the man alright, leastwise she guessed she did. If he’d only treat her like a wife, not a child...
     Of everyone, he should understand most that she’ grown. Why, coming on sixteen, she was as mature as she would ever get.
     Rosaleen he’d called her. She hated her given name. Well pshaw, she could do both, visit her mamma and have his ol’ supper ready. As the sun peeked over the treetops, Sassy leaned forward and tickled the mare’s ribs with her heels. “Haw, pretty girl; we don’t have all day. He said he’ll be back by dark.”
     Stretching her gait, the mare flew over the rolling terrain. The wind whipped Sassy’s hair behind her. Oh, how she loved riding, always had. In barely any time, she slowed the mare into a lope and topped the last hill before Kickapoo Creek where she always let Bliss get a sweet drink, but not too much, from the easy flowing stream. With only another eight miles to her folks’ place, she might make it in time for some breakfast leftovers. She clicked her tongue.
     Bliss cleared the far bank then her snort and shiver pulled Sassy’s attention to follow the mare’s gaze. Two bare-chested Indians sat on painted ponies. The bigger one pointed a long handled club at her then whooped. Sassy hammered her heels into the mare’s ribs. The gray shot forward hitting a full gallop in fewer than ten strides.
     Calm, stay calm, but her heart beat like the nines. She’d never lost a race in her life, not on Bliss. She definitely couldn’t lose this one. With a good lead, she’d outrun the little ponies. But as much as she pressed the mare, Sassy didn’t feel the horse giving the normal punch she counted on.
Never should’ve run almost the whole way to the Kickapoo. Should have thought…
     She glanced behind under her arm. They cut the butter and were closing in. Her heart skipped a beat. She tensed and held her breath. Willed her horse to run faster.  She slapped the reins back and forth across Bliss’ neck. Laid low on top her mane.
     Where should she go? Was anyone nearer than Daddy?
     The whoops behind her moved closer.
     Everything happened in slow motion.
     One of the Indians came even. He glanced over and smiled a sickening grin.
     She couldn’t breathe.
     No God, no.
     His dark skinned hand reached toward her mare’s head. Sassy yanked Bliss the other way, but he grabbed the bridle. No, God. He reined his paint squealing words Sassy didn’t know. Bliss matched the slower pace of the pony beside her.
     Sassy swiped at his hand. “Let go! Get your hand off my horse!” She slapped his arm with the ends of her reins.
     The second rode up on the opposite side and grabbed hold of her arm. He yanked his horse to a stop. Bliss ran right out from under Sassy. She went flying through the air screaming. Gravity claimed its due, and she hit the ground. She stumbled then found her feet and ran. Her stupid petticoats and skirt tangled around her ankles. She tripped and ate a mouthful of black dirt.
     The Indians laughed at her.
     She scrambled to her feet and faced them, spitting dirt, her fists balled. “Come on, you think you can take me.”
     They looked at one another and spoke words she couldn’t understand. One punched the other on the shoulder, grinning.
     “Sure, go ahead. Have your fun. I’ll show you.”
     They both slid off their ponies then the smaller of the two started toward her, but kept jumping back out of reach. The bigger one moved in closer.
Sassy jabbed hard with her left fist and caught him square on the jaw. “Haw! Teach you to mess with me.” Didn’t grow up with five brothers for nothing.
     He reeled then rubbed his face. The smaller boy laughed at him, slapping his belly with one hand, waving the air with his other. Sore Jaw shouted angry words and pointed, and the other quit laughing. He looked at her and grinned that same sickening smile when he’d grabbed Bliss. “Come on, you little coward. Scared of a girl?”
     He stepped in fast. She kicked him in the gut. He grabbed his middle with both hands. She swung with an upper cut and caught his chin solid. He stood dazed. She jabbed his nose with a left then followed that with a haymaker to his jaw. He stumbled back and to the side.
     The big one laughed and pointed obviously making great fun of his friend.
Little Coward glared, barred his teeth and ran straight at her. She stepped sideways, but tripped on her torn bloomers. He caught her square and knocked her down backwards. He landed atop her. She couldn’t breathe. She needed air. He held her down between his knees. “Aaagghh. Get off me.”
     He hit her hard in the face. Harder than any of her brothers ever had. She bucked and bumped then rolled full circle out from beneath him then away. He lost his balance long enough for her to kick him. She scooted backwards on the ground glaring.
     He would never make her cry.
     He scrambled to his feet then leapt at her, on her. He hit her again and again in the face, stomach, chest and arms. He kept hitting her until the bigger one pulled him off.
     He spoke two or three words. Little Coward stood over her and spat on her. She lay perfectly still. Her whole head, front to back pound against her skull. It felt like a busted watermelon, its red meat lying out in the sun.     Everything hurt.
     Sore Jaw grabbed her hand and pulled her forward, but her feet offered no foundation. Her legs refused to hold her erect. He ducked one shoulder and threw her over it. With an upside down view, she swung. Little Coward sneered. Her arms hung toward the ground swinging as her captor walked. He threw her over Bliss, her stomach across the saddle then tied her hands and feet to the stirrups.
     Oh dear Lord.
     She should have listened to Charles.
* * * * *
     Only after Swift Arrow crossed many creeks and the sun lay well below the horizon did he stop his march. Once he cut her loose and hobbled his new gray pony to graze, he relaxed, sat on his haunches, and chewed on a chuck of buffalo jerky. In the last of the day’s pale light, he studied the fiery haired female as she lay on her side.
     He held out the dried meat, and though knowing she wouldn’t understand the People’s tongue, asked, “Want something to eat?”
     She spit at him then rattled off some strange words. Crazy woman. Even with her hands tied behind her back and her legs bound, she struggled against the leather straps. Never had he seen or heard about a white woman fighting like this one. Even now, her face ugly and swollen, both eyes blackened, she glared with hate.
     Little Beaver stood. “I will kill her and eat her liver. The old ones will sing about this day for years.”
     Swift Arrow jumped to his feet. “She is worth many ponies. No one will kill the woman. I subdued her. She is mine.”
     “Ha. Only after I beat all the fight out of the white wild cat. You must share her price.” His friend glared then held up two fingers. “No, three.” He added a finger. “Bold Eagle will give his best horses for that fiery head.”
     “Agreed, but you will not touch one hair.” He tossed the last bite of jerky at the white woman. It landed a hand’s span away from her mouth. He faced his friend. “Rest now. The moon will show our way tonight. We cross the river before anyone knows she’s gone.”
* * * * *
     Sassy wanted the piece of meat, but wasn’t about to eat it off the dirt, or let that Indian think that she would accept any crumb he had to offer. She wasn’t sure exactly what the coward had in mind, but was grateful that the bigger had put an end to it. She closed her eyes and willed her self to rest. Sooner or later, one of them would untie her, and then she’d be gone.
     Instead of sleep, the morning’s events replayed again and again before her mind’s eye. Each word Charles said and every angry word she’d loosed right up until he left. Each rebellious step she took after that haunted her. Would he guess what had happened to her? Would anyone ever know?
     He would see she’d taken Bliss, but would he bother to check on her? He might think for a day or two that she was upset and staying at her parents’. So wrapped up in his logging, the man might not have even come home.     Wouldn’t be the first time he stayed in the woods all night without so much as a word. Or an apology. Or boo, or anything.
     The more she pondered her predicament, the more tears tried to well. But no matter how bad things got, she would never let the Indians see her cry.
None of her brothers had ever seen her cry since – when? She couldn’t remember, but she hadn’t been too old when she decided they’d never get her goat again.
     Her brothers. If they only knew, they would come for her. Images of her family flooded her soul. Mama and Daddy. Would she ever see any of them again this side of heaven?
     Oh Lord! Why did He let it happen? Had she really been that bad? She only wanted to visit her mother and help her and learn to can proper. Maybe take home something out of Mama’s garden for Charles’ supper.
     Strong hands jerked her to her feet. Sore Jaw threw her over Bliss then tied her as before. She already hurt all over and hated riding like that. He said something to his partner, then they were off again. Upside down, she couldn’t recognize anything, but figured they headed north for the Red.
     Charles Nathaniel Nightengale would never come for her there. Neither a horseman or a hunter, he’d never take his wagon and mules over the trail her captors had carried her, through dense woods and across more creeks than she could remember.
     Maybe she should have counted them.
     After way too long, Sore Jaw stopped and slid off his mount. He walked ahead. On his return, he untied her feet completely then released her hands from the stirrup, but kept them tied together. He pulled her off then looped a long piece of leather around her neck.
     He nodded and motioned for her to mount. She climbed into the saddle, thankful to be allowed to ride erect; more than she’d hoped. The savage secured her hands to the horn then her feet to the stirrups and each other again, the strap crossing under Bliss’s belly.
     Oh how she wished she’d obeyed her husband and stayed home and cleaned house and weeded the garden and fixed dinner. What she would give to start the day over. Her poor mother would never know if she was even dead or alive. She wondered how long Charles would wait before he even went over there to collect her.
     That’s when they’d all know, and surely way too much time would’ve passed to pick up any trail. Doomed. Her happy life over.
     Sore Jaw slid one of his open palms fast across the other. His gesture told her, ‘If you try to escape’. He tugged a bit on the leather thong. She got the message. Shortly, they broke out of the woods and walked straight across the river’s bank into the water.
     Now, she really got the message. If she tried anything here, she’d be drowned.
     Oh Lord. Once across the Red… Comanche territory.
     No one was coming for her.
     In the moonlight, with Little Coward riding in front of her and Sore Jaw behind, a single tear ran down her cheek.
     How could she ever be saved?
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HEART STOLEN Chapter One
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