“Chores are dumb. And chickens. Chickens are dumb,” Nora muttered to herself.
She was eight years old, which meant that she was practically an adult. That meant people should listen to her. She had better ideas of what to do with her time than having to clean up after chickens.
It just didn’t make sense. Why keep animals when they couldn’t clean up after themselves? She thought this was very silly business. There were eggs and meat that could be bought in town, meaning they didn’t need to deal with these dirty creatures.
“Smelly, too,” she added with a slight huff.
Nora Henning stumbled clumsily over the uneven ground over to the chicken coop. It was an inconvenient little spot because it sat right next to the road while the family house was a fair distance behind her. Shuffling the hay for the horses was harder work, but at least the barn was right next to the house.
With her ninth birthday right around the corner, she wondered if she would get more or fewer chores this year.
She hoped for less. It already felt as though she did a lot. When her older cousin, Leslie, moved in with them last summer, Nora had thought that she wouldn’t have to do as much work as she used to. But that was wrong. If anything, she had even more work to do.
“After the chickens, then there’s the laundry. And after the laundry, there’s the butter. And after the butter, there’s dishes,” she chanted in annoyance.
There was school in the middle of the day, with her duties before and after them. It was all terribly exhausting being eight years old. All she wanted to do was go wade in the nearby creek or ride her horse. She loved riding horses and hated how there were days she couldn’t go riding.
An idea came to mind. “Maybe after supper, Father will….” She turned back to the house once she had collected the bad hay into a pile.
However, she suddenly grew still when she looked toward home. An itch climbed into her spine as she stared. It wasn’t hard to tell that something was terribly wrong.
Feeling her stomach clench, Nora took a minute to comprehend the black smoke rising through the small grove of trees right in front of her. They weren’t very tall or thick, so her father had been planning to cut them down. He just hadn’t gotten to it yet, and this meant she couldn’t really see the house.
All she saw was the smoke.
Part of Nora knew that they couldn’t hear her right then, but she felt that she needed to at least try. She sensed something was wrong. But how could it be? A shaky breath escaped her lips. Leaving the chicken coop behind, she slowly started toward the house.
Within a few steps, she was running.
Around the trees and on toward the house. It was mostly a small cabin with a bedroom for her parents and a loft above the kitchen that she shared with Leslie. They had come from the Canadian border to Minerston, Wyoming, to start a life nearly three years ago. She didn’t remember much of it, mostly just them building one house, only for a storm to ruin it.
This new one had been finished just before the last harvest. Her parents had promised to build her a room just for herself once they had the time and the money. It was something she had been looking forward to for what felt like forever.
Nora’s eyes widened as she saw the little house covered in flames. Her steps faltered only for a moment before she pumped her legs to move faster.
It had to be a bad dream, she told herself. Nothing bad could happen to their house like this. Her gaze scanned the area in search of her parents. Where had they gone? Certainly, they weren’t in the house. They would have gotten out before this sudden fire.
“Mother! Father!” Nora cried out.
Her next words were a loud yelp as the roof collapsed on the house. Loud crackling sounds followed afterward, making her flinch. She was yards away but could feel the heat all around her.
Wiping her brow, Nora looked around. Why was she alone? She spun in a circle in search of her family. Something wasn’t right. She could feel it inside of her.
She hurried over to the side of the house in the hopes of finding someone nearby. There was no one talking and nothing moving but the flames. So, where had they gone? Nora jogged around the house, panting for breath as her fears grew.
Panic had overcome her. She hardly remembered how to breathe as her eyes darted around to look for her parents. They had all been there just moments ago. How long had she been gone? Nora knew she wasn’t particularly fast, but surely, they couldn’t have wandered off that far away without her.
Lungs aching, the fear grew. The smoke was beginning to make her dizzy. None of this made any sense. It felt as though she was dreaming. She flinched as another wall caved in.
Though Nora had meant to keep walking, something caught her gaze.
This only lasted for a moment. He was there and then gone so quickly that she stopped, wondering if she was imagining what she had just seen. It didn’t make any sense to her. The young girl stopped in her tracks, feeling her heart pound.
And then she saw it again: a face.
It appeared through the smoke in a haze, terrifying her. Nora screamed loudly and took a step back. She thought about running away, but there was no time.
One minute, she was backing away from whoever or whatever that might have been. And in the next moment, she felt something behind her before it all went dark.
Just as the darkness reached out for her, Nora woke with a start.
Gasping, she looked around to find that she was safe. Still seated where she had fallen asleep the night before, she had not gone anywhere. Her eyes scanned the space carefully.
She was grasping her woven blanket tightly in her hands. The familiar feel brought her some comfort in the dim light. It was clear that the sun would be rising soon. Dawn was creeping through her tent.
The soft golden light brought her comfort as her breathing slowly returned to normal. While this time she didn’t quite recall the dream she’d had, except for the fear and the darkness, she had a feeling that it was related to all the other nightmares that she had experienced over the years.
When she was six, there had been a string of dreams about black bears. But ever since she was eight, they had changed into something more terrifying and twice as dark.
She wiped the sweat from her brow before letting out a deep breath she hadn’t realized that she was holding. She promptly gulped and then reached for her waterskin to drink. Water droplets spilled down either side of her mouth, but she didn’t mind.
“Just a dream,” Nora reminded herself. “It doesn’t matter. Just a dream.”
Three other figures slept nearby on their thick blankets. She could just make out the outlines of her adoptive mother and siblings. None of them had woken up. They were all getting the rest they would need for the long day ahead of them. The seasons were changing, and so, they would be making their way to a new campground for the summer months.
Reaching out, she grabbed her dress for the day.
It was a deerskin dress that went down to her knees. With a flared skirt and wide sleeves, she felt the soft familiarity of it as she put it on. Brushing the buckskin fringe back down, she paused to run her fingers over the beaded design. It was a habit she had picked up after wearing her first dress. The patterns held a lot of symbolism to her people, and she had loved them more and more over time.
The beads were small and colorful in the right light. She had grown quite good at sewing them onto the dresses and clothes for everyone in their village over the last couple of years. They were even on her moccasins that she put on before rolling up her blankets.
She was quieter than a mouse upon stepping out of the temporary tent.
There had been many lessons for her to learn ever since she joined this Comanche tribe. Sewing, walking quietly, harvesting, and more. On top of that, she had learned to enjoy the labor and hard work of creating something. She’d had so many teachers that had helped her to find joy and peace.
“There we are,” Nora murmured to herself as she turned to the other side of the tent.
Putting her hands on her hips, she looked around so she could admire the rising sun. Gold merged with pink and blue to light the sky. It felt to her as though it were a young child reaching out its arms to stretch after a night’s rest.
She hoped the sky had slept better than she had.
Trying to shake it off, Nora told herself there was no reason for her to linger on such bad dreams. They did nothing for her. Her adoptive mother had given her teas and herbs to help her sleep when she was younger, though she hadn’t enjoyed the bitter roots.
Besides, it used to be in those nightmares where she could see her parents again.
The faces of her mother and father had faded over the years. Now that she was twenty-one years old, or thereabouts since the Comanche tracked age differently, Nora knew that they only lived on in her memory.
It had been such a long time ago. She recalled her frequent whining and how she was always running off to play among the trees or their few horses. But then she also could remember their arms around her in tight embraces. When she tried very hard, she could even hear their voices again.
But they were gone now.
Even Leslie, her cousin, was only a shadow in the back of her mind. All three of them were gone and had left her alone in this world.
The question came back to Nora like it always did on the rare moments she allowed herself to muse on the past: why hadn’t she died as well?
But then, this question always led her off with her thoughts in all sorts of other directions that she never tried to go down for very long. She knew that thinking about the past never did her or anyone else any good. Yet, she still pondered what life might have been like if her parents hadn’t passed away.
Where would she be now? What would she be doing? What would they be doing? Would they still be in that house, and would her father have ever added that second room?
“Maybe, maybe not,” Nora mumbled to herself.
Someone was calling out to her. It was the name that had been given to her all those years ago when she first joined these people. The name stood for ‘something found’, and it was quite apt. Upon their move that summer, they had found her and took her with them.
“Good morning,” she called out to her mother.
“Talk to the gods again?”
Suppressing a smile, Nora started back toward the tent. No one else in the tribe seemed to talk to themselves. Or, if they did, they certainly did it much more quietly than herself. It was a bad habit that she’d always had, and no one had ever been able to break her from it. There were some in the village who considered she might either be crazy or connected to the spirits.
“Good morning, Pia,” Nora said, using the Comanche word for mother. “Is it time for us to leave?”
The woman nodded before inviting her to her side.
Learning the language of these people had not been easy for Nora. She remembered the winter months, dressing in thick buckskin and skins, as she tried to understand what was going on around her. It was the children who first helped her to start picking up the language.
Topsannah had been around her age now when they met. She was the daughter of the medicine woman. Recently married, the woman had taken Nora in to give her space, clothing, and food. Two children had come along through the following years. Her husband had never considered Nora one of theirs, which had been hard at times. The man had died from an illness two years ago.
Now, it was Nora with her little adoptive family.
She glanced at the woman beside her as they began untying the skins from their poles. The buffalo hides were heavy and large, requiring the two of them to work together on each of them. Three of them covered the long wooden poles that they would have to untie and then carefully take them down to travel.
Everyone else was beginning to rise and get to work. They would want to cover a lot of ground for this first day, so it was important they worked quickly to start moving.
The two children were up, feeding the animals before they came back to help pack up. Lotse and Pecos were loud and rambunctious children, but they were old enough to understand that today meant everyone needed to help. Lotse was ten and Pecos was eight, mini copies of their mother with rich black hair and honey-brown eyes.
She blinked, shifting her grasp on the buffalo skins before turning to Lotse. “Hmm?”
With her hands clasped behind her back, the young girl gave her a curious look up and down. Immediately Nora knew what she was going to ask. Though she was getting older, Lotse was still curious about one thing. Many of the children in the village were. It only took a second for the girl to ask a question that Nora had heard a few hundred times.
“Will your hair ever turn black like ours?”
It used to annoy Nora to be asked this so much until she realized that the children were genuinely confused. Everyone among the Comanche had dark hair. Only the white settlers had hair like her own. But since she didn’t live among the white people, it made sense that she should have dark hair. At least, that’s what the children thought.
“No, it’s not. It didn’t change since the last time you asked, did it?” she added pointedly.
The young girl narrowed her eyes suspiciously before running off to whisper to her little brother. Most likely, they were making up wild stories about her.
Nora was used to that as well. She didn’t blend in with the people here. They knew it, she knew it, and so did the other white settlers they came across.
Her hair was long and kept in plaits, but it was as yellow as corn. She had dark brown eyes like many of the people there, but that was the only physical trait she shared with any of them.
“It is time,” Topsannah told her after a while.
Other people were readying their animals and wagons. Everything was piled up and packed, ready to go. They were going to follow the buffalo into new territory like they did every summer. A few of them waved and nodded when they took the lead.
Inhaling, Nora fixed a knot before going to her horse. The mare was a strong, sturdy animal, albeit shorter than most of the others. Having helped tame the creature herself, she was very attached to the animal. She mounted and rode beside her family. Topsannah’s mother, the medicine woman, soon rode by on her own horse, loudly singing her gratitude to the earth.
It was a beautiful song, something that Nora played repeatedly in her mind over the next couple of days. She was used to traveling two to three times a year. There was something adventurous to it that she enjoyed.
“Where are we again?” Nora asked when their chief, Mukwooru, announced that they had arrived.
She slid off her horse to look around the fields and trees. Tall mountains in the distance rose up to disappear into the clouds. It was beautiful. And yet, she thought, there seemed to be something off about all of this. She fixed her dress and wandered around the nearby grove. Sniffing the air, she sensed something familiar. But what was it?
“This is Little Sky,” Pecos told her. He snuck a piece of fruit out for his horse before his mother could catch him. Wearing an impish smile, he added to Nora, “Pia says they call this land Wyoming.”
The young boy raced off before she could remind him to help with the set up. Most likely, he was off to hide and play a game so he wouldn’t have to work. Her eyes trailed after him for a short while before turning back to the grove.
“What is that smell?” she asked.
No one answered her. She ran her hands over the bark on the trees and wound her way through. Everyone talked loudly behind her, eager to finally arrive at their new home for the summer. They would celebrate that night with a feast and dancing. She always loved participating in that.
Nora just needed to sort out one thing first.
She made her way through the trees. Once they cleared, she looked around her to see a dip into a valley that soon leveled out and was covered in more trees. That went on for two miles before there was a clearing. In that clearing were several buildings, manmade structures that looked very permanent.
Her stomach churned. They were very close to a settlement. She had only been to three since living with the Comanche and had never been interested in staying long. She wondered about going to this town sometime. They would have months to be close.
But there was still something about this situation that bothered her. It was an itch in the back of her mind.
Looking around, it finally dawned on her.
Pecos had said it himself that they were back in Wyoming. She hadn’t thought about it in a long time, but that was the town where she’d enjoyed her childhood. That was why the mountains had caught her attention: she used to have a window that looked right out to them.
That was Minerston, the place where she had been raised.
She hadn’t thought that she would ever return. Inhaling deeply with this discovery, Nora told herself that she didn’t need to worry about this. What was there to be nervous about? That wasn’t her life anymore. The Comanche had adopted her, and these were her people.
Turning away, Nora told herself this was nothing to worry about. But she thought of her nightmares in the back of her mind. She hastened back to her people while trying to ignore the hammering of her heart.
“It’s fine. It doesn’t mean anything,” she told herself quietly.
Theodore Anderson pulled his horse up to a stop.
Tugging his hat off, he paused to look around the landscape. He had never been to Wyoming before. It simply had never been necessary to be there. Though he had traveled around in many directions, this territory was new to him.
He wondered how this was possible. The view before him was absolutely stunning. Having come from the murky Mississippi River, he knew that any sort of change would be pleasant. But there was something brilliant about this area before him. It was breathtaking. The greenery went on forever. He felt as though the skies were much bluer here than anywhere he had been in the last couple of years.
“This is it,” Theo told his horse with a sense of pride filling his chest. “I think we’ve made it to the promised land. If we’re lucky, we’ll never leave.”
He brushed his hands through his hair. Though he’d just cut it himself the other day in an attempt to calm the unruliness of it, already it seemed to be growing out of control. It was a soft brown that turned light in the sun.
Light shined down on his face and kept him warm.
He felt as though he was always working out in the sunlight. His family had owned a farm when he was a kid. On his own by fourteen, he had taken any job that he could get his hands on.
For the last couple of years, he had spent his time on a steamer riding the Mississippi back and forth. It had been fun at first. He grew up enjoying hard work and keeping himself busy. And yet, as he always did after a couple of years, he had begun to grow restless with this life of his.
And then the letter had come.
He had met his uncle once when he was young, perhaps ten years old. The man was on his way to some sort of army base. Theo had thought he was intimidating––stern with dark eyes and a continuous frown.
But time had passed. He was older now, and so was his uncle. They hadn’t seen each other since, but that didn’t matter. They were family.
His uncle had since retired from the army to build himself a successful ranch. That’s what the letter had detailed: a beautiful four-hundred-acre ranch that needed some more support now that the man was getting older.
It was an opportunity that Theo couldn’t ignore.
He thought it might be nice to be around some family after eleven years. Having felt the need to move on in his life, Wyoming sounded like the perfect opportunity to start all over again. Though he had no experience on a ranch, his uncle didn’t seem to mind. The man wanted that family connection, to have someone he trusted to take over the land as he grew older.
How old was he now?
Theo put his hat back on his head as he tried to think. The man was his mother’s older brother, older by at least five years. Yet that still didn’t give him that much to go off of.
Nudging his horse to start moving again, he led the two of them down the hill. The town was off to his right, with more mountains surrounding them. Trees were everywhere. He tried to memorize every shade of green that they passed.
It was going to be nice, he decided.
He wound his way past the town until he reached a dirt path just big enough for a wagon. Seeing a few planted stakes to the side, he knew he was in the right place. His uncle had been kind enough to provide very clear descriptions on how to get to the ranch. Taking the road west, he went until he saw a property with an archway leading toward buildings.
“The Racer Ranch,” Theo mumbled under his breath. “Huh.”
Being so close to his new job and home––as well as family––he straightened up in his saddle. He rode with his shoulders back and his grip loose on the reins.
Most of the time, Theo didn’t particularly mind what happened with his jobs. Folks always needed hard workers and he liked traveling. There was something invigorating about meeting new people and learning new skills. He liked to think he made friends rather easily along the way.
He didn’t want to admit it, but he was eager for this opportunity.
It only took him another minute before he was close enough to tell the buildings apart. The one right in front of him was a tall house, two floors with an attic, with a large wrap-around porch. Shutters were painted white with a fine blue trim. Beautifully set up against the natural backdrop behind it, the house seemed to still belong in a city more than anywhere else.
Two structures were built behind the house within a few hundred yards. One was painted red to be the obvious barn. As for the other, he was considering it might be a store house before the door to it opened, and he saw two men step out. Most likely, Theo supposed, that was the cowboys’ bunkhouse.
He had a feeling they glanced his way, but they gave him no notice.
Theo wasn’t certain of what else to do. Stopping his horse, he paused and looked around. Most of the windows were closed or had curtains in the way, so he couldn’t see inside. Would his uncle be home? Although he had provided the rough date of his arrival, there was no way for him to be specific about it.
Shrugging, he climbed down off his horse and tied the reins to the hitching post. He climbed up before rapping on the door to see if anyone was home.
It took a minute before he heard anything.
Thudding steps eventually headed his way, stopping when they reached the other side of the door. Then it swung open to reveal an older man. Although Theo had only met his uncle in person once, he knew instantly that this had to be him.
Lawrence Stevens Racer. He used his full name in his correspondence. The man had the same rigid frame and dark gray eyes. His brown hair was thinning and turning gray. Holding himself like a soldier, the man tilted his head with a frown.
“What is it?” he said with a sharp sneer. “I’m not looking for more workers. Mind your way and stay off my property.”
Theo hesitated, almost ready to walk away. But he caught himself and raised a hand before his uncle could close the door on him.
“I’m not looking for work. You already hired me, remember? It’s Theo. Well, Theodore. Marianne’s son, the one you’ve been writing to for the last couple of months,” he added to be helpful.
Racer wavered with a hand on the door. “Huh. You’re late.”
“Am I?” Theo asked, mildly amused. He knew not to take folks seriously. Things never went well when people did that. And he didn’t want to mess this opportunity up. Taking off his hat, he then reached into his jacket pocket to show the second and last letter that his uncle had written. “I recall writing about arriving around this week, but it’s hard to tell when you’re on the road.”
His uncle studied him with that partial sneer still on his face. But he seemed to slowly soften, tilting his head to the side. “Well. You do have your mother’s eyes. All right, I suppose it must be you. Come in, then.”
Keeping a smile on his face, Theo nodded and followed after his uncle. “It’s a nice place you have here. Did you build it yourself?”
“Designed, yes. Built, no. I’ve worked long enough and hard enough to not have to use my hands like this anymore. I was going to put you in the bunkhouse with the other men, but it’s full up and I have the space. First bedroom on the left will be yours. It will let you come and go without being disruptive. Use the side door to leave,” he added.
Theo peeked his head down the hall and then nodded. There were three doors in total, and he wondered what the second led to. “I can do that.”
His uncle continued, leading the way without looking back. “You’ll work odd hours, as we discussed. But the men know what to do for the most part. You can have today to look it over and then tomorrow, well, you can get to work. The harvest will be here before you know it. It always is.”
The man spoke gruffly and matter-of-factly. He pointed out the main rooms in the house and mentioned the cook he had brought over twice a week to prepare meals.
It seemed that Racer was settling down in his life and making it as comfortable as possible. Theo wondered if his uncle would always feel comfortable just sitting there. But this wasn’t his business. He was a hired hand, and he would act responsibly.
The more Theo looked around and heard about the great ranch that his uncle had built up, the more he was impressed with all of this. There was a lot of potential here for him. What if he could build a real future here for himself? He could come to be friends with his uncle and settle in this beautiful place.
A smile climbed onto his face, and it wouldn’t come off. He could hardly wait to get this new life started.
Laughing, Nora let go and spun in circles until she collapsed.
There were giggles all around her. It was a musical sound that brought a smile to her lips. She opened her eyes to find the sky above her. It was a bold blue with a brightness she could hardly stand to look at.
It was a beautiful, brilliant sunny day.
Climbing back up onto her knees, Nora tried to brush some of the grass from her hair before looking around at the children.
She was good at many things and had picked up useful skills. In the tribe, people were placed where they did their best work. There were days where she craved hunting or wanted to sew the beadwork, sometimes they let her. Other times, however, she was assigned to the work of handling the children.
“Nadua, Nadua, Nadua,” they chanted before crawling over to her.
Today, she was watching fourteen children. There was one strapped to her chest because the mother was ill. Then there were thirteen in varying ages who all poked her and then tossed grass on top of her.
She laughed and then brushed it off. Putting out her hands for aid, she let the little arms wrap around her to help her sit up properly alongside all of them.
“It’s your turn,” the eldest of the lot told her. She was the youngest daughter of the chief and was bold in everything that she did. “You have to answer a question now!”
The game was fairly simple. Back when she was still learning the language of the Comanche, Nora had found a way to gather knowledge. All the children would hold hands and run around in a circle. Whoever fell down first would be asked a question. If they answered it correctly, everyone started it all over again. If the answer was wrong, then they had to do a silly little dance.
It was a childish game, one that the children had insisted on playing over the years. Nora sometimes tired of it but could never refuse.
She fixed her grasp on the baby before nodding. “Yes, yes, it’s my turn. What is the question? You’re going to be the next one, I know it.”
Giggling, the chief’s daughter shook her head and stepped back. She glanced back at the other children before straightening her shoulders. Crossing her arms in an exact copy of her father, the girl asked her, “Were your parents really as white as you? Or were you born in an egg and given to the chief?”
Nora didn’t know whether to laugh or be annoyed. Holding back a snicker, she peered at the girl and then at the other children. They crowded around close with wide eyes. Pecos was among them today and he looked just as curious.
No matter how often she told them her story, the children still made up their own explanations about who she was and why she was there. Nora had learned to take it in stride for the most part.
After all, she knew the white settlers did little good for the Comanche. The children were warned to be careful and yet also told to treat her as one of them. Her skin was different, but she had––for the most part––been raised like them.
It still confused her sometimes, too.
Everyone wanted to know about her. The chief still came to ask her questions on occasion. They might be innocent questions about what sort of herbs she could eat. Other times, he asked for advice on understanding the settlers. The latter wasn’t something she was very good at.
“I’m sorry,” Nora announced at last. “I was not born in an egg.”
Groans of disappointment erupted all around her. Rolling her eyes, she nudged the two strongest kids to help her onto her feet. The wrappings for the baby belonged on her back, but knowing she would be swimming, she had adjusted it.
“I wish you were born in an egg,” Pecos whispered to her.
She suppressed a smile. “Me, too.”
Ruffling his hair, she nudged him over toward the others. She took a break and let them keep playing the game. The older she grew, the more careful she needed to be because all of them could keep spinning longer than she could. That meant all the questions came her way over and over.
Why is your hair white?
Where are your mother and father?
Did the chief buy you?
Does your hair taste like corn?
All sorts of questions were asked to her during these games. No matter how often she told them, however, they didn’t always believe her.
Maybe it was best that they didn’t understand. The truth of how she came to join these people was not exactly a happy one.
Just thinking about her past brought a soberness upon her shoulders. Nora gave a soft sigh even as she watched the cheerful children spin in a wide circle before her. They shouted cheerfully as they stayed busy and out of the way of the adults.
She looked to her left to see how the progress was coming along. Most of the tents had since been raised. The last few were the largest, used for matters of business such as suppers and the medicine woman’s space and more. It would all be put together by nightfall. They all had plenty of experience in preparing their villages in a speedy manner.
Her eyes wandered until they returned to the grove.
They were thin, wispy trees and she could see through the scraggly branches and leaves. She glanced at the children and then made her way over to the grove. Her heart hammered in her chest. She didn’t know why she came this way again, but she could feel herself being pulled in this direction.
The Comanche didn’t believe in destiny. They believed that the world had reasons of its own and all the hardship and goodness deserved to be celebrated. They gave thanks to this world for all that came their way. She liked this way of living, feeling it connected to the religion that her parents had raised her in. There was a God who watched over them and loved them and wanted them to learn.
She didn’t remember much else about the faith, but she liked the little she did know.
Thinking on all of this, Nora pondered if it was merely a coincidence how they had returned to this campsite after so many years. They had gone to nearby territories over the past summers, she knew, but never this exact spot.
“There you are,” she mumbled under her breath.
Minerston had to be around a mile away. That was hardly anything. From here, she almost felt as though she could reach out and grasp it.
A strange sensation bubbled within her stomach as she tried to remember the few memories that she had of Minerston. There had been wooden buildings and a loud butcher and many horses out in the streets. When her parents took her there, she always had to be holding one of their hands.
Nora tried to imagine going down there to see how the town must have changed over the last few years. She shifted, uncomfortable with such an idea.
It wasn’t her home anymore. She hadn’t been there in a long time. Besides, she doubted that anyone would remember her. What was there in Minerston for her? Nothing. It was made up of painful memories and nothing more. Yet, there was no denying the discomfiting sensation growing within her. She couldn’t place what it was, only that she was annoyed by it.
She told herself this repeatedly as she returned to watching the children and then helped to prepare the maize for supper. Though repeatedly distracted by everything, she managed to make herself focus enough to eat and help clean up.
The evening peacefully passed with a small celebration of their new home before everyone retired to sleep.
Relieved to rest after the long day, Nora slipped under the soft furs with a contented sigh. She could hear Lotse and Pecos yawning nearby before falling quiet.
Though she had hoped to sleep well, that didn’t happen. She tossed and turned all night. By sunrise, her hair was in knots, and she was not in a good mood. Clambering up, she dressed and tried to busy herself.
“What is wrong?” her adoptive mother asked upon stepping out of the tent.
The woman always knew immediately when something was off. Nora didn’t know how this was possible. It had been annoying when she was younger because she couldn’t get away with any tricks like the other children could. But now, she stopped in her tracks to look at the water droplets falling from her fingertips.
“I don’t feel well. In my heart,” Nora added hurriedly. “I slept badly and….” She tried to find the right words, yet none of them felt right. “Oh, I don’t know.”
Her adoptive mother shook her head. “That is a lie. You do know. Now spit it out. What is it?”
“My family. I want to know what happened.” The words spilled out before she could help herself. Biting her lip, she made a face.
She wanted this and yet she didn’t want this. Mixed feelings raged within her. When she first lost her parents, she had been so distraught. That had been a very hard time knowing she couldn’t ever go back to them.
Deep inside, though she nor anyone else spoke on the matter, she knew that something had gone wrong. Her parents couldn’t have just died by accident. The dreams haunted her more and more frequently seemed to be trying to tell her this.
She had to learn about the past for herself, whether she wanted to or not.
But the woman before her just shrugged. “Then find out. We are here, are we not? We have all wondered for years if this would be enough for you. Nadua, you have a restless soul. When you know your soul, then you can take care of yourself. Now come, there are a few things you should have before you go.”
“What?” Nora hurried after her back to the tent. “I didn’t even say I was going or when––”
“Clothes. I have a dress you can wear. A canteen and food. Oh, and this white man’s weapon,” her adoptive mother said before shoving things into her arms.
A scratchy dress, a leather skin, and wrapped food, and then a gun. Nora’s eyes widened. She looked up at the woman in disbelief.
Stomach churning, Nora wondered what her mother thought would happen if she went to go search after the truth of her past.
“When Kindred Spirits Unite” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
After the terrible loss of her parents in a fire, Nora Henning finds shelter among the Comanche natives. But the time when she wants to make peace with her past comes, leaving her no other choice but to dig in the ashes. Danger lurks in the shadows, but she is committed to do what it takes to uncover the truth. What she doesn’t expect, though, is to find a valiant man that will kindle fires unknown to her.
Will she be able to overcome her doubts and follow her heart?
Theodore Anderson is looking for yet another job that would satisfy his sense of unfulfillment. Joining his uncle’s ranch would be his salvation, but his meeting with Nora gives him a whole new purpose. With her fiery spirit leading the way, he comes to question his own beliefs and family. Afraid of what he might discover, but even more terrified in the thought of losing her, he is determined to shed light on the dark secrets that torment her. This will prove to be a great challenge…
But the heart fights for what it wants, no matter the risks…
Even though they are both suspicious of each other, their paths begin to entwine more than either of them could have ever foreseen. As the twisted truth is slowly untangled, the two of them will have to join forces to face it. Yet, can they even trust themselves enough to listen to their hearts? Will they be able to face the past and come out unscathed, or will they be dragged in the heart of its maelstrom?
“When Kindred Spirits Unite” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.