Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Our Guest Author is Ginger Simpson
Author, Ginger Simpson lives in TN with her husband, Kelly, and devotes as much time as she can to writing. Since retiring from the University of California in 2003, she's had eight full-length novels published along with five novellas. Her short story, Impounded Love, was just featured in the Nov/Dec issue of the New Love Romance Magazine. In an attempt to garner more interest in e-books, Ginger has recently signed on to Examiner.com and writes a column which features the review of her favorite ebooks. Her secret to staying happy: Find something humorous to laugh about every single day. She welcomes visitors at her blog at http://mizging.blogspot.com and invites you to peruse her website: http://www.gingersimpson.com
Grace Cummings' father looks for gold with tons of other miners in the Black Hills of Dakota. Fifteen year-old Grace and her mother sleep in the wagon while he and his son share a makeshift tent. While sharing breakfast, their camp is attacked by a small war party of Lakota Sioux, and everyone but Grace is killed. She's taken hostage and dragged back to the Sioux encampment,frightened, confused, and wondering why she was spared. Her captor's mother believes having a white woman in their midst is a bad sign, so Grace is given to another brave, Little Elk. He's much kinder and patient, and the beatings she received in the other lodge cease. She becomes friends with another white woman in camp, but is shocked to learn that Green Eyes came there of her own free will. Grace vows to never forget her hatred for those who killed her family, and she's determined to hang onto her grief. However, when the Cavalry rides into camp, discovers and presumes to rescue her, Grace must decide where her heart really lies, and when delivered to the nearest fort has a hard time adjusting to life among those who were once her people.
Brightness invaded the wagon’s interior and woke Grace. She crawled to the small opening in the canvas and peered out. The rising sun crept over the mountain and spread fingers of light to dry the dew left by the cool evening air. She stretched and yawned, dreading yet another boring day ahead.
The aroma of bacon filled the air. Grace glanced over at her mother’s empty pallet and felt a tinge of guilt. Mama had always been an early riser, and a very good cook. The smell of her breakfast wafting just outside the wagon made Grace’s mouth water.
She hurried and dressed, but pushed her uncomfortable boots aside. She’d put them on later. Going barefoot was her preference, and she wore shoes only out of necessity despite Mama’s objection that ladies didn’t go unshod. She reached behind to tie the bow on her dress then hoisted herself over the tailgate to the ground. Her mother hunkered next to the campfire, turning the sizzling pieces of pork.
Grace walked up behind her. “Mornin’ Mama.”
Her mother’s head jerked around with eyes wide as a frightened pony. “Lordy, girl, you just took ten years off my life. You scared me to death walking up on those silent feet of yorn.”
Grace dug her toes into the powdery dirt and chuckled. “Sorry, I didn’t try to.”
“I guess I was just too engrossed in my cookin’ to hear you, but it’d help if you wore shoes like everyone else. You’re not a child anymore, Grace. You’re nigh on to sixteen, and you best act it.”
“That bacon sure smells good.” Grace changed the subject. She noticed the tin pot still on the wagon sideboard. “Want me to get the coffee ready for brewing?”
“That would be nice. Afterwards, go roust your father and brother.”
Grace filled the pot with water from their precious supply, dumped fresh grounds in the basket, and carried it to her mother. At the tent where Papa and Kevin slept, she pushed aside the blanket that served as a door and peered inside. “Hey, you two! You gonna sleep all day? Mama says it’s time to get up. Breakfast is cookin’.”
She wrinkled her nose at the smell of manly sweat and dirty feet inside the canvas. Her father and brother were hard workers, but water was too precious to waste on bathing, although in her opinion, the two men sorely needed a good scrubbin'.
Kevin’s cough caused his cover to drop to his waist. His well-developed chest caught Grace’s attention. When had he sprouted the hair that covered it? She couldn’t help staring. It had been a long time since she’d seen him shirtless, and evidently she had paid scant attention to how much he’d developed in the past couple of years.
He sat up. “If you don’t want an eyeful, you’d better leave. I slept in my birthday suit last night.” His warning jolted her back to the moment. She averted her eyes and stepped out, dropping the blanket back in place. Warmth crept up her neck into her face, although she wasn’t sure why. For goodness sake, he was her brother.
Kevin came out of the tent buckling his pants and laughing. “Scared you, didn’t I?”
“No! I just didn’t want to see your ugly butt.”
Her mother glared in their direction. “I don’t want to hear that kind of talk out of you, young lady, and Kevin, you’ll put on a shirt or you’ll get no breakfast.”
As he crawled back inside his makeshift bedroom, Papa ducked out, his boots not laced and his hair flattened from sleep. He tweaked Grace’s cheek as he passed. “Mornin’, Sassy.”
Sassy. He always had a pet name for everyone, and she loved hers. She was sassy, and quite frequently the trait got her in trouble. Mama called her actions sassy, but Grace considered herself inquisitive. She moved to the fire and sat on the grass. Papa pulled up an empty bucket, turned it over, and sat, waiting for the coffee to finish perking. He laced and tied his boots then plopped his over-sized hat onto his head.
Beneath the dust-covered brim, Grace studied Papa’s sun-tanned face, his drooping moustache, and his big hands. She always loved how the size of them made her feel safe and protected. He might be gruff and bullheaded, but she loved him nonetheless.
Papa scraped the last speck of egg from his plate and set it aside. “I s’pect Kev and me’ll find gold any day now. People are discoverin’ it all around us. When we make our strike, we can find some land and build a real house. It’s sure to happen soon… afore summer is past and the weather turns cold. In fact, Sassy, you and yer ma might want to start gatherin’ fair-sized stones and rocks for our fireplace.”
He pointed to the lean-to, still in progress. “In the meantime, Kev and I will finish our temporary shelter, so we can spread out a bit.
No more climbing in and out of a wagon to sleep. Grace clapped. “Oh, Papa, that sounds so good.”
She sobered and flashed the look that always won him over…the half-pout, wistful gaze. “When we finally settle in our real house, it will be near a town, won’t it? Otherwise, how do you expect me to be courted out here in the middle of no where?”
“I’m not so sure I want you to be cour...” He jerked around and looked over his shoulder. “Do you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Kevin asked.
“I hear it, Papa,” Grace chimed in. “Sounds like yelling.”
Her father stood and scanned the horizon. He pointed. “Look. There!”
A group of riders emerged from a dust cloud in the distance. The yelling grew louder as they came closer.
The furrows in her father’s brow frightened Grace. “What is it, Papa?”
He darted for the wagon. “It’s Injuns! Hurry! You two women get inside and keep low. Kevin, get yer rifle!”
at 7:56 AM