A brilliant flashing color caught her attention. Off in the distance, she saw a cloud of dust rolling across the sun-baked plains. I think someone’s trying to catch our wagon.
Calley eyes narrowed against the glaring sun trying to discern the identity of the lone rider. As the horse drew nearer, her eyes widened. A man, with shoulder-length, black hair, sat astride a tall, spotted pony. He drew alongside the wagon and stopped his prancing horse.
Suddenly, several thoughts drifted through her head. His bare chest resembled the color of teak. She noted the red jagged lines painted on the stranger’s face. Beneath the bright paint, she could see his fine chiseled features. He certainly was a handsome and strong looking specimen. Her gaze drifted down his body, taking in the beige buckskin material on his muscled thighs. He wore woven moccasins on his feet.
There wasn't a doubt in her mind that he was one of the Indians she'd heard so much about from the many settlers they'd met on the trip. Savages were what most people called them because of their rampages on the white settlements. Instead of fear, she felt intrigued by their unexpected visitor. A thrill of excitement raced through her body simply looking across at him.
As his restless pony drew even closer to the wagon, she gazed into the black pools of his eyes staring at her intently. She tried to find some sign he meant to harm her, but all she saw was a softening of his handsome features and the sudden warmth filling his dark gaze.
"Who are you?" She tried hiding the tremble in her voice. No way must Calley show any sign of fear because she didn't know what the outcome would be for her, or her mother. For the longest time, he sat back on his mount and continued to stare across at her. Calley did the same, swallowing the lump forming in her throat.
"Lakota,” he eventually answered in a soft, velvety tone. "What is your name?"
Amazement filled her over how well he spoke the English language. The way most people talked, every tribe of Indian had their own language.
They both continued, keeping a close eye on each other. The silence stretched long between them. At first Calley felt unsure about trusting him, but something in his dark gaze and his expression told her she could.
Her mother’s indrawn breath alerted Calley that Mrs. McNight had noticed their painted visitor. "Calley!" Martha cried in a shocked tone, leaning through the opening. "What's going on?" She gripped Calley’s shoulders protectively with fingers that trembled.
Calley glanced over her shoulder and saw the ashen color of her mother's face. Martha's eyes met Calley's and Calley saw her fear.
"We have a visitor,” Calley said quickly, hoping to soothe her.
"Your father should be along any minute,” Martha uttered, with a tremble in her voice.
Calley realized her mother was saying whatever popped into her head. Her father was a day's ride ahead of them hoping to reach the log cabin and grazing lands with the cattle before nightfall. We’re going to have to do a lot of traveling to catch up to him, Calley thought silently.
"You are safe from harm,” Lakota spoke directly to Martha, but his gaze soon returned to Calley.
As his dark eyes continued to watch her, Calley felt a fluttering sensation seize her chest. She hadn't felt this way since the night of her first dance back in Boston. She quickly noted the look of honesty in his eyes and on his face and his words did hold the sound of sincerity. There was a genuine warm look in the dark eyes watching her so closely.