Well, not quite racing, but the conclusion to Romancing the Guardians is in the works. My recent research trip to Canyon de Chelly in the Navajo Nation of Arizona filled me with awe at the wonder of nature, inspiring setting ideas for A Mighty Chieftain, the final book in the series. Now all I need to do is put these ideas into action.
For now, I thought I’d just share all the awesome book covers Kim Killion of The Killion Group, Inc., and an excerpt from chapter one of this romantic suspense finale.
Gazing at the Navajos, Lara felt their palpable dislike, except for one white-haired granny who sat across from her, dark eyes seeming to peer into her very soul. Trying to ignore the woman, she nervously cleared her throat. “My name is Lara Flewellen. I and my companions are eternally grateful to Leon for sheltering us from our enemies. We call ourselves Guardians because we protect ancient secrets guarded by our ancestors for countless generations.” Unwillingly, her gaze landed on the old woman again, meeting her penetrating stare. It sent chills down her spine.
With difficulty, she shook off the feeling and continued, “Leon has spoken of your traditions and beliefs, beliefs passed down from the old ones. We also hold such beliefs. The secrets we guard are the words of Danu, our mother goddess. Our enemies want to take her words and use them to do evil, and if they succeed, the result will affect everyone everywhere – including the Navajo people.” She took a breath, letting that warning sink in.
“Even so, we do not want to see any of you hurt, and I don’t blame you for not wanting to get involved in a battle that is not your own.” She glanced from face to face, on the verge of begging them to set aside their natural reluctance and help fight off the invaders when they came, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Instead, she said, “If I were in your place I would feel the same way. All I ask is that you do not stand against us when we face the Hellhounds.”
The Navajos heard her out without interruption, their glares gradually becoming less hostile. They looked at one another uncertainly, and one man said, “Your words hold power, but we must think on all we have heard.”
Lara nodded. “Of course. I would not expect otherwise.” She met Leon’s reproachful scowl and glanced at the other Guardians, some of whom did not look happy over her refusal to plead with the Navajos for help. However, none of them contradicted what she’d said.
The crowd soon broke up, people heading home as the sun lowered in the west beyond the canyon wall, casting purple shadows over the valley. Seeing them off, Lara stood outside with Conn and Leon. Two women were the last to leave, the old one who had stared at Lara so intently and a younger companion who helped the aged one out of the hogan. Wrapped in a hand-woven blanket, leaning on her assistant’s arm, the bent, white-haired woman hobbled over to Lara.
“Your magic is strong,” the oldster said, obsidian eyes locking with Lara’s. “The spirits guide you.”
Jaw dropping, Lara clutched Conn’s arm. “Who are you? What do you –?”
Leon cut her off. “This is Mary Hatathli and her daughter Janet. Mary is a shaman, a wise woman.”
“Uh, h-hello, Mary,” Lara stammered, unsettled by the old woman’s remarks. She nodded to Janet, who dipped her head in reply.
Mary grunted. “You know of what I speak. The spirits often warn you of danger. They say you must not be afraid to ask them for help when the evil ones come. That is all I have to tell you.” The shaman turned away, leaving Lara speechless as Janet helped her mother into a battered pickup and drove off through the evening shadows a moment later.
“Come on inside,” Conn said, gripping Lara’s elbow. “The sun is down and it’s getting cold out here.”
Thoughts scrambled by the old shaman’s message, she went with him, following Leon through the hogan and into the adjoining house. The other women were busy getting supper ready while the men talked in the front room.
“I’ve got a headache,” Lara told Conn. “I’d better lie down for a while.”
“That old woman really upset you, didn’t she?” he said, circling a supportive arm around her. He led her to their bedroom and eased her onto the bed. “Do you want some aspirin and a glass of water?” he asked, voice full of concern as she sighed and lay back, closing her eyes.
“No. I just want to rest for a while . . . and think.”
“Okay. Do you want company, or should I get out of here and let you think in private?”
Cracking her eyes open, she gave him a feeble smile. “I’d like you to hold me if you don’t mind.”
He chuckled. “I never mind holding you, as you very well know.” Rounding the bed, he sat and kicked off his boots, then reclined beside her. “Come here.” Drawing her onto her side, he settled her head on his shoulder and gently rubbed her back.