Comanche heart, p.1
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       Comanche Heart, p.1

           Catherine Anderson
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Comanche Heart


  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  Author’s Note

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Teaser chapter

  Praise for the Romances of New York Times Bestselling Author Catherine Anderson

  “Catherine Anderson is an amazing talent.”

  —Elizabeth Lowell

  “Anderson comes up with another winner by deftly blending sweetness and sensuality in a poignantly written story.”—Booklist

  “Count on Catherine Anderson for intense emotion.”

  —Jayne Ann Krentz

  “Catherine Anderson has a gift for imbuing her characters with dignity, compassion, courage, and strength that inspire readers.”—Romantic Times

  “A major voice in the romance genre.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Another winner from Anderson’s compassionate pen.”

  —Library Journal

  “Not only does author Catherine Anderson push the envelope, she seals, stamps, and sends it to the reader with love.”—Affaire de Coeur

  Praise for the Novels

  of Catherine Anderson

  Star Bright

  “When opening an Anderson novel, readers encounter great characterization as well as complex emotional issues. Poignant and funny, yet laced with danger, this is a truly enchanting read.”—Romantic Times

  Morning Light

  “This is a story not to be missed. Morning Light delivers on all levels, and is a fantastic read that will touch readers at the very core of their being.”

  —The Romance Readers Connection

  Sun Kissed

  “Vivid descriptions, realistic family relationships (especially the lively sibling banter), and a dash of suspense make this heartwarming, gently sensual romance a satisfying read.”—Library Journal

  Summer Breeze

  “Anderson understands the inner workings of the human soul so deeply that she’s able to put intense emotion within a stunning romance in such a way that you’ll believe in miracles. Add to this her beautiful writing style, memorable characters, and a timeless story and you have an unmatched reading adventure.”

  —Romantic Times (4½ stars)

  My Sunshine

  “Sweet and sensual.”—Publishers Weekly

  “With the author’s signature nurturing warmth and emotional depth, this beautifully written romance is a richly rewarding experience for any reader.”—Booklist

  Blue Skies

  “Readers may need to wipe away tears . . . since few will be able to resist the power of this beautifully emotional, wonderfully romantic love story.”—Booklist

  Bright Eyes

  “Offbeat family members and genuine familial love give a special lift to this marvelous story. An Anderson book is a guaranteed great read!”

  —Romantic Times (4½ stars, top pick)

  Only by Your Touch

  “Ben Longtree is a marvelous hero whose extraordinary gifts bring a unique and special magic to this warmhearted novel. No one can tug your heartstrings better than Catherine Anderson.”

  —Romantic Times (4½ stars, top pick)

  Always in My Heart

  “Emotionally involving, family-centered, and relationship-oriented, this story is a rewarding read.”

  —Library Journal

  “[A] superbly written contemporary romance, which features just the kind of emotionally nourishing, comfortably compassionate type of love story this author is known for creating.”—Booklist

  Sweet Nothings

  “Pure reading magic.”—Booklist

  Phantom Waltz

  “Anderson departs from traditional romantic stereotypes in this poignant, contemporary tale of a love that transcends all boundaries . . . romantic through and through.”—Publishers Weekly

  Other Novels by Catherine Anderson

  The Comanche Series

  Comanche Moon

  Harrigan Family Novels

  Morning Light

  Star Bright

  Coulter Family Novels

  Phantom Waltz

  Sweet Nothings

  Blue Skies

  Bright Eyes

  My Sunshine

  Summer Breeze

  Sun Kissed

  Other Signet Books

  Always in My Heart

  Only by Your Touch

  SIGNET

  Published by New American Library, a division of

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,

  Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2,

  Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124,

  Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

  Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,

  New Delhi - 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632,

  New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,

  Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

  80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Previously pubished in a HarperPaperbacks edition. Published by arrangement with the author.

  First Signet Printing, June 2009

  Copyright © Adeline Catherine Anderson, 1991

  All rights reserved

  REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

  Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

  PUBLISHER’S NOTE

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  eISBN : 978-1-101-05270-9

  http://us.penguingroup.com

  Dear Readers,

&
nbsp; As I said in my letter to you at the beginning of Comanche Moon, I am delighted that New American Library/Signet is reissuing the Comanche series and making these titles available to you again. For too many years, the Comanche series was difficult to find and those titles that were available were sold by used bookstores for absurdly high prices. Time and again, one of you would write to tell me you were about to buy one of the Comanche books, and I always encouraged you to wait, promising that I’d someday get the series reissued. Over the years, I began to wonder if I would ever be able to follow through on that promise.

  Thanks to New American Library, I can now say with confidence that, over time, you will be able to buy every title in the Comanche series! Even better, New American Library is giving each book a beautiful new cover, more in keeping with story content and theme. It is wonderful for me, as the author, to finally see these titles receive the respect that I’ve always felt they deserved.

  As you will find as you read Comanche Heart, this is no ordinary romance. A sequel to Comanche Moon, it is a continuation of the struggle that the survivors of the Comanche Nation underwent as they tried to mesh with white society. In Comanche Moon, you met and came to love Amy, the little girl who was kidnapped by the comanchero, and the Comanche boy, Swift Antelope, who helped her make a heartbreaking journey from the darkness back into the sunlight. Now, many years later, the promise of their youthful affection for each other is finally fulfilled in this story.

  It is my hope that you will enjoy reading Comanche Heart as much as I enjoyed writing it. I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you! My e-mail address is CthrnAndrsn@aol.com. You can also contact me by visiting my Web site and leaving a message in my guestbook. Or, if you prefer, you can send me a letter in care of New American Library.

  Happy reading, my friends!

  Sincerely,

  Catherine Anderson

  Author’s Note

  AS I WROTE COMANCHE HEART, MY MOTHER informed me that I am part Shoshone, which explained my interest in and my affinity with the Comanche people, who were actually Shoshones who left their parent tribe to seek a warmer climate and better hunting on the plains. The Shoshones were sometimes called the Snake Indians because they lived in Idaho, a Shoshone word meaning “the land that is bitterly cold,” and they often journeyed along the shores of the Snake River into central Oregon to hunt. I now live in Central Oregon and look out upon the terrain that my Native American ancestors often visited.

  After leaving their parent tribe, the Comanche people called themselves the Snakes Who Came Back. They derived this name from the fact that they periodically traveled northward to revisit Idaho and the loved ones they had left behind. When they met strangers, they signed this name by holding their hands, palms down at the waist, and making a backward slithering motion.

  This book is in memory of the Snakes Who Came Back—a great, noble people who still touch the hearts of everyone who reads about them and the trials they endured. Toward the end, just before the fall of the Comanche nation, the People often said, “Suvate,” which means, “It is finished.” What a heartbreaking word, encapsulating a tragic story that still haunts so many of us today.

  It is my hope that it will never be finished, not for any one of us, for if we can’t learn from our past mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them.

  Prologue

  Texas, 1876

  LIKE A FORLORN SOUL, THE WIND WHISTLED and moaned as it funneled around Swift Antelope, whipping his hair across his face so that he saw the lonely grave through a shifting veil of black. He didn’t blink. The sting in his eyes belonged to the living, and for this moment he lingered with the dead.

  The rugged cross at the head of Amy Masters’s grave, buffeted by the weather, had long since lost its battle to stand erect. He studied the crudely carved lettering in the wood, nearly obliterated by the hand of time, and wondered if the words sang Amy’s life song. Somehow, he doubted tivo tiv-ope, white man’s writing, could draw a glorious enough picture to do her justice.

  Amy . . .

  Memories flowed through Swift Antelope’s mind, creating such clear pictures of her that he might have seen her only yesterday. Golden hair, sky blue eyes, a smile like sunshine . . . his beautiful, sweet, courageous Amy. With the memories came tears, which he shed with no shame yet much regret, for he should have mourned her long ago. He hunched his shoulders against the pain. If only he had come sooner. Twelve years. It broke his heart to imagine her waiting here, bound to him by a lifelong betrothal promise, only to die before he could fulfill his part and come for her.

  Henry Masters’s words, addressed to Swift Antelope only moments ago, rang inside his head. She ain’t here, you filthy Comanch. And it’s a blessin’, if ya ask me, with the likes of you comin’ to court her. Cholera got her five years ago. She’s buried out back, behind the barn.

  With an unsteady hand, Swift Antelope straightened the cross that marked Amy’s grave, trying to visualize what her life must have been like, waiting for him on this dusty farm. When she lay dying, had she turned her gaze toward the horizon, hoping to see him there? Had she understood that it had been only the great fight for his people that had kept him from her side? He had sworn to come for her, and he had. Only he had been five years too late.

  Swift Antelope knew he should climb back on his horse and leave. His compa˜eros awaited him a few miles west, their saddlebags filled with gold pieces, their gazes cast northward where they hoped to drive their ill-gotten cattle. But the will to place one moccasin in front of the other had deserted Swift Antelope. His plan to own a prosperous cattle ranch no longer filled him with purpose. Everything that he was lay here, with Amy, in a barren farmyard.

  Lifting his head, Swift Antelope stared across the rolling grassland beyond the farm. Within him an awful emptiness took root, similar to that which he had felt a year ago upon entering the Tule Canyon. There, the September before, Mackenzie and his soldiers had slaughtered fourteen hundred Comanche horses and left the animals to rot. Though Swift Antelope had heard of the attack on his people in the Palo Duro Canyon, though he had known they were defeated, it had not seemed real to him until that moment when he saw the thousands of sun-bleached bones scattered across the canyon floor, all that was left of the Comanche remuda. It was then that Swift Antelope knew, deep within, that his people were finished; they were as nothing without their horses.

  Just as he was nothing without Amy.

  Pushing to his feet, he pulled his knife from its scabbard and slashed his cheek from eyebrow to chin, his final tribute to the spirited tosi girl who had touched his heart with so much love. His blood dripped onto the mound of her grave. He imagined it being absorbed into the earth, mingling with her bones. In this small way, a part of him would be here with her, no matter how far he might travel or how many winters passed.

  Swift Antelope straightened his shoulders, sheathed his knife, and strode to his waiting horse. After mounting, he sat a moment, gazing into the distance. His friends waited to the west. Swift Antelope wheeled his horse and headed south. He had no idea where he was going. Nor did he care.

  Chapter 1

  March, 1879

  AMY MASTERS TOUCHED THE TOES OF HER shoes to the floor to keep the rocker in motion. Despite the heat from her fireplace, cold seeped under her wool skirts, penetrating her petticoats and ribbed-cotton hose. Lighting the lantern might have helped, but for now she preferred the shadows. Somehow the firelight soothed her as it played upon the floral-patterned wallpaper in her sitting room, bringing to mind those long-ago summer nights in Texas when firelight turned the tepees of Hunter’s village into inverted cones of glowing amber against a slate sky.

  Faint voices and laughter drifted to Amy from outside. A door slammed. A moment later a dog barked, the sound distant and lonely. Everyone in Wolf’s Landing was retiring for the night, as she should herself. Five o’clock would come early. Father O’Grady from Jacksonville visited the settlement so seldom that she hated the thought
of missing mass. He would leave the area tomorrow on a northward trek to his mission in Corvallis, then west to Empire on Coos Bay, then east to Lakeview. It would be weeks before he once again served mass at St. Joseph’s in Jacksonville, let alone visited Wolf’s Landing. With a husband, two children, and a visiting priest to feed, her cousin Loretta would need help preparing breakfast. Even so, Amy lingered.

  Saying farewell to a cherished friend and precious memories took time.

  Sighing, she lowered her gaze to the neatly folded page of Jacksonville’s Democratic Times that she clutched in her hand. The horrible rumors about Swift Antelope had been filtering in to Wolf’s Landing for a couple of years, but Amy had refused to believe them. Now that she had read this news story, she could no longer deny the truth. Her childhood sweetheart, the one and only man she had ever loved, had turned killer.

  Leaning her head against the backrest of her rocker, Amy gazed at the charcoal sketch of Swift Antelope that hung above her mantel. She knew every line by heart, for she had drawn it herself. In the flickering light his profile looked so lifelike that she half expected him to turn and smile at her. Funny that, for she had little artistic talent. Such a beautiful face . . . Swift Antelope. His name whispered in her mind like a caress.

  According to this news article, he went by Swift Lopez now; his Comanche name hadn’t served him well once he’d escaped the reservation and started working as a cowhand. Even Amy had to admit it had been clever of him, Mexicanizing the last syllable of Antelope to Lopez. Despite the fact that he had been adopted by the People and raised as a Comanche, Swift Antelope’s Spanish ancestry had always been apparent in his chiseled features. But, though she applauded his ingenuity and understood his need to escape the strictures of reservation life, she felt betrayed.

 

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