Here is chapter 14 from “The One That Got Away”. Links to the previous chapters and the link to purchase the novel follow the excerpt. Thanks for your continuing interest!
The dress was quite handsome. It too was made from linen, but was styled in the Indian fashion. Moon Flower and her daughter-in-laws had embroidered intricate bead patterns in many colors. These glass fragment pictures told a story. There was one section that depicted Moon Flower and Grass Blossom caring for me in my sickness. Another was a scene of me sitting in my favorite spot by the stream. Another picture showed Straight Arrow and I holding hands in ceremony. Scattered in various positions were willow trees, wild flowers and ears of corn. These were symbols that had become associated with me.
I was seated on the floor of the home that Straight Arrow and I were to share as a couple. I fingered one of the wild flowers sewn onto my dress absently as Straight Arrow readied the ceremonial pipe. I was feeling a bit giddy from partaking in the first round of pipe smoking at the public ceremony of our joining. Up until today I had always declined any sort of smoking as any proper woman should. Moon Flower had insisted to me that I would not refuse the pipe during the ceremony of our joining. Its contents had a strange effect on me. I actually felt very content as a result. At the moment I was rather stuck trying to remember the last time I had felt at peace. It was certainly before the whole cross country trip had started. It was probably even before I had gotten married to Joshua. My mind wandered sluggishly over and around this thought as my eyes traveled to my new husband. Very odd that I should find myself in such a position. My former life felt as a distant dream. As my thoughts roamed into this arena it did not sear my heart or drop my stomach as it usually did. Worrisome things seemed not to matter so much at the moment. I could think about that later. My eyes beheld Straight Arrow’s profile as if for the first time. It struck me suddenly how very attractive he was. A beautiful man. He sensed my stare. He turned his head in my direction and a small smile played on his lips. He completed his preparations and then sat across from me. He placed the pipe between us on its ornamental stand. I eyed the pipe warily and reminded myself that this was the last time that I had to use it. Straight Arrow waited patiently for my gaze to return to his face. When it did, he gave me that slight smile again and took both of my hands in one of his large slender hands. With the other, he placed something smooth and cool in my palms. I held my hands closed for a moment, not daring to look. Could it be what I thought it was? I opened my hands just a little and saw the firelight glint off of the tarnished metal. Yes. My locket! Polly’s locket. I had thought it gone forever. I opened my hands fully and let the fire light play on its surface. I was mesmerized and afraid that it would suddenly disappear from my sight. I looked up at Straight Arrow with joy and touched his cheek quickly in thanks. My fingers fumbled and trembled as I opened the locket. I felt my heart would burst. Memories rushed at me as a tide when I peered at the tiny painting of my sister and I. I clutched it to my breast and thanked him once again. His large supple mouth pulled into a full grin and his eyes danced merrily. I hastily latched the necklace around my neck. I pressed it to my skin, wanting its essence to sink inside of me. He was offering me the pipe. I took it and breathed in a full swallow. I choked and sputtered as delicately as I could manage and gave it back to him. He inhaled twice before placing it upon the stand. He fixed me with his deep set eyes and slowly reached over to finger my long pale hair between his thumb and forefinger. He seemed rather fascinated by it. I wondered as if from far away how this would go. I felt fuzzy and warm and more than slightly euphoric. I had seen the pipe smoking have this effect on others. I watched with detachment as Straight Arrow moved his fingers to the raw hide lacing at the front of my dress. He deftly and unhurriedly loosened it. He pushed his hands inside of the fabric and grasped my breasts firmly, forcing the shoulders of my dress to fall away. Each of his thumbs pushed at my nipples and his mouth found the crook of my neck. I gasped in surprise at the way it made me feel. The pleasurable sensation was deep and urgent and completely foreign to me. Joshua had never acted in this manner. My former sexual interactions had been very basic and lackluster. I closed my eyes as he continued to remove my clothing. His kiss extended downward and dwelled in the area directly above my navel. I found myself cradling his head with my hands. This sensual experience was electric and new, but strangely familiar from somewhere else. I opened my eyes and looked over Straight Arrow’s shoulder to see a shadowy vision of a man. His sandy, disarrayed hair partially obscured his intense gray eyes. It seemed I always had to brush his hair out of his eyes to look into them. I longed to stroke his hair and to kiss his lips. I knew Ralf was not really there. I reached a hand in his direction. And then he was gone and I succumbed to the reality that I was currently participating in. The pipe would never pass between my lips again.