She's searching for acceptance. He's hiding from the past. Can they find a safe haven together?

Creek-Seminole Indian, Summer West just wants to become a teacher, but it’s not easy to overcome the prejudices of white settlers. When Summer is attacked during the Oklahoma land rush melee, a handsome Potawatomie outlaw rescues her from danger.

On the run from the law and a gang of bandits he conned out of their loot, Wild Eagle confronts a past haunted by mistakes and poor decisions. Determined to reclaim his honorable heritage, he vows to make things right. Inspired by Summer’s strength and character, he must succeed in order to earn the young woman’s love and trust.

Summer finds sanctuary in Wild Eagle’s embrace, but when the outlaw’s past transgressions come to light, their new life together is threatened. Can he repair his past enough to keep her love?


Chapter 1

Sacred Heart, Indian Territory, Oklahoma

June 21, 1889, one day before the Land Rush

Summer West stepped back from the structure and surveyed her handiwork. The small house was a simple, one-story building. She still had one outside wall to finish; the only task left was nailing up the wood planks. Once that was done, she could paint the house white, like the one she grew up in back in Eufaula. Inside, though, was still a work in progress. She and her best friend Tyra installed the kitchen several days ago, so she could now cook her meals instead of eating with Tyra and her mother. It felt good to be independent again.


Marion had seemed a bit upset when she learned Summer wouldn’t be eating with them any longer. The gruff woman was hard to read, so Summer couldn’t be sure if Marion’s nonchalant reaction had been acceptance or irritation. Of course, since her house sat at the back of their large yard, the older woman still walked down to visit every morning after Tyra left for her teaching job at the mission. Marion took it upon herself to bring Summer breakfast, whether she wanted her to or not. Today was no exception. She smiled when she heard Marion shoo the dogs out of her way.


She turned with a smile. “Good morning, Marion. How are you today?”

“My bones creak, muscles ache, and my eyesight’s gettin’ worse—same as usual, I suppose.” Marion gave her a quick grin and held out a towel-covered plate. “Made flapjacks since I know how much you like them.” She held out a cup, her smile widening. “Even have maple syrup to go with ’em. I was the first person to buy a bottle at the mercantile. Told Mr. Hudson, he was gonna have a run on his store if he didn’t keep it in supply.”

Summer shook her head and laughed. “Marion, what would I do without you? You take such good care of me. I didn’t take the time to eat anything this morning. I was too excited about finishing up the outside of the house.” She took the plate and cup of syrup from Marion and lifted the flapjacks to her nose and inhaled. “Smells delicious.”

Marion glanced at the house. “You’ve done a wonderful job. This will make a perfect little house for you.”

Summer’s stomach rumbled. “Thank you. Want to come inside while I eat?” Glancing over at the two stumps near the side of the house, her gaze landed on the two dead trees she’d cut down a few days earlier. “Or, if you don’t mind, we could sit on the stumps. It’s such a beautiful morning.”

Marion chuckled and followed her across the yard, each sitting on a stump. “As long as the infernal wind doesn’t start up. I think this is the first morning I wasn’t blown over the moment I stepped outside.”

Summer smiled, chewing the delicious flapjack. She swallowed the bite and cut another. “You’ll get used to it. At least we’re surrounded by several layers of trees here. Back home, the tree line ran along the back side of the house, so the front was open to the elements.” She stuck the fork in her mouth. “Mmmm, delicious—as usual.”

“Want me to make us some coffee while you’re finishing up?” Marion asked.

“That sounds perfect. Don’t forget to add a little cream and sugar to mine. I never have gotten used to drinking it black. Tastes like mud that way.”

“I prefer it that way as well. Tyra has more cream and sugar than coffee when she drinks it.”

While Marion went inside to make the coffee, Summer finished the delicious meal, even swiping her finger over the remaining syrup then licking it from the pad of her finger. She chuckled. Her old schoolteacher would be horrified if she saw her lack of manners. The old biddy would have slapped her hand with whatever was handy, a wooden ruler, eating utensil, or even a stick. Anything would have worked for that woman.

“Here you go,” Marion said and held out a steaming cup.

Summer set the plate on the ground and placed the empty syrup cup on it then covered them both with the towel. She took the chipped porcelain coffee cup from Marion and blew across the steaming liquid before taking several small sips. It helped soothe her growing worry. “Marion, have you seen the supplies I picked up in Purcell two days ago? I unloaded the wagon and put everything on the back side of the house, but some of it’s not there now. Before I started panicking, I thought I’d ask if maybe you or Tyra might have moved it for some reason?”

“No, I haven’t touched it. I have noticed a few things around our place have gone missing. I’m not a rich woman and Tyra’s job pays enough for us to get by quite nicely every month, but having to replace the same items over and over will get expensive. Maybe we have a thief in our midst?” She slapped her hands against the tops of her thighs. “Guess a visit to the sheriff may be in order. I need to purchase a few things from the General Store, including syrup. You just ate the last of what I had. We could stop by the jail on the way back.”

“Marion! Why? Why did you give me so much? Syrup is too expensive for you to just give away.”

“Oh, pshaw!” Marion rolled her pale blue eyes at Summer. “You are a part of our small family. I think of you as my own daughter and, thankfully, you let me talk to you like one. Besides, it’s just syrup. I tuck away a little bit of money every month for the necessities in life, and syrup is a necessity.” She chuckled and smoothed back her pretty gray hair.

Not that a single strand would dare escape the tight bun at the nape of her neck that she wore it in. Summer noticed Marion always smoothed her hair when she was nervous, which had surprised her. Marion wasn’t the type of woman to get nervous about much of anything, yet emotions seemed to do her in.

She thought back to the very first time Tyra had introduced her to her mother, and a smile played across her lips. It was early in the day, much like today, and Tyra led her around to the back of the house where several pigs were corralled in a small pen. She hollered at her mother, who stood too quickly and lost her balance. Of course, it hadn’t helped that the larger animals were quite insistent about getting their food and helped topple her over.

Tyra squealed and raced toward the pen with Summer right behind her, as her mother sat up and scowled, trying to shove away the animal rooting in her lap, but failing. They stared at Marion, laughing behind their hands as the woman stood, picking chunks of soggy bread and vegetable peels from her hair and shirt. They still teased Marion about it. Thankfully, she had a great sense of humor and usually laughed right along with them.

Marion picked up the dishes. “Get yourself ready and we’ll go to town together. I’m quite sure there’s not a bit of food in that new kitchen of yours, is there? Besides, I don’t know what all was taken, so you’ll have to go with me to report it. We can’t let thieves take what we’ve worked hard for. Meet me at the barn in five minutes.”

Summer watched the spry old woman march up to her house and disappear through the screen door. She loved the sound of the wooden door slamming closed. It was such a nice sound—like whoever had just walked through it belonged inside.

With a quick sigh, she stood and glanced at the unfinished house, lamenting the work that wouldn’t get finished. There wasn’t a lot she could work on since they planned on traveling to the land rush area. With about six hours of travel tonight to make it to the halfway point, they would need to leave as soon as Tyra got home from her teaching job. Even the nuns at the Sacred Heart mission realized how important the land rush was and, thankfully, were letting people leave early to go watch. Of course, Summer didn’t think the nuns understood how devastating it would be for the surrounding tribes.

Summer had seen firsthand how difficult it was to let in white settlers. They spread out and eventually took over with their farms and ranches. Almost overnight, the towns seemed to flourish with new businesses.

Growing up in Eufaula hadn’t been easy until she and her younger cousin, Billy, found Josiah. Their adopted father taught them so much—how to grow vegetables and fruit and take care of themselves. He even showed them how to build a house.

It wasn’t until after Mia showed up as Josiah’s mail-order bride that they’d become a real family. That first Christmas had been so magical. She, Billy, and their other adopted brother, Elias, had never heard of the holiday, but Mia and Josiah had made it so wonderful and special. Their gift to the children had been adoption papers.

Summer loved Josiah, but it had been Mia’s gentle influence that had won her over. Mia was the reason she had gone to school to become a teacher. Not that it would ever actually happen. She was half Creek, half Seminole. No matter how many times she applied at the mission, the nuns refused to accept her as one of them, but she had to try.

She even considered marriage and dreamed of eventually having her own family, but there weren’t any eligible young men living in the tiny town of Sacred Heart other than Father Isidore Robot was a Benedictine monk and not at all marriage material. Unless a handsome man just happened to materialize from thin air, she refused to even glance at the local men. Most were old and toothless.

“Are you ready?” Marion hollered from her perch on the wagon bench.

Surprised at how fast her designated five minutes had flown by, she hurried to the wagon and climbed up to sit beside the older woman, who was still dressed in her husband’s old wool pants and shirt, which made her look dumpier than she really was.

“Marion, I’m shocked you didn’t change into a dress. Are you rebelling against the social norms now?”

“I’m not trying to impress anyone, let alone that worthless sheriff of ours. That man wouldn’t recognize a criminal if he jumped in front of him and announced it. He wouldn’t know what to do with him either.”

“That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? After all, Sheriff Ivers didn’t want the job in the first place. He just couldn’t think of a good enough excuse to give Father Isidore so he wouldn’t have to do it.”

“Doesn’t matter. He gave his word. Knowing right from wrong and upholding the law in our tiny town shouldn’t be difficult, yet in the past month, all sorts of things are disappearing—even a few people have.” The wagon bounced over a particularly deep pothole, and she protectively threw her arm in front of Summer, bracing her from flying out of the wagon. “My, that was a sound wallop, wasn’t it?”

Summer squirmed on the bench. “My behind hurts now.” She gingerly rubbed her bottom. “So who’s disappeared?”

“An old couple several miles north of town. Their daughter went out to check on them, and they were nowhere to be found. Sad, really. I met them my first day here. He offered to bring me garden seedlings.”

Realization dawned on her. “Ohhh, he’s the nice old man who keeps bringing us plants?”

“That’s him. His wife is just as sweet. Such a shame. Hopefully, they’re out visiting family or friends elsewhere and forgot to tell their daughter they were leaving for a few days. One can only hope...”

Watching a hawk circle lazily above the treetops, Summer frowned at the horizon. “What if they didn’t? What if something happened to them?”

Reviews:Kindle Customer on Amazon wrote:


Great storyline, the author allowed this reader to share what she wanted understood. I loved it. Great characters. I had read Summer's story of being adopted with her cousin Billy & young friend, so it was heartwarming to read of her growing into a beautiful young woman. I enjoyed her meeting Wild Eagle, his coming to the understanding that Summer was not the typical woman of her time, she was her own unique person for him to call in love with.

I liked that Tyra & Clint's love story was a part of the book.

Great Read.. Enjoy learning more of Native American history.

David Covalt on Amazon wrote:

Normally as a guy I am not into romance novels. But Heidi is an amazing authoress that weaves a tale of history and romance among memorable characters. The only complaint I have is after I finish one of her novels, I want to immediately reach for a sequel!

Lois Chilton on GoodReads wrote:

I loved it. Great characters. Great read. Enjoyed learning more of Native American history.