Read The Peacemaker Online

Authors: Chelley Kitzmiller

Tags: #romance, #historical, #paranormal, #Western, #the, #fiction, #Grant, #West, #Tuscon, #Indian, #Southwest, #Arizona, #Massacre, #Cochise, #supernatural, #Warriors, #Apache, #territory, #Camp, #American, #Wild, #Wind, #Old, #of, #Native

The Peacemaker

BOOK: The Peacemaker
7.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Copyright Information

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author‘s imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Chelley Kitzmiller

Originally published in 1994 by Chelley Kitzmiller

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

 

eISBN: 978-1-937776-28-2

Also by Chelley Kitzmiller

 

The Warriors of the Wind series:

The Seeker

The Healer

 

El Dorado

 

Oscar Goes Camping

A Family Affaire (a short story)

Sedona Sunrise (a short story)

(Profits from the sale of this title go to the
Have a Heart Humane Society
.)

 

 

To learn more about Chelley, visit
www.ChelleyKitzmiller.com

or follow her on Twitter
@chelleykitzmlr
.

 

Dedication

 

 

I dedicate this book to the 500+ cats and dogs me, my daughter and our Have A Heart Humane Society volunteers have rescued and rehomed since beginning Have A Heart Humane Society. Next to writing, pet rescue is the hardest job I’ve ever done. It’s also the most rewarding. Now I know what my purpose is and why I’m here. I am blessed.

Table of Contents

 

The Peacemaker

 

Copyright Information

Also by Chelley Kitzmiller

 

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

Epilogue

 

Excerpt from The Seeker, Book 2 in the Warriors of the Wind series

 

Author Bio

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Arizona Territory September 1, 1869

Independence Taylor stood behind the door listening to the troopers' descriptions of the four dead miners they had come across on their way to the San Simon stage station. Bodies riddled with bullets and arrows. Stripped naked and tied to the wagon wheels. Burned beyond recognition.

Despite the summer heat Indy felt chilled to the bone. She closed her eyes and bowed her head, then whispered a short but fervent prayer. "Dear Lord, I know I've been a trial to you over the years and to my father, but I ask you to please watch over the troopers and me when we leave here. Watch over us and keep us safe. I have so much to make up for, Lord. I can't die knowing Father hasn't forgiven me."

Captain Aubrey Nolan had been about to put his hand on the door latch when he heard the beginning of Indy's prayer. He turned away, not wanting to intrude, and went back to his men. "Keep your voice down, Sergeant," he said in an authoritative voice. "She's praying for our safety."

"Yes, sir, Captain sir, but I was thinkin'. Mebbe it ain't such a good idea t'take her back with us, what with Chie on another of his killin' rampages. Mebbe if we was t'tell her how things was here, she'd catch the next stage home and get the hell outta here."

"There won't be another stage for two days, Sergeant, and I don't think the colonel would look too kindly on me, or you, if I left her here with no womenfolk to look out after her. It wouldn't be seemly. Besides, with the station keeper being shorthanded, it would be more dangerous to leave her here than take her with us."

The burly sergeant removed his forage cap and rubbed his fingers through his graying hair. "I sure would hate t'see anything happen t'her. She's such a li'l thing, not much bigger than a child, but I can see she's all growed up and right purty if I do say so, with them big hazel eyes all bright and shiny. Reminds me of a girl I knowed back in Georgia, afore the war," Moseley said with a touch of melancholy. "Fragile, like one of my mama's roses, she was. Would have wilted out here in this damnable desert heat in no time. I'm thinkin' Miss Taylor's jes' about as delicate as that li'l girl. Why'd the colonel let her come, anyway? Smart as he is—or thinks he is—seems he'd have better sense. Damn fool thing lettin' her come, if you ask me. Yep, a damn fool thing."

"Nobody's asking you, Sergeant, and I might add, it's none of our business. Now, order the men to mount up. We'll be leaving momentarily."

Moseley wheeled around and walked away, barking orders to the men.

Not once since leaving her St. Louis home had Indy doubted the wisdom of her decision to follow her father to his new post and make a proper home for him. Not until a few moments ago, anyway. What the troopers had described seeing on their way to the stage station was the reality of the "Indian problems" in the territories—the reality she'd read about in shocking detail in the Army reports sent to her father to study in preparation for his new command at Camp Bowie. The reports told a completely different story from the innocuous newspaper articles that were occasionally printed. Yet she had minimized the seriousness of the reports because she didn't want them to deter her from making the journey. She had convinced herself that her coming such a long distance to make a home for her father and be his companion would somehow break the awful barrier that had existed between them these last seven years.

She realized now, too late, that she'd been a fool. The dangers were real and every bit as horrible as the reports had indicated. She could very well die within the next few hours and all the years' efforts to gain his forgiveness and win back his love would have been for naught.

Indy took a deep breath to marshal her composure and forced a smile to her lips. It simply wouldn't do for her to let the nice captain or the troopers know she'd overheard them talk. No, indeed. It wouldn't do at all, she thought, opening the door and stepping outside into the bright sunlight.

"We're ready to go if you are," the captain intoned flatly.

"Yes, I'm ready," she replied, making certain that nothing in her voice betrayed her burgeoning anxiety. She lowered her head, lifted her skirt, and walked down the pebble-strewn path toward the open-sided military ambulance. Averting her gaze, she stepped up to the back of the vehicle and accepted the captain's gloved hand to help her inside.

"With your permission, Miss Taylor, I thought I'd ride with you until we reach Camp Bowie."

"Why, of course, Captain. I'd be pleased to have you." Crouching to avoid smashing her hat beneath the canvas roof, she contemplated the best place to sit. There was none. Rough wooden benches, which served as beds for the wounded in the field when they were needed, stretched along each side of the wagon bed. She moved to the right and sat down.

The captain took his Spencer carbine out of the leather boot hanging from his saddle and tied his horse's reins to the back of the ambulance, then climbed in and sat on the opposite bench. "I can lower the canvas curtains if you like. It might help cut down on some of the dust and dirt."

"No thank you. I'm sure it will be fine as it is. Besides, I'm beyond the point of worrying about my appearance," she said, making her point by pulling a long stray lock of hair over her shoulder. She held it between her two fingers and frowned. More than two weeks of round-the-clock travel, with only brief basin baths at the more civilized stage stations, had turned her light brown hair, which had been glossy with good health, to a sickly gray-brown.

The real reason, however, that she wanted the canvas curtains left up was so she could see everything going on around her. She'd grown up in a military household on military strategies and knew that one should always be aware of one's surroundings, especially when going into the unknown.

"If you don't mind my saying, Miss Taylor, you look just fine. It'll be a real treat for the men to have someone as pretty as you in their midst." He smiled appreciatively.

Tilting her head down, Indy demurred. "You flatter me, Captain, but I thank you for it." The last two weeks had opened her eyes to many things, one of them being that men found her attractive—even pretty, where she had always considered herself plain. Having been something of a recluse these last seven years, socializing only with her father's stuffy officer friends, who talked of nothing but the art of war, there had been few opportunities to experience the company of a young man, let alone hear a word of flattery or admiration.

Blushing beneath his admiring scrutiny, she tugged downward on the braided hem of her jacket to smooth out the wrinkles. She had selected her travel clothing carefully, making it clear to the dressmaker that comfort, durability, and practicality should take precedence over current fashion. The skirt was of a dark blue serge, not nearly as full or long as the skirts and dresses she'd left at home in her wardrobe. The matching jacket had black lapels and was trimmed with black braid. It was nipped in at the waist and flared   flatteringly  over  her  hips.   Beneath the jacket she wore a simple white muslin blouse with a tiny, rounded collar. Her hat was her only concession to frivolity, a black velvet sailor hat, low-crowned with a moderate brim, turned down over her forehead.

The driver took up the double set of lines, released the brake, and called out to the mules. "H'yaw! Hee-yaw! Gee up, thar, you Longears." Leather snapped smartly over the team's backs and the ambulance lurched forward. To keep from being thrown off her seat, Indy held on to the wooden framework that supported the canvas top. Once the four-mule team moved onto the road, the ride smoothed out and conversation again became possible.

"How far is it to Camp Bowie, Captain?" Indy asked. The captain had hardly looked at her since they'd left San Simon. He was watching out for Apaches, she supposed, forgiving him his negligence. So far he hadn't said a word to her about the dangers they could be facing.

"Twenty-two miles," he replied. "Three and a half to four hours . . . depending," he added a moment later.

Indy waited for an explanation but soon realized he hadn't intended one. "Depending on what, Captain?" she prodded, wishing he would talk to her and tell her exactly what problems, if any, he was anticipating.

His gaze came slowly back to hers. "Depending upon the mules, the road, the weather. All those things," he said, then quickly changed the subject. "I'm sure you must be anxious to end your travels and get some rest. I know what it's like to try to sleep sitting up in a crowded stagecoach."

"It was an experience I will never forget, I assure you," she answered coolly. She was beginning to resent the way he tried to protect her with his silence. He should give her credit for knowing a little something about the dangers they faced—she was, after all, the post commander's daughter. He obviously thought she was one of those fragile females who would panic and become hysterical.

It was everything she could do to hold her tongue, but she knew if she didn't, she'd regret it. He seemed a nice enough man; he simply wasn't accustomed to a woman who knew her own mind and went about as she pleased.

She turned away and focused her gaze on the flat open terrain. Having studied botany in school, she recognized beargrass, agave, sotol, and several other species of desert chaparral.

Her interest quickly waned. It was hard to think about anything when at any point in time an Apache warrior could jump out from behind a rock and attack the detachment. She wished there had been more information available for her to read on the Apaches as a people; it would help to understand them, which, in turn, would help her to know what to expect. But very little information existed—only accounts of their attacks, raids, tortures. They seemed to be little more than savage beasts who preyed upon soldiers, white settlers, miners, and travelers.

BOOK: The Peacemaker
7.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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