Ranger Blueeyes swore an oath to the Navajo and was duty bound to protect his people. Blessed with the golden eagle as his spiritual brother, the proud warrior had the ability to soar and overcome every obstacle. He would need those powers even more now with the Brotherhood under attack--and one very tiny woman as the only defense.
Anglo schoolteacher Dana Seles survived an unspeakable crime on the Navajo Nation and could expose a traitor within the tribe. Ranger had to convince Dana to cooperate with his investigation if he was to save her and defend his honor. But would the task be threatened by a building physical attraction gaining gale force?
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September 10, 2007
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Excerpt from Restless Wind by Aimee Thurlo
Dana Seles placed her grade book into the top drawer of her teacher's desk, then locked it up for the evening.
Hastiin Sani, as Kevin Cohoe's grandfather was known by the tribe, stood near the door waiting for her. Although she'd been scheduled to meet with Kevin's parents, they'd been called away on an emergency. Hastiin Sani had volunteered to attend the conference on their behalf. Things had gone smoothly and they'd discussed arrangements for Kevin to transfer to a more advanced math class.
"It seems like only yesterday you were the age of my grandson," he said. "Your mother would always bring you along when she came to my home to visit."
Dana smiled, straightening up her desk, then looking around the room one more time to make sure everything was in order. "I liked going to visit you," she said, remembering how self-conscious she'd been back then. Unlike her, Nancy Seles had been a free spirit who'd thrived on chaos. Nothing had ever been routine at home. "But I hated some of the other places she took me."
"I never approved of her bringing you along to those backroom card games, you know. I told her more than once.
But your incredible memory was too much of a temptation, especially when your mom was falling on hard times."
Dana sighed softly. From the day Nancy Seles had discovered that her own daughter had a photographic memory, things had gone totally crazy--and that was saying a lot, since their lives had never been anything even remotely close to normal. "We'd only stay until she'd won enough hands to pay for the rent or groceries, then leave," Dana said, surprised to hear herself defending her mother.
"She wasn't always like that," Hastiin Sani said. "She changed after your father's death. She'd depended completely on him and when he wasn't around anymore, she fell apart."
"I was too young when my dad passed away to remember much about him. What I know is mostly from stories I've heard--that he was a good cop, and would never have allowed Mom to raise me the way she did," she said, and shrugged. "But all that's ancient history."
Dana picked up her tote bag, then joined him by the door. "Are you sure you won't let me give you a ride home? I'd be more than happy to do that."
"No, it's not necessary. A friend drove me here, and another will swing by shortly to pick me up."
Hastiin Sani knew almost everyone on the reservation. Although calling him by his Navajo name, "Old Man," might have seemed disrespectful in some cultures, here on the rez, it was the opposite. She looked at him fondly. He was almost like family. She remembered her mother telling her not to be taken in by his easygoing personality, that Hastiin Sani was far more than he appeared to be.... Then again, her mother had never had a firm grip on reality.
Dana locked the door behind them, then walked with Hastiin Sani down the hall and out the side door of the building. All the students and most of the teachers were gone now, so the parking lot was nearly empty.
"I wish I could have done more to help you and your mother," he said softly, falling into step beside her.
She stopped and met his gaze. "You did more than you realize. The art patrons you sent us put food on our table more often than not."
He smiled and nodded. "I have always been your friend. I'm very proud of you, did you know that?"
Dana stared at her shoes, and cleared her throat. She'd never really known how to take compliments.
"Here's my ride now," he said, pointing with his lips, Navajo style.
She saw the shiny blue pickup pull up just beyond her own white VW bug. A second later, a long-legged, tall and lean Navajo man stepped down off the running board. Some men were made to wear jeans, and the way this man fit into his would have made any sane woman drool.
His dark eyes fastened on her as he walked toward them with long strides that spoke of confidence and purpose. She nearly sighed as she watched him, but she caught herself in time and quickly pretended to cough.
Hastiin Sani smiled at her. "His Anglo name is Ranger, Ranger Blueeyes. Stay and meet him."
"Er, no, I really should be going." She'd worked hard to have a sane life, one without complications. Though her experience with men was extremely limited, she knew one thing. A man who looked and walked like Ranger Blueeyes was serious trouble.
She and Hastiin Sani were walking by an old van when Ranger joined them. He had a smile that could melt hearts, she decided on the spot.
Ranger nodded to her companion, then turned back to her. "Hello," he said.
She smiled and was about to respond when she noticed something out of the corner of her eye. Two men had raised up from the open windows of the van, not six feet away, aiming something in their direction. A heartbeat later she heard two dull thuds, and felt something like a bee stinging her neck.