Comanche born... Comanche bound
Nick Bluestone had made a solemn vow to wed his twin brother's widow, raising their child the Comanche way. The desirable Elaina would be his wife, but Nick could never forget the decision had been his brother's, not hers.
Elaina had convinced herself marrying Nick had nothing to do with their mutual attraction. What she felt for Nick was more intense...and much more dangerous. She'd lost her heart to a Bluestone once--did she dare allow her new Comanche husband entrance to her soul?
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November 06, 2007
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Excerpt from Comanche Vow by Sheri WhiteFeather
Nick Bluestone waited at the airport, trying not to pace. He had four weeks to enforce his plan, the mission he'd agreed to carry out.
The mission? Nick frowned. This wasn't a covert military operation. This was a heart-wrenching promise he'd made to his brother. A Comanche vow.
He took a rough breath and thought about Elaina, the woman he'd pledged to marry. He hadn't seen her since the summer they'd buried Grant, the summer they'd stood side by side and mourned Nick's twin. And now, two years later, she had finally agreed to visit him in Oklahoma, to bring his niece for Christmas.
Nick released the air in his lungs. A holiday visit. That wasn't the half of it. Elaina had no idea that he intended to propose. But then, how could she? He'd been keeping the vow a secret, preparing himself for the right moment to tell her.
Scanning the passengers entering the terminal, he spotted her. Instantly his pulse quickened. He barely knew Elaina. Sure, he liked her, but he hadn't allowed himself to look too closely, to admire her for anything other than being his brother's devoted wife.
But damn it, there she was, tall and shapely, with a shoulder-length sweep of chestnut hair--a woman much too striking not to notice.
Even dressed in blue jeans, she reminded him of a lady, a true lady, the sort a noble knight would lose his heart to. Was that what had first attracted Grant to her? The graceful beauty? The whisper of sensuality?
I'm supposed to protect my brother's ladylove, he thought nervously. Pledge my life, my tarnished honor to her. And seeing Elaina, watching her enter his rough-hewn world, made that vow seem more real.
Shifting his focus, Nick schooled his anxiety and studied his twelve-year-old niece instead. Lexie was taller than the last time he'd seen her, but still small for her age. A baseball cap rode low on her forehead, shading big, dark eyes. With her baggy jeans and oversize T-shirt, she looked more like a brooding little boy than a troubled young girl.
She glanced up, and he smiled. Her face was lean and angular, her skin smooth and soft. Oh, yeah, he thought.
She was female, all right. Sweet, stubborn and confusing as hell.
He moved forward to greet her, keeping Elaina in his peripheral vision. "Hey, Lexie."
She reached out, and he hugged her naturally. Lexie was his godchild, the little girl who lived in his heart. She was all he had left of Grant, and he intended to keep her safe and warm.
He lifted the brim of her hat and grinned. Her hair, nearly as short as his, brushed her neck in a simple, blunt style. Apparently Lexie still didn't fuss or frill over her hair, a fact that used to amuse her daddy. No ribbons and bows for Grant's baby girl. She preferred baseball cards to Barbie dolls and barrettes.
And then there was Elaina, rife with feminine curves, in a champagne-colored sweater, slim-fitting jeans and a pair of sleek suede boots. And her eyes, he thought. They were as blue as the brightest lapis imaginable.
Ironically, the name fit. Something he'd never noticed before.
"Hi," Nick said to her. "How was your flight?"
"Fine. A little tiring." She met his gaze, and then shifted those blue eyes quickly away. "We had a layover in Texas."
"Yeah. Traveling can wear a person out." Since they didn't embrace, he relieved her of a carry-on bag and tried to act casual. Apparently she didn't like looking him in the eye, but he figured his resemblance to Grant unnerved her. These days, it unnerved him, too. "Let's head over to baggage claim."
They stood quietly with the other passengers and waited for the luggage to appear. And while Lexie adjusted her backpack and Elaina studied the empty turntable, Nick's thoughts drifted back in time.
Two years before, he'd visited Grant in Los Angeles, a trip he rarely made. The Comanche brothers looked alike, but their lifestyles had been worlds apart. Grant had left home to pursue a successful corporate career in California, while Nick, a saddle maker, remained close to his roots.
So to celebrate Nick's last night in the city, they'd eaten dinner at a steak house, then stopped by a sports bar to shoot a few rounds of pool. Although neither had consumed more than a few beers, they were still feeling boyish and rowdy, ribbing each other like a couple of kids.
"You miss this shot," Nick had cajoled, "and I get to take that jet-propelled machine of yours for a spin. You know, the one masquerading as a car."
Grant had flashed a roguish grin and eyed the eight ball, calling it in the corner pocket. "Then I don't intend to miss, bro. Because I've seen the way you drive."
He didn't miss, and Nick didn't end up piloting the Porsche. It was Grant who had driven later that night, Grant who had been gunned down in the midst of a car-jacking.