A Yellowstone ChristmasBy: Peggy L Henderson
Daniel had nearly died six years ago after a Blackfoot ambush. Over the years, they’d had several more unpleasant encounters with hostile tribe members. Aimee’s first experience with a direct conflict had occurred in the spring of her first full year of living with Daniel, when several warriors stole Daniel’s two pack horses and several of his valuable beaver traps. Luckily, a band of Crow had been nearby, and with their help, Daniel had been able to steal his possessions back.
“Your life is more important than a few traps and a couple of horses,” Aimee had told him adamantly, when Daniel informed her he was going after his valuables.
“If I don’t retrieve what is mine, it will be considered a sign of weakness. I will not stand by and allow a bunch of Blackfoot thieves to rule over my life. I can’t protect you or my family if I don’t act.”
Yet another lesson she’d had to learn. The rules and unwritten laws were different in the wilderness than where she’d grown up, in a century and world vastly different from her chosen life now. Although she feared for Daniel every time he faced an encounter with the Blackfoot, she came to understand that it was part of life here, and a man was judged on his bravery and honor.
Aimee pushed herself out of the rocking chair, and carried her cup to the workbench. The skin along her neck tingled seconds later. She didn’t have to turn to know that Daniel stood directly behind her. Just as he always seemed to be aware of her every move, Aimee was more in tune to her husband than anything she’d ever experienced. Slowly, she turned, looking up into his waiting eyes; those deep brown eyes that drew her to him like a magnet and never ceased to take her breath away.
“I promise we’ll get your Christmas tree brought into the house tomorrow, and you can decorate it then,” Daniel said quietly. His lips curved in a grin, and he pulled her into his embrace. Aimee snaked her arms around his neck.
“Christmas is still a week away, if my calendar is correct,” she whispered, as Daniel’s lips descended on hers. Aimee leaned into him, her fingers weaving through his thick hair. He drew her fully up against him and deepened the kiss, eliciting a soft moan from her throat. No matter how often he touched and kissed her, it always ignited the same feelings of a first time in her. As long as she lived, Aimee knew that she’d never tire of her husband’s touch.
When she was sure her legs had turned to putty, Daniel pulled his face away. His eyes smoldered with desire, and the slow wicked grin on his face melted her insides. He slowly caressed her cheek with the back of his fingers, his eyes speaking to her in a way that required no words. Her heart overflowed with love for this man. Not for a moment had she ever regretted her decision to leave the modern world of the twenty-first century behind to live in this primitive nineteenth century wilderness. She couldn’t imagine any other life; a life without Daniel was inconceivable.
Aimee slowly, reluctantly, pulled out of his embrace. She would much rather spend her time wrapped in her husband’s arms, but at the moment, their unexpected houseguest required her attention. “I hope we’ll find out more about our guests before the week is over,” she said, and took a step back. Daniel’s hand lingered at her waist. “I still don’t understand how a Blackfoot woman, wearing Tukudeka clothing, came to be here in this valley this time of year.”
“She will have to provide the answers when she is awake. I don’t want any –” Daniel’s words were cut short by the loud wail of an infant. Aimee ducked around him and headed for the bedroom that her three sons had shared up to this point. Hopefully the baby’s cries wouldn’t wake Sam, who slept in the main bedroom.
Aimee glanced over her shoulder at Daniel before she slowly opened the bedroom door. He nodded to her, but didn’t make a move to follow. Aimee entered the room. The young mother scrambled to a sitting position in the bed, and gathered her baby to her breast.
Aimee offered a soft smile and closed the door behind her. The young woman’s eyes widened in fear and wonder. Her gaze lingered on Aimee’s hair. Aimee was used to stares from the Indians and occasional white trappers she encountered. Her golden blond locks caused wide eyes of wonder wherever she went. Even in St. Louis, a place she’d visited with Daniel on a couple of occasions, people stared at her. She’d learned quickly to ignore the hungry, intent looks in men’s eyes, and all it took was one glare from Daniel to send most mountain men scurrying in the other direction. Her husband protected her with the ferocity of a mother grizzly, and no one had ever dared to challenge him.
“How are you feeling?” Aimee asked softly in the dialect of the Sheepeater Shoshone. She wasn’t sure if this young woman could understand her, but Aimee hadn’t learned to speak but a few words in the language of the Blackfoot, and she doubted the girl would know any English.
The young mother continued to stare at her with wide eyes. Aimee moved closer to the bed, causing the girl to scoot as far as possible to the opposite edge of the mattress.
“I won’t hurt you,” Aimee said. “You are weak after giving birth. Please don’t be afraid. My husband, White Wolf, and I, are concerned for you.”