Into the Wind:A Love Story

By: Jaclyn M. Hawkes

1867 Southern Utah Territory

Brekka Toft sat upon her horse and faced into the wind that blew down from the rugged mountains to the west. The storm that brewed there buried the peaks in roiling folds of the deepest gray, and jagged flashes of lightning cracked the heavy thunderheads into a hundred shades of tempest. The wildness of this remote place only emphasized the power of that magnificent fury. The horse beneath her trembled with every smashing boom of thunder and she knew standing here in the open was foolish, but still, the storm fascinated her.

Ever it had been so. Back in Denmark, her father had worried that she carried the blood of the ancient Vikings and would have the urge to follow the storms, much as he had from the time he was a child. That need to face into the wind and see what lay beyond those glorious thunderheads had always been a battle. It tempted her to lay aside her responsibilities as the daughter of a Danish nobleman who had lands and fortune to tend to.

She looked at the striking desert all around her and to the distant mountains looming majestically above the valley floor. How was it that this land so spoke to her, when her home was far away and vastly different? Even before leaving Europe she had felt the pull of this American West. The tales of its beauty, wide open spaces, and even danger evoked some unnamed longing deep within her.

That was the reason she had come here when Luther had spoken of it. It was still the reason she was here, hundreds of miles from the nearest city of any size, in spite of the misgivings she’d occasionally felt over the way Luther was handling this trip.

The thought of Luther made her sigh. She knew he thought he was to be a permanent part of her future, and in truth, she had once considered that too, when she’d first met him back in Denmark. He’d been older, owned a ship and was well traveled and confident, and even her father had thought him to be a gentleman of consequence. But this trip had made her see that he wasn’t the man for her. In fact, she knew that after this adventure was over, she wouldn’t have anything to do with Luther Olafson at all.

He had terrible judgment when it came to the people with whom he surrounded himself. Some of the guides he’d employed to assist them on this sight-seeing trip to the red rock formations hundreds of miles south of Salt Lake City made Brekka’s skin crawl. Even the glorious scenery and the fascinating storm couldn’t quell the feelings of anxiety brought on just by thinking about the men behind her in camp.

Added to that, she had overheard Luther talking to one of the men and Luther had mentioned he dabbled in the slave trade with his ship. Unbelievably, as she listened, she realized Luther was actually discussing buying and selling the children of some of the local Indians and he was apparently disgusted to find out that there were not as many Indians as he’d been led to believe and that he didn’t think it would be a viably lucrative venture. Brekka was horrified! It had literally sickened her. Selling innocent children as slaves! And she was stuck out here with him. With them. When she considered how far they were from other people, the worry weighed heavily.

At least there was Ian about to help keep an eye on things. Even though he was impeccably dressed and almost too well behaved at all times, Brekka believed that somewhere under his perfect manners there was more substance than appeared at first glance. Still, he was one man among several. She wished there were more here than just Ian who inspired confidence—others she could absolutely trust and know would keep her and the other three women safe.

As darkness fell, Brekka turned her horse back for camp, praying as she rode that whatever brought these feelings of trepidation would be held off until they were back to civilization. She lay in her bedroll that night, listening to the distant rumblings of the storm and wondering when it would finally loose the threatened power it held bottled up in those seething clouds. For three evenings in a row now those black thunderheads had piled onto the mountain crags in the west, but so far, all they’d experienced had been that evocative wind and the spectacle of the dry lightning and thunder. She’d never seen anything like it. At some point in time, this storm was finally going to unleash its magnificent fury.

The tenseness around camp these last several days had been like that as well. There was an anxious expectancy of danger that had nothing to do with the weather. As she lay there, she prayed again. She had been taught as a child to pray for peace and reassurance. She’d long ago learned it would come from above if she had faith.

The reassurance came, but there was still that belly-deep sense of caution. She did indeed have some innate need for adventure she had inherited from her Viking ancestors, and she had longed to come on this trip, but something had changed. Even God himself seemed to be prompting her to get away. As she drifted off, she knew that tomorrow she needed to influence Luther and the others to leave this glorious wilderness.

When morning came, the storm had dissipated again and the sky above was a clear, cloudless cerulean blue that went on forever. The black clouds were gone, but the anxiousness wasn’t. She struggled to keep a mask of complacency in place through the morning while she waited for a chance to speak with Luther. He’d gone hunting first thing and still hadn’t reappeared by the time their luncheon was served on the tables set up under the canvas canopy.