Cover image for Tykota's woman
Title:
Tykota's woman
Author:
O'Banyon, Constance.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Leisure Books, [2003, 2000]

©2003, 2000
Physical Description:
390 pages ; 18 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780843947151
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Tykota is on his way to rejoin his Apache tribe after living among white men when his band is attacked and he must rescue an innocent white woman who melts his heart and changes his life forever.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One Texas, 1868 Weary, Makinna Hillyard leaned her head back against the worn leather seat, her eyes closed. The stagecoach rocked and swayed down the bumpy road, and her body felt every rut. The sound of a whip cracking to urge the mules forward was quickly swept away on the blistering desert wind and the waves of breath-stealing heat.     Opening her eyes, Makinna gazed at her traveling companions, glad that she could study them through her black mourning veil but that they could not see her through it. There were three men on the stage with her. Mr. Horace Rumford was a distinguished-looking gentleman with white hair, a neatly clipped white mustache, and, above his gray eyes, thick white eyebrows. She had learned from his conversation that he was an agent for the Butterfield Stage Line. The passenger sitting beside Makinna was Alvin Carruthers, a short, balding man with a nervous habit of blinking constantly. He was evidently a clothier from St. Louis.     Reluctantly, her gaze fell on the man directly across from her. Since he'd been asleep when she boarded the stage at Whispering Wells, she knew nothing about him. She assumed from the fine cut of his black suit and the quality of his European-made leather boots and gloves that he must be a man of some consequence. His wide-brimmed hat was pulled low over his face, and he still appeared to be sleeping. Although she could not tell for sure, she thought he must be younger than the other men. She could see the broadness of his shoulders, and he looked decidedly taller and more muscular than his fellow passengers.     Horace Rumford glanced out the window, his gaze traveling the parched land. He frowned as he turned back to Alvin Carruthers. "If trouble comes at us, it'll be on this godforsaken stretch of country from here to El Paso."     "Indian trouble?" his companion asked anxiously blinking rapidly with concern.     "The worst kind of Indian trouble--Apaches. That's why we have two men riding shotgun instead of the usual one. But I don't expect any trouble on this trip."     Alvin Carruthers's eyes darted nervously to the window, as if he feared an attack at any moment. "Why this stretch of land? And why Apaches? I'd always heard that the Comanches were the fiercest tribe in Texas." His voice trembled, but he managed a tight smile. "Before I left St. Louis, I was assured that the army's presence here would keep the journey safe from Indian attack."     The agent's smile was not reassuring. "Even the Comanches stay clear of these parts, lest they tangle with the Apache. As a rule, the army's presence in El Paso has made things a good deal safer, but the Apache never follow the rules. They certainly don't abide by our laws.     "This was their land before we took it from them," Makinna said with a conviction that surprised the two men. Expressing her opinion so fervently surprised her, as well. "We are the intruders here, sir."     "Please pardon me, ma'am," Mr. Rumford said kindly, "but that is a mistaken notion. We make the land habitable with farms and ranches. We start settlements, develop towns, build schools, and bring civilization to an otherwise inhospitable locale."     Makinna sank back into silence for a moment. She certainly knew next to nothing about Texas or its inhabitants, and like everyone else she'd heard terrifying tales about the Apaches. Still, the arrogance of certain attitudes annoyed her. "It just seems to me that the Indian has done very well for hundreds of years without interference from us."     Mr. Rumford gave her an indulgent smile. "May I introduce myself, ma'am? I'm Horace Rumford, and this is Mr. Alvin Carruthers." He nodded toward the sleeping passenger. "I don't know that gentlemen. The log says his name is Silverhorn. He was asleep when I came aboard." His smile widened. "And he still is."     Makinna smiled, too. "I'm pleased to meet you both. I'm Makinna Hillyard."     Mr. Carruthers looked at the black clothing hotly swathing her from head to toe. He spoke kindly. "May I respectfully inquire, madam, if you have recently suffered a bereavement?"     Makinna hesitated a moment. "Yes. I lost my brother and my mother within a month of each other."     "Please accept my heartfelt sympathy, ma'am," Alvin Carruthers said earnestly, blinking. "Such a great pity."     "And accept my condolences," Mr. Rumford echoed, glancing down at her wedding band. "It's unusual for a woman to travel alone in these parts, Mrs. Hillyard." He leaned back and studied her intently. "Of course, there's nothing wrong with it," he quickly added, "but it takes more courage than most women have."     "I am not courageous, sir. I had no choice in the matter. Left so suddenly alone, I am going to San Francisco to live with my sister. I didn't know how arduous the journey would be. As an agent for the stage line, do you think we'll experience any more delays?"     "You can trust the Butterfield Line, ma'am," Mr. Rumford said with confidence. "We pride ourselves on meeting our schedules."     "Not always, sir," she said softly. "The stage I was on before broke an axle, and I had to spend a week at Whispering Wells waiting for another stage."     "Regrettably, the unforeseen sometimes happens," the Butterfield agent stated. "Today will be a tedious one for you, Mrs. Hillyard," he said, "for we won't reach the way station at Adobe Springs before nightfall. However, tomorrow night we reach El Paso, where you'll enjoy some measure of comfort before we continue on to California the following day."     Makinna sighed wearily. She had been traveling for over three weeks, and it seemed she would never get out of Texas, much less reach San Francisco.     "Madam, may I ask where you are from?" Mr. Carruthers inquired. "I believe I detect a Southern accent."     "I'm from New Orleans, sir. The stage from New Orleans delivered me to Ft. Belknap, where I boarded the Butterfield stage. And there they traded the horses for mules. I thought that rather strange." She glanced at Mr. Rumford. "Why did they do that, sir?"     "This leg of the journey is too hard on horses, Mrs. Hillyard," the agent informed her. "We have found the mules much more dependable in this arid terrain. This is uncivilized territory we're traveling through. You wouldn't want to lose a horse out here and be stranded."     Mr. Carruthers spoke. "Some would call St. Louis the last civilized town until you reach California. I myself was born and raised there." Then he cleared his throat. "Begging your pardon, madam. There is, of course, New Orleans, which has many families of refinement."     Suddenly Makinna had the strangest feeling of being watched. She glanced at the gentleman sitting opposite her, but she decided he still slept because his hat was pulled low over his face. So she was startled when he crossed his long legs and settled back against the seat. Because the stranger was wearing gloves, she couldn't judge his age by his hands.     He shifted again, and his coat fell open to reveal a gun belt. She pressed her back against the seat to get as far away as possible. He must be an outlaw! She'd heard about gunfighters who dressed like gentlemen but had black hearts.     She turned her face away and closed her eyes. Then, immersed in her own troubles, she forgot about the man across from her as well as the conversation between Mr. Carruthers and Mr. Rumford.     Makinna desperately missed her mother and her brother, William. Her mother had died slowly after a long, lingering illness, confined to her bed for nearly three years. Although it had been difficult to lose her, Makinna had at least been somewhat prepared for her death. But her brother had lost his life in a sudden, senseless accident. How could anyone with William's knowledge of horses fall and break his neck?     And as if that was not enough, a month after her brother had died, the bank foreclosed on their small house. She had been in despair when her sister, Adelaide, had written to invite Makinna to come live with her and her husband in California. When Adelaide married a miner and merchant ten years earlier and moved west, Makinna had missed her dreadfully. Their only contact had been through letters. But upon receiving Makinna's details of their mother's and brother's deaths, Adelaide had insisted Makinna come to California.     Makinna had had to sell her mother's jewelry to have money for the trip, but she couldn't part with the wedding ring that her father had given her mother. She gazed down at the wide gold band on her finger. At the last moment, she'd decided to wear it. If people thought she was a widow it might make her traveling alone more acceptable.     Would she find a life for herself in California? she wondered for the hundredth time. Her sister's last letter had been filled with plans. Pretty, with their father's brown hair and gray eyes, Adelaide was older than she by six years, and Makinna tried to imagine what her sister would look like now.     Makinna sighed. Whatever promise California did or did not hold for her future, she'd had nothing to keep her in New Orleans, except sadness and memories. She hadn't had a social life in years. Even though her mother had pressed her to attend parties, she had been reluctant to leave her helpless and alone and had refused every invitation until the invitations had stopped coming. Maybe her venture into the unknown would prove exciting     She stared out at the swirling dust and frowned, remembering something. As a young girl, she had dreamed of adventure and of sharing it with the perfect man who would love her as passionately as she loved him. She was older now, twenty, and so tired that she no longer dreamed of adventure or the perfect man. Or any man, for that matter. At her age it was highly unlikely that she would find a suitable mate.     Makinna was jerked out of her musing by the sound of Mr. Rumford's voice. "If you're interested in the history of this area, it's really quite colorful. There are legends of hidden gold and Indian curses and a tribe no white man has ever met and lived to tell about."     "Now, there you have me intrigued," Mr. Carruthers admitted, leaning forward, his eyes aglow with interest. "I need a few fierce stories to tell the missus when I get back to St. Louis. She envisioned dangers lurking all along the way, with outlaws and Indians waiting in ambush behind every cactus to hold up the stage."     "Well, the Indian tribe I was speaking of is called the Perdenelas, and it is said that they are fiercer even than the Apache. It isn't that they come looking to do you harm, like the Apache, but that if you invade their sacred land or try to tamper with their hidden treasure, you will simply disappear, never to be heard of again."     Mr. Carruthers blinked excitedly. "Tell me more about the Perdenelas and the treasure."     Mr. Rumford knew he'd found an avid audience as he usually did when he spoke of the gold of the Perdenelas. "No one knows exactly where their land is located, A few misguided souls with gold fever have ventured into the desert, seeking their treasure. Most of them never returned, and those who did were half-starved and ranting about evil spirits. Don't know what they encountered out there, but evidently something drives them out of their minds."     Alvin Carruthers laughed nervously. "You're trying to lead me down a fool's path, aren't you?"     "Judge for yourself. The word lately is that the old chief of the Perdenelas has died and that his chosen son will be taking his place. No one seems to know much about the son, but they say he may be far more ruthless than his father."     The man across from Makinna shifted his position, and his knee bumped hers. She drew back, tucking her legs away from him.     She didn't want to believe there was a tribe in these parts that was even more ruthless than the Apache. But what if Mr. Rumford spoke the truth? She shivered and glanced out the window at the vast desert, thinking few could survive in that wasteland.     What kind of man would it take to live out there? Copyright © 2000 Constance O'Banyon. All rights reserved.