"A man’s life is a circle from childhood to childhood, and thus it is in everything where the power moves."
A Lakota Sioux (Teton Sioux) Proverb by Black Elk
Lahni Wahpeton is her family’s wild child. Like her parents and siblings, Lahni is a shifter from a long line of proud Lakota Sioux wolf shifters, and she is powerful in her own right. She came home to help her family defeat an ancient evil. As soon as she can tie up loose ends with her family, she’s heading back on the road and far from Shiloh Red Cloud, the man who broke her heart years ago.
Shiloh knows he broke Lahni’s heart, but he’s not about to let go of her now. Lahni is fiercely protective over her independence but more so of her heart, and she won’t be locked into a cage.
Lahni and Shiloh won’t just be fighting the past and igniting their own passion; but they will have to battle against a treachery that is centuries old that threatens their very lives.
It had been over a week, and Lahni was ready to get back to the open road. She loved her family dearly, but she felt trapped, especially with Shiloh so close, even though he hadn’t so much as glanced her way
She passed Zander’s room, and Jaycee lay beside him, stroking his thick fur. Jaycee looked up at her with tired, worried eyes but managed a slight smile.
Jaycee’s father had caged and drugged Zander before leaving him helpless to the poison of the chupas. It still sent a cold chill up Lahni’s spine when she thought about how Jaycee’s father had been so blinded with prejudice and hate that he was willing to go to any lengths to keep Jaycee from Xan.
Jaycee and Zander were soul mates, and their bond ran deep. Jaycee and her mother were both shifters, but it wasn’t until Jaycee’s father caught his daughter and Zander together that he became so filled with hate even though his beloved wife was a wolf shifter like his daughter.
Lahni’s heart ached. Zander was her brother, and losing him would have ripped her apart.
“Hey little sister, are you guys good?” Lahni asked softly. “Do you need anything?”
Jaycee returned her smile and shook her head. “No, we’re good. He’s been awake more today than the past few. He’s getting stronger.”
“If you need anything, all you need do is to ask. We love you two.”
“Thank you, c'uwé, my sister.”
Lahni softened. They all loved Jaycee, and because she was Zander’s mate, that made her family even though Zander had been postponing the actual ceremony.
Jaycee’s heart still grieved the loss of her father. None of them could understand how her father could have hated them so much as to make a fatal deal with the most evil of creatures.
Lahni shuddered as she walked down the staircase. Soon she’d be back to her life, and she wouldn’t be able to shift for months, so she decided to go for a run. She shifted as she leapt off the porch.
She sped into the woods she’d grown up in and knew well. Her senses were honed and sharped. Faster she ran, leaping over tree branches. As a youngling, her father had shown her the beauty of nature and taught her to rely on her instincts. Her grandfather had shown her how to use her gift and not be afraid of it. As she grew older, she’d run these same trails with her brothers, showing them that even though she was a girl, she could run with a pack of boys.
She ran until she reached the high cliff that overlooked Hope Falls, and came up short when she caught sight of the great clan leader, Shiloh Red Cloud. He was regal as he sat in his wolf form—a massive silvery-gray wolf.
Lahni respected yet hated him. She stepped out of the trees and sat at the far end of the tree line; Shiloh had his attention trained below as he watched over his people. He was a great leader and a fierce fighter, but he was also arrogant, thick headed, and the sooner she could get back to her life, the better. Shiloh had no place in her life, not anymore. Just as she was about to head down to the base of the falls, she heard him in her mind, speaking to her through the telepathic connection their kind shared.
Lahni, what are you doing here?
She bared her teeth at him. I don’t need your permission to be here. Remember, these are my family’s lands, not yours.
Shiloh didn’t so much as flick an ear at her, keeping his eyes on his people. You still haven’t answered my question. Why are you here?
Why are you here? I came here for a run, but had I known you would be here I would have gone somewhere else.
Shiloh turned his head, his gold eyes glaring at her. You’ve got a knack for running the opposite way, Lahni. One of these days, you’re running will be over.
She turned and flicked her tail at him. Well, today isn’t that day.
* * *
Lahni returned home and ran up the stairs to her room. She shifted and closed her door, her heart thrumming hard against her ribcage. It wasn’t the run but Shiloh. The man was insufferable. She wrapped her arms around her torso as she paced, her mind a mass of chaos. She fought to push the past down, to keep it from surfacing, but the memory of how he used to look at her with laughing eyes as they ran through the woods together, hand-in-hand as children, made her chest ache.
“Lahni Bird, I got you. Come on, Lahni, catch up quick!”
“Wait Shi, I can’t run that fast.”
“Oh yes you can, Little Owl. If you don’t, I’m going to let Nauru know you let me kiss you.”
Lahni laughed as she caught up to him. “You won’t do that because Nauru will want to know why you were letting me kiss you.” She stuck her tongue out at him and ran on ahead.
Tears streaked down Lahni’s face. As children, they had adored each other and had stayed close up through most of high school. Everyone, including herself, thought that they’d be mated one day. Then he left and broke her heart.
She watched out the window as she saw her family returning home. Her eldest sister, Khloe, was mated to Cinjin, who was Shiloh’s right hand. Lahni bore Cinjin no ill will, but seeing him with Khloe made her remember what it was like to want the very thing they had with each other.
Lahni got dressed. There was no way she was staying home. The walls were starting to close in. Music was always her go-to, and right now she was running toward it. She grabbed her guitar case and headed down the stairs in search of someplace to jam, even if it killed her. As she cleared the stairs and grabbed her black leather jacket, she heard her mother gasp.
“You’re not leaving so soon, are you?”
Lahni set her guitar case down and hugged her mother. “Mama, I’m just going out for a little bit. I’m not due back on the road for a while yet. I’ll be back, I promise.”
Mai cupped her daughter’s face before giving her one final hug. “There are changes coming for you, my little wild child. Be ready and don’t fear them.”
Lahni nodded and smiled, but inside she cringed. Her mother was clairvoyant and was seldom wrong. Her great-grandfather had been a powerful chief whose brother was the Great War Chief, Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse was said to have had the gift of visions. Lahni always believed that was why so many of them were gifted. Nauru and Bodhi both could communicate with other animals. Khloe had the gift of healing, like their father’s mother. Caleb and Zander were empaths, but Caleb was the stronger of the two. Nyx and Dakota both were strong with intuition. The twins, her baby sisters, were powerful. Karma and Ari not only were precognitive, strong clairvoyants, but also could divine energy from fire and lightening just like their grandfather, Night Horse. Her two little sisters were a force to be reckoned with. Sometimes when Lahni watched them finish each other’s sentences, it sent a shiver up her spine.
Lahni turned and headed out the door. Sitting beside her brother’s truck was a silver wolf. Lahni groaned and tossed her guitar case into the back of the truck.
Her brother, Dakota, came running out. “Hey, can I come along?”
Lahni narrowed her eyes at him. “Depends. Are you going as my brother or as my keeper?”
Dakota smiled. “Brother. Always your brother first.”
Lahni flipped one of her white- and pink-tipped braids behind her ear. “All right, you can come, but I don’t want one complaint.”
Dakota climbed in. Lahni heard a low growl from behind her, but she didn’t even turn around. She climbed up into the truck and pretended she didn’t see that the wolf had taken four steps toward her. Dakota held up a peace sign as Lahni backed out and peeled out of the driveway.
The silver wolf didn’t give chase.
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About Nikki: I am a mom of two and a Ni Ni to a little elf-ling named Zoey Rae. I have always loved books and writing since I was very young. I write children's as well as Paranormal Romance. Being able to mix my asylum of characters with parts horror, parts fantasy, and romance lets me find new ways to create my art. I have always had a great love for our Native Americans and their lore. I hope to donate a portion of sales from "Red Cloud Rising" and "Cursed Awakening" to The Native American Rights Fund (http://www.narf.org/). Please click the link to make your own donation to help with education, ending Native American Child Poverty, reservation and tribal aid, and much more.
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