The meeting with the attorney went as well as could be expected, Phoenix figured as she worked her way back to Dancing Bear’s house, leaving Rose watching a movie with Dove.
She sat at her chair and pulled out her beading. She worked on it, wondering when the hunters would return and whether Sage Eagle would be in a better temper then. She probably shouldn’t be there to welcome them though. She was glad that her assistance wasn’t needed in the kitchen today, she would help next time.
“Very nice choice,” Dancing Bear commented, bringing in a couple of mugs of tea. “It’s coming along really well!”
“Little Deer is good at teaching.”
“In the rest of society, someone like her would be dismissed as inferior.”
“But you understand that society is wrong.”
“Little Deer has great value to our community. She may not have the strength of the other women, but she makes up for that failing in so many ways. Just like you – as you find your callings, you will find that you have great worth here – and deserve to be part of us.”
Phoenix realized that Nighthawk must have talked to her.
“Just because your abuser did not recognize your value does not mean you do not have any,” Dancing Bear continued.
“It’s just that I’m being given so much… too much. I could never repay...”
“We work together as a tribe. Sure, we are also independent units, but we believe that the basic necessities should be shared because we work together. Like today’s hunt… like the community meals that we share. Everyone works better when their basic needs are taken care of.”
“I was always told that was socialism.”
“Socialism makes a bad political system – especially as a large country, but certain aspects of it can make life a little nicer – such as sharing our abundance and working together to make a better school than what our neighbors have. Just because some parts of socialism are wrong doesn’t mean we throw out everything that might be tarnished by the term.”
Phoenix nodded, but winced as she poked her finger again. “This takes such a long time.”
“A full dress can take several years. You will see those at pow wow later in the year.”
“Wow. Such dedication! Those must cost an absolute fortune.”
“Jingle dresses are almost never sold… they are given to family members or close friends if they must change hands.”
“I’d love to have one… and dance with everyone else.”
“Maybe you can… I’m sure Little Deer will assist you. You are like a sister to her – the ones who left Ba’a O’ng when they finished school.”
“That must be hard on her – and Nighthawk,” Phoenix observed, unwilling to also mention Sage Eagle.
“I can imagine his pain,” Dancing Bear said, not elaborating. Phoenix wondered about the old woman’s story and concentrated on the beading. “Dinner may be delayed this evening, just so you know. It will wait until the hunters return. Then, you will be welcomed into the Neme’o’ng.”
The evening was quickly approaching. Phoenix worked on the beading, thinking constantly about Sage Eagle – hard to avoid considering she was making an eagle – for him. She wanted to see him, but she was equally afraid to see him. Would he still be angry with her? Would they still be the butt of jokes – because of her?
From time to time, she looked up and watched the kittens who were growing quickly, getting into mischief quite frequently. She twitched her socks from time to time to catch their attention. One would grab or try to bite her toe. Maybe she shouldn’t encourage their rough play, but it helped her to be more calm.
Dancing Bear cocked her head. “They’re back.”
Phoenix listened, unsure what had been heard.
“Come. Let’s go. They will want to show everyone what they’ve brought home.”
Phoenix wasn’t sure, but she secured the beads and put down her work. Grabbing the crutches, she hurried after Dancing Bear and the girls to the street in front of the grange.
The horses were clearly tired, as were the weary men and women who slid off them, but nearly every horse had at least two turkeys across its back. A couple of horses had a few more birds – some pheasants and quail as well.
It took her a moment to recognize that one of those was the horse Sage Eagle had rode out on that morning.
“Welcome home, successful hunters!” Nighthawk led.
The group repeated the welcome.
Phoenix caught herself looking at Sage Eagle again. His proud gaze caught hers a moment before she looked away, her heart racing. She wondered what he would think when she presented her peace offering to him. Would he forgive her?
“The ladies have prepared an excellent feast,” Nighthawk continued. “Hang your quarry, clean up and join us.”
Phoenix saw Little Deer with the three girls beside her. She hobbled on her crutches to her friend, taking one last glance back at Sage Eagle who met it momentarily before he handed someone the reins of his horse and took a dozen dead birds inside.
“You will learn how to dress birds tomorrow,” Little Deer suggested. “Tonight, we eat the last birds from our last hunt.”
Phoenix wasn’t sure about learning that, but she had to – she wasn’t properly one of the tribe if she didn’t learn everything.
As they found spots at the tables, Phoenix was briefly worried that seating could be awkward. She sat down next to her girls. Dove sat on the other side of them with her mother. Dancing Bear sat opposite the girls, Nighthawk joined them as well.
“May I sit here?” another female voice asked.
Phoenix looked up, surprised to see another white face, holding a very small baby. “Sure.”
“Crow told me that there was another new arrival, but I’ve not had a chance to meet you since having my baby. I’m Sarah. My twins are sitting with their friends.”
“I’m Phoenix. My daughters, Rose and Skye sit with me. Don’t you have a tribe name?”
“Dragonfly,” she said with a blush. “I’m not sure it suits me...”
“Woxi doesn’t make mistakes on the names, I’m told,” Phoenix said. “What did you call your baby?”
“It wasn’t intentional, really – I started calling her that when I first felt her move and it’s stuck. Crow figures that was her telling me what to call her. Is it really any worse than calling her Maria?” Sarah replied.
“I suppose not.”
“Are you attached to any of the men here?”
“No,” Phoenix replied sadly.
“Which would be why Sage Eagle stares at you now...”
Phoenix looked up instantly to see the men coming in, led by the handsome man. She caught his gaze, but pulled her eyes away just as quickly. “There’s nothing there, Dragonfly,” she replied quietly.
“Have faith, sister,” Sarah encouraged. “Here comes my Crow as well!”
Another gorgeous man approached with Sage Eagle and sat opposite Sarah. Crow looked at her new friend with a level of love and lust that Phoenix made her jealous. She looked away and accidentally caught Sage Eagle’s eyes again. Why did he have to be sitting across from her?!
Back to the prologue
Available to purchase at Books2Read. Print version will be available soon.
THANK YOU to everyone who has purchased one of my books. I appreciate every single one!
Genesis 8.1 by DAZ 3D Studio
Summer Dress by Pusey Designs
Dice Earrings by Fisty
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Previous Swan Valley Stories:
- Native Concession either in ebook form or [print]( . (June 2014, approximately 9 months before Phoenix.)
Swan Valley is a fictitious American Indian reservation located in the Great Divide Basin of Wyoming, USA. The Neme'o'ng (Swan People) are based on the idea of blending the Shoshoni and Arapaho peoples - as might have happened if they were stranded in a desolate area as a small band of misfits. I have developed their language from the same ideas.
Please read my note on romance, teenage intimate relationships and underage sex. I apologize if my understanding conflicts with your sense of morality, but I'm only looking at things realistically, not ideologically. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing!
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