This story involves two people from different worlds that must overcome their pasts and the hurdles that threaten to drive them apart.
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Sarah Carew leaves the only world she has ever known for the promise of a new and better life in James Towne, a colony situated in Virginia. Her dreams are shattered however when she arrives and realizes that the new world is not all it is cracked up to be. Instead, she finds herself subject to servitude by her own people and surrounded by chaos, disease and death until one day, her master crosses the line. As she runs for her life, she is stunned to find herself rescued by a native, one of the very people that her own had set out to conquer. Not knowing where else to go, she pleads for his help. He takes her to his companions where they greet her with anger and rejection. However, it is not them but him of which she must be wary. The scars on his body speak of a tortured past and the hatred burning in his eyes are a warning to keep her distance. Herein lays the problem. She has no idea how to fend for herself in the wilderness of this new world. Unable to return to her homeland of England, especially back to the colony, she is in dire need of his and his peoples’ protection. She soon realizes that the longer she is around him the harder it is to keep him at arms length, even though her Christian duty demands it. For her, such a union is indeed a forbidden thing to have. Besides, how could she even think to choose between a man and her god? Especially when it would mean turning her back on the only part of her old life she has left. Things become more difficult as the heat between them rises. As she struggles to fight the intense desire in her heart, she finds herself wondering. Will she be able to conquer the fiery passion threatening to consume her, or will she lose her heart to… A Most Desirable Defender?
Paspahegh, April 1610
He tore through the village in horror, stumbling over the lifeless bodies of friends and relatives as he raced toward his wigwam. Too late, he finds his frightened wife and two young children taken away by the English invaders. He screamed in anguish and ran frantically toward his family but before he could reach them, the white invaders had beaten his wife to death and shot his children, killing them as well.
The small village was in a state of chaos. The smell of burning wood and heavy clouds of smoke permeated the air. Their homes collapsed to the ground in a mixture of dust and debris. The sound of people screaming along with the occasional loud bang was all he could hear above the roar of the flames consuming the village. The white men with their thunder sticks and shiny armor laughed maliciously at the sight of the destruction they had caused. He watched as they soullessly killed all people in sight that were not like them.
His blood boiled in a helpless rage as he watched their bodies fall with finality to the ground, arousing a small cloud of dust around them. It had taken everything he had to stop himself from running to their side, to turn around, to run. He now had nothing and knew with bitter sadness as he ran that his life had now become emptier than it had ever been.
He could hear the sound of the murderers as they followed him to the edge of the village but refused to look back. His heart beat wildly as he prayed the Great Spirit would let him live. His hope had all but vanished as several hands grabbed him, dragging him to the nearest tree, pinning him to it.
He faced his pasty-skinned attackers with all the bravado he could muster. If he survived this, they would pay dearly. By killing those innocent women and children, they had broken one of the most basic rules of war and that was unacceptable. He silently cursed all these white ‘people’ for what they had done.
Four of them held him firmly to the tree. One man stood close by with a lit torch and another man stood beside him, speaking to the man in his language. They both grinned and looked at him. He knew that whatever they were planning, it was going to be bad. They began speaking to him in their English tongue and he understood very little. One word he did understand he returned bitterly, his eyes burning in anger.
“You, heathen!” he spat back.
The one that was empty handed punched him in the stomach. If not for those that held him captive, he would have hunched forward as the pain shot through him. That same man took a knife from his belt and placed the blade in the fire of the torch. He struggled unsuccessfully as the man took the heated blade, branding his bare stomach, the men continued to hold him immobile. He sucked in a breath. He now realized that escape was impossible, at least for the moment.
They all squealed and laughed arrogantly each time he flinched as the hot metal burned his skin. He could hear it sizzle and his body jerked in protest each time heat and flesh met. It had seemed an agonizing eternity as his whole body became spotted with burns and yet he did not scream. He would not give them the satisfaction of his complete submission.
Sweat poured from his face as the heat overwhelmed him. He was not sure how he managed to hold his tongue, especially since his world had become so clouded and distant, but he held on. He struggled to stay conscious despite the agony he endured. His brows furrowed in obvious distress.
Judging by the setting of the sun much time had passed and his body had become severely weakened by the agonizing torture. They did not seem to tire of this disgusting activity and he was now certain that this would be how he would die. Still he did not scream, but his vision was blurred and his body had become numb from the pain. The sweat burned his eyes, letting him know he was still able to feel something. They were still torturing him when, moments later, the world faded into oblivion.
He awoke to find himself lying before a campfire in what must have been garden soil unused for years. Flames illuminated the darkness around him as his mind struggled to focus. His body, racked with pain, now blistered and ached horribly. He looked about.
Three of his tribesmen and one woman talked amongst each other not far off. Aside from some cuts and bruises, they appeared to be unharmed. He realized at that moment that they were the only survivors from his village.
He watched a moment as they finished picking berries off one of the surrounding bushes and inhaled the welcoming aroma of fish as it wafted through the air. It was at this moment his insides rumbled with the need of nourishment.
“Wingapo.” He muttered weakly to them in greeting, attempting to sit up.
They must have been close to fourteen years of age compared to his twenty-three and were therefore still in need of at least some guidance.
“Wingapo.” They returned, approaching the fire and sitting with him, bringing him a clay plate with some cooked fish along with some wild berries.
They sat and ate in silence, not yet willing to discuss what atrocities had occurred earlier that day.
He thought about his wife and children and his heart sank heavily. She had been a wonderful nurturer and cared deeply for their children. She had always taken good care of family and home, and he never had to worry about anything going awry. She was satisfying as his woman and wife, she always did her best to please him and now he would never see her again. It took all of his inner strength not to weep.
Although it was normal for them to have more than one spouse, it was not something he wanted. He could not understand himself why he felt this way. It was not that the women were unattractive; certainly, this was not the case. He just simply did not agree with it. His wife was a treasure and he had always treated her as such. This is one reason why it was so hard to deal with his loss.
Then the horrible scene replayed itself in his mind. Her beautiful brown eyes filled with fear and pain as they mercilessly beat her, the confusion on his children’s faces before they were murdered. He felt the anger in his blood beginning to resurface. These savages were beyond mercy or reason. They deserved nothing short of death.
Their punishment for this injustice would be severe to say the least. These so-called men had no right to take away the lives of innocent women and children. He swore in his heart that he would never associate with these white devils and should any cross his path, they would pay with their lives. As far as he was concerned, nobody that would harm women and children was welcome to this land.
Upon finishing his food, he decided it was time to break the silence. They told him how they had found him lying near death next to the tree, carried him to this abandoned land and set up camp. They also confirmed his suspicions that they were the only survivors. Five wigwams stood side by side and after a moment, he had decided that this would be his home and the one on the far left would be his.
It was a mild night, which meant he did not need more than his breechclout. This was a blessing since all he had was lost. The light breeze was slightly cool and it soothed his burnt skin. He inhaled deeply, silently sending his gratitude to the Great Spirit for hearing his prayer and allowing him to live.
He lied on his back, placing his hands beneath his head, glancing up at the flickering stars. On a whim, he checked his belt for his pouch. It was gone. The gift his wife had given him was gone. It had probably been lost after he passed out. It could be anywhere between here and where he collapsed. He returned his gaze to the stars and sighed.
Whatever peace this brief moment offered would not last and he knew it. When the morning sun would rise, his heart would still be broken, his village would still be lost and his wife would never warm his side again. That he would never be able to watch his children play tore deep into his soul. This night he would not go beneath the roof of his new home but instead would sleep beneath the stars where, for one brief moment, he could pretend it was all a lie.
He awoke the following morning next to the smoldering ashes of what used to be the campfire. His mind instantly flashed back to the day before when he had witnessed his village burning and had lost everything he ever cherished. The screams of his people echoed in his mind. The wounds on his skin had now become a constantly stinging ache causing him to suck in a breath.
He arose to see the remainder of his younger tribesmen making tomahawks to replace those that were lost and the young woman gathering berries. Indeed, he was not dreaming but instead, living a never-ending nightmare, one of which he could not escape.
He made his way to the nearby river wondering what direction his life would take next. All he knew was that for now he preferred to be alone. The beauty of the lush greenery around the river always amazed him. The soft wind that brushed his skin whispered peacefully in his ears. Inhaling deeply, the refreshing scent of the air told him that, at least for now, all was well. Assuming that was possible.
He removed his garment and stepped into the steadily running water. The cold liquid made the wounds sting for a brief moment, causing him to hiss in pain before a soothing relief overcame him. He then relaxed, sinking his entire body into the stream. He raised his head for air and his mind drifted off as the liquid washed over him. His long black hair floated, surrounding him. Images of his wife conjured up in his head once again.
He remembered the feel of her soft skin as she wrapped her arms around him in a lovers embrace. The way they would splash each other in the river in a playful manner, followed by her musical laughter and a bout of childish wrestling almost made him smile. Almost.
The intense pride he felt at the birth of his beautiful daughter, then his dear son, echoed in his mind and his heart broke a hundred times over. The vision of them chasing each other with giggles and bright smiles on their faces completely crushed him. He had been looking forward to teaching his son how to hunt and fish. Now everything was gone.
How could these white demons think they were righteous in their actions when clearly they were no more than a bunch of heartless, monstrous beasts? The anger in his blood multiplied and he wanted nothing more than to kill the whole lot of them. His pulse quickened.
He would have to speak to the Powhatan and encourage him to attack these beasts with all the men he could assemble. To either kill them all or drive them all back to their own land. Yes, this he would do. There was no room in this land for such ignorant beasts to live. Well, at least not as far as he was concerned.
A voice drew him out of his thoughts and he looked up to see one of the young men standing beside the river, finished weapon in hand. He looked about to see if anyone else was around but the only other sound was that of birds chirping. He turned back to the young man.
“I made this for you. I’m certain you will need it.” The young man spoke, looking him in the eye as though in warning.
If it was, he felt sure they could handle it, at least for now.
“Many thanks. Put it next to my clothing.” He told him, and with that, his tribesman was gone.
He leaned his head back, his hair again curling around him. For a brief moment, he tortured himself with more devastating thoughts of the family he no longer had and dreamed of the future that he now could never have. With a low growl of frustration, he finally made his way to the clothes on the side of the river. He quickly put the cloth between his legs to cover himself and, upon folding the ends of the fabric over the front and back of his newly applied belt, decided it was time to go back.
Upon his arrival, he saw that the young men had caught a couple of rabbits and the young woman was cooking it over a newly made fire. His ears perked up at the sound of a twig snapping behind him. Someone had followed him. So, this was what the young one was trying to warn him about.
He turned and spied two white men entering the clearing. The woman’s dark eyes filled with fear and the young men quickly picked up their war sticks, he raised his as well and attacked the intruders. They bashed them about the head, killing them instantly.
The young men each let out a shout of joy at their accomplishment, shaking their weapons above their heads in celebration for destroying two more white demons. They then danced and laughed before falling over each other, this making them laugh even more.
Moments later, when the celebration was finished, he and two of the tribesmen disposed of the bodies as was fitting before returning to their encampment to eat. They sat about the fire, reminiscing in laughter at how the intruders were shocked, and mimicked the look on their faces before the attack as they ate.
He had decided that he would go that day to seek the Powhatan’s council. Once the meal was finished, he informed them of his decision. It was pleasing for him to know that they all agreed with his opinion about wanting these ‘abominations of nature’ to leave.
The afternoon sun gleamed as he returned weeks later from an uneventful meeting with the werowance, leaving him with a sense of deep seething anger. The chief did not wish to go to war with the demon intruders but instead wanted simply to ‘punish’ them for their barbaric attack. The great chief dismissed him after informing him that an assault would occur on their settlement, only it would serve as a warning not to do that again. Apparently, the chief wanted to befriend these wasteful monsters.
This was ludicrous but he could do naught to change the minds of the Powhatan council. Nothing, not the fresh cool breeze, not the scent of a multitude of flora, not the twittering of the birds could shake him from his dark mood. He may not be able to do anything about that cursed settlement by the ocean, but he could certainly kill any of those creamy colored devils that would dare come near him.
He had come close to his home when one of his tribesmen came to greet him, curious on how the meeting went. He told the interested youth all that happened and saw the disappointment written on his face. He could only imagine how the others would feel.
At that point, an arrow flew past them followed by the sound of something large falling in the bushes nearby. He turned to see one of the other young men running forward with a grin on his face. Before anyone had a chance to ask any questions, the young hunter reached in to the green foliage and pulled out a large turkey, dragging the now limp creature by the neck.
“We eat well today!” the young hunter exclaimed cheerfully.
This did nothing to improve his mood and he grumbled. The young hunter approached him, dragging the body along the ground, and proceeded to ask what was troubling him. Upon hearing the news, the young man became frustrated and stormed away, the bird bouncing behind him.
“Those white mowsah’s should all be destroyed!” The young man exclaimed before he disappeared.
This made him crack a smile. Indeed the invaders were every bit the maggot. The way they thrived on death, he could not think of a better way to describe them.
The weeks up to now seemed to drag as mid summer approached and his heart could still feel the loss. He barely spoke to anyone, except of course when trading with other villages for necessities. He was always in a dark mood, killing every enemy that had the misfortune of crossing his path.
He had become the leader of his little group and they were all content to keep it that way. They loved their people but did not agree with many of their opinions of the white man, especially when they had not endured all that he had. On top of that, his heart could not take any more loss right now. For now, solitude was preferable.
The young woman that was with them had planted a fair sized garden, which would provide enough for this little tribe eat. She had also made them some clothes and moccasins for their travels. This young one would make some man a very happy husband, he thought before visions of his own wife floated once more into his head. He missed her terribly. He would have done anything to bring her back although he knew this was impossible.
The past few weeks he was so depressed and angry his tribe had given him the name Perevimuh Nimatewh Reihcahacoik, because they always saw him as being under a dark cloud of misery and anger. He supposed it was rather fitting but he had every right to feel how he did when his world and everything that mattered to him was all but gone. Even though his wounds had fully healed, the scars remained, inside and out, and would forever more.
He could not bring himself to want a new wife. How could he when his heart belongs to her? To want another would dishonor her memory and he could not do it. He would not have it. He was certain that he was destined to a life of sadness and solitude and he could not bear the thought. It tore at him like a knife. The pain in his heart was immeasurable.
He hesitated, going to greet the rest of his fellow men at that moment did not appeal to him. He was not ready to see the disappointment on their faces. He knew they all felt the same, that nothing less than the total extermination or deportation of their enemy would suffice. They should endure the pain that they so willingly brought to his people. He heaved a sigh. He was just about to enter the encampment when a high-pitched sound reached his ears.
He looked around and saw nothing but the same sound repeated, this time closer. He stilled his body and opened his ears to the wind. He was about to give up when he heard the noise again, this time so close he knew it to be a woman screaming. He climbed up to one of the highest branches of the nearest willow tree, which towered over a steep green hill, and scanned the forest of pines below.
He could just make out a form running through the trees, and something or someone was chasing it. He quickly and quietly made his way down to intercept; after all, it could have been one of his own people. He had made it ahead of them and silently waited in the shadows, hiding behind a bush. He picked up a rock, holding it tightly in his powerful hand. He stilled his body, his heart beating rapidly.
He heard the shouts as they approached and when the woman appeared, he froze. She was one of them, a white demon. He chewed his lower lip. He would have got up and left except it would have given him away. He knew that if they saw him they would kill him. He stared in quiet anguish at the woman, his hatred heating his blood.
The man that followed close behind caught up to her as she tripped over a tree root. She covered her youthful face with her arms as her slim body hit the ground with a thud. Blood trickled from her wounds and the unusual clothing she wore was horribly torn and saturated with the crimson liquid.
He had never seen women wear such stuffy looking clothing before and all the layers of fabric confused him. He wondered how they could bear to wear such things, especially in warm weather like this. The white female’s clothing covered her from her neck all the way to her ankles and he had noticed the fabric beneath when she fell. Surely, these females would suffer greatly from incredible heat and chaffing. Her hat fell off her head revealing a portion of her blond hair; the rest seemed to hide beneath the fabric of her clothing.
Her screaming resumed with an intensity that nearly made his ears ring and she turned, looking up. Before she had a chance to get up, the large muscular man began beating her with his whip and his reddened face seemed to derive pleasure from it.
The white man wore bright red-colored tight pants with some rather puffed out garment around his waist of the same color. A striped shirt lined with two different shades of grey covered his upper body. There was white fabric that protruded from his shirt around his neck that fanned out. He was sweating profusely. He had an unusual hat, which covered his head, and his blue eyes were ablaze with fury. How could these heartless creatures treat their own women like this? He found it appalling to say the least.
The white woman was crying and screaming hysterically while trying to cover herself as each lash tore past the fabric of her clothing, tearing her flesh. He saw the sheer look of terror that brought back memories of his wife. Looking in her green eyes was like looking at the sea, reminding him of how he wished that all these whites would be deported. Though he would have liked to leave the white devil to his bliss, after all this was none of his business, he somehow knew this woman was as innocent as his wife had been. Because of this, he had to help her.
He quietly arose and crept up to the man, rock in hand. Upon reaching him, he cracked the cool stone over the enemy’s head, splitting his skull. He watched with mild satisfaction as the evil white man’s now lifeless body collapsed to the earth before him. The woman stopped screaming and peered up at him, teary eyed. His heart drummed in his ears.
Even though she was white, she was beautiful. Her heart shaped face was small and looked quite delicate. Her lips seemed to be soft, they parted as though in shock and her tiny nose fit her face perfectly. Her long eyelashes curved gently, sweeping off the top of her cheeks. She reminded him of a delicate flower whose stem hid beneath too much dirt, that being the rest of her kind.
He put out a hand and helped her up. All the while, she had not taken her confused eyes off him. She was short; the top of her head only reached his shoulders and she now appeared to be quite weak from the ill treatment she had just received. She stumbled at first but after a moment was able to steady herself on her feet.
His heart broke again as he gazed at her and wished it had been his wife that he had saved instead. This was useless thinking though because he knew it was not to be. He dropped the blood-covered rock and wrapped her arm around his shoulders. He then proceeded to wrap an arm beneath hers to steady her as they made their way up the hill. It had taken them a while and she had staggered most of the way but had they eventually succeeded.
He looked her over carefully and found that, though she had many wounds, they were only minor and the bleeding had already stopped. Her clothing desperately needed changed, especially since he found the drab fabric with the red blotches to be quite disturbing.
What was I thinking? She was one of them - a white devil, he thought to himself. He was tempted to leave her there but knew deep in his heart that it would be wrong. After a moment, he found himself to be still undecided when she spoke.
“Thank you.” She said to him in a soothing voice as she embraced him.
He was not sure at first what that meant, his body tensed. However, the way her body relaxed against him, the smile on her face as she looked up into his, told him there was no ill intent behind her words. At that moment, he instinctively knew it was an expression of her gratitude.
His memories surfaced, bringing back all the times his wife had run to him, embracing him much like this woman had. It was definitely too much for him to handle. He placed his large hands on the strange person’s shoulders, gently pushing her away. He would never again be able to feel another lovers embrace without the memories of his wife and the guilt would be unbearable.
The pain in his heart flared anew and he turned away. This woman would open every wound in his heart and he could not allow it. He began to walk away when her voice called out behind him.
“Wait!” she pleaded.
He stilled. His fists clenched. After a moment’s hesitation, he turned.
He knew what that meant. Only the time he had learned it he did not care to remember. He looked into her pleading eyes and stood immobile, unsure of whether or not he should have ignored her. He found himself wondering if he even could. All he knew was should she request more help from him, he could not refuse.
“Please, don’t leave me alone! If they find me they will kill me!” she begged, falling to her knees before him, fright etched in her face.
He may not have understood every single word but enough to get the meaning. If they did this to her they would likely kill her. This meant she was in dire need of his protection. He looked about cautiously. Seeing there was no immediate danger he directed her to his encampment. All the while, he wondered, could this be a mistake?
As they reached their destination, the young ones peered at him with obvious disapproval. Ignoring their gazes, he brought her before the fire where she sat, fidgeting nervously. It seemed she could feel the tension as they surrounded them. He stood behind her and watched as she gazed at them before peering up at him in uncertainty.
She was clearly nervous, smart woman. If she had been a man, there would be no way his people would have spared her. She would have been tortured to death for trespassing and crimes against his people. After what the demon invaders had done to his village however, he knew his peers were sorely tempted.
The tribeswoman was preparing the turkey and the men pulled him away from the ‘unwelcome guest’, questions forming in their eyes. He told them about the white man chasing her and what she had endured but that did not seem to faze them. He assured them she was not going to be trouble though, even in his own mind, he was not so sure. They turned and watched her for a brief moment as she sat staring into the fire before turning back to each other.
The argument continued until he had had enough. He was going to let her stay, she would have the protection of their humble little tribe and that was the end of it. The young men grumbled but offered to give her a chance and vowed that, at least for now, they would put aside their prejudices. With that, they approached her in an attempt at a friendly demeanor.
“Wingapo.” They chorused.
She looked up at them and her face transformed in obvious confusion before looking at him. It was clear she was seeking his guidance and some form of explanation. He thought for a moment before he remembered seeing what the white men did when they would address each other. A word he had heard them say to each other had just entered his head.
“Gree-teens.” He forced out and his fellow men looked at him in surprise, then peered back at her, curious as to what her response would be.
She seemed to understand their effort and came out with a surprise of her own.
“Wing-gop-po” she returned, slowly forming the word in what was an obvious effort at respect, then smiled.
He saw the look of astonishment on their faces and could only imagine that of his own. She seemed to be the complete opposite of any of the white people he had encountered before and he wondered at this unusually intelligent and considerate woman. Her obvious innocence touched him and he realized at this moment that he could not let anything happen to her, regardless of what the future might hold.