The 20th is right around the corner! I can’t wait for you to meet Adam in the next novella of the Legacy Series! Here’s a portion of the first chapter that tells about Adam’s relationship with his father, Geoffrey.
Navajo Territory, 1721
Adam sat cross-legged in the threshold of his family’s hogan, drawing figures in the sand with a stick. The evening sun began its slow descent behind the sacred mountains, alighting the sky in brilliant shades of deep orange, like the earth from which his people built their homes. Soon, the moon and stars would rise in the east and bring the night. One more day and no sign of his father.
The hunting party had already returned from their journey, bringing with them a pair of deer for the communal meal. He could smell them preparing the fire somewhere towards the center of their village.
Behind him, Adam could hear his mother beating down the wool yarn with her wooden comb as she weaved a blanket upon the upright loom. There wasn’t much daylight left to weave by, but she had been sitting in their hogan all day working on this new project.
His mother was known for her beautiful blankets and rugs. No one else in the village could replicate her intricate diamond designs, making every piece one of a kind and prized by others outside of their tribe. That’s why father was so late in returning home. He said he would travel all the way to the Ute people to the north to trade her blankets for something special.
“Why don’t you go play with the other boys?” she asked as she wove the white and gray yarn between the taut strings. “Staring won’t make azhé’é return sooner.”
Adam sighed. The last thing he wanted to do was go play with the other boys of the village. “Have you heard what they’re calling me?” he questioned as he looked over his shoulder.
His mother didn’t even look up from her project. “What? Ashkii Bináá’ Ch’ilgo Dootł’izh?”
“Yeah,” he replied. “Boy with Green Eyes. I like my eyes. Why should they make fun of me for them?”
A slow smile curled across his mother’s lips. Perhaps he was biased, but Adam thought his mother was the most beautiful woman in the village. If he had been to any other of the Diné villages, he knew he would find no one who could compare to her. He enjoyed helping her comb her long, silky black hair in the early morning before she wrapped it up into a bun with her strip of white cloth.
Adam’s skin wasn’t as dark as hers, or any of his people for that matter. Even his hair wasn’t black like theirs, but a dark brown. Everything about him was just slightly lighter than the others in the village. Except his eyes. Adam’s eyes were the color of rich sagebrush, just like his father’s.
“They’re not making fun of you, Adam,” his mother said, her words like a gentle caress to his nervous spirit. “The name your father gave you means nothing to them, so they look for something else to call you.”
Adam turned himself around, discarding the stick he had been using to draw pictures since earlier that afternoon. The dirt beneath him scraped against the rough hide of his deerskin pants. “Then why can’t they call me something like Ashkii Dilwo’ii? Everyone knows I run fast.”
She only shrugged. “Maybe you should go now and suggest it.”
He rolled his eyes. If he went and told the other boys that he wanted to be called something else, they would only tease him and know that his bestowed nickname bothered him enough to say something. His father told him once to never let others know that something upset him. It would only give them the power to use his feelings against him. Adam saw the easiest way was to just leave the matter alone. He might have only been eight summers old, but he was learning much wisdom from his father.
Besides, he enjoyed sitting and listening to his mother hum her songs while she weaved. When all the other boys were practicing shooting their bows, he was content to sit and stare at the horizon and wait for his father.
He absolutely hated the days, and sometimes weeks, when his father and uncle were away to trade. When they were in the village, Adam didn’t feel so different from the rest. His father’s golden hair, the color of ripe corn, made him stand out among the rest, even if his eyes weren’t so green. Both his father and uncle were pale, much paler than the Diné, but not quite as pale as the men from the south who called themselves the Mexicans and Spanish. Adam always heard the elders whisper about how strange it was that Asdzáá Yanaha, his mother, would find such a strange man attractive enough to marry. That’s why they called her Brave Woman.
Whatever it was they saw in each other, the Diné accepted the union and the men called Geoffrey and Hugo were allowed to live amongst them as if they were part of the Diné. It was an agreeable arrangement for everyone. Geoffrey and Hugo were accepted in almost all the other tribes, even the Comanche, so the Diné could trade with them without ever having to leave their sacred lands between the four mountains.
Adam heard a shout coming from somewhere inside the village and scrambled to his feet to peek to the north. He could see four bobbing specs in the distance, ambling at a slow pace. He peered against the waning light and spotted his father’s golden hair.
He took off just as his mother was rising from her place in front of the loom to see what the commotion was. Adam’s feet pounded against the parched earth and some of the other boys in the village joined in their race to meet the two traders. He was faster than all of them, though, passing by the fields of crops and herded sheep tended by the young women of the village.
Geoffrey, his father, dismounted from his horse and caught Adam in his arms as he slammed into him at a full run. From atop his own mare, Hugo laughed and joked about the boy cracking a rib.
“That’s all right,” his father said with a laugh. “I’ve missed you too, son.”
As soon as Adam was firmly planted on the ground once more, his eyes drifted up to the bound load atop his father’s packhorse. “What’s the special thing you traded mother’s blanket for?” he asked in Geoffrey’s tongue, the tongue of the English. He had learned it aside his mother’s language since he was old enough to speak.
“It’s not anything on there,” his father replied, then motioned toward the unburdened horse tied to Hugo’s saddle. “This is for you.”
Adam’s mouth gaped open with delight. “A horse? For me?” he screeched.
By now, some of the other village boys were coming upon the group that had been brought to a standstill.
Geoffrey nodded. “It’s yours.”
After giving his father another hug to show his appreciation, Adam fled to his gift. Horses belonged to those within the village who had use of them. The men who went hunting, in particular. None of the younger boys had their own horses until they were of age to join the hunting parties. Adam had many more summers before it was his time. He’d be the envy of every boy in the village and perhaps they wouldn’t call him Green Eyes anymore. Maybe they’d call him something more heroic like Horse Warrior.
Adam reached up and petted the neck of the young chestnut brown stallion. The horse nudged his shoulder with his thick muzzle, a dark eye watching his new master with interest. Hugo dismounted his own steed and pushed his way through the tiny crowd of boys who were busily gawking over Adam’s gift.
“Come here, boy,” he said as he easily lifted Adam onto the stallion’s bare back. “He’s quite tame. Just take a bit of his hair to hold onto.”
Adam grinned so hard his cheeks began to hurt. “What should I call him?”
“Whatever you want,” his father replied from the other side of their group.
After a moment of thought and unwarranted suggestions from his peers, Adam announced in both of his parents’ tongues, “I’ll call him Gift, since that’s what he is.”
Geoffrey nodded his approval and began to guide his two horses toward the village where a sizable crowd was forming just on the edge, waiting for his arrival. Adam watched as Hugo reached over and untied the rope from around Gift’s neck.
“Take him for a ride,” his uncle offered with a wink.
Adam didn’t have to be told twice. He kicked Gift and off they sped, leaving the jealous boys behind. He heard his father shouting out his feeble warnings to be careful, but caution was the last thing on his mind. With the wind tossing his hair and beating against his face, who could think of safety? All he could think of was that the boundaries of his home had just expanded. With a horse, he could go anywhere, even to the sacred mountains if he dared.
Geoffrey’s gaze skimmed over the crowd of dark heads that moved toward them with raised arms and shouts of joy. There were plenty of women coming to meet him and Hugo with expectant looks, but not one of them belonged to him. He spotted her toward the back, standing apart from the others with a soft smile as she wrapped her striped blanket about her shoulders.
He blindly handed the reins of his horse to his brother and edged through the natives to meet her. Geoffrey had been all over the known world, and traveled through parts that had yet to be trodden by Europeans. But not one face could capture him as hers did.
When they first met, even his inner wolf salivated for the chance to claim her for his own. They came to, what they learned to be called, the Navajo Territory a decade ago, continuing their search for myths and legends about their own kind. Many of the native tribes they encountered had a shapeshifting story, some related to wolves and other animals like crows and coyotes. Geoffrey and Hugo hadn’t expected to stay in the Navajo Territory, not when the promise of further exploration drifted from further south. The Spanish and Mexican colonies were sure to have their own brand of legends mingled in with the native folktales, but Asdzáá Yanaha changed all that.
It was difficult to form the sounds of their unique language at first, so Geoffrey gave her another name. Rebecca. It was reserved just for him, in the same way that she called him Hastiin Bitsii’ Łitso because of his blonde hair. After they learned to speak one another’s language, communication became much easier – as did other things.
Many of the native tribes they encountered warmly received Geoffrey and Hugo into their villages, eager to share their way of life, so different than what they were familiar with. They learned typical trading customs, languages, and varying cultures that seemed to be so in tune with the natural world. Hugo had once remarked that his wolf never felt more at ease than it did amongst the tribespeople, especially when they sang their haunting chants. Geoffrey felt it too, which was why when Adam came along, it was a simple decision to stay with the Navajo. For now.
Geoffrey watched as a stray strand of dark hair came loose from Rebecca’s tight bun and fell across her face. When she made no move to tuck it behind her ear, he did it for her.
“You look well,” he said softly in English, smiling down at her and wishing they could retreat back to the hogan for some privacy.
Rebecca nodded. “You too,” she replied, his own sentiments mirrored in her dark eyes. “Adam has missed you.”
“I hope someone else in the village missed me too,” he remarked, taking a tiny step closer so he could hear the way their heartbeats became one.
Rebecca slid a glance toward the group of villagers collecting the new goods as Hugo distributed them. “Skipping Woman asked almost every day when you’d return. She wanted more beads for the necklace she’s making for her daughter.”
Geoffrey couldn’t contain himself any longer and guided her chin back toward him so she could receive his kiss. They had been together for so long, but the scent of her raw arousal never grew old. Despite what she so obviously felt, she pulled away and giggled like the young woman he had met ten years ago.
“What’s this I hear about the boys calling Adam a name?” he asked as they began to make their way into the village, walking past the other hogans with their wisps of campfire smoke curling upwards through the hole in the earthen roofs.
“It’s just a season,” she sighed. “The boys will find something else to amuse themselves and they’ll call him a different name.”
Geoffrey nodded, though the prospect of his son being ridiculed in such a way unsettled him. “Believe it or not, I was a boy once too. I remember being teased and bullied. I just want Adam to have the best childhood that he can.”
Rebecca slid a glance his way. “Until you take him from me.”
For the sake of not repeating Hugo’s mistake, Geoffrey was completely honest with Rebecca from the beginning, even before Adam was born. He told her all about werewolves and how they were not the same thing as the yeahnáglóshii – the skinwalker – that was considered an evil shapeshifter in the Navajo culture. Once she saw his golden eyes and watched him shift for the first time, Rebecca seemed rather accepting of him and Hugo. The rest of the village didn’t know and they wanted to keep it that way.
However, when Adam was born, Geoffrey told her about what would happen when he came of age. It’d be too dangerous to keep him in the village, and they both agreed that taking him away for his training would be best for everyone. That didn’t mean she had to like it.
“You still have several more years with him,” Geoffrey encouraged as he hung his arm around her shoulders to draw her closer.
“You must promise that you’ll come back with him before I die.”
It was such a morbid thought for a woman still in her prime, but Geoffrey wouldn’t allow himself to be naïve. Rebecca was human and would pass away some day. Geoffrey, Hugo, and Adam would not. Geoffrey would look as young as he did now by the time they left the village for the last time. Rebecca’s beautiful face however, would boast a few wrinkles and her body wouldn’t be so lithe and supple between his arms. He knew when he fell in love with her that it wouldn’t last forever, however much he wished it could.
“I promise I will bring him back to you,” he said as they ducked into the cool air of the hogan they shared. “I see you’ve been working hard on something beautiful,” he remarked in regard to the stunning blanket stretched on the loom.
Rebecca turned to him. “That reminds me. What was this special gift you were hoping to trade? If you wasted a trade on some silly beads or jewelry…”
Geoffrey kissed her cheek, admiring how she was never in want of anything but his company. “No, nothing like that. I got Adam a horse.”
Her eyes went wide. “You didn’t!”
“What’s wrong with getting the boy a horse?” Geoffrey laughed at her startled expression. “Every boy needs a horse.”
Rebecca unwrapped her blanket from around her shoulders. “I will never see that boy again,” she fumed as she folded the thick cloth. “He’ll be out all day, riding about while I need him to tend after the sheep or collect water. What is that word you use… Spoil? You spoil that child.”
Geoffrey only shrugged. “That’s what a father should do.”
Her lips that were puckered into a stern pout, melted into a grin again and she shook her head ruefully. “Making up for what you didn’t have, I assume?”
That was another thing that he made perfectly clear with Rebecca when Adam was born. Geoffrey knew little about what it meant to be a father, much less a successful one. He loved the boy just as much as he loved Rebecca, but even after eight years, he still fumbled through the hard lessons.
Geoffrey’s father wasn’t around to teach them the things they needed to learn. When he abandoned him and Hugo with their heartbroken mother, he left without a word or any hint as to what would happen to them when they became men. Geoffrey wouldn’t allow that to happen with Adam. And if that involved spoiling him with gifts along the way, he’d do it gladly.
He kissed her again instead of replying to her question and moved toward the doorway. “I need to go help Hugo take care of the horses before it gets too dark.”
Rebecca placed a delicate hand upon his arm. “Will you be home tonight, or…” She gave him a look, the one that reminded him of how she knew him all too well. It might have been something in the way he stood, or a subtle look in his eyes. Either way, she could always tell when it was his time of the month to change.
Geoffrey let out a breath and shook his head. “I won’t be sleeping with you tonight,” he said. “I’ll stay as long as I can for the evening meal, but then I have to go.”
Looking not the least bit distressed by his answer, she nodded. “Just be careful,” she warned before giving him one last kiss and turning away to the loom. There wasn’t much light to see by, and she began to put away her supplies so she could continue the next day.
Geoffrey gave her one more appraising look and then left the hogan. It had been several decades since they first stepped onto this new, unexplored continent, but it all passed by too quickly. If only the next years he had left with Rebecca and the Navajo could pass just a little more slowly, then maybe he’d be content.
But as long as the reality of their shortened stay loomed over them, Geoffrey couldn’t allow himself to be as blissfully happy as he would like. If only there was some way to keep Rebecca a little longer, to keep the ravages of time from touching her beautiful soul. To stave off death itself from seizing her spirit before he had a chance to fully appreciate it through centuries of being with her. Then, he could ignore that dull ache in his throat as he walked away from their hogan.