Mystic Horseman

Mystic Horseman
Kathleen Eagle

November 2016 $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-714-4

A Sequel to Ride a Painted Pony

Our PriceUS$15.95
Save wishlist

| Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt |

Back Cover Copy

Lakota Sioux rancher Dillon Black is slowly working his way back from losing everything he ever cared about. Ultimately, it was the horses that saved him. In his heart, he truly believes in the connection between the wild, majestic breed and the soul of the Lakota people.

Now he has a dream—the Mystic Warriors Horse Camp—a place where youth can connect with the Lakota ways. He has the land, the horses, and the history. All he needs is the money.

That’s where television producer Ella Champion comes in. She works on a reality show where community projects get a makeover. Dillon’s ranch could be her next show . . . and he could be exactly the man she needs off-screen.

Dillon’s ex-wife, Monica, thinks he could use some common sense, but deep down, she feels Dillon’s project might heal their shattered family. Especially because she’s about to reveal a secret that will change everything. Dillon and their teenage children will need all the help they can get . . .

Kathleen Eagle published her first book, a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award winner, with Silhouette Books in 1984. Since then she has published nearly 50 books, including historical and contemporary, series and single title, earning her nearly every award in the industry. Her books have consistently appeared on regional and national bestseller lists, including the USA Today list and The New York Times extended bestseller list.

Born in Virginia and raised "on the road" as an Air Force brat, Kathleen earned degrees from Mount Holyoke College and Northern State University. She taught at Standing Rock High School in North Dakota for 17 years.


Coming Soon!


Chapter One

DILLON BLACK slept with the horses.

Not the best bedfellows he’d ever had, but far from the worst. Most of them were heavy with foal, and there wasn’t a nag in the herd. Having slept with his own kind of overdue female, Dillon would know. But some studs just naturally had it made. Others were only human.

South Dakota sod was not the most comfortable bed he’d ever had, either, but the view was incomparable. His blanket was made of stars. From where he lay on the rise above the Grand River, he could see every square foot of ground he truly cared about, even on the darkest night. The prairie was never fully dark or completely quiet. Something was always happening.

Lovemaking, for instance. The flat at the foot of his sleeping hill rolled all the way to the place where Earth spread her grassy hair about her shoulders, made her knees into two hills, opened her legs, and let the night sky prevail. She took her voice from the coyote and her breath from the night breeze. She was enjoying herself. Dillon could feel it in her rocky bones, and it was all to the good, as long as the coyotes and the cats kept their distance from his mares. He kept his hunting rifle in plain view, hoping any predators who might be sitting on the fence would take it as reason enough to hang back. That and the fact that Dillon was actually wearing his glasses. He never missed when he remembered to wear his glasses.

And he was about to see a miracle happen not fifty yards away. Closer, if need be. Sugar, the baldface dun he’d been watching over, had already blown her water. She’d been up and down a few times, and she’d extruded two twiggy legs. She was down for the count now. Fifteen minutes, tops. But she was nervous, and it wasn’t about the foal. It wasn’t about Dillon, who knew better than to crowd a foaling mustang. There was something out there, something that was all teeth and claws. And for the next fifteen minutes, there would be nothing the mare could do about it. Every part of her was committed now to giving birth.

Rifle in hand, Dillon eased his way down the slope. The mare had picked herself an open spot where she couldn’t easily be trapped. All she needed was a little time, and she would have her baby on its feet and running with the herd, probably by sunup. She lifted her head and eye­balled her guardian, letting him know he was too close. He took her cue, squatted on his heels and laid the rifle on the ground.

From this angle, the mare seemed to float on the moonlit river, adrift in a spillway of stars. It was the perfect vision for a moment like this. Dillon and his partner called their ranch Wolf Trail, after the Lakota name for the Milky Way. It was a grand gesture on the part of two Indian cowboys who’d hit the ground hard and earned their re-ride.

But what the hell? Wasn’t this the Grand River? It flowed from past to present, gathering strength from winter’s sleep and power from the spring equinox. The great Sitting Bull had lived and died on its banks only a few miles upstream. And tonight Dillon imagined the old man kicking some of those stars loose and sending them tumbling home to brighten the night for the many times great-granddaughter of one of his favorite horses, for such was the heritage of Wolf Trail Mustangs.

Sugar grunted. Scoffing at him, was she? Dillon shook his head. The mare had about as much time for a man as a mite right about now. Fe­male heritage, the instinct to survive and produce another survivor, that was her be-all and end-all at the moment. In the moment, if horses had moments. If horses had wishes—if they were wishes.... How did that go?

How about, If wishes were horses, Sitting Bulls people would ride? The de­scendants of Sitting Bull’s people would ride the descendants of Sitting Bull’s horses if Dillon’s horse would get her wish and produce another survivor. That was the way it should go, would go, as long as Dillon kept the teeth and claws at bay.

"Easy, girl. I know there’s something out there. It won’t get past me, I swear.”

Stop trying to get all philosophical and just listen to the night, Black Bear, he told himself. This night. It’s all that counts right now.

Black Bear was an ancestral name, or part of one. His great-grand­father was Black Bear Runs Him, but the name had been shortened twice— first cut in half by some agency record keeper, and then halved again by Dillon’s father, who’d lied about his name, age and anything else that might have kept him from enlisting in the army right around 1943. Surnames weren’t part of Lakota tradition, but neither was record-keeping. Dillon would take his beloved grandfather’s name one day, when he felt he’d earned it. He would make Dillon Black Bear legal. Like blood and the eternal river, it was a name that connected him to the Lakota circle, and he needed all the connections he could get. They kept his feet on the ground.

But tonight, the notion of a river flowing out of the past was distract­ing. Mixing with an imagination like Dillon’s, the current stirred up a fiery vision. Flames danced on the water, taunting him with the river’s memory of another grand gesture. His damn fire, his dream afire. Whatever he couldn’t remember about that night, the river remembered for him in a single reflection, indelibly etched in his brain. It showed him what was left of Dillon Black when he’d pushed himself up from the mud. A crazy drunk flipping God the flaming bird.

Remember when Dillon Black torched his house?

He’d had... what? Seven years to live it down? He had to be pretty close. Lucky seven. He still got razzed about it once in a while—first rule of Indian humor being you were allowed to give only as good as you were willing to take—but he would hate like hell for anybody to mention it in front of Emily.

His daughter was coming home for the summer. His home, his stomping grounds. The place where she was born. She’d lived with her mother for what was undoubtedly the better part of her life, but she was coming home because she believed in the horses and the sacred circle. And, wonder of wonders, she loved her dad. Whenever Monica had told the girl that she was just like her father, it generally meant she’d fucked something up. Some small thing, but the kind that could lead to a big thing unless Monica nipped it in the bud.

No way was Emily just like her father. The part of her life after they’d left him might have been—okay,was—better than the first part. But lately, Dillon had begun to believe she took after the better part of him. Her horse sense, for one thing. Her interest in her father’s people. Little things, maybe, but enough to convince him that he still had a better part, even though he’d split the sheets with his better half.

The mare’s big body shuddered with the proof of her pain. Dillon felt it, just as he had the three times Monica had gone into labor, giving him two living children and one dead one. He couldn’t share the inten­sity of the mare’s pain, but he felt its depth and heat. She was doing fine. It wouldn’t be long now.

It was good to have this birthing to occupy his mind, good to feel use­ful after the bad news he’d gotten earlier in the day. Nothing tragic— nobody had died or moved to Texas—but news of the kind of personal defeat that made him see the fire in the river. His grant pro­posal had been turned down, the one Emily had worked on with him when she’d stopped over at Christmastime. He should have been able to make it happen. He could have talked to a few people on the Tribal Council about the idea to expand the horse camp he’d put together with Emily last summer with a little help from one of the local churches. He thought he’d made a good presentation to the selection committee, and people had been shaking his hand over it ever since. It was all his daugh­ter’s doing, he’d told them. She was studying horses at Montana Western University. She was already ten times smarter about horses than her ol’ man, and he’d been around them all his life. The grant money was in the bag, they’d said.

What bag? Emmie would be out of school for the summer soon, coming home to an empty bag and an empty promise. He hadn’t asked for much—just enough to finish the kitchen and bathrooms in the old church building he’d been fixing up over the years, and a little more for supplies and camping equipment. Kids had been hounding him all win­ter about getting in on his next horse camp, but without financial back­ing, it would be hard to accommodate them all the way he wanted to, which would put a crimp in his daughter’s plans for her big honors project for school.

Crimp. Not the complete kibosh. He had a little cash put away. He could round up a couple of tipis this year and add an overnight trail ride to the program. They’d had bigger ideas, though, the beginnings of an ongoing program. Flushed with last summer’s success, Dillon had devel­oped a sense of mission. He didn’t want his generation to be the last to keep and know horses in some small but blessed semblance of the old Lakota way.

The foal’s head appeared, slick and slender, glistening wet. Dillon’s stomach quivered as the mare’s muscles undulated with the final push. In a stunning split second, the slippery foal slid free of its frantic host. Mother and baby were especially vulnerable now. All they needed was a few minutes for the mare to catch her breath, transfer a last shot of her life’s blood to her baby before it hauled itself up on wobbly legs and broke the cord. Then she would finally begin expelling the placenta, which could take a bit of time. The mare lifted her head and nosed her new baby.

But the coyotes smelled it, too. They were close. Dillon sensed the heat of their bloodlust and their stealthy advance before he could detect any movement. Then shadow slid past shadow. They were downwind, but the succulent smell of a fresh birth overpowered the scent of a mere man.

Dillon remained perfectly still while he rehearsed the shot in his mind’s eye. When he moved, he was quick, sure and deadly accurate.


Chapter Two

MONICA WILSON-BLACK slept with a window open.

Time, place, or season made no difference. Her former husband had introduced her to the wonders of the night sky—available for a limited time only in the world she had, in the end, happily left to him—and clean air. He’d been a fresh-air freak, and the open-window habit had stayed with her, along with the children and half the family pictures, which she’d transferred from albums to indexed file boxes.

He’d burned his half.

Monica had been sleeping single for more than ten years. Or not sleeping, as had lately been the case. Her routine—working until bed­time, reading until sleep time, and then putting a down comforter be­tween her tired body and the Minnesota spring chill—just wasn’t doing it for her anymore. For some reason, her brain had become a nightly spawning ground for worries.

Menopause, maybe. Nice, normal menopause with its limitless symp­toms.

Menopause, she wished.

On the whole, her life had never been better. The kids were doing well. Her knack for decorating on a shoestring had turned into a busi­ness, two books, guest spots, and finally a regular television show. It had been seven years since the divorce had actually been final. A few technical­ities had dragged the process out—the fact that her children were enrolled members of their father’s tribe, that he never wore a watch, seldom had phone service and only looked at his mail about once a week— but she’d needed the actual divorce less than she’d needed a new address.

Lucky seven, except for one little bump in the road.

It had been eighteen months since she’d sacrificed a piece of a lung. A small piece, really, and she’d managed to keep it a secret from nearly everyone. The kids knew, of course. Not every friggin’detail, but they knew they’d been right about her smoking. It could kill her. But it hadn’t, and on the whole, life was good. It was only that one small piece that had been contaminated. Her doctors had been clear on that point. They’d gotten it all. Contamination contained, cut out, and cast away. Worrying was simply part of her nature—one of the few parts she could do with­out. Otherwise, she liked herself better than just about anyone she knew.

Except for her children. Emily and Dylan had gone her two better. Emily was truly good, and Dylan was a seriously talented musician. They were her legacy. If anything happened to her, they had her genes, and goodness and talent would prevail. They had their father’s genes, too, but Monica’s were surely dominant, at least in the important areas. It was fine with her that they had their father’s looks. Dillon was one hell of a looker.

Fortunately, they’d never had to rely on his bread-winning capacity. Monica had always made a decent living, but making do with decent had gone out the window the day she’d discovered her television persona. What self-respecting celebrity, however minor, could or should live by bread alone? She and her children lived well, as well they should. Emily would get her undergraduate degree in another year, and Dylan was so talented that colleges would be throwing money at him when the time came. There was little to worry about, really.

Other than the fact that Emily could not be dissuaded from wasting another summer on an Indian reservation involved with another one of her father’s doomed projects. And the fact that Dylan, soon to be six­teen, could not be persuaded to venture beyond the self-imposed limits of his secure triangle—home, private school, and McPhail Music Acad­emy. He hardly knew his father.

Worse—and this was her own fault—his father didn’t know Dylan.

Dillon and Dylan. Her son was only a few letters away from being a Jr. A few letters and a million light-years. But Monica had been the one to fill out the birth-certificate application, and maybe she’d been a bit pompous in those days. For conversational purposes, she had been mentally well rehearsed on the subject of naming her children after her favorite poets. It had turned out to be one of the many topics she’d pre­pared that only came up in conversation when she brought them up herself, which was why she was so well suited to her current occupation. Teaching had stunted her growth. High-school kids were like husbands, their attention rarely encompassing the answers to their own questions, assuming they cared enough to ask you anything.

Monica remembered the look in Dillon’s eyes when he’d signed his son’s birth-certificate form. Not cold, but certainly cool. She’d been ready for him to say something, ready to remind him that they’d talked about this—or she had, anyway. But he’d signed without challenging her spelling. By that time, he’d known better. Like everything else, she and Dillon had seen eye to eye on names. One of her eyes to one of his. They’d agreed that names meant something, but they couldn’t agree on what that something was.

Truth be told, by the time Dylan was born, Monica had known the marriage was headed south. It had taken her a few more years to get out of Dillon’s house, off his land, and head east, but the handwrit­ing— scrambled by her libido, but undoubtedly scrawled across the wall all along—had been coming into focus when she’d christened the child with the name they’d first chosen for the second baby, the stillborn boy whose grave had been marked by his father: Little Black Bear Runs Him.

They had been living in Montana at the time, but Dillon had taken the tiny body back to South Dakota and placed it in a desolate prairie graveyard near his relatives. Monica had refused the dead child a given name, had visited the little plot only once, and only for a moment. It was enough. No point in dwelling in territory where she had no control.

To her mind, rather than being a point well taken, it was the absence of point well proven. And well worth the cost if somehow the kids’ dues were paid in the bargain. But Emily was her father’s daughter, deter­mined to pay her own dues, and she was old enough to decide how she would go about it.

Still, having little say about Emily’s crazy plans didn’t mean Monica couldn’t get involved. With her connections, she could see their plan for a one-shot summer camp and raise the stakes to a whole new level. She could give them an hour of fame and a future in the summer-camp business. The way things seemed to be shaping up for her health-wise, and the more she thought about it...

But in the end, what would other people think? How would it look if she got involved? Her concern was for more than appearances, even though the appearance of grandstanding on her part would never do. She really wasn’t like that. Monica Wilson-Black was Every Woman. In the end, she truly didn’t want anyone—not even, in her heart of hearts, Dillon—to think badly of her.

A sporadic cough turned serial, forcing her to sit up, throw her legs over the side of the bed, and hack to the point of pain before she gave in and reached for a cigarette. Too early for coffee. She got up, pushed the window open a few more inches and blew a killer stream of smoke. Budding trees cast sketchy shadows across the moonlit backyard. In the flowerbed directly below her bedroom window, a swath of Emperor tulips had closed up for the night. Drifts of daffodils had already bloomed and faded with little notice this year. The earliest days of spring had galloped past.

The pool stood empty. She would have it filled and tended for show, but after Emily left for the summer, it would get little use. Her television show was called It Only Looks Expensive, but Monica had spared no expense in creating the showplace where she and her children could, in theory, spend quality time making Kodak moments and enter­taining their friends. The pool had gone in just in time for Emily’s high-school graduation party. Two more years, and Monica would have the place all to herself when she wasn’t broadcasting her show from her own kitchen or workroom. If she hung on to the house for two more years.

If she had two more years.

But of course she would. Why wouldn’t she? Things had a way of working out, because she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She’d built the show herself from weekly ten-minute spots on a lo­cal morning show to half-hour syndication for cable. She’d built a lot of things from the ground up—contacts into networks, opportunities into accomplishments, children into young adults. Monica was a go-getter, and given more time, she would go get a good deal more.

Two was the magic number. In six months, she would be two years beyond her surgery. Not that she was thinking about it, talking about it, marking off the days or anything. That kind of behavior would be counter­productive, and Monica was nothing if not productive. Two was only a number. When she reached it, then she’d call it magic. Meanwhile, there would be no sidelining Monica Wilson-Black. She was a major player.

She crushed the last half of the cigarette in a small plastic ashtray. The one vice she’d permitted herself seemed to be making up for all the vices she’d avoided. Proof that all it took was one. In her next life, she would opt for total perfection. She’d gotten off the smokes for a good six months, but started in again last summer. Now she was taking a different approach, allowing herself half a cigarette at a time. Since she hated waste, surely she would soon be obliged to quit. She’d been down to four halves a day until she’d smoked a whole one last night when she was on the phone with Emily.

"You just don’t want me to spend another summer with Dad,”Emily had claimed. "It has nothing to do with what’s going on with you or D.J. or any internship you want to arrange for me, and you know it. You want me to be like you, and I’m not. It’s as simple as that.” She paused long enough to dramatize, and then lowered her voice to a tender timbre."I love my father. I know you don’t, but I do.”

"You shouldlove your father. I have no problem with that, Emily. He’s quite loveable.

It’s just that you have so many opportunities right here, and this might be the last—”

"It’s not going to be the last anything, Mother.”Emily sounded half disgusted, as though Monica had been piling on guilt, which she cer­tainly had not.

"The last summer you spend at home.”Monica had scowled as she pulled the carafe from the coffeepot and touched the glass. Cold. It was either nuke it or miss out on her fourth cup. "All right, yes, I have a problem with you choosing his home instead of mine. Again.”

"It’s not about you or him. It’s about the horses. It’s about—”

"It’s about your father.” Monica took a turn at the dramatic pause. "I know him.”

"What’s that supposed to mean? You know him.

"I know all about his quixotic schemes and how seductive they can be.”

"The Mystic Warrior Horse Camp is a good idea, Mom. We proved it last summer. It brought the horses back into those kids’lives. As Dad would say, in a good way.”

"And you’re not sure what that means, but it’s so simple, it must be profound.”

"I have no idea what you mean.”

"But since it’s something I said, whatever the meaning, it has to be mean-spirited.”

"Oh, get over yourself, Mother.”

"All right, I will.”Monica had smiled, enjoying the notion that her comeback bore gifts. "Remember how you said that your project would be perfect for Ella Champion’s makeover show?”Monica had landed a spot in the rotation of guest decorators on the network reality show, Whos Our Neighbor? thanks in part to her friendship with the production manager who scoped out projects for the show, which focused on small communities and common people in need of an uncommon infusion of television fairy dust.

"And how you laughed and said get real? Like you thought I was seri­ous.”

"You sounded serious.”

"Yeah, right. Like I don’t know what Dad would think of having a TV crew come in and mess with his property.”

"His property?A trailer house and an old church?” Had she been talk­ing to anyone else, she might have laughed again. But she caught herself and changed her tune. "No, really, honey, I think you might have hit on something. Your father and I get along well now, and, frankly, quixotic schemes make for good TV. He’s got the Indian mystique going for him, plus the reservation with all its problems. And can you imagine what we could do with that place? I can. You planted the damned seed in my head, and it won’t stop growing. It could be—”

"Now you do sound halfway serious.”

"I’m never halfway anything, Emily, you know that.” She’d dragged on her cigarette. "I’m fully over myself at the moment, thinking com­pletely outside the box. It could be quite a project. Quite a story. We wouldn’t get into unpleasant details, but we could show a family—”

"We wrote an excellent grant proposal, Mother. I know it’s going to come through. That’s part of my honors project—the grant proposal,” Emily enthused. Clearly, she really didn’t think her mother was any­where near serious. "Nobody else’s honors project even comes close. It has everything. It’s more than just a dream. We’re going to make it hap­pen.”

There was no changing Emily’s mind, and, ultimately, that was proba­bly not a bad thing. She wanted to do something worthwhile. In this post-Age of Aquarius world, what kind of a mother would discour­age such instincts?

Which was why she had already approached her good friend Ella with the idea. Not a word to anyone but Ella—unlike her former hus­band, Monica never made promises she had no chance of keeping—but she knew her friend. She’d mapped out Ella’s buttons. Had to. Her friend was also a business associate, and buttons, like contacts and bot­tom lines, were part of the business of living and earning a living.

And Monica no longer had time for a simple friendship.

Please review these other products:

The Last Good Man

Kathleen Eagle

March 2012 $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-092-3


Our Price: US$14.95

click to see more

You Never Can Tell
Kathleen Eagle

June 2012 $13.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-136-4

She tracks him until he catches her...  Some say Native American activist Kole Kills Crow is an outlaw; others say he's a hero.
Our Price: US$13.95

click to see more

This Time Forever

Kathleen Eagle

December 2012 $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-2439

She'd helped convict him of a crime he didn't commit.

Now she wants his help adopting the son he never knew he had.

Our Price: US$15.95

click to see more

What the Heart Knows

Kathleen Eagle

April 2013 $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-258-3

A secret son. A lost love. A dangerous job. A frightening risk.

A second chance at the happiness their hearts were once afraid to share.

Our Price: US$15.95

click to see more

Sunrise Song

Kathleen Eagle

December 2013 $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-3-733

Two love stories, separated by years, intertwined by blood and history.

Our Price: US$15.95

click to see more

But That Was Yesterday

Kathleen Eagle

May 2015 $13.95
ISBN: 9781611946284

Can he live up to her dreams?

Our Price: US$13.95

click to see more

The Sharing Spoon

Kathleen Eagle

October 2013 $13.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-366-5

Warm, generous, and totally unexpected. Holiday miracles can happen.

Our Price: US$13.95

click to see more