A little background: A character in Indian Summer, Sailfish, a Native Floridian, rescues Gabriella from grave danger. He falls in love with her, not realizing that she's engaged to his blood brother, Manuel. I had several readers ask me when Sailfish was going to get his own girl, so I decided to write Savage Heart.
The year is 1740. There continues to be trouble between the British and the Spanish as they struggle for supremacy over the New World. A band of renegade Indians, working for the British, raid an outlying homestead, killing all the inhabitants but one. A young woman, Meli Chasseure, escapes but is wounded by a Florida panther. Sailfish saves her life, bandages her up and takes her to St. Augustine. Of course, they fall in love and plan to marry.
Defying the norm, Governor Deza allows Sailfish to sleep in Meli's room with the understanding that nothing will happen under his roof. He allows this because Meli is plagued by nightmares of her family's brutal slaying. They uphold the governor's trust until two nights before their wedding, when it goes further than just kissing. Not all the way, but far enough to make Sailfish extremely upset when she puts on the brakes. He leaves, furious and frustrated. Meli cries herself to sleep. This scene takes place the following morning. (Purr is her kitten.)
Meli awoke with the sun, yawning and stretching happily. Sailfish lay curled up beside her, one long arm draped over her protectively. As if she'd designated herself chaperone, Purr lay between them, forcing a modest distance.
Sailfish stirred in his sleep, rolling over on his back. Clad in his loin cloth, the lines of his bronze body enticed Meli's hungry eyes. She wanted to touch him, run her fingers over the taut, corded muscles, but she didn't dare. Her fingers tingled with desire, but she kept her hands to herself. They had come too close the night before to breaking their promise to Ferdinand. In fact, she hadn't expected to wake with Sailfish beside her.
She snuggled deeper under the covers, laying her cheek on her hands to keep from betraying the trust they shared. They would be married soon and she'd be able to fondle him as much as she liked. Only another night must pass and they would be wed.
Purr yawned and stretched every part of her furry little body. Her tail tickled Sailfish's ear. Reacting like a warrior, he groped for his weapon, not finding it. He grabbed the hapless kitten in one huge hand. The cat shrieked, clawing desperately as his palm closed around her belly, cursing loudly. The noise was alarming of angry cat and angrier Indian.
Meli jumped up, grasping his arm so he wouldn't strangle her kitten. Laughing hard, she foiled his attempt at cat killing, taking the hapless feline from him gently. She did her best to calm both cat and human.
"Gads! What was that?" Sailfish rubbed vigorously at his ear.
"Purr's tail. I'm so sorry," she giggled. "She's used to sleeping with just me." She kissed the kitten who struggled to get down. "Are you alright?" She set Purr on the floor, reaching for his hand.
"I'm fine! She startled me. I'm used to sleeping outside. Sometimes animals come up, attracted by body heat. Not a good way to wake up!"
"I'm sorry, my love." She touched one of the scratches on his hand. "We need to bathe that."
"It's merely a scratch," he replied sulkily.
"Quit being the big, strong warrior. She's an outdoor cat. Who knows where she's been?"
Taking a washcloth, she dampened it in the water basin and rubbed a little soap on it. Sailfish hissed as the soap got in the wound.
"My herbs would hurt less."
"Perhaps, but this is here. You'll be fine." She finished cleaning and drying the scratches, delivering a light kiss before letting go.
"Thank you," he said, less sulky. "It's good to have you look after me."
"It's my job," she murmured. "I can't wait to be your wife."
"Nor I to have you...."
He leaned forward, long fingers twining in her hair. His kiss tingled against her lips briefly. Suddenly, a furry cannon ball landed between them. Purr – taking her job as chaperone seriously once more.
"Your cat hates me."
"No, she doesn't. But you can't expect her to be very happy with you at the moment. After all, you did try to choke her."
"She stuck her tail in my ear! Had I been awake, I wouldn't have reacted so abruptly."
"Apologize," Meli said, holding the kitten nearly in his face.
Sailfish gazed solemnly into the kitten's eyes and spoke a long phrase in his native tongue. When he'd finished, Purr touched his lips with her paw.
"That was so beautiful," Meli sighed. "What did you say?"
Sailfish switched to French so she could understand. "Little sister, I beg your pardon for the way I behaved. You took me by surprise. Please forgive me and don't keep me from Meli anymore. I only wanted a morning kiss."