Once Upon A Savage Moon
Brothers Creed and Brand Gatlin love the same woman. One is the father to her child; the other her husband. One left to fight in the Civil War; one stayed home to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.
Sage and Lauren McCain, twins separated at birth, have no idea the other exists...until Fate steps in to reunite them twenty years later.
Once Upon A Savage Moon is a sweeping saga of two families, the McCains and the Gatlins, caught in the crossfire of the Civil War and the Sioux uprising. Journey with them as they struggle through heartache, betrayal, forgiveness and ultimately love.
Set up and Excerpt: On her deathbed, Sage's grandmother reveals the girl's true identity.
Sage jumped when Wanapaya tapped her on the shoulder and motioned her to follow. Placing the sickly child under the blankets with her parents, she walked outside.
He spoke the words and she felt the blood drain from her face. “Your grandmother is very ill. She calls for you.”
Sage clapped her hands over her ears. She’d seen so much death, cradled so many dying babies, she couldn’t bear to see another loved one die. The world crashed down around her while she ran through the village. She stumbled time and again, and rose to push onward.
Throwing back the flap of the lodge, she rushed to her grandmother’s still form and dropped to her knees. Tiny blue veins punctuated her thin, translucent hands. They felt warm and clammy in hers. Blinking back tears, Sage choked on the words. “Grandmother, it’s me. Can you hear me?”
Peter Pa sat opposite Sage, his legs tucked beneath him. He lifted his head and stared into Sage’s eyes. Even in the dim light of the lodge the ugly truth marched forth. Her grandmother courted death.
Sage put her palm to Gran’s forehead and jerked it back. Tossing back the furs, she tore open her cotton shift and scanned her neck and torso. “No-o-o!”
The familiar rash—the one she loathed—covered her grandmother’s hot flesh. She pummeled her fists into the ground and choked on her sobs. “Please do not leave us! There’s much to be done yet!” Cupping her grandmother’s face between her hands, she pleaded. “Please do not give up, you must fight!”
A deafening silence came to the lodge. Sage lifted her head and searched the familiar faces. Otter Woman, Storm Cloud, Crooked Back and her beloved husband stood in the shadows, their faces masked in grief.
Sage turned to Peter Pa. “You must tell her she can’t leave. I can’t bear it.”
His lips trembled. “It’s her time, child, and you can’t save her.”
Caught up in her own emotions, she shrieked, “I will not allow her to die!”
“She’s run a good race.” Peter Pa took Evrasina’s hand. “Now it’s time for her to begin another journey.”
Sage shook her head. “Not yet, oh please, not yet!”
“You’ll see her again one day, but now, you must allow her to leave in peace.”
Sage drew Gran into her arms. “I’m not ready. Please open your eyes, speak to me.”
Feverish eyes opened and a hard-earned smile tugged the corners of Evrasina’s lips. She labored for breath, forcing Sage to accept the fact her grandmother would soon leave this place called earth. She’d heard the hated death rasp much too often to ever forget the gurgling rattle.
Evrasina’s lips moved. “Come close, child. There’s little time left and I must tell you….”
Sage looked into her colorless eyes. “Whatever it is, it can wait. You must save your strength.”
Her voice firm, yet filled with love, she rasped, “I must make my final journey without secrets on my soul. I’ve always loved you more than life. From the first time I saw you, I knew I could never give you back.”
Confusion stormed through Sage’s mind. “Give me back?” She looked into Peter Pa’s eyes. When he averted her gaze, a sickening dread claimed her. The racking cough drew Sage to her grandmother again. The words she would hear soon would alter her life forever. Yet she’d always known something, hadn’t she? “What-what do you wish to tell me?”
With great effort, Gran drew out the words. “Sage, you are a McCain.”
Numb disbelief washed over her. She heard a long breath escape Grandmother’s lips. Her hand went limp and her head lolled to the side.
Five words hung in the air between them, her grandmother’s last. Sage clung to her slack hand. Crooked Back and Storm Cloud began a reverberating chant, the undulating echoes rising and falling like a funeral dirge in the lodge.
Spasmodic sobs wracked Sage and her tears fell harsh and unrelenting. Her beloved Grandmother had passed on.
Peter Pa rubbed Evrasina’s still fingers, his shoulders shaking with grief. Like a man obsessed, he massaged her hand and turned it over in his own as if by doing so he could bring her to life again. His heartfelt sobs filled the lodge in unison with the mournful cries of the grieving. Wanapaya stepped from the shadows and pulled Sage from the ground. She slumped against his chest and cried her heart out.
They buried Evrasina Denzer in a Winnebago ceremony befitting a great medicine woman. Her weathered straw hat and knapsack hung from the burial posts, swaying in the soft breeze of morning. Sage had cried so much in the last day, not one ounce of fluid remained in her body. Numb throughout the short ceremony, she recalled the last words her grandmother spoke. ‘Sage, you are a McCain.’