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Authors: Lindsay McKenna

Daughter of Destiny

BOOK: Daughter of Destiny
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Dear Reader,

The Ark of Crystals is real. The Eastern Cherokee nation has such an ark. Contained within it are sacred, ceremonial objects for each of the seven clans that comprise this nation.

The three crystal clan totems in my story are fiction. To divulge the true contents wouldn't be honoring the Eastern Cherokee nation. Secret is sacred. Sacred is secret.

While the Eastern Cherokee nation does have a Paint Clan, to my knowledge, a quartz-crystal mask roughly the size of a woman's hand does not exist. I created this mask to symbolize the power of this particular clan.

The seven-pointed star is, again, a figment of my imagination. The seven points on the star represent the seven clans of the Eastern Cherokee nation and, more importantly, the Pleiades, which is the seven-starred constellation you can see in our winter skies.

The Wolf's Head crystal, also fictional, symbolizes the Wolf Clan of the Eastern Cherokee nation. It is from this clan that leaders, both men and women chiefs and counselors, originate and are molded. Without good leaders, a nation becomes disorganized and confused.

Without the return of these three crystal totems, there is loss, disharmony and imbalance on the reservation, which people feel keenly. With their return come healing, abundance and balance.

Enjoy!

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Silhouette Bombshell, the hottest new line to hit the bookshelves this summer. Who is the Silhouette Bombshell woman? She's the bombshell of the new millennium; she's savvy, sexy and strong. She's just as comfortable in a cocktail dress as she is brandishing blue steel! Now she's being featured in the four thrilling reads we'll be bringing you each month.

What can you expect in a Silhouette Bombshell novel? A high-stakes situation in which the heroine saves the day. She's the kind of woman who always gets her man—and we're not just talking about the bad guy. Take a look at this month's lineup….

From
USA TODAY
bestselling author Lindsay McKenna, we have
Daughter of Destiny,
an action-packed adventure featuring a Native American military pilot on a quest to find the lost ark of her people. Her partner on this dangerous trek? The one man she never thought she'd see again, much less risk her life with!

This month also kicks off ATHENA FORCE, a brand-new twelve-book continuity series featuring friends bonded during their elite training and reunited when one of them is murdered. In
Proof,
by award-winning author Justine Davis, you'll meet a forensic investigator on a mission, and the sexy stranger who may have deadly intentions toward her.

Veteran author Carla Cassidy brings us a babe with an attitude—and a sense of humor. Everyone wants to
Get Blondie
in this story of a smart-mouthed cop and the man she just can't say no to when it comes to dealing out justice.

Finally, be the first to read hot new novelist Judith Leon's
Code Name: Dove,
featuring Nova Blair, the CIA's secret weapon. Nova's mission this time? Seduction.

We hope you enjoy this killer lineup!

Sincerely,

Natashya Wilson

Associate Senior Editor, Silhouette Bombshell

Lindsay M
c
Kenna
Daughter
of
Destiny

LINDSAY M
C
KENNA

served in the U.S. Navy as an aerographer's mate 3rd class, a weather forecaster. She's no stranger to flying and got her student pilot license at age seventeen! The military is in her family and in her blood. Her family has a U.S. Naval history, and she was proud to serve her country. She has ridden in a T-38 “chase plane” during an actual test flight at Edwards Air Force Base and flown in a B-52 on a day and night mission. She goes where the action is to get the sights, sounds and experiences to put into her books. Known as “The Top Gun of Military Romance,” Lindsay created the first military romance in 1983 as a Silhouette Special Edition title. She's pioneered the field in many ways and continues to be a leader, just like her heroines.

To the one and only Lynda Curnyn, editor and now
writer. Friend from beginning to end. She started this
new line and I was thrilled to be a part of it to support
her dream. And what a great dream it is. Thank you,
Lynda, for all your help, guidance, encouragement and
belief in me as a writer. You are the GREATEST!

Chapter 1

T
he lurid, churning blackness swirled around Kai Alseoun. She moaned, turning over in the narrow bed and shoving the sheet off with her legs.
No. No…this can't be happening again!
Since receiving her bad conduct discharge from the U.S. Navy, she'd found her life tumbling like an out-of-control F-14 Tomcat. Not even sleep brought her peace; nightmares stalked her every time she closed her eyes.

Breathing hard, Kai twisted her head from side to side. It was October and she was staying in her grandmother's old log cabin in North Carolina. But not even her return to the reservation could protect her from the darkness that plagued her in earnest now. It called to her in a hissing voice. Fear vomited through her. Kai hadn't known fear until the last few months. When Lieutenant Commander Ryan Thorval had accused her of assaulting him and breaking his nose—trumped-up charges—her hotshot combat-aviator existence had come to a shocking halt.

The reason she'd broken his nose in the Ready Room aboard the carrier was because he'd groped her. Thorval
had come up behind her and slid his hand across her hip, angling down toward the apex of her thighs. Without thinking, Kai, who was a former national kick-boxing champion of North America, had lifted her elbow and shoved it backward into his face, fracturing his nose. Unfortunately, there had been no witnesses to his assault, so Thorval had pressed charges against her for striking a superior officer. He was a lieutenant commander and she a lowly lieutenant, and Thorval had made the charges stick. The board had a tendency to believe the superior officer, and Kai was below him in rank. With shame, she had come back to where she'd been born—the Quallah Eastern Cherokee Reservation near Cherokee, North Carolina—to salve her wounds. Her grandmother, Ivy Sanderson, the Elder Medicine woman on the reservation, took her into her humble log cabin in the Great Smoky mountains to recover.

Kai came from an honored and respected medicine family, her mother once renown for her healing abilities. She desperately wanted to erase the humiliating black mark on her family's name.

She turned on her side, pressing her face into the old feather pillow. Days after her return to the res, Grams had sent her up the mountain to ask the Great Spirit what she should do with her life. And this…this nightmare had haunted her nightly since she'd come back down. For four days and nights she'd been without water and food while she prayed for a dream that would help her sort out her life. Well, the dream that had come to her up on the mountain was a nightmare, as far as Kai was concerned.

Moaning, Kai felt the roiling darkness begin to enfold
her.
No! Oh, no!
Perspiration soaked the hair at her temples. Sweat covered her face. She turned over again, fists clenching and unclenching. The storm clouds were palpable. Heart slamming into her ribs, she couldn't see her way out of the suffocating darkness. She felt fear so vivid that she could taste it like burning acid in her mouth. Never had she felt terror like this!

The sensation of being spun around, as if in a tornado, began. It always started this way. What to do? How to escape it? Kai heard the shrieking of the wind as it tugged violently at her body. She felt the howling gale grasp at her like greedy hands. Where was it taking her? Where?

Groaning, Kai pulled the pillow over her head and flopped onto her stomach. If only she could escape this dream! But she couldn't. Out of the thick, cloying darkness, she saw a white glow in the distance. And just as before, it came closer and closer, racing toward her at what seemed to be the speed of light. She saw three hand-carved crystal totems. One looked similar to a mask that she'd seen worn by Cherokee medicine people, members of the Paint Clan. The mask was transparent, with slits for eyes and shaped to cover the upper half of a person's face. A lightning bolt had been painstakingly carved diagonally across it. Another carved crystal formed the head of the wolf. Kai knew that this totem belonged to the Wolf Clan, where all leaders and chiefs came from. The last crystal that hovered before her, sparkling and nearly blinding with its light, was a seven-pointed star that represented the Yam Clan. That was the clan that cared for the sacred Ark of Crystals—seven quartz crystals that had
been a part of the Cherokee nation since it had been created in millennia. The Yam Clan was responsible for the ark's protection.

In her dream the three objects, all transparent quartz crystals, turned slowly in front of her. Then she saw the first crystal, the Paint Clan mask, arc across Mother Earth and land in the center of Australia. The second crystal, the wolf's head, flew to South America. The last one, the seven-pointed crystal star, arced skyward and disappeared onto the island of Hong Kong.

A voice kept whispering, “Seek out and find the Paint Clan mask….” over and over again. She knew she had to find it and make it her own. But fear stopped her.

In the midst of her nightmare, Kai screamed out for her grandmother. Grams was the most revered medicine woman on the reservation. She was the one of the few people in Kai's life who had ever loved her and protected her. Now Kai cried out for her help.

The slowly moving thunderheads in her vision were like the wall of a hurricane moving threateningly toward her. Lightning forked between the gray and menacing clouds. The sound created by the huge Thunder Beings caromed against her, vibrating like the roll of kettle drums through every pore in her body until she felt as if she were going to shake apart and burst into a million pieces.

“Seek and find the Paint Clan mask….” Kai heard the soft voice whispering in her ear again.

Yes, grab it!

She reached out to the mask hovering over Australia. Her fingers stretched to touch the glowing crystal. Groan
ing, she strained forward, but no matter how she tried to capture it, the mask hovered in space, just inches away from her fingertips.
Impossible!
Frightened, Kai felt the energy of the crystal throbbing. It was as if a stone had been thrown in a clear, quiet pool of water, and she could feel each wave as it reached her, sharp and clear. She felt battered by the powerful energy.

Then the second crystal, the seven-pointed star, came out of the malevolent clouds and appeared to her once more. Again a voice whispered, “Send the snake woman after it. She will find it in Peru….” Moaning, Kai turned over on her back. Finally the third crystal, the wolf's head, reappeared. The whispering voice said, “Send the wild woman after it. She will find it on an island where the Yellow People live….” The clear quartz wolf shone with a blinding white-gold light as Kai watched it slowly rotate in front of her. Each of the crystals floated across the face of Mother Earth and disappeared as before. And then the real terror began.

Kai saw a monster with a man's face stalking Mother Earth. Men had made her life miserable of late and caused her such deep, wounding pain. But this face hovering before her scared the hell out of her. The man appeared to be in his eighties, balding on top with white hair encircling his skull and green eyes that were slitted like a cougar's on the hunt. He seemed to be heading purposefully toward her. Kai felt helpless, but she knew she must battle this man to help save those crystal totems. But how was she going to do that? She stood in the midst of the growling, rumbling storm without a weapon. Completely unarmed, Kai moved
into one of her kick-boxing positions, her hands raised, feet spread for balance, her body poised to do battle with this powerful man.

The man's face was gruesome, his flesh sagging, his eyes like sockets in a skull. He smelled of death, a rotten scent that made her gag. He wanted
her
death. And he wanted the power of the three crystals she'd seen. Kai knew with certainty that he would kill her if she tried to take one of those crystal totems from him.

Her body damp with perspiration, Kai suddenly sat up, a scream on her lips. Shaking, she pulled her knees to her chest and buried her face in her hands. Breathing hard, she tried to reorient herself. The chill of the room felt good against her hot flesh.

I'm safe…I'm safe. I'm here in Grams's cabin…I'm okay. It's just a nightmare. Just a nightmare…

Kai sat there for a long time, trying to steady her wildly beating heart. She was still sweaty and hot. It was October in the Great Smoky Mountains and the small window in her bedroom was covered with a lacy coating of frost. Outside, she could hear the nearby stream's gurgle, which soothed her ragged state somewhat. Moonlight filtered through the frosty window and spread lacy patterns across the narrow pine bed where she slept.

Lifting her head, Kai ran her fingers through her straight hair, which shifted like a dark cloak about her shoulders and breasts. She wore a gray cotton T-shirt and gray sweatpants, her normal bed attire. They were soaked with sweat. Wrinkling her nose, she reached over and turned on the small lamp next to the bed. The light made her wince. Kai
had to get up, take a shower and wash off the fear. Every night for the last week the nightmare had occurred. Grams had said that if Kai would act upon the vision the Great Spirit had given her, the nightmare would stop stalking her. She needed to take action. But what kind? She was used to the hard physical reality of combat jets and in-your-face danger, not the mystical world that Grams lived in. Still, Kai couldn't dismiss the ominous nightmare that returned to her now every time she tried to sleep.

Slowly getting up, her feet meeting the cool, smooth surface of the polished pine floor, Kai looked forlornly around the tiny room. The log cabin was over a hundred years old. Grams had been born here, and so had Kai's mother. And so had Kai. The cabin was filled with family memories. Shaking her head, she felt her life was like a tumbleweed in comparison to her family, all of whom had lived and died on the res.

Her mind gyrated back to solving her problem. Who could she go to for help with this vision that haunted her nightly? As she padded down the hall toward the bathroom, Kai remember a man who had come aboard their carrier one time, Major Mike Houston. He was retired from the U.S. Army, they'd said, but everyone called him Major Houston out of deference. He'd been with Perseus, a Q-Secret organization under the canopy of the CIA. That meant very few people in the government knew of Perseus. She remembered him because he was of South American Indian blood, and she'd boldly introduced herself to him in the squadron conference room after the mission debriefing and asked him what Indian nation he'd come from.

Kai would never forget the Special Force's A team officer smiling back at her. He'd told her he was a Quechua, from Peru, and that his ancestors had been shamans in the Inca Empire. His skin was not copper-colored like hers, and she'd found out that his father had been an Anglo from the USA, an officer in the Army. He'd followed in his father's footsteps by joining the military.

When Kai found out Houston had been called the Jaguar God down in Peru while on a mission there, she'd felt oddly safe with him. She knew part of the reason was because he was an Indian like herself, but that wasn't the only thing. Her medicine man father, a drunken alcoholic, had been Indian, too, and he certainly hadn't inspired any sense of security in Kai. No, there was something about Major Houston that had urged Kai to trust him.

Reaching the bathroom, Kai quietly shut the creaking door behind her. Then she turned on the shower faucets and adjusted the temperature of the water. Shedding her T-shirt and sweatpants, she dropped them on the floor and stepped into the shower stall. As the warm water hit her skin, she groaned in gratitude and closed her eyes. Lifting her face to the spray, she shut her eyes and allowed it to wash away the sweat clinging to her skin.

As she stood there, Kai remembered Mike Houston handing her a business card and saying, “If you ever decide to stop flying F-14s around the sky and raising hell with the Iraqis, come see me. Perseus is always looking for women warriors. We can put your talents and your intelligence to work, and help save this world of ours….”

She knew now that he might be able to help her with
her quest. As the warming water pummeled her flesh and cleansed the fear stench that surrounded her, Kai felt oddly better this time. There was an answer, a way out of this. Yes, she would pack what few clothes she had, mount her Harley Hawg and motorcycle across the U.S. to Mike's headquarters in Montana. At least it would be a nice, easy ride, especially in the fall weather. If Mike could help her follow up on her vision quest and end her nightmares, it would be worth the trip. Somehow, Kai knew that when she told Grams what she was going to do, the old medicine woman would smile and nod her head. Yes, it felt like the right thing to do….

After emerging from the shower and drying off, Kai changed into clean clothes. She put on a bright red, ribbed cotton turtleneck, black corduroy slacks and warm black socks. Pushing her feet into a pair of wool-lined slippers, she headed out to the kitchen. She hesitated at the door when she saw Grams sitting at the table, wearing a faded cotton print dress that fell to below her knees, and a warm pink wool shawl that she'd crocheted half a century before. She had on an old pair of black tennis shoes and purple socks. There were two cups of tea on the table and Grams was gazing at her with that wise look that made Kai certain everything was going to be all right once more.

“I heard you scream, child,” Ivy murmured. She patted the wooden chair next to where she sat. “Come, sit. It's time to talk of this vision you saw up on the mountain, which stalks you nightly.”

BOOK: Daughter of Destiny
9.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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