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Book Excerpt by Magnolia Belle

Ch. 1 Excerpt
She took a few slow steps towards him, holding his gaze. As if finally making up her mind about something, she took the last two steps quickly and leaned in to whisper, "You look like someone…" she paused for a moment, trying to find her courage, "…like someone who could use a kiss."

She stepped back one pace and looked into his eyes again. He looked annoyed. After a long silence, he mumbled, "Okay. So do it." He was mocking her - daring her. Her eyes narrowed slightly at the challenge. She moved closer and then, tilting her head and closing her eyes, she kissed him lightly, sweetly on the lips.

Caleb had never seen her before, but he felt her kiss - soft, sweet, delicious. Stunned, he dropped his arms to his sides, unable - no, unwilling - to stop her.



Ch. 12 Excerpt
 

Late that evening, the four brothers were bone tired as they walked out of the studio to head for home. Caleb wearily got into his truck and, as he put the key into the ignition, he noticed a piece of paper stuck under the windshield wiper.

He sighed heavily and got back out to get it.  Once seated again, he started to ball up what he thought was a flyer and throw it on the floor when he caught sight of Sara's handwriting on the back of it.  He unfolded the paper and clicked on the dome light.

"Lakota Man, we're too busy and I miss you.  I just wanted you to know that you are the best thing that's ever happened to me. Your woman, Sara"

He suddenly didn't feel tired anymore.

The next morning, he left a note taped to her office door.

"Woman, I am running dangerously low on 'sugar.' I don't want to alarm you, but the situation is critical. Save me, quick! Lakota Man"

She answered within minutes.

"L.M. Got your message about sugar shortage. Am doing lip exercises and applying lip-gloss in preparation for emergency rescue. Hang on. I'm on my way. S."

"Caleb, I think this is for you." Jay handed him the folded note as he walked back in from a break. Caleb read it and grinned. This was fun.

Later that afternoon, Sara found another note taped to her door. Her eyes twinkled in anticipation.

"Woman - your rescue mission at lunch was a complete success. Victim has revived and is now going strong on the new influx of sugar. However, I foresee another shortage in the near future. Be prepared. L.M."

"What is going on?" Quin asked when he handed Caleb yet another note. "I feel like I'm passing notes in high school." Caleb just grinned as he snatched the note out of Quin's hand.

"L.M. Received your notification of future sugar shortage. I regret to inform you that the price of sugar has gone up. It will now cost you dinner. S."



Ch. 12 Excerpt
 

"Okay, okay," she dusted the breadcrumbs off her hands.  "I'll admit it.  There is something."  She looked down at the ground and continued, "After the show Saturday, when you were all at my place, I overheard Jay ask if you were bringing me to Quin's party.  You said it wasn't a good idea."

Caleb looked up at the sky and then back at her.  So that's what it was.

"Why is it a bad idea, Caleb?"  Sara looked straight into his eyes.  "Would I embarrass you in front of your family somehow? Is my
being a singer the problem? What's wrong with me?"

"Oh, honey! Honey, no," Caleb reached for her hand. "That's what you've been worried about? It's not you at all!" He scooted closer to her and put his arm around her shoulders.

"I guess I need to explain about my family," he continued. "I probably should have done this sooner," he paused, trying to get his words right. "My family, being Lakota, has lived on or near the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota for several generations. My parents were the first ones of their generation to move away, when Dad joined the military. My brothers, sisters and I were born and raised away from the reservation. So, while we are Lakota, we aren't as affected by that culture as my parents are."

He looked at her to see if she was following him.

"Go on," she nodded.

"We were raised to treat everyone with respect and dignity. When you move as much as we did, you meet people of all races and faiths and backgrounds. A lot of the time, as military kids, we were completely surrounded by entirely different cultures. You learn to live and let live.

"But, my parents were raised on the reservation and they have a different perspective. They are fiercely proud of their culture and of their tribe." Caleb struggled for the right words.

"I think I get it, Caleb," Sarah interrupted him. "You are trying to find a gentle way to say that you're worried about bringing an Anglo home to your parents. 'Hey, Mom, look what I found?' Am I right?"

Caleb let out a big sigh. "Yes! That's exactly what I'm trying to say."  He was relieved to have this subject finally out in the open.  He didn't realize how much it had been weighing on his mind, until just now.

"Okay, I understand completely.  If it's not the right time, then I'll be happy to stay here in Austin."

Caleb cocked his head sideways to look at her.  He thought about it for a moment and then said, "Nope.  You're coming with me.  They need to know sooner or later and I vote for sooner." 


Ch. 13 Excerpt

 
“All set?” Caleb asked when Sara let him in.

"Do we have to leave right now, or have we got a few minutes?"

"We’ve got some time,” he answered. 

"Good." She gently pushed him backwards through the living room and shoved him onto the couch.  She straddled his lap and sat down on his thighs.  Putting her hands on his chest, she smiled, saying nothing. 

He looked up inquisitively, resting his hands on her hips. 

“So, Lakota man,” she said with a twinkle in her eye, “how are you?”

“Well, now that I’m here with you, I’m perfect,” he smiled. 

“Good answer,” she cooed, leaning in to kiss him softly, slowly and then straighten back up. 

“And you?” Caleb responded, “How are you?” 

“Now that you’re here, I’m perfect,” she mimicked. 

“Good answer.”  He pulled her towards him and returned her kiss.  “I’ve been needing this,” he murmured. 

“Me, too.”  She caressed his handsome face.  “I don’t start the tour for a few more weeks, and I’m already missing you.  I thought if I stocked up on kisses now, it might not be so bad later.” 

“Thinking ahead.  Good!”  Caleb grabbed her around the waist and, with her still on his lap, laid them both down on the couch with her beneath him, their legs tangled up with each other.   “Let me give you some extras then.”   He smiled, but then his face grew serious.  He lightly touched her lips with his fingertips, then moved his fingers slowly up across her cheeks to her closed eyelids.  It was as if his fingers were memorizing the contours of her face.  He kissed each eyelid . . .each cheek . . . and finally her lips.  He wanted this woman!


 Ch. 23 Excerpt 

Matthew shot a look of concern at Jay.  "Something's wrong."  Matthew got up and went to Caleb's room.

"Hey, čhiyé," Matthew talked to the closed door.  "Let me in."

"Yeah, okay.  Come on in," Caleb's muffled voice answered.

Matthew walked in to find Caleb sitting at the top of his bed, his head leaning back against the headboard.

"So, what happened?" Matthew sat on the desk chair. His question was met with silence.

"Okay, Caleb, spill it," Matthew ordered.

Caleb brought his head forward and looked at Matthew, pain and anger evident in his eyes.

"I was set up, misúŋ," Caleb shook his head, still in disbelief. He then poured out the whole sordid story to a shocked Matthew.

"So, is Melissa still alive?" Matthew asked at the end.

"Barely. You don't know how badly I wanted to choke the life out of that - that..." He held his right hand up, recalling the feel of her face being crushed by his fingers.

"What about Sara?"

"What about her?"

"You can't just leave things like that, chiyé. You gotta talk to her."

"Yeah, but not right now. I can't get over that she didn't believe me! I've been down that road too many times and I'm not going there again."

Caleb wrestled with his dilemma for two days. Could he get past her mistrust or not? On the afternoon of the third day, he got some mail that made his mind up for him. In a small, brown manila envelope with a Philadelphia postmark was the locket he had given Sara. There was no letter or word of explanation with it. He held it in his hands and felt his heart splinter.


Ch. 24 Excerpt

"I'm sorry, Steven," she said between sobs. "This just hurts so bad; worse than any of the others. I really love him."

* * *

The next afternoon, once his last class was out, Steven went straight to Caleb's house. When he knocked on the door, Joaquin answered, recognizing Steven from their introduction at the barbeque.

"Hi, Steven," Joaquin smiled.

"Hi. Is Caleb here?" Steven didn't smile back. He was in no mood for a chat.

"He's in here," Joaquin pointed back over his shoulder with his thumb.

"Thanks. Can I come in?"

"Sure." Joaquin stepped out of the way to let Steven by.

Caleb was sitting on the edge of the recliner, hunched over his guitar, intently working on a new riff. Matthew looked over his shoulder from his place at the dining table to see who was at the door.

"What the hell did you do to my sister?" Steven growled as he took three steps into the room.

Caleb's head snapped up as he looked at him in offended astonishment. "What did I do?" he retorted defensively.

"I thought that you were going to be different." Steven jabbed an accusatory finger towards Caleb. "But, no! You're just another low-life player. Jerk!!!" He wanted to hit Caleb, but he was outnumbered, surrounded by Caleb's brothers.



 Ch. 25 Excerpt

The radio had been playing "new artists" all evening.  The DJ announced a new song by Sara Bradford that had been recorded live at one of her concerts.  "Lakota Man" began playing, with its heartbreaking lyrics and haunting melody.  Sara's beautiful voice filled the room.  Caleb stopped kissing Olivia and jerked his head up like he'd been stung.

"What is it, lover?" Olivia asked, lying beneath him.

"Sshhh," he ordered.  He hadn't heard this song before.  Caleb rolled over on his side and, removing his hand from her breast, pushed his hair back behind his ear.  He didn't touch Olivia again.  The words - his woman's words - blistered his conscience, one after the other.  The sound of Sara's pain hung in the air.  She was talking to him as clearly as if she was sitting next to him.  "What are you doing?"

At the end of the song, Olivia said, "What a sad song! Lakota Man." She looked at him, "Aren't you Lakota?"

Caleb rolled over on his back and, misunderstanding her, murmured, "I used to be." She put her hand on his chest and snuggled against him.

"Come here," she cooed.

"Sorry," Caleb didn't look at her as he sat up, "but you've got to go."

"What? Caleb, let's at least finish what we started." Olivia was confused.

"Go!" he ordered as he turned on the lamp.

"But…"

He swung his legs over the edge of the bed, picked up her blouse and threw it towards her. "Get out! Now!"

Olivia lay across the bed to reach the rest of her clothes on the floor. She grabbed them and went into the bathroom, hurt, confused, and angry. When she came out, she walked over to the door and turned to face him. He didn't look at her. Instead, he was staring at a locket dangling from its chain tangled in his fingers. It twinkled in the soft lamplight as it slowly twirled. He didn't hear Olivia leave.


Ch. 25 Excerpt

They broke for Caleb's guitar solo.  He took a few steps to the left of his mike and let his fingers fly.  His face was scrunched up, his eyesclosed in concentration. He was lost to the people watching him, lost to the world, lost to everything but the music pouring out of his soul and into the guitar.

The strings sang of his pain, of his longing, of his being completely lost without Sara - his woman, his baby, his life. Where was she now? How would he ever make it without her? Why couldn't he find his way back to her? His heart cried - the guitar cried for him; it's music, like tears, washed over the audience. Where is my woman? Where is my woman? Where is my woman?

Tears fell from his eyes and he didn't try to stop them. Let them see him weep. He didn't care. She was gone and he was lost. Why would he care what they thought? His world was over. All he could do was to try to play the pain away.

Matthew looked across the stage to Jay, worried. Caleb's solo kept going. He didn't seem ready to quit any time soon. Jay looked at Quin behind the drums, but Quin just shrugged his shoulders. He didn't know what to do, either. Jay finally walked over to Caleb and stood behind him.

"Come back to us, chiyé," he said in Caleb's ear. Caleb heard somebody from far away. Were they talking to him? He opened his eyes and realized that he was on stage. For a moment, he had forgotten that.

"Caleb!" Jay said sharply.

Caleb twisted around to look at him. "What?"

"We need to wrap this up, don't ya think?" Jay looked at the tears on Caleb's face and realized that Caleb's state of mind was even worse than he thought.

This article was published on Tuesday 24 April, 2007.
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Legal Notice: All works, current and future, by Magnolia Belle are the intellectual property of, and are copyrighted to, Magnolia Belle and Black Wolf Books.