Synopses & Reviews
Death had a way of screwing up the best-laid plans.
Helen Ketterling was a heavy-duty plan maker. Keeping things in order required a plan. She very much resented any form of plan bomb, and death was atomic.
She stood next to her car in the graveled parking lot across from the Bad River tribal offices and puffed on a cigarette as she watched a trio of old Indian men mount the steps to the front door. Two of them were older than the man they'd come to visit for the last time, but the third one might have been a classmate of Roy's in about 1940 or so.
In the brief time Helen had known Roy Blue Sky, she hadn't gotten around to asking him whether he'd finished high school. She didn't want to offend him by asking the wrong questions. He was a wonderful storyteller, but he preferred folk tales to personal reminiscences, although she'd managed to get a few of those out of him, too. She now knew that he'd fought in the Battle of the Bulge and that he'd been married twice, to young wives, both of whom had died much too soon. He'd told her less about the second wife, the mother of his children, than he had about the first, which was how she knew that the memory of the second loss still pained him.
Or had. Nothing pained him anymore. He had found peace now, and as a member of the Bad River Lakota Tribal Council, he was lying in state beyond those bright blue doors.
He was also her son's grandfather, but no one knew that. No one but Helen.
She turned her back on the building and the mourners mounting the steps as she puffed madly on her cigarette like a sneaky kid. It was the only way she ever smoked. The only good cigarette was a secret cigarette. Sidney had caught her atit a couple of times, and he'd read her the riot act, saying, "You're supposed to be a teacher, Mom." She'd been proud of him, the way he'd whipped those health-class facts on his mother, who still called herself a teacher even though she'd gotten into this other business because ... well, partly because it paid well. But Sidney was always holding her to her own high standards, and she'd felt guilty about her lame claim that this was such a rare indulgence that she could hardly be called a smoker. He'd asked her what it did for her, and she couldn't tell him. She hated it when she needed a good answer and realized there wasn't one.
Helen had come to Bad River to look for answers. She had a job to do, and she told herself that learning everything she could about the Blue Sky family was simply part of that job. She needed to know about their involvement with the casino she was investigating. Roy had asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs for an investigation, a fact that was particularly interesting because his son Carter was Pair-a-Dice City's general manager. In the time Helen had spent around the two men, she had observed, as was her habit, she'd listened, and she'd put a lot of pieces of a still patchy picture together, which was her job.
But she had motives beyond the duty to her assignment. She had a duty to her son. Sidney had always been her son, hers alone. It was a necessary selfishness on her part, but now that he was barreling headlong into adolescence, she had to start thinking about who he was besides her only child, and who he would become. He had questions, and God only knew how she was going to answer them when the time came for a mother's full, unambiguous explanation ofthe ways of the real world. So she was angling for family history, and she had been reeling it in quite nicely since she and Roy had become friends.
There were times when she was sure he knew what she was up to, and she decided he didn't mind. She sensed that he actually approved. Tacit approval counted as approval in Helen's book. It wasn't such a huge leap from knowing to not minding to approving, one small hop at a time. She wanted the old man's approval. She liked him and she knew that Sidney would like him, that they ought to meet, that Sidney ought to hear his grandfather's stories; and knowing these things pained Helen, still pained her, for she was very much alive. Her secrets were very much alive, as was the risk she was taking just by coming to Bad River. The risk was huge.
The risk was over six and a half feet tall. Thirteen years ago she had known Roy's other son, who must surely be waiting behind those blue doors, too. She turned and stared at them, tried to bore a hole through them, tried to see how he looked now, how much the very public end to his illustrious professional basketball career had changed him, and how he carried his grief.
Helen had loved Reese Blue Sky once.
She had lusted after him, anyway. From the moment her craving for him had hit her-and it had hit her hard-she had told herself that this was the Romeo-and-Juliet kind of love that could never last and should never be declared unless you wanted corpses lying all over your personal stage. Reese believed, even if no one else did, that he was on his way to becoming a sports star. Helen was on her way to graduate school, after adding Indian-reservation teaching experience to her rÉ sumÉ .She was too busy for love, and he was too young, too unsettled, too quiet, too sexy, too improbable by half.
But he was a powerful temptation, and she had made little attempt to resist. She had denied love and fallen headlong in lust because he was the essence of her secret, silly female fantasies. The American West was etched on his angular, roughhewn face, and he moved like a wild and natural creature, wondrously agile for his size...
A school teacher returns to a reservation in South Dakota after 13 years and rekindles a romance with a Sioux man--hesitant to tell him that her son is also his. Can their love overcome the long years and heart-breaking lies that had torn them apart?
Helen Ketterling thought she had left the Bad River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota behind her thirteen years ago. Once an idealistic and spirited schoolteacher, Helen was swept into the lives of the Sioux people and the arms of Reese Blue Sky. These fiery opposites attracted with such heat that their love burned brightly--if all too briefly.
Now a single parent with a son--a son Reese knows nothing about--Helen accepts an assignment that brings her back to Bad River and into the realm of the one man she cannot forget.
A family tragedy has brought Reese home to Bad River. And though it has been years since he has seen Helen, Reese immediately recalls the bittersweet memories of a time when he was very much in love. Now the passion he felt for Helen has been rekindled but he senses in her a secret that she will not--or cannot--share with him. Soon, Reese discovers that the life on the reservation he dearly cherished appears to have been threatened. In a world where tradition and ritual face off against development and greed, a proud but lonely man attempts to reconcile his past, hoping to find his place in the heart of his one true love.
About the Author
Since the publication of Once Upon a Wedding in hardcover, I've received lots of letters filled with wonderful wedding anecdotes from new brides and mothers ofthe bride. Most of them want to know just how much of my own daughter's wedding found its way into this book.
Here's the scoop: The devil is in the details. Yes, I said, "Don't spend a lot on a wedding. Put the money toward a house." Yes, I'm cheap. Yes, I'm addicted to E-Bay, and yes, I'm way too hands-on, love to do the craft projects myself -- which doesn't save a penny, but what a sense of satisfaction it gave me. And, yes, my dear friends and in-laws saved the wedding with their late-night stitching in time. Oh, and yes, I did hitch a ride to the church on the bakery truck.
Kathleen Eagle and her husband of thirty-two years make their home in Minnesota. Write to her c/o
Midwest Fiction Writers, P.O. Box 24107,
Minneapolis, MN 55424.