Reagan Wilson took one quick last look at the crappy
rental car, jumped in the shallow creek and ran for her
life through the terrifying night.
This was one hell of a way to die.
She could just picture her obituary: "Noted mathematician
dies in swarm of killer bees." Her cold, lifeless body
would be found swollen up to twice its size. It could take
days to identify her corpse.
What had she done to piss off bees this much? All she'd
needed to do was get into the trunk and retrieve the spare
tire and tools to change her flat. And hadn't she read in
Scientific American that bees didn't swarm at night?
Now she would never have a chance to do anything, not
research bee swarms or even lodge a complaint with the
rental car company. She'd be dead, and those no-good jerks
would simply rent that piece of junk to someone else.
The angry noise the bees made as they closed in around her
bored into her brain like the nasty buzz of a dentist's
drill. Batting them away and gulping for breath, Reagan
cursed her shoes as she slipped on the sharp rocks of the
creek bed. She loved these old Bruno Magli loafers, but
they weren't worth a dime when it came to running for her
God, what was she thinking? She wasn't a trained marathon
runner. She could never outrun bees. And her brand-new
athletic shoes were packed away in her suitcase. The only
sport she knew anything at all about was golf. And that
probably wasn't going to do much to save her life.
Funny what went through a perfectly reasonable brain right
at the moment of death.
Panic must be setting in and turning her scientific mind
to mush. The mind that she'd inherited from her father.
Oh, Dad, are you out on this Indian reservation somewhere,
battling for your life, too? Am I going to die never
knowing what really happened to you?
Reagan brushed bees out of her eyes and stumbled up to her
ankles in the frigid water. Water. If only it were deeper.
A blinding flash of light coming from her right made her
trip over her own feet. Was it an hallucination?
"Drop into the water!" a deep male voice demanded. Water?
What water? The tiny trickle in this creek wouldn't even
cover her big back end. Confusion caused her to miss a
step, and she hesitated long enough to feel the nasty jolt
of several stings.
Out of the black cloud of bees surrounding her, a huge
fist grabbed her by the forearm and yanked her right off
her feet. She was pulled â€” hard â€” and went down on her
knees. The next thing she knew, something jostled her from
behind and, just as the bees began to enter her nostrils
and cut off her air, she was fully submerged in the iciest
The shock took her breath away.
Was she dead? For several seconds, Reagan couldn't feel a
thing. Even her brain became numb from the cold.
She lost track of how long she was under the water, but
knew humans could only hold their breath for a couple of
minutes tops. When she lifted her head to take a gulp of
air, a rough hand grabbed her by the back of the collar
and dragged her to her feet.
"Can you stand?" The dark shadow of the man who had saved
her life stood there, holding her shoulders with a firm
Could she? Still waist deep in cold water, Reagan's whole
body was beginning to quake as the gentle night breezes
blasted through her soaked clothing.
Could she stand alone? Hell, could she breathe? "I...I..."
As cold as she felt, scientific theory would suggest that
her body should be shrinking as her blood vessels
constricted. But her tongue didn't feel smaller. No, her
tongue felt swollen and unmanageable.
"Anaphylactic...shock...bees..." She was fast becoming
light-headed as her airways swelled and closed.
All of a sudden she felt as if she were flying. Her savior
had picked her up and was splashing through the black
night closing in around them.
Minutes passed. Or maybe hours. Her own raspy breathing
grew fainter in her ears.
She was lying on solid ground.And from above, she heard
vague mumbling through the fog in her brain. The notes
coming from a deep male voice sounded just like singing.
A lullaby? Or a funeral dirge?
As the light-headed feeling began to shut down her brain,
she gave up and let a new warmth surround her. If this was
to be her end, it wasn't so bad.
At least, for the very first and last time in her life,
there was someone there to hold her hand.
Kody Long cursed the cold as he forced his fingers to do
what he wanted them to do. He had already scraped off all
the stingers he could find, and he'd applied the whitewash
paste to every inch of uncovered skin on the Anglo woman's
hands, neck and face.
She wouldn't be pleased to know he'd stripped her down to
check her entire body, but fortunately, the skin under her
clothes had appeared unscathed. Thankfully, she'd worn
long pants and a jacket against the late winter chill.
The black lace bra and panties had been a real surprise to
him. It made him curious about her.
And, ah, how like the soft side of a rabbit's fur her skin
had seemed when he'd touched her body. He had to admit it
had been much more difficult to dress her again than it
should've been for a man who prided himself on being a
There was nothing more he could do for her now but
continue the chants that would complete the healing
ceremony and ward off the evil venom. He had found her in
When he'd first picked up the familiar vibrations of pre-
attack this evening, he had worried that somehow he'd
missed warning a member of the Dine. Tonight's regular
surveillance had been interrupted hours ago with the
classic high-pitched whistles that usually signaled an
imminent attack by the evil ones.
He'd notified everyone to stay inside with their families.
The enemies' vibes came as a complete surprise. Just as it
had been a surprise to arrive at the point of attack to
find a stranger â€” an Anglo woman â€” was the target of
Who was the bilagĂˇana woman who dared to venture alone
across a desolate section of the rez at this late hour?
Why had the enemy chosen to go after her?
Kody reached down to run a finger across her soft, pale
cheek. Warm. And so full of life.
Without knowing why, he quickly glanced at her left hand
and checked out her ring finger. Bare. And just why would
that be any of his concern?
Kody would have to watch his step around this one. But she
would answer his questions before he escorted her out of
Navajoland. No doubt about it.
Reagan opened her eyes to find herself looking into the
deepest, warmest, dark brown eyes she'd ever seen. As she
came to her senses, she noticed a warmth spreading through
her entire body.
She almost purred.
Trying to sit up, she was blocked by a huge hulk of a man
and realized the warmth was coming from him as he rubbed
some kind of oil on her hands. The strong smell of
eucalyptus filled her nostrils. There were other, sweeter
scents as well, but she didn't recognize those.
She tried to focus on her savior's face, but though the
moon and stars illuminated most of the area, the stranger
stayed hidden in shadow. She got an impression of
darkness. Thick ebony hair and brown eyes. Dark clothing.
"Ah, you are back with us," he said with a grunt. "Good.
How are you feeling?" He dropped her hands and sat back on
"I'm..." She took a quick inventory. All her parts seemed
to be in working order. But without his hands on hers, the
cold seeped inside her skin and began to chill her
bones. "...cold. But otherwise, I think I'm okay."
"Are you feeling well enough to get up?"
"I don't know. Should I try?" Now that was a weird thing
to say. Why ask a complete stranger for permission to
stand on her own two feet?
Without answering, the stranger stood and reached down to
help her up. He waited until she made sure she was steady.
She checked out her clothes and discovered no broken
bones. "Bummer. I ripped the knees of my pants. Must've
happened when I went down on the rocks."
"Pants can be repaired. But you didn't break the skin on
your knees." He looked down at her with a strange
expression on his face. "Who are you? What's your name?"
"Reagan. Uh, Dr. Reagan Wilson."
"I have a Ph.D. in mathematical theory."
"Well, Dr. Reagan Wilson, you may have a bruise or two,
but you will heal from this attack quite nicely."
Attack? Oh, yes, he must mean the bees.
That reminded her. "You pulled me down. Where did you come
from? And how did that creek suddenly have enough water in
it to cover me?"
Ignoring her questions, he took her arm and turned her
around. "My truck is right over here. The heater should
warm you up in no time."
Keeping a firm grip on her arm, he marched her toward the
outline of an old pickup sitting by the side of the
highway. "I heard your screams when the bees attacked.
Luckily, you were running toward the beaver pond. I just
helped you into deeper water. You weren't stung very many
times, and I scraped away all the stingers. You'll be
She did feel fine. Amazing. She didn't seem to have any
ill effects from her run-in with killer bees, but she also
didn't remember screaming. The bees would've been inside
her mouth if she'd opened it that far.
"How did you avoid getting stung?" she asked.
"The bees knew better than to attack me. When you went
under the water, they grew tired of the hunt and
The bees knew better? What kind of man was this?
A shiver of unease ran through her. He walked her up to
the truck and opened the passenger door for her. The
interior light went on and she caught her first glimpse of
her savior's face.
She already knew he was a big man. Broad in the shoulders
and narrow in the waist, he was probably six-three or six-
four. Though she usually felt tall standing next to men,
she was amazed that he towered over her.
Now, in the light, she also realized that he was Native
American. His hair was almost black, though it was cut
shorter than most pictures she'd seen of Indian men in
magazines and in the movies. His prominent nose fit his
other strong and chiseled features.
Wearing a black T-shirt under a jean jacket and dark denim
pants, he resembled a shadow. But she noticed the shadow
had a cell phone, several suede bags and a huge sheathed
knife dangling from his belt.
It made her more ill at ease than ever. Who was he? He
helped her up into the seat and then went around to the
driver's side. When he had the heater turned up at full
blast, he put the truck in gear and started it.
"Where are we going? Who are you, and what about my car?"
He paused at the edge of the highway and turned to
her. "My name is Kody Long and I'm an FBI special agent
assigned to this area of the reservation. We're going to
my brother's office. He's a local tribal cop.
"Your car will be safe until daylight," her rescuer
continued. "Would you like to stop and lock it up?"
"Yes. And get my luggage, too, please."
He nodded and pulled out onto the highway.
An FBI agent? He worked for the government. She wasn't
exactly crazy about the U.S. government at the moment.
They had tried to hinder her search for her father at
every turn. It made her wonder if this man would try to
get in the way as well. Or if he'd been sent to follow her
and report on what she was up to.
Whatever his real motives, she was suddenly no longer
afraid. "Are you from this reservation originally?" she
"Yes. I am a member of the Dine."
"That's the name the Navajo use to refer to themselves. It
means 'family' or 'clan." This is our homeland."
"Oh." She should've thought to do some research before
dashing madly out to a Navajo reservation. It really
wasn't like her to be so rash.