By Kathleen Eagle
Bell Bridge Books 2012, ASIN: B0093O7SM2
Do you remember Tommy T, the irrepressible street kid from THE NIGHT REMEMBERS? The book is available in e-format now, and it's sequel, NIGHT FALLS LIKE SILK, has just been released by Bell Bridge Books as an e-book and a beautiful trade paperback. Tommy T is all grown up
His gift is a rare talent; his art celebrates an important American legacy. But it’s born from a torment that might make him as dangerous as he is irresistible.
Wealthy, beautiful and sophisticated, Cassandra Westbrook collects exquisite art objects with a connoisseur’s fine taste and a rich woman’s whims. She always dominates an art auction—until a mysterious artist named Thomas Warrior bids against her for a set of Native American ledger drawings.
Though he’s outbid, Thomas feels a strong connection to the historic artwork that embodies his Native American heritage and symbolizes the survival of its courageous spirit. He’s a survivor too, growing up on the mean streets to become more famous than he’d ever imagined possible. So he’s not a man to give up easily--neither on the drawings nor on the stunning woman who now possesses them.
Thomas and Cassandra are not only destined to cross paths again, but when he agrees to mentor her talented but troubled nephew, fate collides with the fierce attraction they share.
Thomas’s artistic gift haunts him as his creations seem to take on a life of their own. When Cassandra’s nephew and the extraordinary ledger drawings disappear at the same time, not even Thomas is certain who he really is or what dangers threaten those he loves.
NIGHT FALLS LIKE SILK was a USA Today Bestseller.
The ledger drawings featured on this page were made nearly 100 years ago by Black Hawk, who was Lakota.
Now for a taste of the book. Note: No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the copyright owner.
Cassandra Westbrook languidly lifted her paddle for the man with the silky voice. The ornate fireplace poker had been an unusual selection for her, but it was listed in the catalog as mid-eighteenth century, a gift from the ambassador of Sweden to railroad baron J.P. Hill. One could always use another poker.
It was a good thing the item she sought this trip was finally coming to the auction floor. She had started bidding out of boredom, which could lead to mistakes. Cassandra seldom made a bad art or antique purchase unless she was bored.
It was a set of century-old Native American ledger drawings that had caught her eye in the Sotheby’s of Chicago catalog. Primitives fascinated her. She loved knowing that the piece had been part of an ordinary person’s everyday life in a world that to her would be, if she could drop in on it somehow, anything but everyday. Ledger drawings were particularly interesting. They were made during a transition period for Native Americans. The buffalo hides they had used for record their pictographic histories had become so scare that they were forced to use ledger paper, often given them by their agency supervisors or their army jailors. No matter how bad conditions were, there were memories to be recorded, stories that had to be told.
A man named White Bull had made the drawings. Cassandra had no idea who he was, but his figures were particularly strong in character and color, and the pages had been beautifully preserved. She expected to pay a high price. The initial barrage of bids soon became a four-way volley. When it came down to two, she permitted herself a glance in the direction of the auctioneer’s polished gesture. A handsome black man accepted the challenge with a nod. He was simply dressed—black dress shirt, black slacks—and neatly groomed, but that was all she could tell about him. No jewelry, no flash, no sense of urgency or desire. Cool simplicity underscored his masculine beauty. She couldn’t guess how old he was or where he came from, what language he spoke, or why he would want the drawing she now thought of as hers.
It was Cassandra’s turn. She nodded. This time when she glanced askance, she caught him looking at her. He didn’t seem to mind being caught or being contested. His dark eyes did not hint at how far he would go, betrayed neither competitive passion nor resentment. She couldn’t guess what his impressions were of her, or whether he cared what she thought of him, or what his next move might be.
"To you, sir."
He appeared not to hear the auctioneer.
Cassandra lifted one eyebrow. Will you?
He prolonged the wait a moment longer, somehow fixing Cassandra so that she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move until he did. Finally, he turned from her. With a slight shake of his head, he put an end to it.
The ledger art was hers.
She wanted to speak to him, but not there in that airless, windowless room full of crystal sconces and opulent chandeliers. When he left, she followed his lead, but not his path. She told herself that she would not chase him down. Her pace was leisurely, stopping in the office to drop off her check, giving the man time to take his leave completely if that was his intention.
He stood near a huge bronze cougar, which was perched on a pedestal for display in the huger foyer. He was watching her. She greeted one of the auctioneers, who congratulated her on her latest acquisition and asked about her plans for it. She gave a vague answer, as much for her unsuccessful competitor’s benefit as for the auctioneer’s. If he waited for her, planning to make her an offer, he would soon find out that he had nothing she wanted more than those drawings. Oh, she would take a congratulatory handshake, and, yes, she wanted his name. But the drawings would still be hers.
His stare seemed to heat up, as though he’d just read her thoughts and didn’t much like them. It occurred to her that perhaps she should turn and walk the other way, go back to the auction even though she’d already settled her account. Handsome as he was, he had an unsettling way about him. But she decided to be the courteous winner.
"That was quite a bidding war we had going," she said. "Thank you for not running it up any higher. I was prepared to pay much more."
"I could see that. That’s when I came to my senses."
"And allowed the more foolish bidder to win?"
"I wouldn’t say that. It’s a nice set of drawings. Some people would say you got more than your money’s worth." His smile chilled her. "But I doubt if those people would be anybody you’d know."
"I know a lot of people."
"Now, that’s something I don’t doubt." He shoved his hands into his pockets. No name. No handshake.
"I came down for this auction just for the ledger drawings. I wasn’t about to let anyone else get them."
"Came down from where? Cloud or perch?"
"What would you call Minneapolis?"
"Home," he said.
"Ah, well," she enthused, refusing to let him get away without warming up to her, at least a little. "Maybe we’re neighbors, in which case you’re welcome to come over and visit the drawings."
"I just might do that. Did you buy them for display in your home?"
"I haven’t decided. I bought them because they spoke to me."
"That’s interesting," he allowed. "They speak to me, too. They speak of those people I mentioned and of their ancestors."
"The Lakota, yes. Such a fascinating people. Maybe it’s no coincidence, we two Minnesotans bumping into each other in Chicago."
"Not if we’re hearing the same voices. Do they tell you that they want to go home?"
"The drawings?" She glanced away, wishing she hadn’t tossed out that silly cliché. Now she was forced to go shallow with the next answer, too. "Yes, they do. They want to go home with me." Would another smile help? "I’m not going to apologize for outbidding you, but I’m sorry for your disappointment."
He shrugged. "You win some; you lose some."
She handed him her business card. "I own a gallery in St. Paul. I hope you’ll stop in sometime."
"I’ll do that. You take good care of those drawings."
"They’re safe with me."
He gave a farewell gesture with her card before tucking it in his pocket.
Safe was a relative term. Stroking the cool bronze back of the cougar, he watched the woman hurry off to collect her plunder. Those old drawings would not be with her long. He had given the bidding game a fair shot, but he wasn’t really disappointed by the outcome.
If he knew his Victory, she would not be denied.
NIGHT FALLS LIKE SILK, copyright 2003, 2012, Kathleen Eagle
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