Whispering Spirits
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143 pages

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Devastated by her boyfriend’s murder, Summer Timber Wolf, Niipo Ómahkapi'si, goes back to Browning, Montana to take care of her Blackfeet grandmother. That choice finds her living in the ways of the old ones in a tipi on the shores of St. Mary’s River in the shadow of the Chief Mountains. Her Nah’ah tells her to listen to the whispering spirits of her ancestors. They are her shield, her past, her present and her future. Summer, however, is not so easily convinced. It doesn’t take long before Summer realizes they’re not alone. Has her boyfriend’s killer found them? To protect her grandmother, Summer trusts their scout and protector, Cameron Running Crane. Soon she doubts her decision and wonders if he’s the kind of killer we instinctively fear the most; a loved one. The truth will be revealed in time . . . what she doesn’t know is who will survive



Publié par
Date de parution 30 août 2014
Nombre de lectures 4
EAN13 9781772995497
Langue English

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Whispering Spirits
By Rita Karnopp
Digital ISBNs
EPUB 978-1-77299-549-7
Kindle 978-1-77362-004-6
WEB 978-1-77362-005-3
Amazon Print 978-1-77362-006-0

Copyright 2014 by Rita Karnopp
Cover art by Michelle Lee
All rights reserved. Without limiting therights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publicationmay be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system,or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic,mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without theprior written permission of both the copyright owner and the abovepublisher of this book.
To my children
My daughter, Jamie, who is always there forme to bounce ideas off and who is unselfishly supportive when Ineed it most. There are times when I wouldn’t get that sparkwithout her classy comments and clever input. Thank you for alwaysbeing there for me.
My son, Christopher, who is always first tosay how proud he is I’ve written seventeen books, and counting. Henever tires asking how it’s going or giving me that added strengthand encouragement it takes to be an author.
With children this supportive and proud of me…I can’t help but feel accomplished and fulfilled. I’m so veryblessed to have such loving children.
Chapter One
The steady beep…beep…beep wore on Summer’sdazed mind. She forced her eyes open. A quick glance revealed ahospital bed and numerous attachments to her and variousmachines.
“Well it’s about time, Summer. You had meworried.”
“What are you doing here?”
“It’s where a mother should be when herdaughter needs her. What happened? I couldn’t get a thing from thepolice or from Joshua Perkins, who by the way is as aggravating ashis brother was.”
Summer stared at her mother and wished she’dleave. “I don’t know what happened. Jordan’s dead. You’re right.Joshua isn’t helping, if anything he’s blaming me eventhough…I……knocked the man out—”
“You did more than that, Summer Timber Wolf.”A man stood in the doorway. “Or do you wish to be called Nii’poO’mahkapi’si .” He stepped into the room. “I’m glad to seeyou’ve come around. It’s time we had a little chat.”
“Summer may look fine, but she still isn’t upto a lot of questions.”
“Well, Summer, Derek Wallace died as a resultof the blow you gave him to the back of the head. Whether you’re upto it or not, we need to talk.”
An image of Derek unconscious on the floorraced through her memory. “Oh…no! He couldn’t have. I hit himhard…but…not that hard.”
“Well, I’m afraid it did the trick. Can’t saywe blame you for trying to save your boyfriend. I’m sorry for yourloss. I’m sure Jordan Perkins was a fine young man. No one’saccusing you of murder. Did you know Derek Wallace?”
Summer fought the nausea that threatened tosurface. “Who are you?”
“You don’t remember me? I’ll try not to takethat personal. I’m Detective Tom Buggeta. We met the night of yourboyfriend’s murder.”
“Oh, I guess I do remember you…sort of. Youlook different somehow.”
“That must be your way of saying I cleanupwell. I’d been up about twenty hours by the time I arrived at Mr.Perkins’ apartment that night. Well, did you know Derek,ma’am?”
“Call me Summer. No, I didn’t know the guywho shot Jordan. Never saw him before…how long have I been here?”She glanced over at her mother and noticed her eyeing up thedetective.
“You’ve been in a coma ten days, dear.”
“Ten days! That can’t be!” Summer closed hereyes, then quickly reopened them. “Why did Derek want to killJordan? I don’t understand.”
“That’s what I’ve been hoping you could tellme, Summer. “ Detective Buggeta pulled up a chair and sat. “What doyou remember from that night?”
“I got a call from Jordan—”
“What time was that?”
“Around two in the morning. It seemedstrange.”
“How so,” Detective Buggeta leanedforward.
“Jordan didn’t ask me to come over to hisplace, he told me…almost ordered me to get there.”
“What were his exact words?”
“’Get over here now.’ He hung up before Icould even respond. I almost called him back to ask why he soundedso rude. His call seemed so bizarre I got up and headed over to hisplace right away. Now I’m starting to question whether it wasJordan calling…what if it was someone else?”
“Good question. What then?”
“Well, I realized his door was slightly open,and again I remember thinking how strange. Jordan was a harpy onkeeping doors locked. I entered slow and quiet and then realizedJordan was on the floor fighting some guy for a gun. I ran into thekitchen…and that’s when I heard the shot.”
“How many shots did you hear?”
“Just one. I grabbed the cast iron pan offthe stove and hit…the guy over the head. I didn’t mean to kill him,I just wanted to—”
“Don’t think about that right now, Summer.You have to concentrate on getting well.” Her mother steppedforward and smoothed her hand across Summer’s forehead.
She cringed from her mother’s touch. When hadshe become the dotting parent? “Is Nah’ah coming to seeme?”
“Why? Aren’t I enough? Why do you always seemto need her?”
“I’m not trying to start a fight, Mother.I…just wondered if Grandmother was coming.”
“Excuse me, ladies, but I really would liketo finish this up. Summer, Jordan’s brother, Joshua was at theapartment when we arrived. Do you know when he got there?”
Summer thought the night through in herminds-eye. “I hit the guy over the head and he dropped to thefloor. I swear I heard him moaning. I turned my attention to Jordanand realized he…he was dead.” She swiped at the tears on hercheeks.
“I never really believed he was the right manfor you, Summer.”
Winter reached over to sooth her brow again.Pressing into the pillow, Summer recoiled from her mother’stouch.
“Why would you think that, Mrs. Timber Wolf?”Detective Buggeta pulled out a notepad.
“Just call me Stoy-ii. ”
“Your name is Winter and your daughter’s nameis Summer? Cute.”
His comparison joke was old, and Summer’shead throbbed. She hated it when her mother decided she wasBlackfeet enough to speak it. No doubt she wanted to impress him.“Listen, Detective Buggeta, I really don’t feel all that well. Ifthere’s nothing else—”
“Well, actually I do have a few morequestions. Like, when did you realize Joshua Perkins was at theapartment?”
“Oh, I guess you did ask me that. I…wasleaning against Jordan…and Joshua told me to release my grip onJordan’s shirt. I looked up and he was just glaring at me with sucha cold stare. I asked him what he was doing there.”
“You and Joshua didn’t exactly get along?”Detective Buggeta glanced down as he wrote.
“No, he…didn’t feel an Indian girl was goodenough for his brother. I told him to leave me alone.” Summerclosed her eyes, trembling from the memories.
“Did he leave?”
“No, he said he wasn’t leaving his brotherthere like that. Then he asked me what the hell happened and whythat guy killed Jordan?”
“Did he seem to know Derek?”
“I don’t think so. I…just wanted Joshua toleave me alone so I could spend…just a few more minutes withJordan. I kept expecting him to wake up…but he never did. I askedJoshua why he was at the apartment at two in the morning.”
“What did he say?”
“He said Jordan called all upset and told himto come over right away. Said he couldn’t discuss it on the phone.Joshua asked me what it was about, but I didn’t know. Joshua didn’tbelieve me.”
“What was your relationship with Jordan? Wasit more serious than just dating?”
“We had decided to split after I got mydegree. We were more friends…than a couple. Don’t get me wrong, westill cared about each other.” She glanced down and tears blurredher vision.
“What else do you remember?”
“Joshua wanted to know who the guy was thatkilled Jordan. I told him I didn’t know him. That I’d never seenhim before. Then Joshua asked if Jordan had gotten intosomething…illegal?”
“Had he?”
“No! That wasn’t Jordan. That was more likeJoshua if you want the truth.”
“What happened next?”
Summer drew in a deep breath. Joshua called911 and you showed up.”
“Was that it?” Detective Buggeta looked upfrom his notebook.“Joshua shouted at me that I was compromising thecrime scene and I could be screwing up important evidence. Then hesaid the strangest thing…it’s wasn’t about Jordan…it was about whatI knew.”
“Do you know what he meant by that?”
“No…I really don’t. I asked him to explainhimself and he walked out of the room.” Summer swiped at the tearson her cheeks.
“Anything else you can remember?”
“I remember some lady detective was helpingme get up…away from Jordan…and I slipped and fell. That’s reallyall I remember.” Summer swallowed hard.
“I’m sorry to put you through all of thisagain, Summer. I know this can’t be easy. Do…you know who AliMurdown is?”
Summer looked down at her fingers and back upat Detective Buggeta. “There were rumors that she was afterJordan.”
“What do you mean by after ?”
“The hots…uh…she wanted him. I didn’t reallybelieve he responded because he commented several times she wastrash.”
“You two discussed—”
“Does it matter what we discussed? Jordan’sdead. I don’t know why she’d even come up in a conversation unlessyou think she’s involved with his murder.”
“No, we don’t think that. You don’tremember…we found a woman…stabbed to death in Jordan’s shower thatnight?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Summerfought the nausea that threatened to explode.
“Ali Murdown was that woman.”
“I…I…what are you suggesting?”
“Were Ali and Jordan friends or…do you thinkthey might have been having a little fling?”
Summer stared at him. A single tear rolleddown her cheek. “I don’t have a flipping idea what Ali was doing inJordan’s shower. Maybe you should ask Joshua about that one.”
“Why would I want to do that?”
“I’d heard they were dating.”
“Why would she be in Jordan’s shower?”
Summer clenched her teeth, tensing her jaw.“You’re the detective, you figure it out.”
“Dear, there’s no need to be rude toDetective Buggeta. He’s only doing his job.”
Summer cast an icy glare at her. “Why don’tyou let Detective Buggeta and I finish our conversation alone,mother.”
“I guess that would be best. I could use acup of coffee. Would you like a cup, Summer? DetectiveBuggeta?”
“No thank you, Mother.”
“I only have a few more questions, so I don’tthink so. But thank you, Mrs. Timber Wolf.”
Summer knew underneath the cool exterior, hermother seethed. She left the room with an air of indifference.
“Is it my imagination, or don’t you and yourmother get along all that well?”
“I don’t think our relationship has a thingto do with your investigation, Detective Buggeta. I have a horribleheadache, so if we could finish this up quickly, I’d appreciateit.” Doubts about Ali and Jordan rose and she fought them fromsurfacing.
“We were discussing Ali being murdered inyour boyfriend’s shower. Do you have any idea what Derek Wallacemight have been after?”
“I’m confused about everything. Maybe…maybeJordan wasn’t there with Ali. Maybe Joshua was.”
“Hmm, interesting idea. But what aboutDerek?”
“Maybe Derek didn’t plan to find Jordan. Whatif he was looking for Joshua instead?” Summer pressed her foreheadinto the heel of her hand.
“You don’t exactly like Joshua, do you,Summer? Why would they be at Jordan’s apartment and not at Joshua’splace?”
“You really don’t know the answer to that?”Summer glared at Detective Buggeta, certain he couldn’t be thatinept.
“You mean because poor Joshua doesn’t reallyhave a true place of residence.”
“Exactly. He sponges off his family andfriends. Jordan on the other hand worked full-time for LawrenceBorden’s campaign for a Democratic senator. He…was at thecenter…endless hours and made a very nice income. I don’t think itwas Jordan who was in trouble. I think Joshua—”
“We considered the cocky brother. He has analibi.”
“Interesting. I don’t think he came withanyone…for all I know he could have been in the other room andfirst came out after I hit that guy. Joshua always has a way ofappearing innocent. He’s…involved one way or another…I’m sure ofit.”
“Did Jordan have any enemies you knowof?”
“I can’t think of anyone.” Summer wished he’dstop asking questions and would just leave her alone. For him themurder was ten days ago, for her it was hours.
“Is there anything else you might havenoticed or heard that might be of interest to theinvestigation?”
“Goodness, Detective Buggeta, you stillquestioning my girl?” Steam escaped from the cup in her hand. “Iexpected you’d have finished some time ago. Maybe you should lether rest a bit to collect her thoughts. If she thinks of anything,she can call you.”
“I’m capable of handling this myself, Mother.In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a little girl anymore. My timefor needing a mother is long past.”
“No need to be rude, dear. Detective, as youcan see, Summer seems a bit stressed and out of sorts. You mightcheck in later tomorrow if you like.” She leaned toward him,revealing firm breasts pressing the low edge of her shimmering goldtank top.
Summer glared at her mother, then glanced atDetective Buggeta. His flushed cheeks revealed he hadn’t missed thedisplay. “Why don’t you both go? I have a splitting headache and Ijust want to be alone.”
“Here’s my card. You think of anything, callme day or night. That’s my personal cell phone number I jotted onthere.” He dropped it into her hand.
She took the card and tossed it on thebedside table. “I can’t imagine there’s anything more I can tellyou. Everything happened so fast.”
“You never know. I’ve had witnesses rememberthings months after the fact. Thanks for your time, Miss TimberWolf.” He strode out of the room and disappeared down the corridor.The clicking of his steps against the tile floor faded quickly.
Summer closed her eyes then opened them. “Ithought you were leaving, too.”
“Could you be any more rude? I’m…I’m tryinghard to be here for you.”
“Not necessary. I can take care of myself.”The pasty white of her mother’s skin always annoyed Summer. Itbeing the only reason her skin had a paleness. In the summer she’dtan and look no different than the full-bloods. But come winter…herskin transformed…becoming lighter and lighter. She’d been blessedwith high cheekbones and the broad Blackfeet forehead, but shetruly prayed for dark, moody, brown eyes like a fawn. Nah’ah often said her eyes were as blue as camas flowers that spreadacross the meadows. In early times the people mistook camas fieldsfor distant lakes. Every time she looked in the mirror theyreminded her of how her mother deserted her and Inn .
“Really? You just finished college and youdon’t have a job. What are your plans?”
Summer glared at her mother. “You have anyidea how…devastated I am over Jordan’s murder? I don’t think youreally care, do you?”
“Like I said, I never thought he was rightfor you. You should marry a boy with money and purpose anddefinitely not a Native boy.”
“Who I marry is none of your business.There’s nothing wrong with Native men…they certainly are handsome.I just don’t seem to be attracted to any at the moment. It’s alittle late for you to be mothering me now. You weren’t there whenI needed you…and I definitely don’t need you now. Why don’t you goback to…who is he now…Jack? No, wait he hasn’t been in the picturefor a couple years. I know it must be Adam…oh, no it’s not Adam oreven James. I think father said the latest greatest boyfriend andlove is Henry…right?”
“That’s enough, Summer. Who I choose to dateis none of your business.”
“My sentiments exactly. I don’t even know whyFather includes you in decisions about me. As far as I’m concerned,you left us and we don’t really need you in our lives. Why hebelieves I need you is beyond me. I never will. I’ll call and askhim to bring Nah’ah here.”
“In order words you don’t want me here?”
“I don’t need you here.”
“But you need Morning Star?”
“I’ll always need my nah’ah. ”
“Well, then you’re going to be happy with thedecision your father and I made for you last night.”
“You and father made a decision for me?Together? That must have been interesting. Who won the fight?”
“You’re becoming quite the snarky, aren’tyou?”
“Decision, mother, what decision are youtalking about? Last time I looked, my birth certificate said I wasborn twenty-four summers ago. Why would you and father make anydecisions for me?” Summer drew in a deep breath and slowly releasedit.
“We told you we would support you whileyou’re going to school. You’ve just graduated. You either get a jobor—”
“Or what?”
“You…take care of your beloved grandmotherfor the summer or until you get a job.”
“I have no intention of returning to the Res,other than to visit Father and Nah’ah .”
“I know you swore you’d never to return tothe reservation to work, but your grandmother needs you. As much asI’d like to say go your own way—and good luck, your father wantedme to explain your choices.”
“I’m ready to make some choices and…start anew life. I’ve been offered a position to teach creative writing atCarroll College in Helena and I’ve also been offered a similarposition at Montana State University here in Missoula.”
“I thought your degree was in NativeHistory.”
“I have my Masters in writing and a BS inNative History. Wouldn’t you think a mother would know suchthings?”
“Summer, that’s about enough from you for oneday. Even if you start teaching at one of those colleges in thefall, you’ll need work for the summer. I’m not certain spending thesummer with your grandmother is going to put much money in yourpocket, though. You have your choices, think them over, and let meknow tomorrow when I return.”
“Don’t bother coming back. Like I said, I’llcall Father and ask him to bring Nah’ah here.”
“Aren’t you ever going to forgive me, Niipo ?”
“Don’t talk Blackfeet to me, mother. You hateeverything that’s Native…including Father. You walked out of mylife when I was ten. Don’t expect you can just walk back into itwhen I’m twenty-four.”
“Your father has forgiven me.”
“I’ve forgiven you, too. That doesn’t mean Ihave to accept you as my mother and welcome you back. It just meansI don’t hate you anymore.”
“Fine, if that’s the way you want it. You dorealize I paid for half of that fancy degree you hold. A littlegratitude and respect would be nice.”
“I’ll pay you back.”
“That’s not my point or what I meant and youknow it. Your grandmother has turned you against me, hasn’tshe?”
“ Nah’ah tells the truth. She doesn’tplay games with people’s lives. She was there for me when I neededa mother. She nursed me back to health when I fell off my horse,and she was there when my first boyfriend broke my heart. She’s noweighty summers and I’d be honored and happy to be there for herwhen she needs me.”
“That would mean going back to thereservation. Do you really want to spend your life in Browning,Montana?”
“It wouldn’t be a sacrifice to take care of Nah’ah for the summer. It’ll give me time to think aboutwhich university I’ll want to teach at. Nah’ah can help memake that decision. The further away from here and Jordan’s deaththe better.”
“You…missed the funeral last week. I sent abouquet of white roses from you.”
Summer swallowed hard. Tears flooded hereyes, then spilled onto her cheeks. “Thank you for doing that. I’msurprised you even bothered. You never liked him.”
“It’s not that I didn’t like him…you nevergave me the chance to get to know him. I had to form an opinionfrom information I read on the internet. Your father wasn’t muchhelp.”
“Can you blame him? You left him, too. Hisfamily ranch couldn’t be picked up and moved…so he had to face hisfamily and friends…humiliated his wife ran off to California withsome rich salesman. I’m glad Father’s finally over you andhas—”
“Has what…who?”
Summer smiled. “You really thought he’d neverfind love again, did you? Isn’t it funny you seem so surprised andalmost angry? I can see it in your expression. You thought hecouldn’t love anyone but you, didn’t you? You revel in the ideahe’s never remarried.” She studied her mother’s face. “What? No,don’t tell me you really thought in time he’d take you back…didyou?” Summer laughed, then pressed her forehead into her palm.
“No, I don’t want to return to your father.You really think I’d put myself out there to be ridiculed by—”
“You’d never be accepted back, or you’d tryto get Father to take you back, wouldn’t you? He’s moved on,Mother. He found a really nice woman to make him happy. She treatshim with respect—”
“Shut up, Summer. I don’t want to hear it. Ifhe’s found someone, as you put it, he’d have told me.”
“Why? You think he owes it to you? You thinkhe needs to explain himself to you? He didn’t tell you because it’snone of your business. He doesn’t owe you any explanations. I wishhe’d found her years ago.”
“She’s probably some Blackfeet whore!”
“Careful Mother, I’m half Blackfeet and Itake offense to that kind of comment. One thing I do know, shewon’t desert him like you did. She’s very much in love withhim.”
“What’s her name?” Her mother’s browfurrowed.
“What does it matter to you?” Summer paused,realizing her mother looked devastated by the news.
“What’s her name?”
“If you must know, Wapun Peta. ”
“Dawn Golden Eagle…my best friend?”
“ Used to be your best friend. Herhusband passed away about five years ago. Father hired her to dothe cooking during branding and roundups…since you weren’t there.Guess a way to a man’s heart is his stomach.” Summer laughed, thengrabbed her forehead again.
“You want me to call a nurse for some painmeds?”
“If I need a nurse I can push the help buttonall by myself. Would you please just leave?”
The phone next to her bed rang. Summer turnedand grabbed it before her mother could cross the room.
“Yes. Who’s this?” She didn’t recognize thevoice and it sounded like he had muffled the tone.
“You shouldn’t have killed DerekWallace.”
“He shouldn’t have killed JordanPerkins.”
“Who’s that on the phone?” Winter stood atthe end of Summer’s bed.
“Give us the documents and we won’t hurtyou.”
“Who is this?” She tried recognizing thevoice but it was definitely muddled. “I don’t know what you mean?What documents?” She swallowed hard and looked at her mother. Thelast person Summer wanted to know about the phone call was WinterTimber Wolf.
“When we got to Jordan’s apartment we foundhim and Ali taking a shower together. Kinda stinks to know thatabout your boyfriend, doesn’t it?”
“You’re lying. He had pants and a shirton.”
“Yep, I told him to get dressed and sent himto the living room with Derek. I had a chat with Ali.”
“And you killed her.”
“She had a choice to cooperate or die. Thelast thing she said was Jordan admitted he had the documents.”
“And you believed her? She told you what youwanted to hear…and you killed her anyway.”
“Actually I was going to let her go. Shehadn’t seen either of us since we were wearing masks.”
“Then why did you kill her?” Summer foughtpast the pain in her skull and the nausea that set in again.
“She called me by name. Bitch knew me and wastoo stupid to keep it to herself. Too dumb to live is what I say.Derek didn’t plan on killing Jordan either. Derek was only afterinformation. The gun went off accidentally. You ‘ll pay for killinghim.”
“I just wanted to knock him out. I’m not sureit was me who killed him.”
“You trying to fuck with me, Summer? I wasthere, remember? You hit him and he dropped to the floor.”
“I know that…but I didn’t mean to killhim…just knock him out. He was going to kill Jordan and I had to dosomething. Except…I did it too late.”
“Find the documents and we’ll call it even.Not…and you’ll be buried right alongside your cheating boyfriend. Ihope you’re smarter than Ali.”
“What are these documents for?” Summer closedher eyes and pressed her fingertips into her forehead.
“Don’t play stupid with me, Summer. I’ll bein touch.”
“Wait!” A steady beep answered. Summer staredat the phone.
“Who was that? What documents did they want?”Her mother’s expression revealed more curiosity than concern.
“I don’t know and…none of your business. I’lltake care of it myself.”
“I’ve had enough lip from you. I’ll be backtomorrow. Get some sleep.”
Summer closed her eyes and didn’t respond. “Ineed to talk to you, Nah’ah ,” she whispered. Questionsswarmed her mind. What if Jordan had been cheating with Ali? Itreally didn’t matter to her. What documents? How strange, the manon the phone kept calling her Summer as though he knew her. Couldit have been Joshua?
The door clicked shut…she jumped and snappedher eyes open.
Chapter Two
Summer scanned the dimly lit room, but saw noone. Her head pounded as her heart raced. What had she gottenherself into? Had her mother been right about Jordan all along? No,Summer couldn’t believe…she swallowed hard. Her lids grew heavy asshe struggled to bring his image to her mind’s eye.
She woke to darkness and an empty room. Whatcaused her to wake? Was that sweetgrass she smelled? Summer quicklyglanced around hoping to see Nah’ah …her gaze rested on awhite envelop on the bed table. She tore it open and found a small,folded paper.
Opening it, she read, “Go back to yourpeople…it might be the only safe place for you. Trust no one.” Sherefolded the paper in half, then noticed in tiny print, “The devilcan corner you in a house, but not in a tipi.”
Summer stared at the note. She recalled usingHerman Yellow Old Woman’s quote in her Native history thesis on theBlackfeet in Sitsikaa . Who would know that? Was this awarning or an attempt to scare her?
Inching the blankets to her chin, Summerpulled her knees up and wished Nah’ah was there to make herfeel safe.
A nurse pushed through the door. “Looks likeyou had a good night’s sleep. I’m sorry to wake you, but I musttake your temp and blood pressure. If you’re lucky, Doctor Wheatwill release you today. How’s that headache?”
Summer wanted to tell her she’d barely slepta couple of hours. “I’d like nothing more than to go…home.” Thedoctor wouldn’t release her if he knew she’d barely slept and herhead still pounded. There was no way she was spending another nightin this hospital room.
“I’m feeling so much better.” The lie rolledoff her tongue too easily. “What time will Doctor Wheat be comingto see me?”
“You have time to eat some breakfast and takea shower. He’s usually doing rounds on our floor around ten. Notemp but I see your blood pressure is still a bit high. Do youusually have an elevated blood pressure?”
“No, but I’ve been under a lot of stresslately.”
“Oh, your boyfriend was murdered, wasn’t he?I’m sorry, dear.”
Summer nodded and looked away. Herrelationship with Jordan was over, but she never wanted himdead.
“Did anyone tell you that you had a late malevisitor last night?”
“No. Did you let him come to my room?” Summersuddenly clung to every word the nurse said.
“It was way after visiting hours. We neverlet visitors disturb patients and certainly not around midnight. Wesent him packing.”
“What’d he look like?”
“He was a man around thirtyish, tall, thin,and very handsome. He wore a nice black suit with a white shirt andtie. Strangest thing though.”
“He wore white Nike Air Force One sneakers. Iknow because my son keeps hounding me for a pair and they’re tooexpensive for my salary. Both Doris and I noticed. Maybe that’s thestyle now days, but it still looked odd. Doris thinks he snuck backup the stairs and into your room anyway. I really don’t thinkso.”
Summer looked at the bed table and then nightstand. “No one came in here or I’d have noticed. Where’s theletter?”
“Letter? You lose a card?”
“There was a white envelop on the table. Youdidn’t see it? Maybe it fell on the floor?” She leaned over andchecked the floor.
The nurse looked under the bed. “I’m sorry,dear, but I don’t see a white envelop anywhere. You sure you didn’tdream it? Drugs can make you imagine all sorts of things.”
“I didn’t dream it. It was there because Iput it there. I read it last night and I know I placed it righthere.” She slammed her palm on the table top.
“Calm down or I’ll have to give you somethingto take the edge off.”
“I don’t need…I’m sorry.” She drew in a long,deep breath. She needed to get released and throwing a fit wasn’t ameans to that end. “Maybe you’re right. I could have sworn I read anote, yet I can’t remember what it said. Maybe it was a dream.”
“There you have it. Don’t worry. I see thesethings happening all the time. Go ahead and brush your teeth.Breakfast will be here in no time.” She placed a small plasticcontainer, tooth brush and paste, plus a glass of water on thetable. “I’m sure a shower will make you feel much better, too.”
The nurse left the room and Summerimmediately searched the blankets for the envelope. Who could havetaken it? Why? The phone rang and she jumped.
“I see you’re finally awake.
“Who is this?”
“Detective Buggeta. You sound tense. Didsomething happen? You remember something? Work with me, Summer. I’mhere to help you.”
“Yes…no…I mean…I don’t remember anything Ihaven’t told you. I’m just frustrated and still upset overJordan’s…death. I’m being released today.”
“I don’t want you leaving town.”
“Well I am leaving town. I’m going toBrowning to take care of my grandmother for the summer. You have mycell number. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t tell anyone whereI’ve gone.”
“You sure you’re not telling mesomething?”
Summer considered telling him about the calland the note, but remained silent. The stigma of trusting napi’kwan police stayed with her. They had the Bureau ofIndian Affairs on the res. White police weren’t needed, wanted ortrusted.
“If I think of something, I’ll let you know.”She reached for the toothbrush and waited while Buggeta’s muffledvoice revealed he spoke with someone else.
Who did he have listening in on theirconversation? Was she really talking to Buggeta? Was this a trap tosee if she was talking to the police?
“We’ll keep in touch, Summer.”
“You do that.” She hung up and glanced at thedoor in time to watch her father walk into the room. Suddenlyeverything seemed like it was going to be okay.
“ Oki, itan .”
Smiling at her handsome father, she answered,“ Oki, Inn .” She waited for him to place a kiss on the top ofher head, his usual greeting.
“It’s good to speak our language so we don’tforget it. Too long we have talked the white man’s language and wehave nearly lost our own. I am now teaching at the school so ouryoung people will learn our language as well. Soon there will be alot of nitsi-poi-yiksi .”
“There are already a lot of people who speakour real language. You must do what makes you happy.” He sat witheffort.
“Enough small talk. Tell me what you knowabout Jordan’s murder. What’s this nonsense about you killing hisattacker?”
“I don’t know anything, Inn . I stilldon’t believe I killed that guy with a fry pan. I hit him over thehead, yes. I know it knocked him out. But kill him? I don’t thinkso. I hit him once.”
“ Napi’kwan police going to charge youwith anything?”
Summer drew in a deep breath, then slowlyreleased it. “No, they believe I was trying to save Jordan.”
“Good. Your mother wants to take you on atwo-month tour of Europe.”
“I’m not going anywhere with her. Besides, Ithought you two decided I would take care of grandmother thissummer.”
“She thought you needed the trip more thanyour grandmother.”
“Well, she’s wrong. I might not want to be atthe res this summer, but I’ll not turn away from Nah’ah . Ican’t stay here in Missoula…too many places remind me of whathappened to Jordan. I was planning on moving on at the end of themonth. We decided to remain friends. So my apartment lease is up ina couple of days. If you don’t mind stopping there before we leave,I’ll get my stuff packed up and—”
“Making plans to leave already? Sounds likeyou’re feeling much better.”
Summer glanced over at Doctor Wheat standingin the doorway. “My headache is nearly gone. I’m definitely readyto leave.”
“I understand you were a bit agitated thismorning. You care to share that with me?”
She closed her eyes a second and shook herhead. “Nothing to share. I woke and was a bit confused. I think mydream was so real…I quickly realized I was wrong. I think thesleeping pill I was given hit me kinda hard.”
“No problem. It sounds like you’re doingrather well now. You mentioned the headache was better. Does thatmean you still have it?”
“It’s there but way back inside.”
“Excellent. I see no reason your father can’ttake you home. I’d like to see you again in about two weeks. Soonerif you’re having problems. You’re to stay calm and not get workedup over this murder. Leave the catching of your boyfriend’s killerto the police. You need to concentrate on getting yourself healthy.How does that sound?”
Summer stared at him a moment and nodded. Washe warning her…or was she imagining it? “Sounds perfect. Thank you,Doctor Wheat.”
* * *
Summer adjusted the neck pillow and gave herfather a dowsy glance. He was the only person she felt safe enoughto sleep while he drove. The pounding in her head reminded her ofthe powwow drums during the summer celebrations. Maybe she shouldhave been honest with Doctor Wheat and told him her headaches werestill bad enough to cause nausea.
“Did you get a good rest? We are almost home. Nah’ah is excited you are coming to spend time with her. Shetalks of nothing else.”
“I’m looking forward to spending time withher. I’m sure she isn’t too awfully upset Jordan is…gone. Inn , did you like him?”
“I only met him at Thanksgiving and…he seemedlike a nice young man. He…wasn’t afraid to share his opinions, butthat’s not all that bad. He…nothing.”
“No, be honest with me, Inn . I want toknow what you thought.” Summer glanced at her father and noticed heappeared uncomfortable. “What is it?”
“A couple weeks ago I received a phone call.I don’t know who it was. He wouldn’t tell me. He told me…no hewarned me to…stay out of your business.”
“What? What on earth are you talking about?”Summer stared at him long and hard. She said nothing as he pulledoff the road into a wayside and parked under a tree. He turnedtoward her and gazed into her face with eyes as penetrating asthose of an eagle.
“We hadn’t heard from you in a long time. So,I decided to drive to Missoula and surprise you.”
“You came to see me a couple weeks ago? Ididn’t see you? What happened?”
“I…knocked on your apartment door andJordan’s brother, Joshua opened—”
“Joshua was in my apartment? Why didn’t youtell me?”
“You see, I wasn’t certain what to think. Theyoung man told me he was Jordan’s brother and had just dropped offa bouquet of flowers and a nice bottle of wine for Jordan. Therewere flowers there, so why would I think it so odd?”
Summer remembered a dozen yellow roses fromJordan three weeks ago. He’d said it was just because heappreciated her friendship. “That was it? Why didn’t I get to seeyou?”
“Joshua told me that you and Jordan had justleft for dinner and a Paul McCartney concert you had planned onattending for months. He said Jordan was going to propose to yousometime that night when the moment was right. I didn’t want tointrude, so I left.”
“You’d never be an intrusion, Inn .That’s strange, because Jordan didn’t ask me to marry him thatnight. He wouldn’t have because…like I said, we decided to call itoff. We didn’t even go to that concert because he gave the ticketsto Joshua and his new girlfriend. I was so angry. I’ve always lovedthe Beatles and Paul’s music has always touched me. I wasn’t happyJordan gave those tickets away when he knew how much I wanted togo. I did get the flowers but…I don’t remember any wine. You surehe said wine?”
“That’s what the young man said. I didn’twait around. I did some shopping for your grandmother, then wentback home.”
“You still haven’t told me about…being toldto stay out of my business,” she rubbed her temples with herfingertips and drew in a long, steady breath, then released it.
“You feeling okay?”
“Yes, just frustrated. Please…tell me.”
He took a long, hard drink of water, then setit down. “Two days after I got home…three in the morning the phonewoke me. I thought something was wrong and I answered it rightaway. A man told me it’s bad manners to just drop over at aperson’s house, uninvited. Next time I should call ahead. Betteryet, it might be a good idea if I just stayed out of your business.I heard a woman laughing in the background. I thought it was you.It hurt me. I didn’t know what to say, so I hung up. I couldn’tfall back to sleep. I couldn’t help wondering why you would behavethat way toward your inn .”
“You know I’d never behave that way towardyou, Father. Didn’t you wonder what was going on? Why didn’t youjust call and ask me? Is there anything else you can think of thatseemed odd or unusual?”
“I didn’t call…because I was…angry you’dbehave so uncaring toward me. Nah-ah said you wouldn’t. Shewas right. There was one thing about that whole conversation thatreally puzzled me.”
“When I was at your apartment, Joshua keptlooking at his watch, almost as if he was either expecting someonehe didn’t want me to see or he had someplace to go.”
“That really doesn’t tell us much, does it?Has anyone called you since that first time?” Summer didn’t likestrangers calling and threatening her father. Jordan must have beeninto something…but what? “You sure there’s nothing else you mighthave seen and didn’t give it much thought?” She waited while herfather gave her question some thought.
He turned toward her and pulled on his longbraid. “There was a black bag on your coffee table.”
“What kind of black bag? You mean like agarbage bag?” The pounding to the backside of her skull increasedand she fought the nausea that threatened.
“It was more like a computer bag or smallcase. You know they are about four inches thick and they zip shut.Now that I think about it, it was partially open and…I don’t thinkthere was a computer in it.”
“Could you see anything inside?” She tried tothink if she’d seen Jordan with anything like that, but shecouldn’t.
“No…I just know there wasn’t a computerinside because they pretty much fit tight and the baglooked…wobbly. Joshua noticed I was looking at it and stepped infront of me. You have any idea why he had that at your apartment?Where were you?”
“I was…angry with Jordan for giving ourtickets away so I went out for drinks with my girlfriend, Candice.Actually, she was the one who called me and suggested we goout.”
“You’ve known this girl for a long time?”
“We’ve been friends for some time. Why?” Herfriend would never have anything to do with this.
“If Jordan gave your tickets to his brother,why wasn’t Joshua at that concert instead of at yourapartment?”
“What time were you there?” Her father wasright, she struggled to listen.
“It had to be around eight thirty. I’dplanned on staying the night. Instead I turned around andleft.”
“I wonder how many times he used my apartmentwithout my knowledge. I wish I knew what was in that bag. If only Icould ask Jordan.”
“You think Jordan caught onto what hisbrother was up to? You think Joshua could have killed Jordan?”
“He didn’t kill Jordan. A guy by the name ofDerek Wallace did. But someone also killed Ali Murdown in Jordan’sshower. I’ve had a feeling Joshua didn’t just show up at Jordan’sapartment as he claimed. I have a feeling he was already therebefore I got there.”
“What makes you think that?”
“I don’t know. He didn’t seem surprised oreven upset his brother was dead. I knew Jordan and Joshua didn’tget along very well, but I never thought it was as deep seated asit appears.”
“Did you tell the detective on Jordan’s caseall this?”
Summer drew in her lips and released them,making a popping sound. “I…I really don’t trust the napi’kwan police. One look at me and I can tell they couldcare less about a Blackfeet girl’s boyfriend.”
“I understand your hesitation. I too havetrust issues with the white man’s police. You should talk toRunning Crane. He is one of us and connected with the Bureau ofIndian Affairs.”
“If I find a need, I’ll seek him out.Otherwise, there’s no reason.” The last person she wanted tocontact was her high school boyfriend’s brother. It seemed she hada track record for disliking her boyfriend’s brother. The thoughtalmost made her laugh.
“I think you’re not telling me everything.Maybe you didn’t know Jordan as well as you thought. He was inpolitics, wasn’t he?”
“He worked for Lawrence Borden who is runningfor a Democrat senate seat. I don’t see how that can bemisconstrued as illegal.” Summer cringed as her father rolled ofhis eyes upward. “I get you don’t like napi’kwan government,but that doesn’t or didn’t make Jordan a bad person.”
“I never said it did, Niipo . I justthink there was something going on that you weren’t aware of. Hewas murdered. There has to be a reason.”
“He never said anything to me…I…had noidea…he was into something dangerous. I couldn’t tell.”
“He might have thought no one would suspecthim and he was in the clear. The brothers were involved insomething illegal together. Whatever was in that bag is what thisis all about.”
Summer closed her eyes a moment, then openedthem. “I won’t believe Jordan would do anything illegal unlesssomeone proves it. He was a good man, Inn . All thisspeculation is giving me a headache, let’s talk about somethingelse.”
“ Nah-ah is excited you’re coming tospend the summer with her.” John Timber Wolf backed out of theparking spot and merged into highway traffic. “She’s been preparingfor her time with you for weeks.”
“How can that be? I just decided to take careof her yesterday.”
“You know I’ve stopped trying to figure outhow she knows things. She’ll tell you kay’issta’pssiwa .”
“She may believe it’s a spirit, but I don’t.I haven’t believed in the old ways for a long time. We have toforget all that nonsense and move with the times. The people’sbiggest problems are self-inflicted. If you ask me, they shouldshut down all the reservations and the crutch of clinging to theold ways would be gone. Our people would be forced to blend intosociety.”
“You really believe that? You think ourpeople would be better off forgetting where we come from? To loseour ancestry would be to lose our direction. If you don’t knowwhere you’ve come from how do you know where you’re going? Niipo, you’ve lost your way. It’s good you are back.”
“I’m not back. I’ve returned only to takecare of Nah’ah. It’ll give me time to decide which job Iwant to accept.”
“You could teach Native American Language andbe true to the ways of your people. You could teach Native AmericanHistory and make a difference in the future of the Blackfeet.”
Summer leaned against the headrest and closedher eyes. “We have to make our own futures and it’s not going tohappen if our people stay on the res.”
“Is that what Jordan taught you? You have a napi’kwan boyfriend and you suddenly are ashamed to beBlackfeet?”
“I didn’t say I was ashamed of beingBlackfeet, I just think our people need to realize they all need achange. To cling to old ways will only keep them depressed andpoor. There’s no future in that. We’ve had this conversation way tomany times. We always end up angry. This is one subject we’ll neveragree on. I don’t know why we always end up—”
“Look, over on that dead tree. It’s anowl.”
She glanced at her father and read the fearin his face. “You still believe the spirits of the dead appear inthe form of an owl? Really, Inn ? You want me to believe it’sJordan’s spirit and he’s here to haunt me because he wasmurdered?”
“He might be asking you to find his killer.Keep watching for him to reappear. You should not ignoretruths.”
“You do realize how ridiculous that way ofthinking is—right? It’s a flipping owl, Inn . Nothing moreand nothing less.”
“Watch your mouth young lady. You would besmart to hold that tongue with your nah’ah .”
Summer’s cell phone rang and she hesitated toanswer it. She dug in her purse and noticed the caller wasunidentified. She swallowed hard, then said, “Hello?”
“You’d be wise not to go blabbing your storyto the Res police. Keep your mouth shut and nothing will happen toyour father or you.”
“Since I’ve nothing to blab, it won’t behard. Tell me something, what was in that computer bag? Whatexactly was Jordan and Joshua into? I’m not a part of whatever itwas, so why don’t you just leave me alone. The more you push me,the more involved I’ll become.” She knew she shouldn’t challengethe man on the phone, but she needed answers. Maybe he’d revealsomething without realizing it.
“What do you mean? What computer case? Ithought you didn’t know anything. Tell me what you know or I’ll puta bullet right into your father’s forehead.”
“You expect me to believe you have a riflezeroed in on us right this very moment? How—” A bullet hit thewindshield between her and her father. It left a huge dent in theglass.
“Pull off at the next rest station and stayin the car.”
“Now why would we do that?” She swallowedhard.
“What’s going on, Summer? At first I thoughta rock hit the windshield, but now I believe it was a bullet. Whoyou talking to? Is he the one who shot at us?”
“ Inn , he wants us to turn into thenext rest station and—”
“Like hell we will. I am not playing hisgame.”
“He said he’ll put a bullet in your foreheadif we don’t.” Summer’s headache peaked and she retched into aplastic bag.
“There’s only one place he could have gottenthat shot off and we just passed it. I’m not stopping.”
“Your father will regret his decision. I’mnot through with either of you.”
“I don’t know what you want. I have no ideawhat Jordan was doing. I don’t have anything in safe-keeping and Iwasn’t connected to anything Joshua was involved in. If you wantanswers, I suggest you have a long conversation with JoshuaPerkins. If he tries telling you anything connected to me, you’llknow he’s lying.”
“And I’m supposed to believe you? If you’reso innocent, how’d you know about the bag?”
“My father came to see me at my apartment andJoshua was there. I wasn’t. My father spotted a computer bag on mycoffee table. It could have meant nothing.”
“So you’re saying we should look for Jordan’scomputer?”
“Well, that’s just it. He couldn’t seeinside, but it definitely didn’t have a computer inside it. Joshuawas acting squirrely. That’s all my father and I know.”
“If I find out you’re lying, I’ll come afteryou. The devil—”
“I know, can corner you in a house, but notin a tipi.”
“What the hell you talking about?”
“You didn’t write that on a note to me thismorning?” Summer wanted nothing more than peace and quiet.
“I don’t leave threatening notes. What’d itsay?”
She hesitated. Should she tell him? “It said,Go back to your people…it might be the only safe place for you.Trust no one. And in tiny print it said, “The devil can corner youin a house, but not in a tipi.”
“I didn’t write it. That means someone elseis involved. You have any idea who could have written it?”
“No. I thought it was you. Someone called myfather, I’m guessing that was you.”
“That one I’ll admit to. Who do youthink—”
“I don’t have a clue. The only person I thinkis in the middle of all this is Joshua Perkins. My father and Ihave nothing to do with whatever you’re doing. We don’t knowanything, like I’ve said before.”
“If you’re lying to me, you’ll paydearly.”
Summer held the phone to her ear long aftersilence told her the caller had hung up.
“You care to explain that call to me?”
“There’s nothing to explain. You heard what Isaid.”
“You shouldn’t have told him about the blackbags. Is he coming after us?”
Summer pressed the heels of her hands intoher forehead. “I don’t think so. It seems he believed me.”
“And if he didn’t?”
“My guess is we haven’t heard the last ofhim. I can’t even begin to image what Joshua’s involved in. Iwonder if Jordan accidentally figured it out and it got himkilled.”
“You can’t believe what a napi’kwan says. Don’t be so sure Jordan knew nothing. It would concern methat a woman was killed in my boyfriend’s shower. Be honest withyourself or the answers won’t present themselves.”
She glanced over at her father, then shookher head. “If only this could be resolved so easily.” Silence fellbetween them. Summer couldn’t help wondering what she’d seenwithout realizing it. Could Jordan possibly be involved every bitas much as Joshua? Where was Jordan on those many late nights atthe office? She’d never even considered he was somewhere else…andthe truth…. she didn’t really care.
Why had Jordan called both her and Joshua tocome to his apartment if he was involved? Again the logicalexplanation was he’d figure out what Joshua was involved in andwanted to confront him. Did he want her there to be witness to hisaccusations? Summer’s head swam with questions…with no answers.Maybe the most damaging question was: what was Ali Murdown doingtaking a shower in Jordan’s apartment?
Chapter Three
Summer stared at the chopper and back at herfather. “This is a joke, right?”
“No, I’m just following instructions fromyour nah’ah .”
“Lady, the longer you make me wait, the moreit’s going to cost. I suggest we leave in the next five minutes.”He pushed his sunglasses further up his nose and quickly looked theother way.
Even though she really couldn’t see him well,she glared at the pilot. “I…haven’t had time to prepare. I’m notpacked for a week in a tent.”
“More like tipi if I know Nah’ah . Doyou have shirts and jeans packed in any of those bags?”
Nodding, Summer walked back to her father’s1960 Pontiac GTO and pulled out several suitcases. The largest hadsportswear and exercise clothes and she pulled it aside. Shegrabbed the smaller gray suitcase that contained makeup, mirror,and her thyroid meds. It would have to do. “Next time I’dappreciate a bit of a heads-up. If it was anyone other than Nah’ah , I’d say forget it.”
“Look at it this way, you get to experience achopper ride. That’s something I’ve never done.”
“Why don’t you come along? It would do us allgood to spend time fishing and hiking.”
“You really think Nah’ah is going togo hiking? It’s my guess she just wants to experience life as itwas for the Blackfeet two hundred years ago.”
“ Inn , what’s the point? It’s nevergoing to be like that ever again. Why is she clinging to it sotightly? It drives me nuts.”
“Listen to Nah’ah and bite yourtongue. Respect is the key here. Don’t insult her with your grandphilosophy about closing all the reservations and making the NativeAmerican assimilate to society.”
“You knew grandmother had this planned,didn’t you? Couldn’t you have asked me if I wanted to go on such atrip? You talk about respect…what about respecting me?”
“ Niipo , you’re going to have to beopen-minded. Nah’ah didn’t plan this to annoy you. She haswanted to do this for years and when you agreed to spend time withher, she felt she could finally make this dream come true. Keep inmind that respect is what links all things, our connection to eachother, the earth, the animals and birds, and even our gratitude tothe Creator for each beautiful morning and every peacefulnight.”
“The older you get, the more you sound like Nah’ah . I understand you two have a bond in your Blackfeetbeliefs, but remember that doesn’t mean I do. I’ve long since leftall that traditional values philosophy behind me. I don’t have aneed for it. I’m moving out of the old and seeing clearly for thefirst time that I belong in today. I’m sorry if that disappointsyou and Nah’ah .”
“It’s sad to know my only daughter doesn’tfeel a need for her ancestors. If only you could feel theirspirits…they whisper all around you, but you have to want to hearthem.”
Summer choked back a tear that threatened.She’d hurt him and that was the last thing she wanted to do. Hermother had deserted her, but her inn had always been thatrock, that solid foundation she could count on. “You’ve always hada connection to the old ones. I tried by learning our Blackfeetlanguage. Yet it seems I feel pushed toward the ways of theBlackfeet instead of a pull or drive to be a part of it. I don’tfeel that link, that relationship you and Nah’ah have…I feelnothing.”
“That’s because you don’t try, Niipo .You’re like so many of the other young Blackfeet children who getswallowed up in the white man’s world. You think it’s better toleave the past…leave your heritage behind you. I think it’s becauseyou’re ashamed to be Blackfeet. You should be proud. You shouldhold your head up and show a Blackfeet woman can be successful andhonorable in both the eyes of the napi’kwan and ni-tsi-ta-pi-ksi , the real people.”
“I’ll honor Nah’ah and listen to herstories. For you, Inn

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