Betrayed by his wife, Red Wolf embarks on a vital journey of self-discovery, learning to walk the fine line between the world of the spirits and the living. Aided by the Shaman Lizard and captured slave Moon, he finds a spiritual and physical connection in an unlikely place.
A proud warrior of the Choctaw tribe, Red Wolf is betrayed by his wife. Looking for answers, he starts questioning his role in the tribe and his sexuality. With the help of the Shaman Lizard, he searches both the spirit and living world for his place within the tribe.
Moon is a captured maiden from the Chickasaw tribe, kept only to provide comfort to the men of the Choctaw tribe. An unlikely friendship forms between her and Red Wolf, based not on a physical relationship, but on understanding and acceptance.
If Red Wolf cannot learn to walk the path between both worlds, he faces the loss of more than his place in the tribe, but also his sanity. Red Wolf has always been the perfectly controlled Choctaw warrior. His childhood friend, the Berdache shaman Lizard, must convince Red Wolf to take the shaman’s training and learn to walk in both worlds safely. With the help of the captured Chickasaw maiden Moon to help, Lizard just might keep Red Wolf from going insane.
"I wish words where no other may hear, Lizard." She smiled when he shot her a surprised look before hiding behind the pretense of sipping his tea. "Yes, I am aware of Red Wolf's name for you. I wish to speak to my son's friend, not the Berdache."
Macawi bent her head. "I have been a proud mother, Lizard. Perhaps too proud.
When Red Wolf showed no interest in choosing a wife, or even sporting with the maidens in the captive slaves' lodge, I was afraid. I was selfish, and wanted grandchildren to take care of me when I grew old."
"So, you persuaded Red Wolf to marry Blue Bird." Lizard stated this flatly. "You told him it was his duty, and part of being a perfect warrior."
Macawi sobbed quietly. "Forgive me, Lizard. I did not want the pride of being a Berdache's mother. I wanted grandchildren more."
He put down his cup hastily before his shaking hands spilled its contents. "You think Red Wolf is a Berdache?"
Through her shamed tears, Macawi nodded again. "Mostly sure, Lizard. As sure as a mother who is not a Wise Woman can be. It is so rare to be one who lives in both the world of men and the world of women."
Lizard ran the signs through his mind. He'd been so sure of his dual nature, even at a young age. "Red Wolf dreamed of nothing else but being a warrior, Macawi. He would hide the signs of being a Berdache from even himself."
Even a Berdache dared not hope. He stared into his tea mug on the ground in front of him. His love for Red Wolf had been buried for many years, as a hopeless thing that could never be. It had never died, and never wavered.
"A lack of interest in women is no promise of being a Berdache, Macawi. If Red Wolf prefers the company of men, then there is no shame in this. " He forced a calm smile to his face. "Perhaps Red Wolf will find another warrior to share a lodge with him. Then they may adopt orphans together."
Macawi sobbed. "I will be content. This, I swear. I am only sorry that I tried to make my son into something he is not. I am the cause of his unhappiness to come. I was so afraid when his father died, afraid of being alone. Kimana was so sickly as a child, I feared Red Wolf was my only hope."
Lizard nodded. "I will promise you this, Macawi. I will look for the signs of the Berdache. If they exist, then I will tell Red Wolf. He must then choose."
Macawi shut her eyes and heaved a sigh. She gathered her shawl and stood. "If he is a Berdache but refuses to accept the training, what will happen?"
It would be better to lie, but Lizard could not. "Then the spirits will drive him mad. It is his choice."
- Word Count: 28,000
- Author: Lena Austin
- Heat Level: 5
- ISBN: 978-1-61937-348-8
- Cover Artist: Kelly Shorten
- Editor: Janette Gilbert