Ceremony of Deception by Jannifer Hoffman
Moments later the drums signaled the beginning of the ceremony. It was time. The fear
that Jessie had so carefully veiled now jumped to her throat. Misgivings descended on
her. Maybe Samar was right, this idea was insane and the men would kill her the first
chance they got. White men, after all, did not need a reason to kill. Her stomach
lurched and she swallowed hard to quell the rising nausea.
“Are you ready?” Lishana asked.
Jessie took a deep breath, turning to Kintoca. “Will you please get Paco ready.
Make sure there is nothing on him that will give me away. I will need an Indian saddle
and tie this to it.” She handed him the bundle of belongings she’d packed earlier.
“It will be done,” he said hesitating, then quickly added, “Be careful, Neeva, I have
become very fond of you and I do not wish to see further harm come to you.”
She grasped his arms. “Thank you, Kintoca, you have been a true and faithful friend.
Do not worry, I will be careful.”
Scott Cordell, followed by Buck Mallory, was led to the center of the perimeter. Giggling
children crowded close snatching curious glimpses at the mysterious white men. This
occasion was quite different from the one that had taken place the night before. There
were no fires and no dances of celebration, only the monotone beat of a single drum and the
inquisitive stares of the spectators who were forming a line between the prisoners and the
lodge that housed the bride.
“Stop grumbling, Scottie,” Buck quipped, “she might not be too bad.”
Scott was not amused. “You can afford to talk so bloody smart. You’re not the one
in this mess. And by the way, why was I chosen to be the groom. Why not you?
And is it my imagination or are all these people laughing? So help me if this is some
kind of a joke you clowning Irishman—”