The Guardian

Free The Guardian by Elizabeth Lane

Book: The Guardian by Elizabeth Lane Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elizabeth Lane
    â€œYes,” Black Sun said. “He left her and went back to his place in the sky.”
    â€œWhat a sad story.”
    â€œSad? Why?”
    â€œBecause he didn’t take her with him or stay here with her. They loved each other, and they couldn’t be together.”
    Black Sun shook his head. “It had to be that way. He belonged to the sky. She belonged to the earth. They could only be together here in the canyon.”
    â€œThen, that’s all?”
    â€œNo, there’s much more to the story. When they came out of the cave, they discovered that their love-making had caused the rain to fall and the sun to shine. The grass, which had been dry and brown, was fresh and green. There were leaves and flowers, and this was the very first springtime. They made a vow that every year they would come back to the canyon and stay together for a moon, so that spring would come to the earth.”
    â€œSpring is coming now. Does that mean they’re here with us, in this canyon?” Charity asked, only half in fun.
    â€œIf you choose to believe their spirits are here, then they are.” His voice was solemn.
    â€œIs that the end of the…story?” She sucked in a breath as the twisting sensation began low in her body.
    â€œNot quite.” He gazed down at her in the moonlight. “After the woman left the canyon, she gave birth to twin sons. One of the sons gave her people the gift of fire. The other gave them the gifts of language and music. So you see, it’s not a sad story, after all.”
    â€œNo…it’s quite a lovely story, in fact.” Her voice caught in a muffled sob as the pain ripped through her. How much longer could she stand this before her strength gave out? She was so tired, so utterly spent. All she wanted was to lie down and close her eyes and slip into merciful darkness.
    And this contraction seemed worse than all the others combined. Charity bit her lip to keep from screaming. The salty taste of blood seeped into her mouth.
    â€œPush…” Black Sun had caught her wrists and was pulling her upward. “You have to push…now!”
    â€œI…can’t.” She sagged toward the ground, held upright only by the grip of his hands. “I’m tired…so tired…”
    He jerked her upward, the sudden strain on her arms jarring her to full awareness. His hands slid up to enfold hers in a fierce clasp.
    â€œListen to me, Charity Bennett.” His eyes blazed like hot coals. “This child of yours also has gifts to give the world. Gifts of beauty and courage and love—but only if you’re strong enough to do your part now! If you give up, you and the baby will die—and I won’t let that happen. I won’t watch you die the way I watched my mother die!”
    His voice was fierce, almost angry, but his hands were gentle. She could almost feel their warmth flowing into her, nourishing her, filling her. She felt the magic of the story he had told her, felt the peace of the canyon enfolding her as she struggled.
    â€œDon’t fight the pain,” Black Sun’s voice urged her. “Use it. Help it to do its work. Push! ”
    Charity braced her feet against the sacred earth and flung all her reserves of strength and spirit into one excruciating push. She moaned like an animal as she felt her stubborn flesh begin to yield, felt the downward pressure as the baby moved into the birth canal. Sensing what was about to happen, Black Sun shifted her hands to the stick above her head. She hung from it, gripping with all her strength as he crouched beside her and moved his hands beneath her skirt. He seemed to be chanting something in a low voice. The words that drifted up to Charity made no sense; then it penetrated her fogged mind that he was chanting in Arapaho. She could only hope it was some kind of blessing.
    Spent, she hung limply from the stick. Was it over? Was her baby really here? Then why

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