By Susan Page Davis
Captive Trail is Susan Page Davis's new book from Moody Publishers. It's part of the Texas Trails series, for which authors Vickie McDonough and Darlene Franklin are also contributing books set in different decades in Texas.
Award-winning author Loree Lough says, "Susan Page Davis's Captive Trail is a wonderfully descriptive tale that will lure you in on page one and not let go until you've read The End. Escape and freedom, courage and faith, and the sometimes fearsome beauty of the wild Texas landscape combine for a fast-paced, spirit-filled read. Make space on your Keepers shelf for this one!"
An excerpt from Captive Trail:
Plains of North Central Texas, 1857
Faster. Taabe Waipu had to go faster, or she would never get down from the high plains, down to the hill country and beyond. South, ever south and east.
Clinging to the horse, she let him run. The land looked flat all around, though it was riddled with ravines and folds. She could no longer see any familiar landmarks. The moon and stars had guided her for two nights, and now the rising sun told her which way to go on her second day of flight. She'd snatched only brief periods of rest. At her urging the horse galloped on, down and up the dips and hollows of the land.
Taabe didn't know where the next water supply lay. The only thing she knew was that she must outrun the Numinu—Comanche, their enemies called them. No one traveled these plains without their permission. Those who tried didn't make it out again. She glanced over her shoulder in the gray dawn. As far as she could see, no one followed, but she couldn't stop. They were back there, somewhere. She urged the horse on toward the southeast.
South to the rolling grasslands where the white men had their ranches. Where Peca and the other men often went to raid. Where Taabe was born.
The compact paint stallion ran smoothly beneath her, but as the sun rose and cast her shadow long over the Llano Estacado, his breath became labored, his stride shorter. Where her legs hugged his sleek sides, her leggings dampened with his sweat. He was a good horse, this wiry paint that Peca had left outside her sister's tepee. Without him she wouldn't have gotten this far. But no horse could run forever.
Taabe slowed him to a trot but didn't dare rest. Not yet.
Another look behind.
Would she recognize the house she'd once lived in? She didn't think so, but she imagined a big earthen lodge, not a tepee. Or was it a cabin made of logs? That life was a shadow world in her mind now. Fences. The warriors talked about the fences built by the white men, around their gardens and their houses. She thought she recalled climbing a fence made of long poles and sitting on the top. When she saw fences, she would know she was close.
At last she came to a shallow stream, sliding between rocks and fallen trees. It burbled languidly where it split around a boulder. She let the horse wade in and bend down to drink.
Taabe stayed on his back while he drank in long, eager gulps, keeping watch over the way they'd come. She needed to find a sheltered place where the horse could graze and rest. Did she dare stop for a while? She studied the trail behind her then took her near-empty water skin from around her neck. Leaning over the paint's side, she dangled it by its thong in the water on the horse's upstream side. She wouldn't dismount to fill it properly, but she could stay in the saddle and scoop up a little. She straightened and checked the trail again. The horse took a step and continued to drink.
She stroked his withers, warm and smooth. With a wry smile, she remembered the bride price Peca had left. Six horses staked out before the tepee. A stallion and five mares—pretty mares. Healthy, strong mounts. But only six.
The stallion raised his head at last and waded across the stream without her urging. They settled into a steady trot. Tomorrow or the next day or the next, she would come to a land with many trees and rivers. And many houses of the whites.
Would she have stayed if Peca had left twenty horses? Fifty?
Not for a thousand horses would she have stayed in the village and married Peca—or any other warrior. Staying would make it impossible for her ever to go back to that other world—the world to the south.
Eagerness filled her, squeezing out her fear. She dug her heels into the stallion's ribs. Whatever awaited her, she rushed to meet it.
The paint lunged forward and down. His right front hoof sank, and he didn't stop falling. Taabe tried to brace herself, too late. The horse's body continued to fly up and around. She hurtled off to the side and tucked her head.
Captive Trail, copyright 2011 by Susan Page Davis, published by Moody Publishers. All rights reserved. No part may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Visit Susan's website at: www.susanpagedavis.com
Captive Trail is available now in stores or online through:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/captive-trail?store=book
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This masterfully crafted suspense novel immediately hooks the reader…a real page turner. – Booklist
Christy winner and prolific author Mills braids together romance and suspense in a compelling narrative about a young woman caught in the crosshairs of political ambition. Special Agent Meghan Connors's dreams of protecting the president become tainted by the vicious evil that overtakes those in power. Reeling from her own painful loss and head spinning from a new love that clouds her professional vision, Meghan must team up with Lindsay Hall, the daughter of the vice president of the United States, to uncover a conspiracy that's leaving a growing swath of death and destruction. But can she trust Agent Ash Zinders and the other agents? Is there someone on the inside who wants Lindsay dead? Taking place mainly in one locale—a West Texas ranch owned by the Halls—this stand-alone will delight and draw readers of Christian romantic suspense like moths to flame. Readers who prefer a slower paced, single-setting, focused character-building story to one that rushes headlong across international borders will be suitably "attracted." - Publisher's Weekly
"If he doesn't muzzle his daughter, he's going to lose the presidential nomination."
Special Agent Meghan Connors cringed at the TV anchor's analysis of Vice President Hall's campaign, even though the statement rang with validity.
"Although early popularity polls indicated Hall to be a strong contender for the presidential race, his ratings are dropping daily." The blonde reporting the news gave the camera a tilt of her head. "We are currently waiting for a statement from his office regarding Lindsay Hall's appearance on The Barry Knight Show last evening, where she made the following statement, 'My father is a poor excuse for the office of President of the United States.'"
The screen flashed a clip of Lindsay Hall sporting cleavage and lots of leg.
"And she's our new assignment?" Special Agent Bob Lawson eased back in his chair and stuck his thumbs inside his pants pockets. "I've heard she swears like a convict. Smacked a couple of agents in the face."
Meghan kept her opinions in check. She focused on the TV mounted in the corner of the coffee shop, the one located not far from the White House. Thank goodness the shop was empty except for the barista moving to whatever was playing on his iPod.
The news anchor continued her report. "Take a look at Lindsay Hall's escapade three nights ago." The screen reverted to footage taken in a local nightclub. Lindsay toasted the camera with a bottle of beer. Clearly inebriated, she sat in a booth enjoying media attention. The news anchor shook her head with a smile, an obvious display of her political preference. "Many are asking, 'If Vice President Hall cannot control his daughter, how can he effectively run our country?'"
Ouch. That nailed the situation. Meghan wrapped her fingers around the loop of her coffee cup and walked out onto a patio filled with umbrella tables and chairs. A steady mist filled the afternoon heat with humidity. She needed to focus on her new assignment—and the challenges ahead. Protecting the VP's daughter was supposed to be a promotion. If she failed, this could mean a permanent stall in her career.
Sensing Bob standing beside her, she turned to give him her views about their situation. "We're made of better stuff than the agents dismissed from Lindsay's protection team."
"I keep telling myself that."
"They let her manipulate them. Plain and simple."
"But we're not babysitters. We're Special Agents for the Secret Service."
Meghan didn't know the agents who'd been reassigned as a result of Lindsay's latest antics, but Bob had called them friends. She took a sip of her strong coffee, ignoring the raindrops gaining momentum. "Escorting her to the TV station and not informing the vice president was poor judgment. Her statements severely damaged the VP's image. Maybe even his chances of securing the party's nomination."
"Everything she says and does chips at his ability to lead the country. The Barry Knight Show and that entire TV network are out to crucify him and the party."
"So we're back to our assignment." Meghan stepped under the coffee shop's canopy to avoid the rain. "I'm committed to protecting her, and I know you are too."
"I have to be." Bob set his cup on an empty table. "Taking a bullet for her would qualify as above and beyond . . . ." He pressed his lips. "But that's what we do. Right? Can't let personal opinions get in the way of duty."
"Absolutely, and I'm sure there are plans to curb her actions. In fact—" Her phone rang, and she reached inside her shoulder bag. A quick glimpse told her it was Supervisor Tom Warrington from the Secret Service office.
"Bob there with you?"
"I need both of you in my office at 1400. Ash Zinders, the SAIC for this assignment, needs to brief you and the other agents assigned to the protectee."
Meghan slipped her phone back into her shoulder bag and relayed the information.
Bob whistled. "Good old A2Z isn't wasting any time."
The nickname for the Special Agent in Charge assigned to Lindsay Hall's protection detail wasn't a title any agent would say to his face. He was known for his obsession with detail and his domineering personality. Meghan hadn't met the agent, and she didn't look forward to his browbeating.
"It really bothers me that she now has six agents protecting her when any other VP family member has three." Bob pulled a dollar from his wallet and anchored it beneath his cup. "Did I say I regret accepting this assignment? Hasn't been two hours since the call."
"There's a reason, Bob. We were chosen because the VP needed agents who could get the job done. But I question the number of us, too, and what it means."
The potential to fulfill her dreams, the circumstances surrounding Lindsay Hall's unpredictable behavior, and the nightmare of working under Ash Zinders had Meghan wondering if the challenges ahead would be worth it.
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Expect an Adventure
Attracted to Fire
Tyndale House Publishers
© 2011 by DIANN MILLS
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without
permission in writing from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.