1855 Adler Creek, Wyoming:
"Marry you? You want me to marry you?" Christina Jeffers laughed without humor.
"You don't seriously mean..." her laughter becoming hardier, "...you think I'd marry
"That's generally where a courtship leads, Christina," Brett Parker said, stunned at
"Oh Brett, you sweet man. Yes, generally it does, but I can't marry you."
"Why the hell not?" Brett Parker asked.
Stopping her laughter for only a moment, Christina told him, "Brett, look in the
mirror...you're half Cheyenne. I couldn't possibly marry an Indian let alone a dirty
Refusing to show the hurt he felt at her answer, Brett stood and pulled himself up
to his full six feet four inches. Drawing in a deep breath, he looked down at the
petite blond sitting before him. It took all his control not to wring her lily white neck
when he answered, "And here I thought giving a whore a proper name was worth
He caught Christina's hand a second before it would have connected with his jaw.
"I am not a whore!"
"No? Then what do you call a woman who spreads her legs for any man who
"I'm better than you, Brett Parker. I'm white, all white. You can only try to pass. No
self-respecting woman is going to marry you. Maybe I have slept with a few men
here and there...it's not like a crime for a widow to take a lover, you know. But I'm
"No, Christina, you aren't better than me. You aren't better than anyone."
He stepped away from her. As he grabbed his coat, she called after him, "Brett,
just because I won't marry you doesn't mean we can't carry on."
"What?" He knew his surprise at her statement showed clearly on his face.
"Well, until I find a decent white man to marry, I don't see why I can't have you in
my bed...that's all any of the women want with you, Brett--your body and your
money. I thought you knew that. You may as well give your body to me because I
don't need your money."
Drawing on a lifetime of control, Brett walked out the door, taking care not to slam
it lest the depraved woman on the other side know just how angry and hurt he was
by her comments.
He controlled his gait, making sure his strides did not change from the length he
normally took. Clenching his hands, he forced himself to lose the image of choking
Christina with them and to let his arms hang loose. He knew he was half-white,
half-Indian and so did the entire town of Adler Creek. Everyone accepted him for
who he was--a deputy sheriff, and because of his father's business acumen, a
fairly well to do rancher--but most importantly, a self-made man. Yeah, a selfmade
man who isn't good enough for any woman to marry. Despite how his father
fought for Brett to be treated as an equal, despite how hard Brett tried himself, it
was clear the old prejudices were alive and well in Christina Jeffers. Vowing to
never again become involved with a woman, especially a white woman, it took all
his effort to stride past the saloon. He walked on to the sheriff’s office where his
life long friend and boss, Rick Hansen, sat behind his desk reading the local
"Thought you wanted tonight off to take care of some personal business," the
blond-haired, green-eyed sheriff greeted his deputy. His smile quickly faded when
he saw Brett's face. "You want to tell me what happened?"
"You want me to buy you a drink?" he asked while opening a desk drawer and
pulling out a bottle of whiskey.
"Okay, then we'll sit here and talk."