FBI agent Nathan Stokes planned to propose to Margaret Dalton on Valentine’s Day in the Bahamas. But the best laid plans of mice and men and FBI agents often go awry. When Margaret’s uncle dies on a remote Minnesota Indian reservation, Margaret was made executor of his estate. She and Nathan find themselves in Possum Bottom, Minnesota during a brutal cold snap to talk to her lawyer — a lawyer whom they find dead, frozen to the pavement outside his office.
Now Nathan is embroiled with Margaret’s relatives – her cousin, Grace Jamison and Kerry Songhorse, a charismatic Indian leader who’s butted heads with the dead lawyer (and the FBI) in the past. Kerry is living with Darla Mitchell and he has emotional ties to her that conflict with his obvious affection for Grace.
When another murder occurs, this time on reservation property, it becomes a matter for the FBI. Minnesota isn’t Nathan’s jurisdiction but it is the district for an ex-lover of his who is called in to work the case. To further complicate matters, Margaret is considered a suspect when it’s found she stands to inherit several valuable parcels of land. But then another will surfaces and when the two versions are compared, discrepancies rise which cast new light on an old buried scandal.
In a final confrontation during a raging blizzard, Margaret is forced to use her unique weapons background to save Grace’s life when they’re threatened by the killer. In the ensuing confusion, Nathan is almost wounded as the murderer escapes into the frozen landscape. Margaret and Nathan can finally start planning their belated tropical getaway, only this time it won’t just be a vacation — it’s a wedding and a honeymoon combined.
Margaret looked around, counting ten white men either sitting or talking to each other. Two Indians, security guards from the casino, leaned against the wall on the far side of the room, watching but not participating in any discussion. Their eyes constantly moved, taking in everything. She’d often seen her father, a retired C.I.A. operative, do the same thing on those occasions when he was unsure of his surroundings. Old habits—and prejudices—died hard.
“Oh, it wasn’t exactly tension,” Grace said, leaning forward and clasping her hands between her knees. The action made her look like a small child, avoiding an adult’s scrutiny. “We were just treated like second-class citizens a lot of the time, especially because my Mom was white and Arlen was full-blood. Kerry was always angry about it. You have to remember, this was when the American Indian Movement was getting started in the late Sixties. It didn’t sit well with some of the people in town. And Kerry had some strong ideas about tribal rights and land use.”
“I remember,” Margaret said as disjointed fragments of memory came together in her mind. “There was some trouble with the authorities, wasn’t there? Uncle Arlen was in A.I.M. and he was put in jail or something?”
Grace nodded. “The charges were later dropped but…” She lowered her voice, leaning forward. Margaret automatically leaned forward, too, resting her left arm on Nathan’s leg to provide support. “There were charges of police brutality. Daddy Arlen was hurt when he was in custody. The family filed a lawsuit and it dragged through the courts for years.”
Margaret felt Nathan’s leg tense under her touch. “Who was Uncle Arlen’s lawyer?” he asked, glancing at Margaret.
“Jon Kincaid, of course. There aren’t a lot of lawyers in town.”
“…police business!” A woman’s voice, loud and strident, suddenly cut through the low buzz of conversation in the room. “You’re not allowed!”
The door leading to the outer reception area was jerked open and a man strode into the room. For one electric moment, everyone stopped what they were doing and turned to stare at him.
The newcomer looked remarkably like Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans — tall, proud and confident as he exuded masculinity and power. He had the toned muscles of a runner or tri-athlete, and his thick black hair, laced with strands of gray, hung in a straight queue down his back. When he turned his gaze to her, Margaret felt pulled into his presence, as though his jet black eyes had traction beams that hypnotized her. His craggy face was a series of planes and angles, tanned from exposure with tiny lines around his eyes and mouth making him look distinguished and wise. His hooked, flat nose and dark coloring bespoke his Indian heritage, as did the cold, disdainful look he cast around the room.
As she watched, his attention shifted to Grace and his face transformed. The harsh, cruel lines of his mouth shifted and he was suddenly smiling, holding open his arms. He murmured something that sounded like ‘wa-bo-mimi,’ a term Margaret didn’t recognize but which Grace obviously did. She leapt out of her seat and flew across the room to him, and was quickly enfolded in a hug that lifted her off her feet.
Margaret glanced at the men in the police station who were watching the scene. Several of them were frowning at this display of affection and a couple of them looked downright pissed off. Was it the Indian-white girl connection? Or was the man so unwelcome there?
Her gaze shifted to the two Indians, leaning against the wall in a supposed casual pose. They, too, were watching the other men as though assessing a threat. One of them intersected her glance and Margaret smiled briefly. He nodded his head, acknowledging her assessment.
“Trust Kerry Songhorse to know the beautiful women,” someone behind her muttered. Margaret was pretty sure it didn’t come from the two Indian men.
Nathan’s hand tightened on Margaret’s shoulder. “Did he say Kerry Songhorse? Is that the name?”
“Kerry is Uncle Arlen’s son.” Margaret angled her head closer to Nathan’s ear to speak in a low voice. “I believe he’s on the Tribal Council.”
“He’s also on the FBI’s Watch List for terrorist activities. This is turning into an interesting vacation,” Nathan murmured. “I swear, Margaret, your family gets me into all kinds of trouble.”
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