The idea for this book, like a few of my others, came to me in a dream. I saw the book from beginning to end. I developed a great relationship with each of the characters, I got to tap into some of my legal/criminalistic background and it had a very strong First Nations focus. The culture of First Nations people is so rich and inspiring to me. So much so that I include it in almost every book I write on some level.
In this scene, the main character Cheyenne meets again with the Chief of the Hopinachi Tribe to ask a few questions regarding some evidence her team has come across. Although he doesn't give her the answers she's seeking straight out, he starts her on the path she needs to go down in order to find the truth.
The Chief is a strong, yet gentle character whose wisdom is both inspirational and powerful. Not only does he help her find her way in the case, but he also indirectly helps her deal with her own struggles and use them to her advantage.
I hope you all enjoy this snippet and, as always, feel free to share your thoughts.
The walk to the holding cells was longer than it should’ve been because they passed through door after door—all needing a pass key card to open.
“God!” Cheyenne said, rolling her eyes. “It’s had to be easier getting into King Tut’s tomb.”
Perry’s belly laugh echoed down the halls. Every time they passed through a door, the scent of burnt sage got stronger, similar to the odor of strong musk. By the time they reached the short hallway leading to the Chief’s cell, the smell was so strong she had to cover her nose.
Cheyenne coughed. “Man, that’s really strong.”
“What is?” Perry’s brow wrinkled. “You alright?”
She forgot Perry couldn’t smell the sage. Or if he could, not as strongly as she could.
She smiled. “Yeah, fine. Give me ten minutes, okay? That’s all I’ll need.”
“Okay, but if ya need to get outta there, just yell for the guard or me,” he warned. “And don’t let him touch ya, right?”
She sighed. “I’ll be fine, Perry. Really.”
He nodded and buzzed her in. The sound of the steel door imprisoning her in the hallway bounced off the sterile white walls. As she made her way down to the Chief’s cell, the smell of sage stifled her.
“Come…come, child,” the Chief’s soothing voice lingered in the air. “No need to be scared.”
She shivered. A chair had been set up outside his cell. She found the Chief cross-legged on his cell floor. She gripped the back of the metal chair then maneuvered herself into the seat.
“Thank you for being willing to see me again, Chief,” she said. “I hope I’m not disturbing your meditation time.”
“Don’t worry about that, child,” he said. “In here, I have much time for meditation. I hope the smell of my Smudge Stick isn’t too overpowering for you.”
Ah, yes! That’s what she’d smelled during both of their meetings. The Chief must have been using a ‘Smudge Stick’ made of sage leaves as a way to cleanse his meditation space. She was surprised Perry let him light one in the holding cell. After all, it could be taken as something entirely different. But the Chief was well-known and respected in the community for his usual peaceful ways. Cheyenne guessed that they’d made an exception and lit his meditation tool for him.
“No, it’s not that bad,” she said, putting her finger under her nose. “It doesn’t seem as strong now.”
The Chief smiled, moving the incense bowl behind him. “I doused it when I heard you coming. Now, you have questions for me…”
She fingered the picture of Maria. “Yes, sir. I’ve been trying to figure out the connection between our perp, Marcus, and your family. This man, with his hands on Maria…is he Marcus? Her father?”
The Chief’s eyes glowed in the shadows of his cell like a prowling cat in the night. “He is…the one who raised her.”
Marcus is Maria’s father?
“He looks as though he loved Maria very much,” she said.
He tilted his head. “I hear doubt in your voice, child. Love is wasted when it isn’t in your heart, but you still expect it from others.”
Cheyenne stared at the photo. The truth was, even though she’d said otherwise to the Chief, Marcus looked angry in the photo. Unemotional. His hands on her shoulders appeared more as though he was staking a claim, not his love.
“His soul is tortured. And his actions have led to many other’s suffering,” the Chief paused, then said, “You aren’t here to help me. You’re here to find answers for yourself. You have much in common with Maria’s father. You both seek quick solutions to deep problems. Slow down to see what you need to see.”
Cheyenne bit her lip. “I’m sorry, Chief. I don’t understand. What am I supposed to see?”
The Chief finally blinked. “Look closer at the photo, child. You will soon see what you need to.”
A voice boomed across the speakers. “Ten minutes are up.”
Before she could speak again, the Chief whispered, “Go home, child. I won’t leave you. Use your gifts…because they are gifts…do not reject them. What was once your enemy will help you in your time of need.”
“I’ll remember.” Cheyenne clumsily pulled herself up. “Thank you, Chief.”
She shuffled back to the door and Perry buzzed it open. Just before she went through the door the Chief said: “Be careful, dear one. It has begun.”