Forgotten Trails(3)

By: Bonnie R. Paulson



“What's wrong, Cy?” Rachiah sat all the way up in the back of the car. Her shoulders pushed against the glass of the back window. Her head bent painfully to the side as she adjusted her bedding.

Her voice broke on a sob as her words tumbled over the line. “Emma is even sicker. I don't know what to do. I feel awful. Stephanie asked me to help her with the loan. My dad's helping her. I don't know if money can do any good. We're probably going to lose the house. Or they are anyway.” She sighed, the silence filled with worry.

Then Cyan spoke again. “I’m sorry. You didn't run down to Wyoming to hear all about this. What's going on down there? Did you find him? I haven't heard from you in a few days.”

Rachiah's phone beeped. She was almost out of battery and her car charger didn’t work unless the car was running. Gas wasn’t expendable when her funds ran low consistently. “Cyan, I’ll have to get back to you. My phone is about to die. Can I call you later?” Her friend agreed and they hung up.

Rachiah didn't want to go into the details with her. Or anyone.

She didn't want to admit her failures. She hadn't found her dad in all that time, in all those years of looking for more information around the reservation.

Finally, when she had gathered enough nerve to actually go in search of him, every step had been more failure than success. She’d been pushed past the point of knowing what exactly she was searching for.

She couldn't tell anyone she didn't have it in her to find out he really didn't want anything to do with her. Not Cyan. Not Sherri. Not Damon.

The persistence with which Damon pursued Rachiah endeared him into her thoughts. Her mind kept returning to him, the blonde waves in his hair and the blue in his eyes.

She had never been drawn to the dark looks of her Salish brothers. They all looked too much like her. The dark hair, dark skin, and dark eyes. Something about Damon's golden boy persona enhanced with charming smile appealed to her even more.

When they talked though, and he asked about her internal struggles and what she was going through, he reached past the physical, the aesthetics, and became... more. This in all honesty was the most frightening reality of them all – past the abandonment of her father, the lies from her mother, and the desertion of her self-identity.

Rachiah didn't have time for the emotions he stirred in her though.

She couldn't call him anyway. Her money was keeping it so she wouldn't be able to charge her phone until she’d exhausted all the leads in North Fork, Wyoming and was moving on.

The fact that he was off-limits was probably what made him so appealing. Maybe she needed to mess with him a couple times, and get it out of her system. She heard of other women in her tribe doing exactly that. The men were a given.

Everyone needed to get the blonde out of their system.

Her step-dad used to say that as a joke. Her mother had always hushed him.

Rachiah didn't even care why her dad had left. The details wrapped up in intentions and emotions muddied facts.

He had to want her. Maybe he didn't know what would happen. Maybe he was called away on an emergency.

Something kept him away from her. The dream she’d had since finding out consisted of a tall, dark Indian warrior riding a horse toward her. His features were obscured by the sun glaring behind him. He reached down his hand to the little girl she was in her dream and he scooped her onto the back of his horse. She would ride away with her daddy.

She shook her head, pulling a brush through her long hair. Those were the dreams of a little girl trapped in a woman's body.

Rachiah wanted acceptance. For some reason, the one man who didn't want her was the one man who could make her feel whole again. She hoped.

She arched backwards, pulling her jeans up over her hips. After buttoning them, she flipped her static-induced hair back into a ponytail.

The small car bounced with her movements.

She stopped moving and stared down the empty street. Blinking heavily, she longed to go home, back to who she was before she’d found out about Jeffrey Howard. Before she discovered she wasn’t who she’d been taught she was. She shook off the melancholy and tightened her jaw. She had a mission to complete. Self-assigned or not, she would do what she set out to do.

So what, if she didn’t know what her next steps were? Where would she go?

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