For Charley Winters love means loss and pain. She’s spent the last five years struggling with her grief. Existing, not living. Drawn to Saskatchewan, she travels west take the job she’s always wanted. But life gets complicated when she’s rescued from a vicious tornado by her dead husband’s double, a man who makes her feel things she hasn’t in years. Add to that a native myth, a shaman, a green-eyed wolf, and her husband’s ghost … Can she lift a millennia old curse and find joy and love again?
Once there was a Sioux maiden whose father had given her as wife to a cruel medicine man, one who practiced witchcraft and allied himself with the evil spirits. The husband constantly found fault with his young wife and beat her. Unable to remain with her husband for fear his next beating would kill her, she grabbed a small bundle of food and ran away from her home. The tribe searched for her for many days, but when they could find no sign of her, they eventually accepted that she was dead.
But the woman wasn’t dead. She wandered the prairie for many days and nights until, exhausted, without food or water, she sat and prayed for the Great Spirit to come for her. Knowing what an evil man her husband was, the Great Spirit took pity on her and sent a man to rescue her, but he was not really a man. He was the chief of the wolves, a shapeshifter, whose rare red coloring distinguished him from the other wolves. The chief fell in love with her and took her back to his village where she was amazed to find what she was sure were all the wolves and coyotes of the world.
For a year, she stayed with him in his village, falling more and more deeply in love with him, until she refused to consider ever leaving him. In exchange for her love, the chief of the wolves gifted her with the ability to talk to the wolves and other animals. The wolves treated her well, fetching whatever she needed to survive from the camp of men—flint for fire, a pot to boil her buffalo meat, a knife to cut it, and skins to make her clothes.
One night, her lover came to her tepee and he was greatly distressed. Her people were on the move, going on a great buffalo hunt, and they were headed this way. Unless she faced them and told them who she was, her people would kill all the wolves who’d cared for her, and because of an evil enchantment, he was powerless to protect the wolves whom he loved as much as he did her. He had to leave to find the source of the evil spell to protect those entrusted to him, but he would return for her as soon as he could.
The woman was sad, but knew she carried a secret within her—twins, powerful in good magic, who would be their father’s legacy. The next day, she saw the long line of people coming toward the wolf camp and went out to greet them as her lover had told her to, surrounded by the wolves who’d refused to leave her. Leading her people were her husband and her father who recognized her. Agreeing to go back to her village, she refused to go back as her husband’s wife and insisted they build her a tepee of her own where she lived with the wolves until the time came and she gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, both with their father’s unusual coloring and eyes as green as the prairie grass.
When the medicine man saw the children, he was enraged and cursed his wife and her lover, vowing neither one would ever be happy. Using his evil magic, he slew the wolf guardians and stole the twins away, selling them to the tribe’s enemies as slaves—the girl to one, the boy to another. In his jealousy, he sold his soul to wakhášica, an evil spirit, who trapped the chief of the wolves in his wolf form.
Unable to defend himself, the chief of the wolves fell prey to the evil medicine man’s spear. The medicine man skinned the wolf and presented the pelt to his wife’s father as a trophy, asking the man to intercede to force his wife to come back to him.
Believing her wolf lover would return to her and help her find her lost children, the woman refused her father’s pleas to go back to her husband. Day and night, she prayed to the Great Spirit and begged her lover to come back for her as he’d promised, but he didn’t come. In her grief and loneliness, she went to see her father. When she entered his tepee, the first thing she saw was her lover’s pelt. Distraught, she fled the tribe, wailing and lamenting the loss of her lover and her children, and wandered the prairie in search of his spirit.
Pitying her, the Great Spirit turned her into a wolf and reunited her with the pack she’d lived with, and there she stayed for the rest of her days, mourning with them.
Often at night, especially when the full moon silvers the land, the wind carries the lonely howls of the lovers searching for one another, still separated by the medicine man’s evil curse.