Authors: Doreen Owens Malek
Doreen Owens Malek
“Has it occurred to you that you’re working for the wrong side, Ms. Hancock?”
Jack leaned back in his chair with easy grace. Marisa noticed that his eyes were an intriguing amber, the color of fine sherry or very old, very expensive scotch. Be careful Marisa, she thought.
“I am here represent my client to the best of my ability, and that I intend to do,” she replied evenly. “It would be unprofessional and unethical of me to do anything other than my level best to win this case.”
“I see,” Jack said. “I’m going to be frank with you. There’s much more at stake here than you think.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“You’re at the center of this whirlpool. Do you realize this could be risky for you?”
Marisa met his gaze levelly. “Are you threatening me, Mr. Bluewolf?”
“You’ve got me wrong,” he said huskily. “I was only trying to warn you to be careful…”
Doreen Owens Malek
Gypsy Autumn Publications
PO Box 383 • Yardley, PA 19067
Copyright 1992 and 2012
by Doreen Owens Malek
Originally published as
Arrow in the Snow (1992)
The Author asserts the moral right to be
identified as author of this work
All rights reserved. No part of this book, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews, may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, scanning or any information storage retrieval system, without explicit permission in writing from the Author or Publisher.
First USA printing: 1992
All of the characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
The dark man was watching her again.
Marisa Hancock squared off her stack of notes and fastened the pages neatly on the clipboard before her, ignoring the intense gaze focused on her. Staring at the opposition’s table in order to unnerve its attorney was an old lawyer’s trick and she wasn’t going to fall for it. She turned slightly sideways so she wouldn’t have to see him and concentrated on the task at hand.
They were deep into the third week of arguments and things were not going well for Marisa. A property and land grants attorney retained for the case by the federal government, she had taken over from another lawyer at the last minute and found herself plunged into a controversy for which she was not prepared.
Outside the windows the mild sun of a Florida winter shone down on the pale green leaves of trees barely visible through the beveled glass. She knew that the protesters were still lined up along the sidewalk outside, flanking the impatiens beds with their signs, but their chanting was not audible in the fourth floor courtroom. Marisa sighed and tried to concentrate on the droning of the court clerk’s voice, but she still felt the keen gaze on her face and, yielding to impulse, she turned and confronted the man who was staring at her.
He gazed back at her, unperturbed. She knew his name, of course: Jackson Bluewolf, the founder and President of Natives for Nature, a coalition of Native Americans fighting for conservationist issues, especially the preservation of American Indian shrines and cultural sites. Bluewolf and his group were in Florida trying to block the federal takeover of an ancient Seminole burial ground. The government wanted the land to connect two sections of an interstate highway, and the Indians wished to keep it and open a museum and cultural bookstore on the site.
“Ms. Hancock, do you have anything to add to your argument before I rule on your motion for summary judgment?” Judge Lasky said briskly, interrupting her reverie.
“Yes, your honor,” Marisa replied, rising from her seat. “I would remind the court that the savings to the taxpayers of this state if the government’s plan is implemented would be substantial—in the neighborhood of eight million dollars.”
“Thank you, Ms. Hancock. I have given due consideration to your motion and I now rule that it is denied.”
Marisa returned to her seat, keeping her face expressionless, feeling the heat of Bluewolf’s gaze on her back. The two forces had been squaring off for almost a month, and during that time Bluewolf had not said one word to her. He merely watched her with his peculiar intensity, and it was making her very ill at ease. Her discomfort was increased dramatically by the growing conviction that she was representing the wrong side.
Bluewolf’s group wanted to prevent the government from exercising its rights under “eminent domain”— a doctrine permitting the takeover of any land deemed necessary to further the public interest. Marisa had flown south from her home and practice in Maine to handle the case when another lawyer in her firm was forced to bow out of it. When she showed up for the preliminary hearing at the last minute she had to fight her way through a crowd of protesters outside the courthouse. Bluewolf had noticed her distress and cleared a path for her, unaware that she would be his adversary. And since that moment it seemed he had never taken his eyes from her.
Marisa had resigned herself to a long stay in Florida when she lost round one and the injunction to halt the highway was granted. Her explanation that the government had no desire to destroy a cultural site but merely wanted to save taxpayers money had carried no weight with the judge. It would cost a fortune to go around the cemetery rather than through it. She had outlined in detail the government’s plan to make monetary reparation to the tribe, but it all went for naught. The NFN’s argument that money could not make up for the loss of history and tradition that would result from the destruction of the three hundred year old burial ground had carried the day. And Marisa knew that Jackson Bluewolf, the NFN lawyer’s chief adviser, had been its architect.
Now she had the almost impossible task of convincing the judge to remove the injunction and let the construction begin. It would be an uphill battle and, like it or not, she was committed to it. She too thought that the Indians should be allowed to keep their land, but she could never reveal her feelings. Professional ethics required that she represent her client to the best of her ability, and she was fully prepared to do so.
Marisa looked up at the judge, then rose, clearing her throat.
“Are you prepared to continue?” the judge asked.
“Yes, your honor,” Marisa said firmly. Then she gathered her papers and put them into her briefcase.
Bluewolf’s gaze never wavered as she crossed diagonally in front of his table on her way out of the courtroom.
* * *
Several days later, Jackson Bluewolf watched Marisa as she spoke clearly and logically, her arguments cogent and well prepared, as always. It wasn’t her fault that local sympathy, among the populace and in the media, was heavily in favor of the Seminoles, or that any lawyer representing the government in the lower courts had a Herculean task from the start. She was losing on points day after day, but she was doing a hell of a job and he had to admire her for it.
He’d been aware of her from day one, mostly because of her looks; she was exactly the sort of tall, slender blonde who usually caught his eye. It had come as something of a shock when he learned that she was the attorney for the other side, but her behavior throughout the trial had only made her more attractive to him, despite the fact that she was gunning for the government. She never lost her composure, never betrayed disappointment even when the calls went against her, as they frequently had. And she acted as though she didn’t know he existed, which intrigued him. Maybe she didn’t, maybe she was so focused on her job that his almost palpable interest in her had failed to register. Well, he was going to find out shortly. Today, in fact.
He watched her now, dressed in a tailored navy suit with an ivory silk tie blouse. Her high heeled shoes were polished, her pale hair was confined in a stylish chignon, her gold knot earrings matched a gleaming brooch on the lapel of her jacket. She was always like that, tightly controlled, neat as a pin and as finished as a dressmaker’s hem. Oh, how he longed to mess her up, to see that shining hair falling loose on creamy, naked shoulders, those lady lawyer clothes piled in an irreverent heap on the floor. His floor. He suddenly realized what he was thinking, swallowed hard, and tore his gaze away from her.
This would never do. When he was in the courtroom he had to concentrate on the case. There would be time enough to pursue her when the session was over for the day. That day.
He could wait no longer.
* * *
Marisa was walking down the marble floored corridor of the courthouse that afternoon on her way back to her hotel when she heard a man call her name.
She knew who it was before she looked. She took a deep breath and then turned and faced him, her expression calm.
“Jackson Bluewolf,” he said, extending his hand.
“I know who you are, Mr. Bluewolf,” Marisa said dryly, grasping his fingers briefly.
“I wonder if I might speak with you.”
“Go on,” Marisa replied evenly, looking up at him, thinking that he must be very tall. She was wearing heels and he still topped her by several inches.
“Not here,” he said. “Where are you staying?”
“I merely thought we could have a drink in the lounge,” he said mildly, his lips curving slightly.
“At the Fillmore,” Marisa said, feeling foolish.
“Good. There’s a comfortable bar on the lower level. May I walk you over there?”
“I want to talk to you. Concerning the case, of course.”
“I think we’re covering everything we need to say in the courtroom,” Marisa said.
“It will just take a few minutes. Please.”
“All right,” Marisa said reluctantly.
He fell into step beside her, saying, “May I take that for you?” He indicated her briefcase.
“I’m used to carrying a bag, Mr. Bluewolf,” Marisa said.
“Call me Jack,” he said, and smiled.
Be careful, Marisa, she thought. At close range his charm was overwhelming, a combination of his arresting good looks, his physical grace, and the easy smile which revealed beautiful, slightly uneven white teeth. He was wearing a taupe pinstriped suit which complemented his dusky skin and gleaming black hair. His eyes, she noticed, were not the dull brown of ordinary eyes but an intriguing amber, the color of fine sherry or very old, very expensive Scotch.
Yes, be very careful indeed.
“So what is this about, Mr. Bluewolf?” she said briskly.
“What?” she said, startled, looking over at him.
“Jack,” he reminded her gently.
Marisa shrugged. There was something about him that made standing on ceremony seem ridiculous.
They emerged from the building into the balmy late afternoon air. The hotel was just across the main street and he took her elbow as they traversed the intersection. Marisa felt herself stiffen and then relaxed deliberately. Really, she was acting like a child.