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{Chapter 1}

It was bright and sunny, just like I liked it. I lifted my face to the sun, though the sun wouldn't be warm enough to melt the snow or cool the air around me. At least not yet. Spring was, at the very least, a few weeks away, here in Wapatau. The little village, lost in the hills and snow in southeast Alaska would not see flowers budding anytime soon.  


This little village was my home, my little piece of heaven, though I was only half native. I looked around, the beautiful white snow making everything look new and clean. That was the only thing that made the snow worthwhile. I liked how everything looked perfect, frozen in time. But what I truly wished for was some color. Anything to bring a little life back to the sleeping town. Wapatau was a peaceful little village. There never seemed to be any use for the small group of police officers, who were often found sitting around the tiny police station. I knew it was silly to wonder what it would be like if something bad did happen in my village. Nothing really bad, just a small fender bender. A stray dog would probably be considered a catastrophe here.

I laughed.

Kaida, my friend since, well since I can remember breathing, looked at me like I was deranged. "What's so funny?" She looked around at the snow covered ground, the glass-like quality of the small lake in front of us shimmering on her face. We would often sit here, at the end of the little boat dock, away from the rest of the world, our feet hanging carelessly over the edge.

"I was just wondering about crime, stray dogs and that."   

Her head popped up again, "Really? We got one? Where?" She smiled impishly.

"No, we don't, but it would be funny," I pictured Officer Josap running through the small streets, his round body bouncing, arms too short to catch a dog. I laughed again. Here at the lake, I could laugh, and I would always feel fine. Better than fine. For some reason I have always felt a little outside the loop. When I was younger I thought it was because my father had not been a Wapatan. I didn't know much about him, or my mother for that matter, because they had died when I was only a few months old. And very few elders would talk about them, if I asked.

Some said that my mother had never looked at someone the way she had at the stranger that had arrived on a boat so many years ago. He was just a man, but different than anyone they had ever seen before. A few of the older tribesmen said it was fate, the love they shared was undeniable. Andre-Christophe had been all over the world, even though they say he was not much older than I was now. He was into antiquities, and he had planned to travel the world until the end of time.

On one sunless day, like most days here were, he stepped off the boat and decided to travel to the different villages further inland, but hadn't gotten far.  

He had seen my mother, Sulani, from more than five blocks away, and had frozen to the ground. He couldn't even answer when one of the villagers had asked him if he was okay.   

The elders said that it was like the moon pulled her toward him. She was young, and pretty, and full of life, there was no one as happy or loving as my mother had been. They said when she had seen him, her face shined like there was no other person in the world but him. From that day on, they were inseparable. She was the oldest daughter of the highest council member of Wapatau, my grandfather. And he had not liked the stranger. Andre's skin was almost as pale as the snow, his eyes bluer than the sky. It was so obvious to my grandfather that they were too different from each other to be mates. Yet the other council members had disagreed, saying that Andre was her choice, and they could not contest that. For one of the tribe to find their mate was truly a gift. A part of me always wondered if they would be that lenient with the girls of the tribe now.

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