Emma is nine on the day they meet, hot-headed and wild-haired. Akecheta is twelve, and already the man of his house. He saves her life and tells her she belongs to him. As they grow up together on the frontier surrounding Manhattan, Kansas, he teaches her how to fish, hunt, and how to survive in a land where bears, snakes, accidents, and even nature itself can steal away your life in an instant. She teaches him how to trust and how to share the burdens of his shameful past. When he graduates from high school, an aunt send him to university in the other Manhattan, in New York. Emma continues her schooling at home, becoming one of the first women to study animal husbandry at Kansas State University. At first, Akecheta is dazzled by New York. He explores the grand library, the museums, and the theatres. When a friend takes him to back-room poker games in the Bowery, he learns that Manhattan, New York, may be more deadly than the wilds of Kansas, and in the elegant drawing rooms of city mansions, he finds that the most dangerous thing of all may not be a grizzly or the armed loser of a card game, but a beautiful, wealthy, well-connected blonde.