Happy Wednesday, and thanks again to Angelica Dawson for organizing the MidWeekTeases!
This week’s tease comes from my current WIP, the erotic romance A Thorned Rose in the Sand. To place you in the context, rally racer Stevie has helped transport Ragab’s little brother to a clinic, and everyone at the Bedouin camp is awaiting news.
Three hours had passed. The sun had reached its peak and pounded without mercy.
Ragab sat in the shade of the family tent twining his fingers. He’d chewed his nails so short, they stung as if he’d inserted needles underneath. Ali’s acute medical condition drove him mad with worry, and not being able to do anything to help made him feel ten times worse. Not to mention having put Ali’s fate in the hands of a reckless motorcycle driver. How imprudent! What if something happened to them? He’d rather die than live with the guilt.
He needed to keep his angst to himself, though, for in his father’s absence, he was in charge of the family and had to keep everyone calm. Every time Mother and his sisters looked at him with prayers in their eyes, he assured them Ali would be fine, and resisted following their tense glances out of the tent, to the track where the motorcycle had disappeared.
Three hours. A lifetime.
“Ragab,” Mother said, her face puffy and furrowed beneath the black tob ’ob wrapped around the top of her head. She clutched her two young daughters to her bosom, and they slid their arms around her.
She opened her mouth, but out came no sound. Instead, big tears filled her charcoal-lined eyes and rolled down her sunburnt cheeks.
No need to explain. Of the ten children she’d carried, she’d lost four to disease, and three other grown ones had left to live in the modern world. Only Ragab had returned.
“Oum,” he said, voice gentle. Mother.
“La.” She shook her head, teary gaze pleading. No. Her pain wouldn’t go away.
His chest squeezed. “He’s in good hands,” he insisted, but wasn’t sure he believed it himself. He knew everything about appendicitis. Its different stages, where to cut to remove the infected piece, what kind of antibiotics to give, and the risks if one intervened too late. And this wasn’t just any patient—this was Ali, a funny and active little boy adored by his family.
A motor grumbled in the distance.
The girls squealed, and everyone got up and ran out of the tent. Ragab’s heart galloped in his chest.
In a large cloud of dust, the girl’s motorcycle appeared on the track, driving at full speed.
He gasped. Hadn’t he told her to be careful?
Slow down, you fool, before you get someone killed!
But…the seat behind her was vacant? Father and Ali stayed at the clinic? Did that mean bad news? The blood drained from his buzzing head.
Neighbors sprang out of their tents and flocked around Ragab’s family. The sickness of one tribe member, especially a child, concerned the whole tribe.
Seconds later, the motorcycle came to a full stop a few meters from them, tires screeching and swirling up dust.
Ragab hurried over to the girl and turned his hands up. “So?”
She switched off the power so that precious silence descended upon the site…but didn’t say anything, just sat there doing nothing.
Oh, how he hated her for drawing it out. Didn’t she realize the importance of the news? “Tell me!” he barked. “What did the surgeon say?”
Sending him a sharp glance, she took off her helmet and hung it on a side mirror. “Give me a minute to breathe, will ya? I just did sixty fucking kilometers on the roughest terrain ever.”
Her cursing pushed his buttons. He growled, “You’re one of the most arrogant and impolite persons I’ve met!”
“Oh?” She climbed off the motorcycle and got right in his face, breaths quick against his mouth. “And you are one of the most ungrateful assholes I’ve met.” She stabbed a finger into his chest. “But you were correct, doc. It’s an appendicitis, just not inflamed yet.”
He blinked, processing the information while staring into her gleaming emeralds. She stood so close, freckles he hadn’t seen before were visible on her nose and cheeks, under the dirty sweat.
It hit him like a slap: she was beautiful, spectacular. One of a kind.
She lowered her voice, but remained in his space. “He needs to stay under surveillance, though.”
Swallowing, he backed away from her to recoup—try to recover from the angst that had messed with his mind and the sensual shock the girl gave him. So much at once.
She said, “Your father wants you to pick them up in a couple of days.”
“All right, will do.” With a nod and a deep breath, he turned to tell the good news to everyone else.
The crowd broke into happy dancing and cheering. Mother’s face lit up in a white-toothed smile, and she hugged her daughters close.
In moments like these, Ragab wished he were religious. He needed something or someone to give thanks to.
Well, her, the fiery red-head, maybe.
Copyright @ 2018 Lea Bronsen
After his studies in London, Ragab has returned to the nomadic lifestyle of his Bedouin family and the majestic silence of the Sahara. His days are spent herding camels and dreaming of the perfect wife, until a beautiful but annoyingly feisty bike driver stuck in a sand dune turns his quiet world upside down.
When the rat-race of life in a big U.S. city becomes too much, Stevie Jones decides to change track and live her wildest dream – compete against the tough guys in a thrilling motorcycle rally across Morocco. But to her surprise, the real excitement is to be found away from the race track, in the shifting sands of the desert…
* * *
Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to check out all the fantastic writers sharing
* * *
Disclaimer: I borrowed this photo of handsome model Alexander Uloom to illustrate the book excerpt.