Happy Wednesday, and thanks again to Angelica Dawson for organizing the MidWeekTeases!
This week’s tease comes from my erotic interracial romance A Thorned Rose in the Sand, which has been contracted by Evernight Publishing for release in May. In this scene, Ragab visits his father and little brother at the hospital.
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A squeal and a metallic click sounded from inside the car, and out sprang Ali, looking as healthy and energetic as before.
Filling with relief, Ragab crouched and reached out for him.
The little boy threw himself at him so hard, Ragab nearly lost his balance. “Ragaaab!” He flung his thin arms around Ragab’s neck. “Can we play football today?”
“I’m so glad to see you.” Ragab swallowed to control his bubbling gratitude. When he loved, he loved fiercely, until the end. He set his brother down and held him at arm’s length. “You look good, little man. And yes, when we come home, we’ll play football.” He glanced from Father to the open car door. “What’s going on? Whose car is this?”
“It’s a taxiii!” called Ali with another squeal.
“But…” Ragab turned to Father. “We don’t have money for it.”
“It’s already been paid for.”
Ragab blinked, incredulous. “By whom?”
“I’ll let you have a guess.” The corners of Father’s black eyes creased with a smile. He looked very pleased with himself.
Ragab racked his brain but couldn’t think of anyone willing to pay what, several hundred dirhams to transport his family into the desert? More money than they spent on food in a year. “Who? A friend of yours? I didn’t know you were so well acquainted.”
Ali jumped up and down, kicking up red dust. “The cool biker woman who drove us here yesterday!”
Taking a step back in surprise, Ragab squinted as questions assaulted him. Why? How? Wasn’t she supposed to drive to Fez? Where was she now?
Father said, “She visited us earlier and said it would be better for Ali to be taken home by car after the surgery.”
Dumbfounded, Ragab nodded. “There’s no doubt about that. It’s very generous of her.”
“Yes. Very generous. I regret that I don’t speak her language so I could thank her appropriately.”
“Oh, it’s okay. She doesn’t want thanks. She’s just happy to help.”
Father studied him. “You know her well.”
“Yes, she’s that kind of person.” And then it hit him: she was fantastic. Reckless and fiery, yes, but beautiful inside out—a thorned rose—and he missed her more than he’d thought he could miss a woman.
Was he never going to see her again?
Pain rushed through him, clotting his throat. His eyes stung.
But he mustn’t show his feelings. In order to preserve his sharaf, which had already taken a serious blow lately, he spun and grabbed bags hanging from Usain’s saddle. “I’ve bought these. Sugar, some flour, a bottle of olive oil…” He handed the bags to Father, sideways, not looking at him. “Since you have a car, you can bring them home. And could you please stop at the souq and stock up on rice—take a twenty-five-kilo bag, for example. And we’re running out of dates, so—”
“Ragab, look at me.”
He paused, stared at Usain’s blue rope leash and dug his fingers into the dromedary’s thick neck hair. Father’s word was command, but he couldn’t face him.
“My son.” Father’s hand set on his arm and tugged. “Look at me.”
After some swallowing, Ragab hardened his face and obeyed, meeting Father’s wise gaze. He estimated his age to be about sixty years—Mother was his second wife—and a lifetime of experiences shone in his eyes.
Father stared for a moment, before saying, voice firm but gentle, “My son, you have sacrificed years of your life studying in a foreign country so you can heal our neighbors and friends. And when I have been away, you have been responsible for your mother, your sisters, and our livestock. I am proud of you. You have taken care of everyone. Now I think it is time you take care of yourself.” He put a hand on Ragab’s chest. “Your heart is hurting.”
Copyright (c) 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 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…
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Find out more about the book here
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