Release Date:May 2011
Length:79 000 words
Book Preview: "Dancing in the Shadows of Love"
After a decade in prison for a murder she did not commit, Lulu begins a new life at the Court of St Jerome in the Old Sea City. An albino, abandoned as a young child at a Holding Camp for unwanted children, she has always been ostracised, for her difference to others makes her an easy victim of prejudice.
Once, she believed, she had a friend to love her. Then that friend betrayed her and Lulu learned that hate is safer than love. But, from Jamila to Granny Zahra, the people of St Jerome’s appear to accept her into their fold. Against a backdrop of never-ending war, the women of the court fight their personal demons: hatred, ambition and greed. As Lulu shares their victories and their losses, she learns to trust again, perhaps even to love.
Nothing, however, is as it seems and Lulu discovers that love does not always wear the face of the one you yearn to call beloved.
This compelling story explores the sacrifices people make in the pursuit of a love that transcends everyday existence. Lulu’s quest, and that of Jamila and Zahra too, is to find the divine love that will fulfil their hopes and save their souls...if they can recognise the masks of those who seek to lead them astray.
She was delighted when his eyes heated with the same fire that warmed Dawud’s face at times. Except this man’s face carried a latent temptation that both lured and repelled her. But she was so enthralled by the power surging in her veins she ignored the danger. Soon he moved closer, and lifted another glass from the tray of an itinerant waiter. This wine tasted stronger and she wanted to ask him to put soda in to weaken it, but she didn’t want to be gauche, so she left it, taking a discreet sip again and again until the glass was empty.
Then they were outside—and years later, as a restless Jamila lay on a bed covered with a white comforter in Daren Samanya’s house, she would fling an arm over her face to block out the memories, but it was too late, they were indelible—and she was back with Samanya leading her outside.
‘The moon is incredible,’ he said, and it was.
The full moon shone over them and turned the world silvery surreal. Jamila drank in the sight even as she drank from her wine glass. The mellow air, the silence of the night, trickled into her blood with the alcohol. When Samanya bent his head and touched his lips to her neck, she sighed and raised a hand to stroke his cheek to see if it was silky golden as it looked.
Samanya turned her into his embrace. He kissed her lips, her breasts, her secret place the night air cooled even as his lips set it aflame. Soon, Jamila shuddered out a release as Samanya moved between her legs and showed her paradise.
‘Why?’ she sobbed later. She leaned back into the low balcony wall and held her pale pink sweater, another gift from Dawud, against her nudity. She never wore pink again, not after that night. ‘Why couldn’t you leave me alone?’
Samanya riffled through her bag and took a tissue. He wiped himself clean. ‘You were too innocent, Jamjar,’ he jeered. He laughed a sunless laugh that almost, but not quite, drowned out the rasp of his zipper jerked back into place and dropped the soiled tissue into her lap. ‘Much too innocent.’
Where once there was a warm flicker of hope in all that the city offered her, the extent of its insidious underbelly chilled her. ‘You’re horrible! Horrible!’ She longed for Dawud to save her from the nightmare. He was not there and, unprompted by any thought, her hand searched for her pendant, her Spirit King-mask, to give her strength, to cover her shame revealed by the brilliant, merciless gaze of moon and man. But she had stopped wearing it when Dawud had bought her the real gold necklace she’d asked for.
Samanya laughed and coolly tucked in his shirt that, in the heat of ecstasy, she’d torn lose from his trousers. He said, as he left her, ‘Whatever I am, Jamjar, you’re the same.’ He looked at her with remorseless calm and added, ‘Because you could’ve said no anytime.’
And there—right there, where the moon’s light rippled across the dark waters of the silent sea—Jamila accepted that she had found her passion and kissed the face of her ezomo.