24 October 2013

Excerpt Thursday: Dancer of the Nile by Veronica Scott

This week, we're pleased to welcome author Veronica Scott once again, whose latest novel, DANCER OF THE NILE, is set in ancient Egypt. Join us on Sunday, when the author will offer a free copy of Dancer of the Nile to a lucky blog visitor. Here's the blurb:

Egypt, 1500 BCE

Nima’s beauty and skill as a dancer leads an infatuated enemy to kidnap her after destroying an Egyptian border town. However, she’s not the only hostage in the enemy camp: Kamin, an Egyptian soldier on a secret mission for Pharaoh, has been taken as well. Working together to escape, the two of them embark on a desperate quest across the desert to carry word of the enemy’s invasion plans to Pharaoh’s people.
As they flee for their lives, these two strangers thrown together by misfortune have to trust in each other to survive.  Nima suspects Kamin is more than the simple soldier he seems, but she finds it hard to resist the effect he has on her heart.  Kamin has a duty to his Pharaoh to see his mission completed, but this clever and courageous dancer is claiming more of his loyalty and love by the moment. Kamin starts to worry, if it comes to a choice between saving Egypt or saving Nima’s life…what will he do?
Aided by the Egyptian god Horus and the Snake Goddess Renenutet, beset by the enemy’s black magic, can Nima and Kamin evade the enemy and reach the safety of the Nile in time to foil the planned attack?
Can there ever be a happy future together for the humble dancer and the brave Egyptian soldier who is so much more than he seems?

**An Excerpt from Dancer of the Nile**

Chapter One

The chariot jounced over deep, hard ruts, and Nima had to grip the railing tight with her bound hands to avoid falling. As the ride smoothed out again, she tossed her head to keep stray tendrils of hair out of her eyes and squinted, glancing behind at her fellow Egyptian prisoner. About an hour ago, a small unit had joined the bigger column that held Nima, dragging this man with them. The Hyksos had stripped him of his uniform and weapons, leaving him clad only in his loincloth and sandals as they forced him to march behind the chariot.
He was in a much worse state than she, beaten, staggering, arms bound cruelly tight behind his back. A black eye, cuts and spectacular bruises marred his tall, muscular frame, but he held his head high, cursing their captors as they prodded him to walk faster.
            Taking note of the strength the Egyptian soldier showed as he strode along, she counted his old injuries and scars. How had they managed to capture such a seasoned warrior?
            Nima flexed her hands, trying to ease the irritation from the ropes restraining her wrists. Angry red welts burned and itched where the hemp had chafed over the five long days of her captivity.
            The column halted, the soldiers and horses resting and sharing water. Her portion was brought to her in a small mug as she sat on the edge of the chariot. The soldier who handed her the water took his chance to fondle her breast for a moment through the thin, dusty, blue fabric of her dress before striding away with a laugh.
            “Son of a jackal,” she cursed as he cast another leering glance over his shoulder. Nima lifted the cup to her lips awkwardly then stopped, gazing over the edge of the unglazed mug to where the other prisoner knelt in the sand, head down, shoulders slumped. They don’t offer him water?
            How far can I push my status as Amarkash’s personal prisoner? Inwardly quaking, Nima stood and took a few tentative steps in the direction of her fellow countryman. Most of the enemy soldiers were ignoring her in their own efforts to relax or drink water. The few who were facing in her direction didn’t seem to care what she did, and the captain was at the end of the column, conferring with the younger officer stationed there. Hurrying the last few paces to the prisoner, Nima tried not to spill any precious water.
            “Here,” she whispered, holding the mug out to him. “Drink quickly.”
            When he raised his head, she recoiled from the intensity in his eyes, an unusual hazel with glints of green. However defeated he may appear, this man isn’t giving up. Unsmiling, the warrior glanced at her bound wrists then at her face, saying nothing.
            Why doesn’t he trust me? Can’t he see I’m a prisoner here, too? Nima placed the mug against his swollen, split lips and tipped it up. Swallowing in greedy gulps, he kept his eyes on her face.
            She took the mug before he had drained all the water and drank the last few drops herself. A change in his expression gave her a split second of warning before Captain Amarkash grabbed her by the shoulder, yanking the cup from her hand and hurling it away. “You do nothing without my permission, you understand? Stay away from the other prisoner.”
            Nima nodded. Amarkash had made it clear he was the only barrier standing between her and the soldiers, so the need to keep him placated outweighed sympathy for her countryman. “I understand. I thought he should have water—“
            “This is not your concern. If I wish him to have water, I’ll order it.” Amarkash’s command of Egyptian was amazingly good, his accent nearly flawless.  He glared at her for another long minute, hand half raised as if to strike her again, but then he turned to snap the reins, and gave the column the order to proceed.
            Clutching the chariot rail tightly, she risked one more glance over her shoulder. The prisoner was on his feet, marching along, fresh cuts on his face bleeding sluggishly where he’d been struck after trying to help her.
           His presence complicates everything. Nima narrowed her eyes, glaring at the soldier.

You can find author Veronica Scott at: