Pre Order your copy now for only $.99. This price is only for Pre Orders and will end on November 22nd. So hurry and pre order your copy now for this amazing price.
A dead husband. An unconsummated marriage. She needs an heir. Any man will do.
1061 AD. A sprawling empire rich in gold, resources, and military might dominates West Africa. It’s The Kingdom of Ghana, and it’s at the height of its power.
Twenty-year old Nabeela is grappling with her own power struggle. In order to save her younger sister from their step-brother’s clutches, Nabeela agrees to marry a repulsive African prince and bear him an heir. However, her plans are waylaid when tragedy strikes on her wedding night—her new husband dies—without consummating their marriage.
She must find a replacement to impregnate her immediately. Any man will do—including a drunken soldier her servants find naked taking a bath in a neighboring village. Nabeela holds him captive and coerces him into having sex with her—stealing the one thing he can never get back—his seed.
What she doesn’t know is the soldier is Rafan, Commander of a warring tribe’s royal army, and one of her family’s arch enemies. Eager for revenge, Rafan tracks her down once he’s released. But when these two reunite, they realize their lust for each other is far greater than their disdain.
Enamored by Nabeela’s beauty and bravery, Rafan makes her an offer of marriage, and the promise to help her become queen. He convinces her that they are stronger allies than enemies. Even though they share a commitment to unite, there are others who are determined to destroy them and their plans, including the one person Nabeela would have never suspected. In the end, she’s is forced to choose between her passion and her ambition.
1040 C.E. Kingdom of Ghana, West Africa
Nabeela guzzled from the goblet of wine in her room. Maybe it would give her courage for the loathsome task ahead of her. The fermented liquid slid down her throat and winded is way through her knotted entrails to her empty stomach. Good. The concoction would take effect sooner without any remnants of the wedding feast lining her belly. She had not been able to eat a single morsel, despite her mother’s half-hearted attempts to get her to do so. This was no cause for celebration. Not when she’d just married a man old enough to be her father. Indeed, possibly old enough to be her grandfather, had he lived.
Her new husband, Hakim, had no problem eating. Earlier, he’d shoveled massive amounts of food into the entrance of the seemingly bottomless pit that served as his mouth. Nabeela grimaced recalling how his sausage-like fingers had stuffed shanks of braised lamb past his thick lips. His gluttonous appetite had earned jests and ribald comments from his troops. She’d contained her disgust as she watched him shove everything on his platter into his mouth. Errant crumbs escaped, only to be captured in the deep folds of his sumptuous robes.
He was a repulsive pig.
And she was forever tethered to him through marriage.
She took a deep breath. She could endure this. She had to, for the sake of her mother, Falak and her ancestors. It was better to suffer the injustice of this world than to anger the ancestors in the next. Her virtue was the only weapon she could bargain with right now. In return, Hakim offered a generous bride price of cattle and gold for her. He was a Hooro, a member of the ruling class who administered authority. By strategically marrying up one caste she ensured her safety as well as her family’s. She accepted this as her duty. There was no pleasure in duty—only reward once the work was done.
She walked the few steps from her quarters into her sleeping chamber where Hakim waited. She was veiled, as was the custom. Her new husband would remove the veil, consummate the union, and leave his seed in her. That was her only value—to produce an heir. Then hopefully, he would leave her be. Though the women of her clan had little political power, she hoped to change that.
Hakim already had three dead wives and one living son. The wives had all died under mysterious circumstances. Rumors of poisoning abounded. Only the bravest whispered the name of Ghazi, Hakim’s son. It was suggested he’d committed the acts, so jealous was he of anyone, male or female who got close to this father.
Nabeela had few encounters with Ghazi, but she made sure to steer clear of him. He had a cruel streak longer than the Niger River. He pounced like a rabid dog on anyone who dared speak against him. She’d seen first-hand how he treated servants and slaves, threatening to send them to the salt mines in Taghaza—a death sentence. Though only five years older than she, he had the disposition of a bitter old man.
And he was now her stepson.
He’d taken Nabeela, her mother, and Falak in after the soldiers ravaged their citadel years ago. The militia still waged their war of terror, taking advantage of the vast distances between the cities to wreak havoc. Villages and towns that had been settled by generations of influential Soninkes were being burned to the ground on a daily basis.
Nabeela and her family had lived a secure existence until a few months ago when Ghazi set his sights on marrying Falak. He’d insisted it was merely to unite their families. But her mother had persuaded Hakim to marry Nabeela instead. After all, Falak was only fourteen years old. Too young and innocent to be married to a snake with a voracious thirst for power. Ghazi was so enraged, for the past few months, he’d kept Falak in a separate part of the keep. She would be released as soon as this marriage was consummated. It was Ghazi’s way of assuring Nabeela kept her word. There were days she wondered if they were better off eking out an existence in the forests than here under Ghazi’s crushing thumb.
Nabeela pushed her depressing thoughts aside and entered her bedchamber. Hakim’s broad, naked back greeted her. Flabby folds of skin hung from his solid frame. She prayed to The Creator she would not be crushed beneath his massive girth.
She circled him slowly, her long robes flowing as she walked. His eyes lit up when he saw her. His grin revealing crowded rows of yellow teeth set against dark skin that reminded her of a jackal hunting at night. Her stomach churned. She had not married him for his good looks, but for his protection and influence from the Almoravid caliphate, Berber Muslims encroaching from the North.
For years, Abdulla ibn Yasin, the leader of a large group of Almoravids, had been gaining in power, and trying to force Islam down the throats of Ghanian kings. But the kings refused to convert. A shift in religion was only part of the problem. Ghana was rich with gold, and salt—a commodity, almost as valuable as gold. And although the kingdom had flourished for hundreds of years, trading with peaceful Berbers and wealthy Arab merchants, riches had a way of corrupting even the most pious men.
Now the best way to protect the Soninke remote regions was for the king to give more power to his minor kings and military governors. This way, they could defend these vassals against the constant raiding of the Sanhadjas and the Almoravids.
It seemed no one was safe in these turbulent times. And so, Nabeela found herself in need of a defender. Everyone paid tribute to someone. Since she had no wealth, she would pay in flesh. Without Hakim’s protection, her family was at the mercy of warring troops. She was merely a pawn in the process, but she intended to get as much power as she could. Power was more valuable than sex or beauty. Mother had taught her that.
Hakim reached for her, his meaty fingers attached to pudgy wrists and corpulent arms. He eyed her like a hungry crocodile at a watering hole. The sounds of his strained breathing filled the air.
“Been …waiting all night to…look at you. Up close.”
She was sure the only thing he wanted to see up close was an overstuffed platter placed in front of him.
Thick lips that had just hours ago sucked the greasy cartilage from chicken bones now wanted to sample her flesh. He removed the faceplate of her veil. His eyes widened in appreciation. “Comely creature.”
Nabeela took offence at being called a creature. She had never considered herself comely, though her mother often told her she was. She felt her nose was too big and her eyes were too far apart. Truly, beauty meant nothing without the resources. Otherwise, she was just a whore. Using her body to get what she wanted. She had no plans to do that.
Hakim issued a gruff command. “Disrobe.”
She did so without hesitation. For months, she’d known this moment would come. Best to get it over with. There would be pain the first time. She knew that, too. Pain was part of life. Mother had also told her this.
Nabeela stood in all her naked glory in front of her new husband. She would not let him see how disgusted she felt. Instead, her eyes wandered below his waist. She frowned at the fleshy proboscis jutting from the wiry bush between his hairy thighs. She’d never seen a man’s root before. Hakim’s was the size of her forefinger. It was the only emaciated part of him.
“Lick it,” he ordered.
Her heart beat like the frenzied rhythm of a drum. This was one thing she had not anticipated.
If I have to put that thing in my mouth, I will wretch.
She closed her eyes, and choked back the bile rising in the back of her throat. To think, she’d preserved her maidenhead for this moment. That was her saving grace and the only reason she’d been able to barter herself.
Her eyes flickered open when she felt Hakim’s meaty fingers groping her breasts. He had a look of rapture on his face. She bit her lip. She would have to endure this ogre’s fondling for days, weeks, perhaps even months until she knew she was with child. It would be hard to do when his touch made her skin crawl.
She sank to her knees on the thick tapestry of rugs as though she were being led to her death. Hakim’s manhood jutted out like a flag on a windy day. Her face hovered near the hard flesh.
“Yes,” he groaned in anticipation.
Nabeela prayed for courage.
Oh, divine goddess, please let me survive this ordeal. I must!
Summoning the strength of her ancestors, she leaned forward and opened her mouth. Her lips were mere inches from the tip of his shaft. Without warning, he took a step backward. Confused, Nabeela looked up. His mouth was distorted into a grimace, frozen into what would have been a lop-sided grin if not for the grotesque mask of pain. His puffy jowls slackened as one hand clutched at his heart, grasping a fistful of wooly chest hair.
Nabeela gasped as Hakim’s corpulent body crashed to the floor like a tree being felled in the forest. She watched, horrified as his eyes rolled back into his head, and his labored breathing abruptly ceased. She clapped her hand over her mouth to stifle her scream. She was not prone to emotional outbursts, but the death of her new husband was reason to panic. All her hopes for a better future had just died with him.
Chanta Jefferson Rand is an Emma Award winning Debut Author of the Year, a multi-published, best-selling author of sizzling-hot romance, and the former host of The Chanta Rand Show. An avid reader of all genres, she stepped onto the scene in 2010 with her first published historical romance, Pharaoh’s Desire.