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EXCERPT: A flash of silver tumbled through the aromatic, fire-lit cedar night. It sparkled like a barely seen comet that flashed through an ancient sky. The coin made a soft “plop” as it landed in the palm of a dirty, calloused hand that grasped it tightly. With another toss, the silver coin tumbled upward again as if it sought to disappear into the night. The crackling flames illuminated a sheaf of wheat on one side and a curved scythe on the other.
Over and over the coin flashed through the fire-lit night…
Melvin Bannock shuddered and sat up in the warm, perfumed bed.
He balanced himself on one hand while, with the other, he massaged his throbbing forehead. His mouth was dry, and he was hungry and thirsty. He was and wasn’t satisfied. His wary eyes examined the effeminate room filled with delicate furniture and decorated with glass-framed hieroglyphic parchment pages, velvet drapes, and richly patterned Oriental rugs.
He sighed and ran a hand through his short, prematurely gray hair as he remembered that the bloody horror of the war was over. He was alive. His wife was dead and his son was dead. Their farmhouse was cinder, masonry rubble, and burned timbers. Their cotton fields were scorched stubble, and their few slaves were freed and scattered to a new life.
Melvin groggily shook his head as he heard the creak of wagon wheels through the open window and the shouts and laughter of drunken revelers.
His eyes wandered to the curvaceous woman not yet out of her teens that lay next to him. Her head rested on an oversized silk pillow like a jewel of incalculable value, and strands of long blonde hair splayed across her face like a mysterious golden veil. The flesh of her warm, lusty body betrayed a dusky hint, more felt than seen.
Sabine Anippe, descended from a Frenchman and an Egyptian belly dancer, was a skilled and lusty daughter of the Nile.
She peeked at him from the corner of her deep brown eyes, framed by long black eyelashes, and a slow smile crept to her full, sensuous lips. She propped herself up with a delicate hand against her cheek. With the other hand she reached beneath the covers and grasped him firmly, lovingly. Her full breasts jiggled teasingly…