We are so excited to be able to join in with our blogging sisters and participate in an exclusive prologue reveal for Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar. Follow along each day as a new section reveal. The first two excerpts are at Natasha is a Book Junkie and Shh Moms Reading! FULL PROLOGUE schedule below. Also, there are FIVE ARCS (advance reader copies) up for grabs. Make sure you enter the giveaways on each blog.
Title: Mists of the Serengeti
Author: Leylah Attar
Release Date: January 31, 2017
SYNOPSIS:Once in Africa, I kissed a king..."And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I discovered the elusive magic I had only ever glimpsed between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newly born butterfly and settled in a corner of my heart. I held my breath, afraid to exhale for fear it would slip out, never to be found again.”When a bomb explodes in a mall in East Africa, its aftershocks send two strangers on a collision course that neither one sees coming.Jack Warden, a divorced coffee farmer in Tanzania, loses his only daughter. An ocean away, in the English countryside, Rodel Emerson loses her only sibling.Two ordinary people, bound by a tragic afternoon, set out to achieve the extraordinary, as they make three stops to rescue three children across the vast plains of the Serengeti—children who are worth more dead than alive.But even if they beat the odds, another challenge looms at the end of the line. Can they survive yet another loss—this time of a love that’s bound to slip through their fingers, like the mists that dissipate in the light of the sun?“Sometimes you come across a rainbow story—one that spans your heart. You might not be able to grasp it or hold on to it, but you can never be sorry for the color and magic it brought.”A blend of romance and women’s fiction, Mists of The Serengeti is inspired by true events and contains emotional triggers, including the death of a child. Not recommended for sensitive readers. Standalone, contemporary fiction.
Chapter Reveal Schedule:
1/23 -- Natasha is a Book Junkie
1/24 -- Shh Moms Reading
1/25 -- Angie and Jessica’s Dreamy Reads
1/26 -- Vilma’s Book Blog
1/27 -- Maryse’s Book Blog
“Don’t forget to record it!”
“Go.” Jack laughed. “Dance up a storm.”
Lily took a deep breath and smiled. “See you on the other side.”
“See you on the other side, baby girl.” He watched her disappear behind the curtains.
“Jack…” Miss Temu tapped him on the shoulder. “The balloons. They’re kind of distracting. Would you mind putting them away?”
“Of course.” Jack looked around the hall. It was filling up, but the first two rows were reserved for family. “Do I have time to run to the car and drop them off?”
“Five minutes, but Lily is up third, so you should be okay.”
“Great. I’ll be right back.”
Jack took the escalator back up to the parking lot. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee hit him as he passed the café, reminding him of the travel mug he’d left in his car. Nothing beat the taste of rich Arabica coffee beans from the farm. There was a precision that led to its distinct flavor—from planting to picking to roasting it in a rotating drum over a gas flame. Jack unlocked the car and retrieved his coffee, taking a deep, satisfying swig.
He was about to put the balloons inside when a burst of sharp, loud cracks rattled the air. His first thought was that the balloons had popped, in quick succession, but the sound had an echo, a boom that reverberated through the parking lot. When it happened again, Jack felt a bone-deep chill. His marrow congealed. He knew guns. You don’t live on a farm in rural Africa without learning how to protect yourself from wild animals. But Jack had never used a machine gun, and the shots ringing out from the mall sounded very much like one.
They say that a person’s true strength comes through in times of calamity. It’s a strange and unfair measure of a man. Because disasters and catastrophes are absurd, freakish monsters lurking in the periphery of your vision. And when one of those formless, shapeless shadows shows itself and stands before you, naked and grotesque, it completely incapacitates you. Your senses witness something so unexpected, so bizarre, that you stop to question the reality of it. Like a blue whale falling out of the sky. Your brain doesn’t know what to do with it. And so Jack stood paralyzed, holding his coffee in one hand and the balloons in the other, in Parking Lot B of Kilimani Mall on a clear Saturday afternoon in July, as shots rang out from inside, where he’d just dropped off his daughter.
It was only when the screaming started, when a stampede of panicked shoppers tumbled through the doors, that Jack blinked. He didn’t feel the burn of coffee on his feet as his mug split open. He didn’t see six yellow balloons drifting off into a blue whale of a sky. He just felt the desperation of a father who needed to get to his daughter. Instantly.
If someone had flown over the mall in that moment, they would have witnessed a strange sight: a mass of people scrambling, pushing, fighting to get out of the building, and a lone, solitary man scrambling, pushing, fighting to get inside.
It was more conviction than strength that got Jack through the crowd. Inside was pure chaos. Gunfire rattled through the mall. Discarded shoes, shopping bags, and spilled drinks were everywhere. The balloon cart stood, abandoned and unaffected, smiley faces and Disney princesses gaping at the havoc. Jack did not stop to look left or right. He didn’t care to differentiate friend from foe. He rushed past the café, past the half-eaten almond croissants and crushed cookies, past the cries for help, with a single-minded purpose. He had to get downstairs to the recital hall.
Sit in the front row so I can find you, okay?
I know the drill, Lily. Have I ever failed you?
He was almost at the escalator when a toddler, going the opposite way, came to a halt in front of him. The boy was lost and had cried himself into a state of exhaustion. Jack could barely make out his soft whimpers over the pounding of his own heart. For a moment they stood there, the little boy with his face painted like Batman, colors smudged from tears, and the man who, for a split second, was torn between getting him to safety and getting to his own daughter.
Then Jack stepped aside. He was sure he would always remember the toddler’s face, the look of expectancy in his big, round eyes, the pacifier pinned to his shirt. As he stuffed his shame into a dark recess of his soul, someone started shouting.
From the way the boy turned at the woman’s voice, she was obviously the person he’d been looking for.
Jack heaved a sigh of relief and rounded the escalator.
“Mister! Stop. Please. Get my son out of here.”
She was lying on the floor, about ten feet from Jack, beside a stroller that had toppled over, holding on to her ankle. She was hurt. And pregnant.
“Please get him out of here,” she begged.
People were still fleeing the mall, terrified blurs of motion, but of all the people, of all the people, she was asking Jack. Perhaps because Jack was the only person who had heard her. Perhaps because he had stopped long enough to acknowledge a crying toddler in the middle of the chaos. She had no concern for her own safety, no request for herself. And in that, they were united. They both just wanted to get their kids out.
Jack felt the escalator belt sliding under his hands as he stood at the top of the stairs.
No. Help them.
“I’m sorry,” he said. Every second he wasted was a second that kept him from Lily.
He should have averted his eyes then, but he caught the moment the boy embraced his mother, the slackening of his little body, the relief at having found her, the belief that everything would be all right—in complete contrast to the utter desolation and helplessness in her eyes.
So Jack did the hardest, bravest, most selfless thing in his life. He turned back. He grabbed the boy with one hand, supported the mother with his other, and got them out the door. In his adrenaline-fueled state, it didn’t take more than a minute. But it was a minute too long.
As he turned to get back inside, an explosion rocked the mall, blowing him clear off the stairs. A panel of glass landed on him, trapping him underneath. Chunks of steel and concrete rained down on the parking lot, shattering windshields and headlights. The high-pitched wailing of police cars and ambulances mingled with the incessant blaring of car alarms. But those who were hurt remained eerily silent, some of them forever.
Jack stirred and fought the darkness threatening to pull him under. He had something to do. Somewhere to be. He focused on the acrid smoke that filled his lungs—sharp, bitter, and as black as the realization that hit him when he opened his eyes.
Lily. Oh God. I failed you.
As the world fell to its knees around him, walls torn, roof blown off, blood and bone everywhere—Jack felt himself rip into two. Before-Jack, who loved black coffee, blue skies, and driving into town with all the windows down, and After-Jack, whose daughter’s sweet smile and cotton-candy ponytail swam before him in the heated, five-alarm blaze of the afternoon.
How do I look?
Beautiful. As always.
In that moment, as Jack struggled to lift the weight that was pinning him down, he knew. He knew there would be no escaping this, no getting back up from it. And so, like the weary antelope that bares its throat to the lion, Jack closed his eyes and let the numbing cloak of darkness devour him.
**Continue reading Vilma's Book Blog tomorrow**
Leylah Attar writes stories about love - shaken, stirred and served with a twist. When she's not writing, she can be found pursuing her other passions: photography, food, family and travel. Sometimes she disappears into the black hole of the internet, but can usually be enticed out with chocolate.