First Page: Unpublished Manuscript – contemporary romance
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“Now?” One of the porters yelled to the driver behind the wheel of the jeep.
“Nope! Nothing!” The driver yelled back. Samir couldn’t understand why they were yelling. The desert was deathly silent, a vast sea of salt plains without sounds of life for miles around. The pale moon hung low in the sky, a bright light source that bounced off the salt marsh and rendered their lamps and torches irrelevant.
The whine of the engine cut across the plain as the driver tried yet again to start up the jeep. What a fucking disaster, Samir thought. Their convoy of two jeeps and a Prado was stuck in the middle of nowhere. There was no cell coverage so they couldn’t call anyone, and while one jeep had stalled and refused to start up, the other one had a flat tire and no spare. The Prado was fine, but they were a group of fourteen people and they couldn’t all fit in one SUV, no matter how luxurious it was. He’d have to send someone back to Mithi and have them bring back a spare tire and a mechanic.
Samir surveyed the group of people scattered around the Prado. He should probably send a few of the ‘guests’ along as well. As many as will fit in the Prado. But who goes? Older guests first, then the goras, have to keep them happy. Zulqarnain needs their money. That’s seven people right there. Seven plus the driver—they could squeeze in, he thought. It was a three-hour drive back to Mithi but the seats in the Prado were fantastic, the shock absorbers as phenomenal.
Behind him, the porter and the driver were still at it. He marveled at their patience. He’d have given up on the damn jeep thirty minutes ago. His gaze swept over the remaining three guests—a young college kid, interning with their organization for the summer, and two women. Zulqarnain’s friends along for the thrill of being able to tell their high society cronies that they were doing ‘charity’ work.
He’d met them all for the first time less than six hours ago. They’d arrived in Mithi the night before and it was his job to ensure they got to Nagarparkar without incident. He didn’t remember their names, nor was he interested in learning about them, except for her.
She definitely did not belong in the desert. She was elegant, casual and the epitome of an elitist bitch. She barely looked at him, or at any of the staff working in Mithi, but everyone had taken a second glance at her including him, albeit reluctantly. Her hair was shiny, her skin smooth. Her hands were perfectly manicured and it looked like she’d just stepped out of a beauty salon. What the fuck was she doing in the middle of nowhere?
Yeah, she’s definitely staying, thought Samir. A night in the desert without a hairdresser or manicurist would take her down a peg or two.
“Listen up.” Samir raised his voice as he strode towards the stragglers. “I’m sending a few of you back to Mithi along with Nasir Jan here. He’s going to bring back a mechanic and some supplies for us.” There was an immediate clamor from the group.
“Some of us?”
“Why not all of us?” Donald was a stuffy older man, prim in appearance, fastidious in his actions. He had regretted coming on this trip the moment he had left Hyderabad. He’d envisioned a smooth highway to Mithi, a comfortable trip with a view of the desert on either side. Nothing, so far, had gone as expected. One day into the expedition and he was ready to go home. He was sure he wouldn’t be included in the convoy back to Mithi. Surely this he-man would be sending the women back first?
“Because I can’t fit twelve of you into the Prado. I’m good, but not that good.” Samir’s voice was dry.