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.”
“You missed a spot,” I said, pointing out the smudges on the glass.
“They’re not smudges,” he said. “They’re Lily’s fingerprints. She was eating chocolate that day. When we got to the mall, my phone rang. She came around to my side and put her hand here. Like this…” He hovered his fingertips over the marks. “One, two, three, four, five. See? Five perfect little chocolate prints. I haven’t washed them since. Every time I look out of the window, I see Lily there, holding her palm to the glass, making faces at me.”
Whenever Jack spoke of Lily, his entire profile softened. In those moments, his innately captivating presence was like a flame, kindled from within. For a second, I was completely jealous, because I had never lived in someone’s heart like that. And I wanted to. I wanted to make someone, someday, glow like that when they thought of me.
As Jack put the hose away, I realized that it wasn’t true. I didn’t want someone, someday. I wanted now. Today. And I wanted it with Jack.
No matter how many reasons I gave myself not to, I was falling for Jack Warden, more and more, with each passing day.
Leylah Attar writes stories about love – shaken, stirred, and served with a twist. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband, son, and all the voices in her head. Sometimes she disappears into the black hole of the internet, but can usually be enticed out with chocolate.