Chapter 9

Night has fallen in the desert.

Inside a luxurious tent hung with rich drapes and strewn with thick, intricately woven carpets a man relaxes nude on low silk cushions. He sips thick, sweet Turkish coffee from a tiny cup on a silver tray that gleams in lantern light. He is a powerful man – a leader of his people, accustomed to deciding the fates of hundreds with a sweep of his hand. But this night the tables will be turned and his fate will lie in the small hands of a dancing girl.

Suddenly the walls of the tent flutter as if from a gust of wind. The lamp flames flicker and dim. When they brighten he is no longer alone. A woman stands silent before him. She is covered in rich fabrics the colors of exotic spices: a cinnamon silk skirt, slit to reveal harem pants of the sheerest saffron gauze. A heavy belt dripping with coins and gold beads rests low on her hips. A matching bra encases her full breasts and her wrists and neck
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