I’m sorry I brought you to this hell hole. I thought you would enjoy the staggering landscape and diamond fields of Namibia. I hoped that my business trip would be swift like all the rest, and then we’d be able to enjoy the desolate scenery together while escaping the brutality of mundane life.
I didn’t realize that it could be a brutal place where we would risk escaping life altogether.
I hope I find you my one true love. I hope we will be together again and that you will forgive me for forsaking you.
All my love.
Nightmares and Stardust is an impassioned tale of learning to hustle. And fast. When hustling is not your thing. Because, if you don’t, you’ll lose the one trueness in your life. It’s about forsaking everything you ever held dear, for the one you now hold dear. And it’s a story of self-discovery where you didn’t realize it was needed.
Only then are you able to survive what life throws at you and power towards saving the one you love.
Botha combines all the hallmarks that have made her page-turning writing a go-to if you’re looking for an interracial romantic mystery and suspense book that will keep you turning the pages without realizing how much
Nightmares and Stardust–an interracial romance with mystery and suspense
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Read the beginning of Nightmares and Stardust, the second in the Diamond series of interracial romance books. Each of the books in this series can be read as standalones and will keep you hooked with as the mystery unfolds, building suspense with every twisty turn of the page.
The car behind is approaching fast. Too fast to be safe on these sand roads. I slow and move to the side. I can’t pull too far over because there’s a ditch before the space opens up into vast pasturelands.
As soon as I make the move, I regret it.
Now I’m out of the tracks and the four-wheel-drive kicks in, struggling for traction as we sink into the softer surface. I curse Namibia. For all its beauty, they really do not know how to build a decent road.
The steering wheel snaps to the left as the tires eat through the banked-up sand then allow me to move back into the tracks of other vehicles who have passed before us. Even if that was three days ago.
The car behind will just have to drive around.
Jessie is chattering in the passenger seat. She’s picked up the camera, again, and is hanging out of the window snapping a a photo of a huge bird’s nest which hangs from the branches of a skinny tree. The nest is the size of a small London apartment. I’m only half-listening to Jessie’s excited chatter.
That car is still approaching. It hasn’t slowed, if anything, it’s sped up.
I tense; an involuntary recognition that something isn’t right. But then, as it draws right the way up to my tailgate, I breathe out a whistling of relief. He’s trying to pass, and he’s blown out to the side to overtake. It’s okay, he’s just one of those arrogant drivers who thinks he has more skills than nature has sick humor.
I check my side-view mirror, interested to see the face of the guy who is so careless with his life, but I don’t get the chance as my ears fill with noise.
Our car is buckling. And we’ve shifted. With a sickening jolt.
I remember Jessie snapping her head around to me as the crunch of metal on metal, combined with such a sharp move, signals danger which vanquishes her notions of the beauty of this desert landscape.
“What—” It’s all she manages to spit out before our car wobbles for a split-second that lasts a year as we wait, our mouths and eyes agape with fear. Our fate is in the hands of the stability of the four wheels that are bearing us, and much as this vehicle is made for off-roading, the sick feeling that churns in my stomach as we topple off-balance tells me that it wasn’t built for being rammed.
Stupid fucker, I think as the car finally loses its battle and we fall sideways in slow motion. I have the time to notice the other car driving off into the distance, still at the same speed. This hasn’t affected him at all. How could he manage to shoot us off the road and advance without so much as a delay to his journey? I actually consider crying out to him at that moment when my world is literally turning upside down, I want to know why he didn’t stop and make sure we’re okay?
My racing thoughts cease. I shoot my hand out to the side to try and break Jessie’s fall, but it doesn’t work. I watch her crumple to one side and then as the car continues to turn and we end up on our roof, I watch as she slumps onto the ceiling, splayed out like a rag doll. Her eyes have closed as her body tells her to lock down so it can fix whatever that motherfucker has broken.
That’s when mine does the same.
When I come around, I have no idea how long we have been there, except that my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth. The desert sun basks in the blue skies at hundred-twenty degrees at this time of year. And we have no water.
“Jessie.” My neck crunches as I turn to check on her.
She’s still collapsed in the same position my mind photographed before blanking out. Her arm is crushed under the car; it must have fallen out during our tumbling crash. But it’s not her arm that bothers me, it’s the angle of her head. And the ashen appearance of her tanned skin. And the way she hasn’t moved since I blacked out.
She took off her seatbelt to hang out of the window and snap pictures.
A dawning realization filters through the cloud in my brain. With a surge of adrenaline, I scramble for my phone from my back pocket.
“I should have ordered the satellite phone.” I curse my apathy as panic forces the blood in my temples to pulse with force. I’m hanging upside down, so this situation isn’t going to be resolved until I get out of here. I remember the Schrade 911 knife I always keep on me when traveling in the middle of nowhere. It’s in my front pocket, but the belt is strapped across it, cutting off the blood to my legs. My feet are throbbing before they turn numb, and I shuffle within my bindings to access the flick knife.
The nylon of my seatbelt takes a fine layer of skin off my hand, but it’s still no good. I can’t reach my fingers down deep enough to catch hold of the metal. My brow prickles from the strain adding to the sweat from the overbearing heat as I push myself down towards the pedals.
If I can just allow enough space between the top of my pocket and the belt, I think, gritting my teeth as I push against gravity and tension.
Pushing the knife up from the outside of my pocket, I start to believe that I might have this. It’s moving. Now, if I can slip my fingers in like before, I may be able to grasp it.
But I’ve shifted now, and I can’t even slide the tips of my fingers between the nylon and my shorts.
I’m panting. Not from the heat. The air con turned off along with the dead engine, and only Jessie’s window is open for fresh air. I’m breathless because the effort is so great.
Tears spring to the corners of my eyes as I grunt, urging my body to move where it can’t at the same time as driving my fingers into my pocket. I reach my other hand over. I don’t feel that it’s damaged at this point, so I just use it to force the knife up as I slip the fingers of my other hand down. I stop the knife from shifting out of the way, and I clutch it with a jubilant groan. Pulling it out feels like I’ve won the lottery.
I’m clasping onto it right at its tip, my stinging fingers barely in control, and I even think, don’t drop it. Keep it safe.
But the weight is too much, and the knife falls, clattering onto the roof with a mocking ‘dink.’
“For fuck’s sake,” I scream and that’s when I recognize that all of my cursing hasn’t roused Jessie one iota.
With a renewed determination, I focus on just one thing: extending my body as far as I can and catching hold of that elusive knife. I have no other thoughts in my mind; this is my primary purpose. I must reach that knife in order for us to both survive.
My body creaks as my muscles free from positions they’ve been locked into my entire life. My joints adjust, my brain forcing my physical form to deliver whatever the fuck is needed. I’m not short at six feet tall, but that knife has settled to the side so I can’t quite reach.
“Grrr…” I hiss as air escapes my dry mouth, but I continue to push, to strain every ounce of my flesh to make me long enough to grab that knife.
And I do … just, but it spins around, taunting me with ideas of what could be.
“Come here you fucker.” I growl the words, so loud that they reverberate against our metal coffin and, finally, I grab it.
Not a tentative grasp like when it came out of my pocket, but a full-on fucking locked fist that is not letting go. I flip the blade, slice through the belt, and tumble down onto my head in no time.
I should have taken more care, I think as I twist my neck and end up in a forward fold position. Sickness engulfs me as I rush towards Jessie, moving my head too quick for the blood to catch up. She’s cold, but not rigid. When I lean my ear over her face, I can feel her light breath whispering over my cheek.
“I got you, baby, you’re going to be fine.” I scramble out of the car. I can’t have been out for that long because the heat still beats into my back like it’s not too far off midday, but Jessie’s lips are white and cracked, her body having sucked all the fluids it can find to use to fix her.
Leaning back inside to grab her, I have a fleeting idea that she should be left alone in case her bones are broken, or worse. I could worsen her injuries, puncturing her internal organs with her obviously busted bones by shifting her position.
That idea lasts around two seconds before I haul her out through the open window of our metal coffin which will not only bake her alive but risks setting on fire. The risk of a punctured lung is the lesser evil to the heat which is only exacerbated inside the car. To leave her within this heat box is a certain tragedy. I must find some shade away from the vehicle if for no other reason than to lessen her risk if it does catch on fire.
I’m going to have to go and find help, but there’s no one around. In this area, we have traveled for five hours without seeing another car other than the one that rammed us. It will be a long walk, during which time Jessie will be alone. I must make sure she’s safe.
With my thoughts only on practicalities, I scan the area for somewhere to leave her. My eyes fall on an ant hill as tall as me. It’s not ideal, bugs will be crawling all over her, but there’s no shade anywhere near as good. The flimsy tree that accommodates the nest she was looking at is too far back, and the sun will change direction soon anyway, so she’ll then be exposed.
I have no choice. I dig into the pile of red soil with both hands. I claw at the baked clay with my fingers. My trimmed nails catch, the dirt and they blacken as it wedges behind them. One rips to the skin, leaving a jagged edge, but I don’t notice. I continue digging into the mound of russet earth. Nothing happens, except for losing my fingernails. The anthill is solid, like the Tata mud huts used so effectively by African warriors. I need a new tack. Standing up, I kick the tower repeatedly with my sandaled foot. I feel none of the pain. I have more power as I swing from my hip and launch my toes and then the side of my foot into the surface. My nostrils flare and I groan through rasping breaths, connecting my heel with a growl, pounding into the earth over and over. A tiny chink of elation burns as I get the sense that what I’m doing is working. I keep going, battering my toes into the wall until … success.
A crack appears, wiggling its way upwards, signaling a breakthrough. I continue striking the turret with extra force until I smash right through. Dropping to my knees I rake at the remains with frenzied hands.
I glance to my left, taking in Jessie’s lifeless form. I need to get moving.
I can’t leave her out here alone after sundown, and it’s already early afternoon. I could be walking for hours to locate the next farm and then we have to return to find her. It will be more difficult in the dark. Plus, wild animals are around at night.
Her heavy legs leave two trails in the dust as I drag her head to be covered by the cone I’ve left towering above.
I can’t reach in to kiss her once she’s in position, and I curse myself for not thinking about that before. “I’ll be back, Jessie. I love you. I’m going for help. Stay strong.” I collect the limp fingers of her undamaged hand and encase it in both of mine before raising them to my lips and pressing my mouth against her. I spend a second just inhaling her. She has a metal funk to her skin which mingles with the dust from the ground. “I’ll come back to you.”
When I stand, I cry. I’m not ashamed to admit it. The tears which have been buried under the cloud of desperate survival spring into life at the faintest hint of my weakness, and they tumble down my cheeks in hurried torrents. My chest aches with a sickness that I must leave my lady alone to fend for herself when she is at her weakest.
I take a step back and discard my flip flops in a daze.
My brain screams at my heart to cease this impractical show of emotion or risk facing my worst fears.
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