Hot Coco: Excerpt from Sons of the Sphinx by Cheryl Carpinello





Excerpt from Chapter 6 of Sons of the Sphinx by Cheryl Carpinello

A tall man stands and motions at the door. His lips are moving, but I can’t hear a word. A cone-shaped hat sits on his head and a kilt-like garment swishes against his legs.  Light sparkles off the huge jeweled necklace that rests on his bare chest. It appears to sway as he breathes. Good thing the necklace is pretty because he is ugly. Oops, I’m not supposed to say that. But talk about an unattractive man. It’s his nose—so square and large—that really makes him that way.
Sitting next to him is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Black hair frames her delicate face, an older version of Ankhesenamun’s, and earrings shaped as gold eyes dangle from her tiny ears. Her bare shoulders sparkle like glitter above a golden gown that flows down her slender body. It is gathered at the waist with a jewel-encrusted belt. She looks stunning and totally unaffected by the huge elephant.
“Who are those two?” I ask, nodding my head in their direction. Tut averts his eyes from the scene in front of us.
“That is my father, Akhenaten.”
“Oh.” I can’t seem to manage any more than that. They don’t really look like father and son, but then I don’t see the resemblance between my dad and me. My grandmother always said I favored him.
“And that is his wife and Hesena’s mother, Nefertiti.”
Well, you could knock me over with a feather. This is the most talked about queen in all of Egyptian history. Everything I’ve read says that her beauty knows no comparison. The evidence stands right here in front of me.
I look back to Tut’s father. How in the world does someone that beautiful marry someone like that?
I’m having trouble taking all this in. Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tut, Hesena—and me—all in the same room, well sort of anyway. I’m beginning to wonder where I’m headed and how I’m going to get home. Nerves make my stomach flip uneasily.
Chills come over me like my blood is made up of ice water running throughout my body. I shiver. I try to shrink behind Tut. Evil. I remember how my grandmother would describe these feelings. Rosa, she would say. It feels like someone is walking over my grave. I would look at her, not understanding. She wasn’t dead. How in the world could someone walk over her grave? I know now. And whoever is doing the walking leaves evil in each of his footprints.
The king and the other Tut follow the elephant out a side door, and Hesena trails behind.
Nefertiti walks by, elegant and regal. Her imperial gaze halts any who might think to precede her. One by one, the people stand aside and bow their heads as she floats past. Her gaze sweeps over us, but it is not evil, just interested, as if she senses something where we stand.
“She can’t see us, can she?”
“No, Roosa. My people cannot see us. It is not allowed. Come, let’s follow,” he says. “I want to show you my father’s zoo.”

“Your father has a zoo! No way. No one owns a zoo, no...” I stop short. Tut’s image wavers before me. I suck in air, but my lungs feel empty. Pulsing blood thunders through my body. My fingers turn white at the knuckles as I clutch his hand. It’s as if I’ve just been punched in the stomach. Evil envelopes me, threatening to squeeze the life out of me. Please body, breathe! Am I dying? How can this be? No one can see us! 





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