A short excerpt from WINDS OF TIME by Carmel Rowley

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A short excerpt from WINDS OF TIME by Carmel Rowley
… She stood apart from the others, collecting her thoughts, when a tantalising filly wandered up from behind. Her whiskers tickled the nape of Jessikah’s neck. She giggled and forgot Gussberg the moment she turned. Her gaze rested on a doe-like creature with gangly legs and the slender body of a gazelle. Gold highlights shone from her chestnut body even though the hair along her top line sat up, sun bleached and rough. Her attitude showed a free spirit with gentle eyes so dark they reminded Jessikah of twin spheres of onyx.
   The filly continued to watch her.
   ‘You have beautiful eyes,’ Jessikah cooed to the filly. She cupped her hand under compressed lips. ‘You are the most lovely, lovely girl.’
   After mutual staring, the animal flicked her ears back, then curled her upper lip upwards as if she were smiling. Jessikah laughed with delight.
   A young groom spoke several words to the director who nodded. Jessikah raised her eyebrows. ‘What did he say?’
   ‘He said she has chosen you. She is a daughter of Bahtal, the stallion you most admire.’
   ‘Dare I hope she might be for sale?’
   The director grinned. ‘Maybe!’
   ‘Can we talk another time?’ Jessikah tried not to look too pleased as the director nodded.
   ‘What are you doing?’ Dana muttered.
   ‘You heard the man, I’ve been chosen.’
   Dana rolled her eyes. ‘In more ways than one,’ she wandered off to follow the group.
   The filly stuck to Jessikah, sidling beside her in a position close enough to be petted.
   ‘Her name is Fateh,’ a voice said in hesitant English, as the young stablehand came up from behind.
   ‘Fateh,’ she repeated and turned to the young man. He watched Jessikah as if he could see right into her soul. After several seconds, he frowned. His fingers looped below his collar and lifted out a sturdy gold chain on which hung a sacred eye of Horus. His stare became more intense as he pulled the talisman over his head and placed it in Jessikah’s hand.
   ‘You need this,’ he insisted. ‘I see danger!’
   ‘No, no I can’t take this.’ Jessikah’s reaction was to hand it straight back. ‘You’re just being superstitious.’
   ‘Superstitious, no. I see danger around you. This – the udjat – will help, it will protect you.’
   Staring down at a polished, lapis, gold, turquoise and carnelian necklace, she knew its significance. It was a powerful symbol, a sign for healing and protection from evil. When she turned it over, the back was polished to a mirror-like shine.
  ‘Where did you get this?’ she asked. ‘It must be worth a fortune, I can’t take it from you.’
   ‘You must wear it, promise me,’ he insisted.
   The rest of the party had returned to the patio area. There was only the young man, eyes full of concern, watching her reaction.
   ‘Yes, I promise.’
   He nodded, happy she had agreed. ‘Fateh wants you,’ he said. His brown eyes were twinkling as if he told a joke.

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