Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cover Reveal: Broken Shadows by Tarek Refaat

Title: Broken Shadows

Author: Tarek Refaat

Release Date: April 8, 2016

Publisher: Red Sands Publishing

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Suspense, International

Book Description:

Broken hearts and dark shadows, will love ever find its way back to them?

Fifteen years ago, Heidi Aasar fled the country, hoping to make sense of the chaos that surrounded her. A burned ex-operative, she refuses to continue hiding in the shadows. She now has the chance to right the wrongs of her dark past. Determined to find a way to redeem herself, she must first fix the loose threads she left behind so long ago.
A successful business owner, Nadim Mohamed Sharaf has done his best to move on after his heart was broken fifteen years ago. In his mind, he has everything he could ever want or need at his fingertips. Until the moment Heidi makes a sudden reappearance in his life. It’s then everything around him changes.

A chain reaction of events soon turns Nadim and Heidi’s lives upside-down. Forced to confront the turmoil brewing between them, they must put aside their differences if they are to survive another day. The choices they’ll have to make will define the outcome of the lives they lead.

Will they be able to overcome their painful and chaotic past? Or will the pain and heartache consume them in the long run?

(Purchase links are not yet available.)


AFTER A LONG DAY AT WORK, Nadim stood in his office, observing Cairo from the seventeen stories high window. The streets below were crowded. He could see the people rushing to get back to their homes, eager for a little respite from a hard day’s work.
Cabs pulled up to the curb along the two-way street to pick up clients and those eager to get away from the ensuing chaos. People scurried about like rats trapped inside a maze. Some greeted others in a timely fashion, while others grew surly and shouted obscenities.
Nadim smirked and shook his head. He was used to this scene spreading out before him. It wouldn’t be long until he joined the ‘rats’ trapped in their own chaotic mazes. The thought of making his way home appealed to him.
His mind wandered, trapping him in another maze. A maze that took him back fifteen years. One that brought back memories he’d spent a lifetime trying to avoid. Memories he wished he could forget, once and for all.
Nadim thought he’d forgotten all about her, the one woman who’d broken his heart. She’d meant everything to him. He would have given her the world if she’d asked him to.
During his high school days, he’d been known as a playboy. A sweet-talker who’d gotten exactly what he’d wanted. Charming and attentive, every girl in school came to him for advice about guys. Most of them ended up hooking up with him.
He’d experienced the same throughout college and work until he’d met her. Beautiful and brazen, she’d wrapped him around her finger. She’d drawn him in like a moth to flame, inciting his baser desires. In the end, she’d played him like a smooth violin, cutting its strings with a scalpel so that it made no noise, whatsoever.
Nadim growled with annoyance. He never thought he’d ever see her again. After fifteen years, the bane of his existence had popped up in his life once more. Heidi had recently dropped by his office for an interview.


Tarek Refaat is an Egyptian author born in October 1980. He comes from a family that has diverse cultural roots, and has spent most of his adulthood between Saudi and Egypt, until finally settling in Egypt.

Tarek is an avid reader of history, and has been into writing since a very young age. He loves to describe the thoughts and feelings he’s experienced through words. He has written poetry and prose, and decided as of 2009 to move forward into stories and novels.

Tarek has previously been published, and has also self-published. He views writing as his aim to reach as many people through his thoughts, and provoke positive and hopeful energy through his stories.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016


He sat on a chair facing the wall with his hands tied behind his back. He was starting to feel tired and his wrists were causing him discomfort. He was hoping this would end soon, but from the bits of conversation that were reaching him from the room next door, it appeared he would have to do a bit more waiting till he would be set free.

He stared at the wall in front of him, looking at the scribbling and drawings spread over a large part of it.  Thoughts of his little daughter filled his head. She loved to draw and paint and had the artistic spark…just like her father. How he loved his little princess…and to think that he never wanted to have children. For him, children had always been synonymous with disruption, chaos and a complete absence of peace and quiet. His experience with his six nephews and nieces was proof enough to him.  He couldn't bear the mess and noise they caused, being always impossible for him to paint, or read, or listen to his music when they were around. He felt besieged by their endless nagging, and their never-ending desire to play, to question, and to argue. Living with children day in and day out was to him an unbearable feat, something he felt he would never be capable of doing. In fact, he was amazed at how both his sisters' managed to cope with their kids, never failing to show love and affection despite the obvious fatigue and bouts of  frustration they occasionally went through. 

And so it was that he constantly declared his unwavering refusal to father any children of his own. He declared this to his family, to his friends, to his art students, to his colleagues and to his girl friend who later on became his wife.  But fate had other plans; one day he found himself standing in a hospital room by his wife's bedside, looking in bewilderment and complete disbelief at a tiny little baby girl… his newborn daughter.

His neck was beginning to stiffen and he could feel a growing numbness in his right arm. He was wondering how long this situation would last and when he would be set free. He had left so many things still undone: work to be completed, lectures to be prepared, designs to be delivered, an unfinished painting, but most important of all he was preparing the necessary papers for registering his little girl in school…in KG1... when this hostage situation began.

He couldn't believe his little one would already be starting school. After she was born he was surprised at how infatuated he had become with this fragile little creature, how amazed he was at this miracle of creation, and how inspired he became by her coming into his life. Day by day his love for her grew as he saw the magic of life unfold in her first smile, her first words, her first awkward steps…she was like a work of art, created and re-created day after day, evolving and maturing as the brush of time added, altered and transformed…she was the same but always new, familiar but with never-ending novelty. 

It is true that at times she got on his nerves, distracted him for his work, and upset his busy schedule. But he was amazed how he came to see so much beauty and inspiration in her mischief and naughtiness, in her endless desire to play, to argue, and to question.  He sometimes had to scold and yell if she went too far …but at the end he gave in…he always gave in, for he knew all too well that it was she who held his heart and soul in the palm of her little hand.

He heard voices approaching him…it seemed the moment of his liberation was near.
"You're free to go prisoner….we've agreed on the ransom", he heard a voice say.
And sure enough he felt someone unknot the rope binding his hands.
He stood up, shaking his numb arm and his weary wrists. He turned round and stared at his captors….
"And what is the ransom may I ask", he asked in a stern voice.
"Ice-cream, ice-cream, ice-cream!!" shouted the four little captors as his daughter jumped into his arms.
He laughed as he held his little angel in his arms while her three young friends looked on, waiting eagerly for their promised ransom.
"I'll get you the ice-cream sweet heart, but promise me that this is the last game we play today…Daddy has a lot to do."
"Yes Daddy", she replied with a giggle as she smudged a wet kiss on his cheek.
"I promise, I promise…but tomorrow we'll play some more…pleeeease".  
"Daddy has work to do sweetie", he replied as he looked into her imploring brown eyes, "but…well…we'll see".

How he adored his little angel, how he loved to feel her tiny little fingers locked behind his neck as she hugged her Daddy; and he knew all to well that no matter how hard he tried to deny it, no matter how many times she set him free, he would forever…and ever…remain her hostage.  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Henna Night

t was a hot humid August night as she stepped out of her car and headed towards the hotel's main entrance. As she walked the short distance, she could feel trickles of sweat snaking down her back. Her long sleeved dark blue suit felt more like a sauna outfit, making her sweat profusely.  She had wanted to wear one of her light silk dresses, but had thought otherwise.  This was her first time to attend a Henna Night. Her travels and busy academic career had left her little time for socializing or attending weddings or what not. But the youngest daughter of her beloved Aunt was finally getting married and she promised to be there, even on her Henna Night, a fun and joyous all female event prior to the wedding itself. She knew that the family of her young cousin's groom was deeply religious, most of its women wearing full-face veils.  She didn't want to cause her aunt or her young cousin any undue embarrassment. So it had to be the formal long sleeved blue suit.

She thanked God for her decision as she entered the small ballroom. Her eyes were met by a sea of black on the groom's family side, with most of the women not only wearing full-face veils, but also donning the ultra-conservative black colours. She went to sit on her family's relatively more colourful side, although the majority wore the veil and dressed conservatively. She could not help feeling somewhat uncomfortable with her conspicuous curly long hair, like a bushy palm tree in the midst of a black desert. She could almost swear that she sensed the piercing eyes of those who stared at her with disapproval from behind their black veils.  Maybe she should have brought a scarf along she thought to herself. However, she brushed her worries aside. She was intent on enjoying the night regardless of anything. And indeed, a sense of warmth filled the ballroom as quiet conversations picked up and the smell of delicious food enticed appetites as the waiters brought in plates of food and pastries into the buffet.

Not long after she arrived however, she noted how the ballroom doors had been closed shut and all the male waiters had gone leaving only female waiters. Many of the guests had disappeared, while a female DJ appeared on the scene. Feeling a bit curious, she asked a relative where everybody had gone.  "Well…to change of course" came the matter-of-fact answer.  Just as she was going to ask a perplexed "Why?" she realized what was happening.  Young women and girls began to reappear, starkly transformed. They were wearing silk, satin and chiffon dresses, some short and strapless with embroidered bodices, others in sexy one shoulder long ones, and still others in tight black lace dresses.  The ballroom suddenly blossomed into a sea of colours, with a bewildering variety of hairstyles, heavy makeup and a strong scent of perfume.

She sat at her table, open mouthed and aghast at this sudden metamorphosis. Music blared loudly as the female DJ went into action. Bodies, who just a while ago had sat discreetly at their tables, now swayed seductively to its deafening beat.  Beautiful girls moved from one table to another some in low cut dresses revealing their cleavages. Bare ivory-white shoulders, necks, and arms, untanned or unblemished by the sun, dotted the ballroom like a string of pearls that had broken loose from the confines of their necklace and rolled out onto the ball room floor.

The veils of older women seated at the tables had all disappeared and instead were rows of mostly bare pale shoulders and dyed blond hair of all styles and lengths, like a field of golden mushrooms that had suddenly sprouted up from the ground.

Loud voices and pitched laughter filled the air as inhibitions were shed away and bodies liberated. She could sense the excitement, the wild merriment that swept throughout the ballroom and reverberated in its walls.  Young and older women began to assemble on the dance floor, the bride in their middle, singing, shaking and dancing along with the DJ's music.

She sat there for a moment contemplating the scene, her overly academic and scientific mind observing, registering and analyzing. But before she could arrive at any profound observations or grand theories, a young cousin grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into the dance floor. "Come on…join the fun!” she screamed at her.

 And so there she was, feeling somewhat awkward in her long sleeved formal suit among the lightly clad writhing bodies, standing out like a stiff blue mast in a wild sea of pink, olive and white flesh. She joined in the clapping, keeping rhythm with the beat of the music. However, it wasn't long before she too began moving her body, getting caught up in the fervor and ecstasy of the crowd, shedding any sign of her usually reserved demeanor. Hands swayed in the air, hips moved up and down, and legs stomped to the music. It was intoxicating, exhilarating, liberating. For some reason, fleeting images of ancient women's rituals and fertility dances that she had often researched and studied crossed her mind.

However, she began feeling somewhat dizzy and unfocused. Her heavy blue suit was suffocating her, trapping her, heating up her body.  Sweat trickled down her forehead into her eyes, clouding her vision, while her head throbbed with the pounding of the music, feeling like a pressure cooker waiting to burst. She thought for a moment of taking off her jacket but she had nothing underneath but her bras…what a scandal that would be …or would it?

Screaming laughter pierced her ears as she felt herself pressed against bodies moving and turning in ecstatic motion. She tried to stumble her way back to her table, but her limp body could hardly move through the crowds as she bumped into voluptuous breasts and bobbing buttocks. She began panicking, gasping for breath and feeling her legs giving way underneath her. She tried to call out, but could hardly hear her own voice.

Suddenly the music seemed to fade away, the laughter and voices drowning out, the strong lights and writhing bodies disappearing, giving way to a calm and silent darkness as she slowly slipped, stumbled and fell to the ground…all in the heat of the Henna Night.