WE HUNT THE FLAME meets IN DEEPER WATERS. When baker Kareem is falsely accused of murder, he’s sent to a magical healer as a test subject for pampered apprentice, Yasir. As the reluctant allies grow closer, they discover a nefarious plot hatched by Yasir’s mentor, and the boys must work together to prove Kareem’s innocence and save the deserts they call home.
Kareem’s hand is pressed against the naked tabun oven again, Baba’s favorite punishment. The scorching pain doesn’t bother him; he’s experienced enough to know how to suppress it. But the smell, flour mixed with charred flesh, sends this morning’s kibbeh rolling in his stomach.
The bread needs an extra minute. They can’t serve underbaked khubz tannour to a wazir—not without repercussions.
“As soon as they are done proper, bring them inside,” Baba says, releasing Kareem. He looms as Kareem jerks his wrist, dunking it in cool water to numb the pain. “I must attend to Wazir Faisal. Keep your eyes on the bread, and don’t burn them.”
In the unrelenting heat, Kareem counts every second as the bread changes from a pale white to camel brown, no darker. The last thing he needs is explaining to the wazir of Khazab why his bread is late. Indeed, the last thing he needs is explaining anything to him at all.
Wazir Faisal made such a lavish appearance in their little village of Safeh, bringing hundreds of camels and fabrics to flaunt his dinars. If it were up to Kareem, he’d refuse to associate with such a man. Ah, but that would mean embarrassing Baba, something Kareem avoids at all costs.
The scent of his seared hand—nauseatingly sweet, like the dough he nearly ruined—is a reminder of what happens when he doesn’t.