Dancing with Lions
  When Michal, daughter of King Saul, falls in love with the shepherd David, she soon discovers that many things stand between her and the man she longs for ...

Dancing with Lions - Extract

I never knew how much love could destroy you or how seeking it could make it turn to hate. For love is like a lion. Beautiful and dangerous.

I should not have allowed myself ever to love, but all who looked on David wanted him. Even my brother, Jonathan, although for him perhaps it lasted longer than such things should. For David was dark, with limbs like honey taken fresh from the bee, and eyes which flashed with unknown fire.

I first saw him after the slaying of the Philistines when the women were dancing his victory, although I had already heard of his deeds. Who had not? Being considered too young for the sight of a man, my sister, Merab, and I were watching from a part of the house where my father couldn't see us, giggling at the people's antics.

'Look,' she whispered as the procession neared where we stood at the upper window. 'Look at how angry our father is.'

I stared at Saul's grim features. 'Why isn't he smiling? The Philistines are beaten, aren't they?'

'Silly girl,' Merab pinched me but I didn't slap her. I wanted to hear her explanation. 'Don't you listen to court gossip? David, the boy our father bought to play the lyre for him, killed Goliath while Saul just looked on. Come on, let's go and see.'

Before I could stop her, Merab had darted away like a slave girl from her master. Heart pounding, I followed her, frightened that people might see us. If my father found out, he would beat her, and me too. He hated such behaviour, especially in a king's daughters. In the street, the singing and the hot stench of horses were overwhelming. My sister was already two houses along and pushing her way through the laughing crowds.

'Merab!' She didn't hear me. My voice was lost in the songs. Only Paltiel, Laish's son, glanced in my direction and smiled. Ignoring him, I ran after Merab. I kept glimpsing her royal robe, but I only caught up when she was level with my father's horse.

That was when I heard her scream.

Peering between dogs and beggar women, I saw the stallion of the man behind Saul rear up, snorting its anger onto the dusty wind, wild hooves flailing as Merab screamed again. My father turned round, and David - for it was he - pulled his horse away from my sister and rode between her and the king. Pushing nearer, I could see Saul's face crimson with the beginning of one of his rages.

'Who dares disturb our victory procession?' he said.

'No-one, my king. Just a simple beggar girl,' David replied and then gave my sister a gentle push. 'Go!'

As he looked up, his eyes caught mine, and something in my world shifted. The next second Merab grabbed my hand and the two of us ran like the deer runs from the hunter. Away from the dancing crowds and danger, and back into the safety of the court.

That was how I, Michal daughter of Saul, fell in love.

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