Planning a wedding, even on short notice, isn’t difficult when funds are unlimited. Dubai was an elegant location, and Levi spared no expense. He lavished gifts and praise and affection on Daniel’s daughters as if they were his own.
Miriam was elegant, and Lyle was the perfect gentleman, and everyone pretended there wasn’t a proverbial shotgun to his head.
To Nick, the fortunate benefit of having his brother marry Adele’s sister was that they were forced to spend time together. There were formal brunches, photo shoots, and receptions as Levi’s newly acquired resort welcomed dignitaries from across the globe. Nick was surprised how quickly Daniel and Levi were able to gather friends.
The person Nick was most excited to see was the young Prince Marcos from the tiny kingdom of Madain Saleh. He arrived amid much fanfare, in place of the Crown Prince, Jared, whose absence was as much a snub to Daniel’s family as it was a recognition of Ruth’s refusal from the previous year.
Nick confidently approached the third prince in line for the throne in his tiny kingdom, with whom he’d spent many days causing trouble during prep school in their early teens.
“Your Highness,” Nick acknowledged Prince Marcos with a slight bow of his head and a smirk.
“Don’t insult me by throwing around my title, Nick. We’ve known each other since we were in primary school.”
“Only in public, Marcos.” Nick kept his voice low. “I love how you’re trying to disguise your accent.”
“I’m planning a holiday to the States in a few months and desire to assimilate.”
“Good luck with that.” Nick chuckled. “You are royalty, through and through.”
“For now,” Marcos grumbled under his breath.
“What do you mean by that?” Nick was genuinely concerned.
“My country is in turmoil,” Marcos said. “A civil war is brewing. My brother and I are concerned.”
“I’m truly sorry to hear that,” Nick said. “If there’s anything I can do to help, allow me to offer my service.”
“Possibly asylum,” Marcos murmured.
“Looking for that myself,” Nick replied just as discretely as Marcos had. “I may or may not be running from the law because I may or may not have murdered someone, but you didn’t hear that from me.”
Marcos stopped short when Adele and Ruth came around the corner to the lobby. Adele narrowed her eyes at Nick, and Ruth halted and folded her arms across her chest.
Nick lifted his hand as if presenting a prize on a game show. “Adele, Ruth, may I present Prince Marcos Sayid of Madain Saleh.”
“We’ve met,” Ruth said, not releasing her arms from their closed position.
“Your Highness.” Adele offered a slight bow of her head and hint of a smile. Was she flirting with him? Great. Just what Nick needed.
“A pleasure to finally make your acquaintance, Adele.” Marcos reached out his hand, inviting Adele to offer hers.
“Likewise, Your Highness.” Adele slipped her hand into his as Marcos leaned down to place a kiss on the back of her hand.
Marcos turned to Ruth. “Lovely to see you again, Ruth.”
“Whatever.” Ruth turned on her heel and walked back the way she’d come.
“What did your brother do to offend her so thoroughly?” Nick asked.
“Assumed a betrothal without proper courtship,” Marcos said.
“Gee, I can’t imagine anyone doing such a thing,” Adele said, turning to Nick. “Can you, Nick?”
“Thank you, Adele, for pointing out my errors in judgement,” Nick said.
“Were you intended?” Marcos glanced sidelong at Nick but kept Adele’s hand in his.
“No,” Adele said. At the same time, Nick mumbled, “I wish.”
“I’m famished from my journey,” Marcos said, speaking directly to Adele. “Would you kindly show me the way to the dining quarters?” He lifted his arm in invitation to Adele.
“I’d be honored, Your Highness.”
“Please, Adele, call me Marcos.” He took her arm in his. “Tell me, how does a beautiful woman such as yourself occupy her time?”
“I’m an ER nurse, and working my way through graduate school,” she said as they started down the hall. “How about you?”
“Well, since I’m third in line to the throne, I basically have zero purpose in this life.”
“You’re so funny, Marcos.” Adele tucked her hand more firmly into the crook of Marcos’s arm as they walked toward the private dining room.
Nick followed quickly behind, not willing to let the two of them out of his sight.