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“Good morning, Father,” Dinah said cheerfully as she swept into the breakfast room where Jacob was just sitting down with Prince Shechem and his father, Prince Hamor of the Hivites. All three men stood when she’d entered the room and offered the appropriate welcoming—if not shocked—expressions.
Jacob’s eyes sparkled with humor, Hamor’s brows raised—he had a nervous tightness to his jaw—and Shechem fell all over himself, pulling out a chair for Dinah.
“Your Highness,” Shechem said with a slight bow. “Will you be joining us for breakfast?”
“Why, thank you, Your Highness.” Dinah allowed him to push in her chair, and all three men returned to their seats. A staff member from the kitchen hurried in with an extra plate, and before everyone could get settled, there was juice, fruit, and a Danish in front of her, with a promise that an omelet was being made fresh. Before lifting a fork, Dinah glanced around the table. “I hope I’m not disturbing any business you’d hoped to accomplish over breakfast.”
“Of course not,” Shechem said.
“You’re always welcome, my dear,” Jacob said.
And Hamor raised his glass of juice. “I don’t know about you, but I can’t even think about business on an empty stomach.”
“Well, I hope you’ll eat quickly then because I have a business proposition that I think you’ll all appreciate as we enter into the time when transitions will be made in our respective kingdoms.” With insincere praise, Dinah turned to Shechem. “Congratulations, by the way, on the impending date upon which you will step into your father’s shoes and rule your kingdom. I’m sure you’ll do an exemplary job, as Prince Hamor has.” She offered a nod across the table to the current reigning leader.
“I hadn’t realized a date had been set for that.” Shechem coughed lightly. “I think I’m in the early stages of learning how to run our kingdom and will require my father’s tutelage for years to come.”
Hamor frowned and leaned his elbows on the table, steepling his fingers.
“Of course you will, Your Highness,” Dinah said with a tone of sympathy. “But isn’t that why you’re here in Israel? To get reacquainted with my father and brothers? After all, they will someday be taking over for my father, and you will need their… approval if we are to maintain peace between our kingdoms.”
Dinah’s father cleared his throat to hide what she could tell was a snicker.
Shechem gulped. “I really hadn’t thought that far ahead.” He pulled at his collar.
“I’m sure they’re just as nervous to see you as you are to see them.” She offered him a pitying smile, knowing they would be less nervous and more vindictive.
“Your brothers are… reasonable men,” Shechem said. “I’m sure they will be agreeable as we get reacquainted.”
“Right. Agreeable.” Her tone was curt. You keep telling yourself that. “Anyway, that’s not why I came to crash your little party this morning.”
Her father interjected. “Seeing as how your countenance has changed since I spoke with you yesterday, I’m assuming you had a revelation overnight.”
“Oh, Father, you’re the one with visions and prophecies.” She patted him on the hand. “I merely had an idea for a collaboration of sorts between myself and Prince Shechem.”
“A collaboration?” Shechem’s voice squeaked.
“Yes, something that you said this morning when I ran into you in the chapel got me thinking.” She turned to her father again. “Father, you really should have another chapel built in the palace so that guests can feel welcome without having to interrupt the family’s devotions.”
“What a wonderful idea, my dear,” her father said. “I’ll have someone draw up plans for an addition. In the meantime, I’ll have workers remodel one of the sitting rooms in the guest wing of the palace so that Prince Shechem will have a space for his own worship.”
“Thank you, Father. That would be wonderful.”
“Yes.” Shechem cleared his throat. “Thank you for your accommodations. I wouldn’t want to disrupt the family’s routine.”
“Anyway, back to my idea.” Dinah flicked her hand in the air as if to say she was done with that part of the conversation. “Yesterday, my father reminded me about one of the primary messages I try to convey to the young girls who attend my motivational speeches and self-defense trainings. That of peace through forgiveness.”
“That is an excellent message for all of us, isn’t it?” her father agreed.
Dinah continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “And I was thinking that young boys need to learn that same concept in order for them to heal. After all, an unfortunate incident in their youth could have generational consequences if they can’t learn to forgive themselves and get on with their lives.”
Shechem’s jaw dropped, and his father’s face turned red. Was that anger or shame? Maybe both. Oh well.
She continued. “Not to attempt to capitalize on the unfortunate event that occurred when we were young, but I think by utilizing my platform and Shechem’s notoriety, we could write a book together and—”
“Notoriety?” Shechem’s question included an increase in volume.
“Was that a poor choice of words?” Dinah batted innocent eyelashes at Shechem. She could have continued with her impassioned discourse but enjoyed Shechem’s squirming, so she let her question hang in the air, waiting for one of the men to be brave enough to challenge her.
“Tell us more about this book you’d like to write.” Her father, always the peacemaker, provided Shechem with a lifeline.
Looking relieved, Shechem lifted his orange juice to his lips.
“Well,” Dinah began, “the book could address a number of things in addition to teaching boys to forgive themselves and move on with their lives, and also how to behave around the girls they will likely have to face eventually, and also the importance of abstinence.”
Shechem missed his mouth, splashing half his glass of orange juice onto his lap. He jumped up from his seat.
“Oh, gosh. Here, have my napkin.” Dinah handed over the cloth napkin she had beside her untouched plate of food.
“Thank you,” Shechem mumbled as he made an unsuccessful attempt to clean off the juice that had already soaked into his tan slacks and light blue shirt. He sat down with pinched lips and a flushed face.
“Dinah… was that really necessary?” her father hissed.
“Come to think of it, no. It probably would need to be a separate lesson, wouldn’t it? Finding peace through forgiveness would only be useful after an incident had occurred. Lessons of abstinence should happen at a much younger age. Possibly fathers and mothers need to be more diligent in teaching their sons and daughters lessons on the importance of abstinence. Would you agree with that, Your Highness?” She looked pointedly across the table at Prince Hamor, whose eyes flashed with anger.
“Princess, may I have a word with you?” Shechem asked, standing. “Could you walk with me out into the hall since I need to return to my suite for a change of clothes before our next meeting?”
“Of course, Your Highness.” She allowed him to pull out her chair but gestured with her arm toward the open door to the hallway. “I’ll follow you.” Dinah had learned years ago that the person to the back of a procession had the upper hand. She would not allow a man to make her feel vulnerable by coming up behind her.
When they were out of earshot of their fathers, Shechem whispered in an angry growl, “What are you doing?”
“You asked for my suggestion on how you could get over me, and I think this is an excellent way.”
“I don’t want to get over you,” he said through clenched teeth. “I want to marry you. There’s a difference.”
Caught off guard by his statement, Dinah faltered momentarily. When she regained her composure, she stepped closer to him. “I want to make your stay here at my palace a living nightmare so that you will crawl back to your kingdom and find yourself a nice Hivite girl to marry. Then you won’t have to sleep with one eye open your entire married life.”
“You can make all the threats you want, Your Highness”—Shechem took a step closer to her so that he was practically towering over her—“but I will never want to marry any other woman but you.”
“Then you will either have a very unhappy marriage to your Hivite princess or remain celibate. Kind of adds a new level of torture to the theme of abstinence, doesn’t it?” She tweaked his chin and smirked at him. “You might want to soak those pants. That juice is going to leave a stain.”
With that, she turned on her heel and walked away with her head held high.
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