In the limo ride on the way back to the resort, Jacob sent a text to his father asking for an audience. When he and Maryam arrived, the door to his parents’ suite was open, and they were waiting with knowing grins.
Walking through the door holding Maryam’s hand, Jacob felt like a prince introducing his intended to the king and queen. He wondered if this was how Prince Marcos Sayid had felt introducing his parents to Lyla the first time.
In a way his parents had a similar position in society as would a king and queen but without being tied down to an arid chunk of land in the deserts of the Middle East. The world was their kingdom and they were holding court wherever they traveled.
Soon one-sixth of his parents’ wealth would be his. He hoped he could live up to their legacies. He intended to find ways to give back to the land and communities and people in whatever society he settled.
Money didn’t buy happiness, but it could be used to feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked, dig wells in third-world countries, protect and restore wildlife habitat, build new schools and a million other good causes.
But tonight, Jacob pushed aside all those thoughts and focused on announcing his engagement to the lovely Maryam Arnold and planning a wedding befitting a princess. He wanted to spend his lifetime showing Maryam that she was his equal, not as someone cooking and cleaning his house. But as someone deserving to live the life of a billionaire and all the good things they could achieve together.
Jacob pulled Maryam gently to his side. “Mother, father, we wish to announce our engagement.”
“That’s so exciting, my son!” His mother rushed forward but instead of embracing Jacob, she pulled Maryam into her arms. “Welcome to our family!”
“Thank you, Mrs. Cohen.” Maryam sounded almost as choked up at his mom.
“Congratulations, son.” His dad came forward to shake Jacob’s hand like a man.
Jacob felt like a man, perhaps for the first time, an equal to his father and his older brothers. No longer willing to live in their shadows, Jacob determined to live up to his surname and make his parents proud.
They had dinner brought into their suite and the four of them sat around talking and laughing and planning and sharing their dreams for the future.
By the time Jacob escorted Maryam back to the yacht for one last night in her tiny bunk, they both had stars in their eyes and love in their hearts. Convincing her parents that he was worthy of their daughter would have to wait until tomorrow.
Tonight, they snuggled into a corner of one of the outdoor sofas on the main deck near the bow of the yacht, gazing at the stars and kissing and talking and just being together. Tomorrow would come soon enough. Tonight, they focused on each other.
Until their peaceful evening was interrupted by a loud crashing of glass and metal and a fireball lit the night sky.