In a symbolic move that could have gotten him killed, Mark stood to the right of King Sayid as he led the procession from the palace to the royal family’s mausoleum near the edge of the city center. Prince Omar walked to the King’s left, the meaning of which was not lost on anyone. Even Eli seemed upset by the situation, but Mark held his head high and didn’t dare go against what his king asked of him.
The funeral procession was formal and attended by most people in the kingdom, who seemed there out of curiosity or reveling in the pageantry rather than grief for a prince none of them had seen in forty years. Many of the people in the kingdom had never met Prince Marcos.
There was no eulogy as there had been in Mexico. The internment was solemn and formal. The only noise was Queen Salaina crying in the arms of her grandson, Prince Omar, who also was sobbing. Mark had spent his tears already and stood beside the king, who seemed to be shaking in an attempt to hold his emotions in check.
Mark had the desire to reach out a hand and comfort his great-grandfather but knew that would be his undoing. If the king was going to mourn, he’d want to do that in private.
They slid the ornate casket in which Prince Marcos would forever rest deep into a tomb that had been carved from rock. The heavy stone placed in front of the tomb already bore his name and Mark realized the stone to his left bore the name of his brother, Prince Jared Sayid of Mada’in Saleh.
“No man should have to bury two sons,” King Sayid whispered. Mark was the only person close enough to hear.
“No, Your Majesty, they should not,” Mark whispered just as softly. “I’m truly sorry for your loss.”
“For yours as well, my son.”
Mark showed no reaction to the symbolic way his great-grandfather had called him his son. He was glad no one else had heard the acknowledgement. He had enough of a target on his head. Although no one in the kingdom had openly added the word Crown to his title, Mark sensed they all knew the king’s intention and they were furious.
“Tell me your plans,” the king whispered again, taking advantage of their close proximity without advisors standing at their shoulders.
“I wish to finish my education, Your Majesty.” Mark spoke so softly he wasn’t sure he’d be heard. “And prepare myself to be of service in whatever way I am needed.”
“Thank you for your willingness to serve.”
“Thank you for putting your faith and trust in me.” Mark finally felt a prick of emotion tear at his words and he ended his statement. They seemed to have a collective moment of silence and Mark felt a weight lift from his shoulders. He had a sudden desire to return to America and find his queen.
Mark almost laughed out loud when he realized he still didn’t have Hazel’s phone number or know the name of the town where she lived or the school she attended.
He was going to have to take matters into his own hands.