“Brilliant idea calling the senator,” Mark mumbled under his breath. “I should have thought of that the minute Hazel left Puerto Aventuras without giving me her phone number.”
“I was kind of bluffing to get you out of that uncomfortable conversation,” Alex said, maintaining his gait and staying shoulder to shoulder with Mark. “I didn’t think you’d take my suggestion literally.”
“She promised she’d never give me her phone number,” Mark mused. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t ask her father for her phone number.”
“And how do you propose to get through to the senator? They have staffers to answer their phones. You’re not going to just be able to call him up and say, ‘Hey, Alejandro, can I get your daughter’s phone number?’”
Mark stopped and turned to Alex. “Maybe not as Mark Sayid. But what if Prince Marcos Sayid of Madain Saleh was calling from King Sayid’s office?”
Turning back the way they’d come, Mark was thankful to see the king strolling toward them at the leisurely pace of an eighty-one year old man. His patient smile told Mark that he’d expected they’d stop to wait for him eventually.
“Your Majesty, would it be possible to use a secure diplomatic line for our teleconference with Senator Cohen in Washington?”
“Senator Cohen?” The king raised his eyebrows before turning to Alex. “No doubt related?”
“He is my uncle, Your Majesty,” Alex said, not providing any further details about their intended business.
“I can see how familial relationships with United States legislators could come in handy.” Sayid confidently strode ahead toward his office, Mark and Alex falling in at his right side.
“Your assistance is greatly appreciated, Your Majesty,” Mark said. While walking he used his cell phone to pull up the website for the United States Senate and scrolled to find the office phone number for Senator Alejandro Cohen.
“Your Highness,” Alex said in a hushed tone. “It’s four o’clock in the morning in D.C. Perhaps we should wait a few hours.”
“See, now that is why I keep you around as my advisor.” Mark stopped and put a hand on Alex’s shoulder. “You always think of these things ahead of me.”
“Yes, all four days of my service to you have been full of life-saving advice.” Alex chuckled.
“Particularly the case of water bottles,” Mark pointed out.
“The two of you are quite comical when you let your guard down,” King Sayid said, not missing his stride.
“I apologize if our banter is offending you, Your Majesty.” Mark hurried to catch up.
“Not at all, Your Highness,” the king said. “Your positive energy is a refreshing change. Come, let me introduce you to my personal secretary and she will help you make that call when the time is right.”
After a brief conversation with Marri, the king’s secretary, Sayid led Mark and Alex in the direction of Eli’s office.
In similar fashion to how he’d barged in on Omar and Jared, the king swept open the door, entering Eli’s office unannounced.
Eli jumped to attention, almost dropping the young lady he had sitting on his lap. He caught her before she toppled over and steadied both her and himself while trying to mask a sheepish expression.
“Your Majesty, we uh, I mean, we weren’t doing anything inappropriate. I realize how this must look.”
“Your Highness, you are an adult,” Sayid said with a wave of his hand. “What you do with the captain’s daughter is none of my concern. Welcome home from university, young Savannah.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Savannah bowed her head respectfully and kept her eyes averted.
“She is not just the captain’s daughter,” Eli insisted in an almost panicked tone. “I would never take liberties with your captain’s daughter.”
“I would hope you wouldn’t take liberties with any girl, Your Highness,” Savannah hissed under her breath.
“You know I wouldn’t,” Eli grumbled just as low.
“Six months is a long time to wait while I was gone.”
“I’ve waited for you for twenty-three years,” Eli said. “I think I can handle waiting a few more months.”
King Sayid interrupted the lovers’ quarrel, turning to Mark and Alex with a wide smile. “Savannah’s father is captain of my royal guard. The finest man I have in my employ.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Savannah responded. “He enjoys working for you.”
“Savannah, may I introduce you to my cousin, Prince Marcos, and his advisor, Alexander Cohen-Stephenson.” Eli placed his hand on Savannah’s lower back, guiding her toward Mark and Alex. “Savannah and I have been friends since we were young children, playing together in the nursery. Rather than my mother care for me herself, she took me to play with the house staff’s children. Thankfully.” Eli averted his eyes and glanced sidelong at the dark-haired beauty with copper skin and strangely mysterious eyes.
“These two have been playing house since they were children, and someday soon we’ll watch them raise their own children,” Sayid said.
“You wouldn’t—” Eli gulped— “Be averse to me choosing a wife who is not of royal blood?”
“You are not the crown prince,” the king said dismissively. “Your bloodline is of little consequence.”
Mark raised his eyebrows at Alex, considering this twist in conversation. They had endured quite an interesting day full of drama in this royal household.
At least Eli seemed to have some happiness in his life, but at what price? He was brushed aside by his family as if unimportant. Mark wondered if the best gift he could give Eli was a one-way ticket to Cancun for their honeymoon and get him out of this kingdom for good.
Except someone had to stick around and maintain some level of sanity or their kingdom was doomed.