“Did you honestly think I would betray my prince?” Ahmed snarled. No sooner had Prince Jared’s body been discovered in the foyer did Ahmed pull Eli into his office to chastise him for ever thinking he was planning to kill Prince Omar.
“I don’t know what to think anymore.” Eli got right in Ahmed’s face, not controlling his anger. “You have kept me paranoid for years while you toyed with everyone, leading us to believe you intended to murder Prince Omar. I don’t know whether to be thankful that my father’s still alive or angry that you killed my brother.”
“Your brother was plotting against your father,” Ahmed said, his rancid breath causing Eli to cringe and take a step back. “He had to be stopped.”
“He was your son-in-law. How could you kill him?” Eli couldn’t understand how anyone could kill another person, much less family.
“No, he was my father-in-law,” Ahmed reminded Eli. His thinning grey hair and pallid, wrinkled skin made that statement difficult to fully grasp, even though Eli knew the truth. “Your brother was openly threatening my prince. I held him off as long as I could, making excuses, delaying what he thought was inevitable. But he was getting impatient, and impatience is dangerous.”
“None of this makes any sense.” Eli paced his spacious office, his hands in fists.
“Your entire royal family makes no sense,” Ahmed said, settling into a cocky posture, leaning against the door frame, arms crossed and a sneer on his face. “That’s why my plan worked so well. I have stood beside the crown prince his entire adult life, learned all that he learned, manipulated his son into giving me his only daughter, convinced the king to crown me a prince, and gotten away with murder. I am going to be the most powerful king this sorry excuse for a kingdom has ever encountered.”
“You are wrong on so many levels; you have no idea.” Eli shook his head. “You will never be king of Madain Saleh.”
“I have proven that anyone who stands in my way becomes disposable, Your Highness.” Ahmed stood to his full height and towered over Eli. “Don’t test me.”
“I have powerful friends across the world, Ahmed. I believe it is you who should not test me. And I think it’s time you realized that you have never stood beside the crown prince.”
“If you’re referring to your haughty American cousin, you are sadly mistaken. He wasn’t even born in-kingdom. He knows nothing about this country.”
“Blood runs deeper than the location a person was born. This is the land of his inheritance, and this is the land where he will rule. Mark my words, the next king of Madain Saleh will be a direct descendent of King Sayid, not a murderer who manipulated those you thought were in power. You may wear a crown, but you could never be a prince, and over my dead body will you ever be king.”
“That can be arranged.” Ahmed narrowed his eyes, turned on his heel, and confidently strode from Eli’s office, slamming the door behind him.
Eli picked up his phone and dialed his cousin in America. “Your Highness, your presence is required.”