If Eli thought his and Savannah’s wedding had been planned in haste, Alexander and Krystina had taken wedding planning to a new extreme.
Mark’s advisor had only known Krystina a few months, had discussed the idea of marriage just days prior and gotten engaged that afternoon. When they arrived in the kingdom, King Sayid insisted they allow him to draw up marriage contracts. They decided to wait until after dinner with the family. At least Eli had known Savannah all their lives, had been planning to marry eventually, and waited until the following day.
Eli listened from just outside the door of King Sayid’s secretary’s office where Alexander and Krystina were having a video chat with her parents back in the United States. They hadn’t been preparing for a wedding. No one had.
Krystina’s father wasn’t happy. Her mother was confused. They were both in disbelief that somehow their adult daughter from the mountainous forests of New York State was standing half a world away in the deserts of Madain Saleh, which they’d never heard of, in the office of a king, with several princes and princesses, announcing that she’s about to marry an advisor to a prince right now.
Hi, mom and dad, this is Alexander, I’m going to marry him, like, right now. Would you care to watch the ceremony by video chat? Eli was confused and he was standing right here. He felt bad for her parents.
There wasn’t much space in the tiny office so Eli and Savannah stood just in the hall waiting for their cue. They were still dressed in formal attire, complete with their crowns, as was everyone else in the royal family crowded together for this joyous union.
“Gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever officiated at a wedding that didn’t also involve a coronation,” King Sayid said. “I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.”
“Well, you said you drew up an official contract, right?” Alexander asked. “And we need witnesses.”
“I believe I am qualified for that job,” Mark said. That was Eli’s call to action.
“Myself as well.” Eli snuck into the room, Savannah’s hand in his, ready to officially witness their friends’ marriage agreement.
In addition to the bride and groom, there were now four princes, two princesses, and a king in the small space that usually held King Sayid’s executive secretary and her filing cabinets. The queen had been too tired to join them after the meal.
“If we try to cram too many more people in here, we’re going to need to move the computer to a larger room,” Sayid joked.
“That or I’m going to have a panic attack,” Princess Hazel said, bouncing a sleepy and fussy Prince Owen in her arms. “Let’s get this ceremony completed so I can put my babies to bed.”
“Okay, we have a contract, and two witnesses,” Sayid said, turning to Alexander and Krystina. “Did you want to say a few words to each other? Is that how an American wedding is usually done?”
“Yes, that’s how it’s done.” Alexander turned to Krystina with a grin. “Did you prepare any words to say?”
“No…” She giggled playfully. “Did you?”
“No, I’ve never done this before,” Alexander said. “Shall we just say what’s in our hearts?”
“Sounds good to me,” Krystina said. “You go first.”
Without rehearsal, Alexander and Krystina promised their love and commitment to one another and repeated vows meant to join themselves for as long as they lived. Someone in the room sniffed, probably Hazel.
King Sayid stepped forward. “Were those the right words?”
“They were perfect,” Alexander said.
“Okay, then, here is the contract.” The king spread the paperwork onto his secretary’s desk and held out an elegant pen.
“Would you care to sign first, my lady?” Alexander raised his eyebrows at Krystina, who stepped forward and took the pen from the king.
Krystina leaned over and confidently signed her name, then handed the pen to her groom, who leaned forward and with steady hands, wrote his signature. Alexander took a step back and held out the pen to his prince. “Your Highness, would you do the honor?”
Mark’s scrawling name contained his full title and he handed the pen to Eli, who wrote Prince Elmer Sayid of Madain Saleh.
The final signature added at the bottom of the page read, King Sayid of Madain Saleh, the same as on both Eli and Mark’s marriage contracts. The king stepped back and grinned at Alexander and then Krystina.
“By the power vested in me as the King of Madain Saleh, I hereby pronounce you husband and wife.” He leaned closer to Krystina and spoke out of the side of his mouth. “Are you sure you don’t want me to put a crown on your head?” Everyone in the room chuckled, some through their sniffling.
“Nah, I think I’m good.” Krystina wrapped her arms around Alexander’s waist. “I don’t need a prince. I have a councilman.” In addition to serving as Mark’s advisor, Alexander also worked as a real estate developer in the United States and was elected to his city council.
“Can I kiss my bride now?” Alexander asked, raising his eyebrows at the king.
“Sure.” Sayid stepped back.
Alexander reached his hands up and lifted Krystina’s face, then lowered his lips to hers.
Everyone in the room applauded, and so did Krystina’s mom, pausing only to wipe tears from her cheeks.
Krystina’s father leaned closer to his computer and looked right into the camera.
“Hey, you, mister fancy councilman, you’d better take care of my little girl, you hear?”
“Yes sir, I promise. You have my word.” Alexander and Krystina stepped over to the computer to say goodbye to her parents, and the rest of the group flowed out into the hallway.
Hazel and Mark carried two sleepy little princes in their arms and said a quiet goodnight. Eli led Savannah toward the grand staircase to head up to their suite where their son Ethan slept under the watchful care of his nanny.
Before ascending the stairs, Savannah paused on the bottom step and turned to face Eli, a soft gleam in her eyes. She reached up and touched Eli’s face affectionately. “Can I tell you something?”
“You can tell me anything, my darling.” Eli reached his hands up and placed them on Savannah’s hips, loving the way the fabric of her dress pulled tightly against her ample waistline. She represented the epitome of how a woman should look after bringing a child into the world, soft curves in all the right places. He loved her more and more every day and couldn’t imagine how life could get any better than this.
“I kind of liked the way Prince Marcos and Princess Hazel juggled two little boys, and a third on the way.”
“Would you like to have more babies sometime soon?” Eli’s heart raced and he couldn’t help a smile spreading across his face. He’d been waiting for her to choose when she was ready. He didn’t want to pressure her.
“Yes, I would like another baby,” she whispered. Eli fought the urge to jump up and down and cry out in excitement. “I’d like another baby in about seven months.”
Eli’s jaw dropped. Did she just say what he thought she said? “Are you? Are we?” He reverently moved his hands from her hips to her belly in wonderment. He’d just been thinking how he loved the way the fabric of her dress pulled tight against her waist.
His gaze moved up along her torso, appreciating every curve, loving the copper skin of her elegant neck and bosom, the way her raven curls tucked up and around the intricately engraved jewels of her crown, and finally meeting her multicolored eyes.
He said the only thing he could think in that moment. “You’re beautiful.”
Tears of happiness fell down Savannah’s cheeks, and he kissed them away. He grabbed her in a hug and spun her around before resting her back on that lowest step.
In an excited whisper, as if they had any control of such things, he asked, “Can we have a girl this time?”