“Your Highness, may I have a word?” Eli stopped in the entryway to his father’s office, preferring to be invited rather than barge in unannounced.
“Come in, son.” Prince Omar glanced up from the memo he’d been writing and removed the small, round reading glasses from his nose. His business suit was pristine as if he were expecting a meeting with dignitaries, not working in his office. His dark, bushy hair showed a sprinkling of salt and pepper grey, lending an air of sophistication as he pushed into middle age. At forty-eight years old, he was living in his prime, honed, trained, ready to take over as leader of the kingdom should the king pass away. He was the epitome of a crown prince. If Eli worked strategically, he could learn a great deal from his father. “What can I do for you?”
“Have you spoken to the king about my new assignment?” Eli stepped tentatively into Omar’s workspace. There was nothing comforting or inviting about this room. Where Eli had elegant bookshelves of leather-bound volumes, Omar had filing cabinets. The carpet was durable Berber when most of the palace had sculpted plush carpeting or marble. Omar’s furniture had been shipped from an office supply catalog, and Eli commissioned his furniture from expert craftsmen who carved and polished and perfected each piece. Eli wanted his office to be an extension of his home. Omar’s was designed for business. The business of running a small country.
“We’re aware of your intended appointment to the UN,” Ahmed answered the question intended for Prince Omar. Eli startled. He hadn’t realized Ahmed had been sitting in the corner at his desk. “That’s quite a tall order the king has tasked you with.” Tall was something Ahmed knew very well. He had several inches on most everyone in the palace. Lanky and towering, when he stood in front of a person, his shoulders hunched forward looking down with beady eyes and a straight, thin nose.
“Ahmed, I am an adult, and a prince,” Eli said, holding his chin in the air, refusing to allow his father’s advisor to intimidate him. “I would suggest you start treating me as such.”
“I’ve watched you grow from a little boy as I’ve served my charge, and I find it difficult to think of you as anything less than the pest who was always underfoot.” Ahmed sneered and looked down with disdain.
“My father is not your charge,” Eli said with confidence. “He is your prince. And you are his advisor. You might want to remember your place.”
“Gentlemen,” Prince Omar interrupted. “I’d suggest you both remember your places. You are in my office and have requested an audience.”
“My apologies, Your Highness.” Eli bowed reverently to his father and noticed with disappointment that Ahmed stood in front of his desk and leaned back, defiant rather than submissive or apologetic.
“How can I be of assistance?” Omar asked. His pinched lips and creased brow showed his annoyance at having been interrupted. Eli decided he’d better make this meeting brief.
“The king has requested that I serve as ambassador to the United Nations and I’d like your tutelage as I prepare the fulfill that responsibility.”
“Have a seat,” Prince Omar said, sitting formally on a low sofa in front of his desk.
Eli mirrored his father’s stance, sitting on the opposite sofa, leaning forward, intentionally engaged.
Ahmed, on the other hand, slouched into one of the adjacent sofas and spread his arms across the back, one leg crossed over his other knee, showing a complete disrespect toward the two members of the royal family present, including his own prince.
Omar ignored him and continued talking to Eli. “One of the most important things about serving on the UN Security Council is that you are not only there to represent the interests of our kingdom, but also to help maintain international peace and security. Every decision you make, every discussion you are involved in, should be within the framework of protecting human rights and upholding international laws.”
“That sounds straightforward enough.” Eli nodded.
Ahmed scoffed. “Do you think it’s going to be easy?” He rolled his eyes and turned his head in mock superiority. “You’ve got a lot to learn.”
“Such as patience in dealing with obnoxious individuals who disrespect their superiors?”
“Are you calling yourself my superior?” Ahmed sat forward in an offensive posture.
“That is up for debate,” Eli said. “But your prince is most definitely your superior.”
“I think that’s enough for one day.” Omar rose from his seat, effectively ending the conversation.
“Thank you for your advice, Your Highness,” Eli said, rising quickly and bowing to his father.
“You’re welcome, Your Highness.” Omar stood and lifted his chin. “Perhaps you’d like to come have dinner with your mother and me this evening. I know the princess would enjoy your company.”
“Thank you, father, I’ll do that.” Before Eli could leave the room, he glared at Ahmed, sensing he’d won that showdown having been invited for an informal meeting at Prince Omar’s dinner table.
Eli didn’t address Ahmed, and his father’s advisor didn’t acknowledge his departure. He wondered why his father kept that vile man around.