“I have a confession, Your Highness,” Kadin said after closing Eli’s office door behind him. He strode confidently into the office and stood before his prince. “I’ve been acting as a double agent.”
Eli was confused. Savannah had left to go back to college and Eli was getting caught up with his advisor. Although he’d barely left his suite the past week, he thought this would be a quick briefing. He thought he could walk into his office and pick up with the work he’d left before his uncle passed away, before his cousin came to visit, and before he got married and flipped his life upside down. “W—what?”
“I’ve been learning things I would not have learned otherwise if you were by my side.”
“I’m not following you,” Eli said, leaning against his stately desk and crossing his arms. Eli’s office was masculine and sophisticated rather than ostentatious like his brother’s and the king’s, or stuffy and sterile like his father’s. He was comfortable here.
“There is talk among the staff and dignitaries.” Kadin paced the sculptured carpet in front of the bookcases.
“About?” Eli raised his eyebrows, waiting for his advisor to explain.
“A murder plot.” Kadin shrunk back and cowered slightly.
“My father wants to murder someone?” Eli felt his jaw go slack.
“No, Your Highness. Someone wants to murder your father.”
Eli’s stomach dropped. “Why would anyone want to murder my father?”
“To gain the Crown.”
“Shouldn’t they be plotting against Prince Marcos?”
“They don’t recognize your haughty American cousin as Crown.” Kadin held his hands in surrender when Eli narrowed his eyes at him. “Their words, not mine.”
“Who all is involved?”
“Mainly your brother, Jared. But he has gained the favor of many of the staff and dignitaries, at least he thinks he has.”
“Including yourself?” Eli felt sick.
“He thinks he has my allegiance. I have even promised to spy on my prince.”
“You have promised to spy on me?” Eli choked on the words.
“Yes, Your Highness.” Kadin held his chin high. “Until we discover what is really going on, we have to pretend that you don’t know that I’m a double agent. We have to pretend that I’m spying on you and feeding bits of information to them.”
“You need to learn all you can from your father and from the king, then I need to feed them just enough to make them think I’m double crossing you.”
“Or to make them think I’m in on the plan as well…”
“Hmm… interesting angle.”
“You and I are going to have access to the world soon,” Eli said. “We will be travelling to and from America and probably other countries in our new role as ambassador to the United Nations. Let them think we’re bringing information back to my brother as part of the plot to kill our father. They will open up to you and we will gain information even quicker.”
“Good plan,” Kadin said. “I’ll quietly share the message that you’re on board and that we’ll be working together toward the ultimate goal. To assassinate your father, the Crown Prince.”
Eli wanted to share with his advisor his allegiance to his cousin but hesitated. How much could he really trust Kadin? What if Kadin slipped and told someone that Eli was faithful to Prince Marcos and now recognized him as Crown? Eli made a snap decision to keep that information within his own thoughts. “So, what’s the next step?”
“Meet with your father. Learn all you can. Let him think you want to learn how to run the kingdom. Let him think you need information in order to serve on the UN.”
“I kind of do anyway, don’t I? This would be believable because it’s plausible.” Eli gazed out the window at the sturdy date trees that grew in the courtyard. They represented one of the kingdom’s primary exports. No better dates grew anywhere in the world than those in Madain Saleh. He turned back to Kadin. “What information would I share with you to feed to them?”
“I don’t know. We’ll have to think about that. For now, trust no one, and assume everyone in this palace is on board with the plot. Yet do not show any outward sign that you are, or that you know the plan exists. I’ll continue my role as double agent, feeding them just enough information that they think I’m fully in their corner, and serving as your eyes and ears within the secret group.”
“Kadin”—Eli hesitated, wondering if he really needed to ask this question, or if he should— “Where does your allegiance lie?”
“With you, my prince.” There was no hesitation. Either he was a good liar or was indeed still loyal to Eli. For now.
“Are you sure?”
“Do you even have to ask?” Kadin’s countenance changed. He was hurt by Eli’s question.
“You said, ‘trust no one.’ Does that include my most trusted advisor?”
“Your Highness, I have been loyal to you my entire life. You’re married to my sister. My heart is broken that you would even question my loyalty.” Kadin’s shoulders slouched. His eyebrows creased and his gaze fell to the floor.
“Come here, my friend.” Eli pulled Kadin into his arms and Kadin rested his head on Eli’s shoulder. “You are my brother. More so than my own flesh and blood.”
“That’s not saying much.” Kadin chuckled, almost through tears. “Your brother’s kind of a cockroach.”
“True, but he may be our king someday, so we need to figure this out.”
“You can trust me, my prince.” Kadin pulled away and stepped back a foot, lifting his chin with confidence. “I am your servant, not theirs.”
“No, you are my brother,” Eli said. “We’re in this together.”
“Thank you, Your Highness.”