Eli didn’t want to wait for Savannah to fly commercial, so he’d sent the Sayid family’s jet to Jerusalem to retrieve her. Six months at her university had been too long to be apart. She was right. They needed to get married. Immediately. Forget an engagement. He wanted the coronation. And the honeymoon. Today preferably.
Savannah appeared in the doorway of the plane, her flawless copper skin and flowing ebony hair sent his blood racing. She slipped a pair of sunglasses onto her face, shielding her eyes from the brutal desert sun. Eli could tell the minute she saw him because she bounded down the stairs and raced across the tarmac throwing herself into his arms. He fell back against the side of the limo, and their lips connected.
Forget asking his grandma for the pretty ring in her jewelry closet. He almost got down on his knee right there on the hot pavement and begged for her hand. But he didn’t want to pull his hungry body away from hers for that long.
After a minute or two of kissing—he completely lost track—she pulled away just long enough to gasp, “Air conditioning.”
Eli pulled open the door to the limo, barely interrupting their kiss long enough to climb up into the Hummer. She scooted over on the seat, tossing her sunglasses aside, and pulled him down on top of her.
“Um, Your Highness?” Their driver cleared his throat. Eli looked up at their driver with a sheepish but unrepentant connection in the rearview mirror. “Need I remind you that in this particular style of limousine I will be able to see and hear everything you do. Not that I’ll judge your behavior, but this may not be the best time or place for that… um… activity.”
“Ugh,” Eli moaned and lowered his head to Savanna’s shoulder, burying his face in her hair, still almost completely on top of her, having not even closed the side door yet. “Probably for the best anyway,” he mumbled low enough only she would be able to hear.
“Later,” Savannah whispered back.
“I need to marry you first.”
“Ugh, you’re still insisting on that?” Savannah rested her head against the seat and stared up at the ceiling, lifting her hands into her raven curls and pulling gently.
“Yes ma’am.” Eli sat up and pulled the door closed, extricating himself from her legs wrapped around his waist. When did that happen? “I will not defile you. Or myself.”
“Fine, call up the king and tell him to draft a marriage contract and we can be married an hour from now.”
Eli pulled her to a seated position and laughed, knowing she was only half-joking. “He’s entertaining my cousin today. Let’s wait until after the funeral tomorrow and Mark heads back to America.”
“You call him Mark?” Savannah’s jaw dropped. “Does he call you Eli?”
“Only in private,” Eli said. “We’re quite good at shifting cadence when in the company of others.”
“I can’t wait to meet him.”
“You won’t have to wait long. The king has instructed me to be available later this morning when he brings Prince Marcos around to informally meet the princes away from the pageantry of the throne room and banquet hall and royal family and court.”
“What’s he like?” Savannah sounded excited. Eli wondered if he should worry about her flirting with him like every other woman at the reception last night. Mark had made it clear he had a girlfriend back in America. Good. Maybe that would keep him there for now.
“I don’t know. Calculating. Smart. Young. You’ll have to judge him for yourself and tell me what you think.”
“Was he seriously bold enough to wear the crown last night?” Savannah’s avoidance of calling the crown his crown wasn’t lost on Eli.
But who should wear the crown? Eli’s father, Omar? His brother, Jared? He shuddered at the thought. Eli was reminded of his conversation before dinner the night before; how he had all but pledged his allegiance to Mark. The kid was world-travelled, knowledgeable about international affairs, had connections in Mexico and the United States, and most importantly, Mark loved Madain Saleh. How? Why? Eli wasn’t sure. The land called to Mark just like it called to Eli. He’d make a better king than anyone in the entire royal family.
“Hey, deep thinker?” Savannah waved her hand in front of Eli’s face. “What complicated mystery of the world are you contemplating?”
“The future of our monarchy,” Eli said softly, then turned to her and met her gaze. He was keenly aware of what their driver had said a few moments prior. They had an audience. Eli tried to communicate with his eyes that they’d continue this conversation later. “Yes, he wore the crown. You’ll just have to meet him and tell me your opinions afterward.”
“Okay,” Savannah said, reaching for his hand. “Can we make out some more now?”
“You won’t get me in trouble again?” He raised his eyebrows.
“I make no promises,” she whispered.
He took his chances and leaned forward, matching her hunger with controlled passion. A few more days. They could wait that long. Hopefully.