“Fantastic wedding.” Marcos held up his glass of Bourbon, toasting with Nick’s brothers while they lounged in chaises by the outdoor pool.
The older Cohen brothers—Liam, Lyle, and Sam—had already tossed back a few drinks each. Nick’s younger brother, Jacob, was not yet eighteen and was sipping a soda.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Liam grumbled. “I haven’t gone that many hours without a drink in years.” He downed another large glass of scotch and laid his head back on the lounge chair, eyes closed and probably not long from needing an escort to his suite for the night.
Nick and Adele had decided not to serve any alcohol at their wedding because Liam had made a complete fool of himself at a wedding less than a year ago. But when the bride and groom snuck away, presumably to head up to their hotel suite, they left the rest of the bridal party to fend for themselves. By eleven-thirty, Marcos suggested that the guys find the tiki bar near the pool.
Since Nick was upstairs doing what Marcos wished he could be doing, he’d better not fault Marcos for having a little fun of his own. They’d attended prep school together, gotten into a little trouble over the years, and were best friends. He was happy for Nick but a little jealous.
Marcos joked about being an eternal bachelor, but that was mostly just to anger his father.
As Nick’s best man, Marcos had nearly upstaged the groom because he was required to wear his crown while attending formal social events. If the occasion warranted a tux, it required at least a simple band of gold around his head.
Marcos wished he could remove his crown. It had been a long day, and he had a headache. Nothing that a little Bourbon couldn’t absolve. He held up his nearly empty glass and lifted his chin to the bartender, requesting that someone bring him another.
There were still quite a few people mingling after the wedding reception, probably seeking out the same thing the guys were, the open tiki bar and a place to kick back and loosen their ties and remove their sport coats. Marcos and the Cohen brothers had even gone so far as removing shoes and socks and rolling up the pant legs of their tuxes.
Marcos was eyeing the pool and its promise to wash away the oppressive heat that never seemed to dissipate in the City of Dubai. That would require the removal of his tux and crown, and that would require traipsing all the way up to his suite and requesting his advisor to assist him. Way too much work just to cool off. He downed the last of his Bourbon as a waitress handed him another.
Because he wasn’t the crown prince, Marcos had very little responsibility except that of a dignitary, schmoozing the world on behalf of the royal family that stayed mostly within the palace walls.
His brother, Crown Prince Jared Sayid had been expected to marry at the ripe old age of sixteen, as was tradition, and produce an heir as quickly as possible. Before his eighteenth birthday, the viral little twerp had gotten his young bride pregnant and then sought comfort in the arms of other women, usually much older women.
As the family’s ambassador, Marcos vowed to be a better example than his older brother, which required him to stay relatively sober and chaste. That forced him to maintain a certain level of discipline.
Other than young Jacob, who didn’t really count, Marcos was the only guy in the group not either married or in a committed relationship. He could probably have his pick of the single women in this outdoor bar. But that would require getting up from his chaise, and his feet hurt from standing all day.
No, he was happy right here with his drink and his friends.
Until a small group of ladies passed by close enough to catch his attention and up his heart rate. In addition to wedding attendees, guests of the estate mingled in the bar and pool area, including women. Several of them giggled and waved coyly. A blonde in the little black dress held his gaze like a deer caught in the headlights of his imported Bentley.
She was so distracted by their intense connection that she walked right into the pool--
And landed with a giant splash.