“Where would you like Krystina to sleep? And me?” Alex asked, carrying in from the SUV the most important item of luggage; the small leather bag containing Mark and Hazel’s crowns. As if they’d only been gone a few days, Alex stepped over to the closet and tucked the bag just inside the door. The servants could carry up the rest of the luggage. “The last time we were here, I slept on your sofa. I don’t think that will go over well now that you’re married.”
“Definitely not,” Hazel agreed. She held little Aaron by the hand as he walked by her side, wide-eyed with a combination of fear and wonder.
The palatial estate had barely changed since they’d been here last. The marble shone, the crystal chandeliers sparkled, and the Persian rugs were just as impressive.
“There is a room on one side of my suite for my advisor, and one on the other side for the princess’s lady,” Mark said. “Krystina can stay over there.”
“Ah, so you’re not married yet?” a booming voice spoke from the doorway.
“Your Majesty.” Mark bowed before his great-grandfather, instantly transforming himself into Prince Marcos. Hazel curtsied, and Alex nodded his head toward the king but did not bow, neither did Krystina.
“Welcome home my son,” King Sayid said to Mark. They embraced in an affectionate hug then Sayid reached for Hazel. “Welcome, princess. You look beautiful. Pregnancy suits you. How long has it been since I officiated at your wedding?”
“Three years, Your Majesty,” Hazel said, still looking pallid from their journey.
“And already you have brought me two new great-great-grandsons.” Sayid chuckled, patting Aaron on the head and smiling at little Owen where he contently sat on Krystina’s hip. Sayid turned back to Hazel. “And one more prince on the way, I understand.”
“That’s correct.” Hazel rested her hand on her belly where little Prince Hayden was growing stronger every day.
The king turned to Alex. “And you have brought your future bride to meet me?”
“How do you know she’s my future bride?” Alex baited him, grinning playfully at the king.
“I have been on this earth long enough to know love when I see it.” Sayid reached out to Krystina and took one of her hands. Mark relieved her of his son so she could give the king her full attention. “My dear, I’m glad to see Alexander has found you.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Krystina nodded respectfully.
“The last time I saw young Alexander was when I came to your Nation’s capital to officiate at Prince Marcos and Princess Hazel’s wedding.”
“So,” Krystina hesitated. “You are legally allowed to perform marriages?”
“I am,” the king said, a twinkle in his eye. Alex has a suspicion what Sayid was hinting.
“And your marriages are legal… everywhere?” Krystina asked.
“I am the head of state of a sovereign nation,” the king said. “What I unite on this earth is legal everywhere on this earth.”
“Really…” Krystina glanced at Alex.
“Alexander, do you remember that I also officiated at Marcos’s grandfather’s wedding in New York City?”
“I’d forgotten about that.” Alex turned to Krystina and they raised their eyebrows at one another. It was a simple question without words. Would you like him to marry us?
Still holding one of Krystina’s hands, Sayid reached over and took Alex’s hand and placed hers in his. “All I need to do is draw up a simple contract, enlist the assistance of a few witnesses, and you will be joined in matrimony from hereafter,” the king said. “Let me know after dinner if you would like me to do that.”
All Alex could think about was that night, and how they would no longer have to sleep in separate rooms. He glanced down at Krystina’s hand in his.
“On that note, I will leave you, and I will see you at dinner.” The king’s robes swished behind him as he drifted out of the room and down the hall.
“Well, if I remember correctly, you were looking for a magistrate this morning,” Mark said. “When I found the two of you sleeping together.”
“You were sleeping together?” Hazel raised her hand to her mouth in mock horror.
“Fully clothed,” Alex was quick to point out. “And crammed into a chair while the two of you lovebirds were hanging out in the honeymoon suite to the back of the private jet.”
“Yes, I’m sure Mark rather enjoyed holding my hair away from my face as I hurled most of the night.”
“Marriage… is truly bliss,” Mark said with a straight face. “In sickness and in health.”
“This was your idea.” Hazel rested her hand on her belly, then glanced up at Krystina and then over at Alex. “So… are you guys really considering his offer?”
“What do you think?” Alex asked, turning to Krystina.
“I think I love the idea.” She bit her lower lip.
“What about your parents?” Alex asked.
“We already told them that we are going to elope, right?”
“We should at least call them and have a video chat,” Alex said. “I’d hate for them to be even more angry at me than they already are.”
“They may want to join us on a live stream for the actual ceremony.” Krystina shrugged.
“We can ask them anyway,” Alex said.
“Are you guys serious?” Mark asked.
Both Alex and Krystina nodded their heads.
“But have you even asked her to marry you?” Mark raised his eyebrows.
“Talked about it,” Krystina said. “Alex wanted to make some grand gesture in proposing to me.”
“Well I’d say marrying you in front of the royal family of a Middle Eastern nation would be making quite a grand gesture,” Mark said.
“I agree.” Krystina giggled.
“Shall we go live on Facebook or something cheesy like that, my darling?” Alex pulled her into his arms with a teasing grin.
“You said you didn’t want to have a presence on social media.”
“But this isn’t for me,” Alex said. “It’s for you.”
“I change my mind,” Krystina said. “I think this should be just between us and our families.” Krystina grabbed hold of Hazel’s hand and held on.
“Am I family?” Aaron asked with all the innocence of a two-year-old.
“Yes, my little one.” Alex swept Aaron into his arms. “You will always be family.”
“Watch Disney princess movie?” Aaron placed both hands on Alex’s face.
“I might be a little busy tonight.” Alex glanced over at Krystina and winked. “You’ll have to watch a Disney princess movie with your mom and dad.”
“How about if we meet a real princess?” Mark asked his son. “I think if we look around the palace, we might find a couple of real princesses.”
“Yes!” Aaron threw his hands in the air with excitement, squirming to get down and heading for the door.
Mark hurried after his son, scooping him up before he could leave the suite. “Not so fast, little prince. “No princess hunting until after naptime.”
Aaron pouted but wrapped his arms around his dad’s neck in resignation. The mood in the room relaxed and the adults resumed unpacking as the next round of luggage arrived from the car.