“Hi, Mom.” Krystina waved into the video chat screen. “I have someone I want you to meet.”
“Oh good, did you break up with that vile young man who spent ten minutes in our driveway shoving his tongue down your throat?”
Alex clasped his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing out loud and embarrassing Krystina even more than she probably was.
“Um… not exactly,” Krystina said, also holding back a full-out laughing fit. “Is Daddy right there? You should probably both meet him.”
“Him?” Her dad pushed himself into the viewing field. “Did you get some smarts into that head of yours and dump that lying show-off?”
“Mom, dad, this is His Majesty, King Sayid of Madain Saleh,” Krystina said. “He wanted to introduce himself before he officiates at our wedding tonight.”
“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Clark,” the king said, waving into the camera on the computer. “How are you this evening?”
“It’s noon.” Lincoln Clark glanced at his watch.
“Ah, yes, time conversion.” Sayid tapped his forehead. “Good afternoon, then.”
“Who did you say you are?” Tammy Clark asked, bringing her face closer to the computer screen as if she could see him better.
“I am the king of Madain Saleh. Your daughter and her betrothed are here visiting with my great-grandson, His Highness, Prince Marcos Sayid.”
Mark moved closer to the king and waved into the camera. “Pleasure to make your acquaintance.” Still wearing his full crown, he looked the epitome of a prince. “I believe you’ve met my advisor, Alexander.” Mark pulled Alex into the view.
“Hello again, Mr. and Mrs. Clark.” Alex relished in their gaping mouths. “As I mentioned the other day, I would like to marry your daughter, and the king has graciously offered his assistance to act as officiator in that union.”
“You’re getting married?” Tammy asked. “When?”
“Right now,” Alex said. “That’s why we called. We wanted to give you the opportunity to be here to watch us exchange our vows.”
“You can’t be serious,” Lincoln said. “You haven’t even come to ask my permission.”
“Well, I did come to meet you and you repeatedly offended and belittled me. But regardless, I would never negate Krystina’s freedom to choose. Rather than ask you for your permission, I have asked her if she would like to marry me. I respect you as my bride’s father and mother and wanted to give you the chance to watch us join our lives together.”
“And look at this ring, Momma.” Krystina tucked herself in front of Alex to hold the ring up to the little camera. Alex didn’t miss the chance to wrap his arms around her while she was talking to her mom. “Isn’t this incredible? It’s an opal. A really rare—and really old—opal, that belonged to Alex’s grandmother.”
“That is a very pretty ring, darling,” Tammy said, her face up against the screen again.
“Why didn’t he buy you a diamond?” Lincoln asked. “Is he too much of a cheapskate to buy you a diamond?”
“I’m sorry, sir,” Alex answered. “We didn’t have a jewelry store on the private jet, nor here at the palace. We could wait to get married until we can find a jewelry store, if you’d like, my love.” Alex leaned his head around Krystina to look her in the eye.
“Heck no, I am not waiting another night to be in your arms,” Krystina said playfully, leaning forward to give Alex a quick kiss.
“Speaking of nights,” Mark interrupted, holding Aaron in his arms. “This little prince needs to be in his bed soon. Can we get on with this wedding?” As if to prove a point, Aaron rubbed a fist across his eye and laid his head on his daddy’s shoulder.
“Right away, Your Highness,” Alex said then turned back to the Clark’s. “Would you like to stay connected by video chat in order to watch us exchange vows?”
“Hmpf.” Lincoln crossed his arms and creased his brow.
“Of course, we do.” Tammy elbowed her husband. “All of her life I’ve dreamed of seeing our daughter get married.”
“Yay! I’m glad you’ll watch, Momma.” Krystina turned to the king. “Okay, where do you want us to stand?”
“Well, let’s stand right here where your parents can see,” Sayid said, then looked into the camera and called out, “Can you see us okay?”
“We can see you!” Tammy called back, much louder than she needed to.
“Gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever officiated at a wedding that didn’t also involve a coronation.” Sayid rubbed his chin. “I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.”
“Well, you said you drew up an official contract, right?” Alex nodded. “And that we needed witnesses.”
“I believe I am qualified for that job.” Mark raised his hand.
“Myself as well.” Prince Eli snuck into the room, his wife in tow, both still wearing their crowns.
In addition to the bride and groom, there were now four princes, two princesses, and a king in the small space that usually held King Sayid’s executive secretary and her filing cabinets. The queen had been too tired to join them after the meal.
“If we try to cram too many more people in here, we’re going to need to move the computer to a larger room,” Sayid joked.
“That or I’m going to have a panic attack,” Hazel said, bouncing a sleepy and fussy Prince Owen in her arms. “Let’s get this ceremony completed so I can put my babies to bed.”
“Okay, we have a contract, and two witnesses,” Sayid said, turning to Alex and Krystina. “Did you want to say a few words to each other? Is that how an American wedding is usually done?”
“Yes, that’s how it’s done.” Alex turned to Krystina with a grin. “Did you prepare any words to say?”
“No…” She giggled playfully. “Did you?”
“No, I’ve never done this before,” Alex said. “Shall we just say what’s in our hearts?”
“Sounds good to me,” Krystina said. “You go first.”
“Okay”—Alex cleared his throat— “I think this afternoon we said the most important things we needed to say to one another when we were alone in the solarium. And I think we have tonight, and every day and night for the rest of our lives, to continue to tell one another all the important things.
“Right now, I just want to promise you, and our family and friends, that I will love and cherish you for as long as I’m alive. I will do my best to protect you, and treasure you for the lady you are, and honor you, and support you, and help you live your dreams. I look forward to walking by your side as we embrace whatever life throws our way.
“I, Alex Cohen-Stephenson, do hereby commit my life to you, Krystina Clark, as your husband, to have and to hold for as long as we both shall live.” Alex winked at Krystina. “Your turn.”
“Everything you just said, times two.” She laughed and several others in the room joined her, including Alex. “I’m kidding. No, seriously, you were right earlier today when you said this was happening really fast. But I want to tell you about the first time I saw you.”
“Am I gonna blush?” Alex asked.
“Maybe,” she said. “But I’m going to tell you the story anyway…”