The meeting

Omar had been to the palace on several occasions and mostly in the company of his father but this was just the second time he would be seeing the King. He sat on the soft cushioned sofa, leaning on an elbow which dug into the arm rest and with his legs crossed. Khalid sat upright with his back straight, his focus towards the stair way which the King with emerge from.

"Omar, sit properly!" Khalid cautioned.

"I am sitting comfortably."

Khalid turned to his son. "I've gone this far for you, it's up to you to..." 

"I do not know why you bother when the marriage has already been finalized, or hasn't it?" Omar cut him off.

Khalid frowned and he glared at Omar. This boy. "Omar, you will need the..."

"Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Royal Highness King Jaan bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, of Saudi Arabia." The messenger's announcement interrupted Khalid's talk. The two men rose to greet the King.

"Assalaam 'alaikum your highness." Khalid and Omar greeted simultaneously.

"Wa'alaikum assalaam Sheikh. Marhaba! (welcome!)" The king replied giddily. He laughed when he shook Khalid's hand. "Khalid bin Aaban, it has been a while. Please sit."

"Your highness is kind." Khaild bowed with a smile. "This is Omar, my own son. Your highness."

"As-salamu alaikom." Omar bowed. The King placed both his hands on Omar's shoulder and rose him to stand straight. He smiled.

"The rumors are true indeed. You are quite a dashing young man Omar bin Khalid. Your father couldn't have raised you any better."

"His highness flatters me. A man's worth isn't placed on his looks and neither are they weighed by it but by his achievements and intelligence, your highness."

King Jaaa laughed heartily. "Omar bin Khalid! Truly I can see why your father boasts non stop of you and why you have gained so much fame in so little a time."

"Your highness."

"I am impressed. Please, sit."

The gifts they had come with occupied a side of the Court yard, the Khalidh had gone the extra mile to impress The King and truly he was impressed, not just by the volume of gifts but also by Omar's intelligence. He approved of him.

Omar remained calm and spoke less, only speaking when he was spoken to. King Jaan seemed to admire that because he praised Khalid for raising such a well behaved young man. 

"He is my very own blood after all." Khalid boasted while laughing. "Who else would he take after?"

Omar smirked inwardly, he just needed to see the woman he was to marry, he didn't even know what she looked like but he had reasoned to talk to her, to know if she wanted this union also. If she didn't, it would make it a bit easier for him but then if she did tell him that she didn't want the union, how would he go about it? 

He cleared the thought, deciding to take it one step at a time. He sat, not really paying attention to the discussion between the two older men, anticipating when Mariam would be ushered in. 

As if on cue, three women descended the stairs, the two women on either side holding the one in the middle whom Omar guessed to be Mariam. She was young and looked quite small, he began to imagine himself with a twenty year old bride and shrugged, he thought her to still be immature. He knew it was custom for young girls to be married off to much older men but he hadn't for once thought he would find himself in the same situation.

 The abaaya she had on was purple, trimmed with a gold finishing and flowed all the way down to her ankles. He liked the fact that she had not worn the regular black abaaya, as it was just too common. He noticed that she kept her head lowered and her eyes down, her long and dark lashes fanned her cheek and he admired them, he took a fancy to women's lashes, he didn't know why but he just did. 

She must have been made up with extra care for him. He scoffed inwardly and sighed sadly for the heart he was about to break, she looked too vulnerable and fragile, still he had to do what he had to do. He looked away, he would talk to her in private. 

"My princess." King Jaan spoke when Mariam was brought closer to them, dismissing the two women who accompanied her. They left with a bow.

"Assalaam 'alaikum Father." Mariam greeted her father first, then bowed to the Sheikh and then to Omar, greeting them.

"Wa'alaikum asalaam princess Mariam." Sheikh  greeted in return, Omar only bowed slightly. Her father and the Sheikh laughed as they talked on but Omar was quiet and looked away. 

Mariam remained standing with her head down and she chose to study the man she was set to get married to. Indeed he was beautiful as Saadiya had described him. His hair, which was left open without a ghutra covering it, was jet black and combed all the way back with a few strands coming forward to fall just above his eye, his lips were set in a thin line, his muscles were taunt, the suit he wore was left open, revealing the shirt he wore and giving subtle outlines to the muscles that lay beneath. 

Mariam mentally whacked herself in the head for thinking such thoughts but then she couldn't deny that the man was drop dead handsome, probably carved on the day God took his rest, spending more time on creating this tempting man. She lowered her eyes, refusing to be swayed by lustful temptations. She was the one to drown him in the sea of lustful desires with a single glance and it was not to be the other way round.

She would never agree to marry him. She wished she could talk to him alone so she could voice out her heart.

"May I have a chat with my bride?" 

Mariam's heart skipped a beat when he spoke, especially at the way he had mentioned 'bride'. It was the first time she heard his voice and there was something striking about it, the deep baritone cut through her body like sharp daggers and she involuntarily shivered.

With her eyes closed and her thoughts swimming wildly in her head, she didn't hear when her father give consent so she hadn't anticipated his touch on her shoulder. Gentle but firm. She shuddered and looked up, he smiled down at her, leading her away from the group and into a nearby room, closing the door behind them.

"Just to make this crystal clear," Mariam spoke out immediately they were alone. "I am not in agreement with this proposed marriage and I will not want to marry you."  

Omar turned and stared at the girl, she took the words straight out of his mouth! Did this just get easier for him? Normally, he would agree with her decision straight up and tell her his mind as well, that they shared the same opinion but he decided to tease this brave woman.

"And why not? Am I not handsome enough?"

"You are," she said in a hurry and bit her tongue, she had spoken too soon which made his lips curve up into a slow smile. She frowned. "You are, but I still would not want to marry you. Your looks do not move me."

"My looks have moved a lot of women. More than can be counted." He tilted his head with a smirk. "So why won't you be moved?"

Mariam rolled her eyes. "I knew you could not be any different. I have met men like you, too proud and arrogant for your own good."

"Proud and arrogant you say?" Omar laughed. "And you are not?"

Mariam turned her head away.

"If I may ask without intruding, is there any reason to your decision of refusing the marriage?"

"There is....." She paused and swallowed. "There is someone I liked."

"Someone you liked?"

"Yes, liked."

"What happened? You do not like him anymore?" He asked.

She looked down with sad eyes and he decided not to probe further, he shoved a hand into his pocket and combed his hair back with the other hand.

"I see. Well there's someone I like too..." 

She looked at him. "So you do not want this marriage?"

"I don't." He confirmed.

If he didn't want to marry her also,  why go ahead with this?. She wanted to ask but he beat her to it with his next sentence.

"But we are at a disadvantage right now. She is held prisoner somewhere by my father and might be kill harmed if I don't marry you. And I can't afford to lose her."

"Held prisoner by your own father? The Sheikh?"

"Hmm.." He nodded.

Her mind went back to Aadil, she had been afraid to loose him to and they had both succeeded in keeping their affair secret for as long as they could but noting could be hidden under the sun. She knew her father had spared her for the love he had for her but he had also broken her heart. Omar was now in the same situation she had been in and her heart went out to him and his prisoned lover.

"So for her sake, you are willing to marry me?" He nodded. "Then what happens next? You marry her and abandon me?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't really think before I act, it's kind of my charm."

"You don't think and that's a charm?" Was he being serious right now? For a moment she had felt for him and now she suddenly began to wonder if this was the same Omar whose intelligence was being praised round Saudi Arabia. She wanted to stab his pride badly. She gritted her teeth in frustration and opened her mouth to speak but his next words left her speechless.

"Take off your abaaya, I want to see what you look like."

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