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White locks, p.12

White Locks, page 12


White Locks

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  “The coronation ceremony is the day after tomorrow.”

  “What?” I said, a bit louder than I intended to. “It’s final? That soon?”

  “Yes. My father was already working on it before we got here. He just needed to confirm it with the rest of the family before making the announcement.”

  “Wow! I don’t even know what to say. How do you feel about it?” I touched his hand. Mazen looked even more nervous than he’d been when he proposed to me. His eyes were filled with worry and concern, the two emotions that seemed to never leave him.

  “Honestly? I’m not ready for this. I’m just… God!”

  “Hey!” I pulled his face to me, but he wouldn’t look me in the eyes. It was the first time I’d ever seen Mazen this way; the first time I’d seen him unsure and maybe even confused. “Hey, look at me.” He finally did, and my chest tightened when I saw the look in his eyes.

  “Of course you’re ready. You knew that someday you were going to be the king. You’ve been preparing for it your entire life, Mazen. I know you have other dreams, but your kingdom needs you, your people need you. It’s only that God wants you even earlier than you’d thought. You always wanted to help people, and now it’s time.

  “Being King means you will have a lot of responsibilities, I get that, but would you rather someone else do it? Someone you couldn’t even trust to rule a princedom, let alone the whole kingdom?”

  Mazen shook his head slowly.

  “There you go, angel. This is your destiny, and you have to accept it. I know in my heart that you’ll be the best king this kingdom has ever known – trust me on this.”

  Mazen’s arms wrapped around me and he hugged me close to him as we sat on the couch. “I don’t know what I would do without you, Marie.”

  “You would still do great, it’s all you – I have nothing to do with it. You’re noble, kind and loyal. The kingdom will be best with you ruling it.”

  “With you by my side as my queen,” he said, and it was like someone had just doused me with an ice bucket. My eyes widened and my body tensed. Mazen must’ve felt it because the next thing he did was pull away from our embrace to look at my face.

  “Hey, are you okay? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost!”

  “I, uh, … I’m going to be a queen,” I stated, as if I wanted to hear myself saying it for it to register better in my head.

  “Yes …?”

  “Oh, my God! I know that this is how things go, but – I, uh, I hadn’t really thought about it.” I’d been called Future Queen several times, and I knew that it was going to happen eventually, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon. Oh, God! There was a lot to think about.

  “Hey, don’t freak out on me now,” Mazen actually chuckled.

  “I’m not freaking out!” I touched my forehead, feeling lightheaded. I was freaking out.

  “You’re going to be the best thing that has ever happened to this kingdom – trust me on this,” Mazen repeated my words, and I had to be in his arms again, seeking comfort. The truth was, it was more than just me freaking out, it was a heavy weight that I didn’t think I was ready for. Something in me told me that I could never be ready for this. Ever.

  The next morning, Mazen had to leave early. He told me that Fawaz would escort me to the company branch, and I only nodded in response. I didn’t tell him how I felt, and I was sad that I was hiding things from him, hiding what I truly felt, but I couldn’t be honest with him. It would only hurt him, nothing more.

  I knew that Mazen trusted Fawaz the most, which was why he had left him with me instead of having Fawaz accompany him for the day, or even yesterday. Though I liked Fawaz and knew him better than the rest of royal guards, I still didn’t feel like him being with me would help me turn off how I was really feeling.

  I ended up staying at the wing, working from home. I had meetings later that day with the palace staff regards to the preparations for the ceremony tomorrow. I thought it’d be better if I finished my work as quickly as possible, since things would get even busier from now on.

  Donia interrupted my work briefly to ask whether I wanted something specific for dinner that night, and I asked her to do whatever she thought Mazen would like. I’d never been a picky eater, but that wasn’t the only reason I couldn’t care less about food – there was a lot more.

  “Donia, can I ask you to do something for me?” I asked when she was about to leave.

  “Of course, Princess, whatever you need.”

  “Can you manage to inform Mona that I would like to see her?”

  “Yes, Princess. I can do that. I’ll get right on it.”

  “Thank you,” I said with a smile, ending the conversation with her and then looking back at my laptop.

  I spent the next hour on the phone with Terri, then called London to get updates on the projects I’d left before I came to the kingdom. Another hour passed while I was doing nothing but addressing problems with the projects, and issuing more orders on how things should be done.

  I felt that my presence was really needed there if I wasn’t going to hire a manager soon to oversee the office and run it properly. Because right now it seemed like things were slipping through my fingers again. I didn’t want that to happen. I never would.

  Yes, I knew that I’d go back to the kingdom eventually, that I couldn’t stay in London forever, but I still couldn’t help but dream that things could’ve stayed the way they were, therefore I didn’t make future plans for that branch.

  New York’s and Paris’s branches were doing well, the kingdom branch had yet to be operational, but Huda was taking very good care of things so far. It was now London’s branch that was worrying me, it wasn’t stable, and I had to find a solution for it. As soon as possible.

  For a split second, I thought about how things would’ve been much easier if Joseph was still managing things with me, but I dismissed the thought right away. He’d gotten what he deserved, and I regretted nothing.

  My fears and worries didn’t stop, not for a second. Though I tried to work as quickly and as efficiently as possible, I still couldn’t help the sinking feeling in my stomach as I thought of what lay ahead for me from now on, and how things would grow even more complicated tomorrow.

  When Mona arrived, I was so happy to see her, just as she appeared to be happy to see me. We hugged and chatted for a bit, and she was very eager to hear details about our small wedding and how things had been going for us in London. She seemed genuinely happy for us – not that I had expected any less from her.

  “I, uh, I really need to ask you to do me a favor,” I said, feeling the blush as it crawled up my cheeks.

  “Of course, benty, I’d do anything for you.”

  “Thank you, it really means a lot to me,” I smiled nervously. “It’s just, you’re the only one I trust around here and I – uh, I know you won’t tell anyone, so– …”

  “Whatever you need, just say it, Princess. I swear it’ll never go further than the two of us,” she assured me. I shook my head at her calling me by my title, no matter how many times I had told her to call me by my name.

  “I know.” I took a deep breath. “I want you to buy me a pregnancy test.”

  Mona’s eyes widened. “What? Oh, my God, you’re pregnant?” she exclaimed.

  “Shh,” I shushed her quickly. “I don’t know if I’m pregnant, that’s why I want the pregnancy test. I’m just late.”

  “Oh, dear God! I’m so happy!” I saw tears in her eyes as she gushed, and though it warmed my heart, it was exactly why I didn’t want to tell Mazen. Nothing was confirmed, yet. And I was so afraid that after he got all excited about it, he would be disappointed and even heartbroken if it turned out that I wasn’t pregnant after all.

  I smiled. “I knew you would be, but nothing is certain yet, and I want to make sure before I tell Mazen.”

  “Oh, dear, how late are you?”

  “Nine days today,” I answered.

  “Wow! Why have you waite
d so long to take a test? Has it ever been this late?”

  “No. Never. It’s always pretty much on time. But don’t you need to be like, ten days late before you take a test?” I thought I’d heard something like that somewhere.

  “Of course, you’re pregnant! And you don’t have to wait ten days. Some tests can even tell you before you’re a day late,” she told me.

  “Seriously? Oh, my God!” I couldn’t help my shocked grin, but I tried my best to contain myself. I still needed to be sure first before I let my heart go flying into the air out of joy.

  “Yes! I’ll go get it for you right away,” she said as she got up from the couch we were sitting on, in my living room.

  Looking at the time, I pursed my lips. “I don’t think we have enough time right now. My meeting with the coronation ceremony planners is in half an hour; I have to get ready.”

  “I see. I’ll bring it to you in the morning then, before you have to go. I have to be here anyway.”

  “All right, that would be great, thank you.”

  “It’s my pleasure, Princess. I am honored you trust me with your confidence. I won’t let a soul know. Congratulations again, you’ll make a great queen for our country,” she smiled, and I really hoped that her words would become true.

  Mazen came back very late that night. He had already called and apologized for not being able to make to dinner, leaving me to eat without him yet again. I wondered if this would be the case from now on. The thought was unsettling.

  We had barely eaten together since we’d arrived here. I knew it was out of his hands, but it wasn’t so easy on me to accept the idea of us being far away from each other for the entire day, every day.

  When he lay in bed with me, he told me about his busy, tiring day and all of the things he had to do, then he asked me about my day and why I hadn’t gone to the company as planned. The fact that he knew my whereabouts made me think of the possibility that he’d called Fawaz to check on things. He’d done that before when I was in London and hadn’t wanted to disturb me by calling me directly.

  It still made my heart tingle to know that I was always on his mind, just like he was always on mine.

  I told him that I hadn’t found it necessary to go and that I’d taken care of things from home. I hated the fact that I was lying to him about the real reason why I hadn’t left, but still couldn’t find it in me to tell him the truth.

  We made love long and sweet that night. I was exhausted by the time we were finished and I could tell that Mazen felt the same. My eyelids were so heavy as he took me in his arms, as I lay on my side facing away from him so we were spooning. I was finally able to relax, because in his arms, I found what I was looking for, just like I knew I would. Just like he was always able to give me safety and comfort.

  His sleepy voice came and whispered in my ear, “Sleep tight, my princess. Tomorrow you’re going to be a queen.”

  Suddenly, I was wide awake.

  We were awakened at the ungodly hour of four in the morning on the day of the coronation; I’d barely gotten any sleep. My mind just wouldn’t shut down and let me rest. I kept thinking about everything that lay ahead of me, the possible pregnancy, my marriage, my companies and all of my new responsibilities as a queen for a foreign country.

  It was all too much, and I was overwhelmed. That, and things were soon to start getting even heavier, busier and messier.

  Self-doubt filled me, and I started thinking that I could never manage all of those things. I hated that I was such a mess from the inside, but there was nothing I could do other than to try my best and give all I had for everything to work out.

  I owed a continued success of the companies to my parents, owed a success as a queen to Mazen, and owed a success as a woman and a good human being to myself and before all to my God. I wanted to be a mother, I wanted to be a good wife and daughter, but I also wanted to be someone I could be proud of.

  So, I was determined to try to be all of that. Try even harder.

  It didn’t escape my mind that this was exactly how I’d felt when I’d realized I had to take on my parents’ load and manage the main office in New York. Maybe the new responsibility of being a queen was scaring me, but I knew in my heart that it was much more than that.

  Still, I gave myself the pep talk I needed, hugged Mazen once he’d stepped out of the shower – drawing all of the courage and encouragement I needed from his embrace – and decided that I was going to do it, and do it well. I was going to be strong and handle whatever life threw at me. Because I was born a fighter, and I knew that there was so little in this life that I couldn’t do. I just had to push myself a little and believe in it.

  “Are you going to be okay?” Mazen asked in a low voice, his arms still holding me to him.

  “I think so.”

  “I’ll be in the next room the whole time, okay?” he said. I wondered if it was because he sensed how nervous I was, despite all of my attempts to hide it.

  “I know. It’s going to be okay,” I assured myself more than him. “Next time I see you, you’re going to be a king.” I hoped that my smile would tell him that I was fine; I hated to make him worry about me.

  Mazen’s smile was beautiful as he backed away to look into my eyes. “Next time I see you, I’ll be more in love with you than I am now.” His lips touched mine as he gave me a tender, warm kiss. He’d always told me that his love for me grew a little more every second, but this time I’d needed to hear it more than ever, because from his love, I got my strength.

  The second I got out of the shower, everything was happening so fast. Suddenly, there were too many people in the room, and everyone was doing something to get me ready for the ceremony. But I wasn’t very comfortable, to be honest.

  Mazen had already left while I was still in the shower, and Donia wasn’t always around. I kind of felt alone in the crowded room, and the negative emotions I’d had before about not seeing a familiar face were coming back again.

  I was quiet most of the time as they dressed me in a seriously heavy dress; it was the darkest shade of red with golden decorations all over it. It looked like one of those dresses that you see on rich families’ daughters in classic movies. It was all kinds of beautiful, but the heat I felt once I was put in it wasn’t at all welcomed.

  The dress was a little loose and needed to be tightened a bit in the waist area. I could feel how nervous the designer was due to the lack of time we had, but she managed to get it fitted quickly – I was impressed.

  Apparently, the crown was designed to be worn on top of a thick veil, so the hair stylist had to leave my hair loose with small waves at the bottom. It looked good and I liked it, but it wasn’t how I’d expected it to look.

  What annoyed me the most was the fact that I wasn’t allowed more than half a glass of orange juice for breakfast. I had no clue why anyone would tell me what to eat or drink. But I wasn’t going to complain like a little brat and demand the rest of my orange juice, so I let it go. Sort of.

  I grabbed my cell phone and fired off a text, ‘Can you come to my wing once you’re in the palace, please?’

  ‘Sure. I’ll be there in five minutes,’ was the instant reply.

  The designer was still working with something on the dress, but I didn’t even know what the problem was – it looked fine to me. I didn’t say anything, though, and just let her do her job.

  “Princess Huda is here, your highness,” Donia informed me.

  “Let her in, please!” I almost rolled my eyes. With all of the people who I didn’t know that were in the room, she had to ask my permission first for Huda to come in? It was silly.

  “Good morning,” Huda said cheerfully, her ever-present smile brightening her face. “Oh, my God! You look so beautiful!”

  “Hey! Thanks. You’re here early.”

  “Yeah, I was at the gates when I got your text. It’s very crowded outside; it’s a miracle I made it here. That’s why I left early, I knew it’d be like that,” she explaine
d. My smile dropped, realizing right away that it was why Mona still hadn’t shown up. I knew that if she arrived any later, I wouldn’t have time to take the test.

  “Is everything okay?” Huda asked, bringing my attention back to her.

  “Yes,” I said, then motioned for her to come closer so I could speak in a lower voice. “I, uh, I’m really nervous and I needed a friend with me,” I told her honestly. My first thought was to text Rosanna, but I didn’t know how active the doctors were allowing her to be.

  “Aww!” Huda spread her arms, ready to give me a hug, but I guess she thought better of it; maybe she didn’t want to mess up my hair or something, because she lowered them right away.

  “That makes me so happy,” she said, then her eyes widened, realizing how that might have sounded. “that you thought of me, not that you’re nervous.” She giggled and I smiled, shaking my head.

  “Of course I think of you this way. Are you kidding? You’ve been helping me non-stop since the day I met you. I owe you a lot.”

  “Ah! You owe me nothing, I’m so glad to help.”

  “Can you help me find out why I wasn’t allowed more than half a glass of orange juice?” Yeah, I was still not over it.

  Huda stepped even closer and whispered in my ear, “Um, so you won’t have the need to pee during the ceremony.”

  My eyes widened, and suddenly it all made sense, but it also made me realize that from now on, everything would be counted and planned for me. Even my bathroom breaks.

  After asking for permission, Huda changed her clothes in one of the rooms in the wing. I told her that was such a crazy question, of course she could. Then right before I left for where the ceremony was being held, Mona arrived.

  “Princess, I am so sorry for being late. It was very difficult to navigate through the crowds and traffic to get here earlier.”

  “It’s okay, Mona. I understand. We will do it later, don’t worry.” I whispered, offering her a small smile.

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