Prince Nadir's Secret Heir(2)

By: Michelle Conder

Years ago he had made a promise to his father that he would never return to rule Bakaan and Nadir always kept his promises. Fortunately, Zachim had been groomed in his stead and had agreed to take on the position as the next King of Bakaan. Poor bastard. ‘Get him on the phone.’

‘I have other messages,’ she said, balancing her iPad with one hand.

‘Email them to my palm pilot.’

Moments later his palm pilot beeped right after his landline. His new PA was efficient; he’d give her that at least.

‘If you’re going to hassle me over the business proposal to reinvent the Bakaani banking system I’d like to remind you that I do have an international business to run,’ Nadir grouched good-naturedly. Despite the fact that they were only half-brothers, Zachim was the only person Nadir would call a true friend and they caught up whenever their work paths crossed.

‘I wish it was only that.’ His brother’s tone was grim. ‘You need to get back here right away.’

‘Ten hours in that place was ten hours too long,’ Nadir drawled. Before that he hadn’t been back to Bakaan for twenty years and he’d be happy to make it another twenty. The memories his homeland conjured up in him were better left buried and it had been more of a battle to keep them at bay yesterday than he’d be willing to share with anyone. In fact the only way he’d succeeded was to call up images of that exotic dancer and he hadn’t much liked thinking about her either. Especially with the way things had ended between them. And here he was thinking about her again. He scrubbed a hand across his freshly shaven jaw.

‘Yeah, well, you hotfooted it out of here before you heard the news,’ his brother said.

Nadir lounged in his seat with a relaxed feline grace and propped his feet on his desk. ‘What news?’

‘Father named you the next in line to the throne. You’re to be King and you better get your sorry arse back here quick smart. Some of the insurgent mountain tribes are making moves to cause instability in the region and Bakaan needs a show of leadership.’

‘Hold up.’ Nadir’s chair slammed forward as his feet dropped to the floor. ‘Father named you the heir.’

‘Verbally.’ The frustration in Zach’s voice was clear. ‘It seems that doesn’t hold much sway with the council.’

‘That’s ridiculous.’

‘That’s what happens when you die of a heart attack without putting the paperwork in order.’

Nadir forced himself to relax and sucked in a deep breath. ‘You know it makes sense that you become the next Sultan. Not only do you run the army but you’ve lived there most of your life.’

He heard his brother’s weary sigh and hoped another lecture wasn’t coming about how Nadir was the oldest and how it was his birthright. They’d discussed this ad nauseam for years but it was only yesterday that he’d realised Zach had always believed that he’d one day return to Bakaan and take over. ‘I think you’re making a mistake but you’ll need to officially renounce your position to the council.’

‘Fine. I’ll send them an email.’

‘In person.’

Nadir swore. ‘That’s ridiculous. This is the twenty-first century.’

‘And, as you know, Bakaan is labouring somewhere around the mid-nineteenth.’

Nadir ground his jaw and picked up the stress ball on his desk, tossing it through the basketball hoop set up beside the Matisse on his wall. His father might not have planned to die when he had but he would have known the succession protocol. Was this his way of trying to control him from the grave? If it was, it wouldn’t work. Once, when Nadir was a child, they might have had a close relationship but that had ended when Nadir realised how manipulative and self-centred his father was. ‘Set it up for tomorrow.’

‘Will do.’

He rang off and stared into space. That was what you got for not tying up loose ends at the right time. Twenty years ago he’d left Bakaan after his father had refused to give his mother and twin sister a state funeral after a fatal car accident. They had shamed him, his father had said, when they had tried to flee the country to start a new life. It didn’t matter to his father that they had not lived as man and wife for years or that his mother and sister were desperately unhappy with their exiled life in Bakaan. It only mattered that they continued to live where his father had placed them. When Nadir had stood up for their honour his father had basically said it was either his way or the highway.

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