A Royal Bride at the Sheikh's Command(53)

By: Penny Jordan

‘May you be blessed with many years in which to enjoy the fruits of your labours, King Giorgio,’ the Archbishop prayed.

‘And no doubt many years to interfere in the lives of the fruits of his loins,’ Emily whispered ruefully to Natalia with fond affection.

They had grown especially close since it was the generosity of Marco, Emily’s husband, and the worrisome health at one stage of their own now perfectly healthy child, that had led them to give the scanner to Niroli’s maternity wing.

‘He has grown very tired these last months,’ Natalia whispered back, ‘and, although he is far too proud to admit it, I think he would have been in despair if he still hadn’t found an heir.’

They both fell silent as the choir stopped singing and King Giorgio rose from his throne to take the crown and place it on Kadir’s head.

A hush filled the cathedral as though everyone there held their breath, and not just those inside the cathedral, but those outside in the square who were watching the ceremony on the giant TV screens that had been erected there.

The old king’s hands trembled visibly but the crown held fast. There was a collective release of breath as the archbishop began the prayer of ordination and then asked Kadir the three requisite times if he accepted the Crown of Niroli.

His final firm assent had barely died away when the old king clasped Kadir’s shoulders and spoke emotionally as though unable to hold back the words.

‘My son.’

Natalia suspected she wasn’t the only one with tears in her eyes when Kadir replied equally informally and emotionally, ‘My father.’ When they embraced the roar of approval from the crowd rolled in from the city gathering force as it filled the cathedral until the building echoed with the joy of a people welcoming their future.

‘I could not do this without you by my side, Natalia.’

‘You could, but I am so glad that I am the one to share that future with you, Kadir.’

They were standing on the now-shadowed balcony, safely hidden from the sight of the stalwart revellers still celebrating in the square beneath them.

‘Did you ever think we would be here like this that first time we stood on this balcony together?’ she asked him.

‘Never,’ Kadir admitted, ‘but I had much to learn then; much that you have taught me and taught me well.’

‘The people of Niroli love you already.’

‘I hope so, but they cannot love me anywhere near so much as I love you, and will continue to love you—you and our children, this child and the others I hope will come after her. You are my life, Natalia.’

‘And you mine, Kadir.’

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