The following morning Izdihar received a visit from her father. He was looking tired, with dark shadows under his eyes, and very grave.
“Sit down.” He gestured to her seat and sat down beside her.
“What is it, Father?”
He met her eyes and took a deep breath. “Last night, Adviser Sayyid came to see me.”
Izdihar felt like her insides fell away. She couldn’t say anything, couldn’t even move.
“He asked my permission to ask for your hand in marriage.”
There was a silence. “What did you say?” she asked.
“I said that I would have to consider. Izdihar, I’m not going to force this against your will. But I’m asking you. I hate having to ask, but I have to. I don’t know what his plan may be should I say no. I’m trying to get a team together, sort out which of my men I can trust. I’m working on something. I will sort this out before the wedding can happen. I just need more time.”
There was no reply.
“Izdihar?” The princess was staring into space.
“I must give him my answer tonight. Please, Izdihar, come and see me when you’ve had time to think.”
He got up to leave. At the door, he turned round. “I’m so sorry for everything, my darling.” Then he was gone.
Izdihar was still staring into the distance. So this was it. The day she’d hoped would never come. It was time to make her decision once and for all.