A Flat Refusal

Zahra watched as Alexander stood and walked over to the window, hands clasped behind his back. She straightened a bit and looked away, frightened by the feelings of intrigue the prince stirred whenever he looked at her with those intense eyes of his.

Disgust running freely through her veins, Zahra inwardly cursed the prince and all he stood for.

"Listen, when I say this, I want you to know I'm not being entirely...selfish. My father will likely condemn you, Zahra. He will likely have no mercy on the one who has profaned the sacred - "

"Yes, yes, the sacred grounds. You don't need to ramble."

Running a hand nervously through his hair, the prince turned and leaned against the wall. "But if my father were to have an emotional connection with the criminal - "

"You're suggesting I join his harem?!"

Alexander could not have looked more shocked. "What? No! Never! That's not what I'm saying!"

Crossing her arms, Zahra raised her eyebrows. "Well, then, tell me what you're thinking."

There was a long silence. Apparently, the prince wasn't all that confident, as he averted his eyes and took a deep breath. Finally, he said, "Sara, I hate being refused. I never say anything unless I'm certain it won't be twisted against my favor. I know it sounds self-centered, but I just want you to know that I wouldn't be saying this if I was serious about it. I know I'll probably be rejected, but - "

"Out with it!" Zahra exclaimed, unimpressed by the prince's stalling.

"I had a mistress once. Well, I mean, I've had more than one, but - well, anyways - I'd convinced myself that I wouldn't ever marry anyone. I told myself I wasn't the marrying type. She - Tia - changed my mind. On the day I was going to propose to Tia, however, she...I'll spare you the details, but she made it clear she wasn't in love with me anymore. I'm entirely single, but I'd like that to change."

Knowing where the conversation was headed, Zahra stood and clenched her fists.

"Hear me out, Sara. If you were to enter an alliance - "

" - Become your mistress, you mean! - "

" - Then my father would be far less likely to execute you. And, I might add, we could make one another very happy."

Zahra could not restrain herself any longer. "Happy? Alexander, the only man who could ever make me happy is my husband! You've done nothing but lowered yourself in my eyes! You hardly even know me!"

"I don't want you to die, Sara! I confess, that isn't wholly the reason I came here - you have completely intrigued me - "

"Our conversation is finished."

If Zahra had expected the prince to grow angry with her, she was wrong. When Alexander took a deep breath and gave a slow nod, she was slightly disappointed. She'd been looking forward to arguing with him. Instead, though nothing could have moved her to accept the offer, she felt something akin to...pity. Anyone who saw Alexander's expression would easily be able to tell his confidence had been flattened. And Zahra was beginning to understand that the prince didn't have much confidence about him.

For some reason, she really wanted to talk to Adrian.

The End

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