Marrying the Sheikh

By: Holly Rayner

Ella flinched at the choice of words Karim used. Bride’s don’t approve of venues. They fall in love with venues. They see a location and just have to have it. That’s how it is with brides. But apparently, not with this one.

“So,” Karim touched Ella’s elbow lightly and directed her back out of the room. “I’ll leave you to get the information you need from the staff, and I’ll be heading back to New York.”

Ella looked at Karim with a confused look on her face, and he saw her concern and stopped her before she could speak. “Don’t worry about a thing Ella. You can reach me by cell or email at any time.” He kept walking, ignoring her attempts to protest. “I’ll have the jet return this evening to take you back to Miami or New York, your choice.”

Finally, she mustered up the courage to interrupt his Highness. “Um, I'm sorry but I don’t feel comfortable about this. I'd prefer that you stay with me so we can go over the arrangements together.”

Just as Ella spoke, a strong gust of wind picked up and the palms trees outside danced wildly, banging their fronds against the window. Ella jumped and Karim reached out a strong arm to comfort her. She pulled away sharply, remembering that she needed to keep her professional distance.

Ella knew that her job was to plan the wedding for Karim and Nadia. But she needed their input. Leaving her here to handle all of the arrangements without either one of them to provide approval would just be a disaster waiting to happen. She had tried that once with a Hollywood couple that was too busy to help with the arrangements, and she wasn't about to make that mistake again.

“That’s not how I work,” said Ella, standing her ground while trying maintain a level of respect and courtesy to Karim. She didn’t care if he was royalty. And good looking royalty at that. She wasn’t about to let herself get bullied into a situation that could backfire on her.

“Listen,” Karim said, rolling his eyes as he turned to face Ella. “I know you may not have done things this way in the past, but this is different.”

Ella tried not to let her anger show. How dare he roll his eyes at her?

“We are not ordinary clients,” Karim said, as Ella felt her blood boil. “And,” he went on, “this is not an ordinary wedding.”

Ella had to agree with him there. They certainly weren’t ordinary clients. Even the most difficult of her clients had treated her with a modicum of respect. And Karim was right about it not being an ordinary wedding. Aside from Karim and Nadia holding each other’s arms as they descended from the jet, Ella hadn’t noticed one ounce of affection from either of them. Now that she thought about it, the few times that Nadia had joined their phone conversations, it had been from another line; she hadn’t even been in the same location as Karim during those calls. Ella began to wonder if these two ever spent any time together at all.

She shrugged off her thoughts, reminding herself that their culture was completely different from hers. Maybe they bride and groom were not allowed to spend time together before the wedding. Ella decided to let it go, realizing that she might never know the answer to her questions.

“Karim,” she said slowly as the wind picked up outside of the lobby. “I appreciate that you and Nadia are special clients and I respect the enormity of responsibility that brings with it. And I assure you that my only goal is to accommodate you both and make this wedding exactly what you want it to be.”

A large palm frond banged against the window causing Ella to jump again. She looked outside and saw the bright blue sky had turned to an angry gray.

“But, in order for me to do my job to the best of my ability,” she continued, “I absolutely have to have active input from my clients. Or,” she said, smiling in vain, “at least one of my clients.”

Karim looked down at Ella with concern on his face. He wanted to stay, there was no denying that. There was something about Ella that made him want to abandon his responsibilities just for one day, even though that went against everything that he believed in. Karim always put work first. Perhaps, he thought ruefully, that’s why he hadn’t met the perfect girl and settled down. Perhaps that’s why he ended up with Nadia. Perhaps that’s why he was so excited at the thought of abandoning everything and spending a whole day on a paradise island with a woman he barely knew but couldn’t stop thinking about.

Karim shook himself out of thought and slipped back into his professional demeanor. “Listen,” he said, not wanting to offend Ella any more than he already had. “I know your job is very important and I understand that you need our input.”

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