thought that, how wrong she had been.
When he had tried to contact Chloe it had been impossible. Like so many people who had been betrayed by a lover Chloe had taken refuge in work, travelling the world, impossible to reach.
And then the idea had come to him.
Behind him, he heard the door opening. Zayed turned and saw his father, King Kamal enter the room. In spite of his years, Zayed's father walked with an upright bearing, his regal posture declaring a defiant spirit, something which he had passed on to all his children. Dressed in traditional robes, Kamal's bright eyes were fixed firmly on his son. By the look in those eyes, Zayed could see there might be trouble in the next few moments.
"Zayed, your sister told me you had returned home."
Zayed bowed before his father. "I left the reception early. You know I don't care for those kind of events."
Kamal sat down on the sofa and gestured for Zayed to join him.
"Aliyah also tells me you have brought a guest to the palace," Kamal said. There was a sharp tone in his voice which put Zayed immediately on the defensive.
"It is just a courtesy, father. One of the people involved in the film project we are considering."
Kamal sighed. "You know what I think of that, my son," he said sharply.
Zayed knew the conversation could head into difficult territory and tried to prevent that happening. "It will only be a brief courtesy visit. Once the preliminaries are over the producer and his assistant will be heading back to America."
"The assistant?" Kamal asked slowly. His eyes narrowed and Zayed shifted in his seat.
Zayed looked his father straight in the eye. "Chloe Stirling," he said in a firm voice.
Kamal nodded but said nothing upon hearing the name.
Zayed watched his father gaze across the room. He was obviously lost in thought, considering what to say. Finally, he spoke. "When you returned from America, I thought we had an understanding."
This was what Zayed had dreaded. He did not want to open old wounds, especially ones that had temporarily halted his pursuit of his destiny.
"We did have an understanding, father."
"Remind me," Kamal said in a flat voice.
Zayed hesitated then spoke. "I would devote my energies to promoting the interests of the kingdom. And I have done so," Zayed said defiantly. "Have I not kept my side of the bargain?"
Kamal nodded and shrugged. "You have been a dutiful son. And I have been pleased with the changes you have made to the cultural image of our country abroad. But, you know that I have no time for these..." Kamal paused, searching for a word. "These movie people," he said, almost spitting out the words.
"This film will build upon the work we have done. It may transform how the rest of the world views our nation."
Kamal peered at Zayed. "Is that what we truly want?"
"Is it not what our people want, father?" Zayed asked imploringly.
At the mention of the people Kamal seemed to try to contain his irritation.
"Aren't the interests of our people our paramount concern?" Zayed asked.
"And this woman. She is the same one you knew while you were in America?" Kamal asked.
Zayed knew that if he showed too much emotion, too much of the desperate passion he felt for Chloe, that Kamal would not approve. In fact, Kamal might possibly act to prevent Zayed from pursuing Chloe's love.
Zayed had never lied about material facts to his father, and he wasn't about to start doing so now. "She is the woman I knew three years ago. She and I were friends. Until you called me home so suddenly," Zayed stated, knowing that his father would not like to be reminded of his demand that Zayed return to the kingdom.
Kamal frowned. "Is it not a coincidence that she, of all women, has come to our kingdom?"
"The movie business is a small world," Zayed replied knowing that he didn't sound too convincing.
Kamal huffed. "A small business with an unnaturally large influence," he said.
"And that is why it is important that we pursue this project," Zayed