Omar grabbed Megan to himself as soon as he heard his name and raised his head. It wasn't his father who had called, it was him, Taheem, the head of the Sheikh's guards. He stood menacingly, one hand on the hilt of the sword that hung on his waist and the other hand by his side in a fist. His gurtha flapped wildly around his head, disturbed by the desert harsh winds. Omar eyed him, his presence was never a good sign, nothing about him was a good sign.

"What is it?" Omar asked, clearly disturbed by his unwelcomed presence.

Taheem had been around for as long as Omar could remember. The man was strict and never smiled, carrying out the Sheikh's orders without questioning and without falter even if it meant to take a life. He was as loyal as he was scary and he was the only one bold enough to look Omar in the eye and give orders like he was about to do now.

"The Sheikh orders..." Taheem began but Omar interrupted him with a hand.

"Tell my father that I won't be returning right away."

"I'm afraid that isn't an option." He whistled and more men came into view fully armed. "We were told to use any means necessary to make sure the two of you are brought back to the tent."

"The two of us? Why?"

"The Sheikh has his own reasons, who am I to say?" Taheem replied.

Omar frowned, holding Megan's head to his chest and cursing at his luck. He hadn't been careful enough and it didn't cross his mind that they could follow him here and they had, he had led them straight here without him knowing and now they had her. 

"You followed me?"

"We have to bring you and the American back as per the wishes of the Sheikh."

"And you come to me fully armed?"

"We are trained to always be armed Omar. A guard is always armed and ready."

Omar knew what he said was true but he hated the guts of the man, he had dared to call Megan "the American".

"The American has a name Taheem." But Taheem didn't respond, instead he stood still, never for once tearing his gaze away from the two of them.

The man's eyes bore holes into them and Omar felt Megan shiver, he knew she was afraid and he understood why she should be, especially of Taheem. The man was a human robot, loyal and devoted only to the Sheikh and the only person whose presence made Omar uneasy. 

Taheem would willingly use 'any means necessary' to carry out the Sheikh's orders, Omar wasn't afraid of the man but he feared for what they might do to Megan is either of them resisted, they would not dare harm him. His father didn't have her best interest at heart and Taheem was obviously no different. 

He smiled at Megan and kept her close to his side, deciding not to fight back for fear of Megan's life and like sheep to the slaughter house, they were led back to his father. 

"Omar." Megan called, still cuddled in his arms as they walked back.

"My father wants to see us. Let's just go for now." He smiled at her.

"Hai howa aamen? (Is it safe)?" She couldn't help but ask. The stiff man frightened her.

"Look at you! Your Arab speaking is getting better!" Omar smiled widely and ruffled her hair, earning a frown from her.  "You are safe with me. Be rest assured." He kissed her forehead.

The emotions in his eyes denied the smile on his lips and he looked away from her to Taheem who walked ahead of them. He absent mindedly rubbed Megan's arm while he thought of how he would face his father. He would have to keep her safe no matter what.

Khalid paced in the tent, he could not let his son go astray so easily, no not at this point. Now that he thought about it, he now understood his wife's fears for sending him abroad to school but he had dealt the woman a hard slap for questioning his decision. If she were here, she would have started her nagging, talking about how right she had been and how she had seen this happening and tried to avoid it. But she wasn't here, Allah bless her soul, she had died five years back in a plane crash. 

As much as he bullied her, he liked her the most; of his four wives she was the boldest, never one to shy away from speaking up which she did on a regular. At first, her unnecessary boldness got on his nerves but in time he adjusted and came to admire that part of her. Now he had to deal with her son - their son. The stubbornness he had gotten from his mother and his attitude was his father's blessing. Khalid smiled. He would marry his son to Mariam. Timid little Mariam of royal lineage.

People craved for many things, some impossible things and some realistic and most would do whatever to get that which they wanted. For Khalid, it was power, he couldn't be satisfied. Getting his son to marry Mariam would bring him to his goal, a bit closer. The only princess to the King of Saudi Arabia getting married to the Sheikh's son. He breathed in contempt.

Taheem walked into the tent, breaking Sheikh's Khalid's train of thoughts and bowed in greeting. Khalid smirked when Omar walked in, holding the American to his side. He watched the girl, her disheveled look as a result of the harsh desert winds and the fear which registered in her eyes he recognized as her fear of him. She looked away. 

Khalid looked at Taheem without speaking a word and he understood, the man reached out and grabbed Megan's other arm, yanking her free from Omar and pulled her to himself tightly.

"Omar!" Megan screamed, the grip on her arm was firm and painful, the man's other arm crossed her shoulder, keeping her in place.

"Father!" Omar seethed. He couldn't wrestle Megan from Taheem without hurting her so he turned his anger to the Sheikh.

"I have a proposition for you Omar bin Khalid." Khalid spoke, ignoring his son's anger and walked towards his supposedly claimed bride, rubbing a thumb across her cheek which felt like dried pasta and fought the urge to just slap her hard across the face. 

"She remains alive and well as long as you fulfill a simple wish of mine."

"A wish..?" Omar knew his father. The Sheikh was not a man of many words but each one he spoke, he kept them. A 'wish' as he called it, would be a compromise. He knew it. 

"You wishes are forever always against mine." Omar spat.

"As true as that may be Omar, you will have to do as I say." Khalid was relatively calm and he smiled to his son.

"And what are your wishes?"

"To get married."

"Married? But I have..."

"You will marry the princess Mariam, the bride I have ordained for you."


"Or..." He glanced at Taheem who grabbed Megan's hair, tightly pulling back so that her neck was exposed and he placed a knife there. "....or you watch..."

Taheem dragged the knife ever so slightly, tearing the top of her skin and drawing blood, she yelped in pain, careful not to move too much. Her eyes stung from all the dust and crying and she looked to Omar for help.

"Tawaqaf! (Stop!) What are you doing?!" Omar desperately wanted to put a thousand bullets into Taheem's robotic head. He was so angry that he felt his eyes begin to tear up.

"Taheem is only holding back, doesn't mean he wouldn't. You've seen what he can do, haven't you?" 

Omar knew, he had seen the man kill without emotions and without remorse. One word of approval from the Sheikh and Taheem would not hesitate.

"Why are you doing this?" Omar kept his voice low but his father didn't reply. He looked away in defeat and anger. He just had to be born as this man's son. "I will do as you have said."

"Good. We will return home tomorrow, you should get some rest."

The Sheikh smiled, then sat back on the cushion, folded his legs and closed his eyes. His plan was falling into place. 

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