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Her desert knight(33)

By:Jennifer Lewis



"You should see the campus. It's awesome." Khalid's eyes shone with excitement.

"I have seen it." She grinned. "And if you don't want to stay in one of  the MIT dorms you could come live with us while you're studying there."

"Now, now." Her dad smiled sheepishly. "Khalid has to get in first. An application to MIT is no laughing matter."

"We all know Khalid is a genius." Quasar ruffled Khalid's hair. "And MIT will be lucky to get him."

White flowers ornamented almost every surface in the elegant  brownstone. It was wonderful to see the place filled with life, even  with noise and too many people trying to use the bathrooms at the same  time. What a difference from the hushed and somber atmosphere at her  first wedding, which her friends had warned her against and her cousins  were forbidden to attend.

All the ladies had their hands hennaed the night before, another Omani  tradition she'd skipped over last time. She expressed her admiration for  the women, and Quasar came up behind her and gave her a kiss. "You look  stunning."

It was the first time he'd seen her long white gown-even Omani brides  usually wore white these days-with pearl beads sewn into swirling  patterns on the skirt. Strapless and cut low in the back, it made her  feel daring and sexy as well as beautiful.

She'd been so sure she'd never feel that way again, until she found  Quasar reading the one book she wanted in her favorite bookstore. "It's  so strange that I had to go back to Oman to find you."

"And that I had to go back to Oman to find you." He kissed her softly  on the lips, then led her through the house and out into the decorated  garden. The leafy canopy of old oak and maple trees filtered the bright  afternoon sunshine. A white pavilion, decked with flowers, was set up  for the imam to perform the brief marriage ceremony.

She couldn't believe how involved Quasar had been in planning the  wedding. He really seemed to want to discuss every detail, even though  he was in the middle of a deal big enough to make the front page of the  Financial Times.

Salim, always one to take charge, moved through the gathered crowd,  ushering them out into the garden. Celia and Sara organized the children  around the pavilion with baskets of flower petals to toss at the moment  the marriage became official.

"Where's my shawl? I don't think the imam wants to see my bare shoulders." Dani bit her lip and grinned mischievously.

"I put it under the pavilion so you'd have it when you needed it," answered Quasar. "Let me get it for you."                       
       
           



       

"What have you done to my brother?" asked Salim. "I don't remember him being thoughtful."

"He seems determined to prove to me that I'm making the right choice by marrying him."

"Determination is a core Al Mansur trait." Elan walked up, carrying  little Hannah, whose eyes glittered with freshly dried tears.  Fortunately her face also glowed with a dazzling smile. "It's  particularly exasperating during the toddler years. But it's one of the  things that makes us so loveable."

Quasar returned and draped the silky white chiffon carefully over her  shoulders and hair. "See, you can be both traditional and modern at the  same time."

"And American and Omani." She winked. They'd found a live band composed  of Harvard students who swore they could play both traditional Omani  music and classic rock. Just watching them try promised to be fun.

"The Al Mansur family is officially global," Sara chimed in.

"Speaking of the Al Mansur family, when do you plan to add to the  lineage?" Celia moved next to Dani. "I think it's quite miraculous that  Dani managed to get all the way to her wedding vows without getting  pregnant."

"Or did she?" Sara raised a brow.

Dani laughed. "No plus signs on the pregnancy test for me. I've just  started my job at the Harvard Art Museum Research Center and I'm hoping  to travel to their ongoing excavation in Sardis next year. Besides,  Quasar and I intend to enjoy each other for a while before we add to our  family." She loved that he hadn't put any pressure on her at all to  have children yet. They had plenty of time for that.

Quasar took her hand and they walked together along the stone path  toward the pavilion where they'd be joined in marriage. Tears welled  inside her, but this time they were tears of happiness.                       
       
           



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