Two weeks ago, Joanna returned from a dinner engagement with Mick Riliuni who gave her an update on her favorite student's medical condition. She found the student's arrogant uncle waiting for her in the barn when she returned.
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Joanna pushed open the stall door to check the automatic watering system. She glanced over her shoulder at her visitor. “The Prince will not take kindly to the information that Shahin won’t return to the Institute.”
The Middle Eastern doctor shrugged his shoulders with a dismissive movement that indicated he believed her comment not worthy of note. “I will meet with Prince Talib in the morning before his classes begin. Like royal princes the world over, he is spoiled and accustomed to getting his own way.”
Joanna kept her expression neutral with difficulty as she shot him a wide-eyed stare. Spoiled and accustomed to getting one’s own way aren’t qualities limited to royal princes, my fine friend. I could say the same for you.
“His affection for his cousin is genuine and he will see the necessity, I assure you.”
“Yes, I can imagine you will guarantee he will. Well, Tuscan is set for the night, so my work here is done.” She gave him a wintry smile. “May I offer you a cup of tea or coffee before you leave?”
“Thank you, but no. I won’t trouble you further. As soon as I have more details, I will inform you.” He nodded his covered head in her direction and indicated she should precede him from the stable.
“Perhaps Doctor Riliuni as Shahin’s attending physician would take over —”
“Sayyida, I will keep you informed.” No one could mistake his emphasis on the personal pronoun in either language. “We do not want the good doctor distracted from his duties, and forgive me for again stating the obvious, but you are a distraction.”
Joanna bristled at his words. “I assure you, Doctor al-Najid, I have no intention of providing a distraction. Tonight, that is, I’m sure tonight is an example of your promise to allay my concerns.”
“Yes, I will be your informant. And now I will bid you a restful night’s repose.” He bowed once again in her direction, turned on his heel, and disappeared into the darkness. (Preview concludes next week.)
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