“Another round for the table!"
Zayed, my closest friend and only one to ever refer to me so casually most times, waved over one attendant standing near the doorway of the private balcony. The French doors leading back into the main part of the restaurant remained blissfully closed with sheer curtains parted over them in order to block glances from curious guests.
The attendant trotted over with a drink cart, wheeling it along the carpeted flooring before kicking down the brake. Raising a brow at the fresh bottle of champagne he produced from a chilled ice bucket, I turned to Zayed and nudged his foot with my own just as they popped the cork.
“Don't you think we've had enough to drink? It's hardly noon."
My friend left out a laugh. “Are you, king of day-drinking, telling me you've had enough already?"
My other friend, Naveen, leaned across the double-wide couch and grabbed a hold of my shoulder. He shook me a few times, jostling the ice inside of my empty glass resting on top of my knee.
“Our prince is getting soft on us."
I rolled my eyes at my title being used so liberally and held out my empty glass when the attendant lifted the bottle in my direction.
Zayed laughed again, waving the attendant away from us. “Now he's trying to placate us. Should we be worried you're hiding something?"
I snorted at the assumption.
He wasn't wrong exactly, but it wasn't because I had suddenly become concerned with my kidney health. I didn't want to get completely plastered so early in the day. I had other plans to attend to tonight, and getting wasted on top of a private balcony at a lounge bar in the middle of downtown Dubai simply wasn't one of them.
“Hiding what exactly?" I lifted my glass to my lips but didn't take a sip from it.
“Maybe someone has a date tonight."
That got me to laugh. “The only date I have is with my sister at four o'clock, sampling cakes with her and my mother."
An outing I wasn't looking forward to at all. Both my mother and oldest younger sister could be quite opinionated when it came to party matters. With my sister's wedding only a few short months away, both she and my mother had been practically insufferable. I don't know what possessed me to volunteer as their tie-breaker for cake tasting, but I'm sure they'd make me regret it later today.
Which was all the more reason my evening plans were going to take precedence. After the day's events were all said and done, I would need the de-stressor.
“Come now, your highness." Naveen said, “You can't tell me that your mother isn't pushing you to bring a date to your sister's wedding. Surely she wants you to at least be looking for a wife."
I grunted at Naveen's attempt at prying into my non-existent love life. Well, non-existent to him, anyway. Zayed was the only one who was privy to most of that information. I didn't trust anyone else to know about my… extracurricular affairs.
While scandals weren't uncommon among the royal families within the UAE, I wasn't looking to expose myself when it wasn't necessary.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Zayed giving me a pointed stare.
“Well, of course, she is." I leaned back in my lounge chair. “But that doesn't mean I listen to her."
“How brave of you, your highness, to wave off the queen's persistence regarding your love life." Naveen laughed.
“I'd call it nagging, actually."
“If it were my mother, she'd berate me until I chose someone at the next royal event."
Zayed slapped his hands on his thighs and rose to his feet. “I think we can all agree that Rashid is quite stubborn."
As Zayed stepped over me to grab another drink on the cart, I looked up at him over the rim of my sunglasses and frowned. He was one to talk, actually. He'd barely made any efforts in finding a wife, and his situation had a much bigger time constraint than mine.
As the son of a diplomat and the next in line to follow his father's footsteps politically, it was in Zayed's best interest to find a wife as soon as possible. Starting his career in the complicated and often cutthroat geo-political landscape would only be harder if he tried entering it legally single.
No foreign nation wanted to deal with an untethered man. Especially one as young and vivaciously personable as Zayed. It was a recipe for a scandal potentially ending his entire career before it even began.
More than once, he and I sat around snickering at the reports of the poor sonsabitches caught with s*x workers or women married to other political figures in their hotel rooms because they didn't have a wife keeping them in line.
Sure, occasionally, situations arose where the reverse was true, and a married politician was caught living as if he had no responsibilities. But it was much harder to come back from something like that if the media already considered you unloyal in the first place. How were you to be trusted if you hadn't already taken the steps to show your commitment to another person?
At least, Zayed's father preached the sentiment to him. I, on the other hand, didn't believe in any of that.
I was determined to starve off my mother's insistence on finding a wife for as long as possible. My father being in good health, it'd be a long while until I was expected to take his place on the throne. And until then, my personal life would remain my own business.
“Why don't we sign him up for a dating app of some sort?"
Both Zayed and I turned to look at Naveen at the same time.
Zayed broke out of his stupor first. “Dating app?"
He shrugged. “Like an anonymous one. Perhaps his highness could find a nice girl from a noble family to occupy his time with. Bring her around to events and have her meet your family."
I raised a brow. “A commoner?"
Zayed and I exchanged looks with each other.
Naveen came from a relatively newer political family, so his knowledge about my family and how we did things was a little… lacking. His family had shipped him over here from India back when he was still a teenager in order to secure his studies in one of the richest countries in the world.
I'd met him when he was fresh out of college and interning at one of my father's business friend's companies. He'd surprised me by coming up to me with an informal hello, and a hand stretched for a handshake.
I still roused him about it whenever I could, reminding him of the horror on everyone's faces as he introduced himself to me and called me 'friend'.
“What's bad about that?" Naveen went on. “I mean… your inexperience can be worked out with a common girl. At least by the time you get married, you'll feel more confident."
I shook my head at him and said nothing. Amongst most of my friends and those closer to me, they all took my lack of companionship with women as a sign I was still inexperienced and a virgin. It was laughable. Not only was it far from the truth, but if the truth about my s*x life were ever exposed, it would absolutely horrify people.
And that's what made it so damn funny.
The only reason I'd ever let Zayed be privy to the information in the first place was because he'd been the first—and only—person to catch me.
After that incident, I'd been incredibly careful about my coming's and going's out of the palace.
“You know what, Naveen?" Zayed slouched back down into his chair and kicked up his feet. “I think you may have a point."
I shot him a look, telling him silently that egging on Naveen would only worsen the situation. Of course, my best friend loved causing trouble, especially if I was on the other end of it. It was something he fed off of in a macabre sort of way.
I half suspected it wasn't due to him wanting to humiliate me, but more that it gave him some sort of power over me he otherwise wouldn't get. He made sure to never take it too far—the man knew his place, after all—but he certainly toed the line enough for it to make me uncomfortable.
Which is exactly what he wanted.
“How about we do none of that." I told them both.
“Perhaps a dating app is too beneath you, Rashid. Maybe we should start you on something that's more your speed."
I raised my brows. “And what exactly would that be?"
Zayed grinned. “One of those Sugar Baby websites."
Next to me, Naveen all but choked.
My friend grinned at me. “Why not? You have plenty of money to spare. I'm sure some overseas college girl would love to send you nudes for a few thousand."
I rolled my eyes and used appropriate air quotes. “That wouldn't be exactly helping my 'inexperience'."
Zayed's grin widened. “You're right, my apologies."
Shaking my head, I leaned forward and slid my still-full glass onto the glass table in front of me. I stood to fix my shirt and jeans—something I liked to wear to camouflage with the tourists or when I didn't feel like dealing with people recognizing me—before pushing in my chair.
“I've got to head out. If you two want to keep drinking the day away, be my guest. But I'm closing out my tab before you both run it up again."
Zayed scoffed and threw one of the toothpicks he'd had collecting in his martini glass at me.
“You're a righteous bastard with that attitude."
I smirked at him. “I hope you remembered to bring your father's black card."
“Let me sign you up for an online website, and I won't recite your card number to the bartender for the entire restaurant to enjoy."
I gave him a look I hoped was as deadly as I wanted it to be.
“Come on, Rashid."
I smirked to myself as a thought occurred to me. “Find me someone of my skill level, and you've got yourself a deal."
The double meaning wouldn't be lost on Zayed but certainly would be on Naveen. Which was perfect. There was no way Zayed would find a woman even remotely close to the kind I liked to f**k daily, anyway. Not one would be respectable enough to bring home to my family.
My friend gave me the finger, causing me to laugh as the attendants opened the doors for me. I nodded to both of them and headed out into the chaotic noise of the Dubai marketplace.
I was exhausted and mentally drained when I got home from cake tasting with my sister and mother. With my bed in view, I flopped down upon, finally able to relax.
With both of them stressed at the same time, it was hard to get them to focus on anything else not involving my sister's upcoming nuptials because both were the type of people who wanted to solve and fix the issues at hand.
Which was an admirable quality if the process of my sister getting married could be sped up a good five months ahead of schedule.
However, that wasn't unrealistic. The rest of my family just had to deal with Bridezilla until we finally sent her off to live with her husband's family.
Once that happened, my middle sister, Shamsa, would be beside herself. Attached to Salama's hip, Shamsa adored her sister. When Salama's living situation arose, our father would scold Shamsa for her outbursts.
I never understood being so attached to someone it threatened to ruin your world if they ever left. Who would ever want to be that vulnerable?
Sighing to myself, I rolled out of bed.
Despite feeling drained, antsy energy had me putting my sandals back on and heading out my bedroom door.
By now, the house was blissfully quiet. With everyone gone off to their separate corners for the night, it gave me plenty of cover to sneak out into the vibrant nightlife in downtown Dubai.
I made sure my street clothes were still in place as I headed down to the garage and climbed into one of my cars. My mother hated when I didn't wear my kandura out in public, but it only made me more noticeable with how far it dropped to my feet. Only people of our status had kanduras that long.
Going out tonight was not something I wanted to draw attention to. The more I blended in with the tourists and the surrounding immigrants, the better.
It was only a short distance from the palace to the streets where all the nightclubs were. I didn't frequent most of them—my taste for what I wanted wasn't ever easily found on a hot and sweaty dance floor.
But that didn't mean it wasn't out there. It was only hidden to those too scared to go looking for it.
Having taken the least flashy of my cars, I parked down a back alley, glancing around as I stepped from the vehicle, locking it behind me.These days, having something eye-catching would only lead to people approaching and asking questions.
Heading to the unmarked door, I knocked a series of four knocks. A small panel at eye level opened up, and a pair of dark eyes stared me down.
I pulled out my keys and flashed the keychain on them.
The panel slid back into place, followed by the door opening.
Inside I could hear the music pounding through the speakers, thumping hard against my chest in a way that lit the adrenaline in my veins on fire. The bouncer behind the door shut it behind me and nodded for me to head down the hallway.
I could already smell the distinct musky odor of s*x even from here, and it only seemed to arouse me more.
Heading down the hall, it opened up into a giant room expanding across three sets of stages and a full floor. Nude dancers were all around, most of them in various states of preoccupation as they serviced their clients.
I strode over to one of my favorite spots and took a seat in the front. Up on stage was a woman with large t**s and a thin waist currently strung up from the ceiling in an intricate shibari restraint. Her face was pointed to the floor with her arms behind her back, and her ass pointed up, presented to whoever was next in the queue behind her.
Men lined up with their pants drawn, c***s in their hands, and their fingers fitting with wads of cash as each of them stepped up to rut into her. I sat back in my chair, catching the eye of one of my favorite dancers, and smiled when she glided over toward me, a drink already in her hand.
When she got to me, she immediately sat on my lap and put the glass of cool liquid up to my lips.
“I missed you." She told me.
I drank from it; the sounds of skin slapping against skin from the stage was great background noise as she ground the side of her ass into my hips.
Whatever was in her drink was strong, but it tasted sweet. She pulled it back from my lips and smiled at me when I grabbed her jaw in a firm grip.
Strippers and hookers were the types of women I spent my time with. Not because they offered great company, but because most were the type to not shy away from vanilla s*x.
I didn't want boring, procreating s*x my parents diligently tried to push me into. No woman would ever satisfy me completely, but at least the women here could be good enough for now.
I licked the liquid off of my lips. “Have you been good while I've been away?"
Her laugh was throaty, indicating she must have had a c**k down her throat not too long ago. I felt my own stirring in my pants, ready to continue on the cycle.
“Do you want to take me to our room and find out?" she teased me, her n*****s hard and pressing into the thin fabric of my shirt.
I slapped the side of her ass hard enough my hand stung. She let out a gasp followed by a moan.
“Let's find out, shall we?"