“I want to play!” six year old Sada called out. Immediately, Sada pulled away from her nanny as they passed by the gym where her older brothers were wrestling. Without waiting, she stormed across the gym floor, almost tripping when she reached the mat, then launched herself onto the back of the nearest body, laughing with excitement to be included finally.
Jaffri and Tavon, her older brothers, both froze when they realized who had joined in their sparring match. Jaffri was the first to react and he took pity on, Zahir, his friend from a neighboring country. With exasperation, Jaffri walked over and plucked Sada off of Zahir’s back. “Sada! You’re too small for this kind of training,” he warned her.
She twisted her head, her dark hair flopping over her eyes as she bounced around. “I’m not! I promise I’m not!”
He carried her under his arm to the edge of the mat, irritated that his baby sister had interrupted right when he was about to win the match. “Stay there!” he ordered, and plunked her down on the floor.
Sada watched, furious that she couldn’t play with her brothers. They never let her have any fun! “I’m not gonna stay!” she whispered and walked around the edge of the mat, watching as her brothers and the other boy, she wasn’t sure of his name, moved back into position. Jaffri and Tavon were strong, but this other person, she didn’t like it when he flipped Tavon over onto his back.
“Stop it!” she yelled, once more racing onto the mat to ‘save’ her brother. Again, she leapt from the mat onto the stranger’s back, trying to keep him from hurting her brother. “You can’t beat him up! I won’t let you!”
The stranger stopped and looked over his shoulder. Sada just stared at him, baring her teeth in an effort to appear more frightening than she was. The stranger wasn’t sure what to do, but Jaffri and Tavon both sighed.
Tavon was the first to react this time. “Sada! You’re not allowed to be in here! And you’re messing with things you don’t understand!”
“He’s hurting you!” she yelled, banging her forehead against the stranger’s back, just as she’d seen her brothers do on occasion. But for some reason, the man didn’t fall down like what happened when Jaffri did it to someone else. In fact, this stranger looked like he was almost laughing at her!
The stranger’s amusement only angered her further. “Don’t laugh! I’m hurting you!”
With a chuckle, Tavon lifted her off again. “Sada! You’re six years old! You’re too little to hurt anyone. Now go do something else!” With those words, he plucked her off of Zahir’s back and set her back down on the floor.
Sada watched, furious that her brothers would dismiss her so casually. But instead of jumping back onto the boy’s back, she glared, trying to show her anger with her “death glare” as her mother called it. When that didn’t work, she raced out of the gym, looking for her mother.
Sada found her mother in her office. Bursting into the room, she ignored the harassed nanny that tried to stop her. Sada knew from experience that she was significantly faster than her nanny and took full advantage of that fact.
“Momma! Jaffri said I couldn’t hurt anyone!”
Queen Katherine stared down at her pretty daughter, not sure what she meant. “Well, of course you shouldn’t hurt anyone. Why would you want to?”
“Because some strange boy is trying to hurt Tavon and Jaffri,” she explained patiently. “I want him to stop!”
Her mother smiled gently and lifted her daughter onto her lap. Relieved, Sada knew that her mother would finally explain this latest confusion.
Wrapping her arms around Sada, she kissed the top of her daughter’s head. “Dear, your brothers are learning to fight. This is their training time.”
Sada leaned back against her mother, enjoying the sensation of being in her lap. “So when do I get to learn to fight?” she asked.
Queen Katherine watched as her handsome husband walked into the room. Obviously, he’d heard the conversation and Katherine had to smother her laughter when her husband rolled his eyes.
“That’s a very good question, dear.” She looked at Talal. “When does Sada start her sparring lessons?” she asked, lifting her head for his kiss.
Talal lifted his daughter up into his arms. “You want to learn to fight?” he asked, lifting her higher so that they were at eye level with each other.
“Yes! I want to beat up the boy that is trying to hurt Jaffri and Tavon. I don’t like him!”
Talal chuckled softly and pulled her close. “That’s Zahir, honey. And I don’t want you sparring with him. He will be a sheik one day and you need to be nice to him.”
Sada laid her head against her father’s strong shoulder, not sure why she needed to be nice to someone who was hurting her brothers. But she was pacified, at least for the moment, with the promise of being taught to spar just like her brothers.
“Your baby sister?” Zahir asked, watching the little girl with the long, dark hair and pretty dress race out of the gym. Her hard soled shoes made a clatter as she raced along the marble floor of the hallway.
Jaffri grumbled. “Yeah, she’s a pain in the neck. Just ignore her.”
Zahir smiled, shaking his head. “She’s cute.”
Tavon shifted on his feet, irritated by the interruption. “She’s annoying. Next thing you know, she’s going to want to learn to spar as well.”
Zahir shrugged, then focused back on winning this match. So far, he’d taken both of his friends down onto the mat, and they’d bested him as well. “Right. Well, since I’ve just been attacked by a girl, I think I should…” he didn’t give any warning as he turned on his heel and swept Tavon’s feet out from underneath him. “Win this round,” he said.
A moment later, Zahir laughed when he found himself on his back as well. Jaffri had come up from the side and used a similar move, something that Zahir should have anticipated.
“Good one,” he called out, accepting the hand Jaffri offered.
“Come on. We only have two more weeks before we head back to school.”
Zahir grinned, eager to get right back into the mix. “I’m more than ready,” he said and spun around, taking both brothers by surprise. But this time, they were ready for him and countered his attack. Zahir almost went down this time, but he flipped around and caught himself, going in for another attack.
Over and over, the three of them tried to best one another. Unfortunately, they were too evenly matched and, after about an hour, they were also ready to call it a tie.
“Fine,” Zahir replied, accepting that none of them had won. “But I call a rematch on our next break.”
And during that time, he was going to get with a trainer to help him learn some new moves. No way was he going to let his two best friends beat him next time. Even a tie wasn’t a win, so not good, he thought.