When Despina has been dead to the world for a good six months, missing, gone without a trace while on vacation in Virginia, her second husband, the splendid Norwegian Viking, Ragnar, shows up. He has tracked her into the trackless desert with his bondsman Tore's help. Tore has sat for six months in front of his incredible machine, searching endlessly for Despina’s essence, her aura, the most infinitesimal trace of that uniqueness that is Despina. And he found it, not in America, as he had thought to, but in the middle of a nameless Arabian desert.
Dawn finds Ragnar standing magnificently outside Omar’s family’s tent, giving off a golden gleam that seems to exude from his very skin. When Despina comes back from her habitual early morning ride aboard the best Arabian mare Omar owns, she draws rein speechlessly.
At the sound of her mare’s hoof beats, Omar emerges from the tent, surprised to confront an enormous obviously foreign man gazing lustily at a person he considers to be his chief wife – Despina. However, Ragnar, ever a diplomat’s diplomat, proceeds to smoothly talk Omar into letting her return to Norway to ride his, Ragnar's, chestnut Arabian stallion Ibn in the Trans-Nordic Endurance Race. He does not consult Depsina to see if she WANTS to return. He just automatically extends an invitation to Omar and Bahir, his stallion, to enter at the same time, to ride against Despina and Ibn, the defending champions. The way he talks, one would think all Despina’s loves and husbands could just as well form an exclusive men’s club and vie for supremacy at challenges devised solely amongst themselves.
Ragnar cautions Omar that they'll need to come up early to accustom the animal to the change of climate. On fire with the spirit of competition and world-wide recognition, Omar, Despina and Bahir head for the Nordic realm.
Of course, Ragnar neglects to return her... hiding her in his mountain fortress when she's done, spiriting both her and his stallion away before even Brandon Gannon, the CNN reporter who has been in on one big scoop after another by watching Despina and filming what she does, gets close enough for a wave of hello, much less an interview.
Ragnar has never intended to return her. He has thought out his carefully worded ploy well in advance of the morning he stood so gilded in the desert sunlight.
Omar, although highly incensed, still has enough sense to realize that he can hardly object, since Despina still seems to be married to both Ragnar and Cu, the Indian who got shot and surely had to have died, an event filmed by Brandon Gannon and broadcast on national and international TV, appearing via satellite relay simultaneously. Omar well knows he can NOT claim that she's married to him... not at all. He can’t even figure out how anyone from outside the Arab community even FOUND her. Someone in the American military? No, they’d seemed more than happy to pretend she had never existed.
He returns to the desert highly vexed, the love of his life denied him. Never mind that he has other wives…
Last updated 12/3/2014 added to main storyline; 5/29/06 (has never) 11/9/04.
Word count: 545
Reading Level: 11.5