“What happens if your two-year-old crashes your drone?” Alexander Cohen-Stephenson called out to his best friend, Prince Marcos Sayid of Madain Saleh, as he trudged up the grassy hill overlooking the cascading falls that flowed through the property Mark had purchased for his bride, Hazel. His dress shoes sunk into the plush lawn and Alex realized too late that he’d need to have them cleaned and shined before he could return to the courthouse for his city council meeting that afternoon.
“Buy him another new one, I guess,” Mark called back.
Little Aaron turned to see who his dad was talking to and immediately dropped the controller into the grass and ran toward Alex. “Unca Alex!”
Alex swept the little guy up in his arms as the hovering drone took a nosedive.
Mark quickly leaned over and pulled the controller back out of the grass and righted the drone before it crashed to the ground.
“Nice save, Your Highness.” Alex nodded to Mark then tickled Aaron, who laughed out loud.
“I wouldn’t tickle him if I were you,” Mark said. “This is only his second day without Pull-ups and we’ve already changed once today. Unless you need an excuse to take that pinstripe suit to the dry cleaners.”
“Isn’t he a little young for potty training?” Alex asked, setting Aaron back on the ground, where he promptly ran toward the house, calling out to his mom telling her that his “Unca Alex” had come to visit.
“He’s almost three,” Mark said, using the drone’s homing feature to bring the expensive toy back to land near his feet. “Hazel refuses to have three sizes of diapers once the baby comes.”
“How’d the ultrasound go last week?” Alex asked.
“We’re having another boy!” Mark sang out with pride, puffing out his chest as if he could be personally credited with providing the State of New York with all the necessary sons required to populate the free world.
“Poor Hazel.” Alex tsked and shook his head in resignation. “She’s already outnumbered.”
“We’ll just have to try again for a girl,” Mark said. “I’m not complaining.”
“Well, you will be complaining once I tell you what I learned this morning,” Alex said.
As one of the most prominent young real estate developers in the Hudson Valley, Alex had taken it upon himself to also run for the Kingston City Council, choosing to help steer the direction of local government rather than sit back and hope the government officials maintained the level of dignity he expected. That morning’s discovery was exactly what he’d been trying to avoid.
Mark guided the drone back to earth, let the little blades come to a complete stop, then picked up the thousand-dollar toy off the grass. He folded the arms carefully, tucking the compact Mavic Pro Platinum drone into its protective case.
That little drone gave Alex an idea of how he could prove or disprove the disturbing news he’d received. The news that would shatter friendships that had been solid for almost six years. The news that their good friend, Noah Adlin, recently elected mayor of Kingston, was spearheading a government scandal that could implicate the prince and his advisor, as well as their fourth college roommate, Andrew Huron.
“Your Highness, I need your help.”