“Hey, Noah, how quickly do you think you could pull together that barbeque we talked about?” Mark asked. He placed his cell phone in front of him on his dining room table and Amber and Joshua leaned closer to hear every word of the conversation through the speaker.
Alex watched with creased brow as he rested his back against the wall, propped up one foot and crossed his arms.
“You met the Roland’s today, right?” Mark asked without giving Noah a chance to answer. “I want to introduce them to the who’s who of the greater Kingston area. Your housewarming party is the perfect place to do that. We’ve got to convince them to move here.”
“How long are they going to be in town?” Noah asked. Alex could hear him flipping pages of the calendar on his desk. “I mean, are we talking tomorrow night? Or is Saturday afternoon okay?”
“Saturday’s perfect,” Mark said, giving a thumbs up to the FBI agents. They nodded their approval. “That will give us plenty of time to invite all our friends. Do you need help with the food? I can call in some favors and have the party catered.”
“That would be great, man,” Noah said. Alex could almost visualize him leaning back in his haughty leather chair. “Thanks.”
“Least I can do since you’re hosting the event,” Mark said.
“How are your friends liking the town so far?” Noah asked. “Did they find a house yet?”
“Not yet, and I don’t want them to get discouraged. Ya know what I mean?”
“How many people do you think you can pull together on short notice like this?” Mark asked.
“I’ve got connections,” Noah assured him. “I’ll get people there. So, your friends, do you think they’re the type to invest in the community?”
Translation, Alex thought. Do they want to donate to my re-election campaign?
“These guys are loaded, Noah,” Mark said with a lowered voice. “Between you and me, I think they could be a real asset to our community.”
“Let me see what I can pull together,” Noah said.
“Thanks, man. I knew I could count on you. Hey, I want to take them over to show off the factory. Who would be the best foreman to take us on a tour?”
“Ah, you’ll need to talk Drew about that,” Noah said. “I handle things over here at city hall. Drew handles the operations, if you know what I mean.”
“Cool, I’ll give him a call next,” Mark said. “Talk to you later, Mayor Adlin.”
“Later, Your Highness.”
Mark touched the screen on his phone to end the call and raised his eyebrows at the FBI agents leaning over his dining room table. “Do you think he bought it?”
“I’m personally questioning whether he bought it,” Alex piped up, still leaning against the wall. “That was too easy. You were too casual with him. You weren’t being… you.”
“What do you mean?” Mark stood to his full height.
“I have seen you stand up to kings, senators, and the scariest princess to ever rule an arid chunk of sand in the middle of nowhere.” Alex pushed himself away from the wall and stood eye to eye with his prince. “You were down on his level. He won’t buy it.”
“He bought it.” Mark raised his chin in defense. “I spoke his language because he needs to have his guard down enough to invite every slimeball he has on his payroll down there at city hall. If I ordered him around, he would have pushed back, and we would have gotten nowhere.”
“You’re wearing your crown Saturday night, you got that?”
Mark raised his eyebrows at Alex. “Now who’s throwing around orders?”
“I’m sorry, would this help?” Alex stepped to Mark’s right and cleared his throat. Leaning closer he said in a stage whisper, “Your Highness, you perform best when acting the part of… yourself. For this reason, I advise that you choose the smaller of your two crowns this coming Saturday evening.”
“I’ll take that into consideration, Alexander.” Mark’s voice was almost husky with emotion. Good. He needed a kick in the rear. And a shove back onto the pedestal where the good mayor would respect him once again.
Prince Marcos Sayid had been playing with drones and toy blocks for too many years. These local good ‘ol boys needed to know they weren’t going to pull the wool over the eyes of the tax paying citizens of this community.
Mayor Noah Adlin needed to know he wasn’t the mob boss, and this wasn’t inner-city Philadelphia.
Alex stepped away from his prince and glanced back at the two wide-eyed FBI agents. “I believe His Highness, Prince Marcos, will be taking you on a tour of our factory tomorrow. If you’ll excuse me, I promised my girlfriend I’d call her this evening. Let me know if there’s any other way I can be of service.”
“Thank you,” Mark said, lifting his chin. “That will be all for tonight.”
Alex nodded once and turned and strode from the room. A tiny smirk pulled at the corner of his mouth as he slipped on his jacket and loafers and pulled the door to the tree house closed behind him.