By the time Alex arrived at the treehouse, Hazel had left to drive the babysitter home, Amber was typing notes into a laptop at one corner of the dining room, and Joshua was spreading business cards around the dining room table next to the candid photos of suspects he and Amber had been gathering all week while sightseeing.
“Oh, thank goodness,” Mark said when Alex slipped his dress shoes off at the door and shrugged out of his sport coat. “Come get this crown off my head before I go crazy.”
“I remember a time when you used to wear that adornment all day and not complain.” Alex chuckled but followed Mark to his dressing room.
“If you repeat this, I’ll deny it.” Mark glanced over his shoulder as if checking to make sure his wife was still gone, then turned back to Alex and muttered. “I swear that woman puts this thing on wrong. She’s not been properly trained. I need my advisor on days when I’m advised to wear this adornment, as you call it.”
“I’ll keep that in mind for the future,” Alex said.
As if this were an everyday activity, instead of the first time since Mark’s wedding, Alex reached for the formal leather bag at the corner of Mark’s walk-in closet and placed it reverently on Mark’s dressing table. He lifted the smaller of the two velvet boxes, which Alex knew contained Hazel’s crown, and set it aside. Lifting the larger of the two out of the bag, he opened the formal velvet box and stepped behind his prince.
Meeting one another’s gazes in the mirror, they took a moment to collect themselves, remembering the importance of reverence when placing or removing the crown.
Alex didn’t realize he’d missed this opportunity to be of service until his hands touched that simple band of gold and he lifted it off Prince Marcos Sayid’s head and floated the crown over to where it would slumber until needed again. He closed the lid, returned it to its leather bag and nested the smaller box on top. He then carried the leather bag over to its place of honor just inside the door of Mark’s closet.
Only then did he return to stand beside his prince, and they met one another’s gazes again. “There you go, Your Highness.”
“Thank you for your service,” Mark said, lifting his chin by way of showing appreciation.
Alex bowed his head respectfully, but briefly.
“Now, let’s go catch some bad guys,” Mark said with a gleam in his eyes.
“Don’t get too excited, Your Highness,” Alex warned. “This is our business crumbling along with theirs.”
“Yes, but we’re both billionaires so I think we can handle losing a few dollars.”
“What about all the people who are about to lose their jobs?” Alex asked.
“Hadn’t thought of that.” Mark pursed his lips in thought. “We’ll have to think of something.”
“How about we think while helping catch the bad guys,” Alex suggested.
“Good plan.” They headed back out to the dining room to help the FBI take down the mob boss of Kingston.