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In the Sin Bin

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“Only four minutes in the sin bin tonight, Wayland,” Alec shouted across the locker room to his best friend and teammate. “You’re slacking.”

Jace flipped him off and gave that All-Star grin that had all the puck bunnies falling at his feet. But that smile hadn’t had any effect on Alec for years now, and Jace knew it. Alec grinned and whipped his sweaty jersey into the clothes basket.

It had been an almost perfect game tonight, until Alec’d let a puck slip through his five hole in the last minutes of the third period. But the New York City Blazing Angels had won anyway, sliding past their division rivals to move one game closer to a playoff berth. The other players acknowledged Alec’s good work with slaps to the back and tipped up chins as they glanced his way. As a rule, the Angels weren’t on overly affectionate team, but they all respected each other in a way none of Alec’s other teams ever had. The Angels were the best team Alec had ever played for. At the age of twenty-eight—and seven years since he’d gone pro—he was finally looking at a team he could go all the way to the championship cup with.

Alec accepted the quiet praise then concentrated on removing all his gear. As the goalie, he was covered in way more padding than any of the other players, and it took him twice as long to get undressed and into the showers. Which usually came with cold water, but the benefit of more privacy.

“Lightwood!” Coach Garroway bellowed from his office. “There’s a crying woman on my phone. Come in here and calm her down.”

There was a chorus of oohhhs from the other  players.

“Who’d you dick and dump, Lightwood?” one of the other players cackled.

Alec gave an overblown fake laugh, but otherwise ignored the friendly taunts. He knew for a fact that whoever was on the other end of that line—if it was a woman—wouldn’t be any of his one-night stands. He wanted to take a look at his cell to see if he had any missed calls—so he had some clue as to who was so desperate to reach him that she would call his Coach—but his cell was buried somewhere in his duffel and the longer he kept Coach Garroway waiting, the more wolfish he’d become.

He trudged into the Coach’s office, still wearing half of his gear. Garroway was focused on the paperwork in front of him, holding out a handset in Alec’s general direction. Alec heard sobs coming from the other end of the line. He recognized the squeak in between breaths immediately.

“What happened now, Clary?” Alec bit out. His agent Hodge Starkweather’s personal assistant rankled him—in some way or another—most days and her calling in hysterics didn’t help her cause. He didn’t deal well with tears, even if Clary was sort-of-family.

Clary sputtered. “Hodge was just arrested!”

Alec blanched and dropped onto the seat in front of Garroway’s desk. “What?”

“Hodge was arrested! The finance department discovered that he’s been working with Valentine over at Morgenstern & Morgenstern and they’ve been siphoning money from player’s accounts for years now and the police just came and arrested him and now”—Clary broke into ragged sobs again—“I’m not going to have a job!”

Alec gritted his teeth. “Clary. Get your shit together. I’m sure the agency will keep you on. I need you to tell me how much of my money may be on the line here.”

Coach Garroway’s head whipped up at that. He set his pen down, focusing on Alec.

“Oh,” Clary said, sniffling—as if she was just realizing that the world may not revolve around her problems. “I don’t know. The person from finance that I talked to said Hodge and Valentine had ripped off all their shared clients in some way or another. I didn’t think about you. Sorry.”

Alec put his head in his free hand. “I need to know how much, Clary.”

“Hang on.” More sniffling. “Let me pull up the spreadsheet finance sent over.” There was the sound of Clary typing at her keyboard then an audible intake of breath. “Oh, Alec.”

Alec grimaced, looked up and caught eyes with Garroway, who was frowning. Deeply.

“How bad is it?” Alec asked, every lingering ounce of joy from the team’s win leeching from his veins.

“They’re estimating somewhere around four million dollars.”

Alec’s head spun. Four million dollars. That number couldn’t be real. It was almost everything he’d saved over his entire career. His salary was good—about to get much better if the Angels made it to the championship—and he’d always been more of a saver than a spender. Compared to other players, Alec’s daily needs were small.

“Four million,” he choked out and Garroway winced. “Is it gone? Or do they think they’ll be able to get some of that back? I mean, he couldn’t have spent it all.”

“I don’t know. Oh, Alec. I’m so sorry.”

He swallowed the bile rising in his throat, and swiped at his upper lip with shaking hands. “I’m going to need to make some calls now. You okay?”

“My shit has been gathered,” Clary replied, her tone resolute, even as Alec’s world was crumbling. “I’ll call your cell if I hear anything else.”

“And Clary?” he said, before she hung up. “Don’t call Simon yet.”

There was a beat of silence and Alec knew he was sunk.

****

“Meebs?” Clary said, as she knocked on Magnus’ open office door. “I need to talk to you for a second.”

Magnus’ head whipped up. “No. Absolutely not.” But it wasn’t his time or Clary’s he was dead set against.

Clary clicked a pen against the file folder in her hand as she entered. “Mags?”

Magnus shuddered. “No.”

Clary threw herself dramatically into the chair in front of his desk, legs sprawling over the arms, and Magnus knew this conversation was going to be a long haul. “Come on. I’ve known you for years now. You’re fun. I’m fun. We’re fun together. I should have a name for you that reflects….” Clary’s sentence dragged off into silence as she appeared to be searching for the right word.

“Fun?” Magnus tried.

“Yes! Fun!” Clary arched a sculpted eyebrow, and she leaned forward. “Maggie B?”

Magnus shivered as if someone had just spray-painted, then kicked over his gravestone. “Definitely not. Nicknames don’t work that way, biscuit.”

Clary pouted. “See? You have the cutest nickname ever for me.”

“You’re a cinnamon roll, darling,” Magnus said genuinely, earning a delighted upturn of Clary’s lips. “Now, you needed one second?”

“I may need more than that.”

Magnus feigned surprise. “I am shocked.”

Clary rolled her eyes and tossed the file folder onto his desk. “I’m sure you’ve heard about Hodge by now.”

“I did. I’m sorry, biscuit. You know I’ll be happy to help you find a new job.”

Clary stood and sat on the edge of Magnus’ desk. “Not needed. The agency is keeping me on…as your new personal assistant. If you read your email you’d know this already.”

“Email is so 1890s,” Magnus dismissed, scowling at his screen. He probably should check his email every now and then but he preferred to work face-to-face or by actually talking over the phone. While he had run across some of his clients on other apps on his phone, he was always discreet enough not to connect in an unprofessional way. He gestured toward the hallway, the bracelets lining his wrists clinking. “Besides, angel, I already have tragic-homemade-sweater Kitty as my assistant.”

“Who you share with three other agents. I, however, will be all yours.”

Magnus narrowed his eyes. “Don’t taunt an old man. It’s not nice.”

Clary reached across the desk and clamped a hand on Magnus’ shoulder, her infectious smile lighting up her face. “You’re only ten years older than me. And thirty-five has never looked more eighteen.”

“You’re hired.”

“Great.” She tapped a lacquered nail against the file folder. “But I come with a catch.”

Magnus sighed. “The hot ones always do.”

Clary’s lip twitched at the innuendo, but she continued undeterred. “They’re dividing up Hodge’s client list between other sports agents, and there’s one I begged to have you take on.”

“An athlete?” He left no question in his tone to how he felt about this. As an agent for IE, he dealt with performers and artists, not testosterone-soaked gym junkies. “I don’t rep neanderthals. I don’t even do them. And you know how shallow my application process is.”

“Well, this one….” Her eyebrows furrowed, then she shook her head. “It’s not going to matter. I need you to take on Alec. He’s family. Kind of. And he got burned big time with Hodge. He has trust issues but he’s fiercely loyal, so he won’t leave the agency but he’ll be unhappy with any of the others. I know him. He just will. But you, Magnus…. You care about your clients. Just take him on temporarily. Meet him. I think the two of you may just hit it off.”

Clary slid the file across Magnus’ desk.

Magnus sat back in his chair, steepling his fingers together, refusing to touch the file.

“Please, Magnus. I promise you’ll love him.”