“Would you please stop squirming so I can fix you and get your dumb ass back on the field?”
“Hey! My ass is pretty decent.”
“Let’s agree to disagree. Ready? One, two, three – pull!”
Magnus exhaled loudly and allowed himself a moment to let the pressure roll off his shoulders. He ignored the screaming protests of Jace’s teammates clamouring outside the door and inhaled wearily.
Gone were the days of dealing with children and their simple scrapes, bumps and bruises. He sighed again. Sometimes he found himself missing the small plasters and sympathetic mothers.
Today was definitely one of those days.
Especially when it meant dealing with a certain blonde-haired captain of the New York Warlocks.
Damn cricketers, Magnus thought with some degree of fondness.
Without them, his salary would decline rather drastically. Was Magnus ready to admit this? Most definitely not.
Looking down at the injury bench, Magnus waited patiently for Jace Wayland, the talented, if not mildly irritating, cricketer, to cease his moaning. After a moment, Jace pushed himself up onto his elbows and stared down at his leg with widened eyes. “Holy shit. It’s…fine.”
Jace’s mouth hung open and Magnus sensed that the other man was biting back a retort.
“You sure you’re not a real warlock, doctor?”
Magnus grinned and offered Jace an arm, carefully pulling him to his feet. He checked again for swelling, gently prodding at where the bat had collided with his ankle.
“I think you’re good, Wayland. Be on your way.”
Jace made to stand and began a few brief stretches. He turned to Magnus again. “Thanks.” He said with a genuine smile.
“Don’t thank me until you’ve kicked their asses.” Magnus winked. “You hear me?”
“Loud and clear.”
“Knock ‘em dead, captain.”
“Yes, doctor.” Jace turned to the door, where his teammates had been impatiently awaiting the news. “OI! WHAT ARE YOU ALL DOING? GET BACK ON THE BLOODY PITCH!"
In the corner of the injury room, another man dumped a handful of bandages into a bin before offering Magnus a fresh glass of water. “Bien hecho, my friend. Good work. I thought you were going to rip the boy’s foot off for a moment there.”
“I debated it.” Magnus admitted. He accepted the glass from his co-worker with a nod and drained it quickly. “But I doubt his adoring fans would’ve approve.”
“Unconventional as always. You relied on your instincts, completely ignored protocol and succeeded anyway.”
Magnus narrowed his eyes. “And?”
“You’d be perfect for the Lightwood Prince-“
“Raphael, I swear to god, if you mention that case again I will slap you so hard you’ll forget your mother tongue.”
“Magnus, come on. Please!”
“Take the damn case yourself if you want to suck the prince off so badly.”
“Besame el culo!”
“’Kiss my ass’, seriously, Raphael? Rather lacking in originality, aren’t we?”
“How the hell did you understand that?”
“It’s nice that after all this time you still underestimate me, my friend. Anyway, why don’t you take the case? What’s stopping you?”
“Simon.” Raphael said miserably. His shoulders were slumped in defeat.
“What about your lovely husband?”
“That’s just it, Magnus. We’ve been married for three months now and I’ve had to postpone our honeymoon over four times! There are limits even to Simon’s patience. Look, I’ll even take care of all your patients here, I promise. Just do this for me.”
Magnus sighed. Truthfully, he had nothing against taking on a difficult case. In fact, he’d had many patients who had proven difficult. At first. He always won them over in the end. There was something enjoyable about helping a person to find their drive again, to watch them unfold and grow into whatever they chose to become.
He loved people, and all their strange, bemusing wonders.
“I’ll think about it.”
But the case of Robert Lightwood was infamous in clinics all around the country.
It was the story of a prince who was injured many years ago in a car accident and had refused to leave his wheelchair ever since leaving the hospital, despite every doctor’s insistence that exercise could remedy his injuries. Over thirty doctors and physiotherapists - like Magnus - had attempted to work their magic. Still, the prince refused to exercise.
Ten years later and new doctors would leave with the hope that they would be the one to break the streak. They would all return, disappointed and cursing the Lightwoods.
“How long have we been friends, Magnus?”
“Too long.” Magnus teased. His smile faded when he noted the sincerity in Raphael’s expression. “Look, I suppose-“
Roars of victory suddenly echoed around the room, making the pair jump. They turned to watch through the television as the outside game came to its inevitable victory, with the camera panning to Jace Wayland and his teammates lighting up the world with another win.
Magnus caught Jace winking at the camera and couldn’t help but smile in return.
He turned to Raphael and pointed a finger at him. “Fine, but only to save your marriage.”
“You’ll….do it? You’ll take on the case?” Raphael threw an arm around Magnus, surprising his friend and pulling him into a tight embrace. “I owe you, mi amigo.”
“Damn right you do.” He muttered, but returned the hug happily. He pulled back and patted the other man’s cheek fondly. “I’m expecting jewellery, designer boots and a fuck load of glitter, do you hear me?”
Raphael snorted. “You can settle for coffee after work.”
“Fine. Now let’s go and join those beautiful assholes. I, for one, have earned my victory champagne.”
~ ~ ~
Magnus had expected excited reactions from his best friends, and flatmates, about working for a prince, but he hadn’t anticipated what they’d focus on the most…
“Promise me you’ll bang a royal while you’re over there, Bane.”
His forkful of spaghetti landed directly on his lap. Magnus stared across at Catarina in shock, but she kept eating; as though fucking your way through a royal household was a normal dinner conversation.
“At least try!”
He glared at Ragnor, having hoped his other friend would change the topic.
Catarina waved her fork around absently. “I’d go for the daughter, personally.”
Ragnor scoffed. “The son is hotter.”
There was a moment’s silence, and Magnus prayed that the wholly inappropriate conversation had come to an abrupt close. He scooped some bolognaise up with his spoon, and was about to devour it when Catarina suddenly perked up. “Do you think they’d be up for a threesome?” She beamed.
He groaned. “Guys, please kindly shut the hell up. And no, Catarina, I doubt you would want to share the same partner as your sibling so let’s drop that thought like a goddamn Beyoncé track.” He shook his head. “You two.”
Ragnor gave a mock gasp. “Maybe you’d prefer the old prince? He could be your sugar daddy.”
“Oh, please. You know I don’t do older guys. Or women, for that matter.”
“You did that one summer in Rome.”
"She was an exception.”
“Because she bought you a Toscanella, leather handbag?”
“Oh, and Forzieri shoes!” Catarina piped up. “Don’t forget the shoes!”
“Those shoes.” Magnus sighed happily. “That was one hell of a summer break.”
“You were the only student to return with more money than you went with. Even the professors were pretty impressed.”
“Back to the issue at hand; I will not be sleeping with any of the Lightwoods. Mixing business and pleasure can be agreeable, I’ll admit, but this time I can’t see it happening.” He grinned when Ragnor and Catarina’s smiles dropped. “Sorry to disappoint.”
“So, what do they own again? Like half of Hawaii?”
“No, they’re just connected to that state through their family ties to the last Kingdom of Hawaii. One of their relatives were married to the last monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, I believe.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know all the facts but I think, after the government did their whole overthrowing act, the family money was passed down through generations and it’s still here now. The Lightwoods married into royalty a few generations back, through the father’s side, and their business empire began when they started up a publishing company. Which is, as you know, one of the largest in the entire country. They’re also the owners of many historically acclaimed properties so a great deal of their money comes in via tourism and charity funds too.”
Ragnor snorted. “Basically they’re rich as hell?”
“Basically they’re rich as hell.” Magnus agreed. “They’ve done well for themselves and I believe the son is beginning to take over as head of the business within the next year or so.”
“From the dad?”
“No, the mother. Maryse Lightwood. She’s pretty badass from what I’ve been told. She’s raised two children and kept a business not only running, but growing, all the while her husband refuses to get better or help in any way.” Magnus scraped the last of his spaghetti onto his fork and twirled it around slowly. “I can’t wait to meet them actually. They sound…intriguing.”
“You can’t fix everyone you come across, Magnus. Remember that.”
“What do you- “He trailed off as soon as he noticed Ragnor and Catarina exchanging a worried look. They hid it quickly behind smiles.
“I think what Ragnor is saying, is to be careful. They might not be as welcoming as you deserve, my dear.”
“When has that ever stopped me? I’ve proven arrogant footballers wrong and made it so Jace Wayland himself could hit the winning bat in the Championships. I can do anything. I can definitely handle a bunch of snobby royals. They’ll just have to deal with housing my glittery ass for the next few months.”
“Whoa, do you really think you’ll be over that long?”
“Honestly? No clue. I’ve been warned that the prince is a little…unwilling. So however long it takes.”
They began to tidy up. According to the rota – one had been drafted up after a four day argument kicked off about who did the dishes more frequently – it was Ragnor’s turn to wash-up, but Magnus took one look at his friend’s glum face and took pity.
He gathered up the dishes and headed over to the sink, filling up the bowl and soaking his hands in the warmth. He cleared his throat. “I’ll miss you. Both of you. I’m expecting updates about hook-ups and how the novel is going.”
Ragnor perked up. “It’s going rather well, thank you. I wrote an entire sentence yesterday!”
Catarina joined Magnus at the sink and rolled her eyes. They were both experienced in listening to their friend’s complaints about writer’s block.
When the trio first met at university, no one would’ve guessed that they would be sharing an apartment together seven years later.
And yet London had brought them all together, somehow.
Magnus and Catarina had met via their school departments, where Magnus had been studying towards his Physiotherapist degree and Catarina would sometimes share classes during her Nursing degree.
The pair became fast friends in their first year, agreeing to share a house the following year if they could find a third tenant.
One night, Ragnor, studying creative writing to no one’s surprise, had dramatically and rather drunkenly gifted the pair with a reciting of a Lady Macbeth monologue on their way home from a night out.
Having walked home together that night, they had been inseparable ever since.
Now, all in their late twenties and early thirties, Magnus was grateful for their companionship. They had been together through many firsts – jobs, relationships, and even deaths, and he couldn’t imagine his life without them by his side.
Catarina grabbed a tea towel and began to dry. She waited for Ragnor to disappear into his study and then cleared her throat. “You know, Magnus, you really should take this opportunity to look for someone, you know…to be with.”
“You think I’ll find my soulmate in Galveston, Texas?”
“Who knows? The point is….it’s been three years, since…” Catarina avoided his gaze and stared fiercely at the plate she was holding.
She was talking about the woman who had taken everything Magnus offered her, every ounce of love and passion in his entire being, and turned it into a weapon to use against him. She had come close to destroying everything he had built up. Without Catarina and Ragnor encouraging him, god knows what dark path he would’ve crawled down. They had been Magnus’ crutch.
And if Catarina was encouraging him to start hoping again, perhaps she had a point.
Magnus let out a soft laugh and turned back to the sink. The inevitable sad look in his eyes was to be kept hidden at all costs. “You must think me so daft.”
Placing the plate down on the stand, Catarina took his wet hands in her own and shook her head. “Never, Magnus.” She said, kindly. “You went through a lot. Not just with Camille, but before. And you deserve any happiness that comes your way, so please, promise me that if you see even the tiniest flickers of a new beginning, you’ll light that bastard into a flame.”
He swallowed down the tightness in his throat, suddenly overwhelmed by her kindness. He leaned forwards and kissed her cheek. “I will, my dear. And I see Ragnor’s metaphors are getting to you.”
“It worked though?”
They washed the dishes together, taking turns to tell stories about their day. They joked about life and circumstances, and Magnus was reminded, not for the first time that day, how welcoming it was to feel loved and accepted. He would miss this – his home and every simply joy it gave him – immensely.
“Oh, and don’t worry about Ragnor and I. We’ll manage, somehow, without our mother hen.”
“Good to know. I’ll be leaving in a couple of weeks so I’ll sort out rent and things beforehand.”
“It’s no problem, hon.” Catarina grabbed a half-opened wine bottle from the fridge and poured out a glass. She handed it to Magnus and then poured out another for herself. “Just go and prove yourself better than the….twenty others?”
Magnus winced. “Thirty.” He accepted the glass and drained it rather quickly. “I have to be better than thirty other doctors who were probably more experienced.”
“But less charming.”
“Actually, you may have a point there.”
They shared a laugh and topped up their glasses, heading over to collapse onto the comfy armchairs in the lounge area. Ragnor joined them after a few minutes, falling into the single chair and grinning across at him. “You have to keep us updated on what it’s like to waltz around a palace.”
Magnus felt his face fall. “Shit.”
His friends sat up at once, concerned.
“What is it?” Catarina demanded.
He frowned. “I have no clue how to waltz!”
The tension broke when Catarina burst into helpless laughter, and Ragnor soon followed her lead. She wagged a finger in his direction. “You, my dear, are a bisexual failure.”
“My sexuality has little to do with my inability to do a box step.”
“You’ll be fine. Just charm them with your – what was it again – oh yes, your ‘glittery ass’”.
They finished off the bottle between them, and excused themselves one by one. Before heading separate ways in the apartment, Ragnor quirked an eyebrow. “One more question.” He began.
Ragnor frowned. “What the hell is a box step?”
~ ~ ~
Across the other side of the country, Alexander Lightwood found himself at a hindrance.
His mother had been relying on him to secure this meeting, and here he was two weeks later and without any trace of one.
Today would be the last attempt before he accepted defeat and travelled home.
“Sir, if you would come with me please? Your seat has been confirmed. Next to Theresa Gray.”
His next two thoughts fought against one another.
On the one hand, he was sacrificing his usual approach of subtly.
But Miss. Gray had left him with little choice. She had refused over a dozen meetings now and it was up to Alec to secure one before he returned home.
He stood and addressed the flight attendant with a polite nod. “Thank you.”
As he walked onto the plane, Alec hid his anxiety and tightened his tie. He brushed off imaginary dust and tugged on his suit as he was led towards his seat in the first class area.
It was a perfect fit. Why the hell was he fidgeting?
He was nervous.
The Lightwood’s family motto ran through his head, not for the first time that day.
Ab ordine libertas.
From order, comes freedom.
It was everything the Lightwoods valued; discipline, hard work and order. Everything that had built up an empire and kept its head up throughout hardship and sceptics.
Alec was just hoping to feel even a shred of that Lightwood confidence. To take the pride in his mother’s eyes every time she discussed her achievements, and direct it towards himself. He had imagined the moment countless times, for Maryse to smile proudly and sign over a great deal of responsibility to her son.
He awaited that day patiently. Or at least, tried to.
Moments like this – cases like this – reminded Alec just how quickly he could prove himself unworthy to take over the burden.
No, not a burden, he quickly corrected. A duty.
The flight attendant came to a half and gestured to his seat.
He straightened his tie again. Here goes.
“Good morning, Miss. Gray.” He said smoothly, sitting down in one fluid motion and causing both the seats to jolt with a painstaking abruptness. His travelling companion let out a startled gasp.
Alec winced. Shit.
He turned to face the slight but stern woman and continued on, quickly. “My name is Alexander Lightwood and I believe we have some business to conduct. I hope I can settle any uncertainty you may feel about joining our-“
“You mean to force me into selling my home. I hardly call that business, would you, sir? And my uncertainties are quite justified by your actions. Why in the angel’s name would I partner with a company who plans on cornering me on a plane journey?”
He forced his expression to remain as neutral as her own, but Tessa was a marble statue of brilliant composure. She continued to stare out of the window, ignoring Alec completely.
In all the reports and research he had read, Tessa Gray had been recorded as an unmarried woman.
She turned to him then, studying him with narrowed eyes. “Exactly my point. All you know of me is written in your mother’s records and your company record books; how much I’m in debt, the houses I own and their values. You do not know me, Mr. Lightwood. Until you do, I shall never provide any sort of partnership with yourself or your company.”
Well, Alec thought, weakly. This is going rather well.
Tessa Gray had, however, been right in her accusation.
He had done extensive research on her, the company and its history and financial situations.
He had understood why his mother desired a partnership with Clockwork Press, who not only ran a publishing business that would add to the Lightwood’s own company, but owned a handful of historically valuable houses such as Iolani Palace in Hawaii. It was where the Gray – or Grays, plural, if Tessa had been truthful – household currently resided in.
But Iolani Palace was a dream that Maryse Lightwood longed to own. It had once been a home to their ancestors, which Alec rather enjoyed looking into, but his mother viewed it with more of a numbers and figures appreciation. She saw it for the tourist attraction it could become, with less regards to the history and culture.
To partner with the Grays would be an asset to the Lightwoods, but Alec wasn’t ignorant enough to not see how their gain was greater than the Grays would be.
Unfortunately, the Grays were running low on income and offers.
Maryse wanted to work this angle, and fast, and so here Alec was.
With a very unwilling Mrs. Gray.
“I didn’t mean to make you feel trapped.” He said, quietly.
Tessa stilled, looked him over the once and sighed. “I believe you.”
His mother would’ve winced at his pleasure at being liked. Alec could hear her words almost crystal clear; think with your head, not your heart, in this line of work.
“I’ve been in your position, Alexander. Young, unafraid, yet burdened with family responsibility to a business you were born into.”
She was, in fact, only a few years older than Alec himself.
He had been surprised when researching into the Grays at just how much power and status Tessa had not only been given at a young age, but maintained for a long while. Especially given the financial trouble which had started before she had even been born. Yet at the age of thirty-one, Tessa was headstrong and confident in her values. Alec found her pleasant and wise, if not a little unresponsive.
“So you’ll accept the meeting?”
He waited patiently, and as the minutes ticked by and the plane began to take off, he still did not speak. There was a time for silence, and he felt this was it.
After twenty minutes in the air, Tessa Gray tilted her head and nodded.
~ ~ ~
After arriving and reporting his success to Maryse – who congratulated her son with a split second smile as she began to dial in the number of her next business call – Alec headed outside.
Just for a few minutes, he would allow himself to simply be.
He shrugged out of his jacket and folded it carefully over his arm as he strolled around the gardens of Bishop’s Palace.
Friends of his – Jace, Aline, and his co-workers– had often scoffed at the name.
It was more of a restored castle than a palace.
If anything, it was more gothic horror than a Disney setting. More quiet charm than extravagant glamour. But Alec adored it. It was, and had been his home, since a child, and he thought fondly to the many memories he had of Isabelle chasing him around the rooftop balconies, or of he and Jace hiding and scaring the hell out of each other by hiding in the gardens and jumping out.
He sent a quick thought out to his best friend, currently touring the country with his cricket team, and made a mental note to reach out to him soon.
We’re a busy pair, he thought with a small smile.
The house also had a huge library which Alec sometimes found himself drawn towards.
Without realising it, Alec’s feet would take him into the large room, filled floor to ceiling with an array of books from first addiction Charles Dickens novels, to Chaucer, to bible illustrations that he didn’t quite understand but respected the grandness of.
There was something about holding a book between his hands; to take another world into his palms for a little while. It wasn’t quite escapism. It was an appreciation of the world he had been privileged to; a world that encouraged him to treat history as a living, breathing thing.
The Lightwoods were firm believers in tradition, but Alec himself was a little more lenient towards the modern ideas of the world, as was his younger sister, Isabelle. While the Lightwood publishing company produced texts from various cultures, genres and ideologies, his close family, save for Izzy, seemed to be stuck in a past he could find no pleasure in.
A world where deviation from the norm was considered a threat.
Alec enjoyed the freedom to be different.
He enjoyed it in modern literature and the new ways that texts played around with both old and new languages. There was always a way in the modern world to express an emotion.
If only Alec could learn from the books he read.
“Hey, big brother. How did your quest go?”
He turned, a smile already on his face, and watched as Isabelle approached from across the courtyard. She had called to him loudly, and made no attempt in hiding her joy.
The Lightwoods also valued time, just not so much for personal use. Seeing his sister, even for brief moments, was Alec’s own ongoing quest. His secret full-time job. Alec loved her with his entire being, just as Isabelle loved him with hers.
“Well enough. She agreed to a meeting, so we’ll go from there. No more business talk. Tell me about life.”
“Yes, life. Your studies-“
Isabelle cut him off with a groan. “Not that. Please. It’s all mom talks about, and all dad doesn’t. It’s the bane of my existence.” She laughed then, and Alec frowned. Her emphasis made no sense at all.
“Oh, you don’t know. We have a new doctor coming soon.”
“I see. What number is this?”
They made their way to a bench overlooking the gardens. It was growing cooler, despite the late spring air, and Alec offered Izzy his jacket. She took it with a smile and draped it over her shoulders as they sat down together.
“Well, I won the last bet so I’ll set the wager this time. Three weeks.”
Isabelle groaned. “No fair! You averaged out the total!”
“And here you were worrying about those exams.” He teased. “Izzy, you’re a genius!”
Isabelle poked him in the ribs. “Hilarious.” She deadpanned, but she turned to hide her grin.
It was quiet then, as it was between siblings who knew when to tease and when to relax. Alec sighed happily, leaning back into the sofa and letting the strain of that day dissolve-
The tension in his shoulders suddenly returned as the pair watched their family manservant, Hodge, approaching.
The man was a little younger than his parents, but had been with Alec for as long as he could remember. He was a close friend of Robert Lightwood’s, and had offered his services after the accident. He approached them now with a polite smile. “Alec, your mother requests to speak with you. As soon as you are free.”
“Thank you, Hodge. I’ll be just a moment.”
“Of course you will.” Isabelle muttered. She had already stood, letting the jacket fall onto the bench beside her brother.
Alec opened his mouth to speak, but was silenced by her look of disappointment. How he wished he could lounge and enjoy her company as often as possible. But with a company soon to be transitioning into his hands, Alec couldn’t afford such luxuries.
“It’s fine, Alec. Go and do your thing. I have a shit ton of Latin proverbs to translate anyway. That scholarship’s not going to earn itself, you know.”
“Good luck.” He lamely offered.
“Thanks.” She raised an unimpressed eyebrow. It pierced its way through his facade, pricking a stab of guilt into his heart. “You too.”
Unsure to leave it at that, Izzy decided for him and waved once before disappearing into the house without another word.
He should’ve hugged her, at least. Why hadn’t he?
Alec exhaled slowly, pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers and then headed inside; where he belonged.
~ ~ ~
“That is a sexy jet. A very sexy jet. I would invite that jet into my bedroom.”
“Uh, this way, Doctor Bane.”
“Right. Let’s see if she looks just as good inside as she does on the outside.”
The flight attendant, a tall and elegant woman in her early thirties, stared at him blankly before leading him inside the cabin.
Really? Nothing? Magnus sighed. Why were his best innuendos falling so flat today?
It was probably because the aircrew of the Lightwood’s private jet had never taken on-board a flamboyant and flirtatious doctor before.
It’s your lucky day, kids.
He hummed as he walked up the airway. Today was certainly shaping up to be an adventure. Arriving at the airport, Magnus had navigated his way to the correct flight zone only to realise he was standing quite alone in a small waiting area. The same shy woman had introduced herself as one of the jet’s flight attendants.
As in, the Lightwoods had sent him a private, slim and sexy jet to fly his cute ass over to Texas.
Magnus was in seventh heaven when he climbed on-board.
“Oh, hello. You beautiful thing.”
If glitter was a Magnus Bane aesthetic, the plane’s interior was a close second. It was everything he loved; chic, style and class. Perhaps it lacked a bit of colour – okay, a lot – but the matching crème and black colour scheme was delightful to the eye, and Magnus noted the splashes of green – cushions, bar stools and curtails – with pleasure.
His first thought was, ‘The Lightwoods have good taste’.
This thought was soon followed by, ‘Of course they do. They hired me’.
Holy shit. There’s an entire bar.
His third thought was pretty see-through. Alcohol was another aesthetic Magnus took pleasure in. Especially, as he assumed, the Lightwoods seemed likely to keep a well-stocked supply of fancy cocktails. Magnus enjoyed cocktails immensely. A thousand and one hangovers could support this claim.
“So,” He clapped his hands together and turned to the small crew. “Who’s up for Ring of Fire?”
~ ~ ~
“The new doctor is arriving tomorrow morning.”
“Perhaps he will be…different.”
“I doubt it, my dear.”
“Robert….” Maryse halted. She looked at Isabelle, sharply. “Are you studying after dinner?”
This was a trick question.
Izzy hated this, the hidden questions behind simpler ones. This one translated to a statement of ‘do you know your duties?’.
“Yes, mom. Until eleven. And then I might read for a bit-“
“No reading tonight, Isabelle. Tomorrow, we may require your...knowledge.”
She meant Izzy’s enjoyment of what her mother called ‘common folk taste’. Pop culture, radio music, fashion of all kinds. No television, though. Her parents had a strict ban on television in which the only movies the Lightwoods had ever watched together were historical documentaries on upcoming properties for sale.
The new doctors often needed a little normalcy that Izzy was relied upon to give. She was to show them around and help them feel at home.
Which was, sadly, ironic; considering Izzy barely felt at home herself.
Her passions, like everything around here, were exploited for gain. And suppressed when not needed. She remembered how often she had caught Alec reading a book for pleasure only to bury it beneath a chair when footsteps approached. Or how Max had once…
Izzy stabbed at her plate.
“Sorry.” She mumbled.
She turned her thoughts away from school and to Lydia.
As she often did, Lydia Branwell occupied a great deal of space in the wonderful mind of Isabelle Lightwood.
She was a childhood friend and had grown up with Alec, Izzy and Jace as their parents were close friends.
The Branwells were also future partners to the Lightwood Publishing Co. They specialised in academic textbooks and were a largely well-known brand throughout the country.
Lydia and Izzy had taken horse riding lessons together, grammar lessons at Sunday school together, and even taken up a creative writing summer workshop until Maryse found out and they were both forced to quit.
God forbid a little liberation was allowed.
She was the one person, other than blood relations – and indeed, she would always see Jace as that – who knew about Izzy’s true desires. Where her heart laid. Not in the business world at all. Other than her brother, Lydia had been the only other companion to earn Isabelle’s trust.
Lydia Branwell was passionate and strong and well on her way to being a top notch businesswoman, and Izzy was incredibly proud of her. And incredibly jealous. She hadn’t been forced down a path by her parents. They had discussed and actually talked as a family.
I wouldn’t know what that meant.
Lydia was a fresh of breath air every time she came back into Isabelle’s world of polished shoes, ironed shirts and grade As. She was the passionate woman who Izzy desired to be, and the smart and kind woman who Izzy also fought with her desire for.
And she was also engaged to her brother.
It was a business alliance, through and through, born from an idea to fully form a partnership between the new generation leaders of the Lightwood and Branwell Publishing Cos.
There had never been, nor would there ever be, anything but friendliness and fondness between the pair.
But it still hurts.
Why does it hurt?
Did Isabelle hurt for her brother, Lydia or herself? Or was it a mixture of all three?
She had yet to figure it out.
“I’m no longer hungry. Please excuse me.”
“Of course. Don’t forget, lights out at eleven o’clock. I’ll send Hodge to check.”
Isabelle left the room, hungry and starved of more than just food.
~ ~ ~
To get to Bishop’s Castle, one needed to cross a freaking causeway.
Magnus looked out across the water, impressed.
He had arrived at Houston, Texas only to be quickly ushered into a private car that would take him across the causeway and to Galveston.
That was where Bishop’s Gate stood tall and proud in the East historic District, or as Magnus had dubbed it, the ‘posh, beautiful area for posh, beautiful people’.
Basically where a ton of rich people own houses and do rich things together.
He couldn’t wait to arrive.
“Sir, will the entire Lightwood resident be there?”
His driver, a stern-faced, older man with a grey tuft of hair and sharp eyes, gave him a brief look through the mirror. “No, doctor. The son is away on business.”
“And Robert Lightwood is home?”
“As always, doctor.”
Magnus winced. Yeah, that was a pretty dumb question.
He gave up making small talk and watched the houses rolling by.
There seemed to be a theme, Magnus noticed. All were large, surrounded by hedges and were at least three stories tall and enveloped by lovely porches and balconies. Some had hotel-like colours, rich reds and blue painted around the window frames, whereas others were soft pinks and crèmes and decorated with flowers or expensive looking lantern lights.
It was very pretty, but also rather bare.
There was no traffic or loud cries of people sharing laughter as they walked.
The loudest noise was the gentle June breeze in his ear, and the occasional car driving by lazily.
Galveston was all long roads with houses on both sides, and palm trees stretching into the skies.
There was a quiet beauty to it, with its subtle colours and quietness, but Magnus felt a little overwhelmed by the vastness. It was so empty compared to the loud, hectic nature of Brooklyn or New York. There were no flashing neon lights and street sellers and excited travellers.
It felt like he had driven into a different time, or even a different world.
Well, you have, he told himself.
“We are arriving, doctor.”
“Ah, thank you!” Magnus rubbed his hands together, excited and a little anxious, and turned to watch as they pulled around the corner to reveal the palace.
Well, hello there. It sure is posh.
“Whoa.” He exclaimed.
Three-stories high and complete with pretty turrets, Bishop’s Palace was a delight to Magnus.
It wasn’t dull, in fact, but rather a beige-golden colour with maroon railings, curtains and window ledges contrastingly beautifully. It was slighter than he had imagined, less epic Dracula castle and more quiet fairy-tale. Its Victorian stone style was elegant and welcoming, and Magnus was quite certain it would have a ballroom inside.
He ran his eyes appreciatively over the prettily trimmed hedgerows leading up to the main stairs, enjoying the rows of pink and red roses that led up to the double doors. It was sweet and grand all at once and he stepped onto the cobblestone driveway.
Magnus swung open his door, ignoring the approaching porter’s – valet? Magnus didn’t know what to call someone who was hired by posh people to do posh deeds like pick up strange doctors –protests.
He grinned to himself. Living here is going to be such a burden.
“Oh, sir, I’m so sorry. May I take your bag?”
He beamed at the young boy, who couldn’t be older than late teens, and shook his head. “Most definitely not, my dear. I am a strong, single, independent young man.”
The boy blinked. “Sir?”
“That translates to a no. Thank you.” He added, quite aware that the boy looked ready to cry at any moment.
He watched as the boy took him in, slowly. Magnus looked down at his attire; tight, black skinny jeans, a gorgeous, deep red silk shirt with muted gold swirls on it that brushed his thighs, and a handful of necklaces he never left home without. His eyeliner, he was fairly certain, was on point, as was the small dusting of glitter he couldn’t help but throw on that morning.
Magnus watched as the porter viewed him with all the subtly of watching a zoo animal.
He smirked and waved a hand in front of the boy’s face. When the boy flushed, Magnus drawled out, “This was the closest thing I had to normal, believe me.”
“Uh, come this way. Sir.”
Never one to feel insecure, Magnus shrugged and followed the boy up the stairs, hauling his suitcase with little trouble. He was slim, but Magnus enjoyed regular exercise such as yoga, weights and running. Describing him as well toned would be an understatement. He was quite fond of dancing too, having both trained for a few years in Salsa classes as well as dancing for pleasure on nights out with Catarina.
“So, how easy can I win over-damn!” He broke off with a wolf whistle. “This is quite something else.”
The porter smiled in understanding. He gestured, happily, with an arm. “Welcome to Bishop’s Palace, Doctor Bane.”
“Thank you, cupcake.”
The interior was pristine and in perfect condition. It was washed in warm light from the open door, flooding the entrance and hallway. A thick, red carpet ran across the entrance hallway, and Magnus followed it and gazed up, slowly, taking in the high ceiling, stained glass windows and the beautiful twining staircase at the end.
Numerous doors greeted him as he walked, but all were closed except for the latter, which led into what appeared to be a never-ending garden. He could see mazes and rose bushes and ponds-
“Doctor, if you would wait here…”
“Oh, yes.” He turned back and smiled sheepishly at the boy, who was looking like he may have to call for help if Magnus wandered off into the gardens. “Apologies. I shall be good, I promise-“
He broke off and gasped. “Oh my god! Is that a real knight’s armour?”
The porter flinched as he approached it. “Y-yes, but please could you not-“
Magnus had skipped over to the armour, which was presented on a long wooden post, a little too enthusiastically. He suddenly lost his footing on the soft carpet, exclaimed and hurtled straight into the priceless piece.
“What the hell is going on here?” An approaching, and very pissed off, voice demanded.
Magnus was about to turn and look, but realised that he was not in a position to move. He had his arms locked tightly around the armour, making sure it stayed exactly where it was supposed to.
“Thomas, please help. Now.”
Magnus held his breath as the porter, Thomas, helped him steady the artefact carefully.
The tension in the room was unbearable.
“Who are you?”
He turned then, and was met by an older woman wearing one of the fiercest scowls he had ever seen. It even put Ragnor’s bitter sulks to shame. She was slightly smaller than he was, with broad shoulders and tightly pulled back dark hair.
Her dress sense was…smart. And dull, Magnus noticed a little sadly. She had a lovely hourglass figure but had settled on a formal, grey suit that screamed ‘business’. Her dark eyes were narrowed, and he suddenly recalled her question.
“Oh, hello! I’m Magnus. Magnus Bane.” He held out a hand. “Doctor Magnus Bane.”
“The doctor?” She asked crisply, staring at his hand for a moment before shaking it once, quickly, and then dropping it to fold her arms across her chest. “In future, please refrain from destroying our family heirlooms.”
He realised with a start, and a grimace, who he had made such an awkward introduction to. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Your Highness.”
Maryse Lightwood inclined her head. “Much appreciated, but ma’am will do just fine, doctor.” Her lips were pressed into a thin line. “I trust your journey was pleasant?”
“Very much so.” Magnus said cheerfully. “The house is incredible. I love the…” His eyes had dropped to the floor, and to her footwear, and he couldn’t help but frown at the height of Maryse’s heels.
“Well, then, Thomas can show you to your room. Do excuse me.”
She turned to leave.
He heard Thomas’ sharp intake of breath, but he pushed down any nerves and tried to seem pleasant enough when Maryse looked back, startled.
“It is of my professional opinion that you should rethink your footwear.”
“I beg your pardon?”
Her expression was one of cold fury.
“I just-“ He reminded himself that he was here as a professional, and had every right to say as such. “Your heels are far too high, Your Highness. Uh, ma’am. While I do appreciate such shoes, they’re hardly necessary for daytime activities. I suggest you wear lower heels or perhaps loafers? There are surprisingly fashionable ones on the market at the moment. I can point you in the right direction of a stunning French brand. Otherwise it can cause plantar fasciitis, which is when there is a lack of support in the heel of the foot and-“
“Thank you. Thomas, please show the doctor to his room.” She stared at him, coolly. She was unfazed but clearly displeased. “I shall see you at eight o’clock. Sharp. Excuse me.”
Well, fuck. He winced. Telling Maryse Lightwood what shoes to wear hadn’t been his desired first impression.
Neither had almost knocking over an heirloom.
He silently followed Thomas up the staircase, head hanging in shame.
It seemed that Magnus was well on his way to becoming royally screwed after all.
And not in the fun sense.