Jasper sighed heavily as there was a knock on the door and rather panicked one at that and pushed himself up on the sofa where he was talking quietly to Mary-Alice, they had decided to spend the day at his so her step-mother wasn't hovering around. He opened the old door, cringing as it creaked on its rusty hinges. As the door opened, it revealed a man slightly smaller than himself dressed smartly. Jasper frowned as he took in the brown hair and the sea blue eyes, plus the cleanliness of the person: he clearly wasn't from this area of town. However, despite the fact that the boy was dressed smartly, he looked dishevelled.
'Are you lost, sir?' Jasper asked politely.
'I really hope not,' the stranger replied. 'You probably don't recognise me, my sister and I try to avoid the public in general, but I'm Alec -'
'Prince Alec?' Jasper's mouth fell open and his thoughts immediately jumped to his sister, still asleep he believed in her room upstairs.
The stranger nodded and Jasper found it within himself to bow, his mind in two places about his prince. First, he did provide the money that saved Mary- Alice and Jasper knew that Alec was deeply in love with Jasper's baby sister, completely head over heels in love with her. However, the prince was also the reason that the family had agreed to leave Isabella alone today and had tried to keep the house quiet, the reason that her eyes, the same colour eyes he shared with her, didn't sparkle the same way they did when the two of them were younger.
'Please don't bow,' Prince Alec wrinkled his nose. 'Look -'
'Jazz, who is it?' Mary-Alice's voice asked as she came towards him, probably wondering what was taking him so long. Seeing the prince, she dropped in a curtsy. "Your highness, thank you so much for that money. I'm sure my fiancé has sufficiently thanked you -'
Jasper looked away from Mary-Alice's loving gaze but Prince Alec spoke.
'Yes, he has,' he replied gracefully. 'In fact, I wouldn't have gotten to stop if you hadn't come out.'
'Really?' Mary-Alice grinned, turning back to Jasper as she had looked at the Prince when he was speaking.
'You know, I can't live without you, Ali,' Jasper smiled lovingly at her before turning back to the Prince. 'You want to see my sister, don't you?'
It wasn't a question; it was a statement on fact.
'Desperately,' Prince Alec agreed. 'Please, I just need to speak with her -'
'Why?' Jasper demanded folding his arms across his chest and frowning over at Alec.
'Jazz,' Alice scolded.
'No, no, Miss, it's fine,' Alec waved his hand at Mary-Alice. 'I'm glad you're well and so happy but would it be too much trouble if I speak to your fiancé alone?'
Catching her dismissal, Mary-Alice curtsied and disappeared inside and Alec turned to Jasper.
'Let me guess,' he said softly but still sounded as though, somehow, he still had the upper hand, 'Izzy hasn't told you very much about me so all you know is that we had a relationship that we kept vaguely secret and now I've just completely forgotten her because I can't have a future with her.'
'That about sums it up,' Jasper nodded, 'except I know you love her and that she loves you in return. That's all I know. But, your highness, you'll forgive me for being a bit perhaps in your opinion over protective of my sister about this. You'll understand of course that Isabella is the baby of my family, which means the whole family is against anything that may bring the slightest bit of harm to her. You'll be surprised to hear no doubt that we didn't even want her to take that job at your castle because we wanted to her to have a life of vague ease even if we could never have one of abundance. Izzy hasn't been the same since she stopped working at your castle and I know she hated the job in general so it can only be to do with you. I know you love her but do you really have to see her? I just, your highness, I'm the only one home but Izzy therefore I'm in charge of who comes into the house. I don't want to let you in just to have her sadder or hurt by the time you leave. Can you promise me that when you leave my sister will be no less upset?'
The prince has stood there and let Jasper rant at him without interrupting and didn't show any emotion except when he learnt that Isabella hadn't been the same. He didn't answer Jasper's question for a long time and Jasper felt his patience's running thin.
'I can't promise that, no,' the Prince Alec sighed, looking a Jasper pleadingly. 'Please, just let me see her and if she tells me to go away, I promise I will never return. Please. Please.'
Jasper sighed heavily, 'you better hope seeing you makes her happier.'
He stepped aside as the prince grinned widely and led him to the stairs, telling him what room Isabella's was, still watching him warily.
'Thank you,' Prince Alec actually bowed to him and taken back Jasper simply blinked at him.
It wasn't until Alec was halfway up the stairs that Jasper found he was able to speak again.
'I'm not doing it for you,' he told him a little bit colder than before. 'I'm just tired of seeing my baby sister so sad.'
Alec gazed at him, 'I understand.'
Jasper turned round to face Mary-Alice as the prince continued to ascend the stairs towards Isabella's bedroom. She was looking at him with her hands on her hips.
'Did I just do the right thing?' he asked and Mary-Alice came forward to wrap her arms around him.
'Yes, you did,' she assured him. 'Izzy's a big girl; she can take care of herself. She may be your baby sister but she's not a baby, Jazz. Don't worry about her so much, Cynth hates it when I fuss about her when she believes it unnecessary. Trust Isabella's instincts on this.