It is truly a universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be-
"Maia?" I slammed the book shut and slipped it back onto the shelf when I realized that Luke was behind me. He laughed softly and put a hand on my shoulder. "Your shift's over." I turned around and smiled at him. "And aren't you glad you're done with all the work you were doing?" he teased, eyeing the copy of Pride and Prejudice I'd placed back on the shelf.
"There were no customers," I defended myself, unclipping my nametag and dropping it in the basket on the desk near the front door. I worked at Garroway Books, a job that I loved. "I'll see you tomorrow!" I called to Luke as I slipped out the door onto the Brooklyn street, still wet from an earlier rainfall.
Luke, my boss and pack leader, is also my roommate and best friend, Clary Fairchild's, step-father. I've worked for him since high school, and I've lived with her for three years, ever since she finished art school. I never went to college, and though I told people it was because I could never afford tuition, that wasn't technically true. I really couldn't afford tuition, but the real reason was that I didn't see myself being any happier with a degree and a better job than I did as a high school graduate working at a bookstore. Besides, as a werewolf I'd most likely have trouble fitting in at a university.
When I arrived at my apartment, I heard voices behind the door and wondered if Clary had invited her boyfriend, Jace, over. Jace lived with his gay adoptive brother, Alec, in an apartment a few blocks away from here and visited frequently. I didn't care for him- he was always rude to Downworlders- but he was usually civil when Clary was in the vicinity.
However, upon opening the door, I realized that it wasn't Jace Clary was talking to, but Simon Lewis. Simon was a vampire I'd met when he was human, and a very close friend of mine. He was Clary's other best friend. "Hi!" I said brightly.
"Maia, you won't believe it!" gushed Clary, her red curls bouncing as she turned to me with sparkling eyes. Clary was an artist who made a considerable amount of money by showing her paintings at galleries. She was one of those people that knew what they wanted to be when they grew up from the age of four. "Simon is going to ask Isabelle to marry him!"
Isabelle, Simon's girlfriend of four years, was a Shadowhunter like Clary. I didn't know her very well, but the times that I had seen her, she seemed nice. "That's great!" I replied, hugging Simon. He was grinning and fingering a dark blue velvet box. "Can we see the ring?" I asked, indicating the jewelry box as I sunk into the couch beside Clary.
"Nope," he grinned. "I want everyone to see it for the first time on Izzy's finger." Clary groaned and rolled her eyes, clearly wishing she could see the ring. Clary was constantly on the lookout for engagement ring designs she would like, as she and Jace had already decided to get married but wouldn't make it official until Clary found what she called, "the perfect ring." I thought she was too picky, but Jace waited patiently with her at every jewelry store they went to. "I was wondering," said Simon, "if you would let me take you on a practice date tonight, to get the proposal just right." He was looking at Clary, embarrassed but very, very in love. Clary laughed.
"As geeky and fun as that sounds, I have plans with Jace tonight," sighed Clary.
"That's okay," he replied. "Maia?"
"I'd love to," I laughed. "I'm always up for a geeky fake date." He scowled. "Are you leaving now?" I asked.
"Sure, if that's okay," he said. "Do you want to change first?"
"Why should I change?" I asked. "If it's not a real date, I should be allowed to wear jeans and a T-shirt if I want to."
"I just thought you might want to get into character," he suggested. "You know, dress like Isabelle."
"Simon, I don't own a thing in my closet that Isabelle would be caught dead wearing. I'll just go as I am."
He smiled. "Okay. Let's go."
"So I'm supposed to be in official Izzy mode now?" I said.
"Official Izzy mode begins… now!" he joked.
Clary rolled her eyes and muttered, "Nerds," under her breath. I laughed and stepped out the door that Simon opened for me- well, for Isabelle. He closed it behind us and turned to me, clearly picturing Isabelle.
"Um," he said, raising his hands to put them in my hair. I shifted awkwardly, looking up at him. "You- you are so beautiful-" I giggled, and he frowned.
"Sorry!" I laughed.
"This is very awkward," he agreed.
"No, look," I said, stifling my giggles. "I'm there for you. You can pretend I'm Isabelle, and I'll pretend I'm her. 'A Day in the Life of Izzy Lightwood.' Just forget that I'm your girl friend and… pretend that I'm your girlfriend," I suggested. He smiled.
"Okay," he said. "Let me try again." He put his cold hands back in my hair.
"Wait," I said, reaching back to pull the hair band out of my hair and tugging apart my braid. It floated around my head in elaborate dark curls. He nodded his approval and wrapped my hair around his fingers.
"You are the most beautiful woman in the world," he whispered, leaning in. Some of the awkwardness returned as he came closer to my face, and I had to struggle not to snicker as he air-kissed me. "Are you ready for dinner… Isabelle?"
"I most certainly am, my beloved Simon," I replied in a British accent.
"Cut it out," he mumbled, leading me down the stairs.
We ate at an expensive, fancy restaurant, a place I didn't recognize. I worried about paying at first, but Simon assured me (me me, not Isabelle me) that he would pay because I was doing him a favor, and he was choosing what I ate. He wanted me to order Isabelle's favorite food, as it was what she would most likely be ordering and he wanted to know it tasted alright. When the waiter came over to take our orders, Simon reminded him that he would be at the same table tomorrow with another girl.
"The same date with two different girls?" the waiter asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Please stay out of my personal life," responded Simon without explaining the real situation to the intrusive man, which made me giggle once again.
After dinner, we (Simon and Isabelle me) took a walk in Central Park. The moon had risen, and its light bounced playfully along the ripples in the ponds around us. Simon led me to a tall tree, and pointed to a carved heart in its bark with "SL + IL" in it. "Remember how this was the first place I told you I loved you, Isabelle?" he hinted.
"Of course I remember," I played along. I couldn't help but smile- it was so cheesy and romantic, so… Simon. Smiling, he knelt down in front of me and extended his hand towards me, holding the velvet box. Absurdly, I got butterflies in my stomach, imagining Isabelle ready to begin this magical journey with Simon. I almost felt like an intruder to their personal lives. Simon clicked the box open, and I looked down to see an empty jewelry box- he must have put the ring in his pocket. So much for getting a sneak peek at the ring, I thought.
"Isabelle Lightwood," he whispered, and I could tell that he'd rehearsed this for hours in front of his mirror, "I love you more than the sun that I cherish, more than my own life, and I wish I could spend the rest of eternity cherishing the sunlight with you. Will you marry me?" I felt goosebumps shiver up my arms.
"Yes, Simon," I replied, wondering if Isabelle would embellish it. I wasn't sure, I really didn't know her too well. He smiled and stood, miming slipping the ring onto my finger. Without any uncertainty, Simon leaned forward and kissed me on the mouth.
I froze up, wondering if he wanted me to act as though I was Isabelle kissing her new fiancé. I couldn't even imagine kissing him back, because in that moment I was Maia Roberts, not Isabelle Lightwood, and rather than kissing the man I was going to marry, I was standing there being kissed by my good friend who was proposing to his girlfriend tomorrow- not me.
He pulled away quickly, looking down. "Sorry," he said hastily.
"It's fine," I laughed shakily. "You were in the moment."
"And you really think she's going to say 'yes'?" he asked worriedly.
"After a date like that?" I said. "She'll probably say 'yes' before you ask her."
"So it was good?" he asked.
"It was perfect," I assured him. He grinned in relief.
"Good," he said. "Maia, thank-you so much, I know this was really uncomfortable, and you were such a good friend about it, and… I am sorry I kissed you."
"Don't apologize for that," I laughed, worried that I sounded a bit manic.
"Do you want me to walk you home?" asked Simon. I shook my head.
"You live really near here and my apartment is out of the way," I reminded him. "I can go by myself."
"Okay," he said. "Thanks again, Maia, you're so great."
"Thanks for dinner," I responded. "See you tomorrow?"
"Me and my fiancée," he said.
"Okay," I replied, still shaky. He left then, and I stood there, watching him walk away until I couldn't see him anymore. The butterflies were still there.