I stepped into a foyer and looked around with surprise. I had expected something like Buckingham Palace—walls lined with royal portraits, antiques and statues everywhere. But this was more like an ordinary home, slightly outmoded and with a lingering smell of furniture polish and damp. I gave a sigh of disappointment, mingled with a small sigh of relief. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about knocking over priceless objects every time I turned around, the way I did at Buckingham Palace. It was also rather cold in that foyer, with a draft swirling about my legs.. Not too welcoming a first impression for a visiting princess, I thought. But perhaps they were not planning to turn on any form of heat until she arrived.
I wasn’t quite sure what to do next. I wondered if the queen would have supplied servants of if Princess Marina was bringing her own and they weren’t here yet. I realized that I should have asked to be taken to Major Beauchamp-Chough, not have gone straight to the apartment. Protocol probably demanded that he escort me to my quarters. But it was a long, wet walk back to the front of the building. There was an archway at the end of the entry hall leading to a passageway beyond. As I looked toward it I saw a woman walk across it. She was moving swiftly, almost gliding and making no sound.
“Hello,” I called. “Wait a minute, please.”
When she didn’t stop I ran after her, and found myself standing in a long dark corridor that was completely empty. Where had she gone? There were no side hallways and she would not have had time to open and close a door. That’s when I realized she was wearing a long white dress and her hair had been piled upon her head in little curls. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
From Rhys Bowen's facebook page
Malice at the Palace (The Royal Spyness Series Book 9) is due out today August 4th
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