And I'm just starting a new Molly book, due out next spring, but it's very much a work in progress and at this stage I'm not sure what parts of the story will stay and what will go. All I can share with you is that it takes Molly to San Francisco in April 1906. Nuff said.
So I'm going to share a snippet of the book on which I've just finished the final edits and is due out in August. It's the next Royal Spyness book and it's called MALICE AT THE PALACE. And it seemed appropriate because I leave for the Malice Domestic convention on Thursday.
I have fun researching all my books, but this was particularly enjoyable as much of the book takes place at Kensington Palace, so I spent a lot of time prowling around, looking for the famous ghosts. I asked one of the curators if he'd ever seen one. Not here, he said, but at a grace and favor cottage he'd once lived in. He turned around and a woman in black was standing behind him. She looked at him and said, "Once I was blind. Now I can see." He told me he'd never run up the stairs so fast. So ghosts are an accepted part of English life. My own home was definitely haunted. A procession of hooded figures used to come up the stairs.
But this excerpt is not going to be scary. It's rare that I share the first chapter of a book, but I think this one is fun: Enjoy:
Over the noise of the wind and rain I had heard the distinct metallic click of a latch, followed by the sound of a door being opened. Somebody was coming into the house. I wondered if I had forgotten to lock the door before I went to bed, but I definitely remembered doing so. I was out of bed in a flash. Belinda’s cottage was really tiny with a flight of stairs leading up to the bedroom I was occupying, a bathroom and a box room. I looked around desperately. There was nowhere to hide if burglars had broken in. I examined the bed, but Belinda had piled boxes and trunks under it. The wardrobe was still full of her clothes. I wondered if perhaps I could tiptoe across the hall to the box room, or better yet the bathroom. Surely no burglar would think of looking in the bath?
“Toby, you are so naughty. Now stop that, at least until I have my gloves off.”
“Can’t wait, you delectable creature,” said a deep man’s voice. “I’m going to rip off all your clothes, throw you down on that bed and give you one hell of a good ravishing.”
“You are certainly not going to rip anything,” Belinda said, laughing again. “I happen to like my clothes. But you may undress me as quickly as you like.”
“Good show,” he said. “I’ve been dying to bed you since we first danced together on the ship. But too many watchful eyes. It was dashed clever of you to suggest coming back here, rather than a hotel. A man in my position can’t be too careful, don’t you know.”
Toby? I thought. Not Sir Toby Blenchley, cabinet minister? I had no time to consider this as they were now heading for the stairs. I stood behind that door in an agony of embarrassment and indecision. Surely she couldn’t have forgotten that I was occupying her house, and thus her bedroom, could she? Did she really think it would be acceptable to roll in the hay with a cabinet minister while I was there? Where did she expect me to go while they were thus engaged? I sighed in exasperation. How typically Belinda.
I heard her giggle and say, “My, but you are impatient, aren’t you?” as they came up the stairs. What on earth was I to do? Leap out on them and say “Welcome home, Belinda darling. Perhaps you had forgotten that you’d lent your house to your best friend ?” Sir Toby wasn’t in the first flush of youth. What if the surprise brought on a heart attack? On the other hand there was now no way I could cross the upstairs landing to the box room, and I certainly didn’t want to be trapped in there listening to their hijinks.
Then it was decided for me. Belinda ran up the rest of the stairs calling, “Come on then, last one into bed is a sissy!” She pushed open the bedroom door with full force, trapping me behind it. She had several robes hanging from the back of that door and these were now in my face. I heard the sounds of two people undressing hurriedly. Maybe if I kept quiet and didn’t move he’d have his way with her and then go, I decided. Better still, maybe they’d both fall asleep and I could creep out and take refuge in the box room.
“God, you really are delectable,” I heard him say. “Those neat little breasts. Enough to drive a man wild. Come here.”
I heard bed springs creak, a grunt, a sigh. Then something terrible happened. One of Belinda’s robes was trimmed with feathers. And one of these feathers was now tickling my nose. To my horror I realized I was going to sneeze. I was pinned so tightly behind the door that it was hard for me to get my hand up to my nose. I managed it just in time and clamped my fingers over my nose and mouth. The noises on the bed were getting more violent and urgent. The sneeze was still lingering, waiting to come out the moment I let go. I willed it to go away but I had to breathe. And then, in spite of everything , it came out, a great big “A—choo,” just at the moment when Belinda was moaning “Oh yes, oh yes.”
It was amazing how quickly the room fell silent.
“What the devil was that?” Sir Toby asked.
“Someone’s in the house.” I heard the bed creak as Belinda got up.
“I thought you said there’d be nobody here.”
“It must be my maid, although I didn’t tell her I was coming home,” Belinda said. “How could she have known? I’ll go and see if she’s sleeping in the box room.” Then she lowered her voice. “Don’t go away, you big brute. I’ll be back and we can continue from where we left off.”
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “Not if your maid’s in the house. Is she likely to gossip?”
“My maid is paid very well to close her eyes to anything that goes on in my bedroom,” Belinda said. “You don’t have to worry, Toby, I promise you. I’ll just get my robe…”
And she swung the door open……
If you want to know what happens next, you'll have to buy the book!/It involves a real royal scandal and a real royal wedding and of course lots of mayhem. I'm off to England on May 12 to do more snooping around for new stories. And I'll be attending Crimefest in Bristol.