The Princess Detective: Excerpt 6

Cordelia, thought the Princess, would love nothing more than to provoke a princess to fight. The Princess wouldn’t give Cordelia the satisfaction.

Finally cutting Cordelia’s throat wasn’t what she needed to do. Focus on what you need, her father always said, not on what you want.

She hadn’t wanted to be a princess and she didn’t see how she or anyone could need her to be. The Princess sighed and stared into the woods. Cordelia’s house behind her. Not doubt Cordelia was watching, but the Princess wouldn’t turn to see.

Night fell early in the woods. The Princess pulled her black cloak tighter and chose her path. She wished she had a way to know if the wolves were hungry.

*

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The Princess Detective: Excerpt Five

The Princess inspects her knives before she leaves her home. The one she keeps in her boot is dull, and she takes the time to sharpen it. You can’t be too careful at the edge of the woods.

When the Princess approaches the candy-colored house, music drifts through the windows. The woman the Princess wants to see works in her garden, thrusting the spade into to soil, a pile of lilies waiting nearby.

“Hello, Cordelia,” the Princess says from the gate. She doesn’t enter without being asked.

Cordelia, frail and fair, nods, but she doesn’t stop the rhythm of digging holes in the earth.

“Your garden is beautiful as always,” the Princess says. The garden is always beautiful. The flowers there never stop blooming, even in winter.

“I know why you’re shadowing me, Princess. I’ve nothing to say about the Prince.”

“You were the last to see him alive.”

“You were the first to see him dead,” Cordelia says. “And I’ve never had blood on my hands.”

The Princess looks away, and Cordelia stops her work. She walks over to the Princess. She reaches up and pulls a strand of hair from the Princess’ neck.

The Princess flinches. “You’re not innocent, Cordelia.”

“I only said I don’t have blood on my hands.”

“You don’t know anything about my hands.” The Princess resists pulling back on her hair.

“I know when I dream my hands are clean.” The flowers around Cordelia are bright.

The Princess doesn’t know where she wants to look, but she forces herself to look at Cordelia.”That’s because when you dream nothing but lies.” She holds Cordelia’s gaze. “And you were the first person to see the Prince dead. You and I both know it.”

Cordelia laughed. “There’s so much you don’t know, Princess. The Prince was right about you.”

*

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The Princess Detective: Excerpt Four

I talked to the knife dealer today. He hates me. I can tell by the way he watches me pass by. He evades my questions even though he knows he must answer. Everyone must answer–I’m searching for the truth.

I asked him if any knives had gone missing. When he couldn’t tell me I asked what kind of dealer he was not to know such a fact as that. Every knife from one end of the forrest to the other has to be accounted for. It’s the law. I don’t make the law.

The knife dealer said he didn’t speak to the prince the day he died. But I knew that already.

I know who the prince spoke to that day. I’ll go talk to her next. Maybe then I’ll be ready for the wolves.

The Princess Detective: Part Three (an excerpt)

The Princess keeps her knives sharp. She’s been caring for her own knives since she was nine. Her mother says the Princess was a late bloomer.

The knife dealer watches the Princess walk past his shop, and he thinks of marriage. But a princess doesn’t marry a dealer of any kind. This Princess is even better at shining up a knife than he has ever been. He keeps his eye on her anyway. The Prince, after all, is dead.

The Princess Detective…continues

This series should alternate–in no planned way–between a narrator and the princess. The introductory passage was from the narrator. This bit is from the princess.

My grandfather told me that in his day a princess had to be pretty and nothing else. A good princess, he said, is ornament. I think he’s making it up.

Everyone knows a princess is meant to lead the fight.

The princess sharpens wits as well as knives. Yes, beauty is for the first day of the year, the first day of her reign, but the wolves never wait for a girl to pin up her hair. How romantic that would be.

People ask if a wolf or jealousy killed my prince. The rumors could wrap the forrest a hundred times. I found the body. Of course, I did. Who else is allowed to approach a prince in the woods? Only a princess. And a murderer.

I guess I shouldn’t joke. When I saw his body, I couldn’t tell where the blood spilled from. Then I stepped closer. The gashes could’ve been from a wolf. That seems the easiest answer, but many different knives have owners in these parts. I know exactly which blade looks like a wolf bite and I know who owns it.

But that man was drunk at the time of death–drunk and passed out on my mother’s floor. Oh, pretty rumors surround that, I can tell you.

I inspected his knife and it was clean. Shining even. Only a fool though keeps her knife dull and spotted. Clean knife, clean kill.

Too many people around here know how to imitate a wolf bite. I suspect I shall have to go to the wolves and see what they know. Providing they don’t see me.

The Princess Detective

The locals, having perhaps lived too long in the Asylum’s shadow, chose a new prince and princess every year for the winter festival. The couple wear icy white, and the princess carries a basket of the reddest apples.

The farmers and gardeners compete to have their apples chosen.

The children stand along the parade and hope for a kiss from the princess. Or the prince. The kiss, they say, will bring good luck through the winter. The children think this means Santa will favor them. The parents think this means good health through the flu season.

They also say the girl chosen for a princess will never marry, or she will marry but never give birth. Some girls hide on the day the princess is chosen. Others pray or bribe officials for the title.

Nothing much is said about the prince.

A few years ago a prince was found dead, either with a dagger through his heart or a wild animal’s teeth through his throat. Odd how that fact has not yet been made clear, nor his killer found, but many eyes look in the Asylum’s direction when his death is mentioned.

The princess from that year vow she’ll find the killer, and when she does she’ll tell us everything that happened.