This is the first scene and the first chapter of Spruced Up For Murder. In it Lady Beatrice, the Countess of Rossex, who is seventeenth in line to the British throne discovers the body of a man in the Garden Room at Francis Court. Francis Court is the home of her parents, the sixteenth Duke of Arnwall and HRH Princess Helen (the king’s sister), where she also lives with thirteen-year-old her son Sam. Sam has just gone off to boarding school and Lady Beatrice, who has a degree in interior design, is working on the refurbishment of the events suite (including the Garden Room) at Francis Court alongside Perry Juke, her sister’s executive assistant.
“Oh my giddy aunt!” Perry Juke slapped his hand up to his mouth, his face turning pale as he gawped at the body in front of them.
“Oh my giddy aunt, indeed,” Lady Beatrice, the Countess of Rossex, replied, gazing at the prone form lying only a few metres away from her. Her stomach twisted at the sight of his lifeless body. Instinctively, she wanted to look away, but like a moth attracted to a light, she was drawn to the scene before her.
He — for it was definitely a man with his stocky frame and shaved head — was lying on his front, his arms and legs splayed out, looking rather like he had fallen from a great height. Blood obscured the right-hand side of his face. A patch of what looked like red wine had soaked into the green and black Persian rug underneath his body. The grey marble table, which was normally by the side of the olive-green leather Chesterfield, was lying askew on the floor. One corner was covered in something dark and sticky.
“He must have fallen and hit his head on the table. Is he dead? He looks very dead,” Perry said, scanning the room as if searching for someone to confirm the body was, indeed, dead.
Lady Beatrice raised her hand to her chest to still her racing heart.
The press is going to love this.
A dead body at Francis Court, found by a member of the royal family — this was gold.
She raked her slim fingers through her long auburn hair. If only she hadn’t been guilted by her mother into accepting her sister’s request to take on the interior design of the refurbished Events Suite, she would be upstairs in her apartment right now, enjoying a leisurely coffee and snuggling with her dog, Daisy. Shaking her head, she returned to the matter in hand. There was possibly a dead body in front of them, and it had to be dealt with.
I suppose one of us needs to check for a pulse.
She turned hopefully to Perry…
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