How to Love a Princess

How to Love a Princess by Claire Robyns

Book: How to Love a Princess by Claire Robyns Read Free Book Online
Authors: Claire Robyns
stared at him, her mouth
hanging open, her jaw completely slack. Geoffrey sat back to look at her with a
dumbfounded expression.
    Nicolas rushed to her
side, dropped to his knees and felt her forehead. He was overreacting, he knew,
but suspicious things seemed to happen in this castle and the family had had
more than their fair share of tragedies. He still had no inkling of the source
of her mother’s poison and if Catherine….no, he couldn’t think like that.
    “Catherine,” he prompted
urgently, “are you feeling ill? Is it the brandy?”
    Coming alive, she pushed
his hand from her forehead. “I need to talk to you.”
    Frowning, he took her hand
and straightened slowly, helping her up with him.
    “Catherine?” Geoffrey
    On her feet, although not
quite steady, Catherine slid her hand free. “I’m fine, Geoffrey. Please excuse
us, we won’t be long.”
    As she started to walk,
her knees almost gave way. When Nicolas gripped her arm, she gave in to his
strength and support and allowed herself to be led. With each step, however,
reason overruled weakness and a spark of excitement ignited. By the time they
reached her office, she was walking on her own. She burst through the door, a
little giddy from the rapid three-hundred-sixty degree spin in her emotions,
from despair to hope to despair and still spinning.
    She sat down in her usual
chair at the head of the oblong desk that was large enough to act as a
conference table when required and waited for Nicolas to close the door and
join her.
    “You look as if you’ve
seen a ghost.” His eyes were dark with concern, his brows wrinkled in worry.
    “I think I might have,”
she said breathlessly. She blinked long, taking a deep breath, hoping she
wasn’t connecting fabricated dots. Swallowing hard, she opened her eyes to find
she had Nicolas’s undivided attention. “I’m so stupid. How the hell did I miss
    “Miss what?” Nicolas
leaned forward, folding his arms on the desk. “I have no idea what’s happening
here. Are you sure that you’re okay?”
    “I’m better than okay, I
think.” She leaned forward as well, folded her arms on the desk. Their heads
were close to touching. “The hunt that Geoffrey was talking about. Nicolas,
those two dogs died the following day. I felt terrible. I thought the meat we’d
hidden had gone off in the summer heat. It was such a silly thing to do, I
don’t know what we were thinking.”
    “I’m sorry, Catherine. I’m
sure you couldn’t have known.”
    She shook her head. “It
was still a foolish thing to do, but it wasn’t the meat, Nicolas. The
veterinary surgeon did an autopsy. He agreed that it looked like poison, but
his findings didn’t correspond to food poisoning. In fact, he couldn’t reach
any conclusion at all. I felt so guilty about the entire episode, I called in a
second opinion.”
    “Another dead end.” The
impact of her words cleared the worry from his brow. “I’ll start a search of
the woods first thing in the morning. It will take some time, Catherine. I’ll
have to take a specimen of every plant, soil type—”
    “Not only the woods,” she
interrupted. “The forest extends into the hills that we mine. The dogs were in
such a frenzy of excitement, they chased down into one of the tunnels.”
    “You have mines here?”
    “We mine a slightly varied
form of coal.” A sinister suspicion tugged at her conscience, then flowered
into full-blown dread. Catherine shook the thought from her head. It couldn’t
be. If the carbonised rock they mined was lethally poisonous, surely there’d
have been related deaths before now?
    “I’m listening,” Nicolas
prompted as the conversation lagged.
    “There are carbonised
bands that run at least three-hundred feet deep in those hills. Ophella is the
only place this unusual rock has ever been detected, and trust me, they’ve
    “Who has looked?”
    Catherine paused. She’d
already said too much. Apparently her body

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