Below is an excerpt from Death of the Queen of Hearts that is a great example of mirroring true life (see prince’s nickname) but also incorporating themes and ideas from mystery and thriller genres readers are used to.
James assumed his mystery host must have wanted privacy because the St. Laurent had no nosy valet, just a self-serve parking lot with few customers. He pulled his ball cap down and his collar up. Inside the restaurant, he said to the hostess, “Reservation for Mr. Lapin.”
She glanced at the prince and faltered. “Your Highness?”
James shook his head slightly then asked, “My table?”
She regained her composure and responded, “Right this way.”
She led him to a table for two in the back of the restaurant. Before the hostess left, he handed her a large bill. “No one knows I’m here.”
“Of course, Mr. Lapin.” She tucked the bill into her breast pocket and smiled.
Fifteen minutes ticked off. He waited because the person who sent him the note had written “Bunny,” the pet name only his late mother, Princess Christina, knew and used.
James fidgeted and ordered a drink. He scrutinized each person as they approached his table, but everyone passed him by. The waiting slowly pulled him down into despair. Who would do this? And why? He sat nursing a double rum and a triple hangover. With his glass, he made interlocking wet circles on the polished tabletop. Then he saw a woman’s face reflected in the table. He looked up expectantly.
“May we use this chair?” “Don’t be presumptuous.”
As she turned about, the woman muttered, “Drunk.”
By his third double, he assumed he’d missed the contact and rose to leave.
Then behind him, a man’s voice whispered, “Sit down, and don’t turn around.”
James started to turn his head.
“I said, don’t turn around. Or I’ll leave.”
James sat back down and waited. After a long pause, he asked,
“Who are you?”
“I’m just a messenger.”
“How do you know about ‘Bunny’? Who told you about—” “Under the table,” interrupted the messenger.
James reached under his table, his hand moving in slow, expanding arcs. Two hardened lumps of chewing gum, one abandoned, the other orphaned. Then his fingers brushed at a package taped there. He looked about then discreetly removed a clear, plastic sleeve. Inside was an unlabeled DVD. “All right, I got it. Now what?”
There was no response.
James slipped the disc into his coat. “Now what?”
Then he heard his bodyguard Vern’s booming voice. “Okay Prince, you’ve gotten us in enough trouble. Let’s go.”
The other security man, Rex, came around the table and sneered, “Damn kid. I don’t give a shit who you are. Our job is to watch you, and when you threaten that, it pisses me off.”
James spun around. The messenger’s table was empty.
Vern was more relaxed than Rex. “Blind date’s over. Let’s go.” “I have a car.”
“You think we would let you drive alone?” Vern laughed. “We are done for the evening.”
“But I have Colin’s car.”
Vern sighed and looked at Rex. “You drive that thing to the bookstore and trade places with the VW. I’ll get the prince to the palace. If we hurry, we might salvage our jobs.”
James kept the DVD close in the pocket of his coat. “It’s nothing against you guys,” he apologized. “I had plans Grandmother just didn’t understand.”
Vern admitted, “I know. I was twenty-one once. My parents begged me to celebrate with them and all my friends wanted me to go out with them.”
“What did you do?”
He smiled. “I had a shitty night.” He gave the prince a light shove. “But I’m sure yours was much more fun.”
On Labor Day Sunday in 1997, like many others, I was shocked upon awakening to hear that Princess Diana had been killed in an automobile crash in Paris. Though I wasn’t yet a Diana fanatic, I was stunned and saddened. Because I work in the health care field, I researched what had happened that night in the Alma tunnel and I was disturbed and skeptical about the medical treatment Princess Diana received. I decided to write a book on my findings but in order to make it a compelling read I would write a fictional retelling and change all the names. Thus, “Death of the Queen of Hearts” was born.