Thursday Doors, StoryADay May: Princess

This post is part of StoryADay May (https://storyaday.org/) #StoryADay #StoryADayMay @storyadaymay #freeshortstory #ThursdayDoors

Princess

“Why can’t you be the princess?” said Steffie, in as close to a whine as a trained assassin could do.

Agent Resa tucked her spray bottle of extra-strength Mr. Clean into an inner pocket of her trench coat and said, “Because princesses don’t carry spray bottles around, and this is my weapon of choice.”

[Author’s note: I feel like I should just end the story here and let you write the rest in your head. But that would be cheating. Or would it?]

Steffie adjusted the collar of her designer leopard skin print pant suit’s jacket, donned her designer sunglasses, and slid into the back seat of the tinted-windowed limousine, the door held for her by her handler, Pete, in a well-fitted chauffeur’s uniform.

Pete winked at Resa and closed the door.

“Congratulations on your new job,” he said.

Resa had been hired on the spot when she had applied to housekeeping at the Palais Royale hotel in midtown Manhattan. Her references were impeccable, thanks to Dan in IT. Her weapon of choice would be invisible in plain sight on the housekeeping cart, and she could go anywhere in the hotel without being remarked upon.

Steffie, on the other hand, was tasked with being remarkable among a remarkable hotel’s remarkable guests.

Steffie was to be Princessa Madelina Francesca von Fursten of Meinhart, a tiny principality due west of Luxembourg, where diamonds had just been discovered and claimed by the crown. The Princessa, a very hands-on monarch, had brought a small velvet bag full of uncut diamonds and had made a Dark Web declaration of interest in enough enriched uranium to make her neighbors sit up and pay attention to Meinhart’s existence.

There was, of course, no actual princess, no diamonds, and no Meinhart. There was, however, someone willing to sell what the “princess” was buying.

Chauffeur Pete pulled up to the entrance of the Palais Royale and handed the princessa over to the uniformed doorman, tipped his cap, and drove away.

Agents Teagan and Lois sat in the back of a bagel van across from the hotel, pulling audio and visual from the tiny spy cam in Steffie’s starburst diamond brooch and the one in the clip of Resa’s name badge.

Steffie swanned into the hotel, affecting to look around for an entourage, then toned it down and mildly asked the clerk for her room key as if she weren’t accustomed to doing such things for herself.

“Of course. Of course. Your luggage has already arrived and is waiting for you in your room, along with a maid to unpack under your direction. There is chilled champagne, and a chef’s selection of amuse bouche will be sent up immediately.”

Steffie nodded, took the physical metal key the hotel still used, and entered the elevator alone.

She had thought it possible the seller would share the elevator with her, or would be waiting on the elevator’s ceiling and would descend as the elevator ascended, but neither happened.

The maid appeared to be just a maid, and unpacked the princessa’s bags as the princessa told her to, then left.

The server who brought in the amuse bouche, removed the tray’s cloche, and opened the champagne did no more than these things and spoke only when spoken to.

Steffie didn’t care for champagne, so she poured half the bottle down the bathroom sink, swirling just enough in her champagne flute to make it look as if she had partaken.

She bit into a Parmesan crisp topped with a tapenade of olives and sun-dried tomatoes, rolled it around on her tongue, and spit it out.

“Drugged,” she said, with great satisfaction.

She reluctantly dropped two of the crisps, two of the Melba toast rounds topped with smoked salmon, sour cream, and fresh dill sprigs, and one of the tiny Chinese dumplings (she never knew what was in them) into the toilet and flushed them away. Then she crumpled her napkin, dropped it on the floor, and flopped onto the couch as if taken by unconsciousness.

Agent Teagan passed the situation on to Agent Resa, who pushed her cart into the staff elevator along with another of the housekeeping crew.

Floors passed, and the other woman didn’t get out.

Finally, Resa pressed a floor button, took her cart out, and let the other woman continue. Resa watched the elevator dial, and saw that the other housekeeper had gone to the penthouse – Steffie’s rooms.

In the surveillance van, agent Teagan said, “I’m going in.”

Agent Lois nodded, and returned to her observation.

She heard a muffled knock from Steffie’s spy cam, and a muffled voice saying, “Housekeeping. I have fresh towels.” There was another knock, then the sound of a door closing softly.

The housekeeper who wasn’t Resa leaned over Steffie and whispered, “Princessa?” The camera wobbled as the housekeeper gently shook the supposedly unconscious VIP.

“Right,” the housekeeper said. She left the camera’s range, but Steffie stealthily eased onto her side so Lois could see the housekeeper working the safe combination.

Meanwhile, Agent Resa had gotten back onto the staff elevator and was wheeling her cart down the Penthouse hall. The door to the Penthouse suite was blocked by the evil housekeeper’s cart. Resa used her own cart to ease it out of the way and, pocketing her spray bottle, approached the door.

Meanwhile, Agent Teagan slipped in through the delivery door of the hotel and into the lobby. The man they had hoped and expected would come deal personally with the Princessa’s purchase was just crossing to the elevator. She reported this to Agent Lois and said, “I’m going up after him. With Steffie playing drugged, she’s in no position to defend herself.”

So Steffie was in the Penthouse suite, Resa was outside the Penthouse suite, and Teagan was on her way to the Penthouse suite.

Lois put on a pair of clear-lensed glasses, pulled her hair back severely, put on a pearl choker and pearl earrings she kept in a pocket of her black jacket for emergencies, picked up an empty manila envelope, stuffed some blank paper into it, and sealed it.

She didn’t even look at the doorman or the clerk as she crossed the lobby to the elevator. She got off two floors below the Penthouse and crept up the stairs, meeting Teagan at the top. They peeked through the window of the stairwell door and saw the man they expected to offer the princessa the uranium staring, nonplussed, at the two housekeeping carts and Resa, who was holding her spray bottle and pretending not to speak English.

“Delivery for the princessa,” Lois whispered, holding up her envelope.

“Good idea,” said Teagan. “Be careful.”

Lois went back down a floor and took the elevator up. She pretended to be startled when she saw the gridlock in front of the door, but lifted her envelope and repeated, “Delivery for the Princessa.”

She knocked loudly at the door.

“Princessa?” she called. “It’s Morgan. I have those papers you wanted. Princessa? Are you all right?”

The housekeeper inside the suite opened the door and reached for the envelope. Lois pushed her way inside. She gave a little scream, as if terrified of what might have happened to her client. The housekeeper swung a vase at Lois’ head, and the man outside stepped into the doorway and shot the maid in the shoulder.

Steffie pretended to wake up.

“What happened?” She sat up, holding her head.

“You were being robbed,” the man said. “Apparently, rumors of your diamonds have gotten around, and somebody decided to make off with them. You’re lucky I got here when I did.”

“Yes, I am,” said Steffie.

He gave a meaningful look at “Morgan,” and Steffie said, “This is my woman of business. I have no secrets from her.”

“Good,” he said. “So. I can connect you with someone who has the enriched uranium you need. Under the circumstances, I think my finder’s fee should be … let’s say doubled.”

“Certainly,” said Steffie.

“I just need to take care of this witness and drop her down the laundry chute.” He aimed his gun at the maid’s head.

Resa pushed the door all the way open and sprayed him full in the face with her toxic-level Mr. Clean.

The maid scrambled to her feet to run, but Lois tackled her while Teagan strong-armed and zip-tied the uranium middle-man.

When Pete and the cleaners showed up to cart away the miscreants, Steffie praised all her co-agents.

“All the same,” she said, “from now on, I go back to working alone. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call room service and order two hard-boiled eggs.”


MY PROMPTS FOR TODAY: Resa’s picture, the stateroom scene from A Night At The Opera

MA

About

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Thursday Doors, StoryADay May: Princess

  1. Dan Antion

    May 24, 2024 at 4:03pm

    I love the two hard boiled eggs reference!

    It’s good to see all the agents back in action. You guys make quite a team. I saw your notice and I like it better when you finish the stories for us. I have a hard time managing this large a cast. You, on the other hand, did an excellent job. Thank you!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. lois

    May 24, 2024 at 4:13pm

    Marian–I love this story! I about passed out when Steffie dumped the champagne down the sink…! I do admit I love the stuff. But Lois tackled that man while wearing her pearls?! 😆 This team is crackerjack!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 25, 2024 at 12:39pm

      I knew there would be heartbreak when Steffie wasted champagne. And, yes, Lois can do anything James Bond can do, only she can do it backwards and in pearls.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. Teagan Riordain Geneviene

    May 24, 2024 at 5:04pm

    What a fun surprise, Marian! Nope, I definitely needed you to finish this story. All I saw at that point was general mayhem. You are the queen of spy stories.
    Ha — I’m with Lois about the champagne. That’s a travesty… but Steffie was right to keep a clear head (even if she just doesn’t like the stuff). Have a great weekend. Hugs.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 25, 2024 at 12:40pm

      I’ve never liked champers. To paraphrase a line from a comedy show I watched long ago, maybe if I drank some that had a vintage rather than a Best By date, it would be different. HUGS

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  4. Maureen O'Hern

    May 26, 2024 at 5:15pm

    I wasn’t so distressed about the champagne as I was about the food, which sounded really good to me! What a great way to draw in your reader!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 27, 2024 at 7:14am

      I’m glad to hear you say that: I was sad about the food, too. Sara and I watch a lot of cooking shows. 😀

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  5. Anonymous

    May 26, 2024 at 7:29pm

    LMAO!!!! I loved the story but I had to watch the video to get the hard boiled egg reference. Brilliant. 😀

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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