Chapter 2 - Inconvenient Deaths

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"A Royal... murdered!" Haliver yelled.

Sage's eyes followed his father back and forth as he paced the drawing room.

"Someone will hang for this."

Sage could always count on his father for being dramatic. "How do you know it was murder?" The middle-aged man stopped abruptly in the sunlight, facing his son. His blue eyes were as cold as ever. His pale skin was flushed and angry. His brown hair was messy from the number of times he had gripped it that morning.

"He was strangled. They said there were marks on his neck."

Their father shot Oxley, his youngest son, a sharp glare. "They, who are they?" Haliver demanded.

"The staff who work here. I overheard them gossiping about it before I was even told. They know far too much about everything."

Sage kept his arms crossed and said nothing. What could he say? His uncle was a horrid man, cruel and nasty and far too jealous of his older sister, the Queen. Murder seemed fitting for his death, but who had dared to kill a Royal, and why?

"Do we know why Uncle Patrick was at that house?" Oxley asked.

"What house?" Sage finally spoke up.

"That poor house."

"You mean the council house." Their father spoke through gritted teeth. Their father had not been a rich man before marrying the woman who was now the current Queen. But he had always been a man of rules, and the Royals had plenty of those.

"Yeah." Oxley waved his hand. "Whatever. Why was he there? Who lived at that house?"

Haliver faced away from them, directing his glare to the flowers outside. "Go and get on with your day, both of you. Your mother and I will talk about this tonight as a family."

Sage and Oxley shared a glance. Something was amiss. Their father hated Patrick too, but a Royal had been murdered, and they needed to find out if it was an Uncle Patrick problem, or a problem for all Royals.

"Oxley don't leave the grounds today. I know you had plans but make other ones for now."

Oxley left with his head down while Sage hung by the couch, awkwardly prodding the golden ruffles. His father turned his head, so Sage asked if he could help figure out what happened.

"You know you can't be involved Sage."

"I just want to help with something."

His father turned to face him. The silver buttons on his waistcoat glimmered in the sunlight. "And what if this was an attack on Royals and not just Patrick and you find yourself in a spot of trouble? If anything happens to you, your poor brother will carry the burden instead. We all know how he would make a tragic king. He breaks every rule presented to him. I love his individuality, but the crown needs steadiness to reside on the head it rests." Haliver smiled sympathetically. "I know you're still standing by the door Oxley."

The nineteen-year-old grumbled from the hallway and finally stomped away. Sage knew his brother wouldn't really be mad. He was just as dramatic as their father. "So, you'll let me know when you find out who killed Patrick?" Sage asked.

"Yes, and I'll shake their hand before they hang."

Sage smiled the same bonnie smile that made him look like his mother. The only physical characteristics his father graced him with was his tall structure and a sharp jaw. "I'll get back to the gardens then."

"Maybe you should have a few extra days with the gardener this week. We'll want to keep a close eye on where you are until this gets sorted."

Sage understood. He curtly bowed his head and left his father to continue pacing the long drawing room. The rooms in the palace were so crowded with fancy things, he barely noticed their differences. All the rooms were large and lavish and tall with big windows and dramatic curtains. Sage sometimes only knew what room he was in by what sign hung on the door.

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