Christmas in the Boss's Castle

By: Scarlet Wilson

Alice stared at her for a second with her bright blue eyes.

‘What? Do you know him? Or her?’

Alice pressed her lips together. She seemed hesitant to speak. Finally she gave a little smile. ‘I’ve stayed here a while. I might know him a little.’

Grace grinned. She was instantly intrigued. ‘Go on, then. Tell me about him. He’s a bit mysterious. No one seems to know much about him.’

Alice shook her head. ‘Oh, no, Grace. Sometimes mystery is good. I’m sure you’ll meet him in good time.’

Grace narrowed her eyes good-naturedly as she headed towards the door. ‘Alice Archer, I get the distinct impression you could tell me more.’ She shook her head. ‘But I’d better get on. Have fun with your afternoon tea.’

She closed the door behind her and took out her staff key for the elevator to the penthouse.

The elevator didn’t just move. It glided. Like something out of the space age. It made her want to laugh. The rest of the hotel used the original elevators and Grace actually loved them. The little padded velvet love seat in the back, the panelled wood interior and the large brass button display inside. This private elevator was much like the front entrance. Shades of smooth black and grey. So silent that even her breathing seemed to disturb the air. When the doors slid open she almost jumped.

She stepped outside pulling her little trolley behind her. The entrance to the penthouse was different from the rest of the hotel. Usually the way to guest rooms was lined with thick carpet. The entrance way here was tiled, making the noise of the trolley bumping from the elevator echo all around her.

There was a huge black solid door in front of her with a pristine glass sign to its right: ‘The Nottingdale Suite’.

She swallowed. Her mouth felt dry. It was ridiculous. She was nervous. About what?

She slid her staff card into the locking mechanism at the door. An electronic voice broke the silence. Grace Ellis, Housekeeping. She let out a shriek and looked around. In the last few months that had never happened anywhere in the hotel. It took a few seconds for her heart to stop clambering against her chest. Her card had actually identified her?

She pulled it out and stared at it for a second. Her befuddled brain started swirling. Of course, her staff card probably identified everywhere she went in the hotel. That was why she had it. But it had never actually said her name out loud before. There was something quite unnerving about that. Something a little too futuristic.

Hesitantly, she pushed open the door. It swung back easily and she drew in a breath. Straight in front of her were the biggest windows she’d ever seen, displaying the whole of Chelsea—and lots of London beyond around them. Her feet moved automatically until her breath misted the glass. The view was spectacular.

Kings Road with its array of exquisite shops, Sloane Square. If she looked in the other direction she could see the Chelsea embankment with Battersea Park on the other side and Albert Bridge. The view at night when everything was lit up must be spectacular.

Beneath her were rows of beautiful white Georgian town houses, mews cottages, streets lined with cherry trees. Houses filled with celebrities, Russian oligarchs and international businessmen. Security at all these houses probably cost more than she earned in a year.

She spun around and began to tour the penthouse. The still air was disturbing. Almost as if no one had been in here for a long time. But the bedroom held a large dark travel case. Someone had been here. If only to drop off the luggage.

She looked around. The bed was bare—waiting to be made up. It took her a few minutes to find the bedding—concealed inside a black gloss cupboard that sprang open as she pressed her fingertips against it. It only took a few minutes to make up the bed with the monochrome bedding. Underneath her fingertips she could feel the quality but the effect still left her cold.

She opened the case and methodically unpacked the clothing. It all belonged to a man. Polished handmade shoes. Italian cut suits. Made-to-measure shirts. She was almost finished when she felt a little lump inside the case. It only took a second to realise the lump was from something hidden in an inside pocket.

She pulled out the wad of tissue paper and unwrapped it carefully as she sat on the bed. The tissue paper felt old—as if it had wrapped this item for a number of years. By the time she finally peeled back the last layer she sucked in her breath.

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