Title: Kindred Spirits: Tower of London
Author: Jennifer C. Wilson
Genre: Paranormal Historical Fiction
A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…
In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.
Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.
With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave?
Anne sighed. “We’ve been through this before, Richard. It wasn’t funny then, and it isn’t funny now.”
“Well, it’s this lot. All these years, and I could swear they’re getting worse.” He leaned back against the cool brick, and shaded his eyes as he scanned a group of already-bored teenagers being herded by an increasingly frustrated tour guide.
“Perhaps you are simply getting jaded. Come on, I know you love your school trips.”
She gave him no choice, pulling him away from the wall. He sighed. Anne was right; he did enjoy independent tours like this one, although he would enjoy them so much more if they got their facts right. He watched her as she wandered around the back of the group, looking for targets.
“Shall we give them the full works?” she called over to him, the pearls of her favourite necklace winking in the sunlight, and the famous ‘B’ glistening. She still never took it off, pinning it to her dress during her headless periods.
“Why not?” replied Richard, pulling himself together. “Where’s George?”
“Yours or mine?”
Richard laughed; the two brother Georges, one of a dozen things he and Anne had in common. Things had become so confused over the years that in the end, they had agreed that for clarity, in general company they would refer to ‘Clarence’ for George Plantagenet, and ‘Boleyn’ for George Boleyn. Between themselves though, the joke still continued.
“Yours,” clarified Richard. “A removeable head is probably more their thing than rising from a barrel whilst gargling malmsey.”
“I haven’t seen him today actually; I think he’s pestering Jane again.”
“Very funny. He’s hardly going to be trying to seduce his own wife now, is he?” Anne laughed at her own joke.
“True,” said Richard, as he mirrored Anne’s path around the group. “Anyway, show time?”
The former Queen grinned at Richard, as they took up their places.
“I presume the others are in their usual places?” asked Richard, as he checked Anne’s necklace was neatly aligned, and tugged the waistline of his own jacket, once he was satisfied with the fastenings at the neck of his shirt. Being dead was one thing, but that was not an excuse not to take care in your appearance. Especially not when you had been a King.
“They should all be ready. It is Saturday, after all.
“In that case, my lady, after you,” said Richard, sweeping her a deep bow. Anne curtseyed in return, a mischievous grin filling her face, framed perfectly by her thick, dark hair, held in a high bun.
“Merci, Your Grace!”
“…And this is Traitor’s Gate, where both the guilty and the innocent have been brought into the Tower down the years, knowing full well the fate which could await them, once they set foot within these walls,” the guide informed her charges, trying unsuccessfully to inject some enthusiasm into them. “Anne Boleyn herself, the Queen of England, second wife of Henry the Eighth, entered the Tower for her final visit through this very gate.”
“And I never left,” Anne whispered into the ear of the nearest student, a shy-looking boy with blond hair. He spun around, eyes wide with anger, as though ready to confront a fellow-student of the trick. Seeing nobody, he shook his head, and turned back to the guide.
“An easy target,” Anne said, smiling as she turned to Richard. “Onwards!”
Richard offered her his arm, then groaned inwardly as he realised what the next stop would inevitably be.
“Here we go,” he said, as Anne rolled her eyes. He tried to fight it, to stop himself from saying anything, but knew what was coming.
“It was here, in this very tower, the infamous Bloody Tower, that King Richard the Third murdered his two young nephews, known to history as simply the Princes in the Tower. And – their ghosts still haunt the building, to this very day!”
Richard’s ears pricked. Instinctively, he looked up at the window; sure enough, there were two small boys peering out at the group of tourists. His heart lurched – it couldn’t be them, could it? Then he saw the crucial differences. His nephews would now have been waving baseball caps and grinning at the onlookers – nor, for that matter, have been wearing sunglasses. He groaned at the scene, running his fingers through his hair, before turning on his heel, ready to leave.
Not the boys. Just more tourists.
“Hey, come on,” said Anne, pulling at his sleeve. “Don’t just walk away.”
“Why not? They’ve already got their story lined up. I’m the murderer, yet again.”
“So? Do something about it. If not, Richard, what’s the point of even turning up every day?” Anne shouted at him. He knew she was tired of the same argument every time a tour guide mentioned the boys.
“Maybe there isn’t one! Maybe I should just leave this wretched place – it’s not as if anybody would miss me.”
“And there you go, sulking. Again. Hardly regal, is it? You can’t just accept the stories as stories. You have to take every little jibe as a catastrophic insult. You’re not the only one who had to put up with stories you know? You’re not the only one being lied about.”
“I’m the only child murderer. Try coping with that one. It was bad enough when I was alive, but now, still?”
Their shouting could be heard across the Tower, by the other ghosts at least. Even those who had remained undisturbed for centuries couldn’t help but overhear when Richard and Anne started arguing.
“Oh, go then. Leave. Go back to your miserable little car-park, where you belong.” Anne’s voice was flat, her eyes dark.
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Jennifer has been stalking dead monarchs since she was a child. It started with Mary, Queen of Scots, then moved onto Richard III. At least now it results in a story!
She won North Tyneside Libraries' Story Tyne short story competition in 2014 (no dead monarchs, but still not a cheerful read), and has been filling notebooks and hard-drives ever since. Her Kindred Spirits series, following the 'lives' of some very interesting ghostly communities, is published by Darkstroke, and her historical romances by Ocelot Press.
Jennifer is currently exploring some new ideas for historical romance, and hoping to visit Kindred Spirit friends old and new, north of the border...
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