The Heir and the Spare

By: Emily Albright


For Madie, who never ceases to amaze me.





Acknowledgments

A gigantic thank you goes to my critique partners. Without them, I can’t imagine where I’d be. Victoria Van Tiem, you are a rock star plain and simple. Thank you for your fabulous eye, your kind words, and your brilliant catches. Amy Anhalt, you catch movement inconsistencies like no one else and ask questions that I never thought of, making the story much richer. Kaci, Nicola, Joy, and Shaneen, thank you for all your help in making Evie and Edmund shine. You ladies are truly wonderful.

To my amazing agent, Jessica Watterson, you took a chance on Evie and Edmund and I will always be eternally grateful. I feel truly blessed to have you in my corner. Thank you for being my champion.

Special thanks to my editor, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and all the wonderful people of Merit Press and F+W Media for getting this story out into the world and making it all polished and pretty.

For my parents, I don’t think a thank you is quite big enough to cover it. Your unfailing love and support all my life has been invaluable. All I am today is because of you. Not to mention you two financed my serious reading addiction growing up. Love you always.

To my hubby and kidlet, the two loves of my life. You are the reason I even dared to dream I could do this. I can’t imagine my life without you. Your love and unceasing belief in me are what motivate me. I love you both to the moon and beyond.

And to you, the readers, I hope you enjoy Evie and Edmund’s story. Thank you for picking up my book and giving it a chance. I think each and every one of you is utterly fabulous.







Chapter One

My Brave New World



Hand on the knob, I closed my eyes and held my breath. I can do this. With a gentle shove, I opened the door. Please, be nice. I cracked an eyelid, peeking. My breath released in a rush as my eyes opened. It’s perfect.

Look out Oxford! This year’s so going to rock.

I tossed my new keycard on the desk and dropped my bags. Twirling, I scanned the room. Next to the minimalist workstation was a twin bed. On the opposite wall, a substantial floor-to-ceiling wardrobe stood. Large windows wrapped around the corner between the two. A black, L-shaped couch filled the space below.

The trunk that had once been my mom’s sat by the wall. I’d been so nervous to ship it. Thank God it made it.

With a jump, I threw myself on the unmade bed and sighed. I did it. I’m here. Exactly where Mom had always dreamed I’d be.

Quest one, complete . . . finally. It had only taken three years.

Where’s the second letter? I shot upright and peered around again; nothing.

How the new letters would find me, I hadn’t a clue.

Every year on my birthday I’d get a new letter from Mom. It was tradition. Dad would wake me bright and early and hand me an envelope. My hands would tremble with excitement—it was the letter I’d been dying to get hold of since I’d ripped open the last one.

Together we’d read it. Together, we’d remember.

On my seventeenth birthday, things changed.

Oh, Dad still delivered my birthday letter. But a few days later a second one appeared, postmarked from London. In that moment my adventure with Mom began. She was sending me on a quest. One Dad had no clue about.

I’d expected my next quest letter to be here, waiting to welcome me to my new world.

Maybe it’ll come in the mail again?

With a disappointed sigh, I dragged a suitcase onto the bed and unzipped it. Grabbing my toiletry bag, I headed for the bathroom. Unlike in the States, everyone here got her own room. There’d be no dealing with a snoring roommate or listening to someone doing the mattress polka.

But, the best part, I’d managed to snag a room with a private loo. That word still made me giggle.

I tossed the bag in the sink and went back to work on my suitcase. My clothes fit in the wardrobe—barely. I fluffed my aqua coverlet over the bed and, exhausted, I nearly crawled in. Instead, I reached for a stack of photos to put up and continued my unpacking.

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