“You know hiding in plain sight is actually a dumb idea, right? You’re not the only idiot who tries this kind of thing, they’ll be expecting it.” Alan pulled at his pale yellow tie with a grimace. The narrow satin was already crooked. I moved to fix it, sliding a finger under the too tight collar of his black shirt. He swatted my hand away with a glare. “Stop, I’m a grown man. Do you even remember the last party we tried to crash, how that worked?”
“Not well?” I asked, feeling cheeky.
Jaw squared in furious concentration, Alan didn’t answer. I sighed, wishing he’d just let me do it. I started walking before he finished the double windsor. It was the best way to get him moving as I doubted he could argue, dress himself, and walk at the same time.
The kitchen entrance was open, a constant stream of young men and women in pale silk ties moving and carrying silver food trays, casks, and wrapped flower arrangements. At the door we received only a glare for not looking busy enough. Alan returned it, and I almost kicked him. “You don’t need to protect me from the catering staff.” I said under my breath once sufficiently out of the guard’s earshot.
“I might.” Alan stepped in front of me before I could make it out of the kitchen, opening the door before I could and peering into the hallway. “When your family figures out we are here. I wouldn’t put it past your sister to arm the busboys.”
“You wouldn’t put it past anyone to arm the busboys.” I said and picked up a tray filled with tiny yet elaborate sculptures made of cheese. “Come on, we’re working remember?”
“I’m always working.” Alan adjusted his collar again before he followed my example. I shouldn’t have been worried, Alan could play a part, even a subservient one. He wouldn’t have survived around my family otherwise. Now with his crisp black shirt and tray in hand, he looked exactly like every other trained server.
We left the prep areas, the stainless steel of the kitchens and prep rooms turning to granite and then marble.
“Keep your nose down.” Alan whispered at me as we walked.
I’d been distracted, the first sounds of the great hall were wafting through the service hallways as we made our way to the main event. Catering staff filled the hallways, personal valets and drivers clogging our movements as they loitered, safely unseen by their charges. “Huh?”
“Keep your nose down, your highness. I’m used to bowing and scraping around your psychotic siblings, you are horrible at it. They notice.” Alan said, gaze still sweeping each servant, cook, and guard we passed.
“That is not true, I survived a long time kowtowing to them.” His needling wasn’t helping any of my efforts to appear obedient.
“Until you stopped.” Alan shot me the most infuriating smile. He knew he was right. The guards at the hidden service entrance didn’t look at us as we passed onto the ballroom floor and were amidst the glittering aristocracy there. The gold and silver resting on every brow caught the light from the sparkling chandeliers.
Alan leaned over to me, whispering once more before we’d swept into currents. “And thus we arrive at our present situation.”
I am thief, a thief that needs to be elsewhere at the moment so this will be brief. I stole the first line from a librarian over at The Gate in the Wood, and I am not the first to do so. Check out the rest at the Legal Theft Project.