As they return to Rosewood after the dramatic events of their first year, Lottie and Ellie are hoping for a peaceful term. But strange things are happening at Rosewood. Pupils are being poisoned. Is the threat of secret organisation Leviathan growing closer? Lottie and Ellie are determined to find the culprit; but danger could be closer than they think...

In the dimly lit dungeon beneath the Maravish palace a body lay sprawled on a thin mattress. The cells were bare, but they were at least clean – the royal family of Maradova could keep a prisoner here for weeks or even months if they had to. The figure stretched out lifelessly; no one could have guessed at the cogs turning furiously inside her head. Every day Saskia San Martin meticulously plotted her escape. Committing to memory the exact movements of each guard, how the cameras worked, the gurgling of the pipes and the overhead footsteps of each member of the household. No detail had been overlooked. Still, she was running out of time. It had been seven weeks since her attempt to kidnap the Maravish princess had been thwarted. Soon her old classmates would return to Rosewood Hall for their next year of studies. She had not spoken a word of Leviathan’s plan to any of the guards. She refused to open her mouth except to eat and to reiterate her one demand.

I want to speak to my master, Anastacia Alcroft.

She knew by the guards’ guilty expressions that no one had sent for Anastacia. Now she turned on to her side to eye the clock on the wall. As each second ticked by, she felt a sinking dread. Her wounds, inflicted by the princess’s Partizan, Jamie, were healing. Partizans, being highly trained to protect, were the ultimate bodyguards, and Jamie had fought hard. Thankfully, all that remained of Saskia’s embarrassing defeat was a faded bruise around her eye and a cut on her jaw that would probably leave a scar. But still she was trapped.

Tick-

tock,

tick-

tock.

Any day now, Leviathan would begin Phase Two of their plan. But if Saskia was stuck in this cell, she had no way of being sure Anastacia was safe. Leviathan had assured her that Anastacia would be protected, that if Saskia joined their cause then she would finally be free to be with her. The two of them would no longer have to hide their true feelings from Anastacia’s overbearing father – the man who was also Saskia’s boss.

Saskia froze as an image flashed into her mind: Anastacia standing furious in the light from the palace hallway, her brown hair billowing around her. 

Saskia froze as an image flashed into her mind: Anastacia standing furious in the light from the palace hallway, her brown hair billowing around her. Then another picture came to her: Ellie, standing barefoot in a torn dress, brandishing a golf club in an attempt to save the princess from attackers. Except Ellie wasn’t saving the princess. Ellie was the princess. It had taken Saskia weeks of incarceration to realize this. How could she have been so stupid? But with so much time to think she’d finally been able to join the dots. Ellie was a princess in hiding. Lottie Pumpkin was not the real princess of Maradova. She was a Portman, officially hired to operate undercover, pretending to be a princess to protect the true identity of the real princess: Ellie, the furious girl with the golf club who had smashed Saskia’s windscreen and who’d taken a punch from her in an attempt to save Lottie.

Saskia rolled on to her back and stared at the patches of damp on the ceiling. I need to see Anastacia, to warn her what’s coming.

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