Home > The Girl He Wished (Paige King FBI Suspense Thriller #4)

The Girl He Wished (Paige King FBI Suspense Thriller #4)
Author: Blake Pierce




Meredith Park couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched, as she slowly started to get ready to leave the restaurant at the Lexington Ren-Faire.

Which was silly, because of course she was being watched. Being watched was a large part of her job, there at the Ren-Faire. Even if she was actually just there to serve food and make sure that the kitchens didn’t overcook the roast suckling pig, she knew that she was as much a part of the act of the place as any of the performers there. Just looking around now, there were at least a dozen people watching her performance.

“I hope your meal was ok,” Meredith said, offering a smile to a young couple who had come in wearing their own interpretations of medieval dress, both of them wearing chainmail that looked like they’d put it together at home from loops of plastic and then spray painted it. She set the bill down for them and made her way around to the next table, gently working her way towards the exit. Meredith wouldn’t be able to leave until she’d cleared the last tables, checked her share of the tips, and made sure that the others were ok before she headed home.

It wasn’t easy, being a wench. That was Meredith Park’s official job title: serving wench at the court of King Arthur. Because apparently the people who ran the Lexington Ren-Faire thought that was the most period appropriate way to describe their staff members. Meredith wasn’t entirely sure that it was the job title she would have chosen for herself if they’d asked, but they hadn’t.

At the same time, though, Meredith had to admit that she loved working there in the restaurant of the Ren-Faire. She loved the enjoyment that people got from visiting, and she loved the enthusiasm that some of them showed. The cosplayers always loved to get involved, piecing together chainmail at home and sewing dresses that made the ones Meredith had to wear for work look drab by comparison. Some days, it was hard to tell the visitors from the people who worked there, although it helped that Meredith knew everyone who worked there. They all passed through the restaurant sooner or later.

Meredith bussed the last of the tables in her section, then handed over to the next wench on duty. She smiled and waved as she left the restaurant, in one last piece of performance. She always went home in her work clothes because no one there wanted to see the medieval servant who had just been providing their food come out in jeans and a t-shirt.

Meredith had majored in history at college, so taking a job at the local Renaissance Faire while she tried to work out what else she wanted to do with her life had seemed like a great option. And it was, just as long as Meredith didn’t pay too much attention to the portrayals of history on display there and just went along with the fun of the place.

For a start, King Arthur? If the mythical king had existed at all, he’d probably been an early medieval king in one of the small British kingdoms of the time; he had probably lived close to a thousand years before the Renaissance.

Then there was the wench’s costume that Meredith had been given for work. It had a great flounced skirt, a bonnet, and a corset that was more of a bustier, over a pale linen underskirt. By actual medieval standards, Meredith suspected that she was several layers of clothing short of authenticity; but at the Ren-Faire, showing off how one looked apparently counted for far more. It was about how impressed the patrons were, not whether everything fit with the latest historical papers.

Not that Meredith minded a little showing off, or the attention that got her here. She was five-ten, full-figured and blonde-haired, with deep blue eyes that were a little larger and more wide-set than most people’s. With her slightly rounded features and ready smile, it had been pretty much inevitable that she would end up as a wench.

Meredith had been briefly annoyed by that because a part of her would rather have been a knight, but there was a waiting list to become a knight, or a jester, or any of the entertainment jobs. Meredith had quickly found that she had a knack for cooking good food, and for serving customers. She’d even done extra research on medieval recipes, trying to find ones that would fit with modern tastes while still seeming authentic enough.

Meredith had quickly found herself in charge of a whole section in the restaurant, in what would have been a promotion to manager anywhere else. Here, of course, she was just called “chief restaurant wench,” but it was ok. The money was good, and the people she worked with were great. Ok, so they were occasionally a little strange, but wasn’t everyone?

Meredith headed out into the fair, taking in the early evening air. There were still plenty of people around, moving between tents and booths, old fashioned steam rides that were still about five hundred years too recent, and staff members who wandered the crowds juggling or tumbling, making fun of people for their strange modern dress or selling them snacks out of barrows.

Meredith had to admit that, in spite of the anachronisms, she loved it here. There was nowhere else she would rather work. Historical authenticity didn’t matter once you understood the joy a place like this brought to people when they visited. They came here and they went away smiling, pretty much regardless of who they were. There weren’t many jobs where Meredith could say that about the people she met.

She headed for the employee parking lot, taking off her bonnet as she went. It was still hard to shake the feeling of being stared at, but as Meredith glanced around, she couldn’t see anyone who was actually looking her way now. At least not any more than usual. She was just one more person moving through the crowds of the Ren-Faire. No one seemed to be giving her particular attention.

Meredith shrugged and kept going. If someone was staring at her, giving her unwelcome attention, so what? The Ren-Faire attracted its share of creeps as well as those people just there to enjoy themselves. There were always a few guys who just wanted to stare at women in old fashioned dresses, or who crowded around whenever one volunteered to be put in the stocks they kept in the main square. Guys who longed for things to be the way they’d been in some version of the past that only really existed in their own heads.

Meredith had learned to just ignore that side of things. The good definitely outweighed the bad, after all. She needed to get home, so she hurried on towards the parking lot. Her small Citroen was waiting there, sitting underneath the shade of a large beech tree to keep it cool. Meredith fished her keys out of the pouch on her belt that she had in place of a purse, meaning that she could keep things with her without having to break out of the dress code for the Ren-Faire.

Slowly, Meredith started to slide out of what she thought of as her medieval mode, starting to think about her much more modern life again. When she got home, she would get changed, maybe call a couple of her friends, see if they wanted to go out…


Hearing her name called was enough to make Meredith stop and turn, wondering if it was one of the other employees of the Renaissance Faire. Maybe something had happened with the restaurant, or they wanted someone to fill in for an hour. Meredith could definitely use the overtime.

It wasn’t an employee, though, or at least, Meredith didn’t think he was. It was hard to tell, given the strange way the man was dressed, but she didn’t recognize him, and Meredith thought that she knew everyone who worked there.

He was advancing on her slowly, a look of cold menace transfixing Meredith as he did so.

“You have transgressed,” he said. “You have ignored the order of things, the sumptuary laws, spoken seditiously to your king…”

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