(The copy in this email is used by permission, from an uncorrected advanced proof. In quoting from this book for reviews or any other purpose, it is essential that the final printed book be referred to, since the author may make changes on these proofs before the book goes to press. This book will be available in bookstores February 2018.)
Subject: Salutations from the Royal Family of Thesolo
Dear Ms. Smith,
I hope that my letter finds you well. I, Likotsi Adelele, assistant to His Royal Highness, have sought you out high and low over the last few months, at the behest of the most exalted—and most curious—Prince Thabiso. He has tasked me with finding his betrothed, and I believe I have succeeded: it is you. Because our prince is magnanimous, kind, and understanding, he is willing to cleanse the festering wounds of the past and allow them to heal. In order to aid in this process, please send the following verifications of identity: a scan of your license, passport, or other form of ID; up to date medical records—
Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: Salutations from the Royal Family of Thesolo
Hello again, dear Ms. Smith,
They say persistence is a virtue, and I consider myself most virtuous, as I have now written several times without acknowledgment, and yet I press on. It is the will of the prince that he meets the woman chosen by the goddess Ingoka to be his bride, and I am charged with bringing his will into fruition. It occurs to me that perhaps you fear repercussions for the headstrong and thoughtless actions of your mother and father, but fear not. All will be well...if you are indeed the woman chosen to be the future queen of Thesolo. I am quite sure you are the woman he is searching for. But, I must, MUST, have some proof of identity before we proceed any further. I will not expose the prince to perfidy. So, I beseech you to (a) respond and (b) provide me with—
Subject: FWD: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Salutations from the Royal Family of Thesolo
To the most kind, most gentle Ms. Smith,
Perhaps you have not received the electronic missives I've sent over the past few weeks (see below)? I cannot believe that you've read my heartfelt pleas and ignored them. If you are worried that the people of Thesolo have forsaken you for your malfeasance, fear not. Despite the rupture in trust caused by your parents' selfishness, the contract of marriage, made before goddess and government of our people, still stands. As I stated in my previous emails (see below, if you did not scroll down at my first urging), although I believe you to be the rightful recipient of this email, before I can introduce you to Prince Thabiso after this long absence, I will need more information. Please provide a scan of your license, passport, or other form of ID; your current address; social security number—
"I really don't have time for this," Naledi muttered, the soothing hum of various expensive laboratory equipment masking the aggravation in her tone. She deleted the email with a jab at the trash can icon on the screen of her phone.
The first couple of emails had been amusing, a welcome distraction from the rest of her inbox, which was primarily comprised of calendar reminders about study sessions, student loan payment nudges, data sets to be solved, and other evidence of grad school life. The emails had become less entertaining as the subject lines grew more urgent and it became clear that this wasn't a random occurrence: somewhere in the world, a scammer had zeroed in on 'her.' The knowledge was disturbing to someone as private as Ledi and triggered a sense of helplessness all too familiar for a woman who'd been bounced through strangers' homes for most of her childhood.
Ignoring the emails hadn't worked: the spammer had redoubled their efforts, undeterred by Ledi's lack of response. She'd considered blocking messages from the sender, but it seemed scarier not knowing if she was receiving disturbing emails.
Ledi pushed her safety goggles up onto her thick curls, which she'd smoothed back and pulled into a puff ponytail, and mentally reviewed her to-do list. She'd already created the media needed for experiments, prepared slides, and input data that morning, so she'd actually be able to get some studying in.
She hefted her copy of Modern Epidemiology from out of the backpack at her feet and slid it onto her desk. Balancing her lab assistant job, waitressing, and grad school hadn't seemed overly ambitious at first—Ledi had been juggling jobs and school since she was thirteen. But as tension gripped the back of her neck at the thought of finals and experiments and what the hell the future held, she wondered if maybe she hadn't bitten off more than she could chew.