Excerpt from Part Two of Death of a Serpent
Serafina watched the sun melt the mist. Deserted the shore, as usual, at this hour. She stared out at the Tyrrhenian Sea, telling herself to be watchful. From now on her movements must be deliberate: she had two more days to catch the killer.
For the past several mornings she had combed the beach close to where she found Bella’s reticule. So far the tall grass yielded nothing more than bits of old newspaper and cloth, the shells of sea urchins, the sticky remnants of a spider’s web. Had Bella been killed elsewhere, her purse washed here by chance?
Yesterday she noticed a boulder and some smaller rocks partially covering what looked like an opening in a massive outcrop that stood below the orphanage. She was able to squeeze through the fissure into a small space, but the darkness prevented further exploration.
Before she set out this morning, she shoved her notebook, a lantern, some candles and match sticks inside Giorgio’s old knapsack. She slung the bag over her back and started off on her usual trek down to the lower part of town, determined to uncover as much as she could before leaving for her appointment with the contessa.
Serafina consulted her watch. Seven o’clock, still plenty of time before there’d be others on the shore. She squeezed past the boulder, its sides slick with dew, and stood for a moment. After mopping her brow with a linen, she lit the lantern and peered inside at a long narrow hall of stone leading into blackness. She was interrupted by a voice behind her.
“What are you doing here?”