Thursday, March 21, 1867
Serafina unsealed the envelope and looked at the note it contained, a draft drawn on the Banco di Sicilia. She peered at the numbers again and blinked.
Sister Genoveffa rose. “I sent for you because of your reputation. They say you ferret out the truth and do it swiftly. You’ll be generously rewarded after you catch my mother’s murderer. I know, I know: I took a long time concluding that my mother was murdered, but now that I’ve done so, I want a quick resolution to this matter. You won’t disappoint me.”
“I have another question.”
The nun shook her head. “You’ll have to come back after the Annunciation.”
“After Mary’s feast on Monday.”
“And I said that I have one more question. You’ll answer it before I begin or you can take back your retainer.” Serafina held the cheque out to Genoveffa and waited for the nun to grab it, thinking that now she’d done it, just when she was beginning to be intrigued and, yes, just when she was beginning to care for the woman. She watched the nun’s eyes flood again and Serafina’s heart melted. She lowered her arm.
Come to think of it, she, Serafina, was the only one to solve the puzzle of an old murder. Too complex for that clown, Colonna. And the Madonna knew she could use the money. She could hear Loffredo whisper in her ear to take care. But the retainer alone would cover her family’s expenses for at least three years—five, if she were careful. Whoever said she couldn’t juggle? She’d done it before, managed to birth babies while solving all manner of crimes for the commissioner. She must enlist Rosa’s help; she’d be keen for the adventure. Best of all, the case would give her an excuse to consult with Loffredo. She hadn’t seen him in so long, over a week. The thought of him made her cheeks flame. She swallowed. Well, she’d work for the state and for Genoveffa, too. Picturing her children’s faces when they saw the note, she stuffed it into her pocket.