Excerpt from Death of a Serpent
Lola sailed into the room. Sapphires sparkled on her fingers—and pearls, she dripped pearls. They wound around her neck in long ropes, dangled from her ears, reflecting opalescent light from tiered bracelets. Her gown of watered silk was cut low in the front with a lace surround, pleated in the French manner. She seemed somehow different from the last time Serafina had seen her, that day in the conservatory, almost a different person—more, how to say it, more mature. But no, that wasn’t it at all, not at all: harder. Over her bodice she wore a fitted mauve jacket of boiled wool, a feathered boa draped around her shoulders. Her golden hair was trussed with tortoise combs, around which curls were carefully coiled, and wedged into her cleavage was her ivory cigarette holder.
She sat. “Rosa told me you wanted to see me.” Her voice was
expensive. Reaching for her cigarettes, she stuck one into the holder, and swung a leg over the arm of the chair, revealing a taffeta underskirt, lace petticoats, and black crocheted stockings. On her feet were satin shoes.
“My first customer is in the parlor now. Impatient.” Lola blew smoke from rouged lips. “A dignitary.” Inhaled. Exhaled. “Can’t spare much time, but I want to help.” One propped-up leg arced back and forth.
Photo: Flower Pots in Sicily