Excerpt from Death In Bagheria. Paperback now available.
Sicily, March 1870
Serafina ran up a winding staircase and opened the door. Breathless, she fished in her pockets for a linen, smelling beeswax, citrus, the must of centuries. After her eyes adjusted to the dimness, she saw Sister Genoveffa, the Duomo’s sacristan, standing at the worktable, arranging lemon blossoms in a vase. The woman’s overskirts were hiked, revealing fine leather boots. Serafina looked down at her own pair, scuffed in spots and worn at the heel. Her temples throbbed, and the last handful of olives she’d eaten rumbled like rocks in her stomach.
“Took you long enough, but now that you’re here, follow me.” She released her hem and turned to the custodian, a toothless sack of a man rattling his keys in the corner. “Ask cook to bring us caffè and biscotti, will you? And be quick—I haven’t much time.”
Serafina followed the nun’s flowing veil into her office. As imperious in homespun as she was in silk.
When they were seated with the door closed, Sister Genoveffa adjusted her wimple and began. “My mother’s been poisoned.”
“But she’s been dead at least six months!” Serafina swallowed, casting her mind back to Lady Caterina’s requiem. “My husband hadn’t long been in his grave when I heard of her demise.” Despite the warmth of the morning, her toes felt clammy. Images of Giorgio’s body lying in state, his waxen face familiar yet so strange, crowded her mind. “Buried near Prizzi, isn’t she?” Serafina asked, dabbing her face with the linen.
Death In Bagheria publishes in paperback this week.
Photo: Paperback cover, Derek Murphy at CreativIndieCovers.