No More Brothers, the second book in the Serafina Florio mystery series, is now available in print as well as an ebook. It is a novella, about 27,000 words. It’s an important book in the series, and like all my books, can be read as a standalone. Besides being a mystery, No More Brothers is the start of Serafina’s affair with Loffredo, and as such, is one of the most popular in the series.
Here’s an excerpt, a chapter called “And Yet …” In it, Serafina struggles with the mystery of romance:
Loffredo rose when Serafina entered his office. “I took a quick look at the corpse and found arsenic around Ugo’s mouth. Traces of the same compound were on the napkin and glass you gave me.”
She shivered. “I know the strega mixes it into her potions.”
“No need for the strega. The arsenic was a simple garden variety, easily obtainable, often sold by an apothecary. Popular rat poison. Giorgio kept it in his store, I’m sure. But he’d have kept a record of all purchases of a dangerous compound like that.”
She felt light-headed, tried to focus on a spot somewhere in middle distance.
He continued. “The autopsy will give me a better idea of just how much arsenic is present in Ugo’s tissues. Wound to his heart was fatal, but as I say, I will have to examine the corpse before I can issue cause of death.”
“I want to be reassured that there was poison in Ugo’s body.”
He stared at her.
What was wrong? Had she offended him?
The room began to spin.
When she woke up, Loffredo was kneeling by her side. Cradling her head, he held a linen with some wretched-smelling substance to her nose.
“You’re working too hard. You must take better care of yourself. I couldn’t bear it if—”
“Nonsense. I haven’t eaten since breakfast. I’ll be fine.” She sat up.
Without warning, he held her in his arms.
She pulled away. Their eyes locked and he drew her to him again.
She smelled his cologne, a powerful manly scent. Their lips almost touched before she regained her compass. “We mustn’t. Giorgio’s—”
“Giorgio’s dead, Fina. He’d want you to be happy. We were happy together once, remember?”
“I sense you still have feelings for me, and mine have never dampened. Never.” He brushed a stray lock from her forehead.
Before she could object, he kissed her full on the lips.
“Not here. Not like this.”
“Elena sailed for Paris last week.” He held her tight. “She and her crowd have discovered a new artist and they prepare his exhibit for a grand showcase. It doesn’t open until April and she won’t return until May or June. Come to me tonight after the others have retired. I’ll be waiting.”
She managed to wrench herself free.
How or when she started for home, she couldn’t say. But on the way, she decided once and for all she couldn’t go to Loffredo. Wouldn’t do. Giorgio lay in his grave not quite a year. She’d never stop loving him. Never. After shutting the gate, she glanced up at the smiling angel over the lintel and opened the door.
And yet …
She heard Maria’s piano wafting from the parlor. The rest of her family sat at table, laughing and eating their dessert, a cassata heaped with cream and sprinkled with orange rind. Such a welcome sight.
Photo: Cover, No More Brothers. Design, Derek Murphy