Excerpt 4 – A Thing Done


¬†From Chapter 21, Women’s Games

I was lounging on a stool, my eyes closed, enjoying a plate of figs and nuts and letting the cooks entertain me when the bickering voices went silent, and I heard a familiar flat voice say, “Fool.”

Selvaggia. “My lady?” I said, getting to my feet, still holding the wooden plate in one hand.

“I would speak with you,” she said.


“Here.” The cooks and the shy helper were across the room, busy with a stack of dirty dishes, scraping plates and salvaging leftovers and scraps. They carefully avoided looking at us. If we stayed where we were and spoke quietly, we would not be heard.

She sat unceremoniously on the stool I had just vacated. I set my plate down on a shelf and remained standing.

“You did as I told you, Fool, and I have kept your secret,” she said.

“I thank you, my lady.”

“Yet I find you among us again. Why?”

This could be tricky.

“Because I learned by accident of messer Oddo’s plans.”

“You helped make those plans.”

“Not the what of them, but the when and where.”

“You learned by accident,” she repeated, emphasizing the last word.

“One of Oddo’s men told me. I didn’t ask.” That was not strictly speaking true, but it was close enough. And poor eager Pierino would have told me whether I asked or not.

“Hmph. So then my uncle had you brought here, to make sure you don’t betray us, yes?”


“He did well. So here you are, and perhaps after you have given your talents to this house for a day or two more, I’ll send for you to lighten the mood at the Amidei palace. We need it. My lady mother is distraught, while I grow impatient.”

I inclined my head. “My lady, I am here to serve.”

She let out a short bark of a laugh. “You’re here, Fool, because you have no choice. I don’t know what you would be doing right now to undermine our revenge if you weren’t a prisoner here, but I will tell you that I don’t trust you, and I’m very glad my clever uncle has enough sense not to trust you either.”

Links to other excerpts. Excerpt 1. Excerpt 2. Excerpt 3.