New from Eirelander Publishing
In the town of Favola, a prince and a lovely girl imprisoned by her mother's jealousy find passion and love... but will it be enough to outsmart the machinations and fury that their devotion inspires in the beautiful Bella Venezia? An Italian fairytale is re-told for an adult audience....
“Her name is Capricia,” someone informed him, and he turned to see an old man working next to him, arranging steaming pies and fresh fruit into appealing displays. He was smiling with affection and appreciation. Francesco turned away just in time to see the girl vanish into the throng of people.
“Where can I find her?” He was craning his neck, trying to catch sight of her again. Francesco grabbed the man’s arm and shook him. “Where?”
The old man laughed. “La Locanda di Pericoli Nascosti,” he replied with a knowing wink at the baker, who was watching the exchange. “She is the daughter of the woman who owns the place.”
“And where might I find this Inn of Hidden Dangers, old one?” Francesco’s question was curt, he was eager now to seek out the girl and see if she could be charmed into being his companion for the night. The old man’s gaze was shrewd, the heat of embarrassment warmed Francesco’s face, the other man had all but read his intentions.
“Be careful of her mother, boy,” was all the old man said. “End of the road there,” he added, crooked finger aimed in the general direction where the girl had disappeared. “It’s easily found.”
Puzzling over the old man’s vague warning, Francesco turned in the direction he’d been shown and continued. It took only minutes to discover the busy inn. He tied his horse to a rail, and went inside.
The common room was filled with travelers and local people. As he approached the counter, he saw the lovely woman who ran the place and stopped to listen as she spoke with a newly arrived patron.
“Tell me, signore,” she all but purred, leaning forward so the stranger could see the lush swells of her breasts, “have you seen a more beautiful woman than me?”
The man shook his head and swore he had never set eyes on anyone more beautiful than her, Bella Venezia. Satisfied, she told him he could have his room that night for half the usual price.
Francesco stepped forward, and once again she turned on her charm.
“Are you here for a room, signore, or merely to enjoy my company?”
Francesco smiled. She was a fine-looking woman, and it would have been very easy to be swept away by her ample charms, but another face haunted his heart now, and stirred his desires as no other woman had. Francesco had escaped his family for a time, tired of the endless parade of potential brides being brought before him. None had appealed to him, yet this stranger had captured his heart, and his imagination. He’d return home with the bride of his choosing, once he found her again.
“Your charm and beauty is undeniable, signora,” he replied smoothly. “But my heart has been stolen by one so fair I cannot live without her. Your own daughter, Capricia.”
When Bella’s eyes narrowed and she glared at him, Francesco knew he had made a grave error in allowing his heart to speak before he could think. He had been foolish enough to believe a mother would be pleased to have her daughter admired.
“Then you may pay twice the price for the privilege of admiring her, signore,” she informed him.
“Then I have still been granted a bargain, signora,” he assured her, resisting laughter at the anger seething in the woman’s eyes. Her striking face set into hard lines of resentment, and her eyes were glacial. He paid her and she told him what room was his for the night.
Francesco went to settle in and wait for nightfall. He did not plan on spending his time alone, not when the girl of his heart’s dreams was only a short distance away.