Home > The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(20)

The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(20)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

“Cara, I’m sorry. If you could just—” Raven’s plea was cut off by Cara’s disappearance and the sound of a door slamming.

“What just happened?” Dan crouched so he could see Raven’s face on the computer.

“I didn’t mean to upset her. We were talking about our former stepfather. I just found out he was part of a pedophile ring in California.”

Dan cursed. “Why did you tell her that?”

“I wanted to know how she felt about it. I wanted to know what would give her closure.”

He stood, facing the door. The sounds of Cara’s sobs could still be heard in the background. He moved toward the computer once again. “You upset her.”

“I was trying to help her.”

“I don’t want you bringing up that shit again.”

“She’s my sister.” Raven felt a tear slide down her cheek.

“She doesn’t need your help. Nothing happened to Cara and I want you to stop trying to convince her that it did.”

“Dan, I—”

“Stay out of our lives. That’s it, Raven. I mean it.”

Before Raven could protest, Dan ended the chat.

For a long time she sat, staring at the computer. Then she walked to her bed and crawled under the covers, pulling them over her head.

Gregor moved away from Raven’s bedroom window and climbed to the roof. He leapt from building to building with the intention of informing the Prince about what had just happened to his pet.

In truth, he was confused. He didn’t understand the subject of the argument or its context. However, it was clear the pet was distressed, which meant he needed to report that fact with haste.

As he dropped to street level and approached one of the secret entrances to the underworld, he quickened his pace, hoping the pet would not harm herself before he could deliver his report.

He wanted to keep his head.

Chapter Eleven

“This is disturbing.” The Prince folded the handwritten report and placed it carefully on his desk.

He was seated in one of his personal rooms near the council chamber that lay at the heart of the underworld. A set of flickering candles sat to one side, the only illumination in the dark space.

“Yes, my lord. That’s why I thought you should see it immediately.” Niccolò stood in front of the desk. His face wore a look of intense concentration as he watched his ruler’s reaction.

“What news from Rome?” The Prince placed his hand on top of the report, as if by pressing down he could lessen its threat.

“None. As usual, the Roman seems to operate without the Curia’s interference. If you recall, Lorenzo was told personally by the Roman’s lieutenant that Rome’s support ends when the Curia’s involvement begins.”

“I am aware of that.” The Prince’s hand folded into a fist. “I am also aware of the fact that Rome is Florence’s ally.”

A look of surprise flitted across Niccolò’s features.

“Nevertheless,” the Prince continued, “we don’t want the Curia here.”

“No, my lord. If I may?”

The Prince waved his hand in his security adviser’s direction.

“Thank you. The war with the Venetians was kept quiet. The Curia heard of it but did not interfere, probably because they were delighted two principalities were at war.”

“Obviously,” the Prince commented dryly.

“But the murder of the Interpol agent by a feral drew international attention. Then there were the bodies found downstream. And more recently, the incidents with the hunters.”

“I am well aware of our most recent history, Sir Machiavelli. Have you anything new to contribute?”

Niccolò schooled his features, hiding his irritation. “Forgive me, my lord. Now that it’s clear the eyes of the Curia are on Florence, it may be the time to enact stricter laws on feeding and killing.”

“Our laws are already some of the strictest. That is how we’ve avoided their attention.”

“True, but a gesture of strictness may ameliorate the situation.”

“Our citizens have always enjoyed their liberty,” the Prince mused.

“There will be no liberty to enjoy if the Curia enters the city. Remember what they did to Prague.”

The Prince was filled with revulsion. He remembered the reports of how the Curia had entered Prague and slaughtered most of its supernatural inhabitants as punishment for widespread, indiscriminate killing. It was a genocide.

“My lord?” Niccolò’s voice broke into the Prince’s reflections.

He straightened in his chair. “Outline your analysis and recommendations. I’ll review them and call for a Consilium meeting tomorrow.”

“With respect, my lord, the proclamation should come from Florence’s Prince and not the Consilium.”

“I don’t disagree. But the support of the Consilium is useful for my purposes.”

Niccolò bowed. “Of course, my lord.”

“You are dismissed.”

The Prince stroked a hand across his chin as he watched his adviser’s departing form. He would do what was necessary to avoid confrontation with the Curia. Even as he made plans on how to do so, his thoughts strayed to a certain young woman, wondering how she would fare if their most dangerous enemy ever entered the city.

He lifted a copy of one of Machiavelli’s works from the desk and opened it, noting with satisfaction that the missive he’d hidden inside was still there. He reshelved the volume in one of the bookcases, not because he thought he’d ever need to produce the secret message, but simply because it was precious to him. And he wanted it to remain hidden.

   
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