Her smile shifted to concern. “Your nose is bleeding. Antonio, give me your handkerchief.” She accepted the handkerchief from an oversized, young man standing beside her and pressed it gently to Robert’s nose. He winced at the pain but said nothing. “You must let our family doctor look at you. I fear Antonio may have broken your nose.”
The man who had assaulted him was called Antonio, and he was this angel’s brother. Robert sifted through these bits of information, looking for clues to what had happened. Who was she, and why was her brother attacking people?
“Antonio must be pretty angry at the man he’s looking for,” Robert said at last. He tried to smile, but his face hurt too much.
“It is a family matter.” Her response was formal, but amusement at his attempted humor lifted the corners of her mouth. “Someone was bothering me. Antonio wanted to protect me. That is all. Our home is not far. We will take you there and call the doctor.” Then in Italian, “Antonio, help him up. We must get him to the launch and take him home.”
Antonio knelt down and leveraged his powerful arms under Robert’s legs and shoulders. “I can walk,” Robert objected as Antonio hoisted him into the air. The big man ignored his protest and carried him through the parting crowd towards the Grand Canal. The young woman strode purposefully ahead of them to one of the motor launches moored next to the Piazza. Without a word, Antonio placed Robert in the back seat of the boat. The young woman followed with the graceful step of a ballerina and settled in beside him.
Antonio took the controls, and they were soon whisking up the Grand Canal past the same vistas he had viewed with Rachel less than twenty-four hours ago. Except that had been twenty-seven years in the future! Such convoluted reasoning only magnified the searing pain behind his eyes and cheek bones, so he ignored these thoughts and concentrated on his nose. The bleeding had abated, but he kept the spattered handkerchief pressed against his nostrils.
Robert tried to observe his companion without being obvious. Her erect posture gave her a regal bearing that suggested a formal upbringing, but when she turned her face to the wind and let her hair cascade behind her, he was reminded of a girl riding a roller coaster. Her silk blouse and tailored pants looked expensive, yet she wore no jewelry, not even a watch. She exuded an understated elegance that he associated with self-confidence and wealth. When she returned his gaze, her eyes sparkled with the fire of black star sapphires. An awkward silence fell between them.
Venice Lost - Excerpt
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