“I recommend complete rest for a day or two,” he concluded. “Sleep with your head elevated on an extra pillow and apply ice packs until the swelling subsides. The medication I gave you is enough for three days. It will ease the pain while your nose heals. It would be best not to undertake any unnecessary travel or strenuous activity during that time.” Once he was finished, he closed his bag, bid everyone a good day, and left.
As soon as Filippo was gone, Lucrezia turned to her father. “If Rob doesn’t have a place to stay, then he should stay here. It’s only right.”
Leonardo raised his eyebrows at his daughter to let her know he wasn’t thrilled at her proposal. He quickly regained his neutral expression, however, and turned his attention to Robert. “Is there anywhere you must be today?”
“No. My plans are . . . uncertain at the moment. I was thinking about leaving Venice, but I can wait a day or two.”
“Then it is decided.” Leonardo slapped his papers on his knee and stood up. He turned to Rosa. “Ask the Signora to join us and go make up the first guestroom.” Then to Robert. “I will introduce you to my wife. After that, you may want to lie down awhile. There is blood on your shirt. We will find you something to wear. One of my shirts, perhaps. Antonio is too big. Rosa will attend to it.”
After Rosa had hurried from the room, there was a moment of strained silence as everybody tried to think what to do or say next. Leonardo remained standing and glanced quickly towards the open doorway where Rosa had disappeared. Robert wondered if he should stand up as well, but Lucrezia gave no indication that she was ready to rise, and his throbbing head urged him to remain seated as long as possible.
The awkward moment passed when a movement caught Robert’s eye, and he glanced towards the doorway in time to see a woman entering the room. He had always believed that the looks of the mother foretold the looks of the daughter, and when he saw the Signora, he knew Lucrezia could look forward to a maturing beauty that would knock men’s breath away. Tall, statuesque, and elegant, the Signora swept into the room with such grace, the world seemed to hesitate for a heartbeat. She could have been a diva stepping onto a stage, or a queen attending court. Her presence riveted everyone’s attention, and for the first time, Robert saw Lucrezia’s self-assurance waver. Her expression had not changed, but he noted how her head bowed slightly and her facial muscles tightened.
“Dear, this is Robert from America.” Leonardo offered a hand to his lovely wife. “I’m sorry young man, what was your last name?”
Venice Lost - Excerpt
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