Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth
27 March, 17--
Riva del Ferro
CARO HAD long held fast to the belief that holidays were to be celebrated in proper Bacchanalian fashion: lavishly, with company, and in varying states of inebriation. The term ‘holiday’ was of course used altogether loosely in her vasty lexicon: any event worth note, from Christmas to a new ally to laying down the winning hand at whist, merited a loud toast or five – and tonight, being the last day of Carnivale, was of course no exception.
This time around, though, Caro felt a pressing need to get an early start. (Excitement, p’raps? Or the bone-chill fear of losing her nerve again? She supposed it was some hybrid beast of both; some vicious greedy succubus to whom she didn’t dare refuse anything.) Fortunately, this was accomplished easily enough. Up at nine-thirty, warm bath till eleven, nuncheon at midday, and at one she liberated a dusty bottle of Madeira – that Portuguese liquid sunshine – from a forgotten cabinet down in the cellar and spent the afternoon hours very well-lubricated, piping lewd French ditties and compliments from the windows to the noisome populous below, and o, how they loved it.
And Caro loved it, too. Ever the braggadocio, she caught blown kisses with outstretched palms (these she pressed playfully to her cheeks and neck, to raucous cheers) and blew handfuls of her own in return, batting her eyelashes and laughing at the vulgar propositions of which these lusty Mediterraneans were so cheerfully fond; making brazen love to all who looked her way. The world, as the saying went, was her oyster once more, and she fully intended to swallow it down whole before the day was through.
Awash with wine-soaked pleasure and the thrill of an audience, Caro charmed, pouted, sparkled and teased from her perch until the shadows lengthened and the lamps were lit; only then did she tear herself from her sunwarm terra cotta seat. The crowd was thinning anyhow; headed t’wards the Campi, no doubt. It was time to get ready. (Though the idea of carousing publickly in her underthings was a powerful temptation.)
As she turned from the canal to look for Orion, she thought she glimpsed Sparrow’s supple form slip into the eddying crowd from the corner of her well-trained eye. And good riddance, she thought suddenly. Grimly.
Maybe, finally, he wouldn’t come back.