#11
“My deepest apologies, Signora. I am no Casanova, and I fear I intruded upon your sensibilities just now. You are right. It would be improper of you to stay with my family, or for me to give you funds which I am at liberty to do if I please.”

He reached out and idly stroked a leaf from the honey bush, wondering what her dark hair would feel like between his fingertips, as he listened to her consider an alternative. Nicomede wasn’t sure if his mother would even want the Spaniard around the residence as a guest, but then again, he was the man of the house was he not? Father, he knew, would not care.

“How about this, Signora, since I… my senses have taken leave due to the beauty of the arboretum and, I admit, due to your beauty as well… please have dinner at the Raniero palazzo. That way you can meet my family and they can meet you. We can discuss this accounting situation for your father.”
Unbeknownst to Nicomede, this was the very same father from whom he’d drained the lifeblood using his dagger which was now lying at the bottom of the Rio Manzanares.

She was correct. He needed to show more restraint. And Mother would endure no more scandal from him. Not since the incidents in Madrid. While Nicomede was fully captivated by the fierce allure of Mercedes, he did need to be careful that he did not lose his heart - and head - as he’d done with his sweet Paulina.

Either way, it appeared a tentative courtship was blossoming - at least on the unwary nobleman's part.

<a href='index.php?showuser=172' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Mercedes Socorro</a>
word count: 305

#12
She had back peddled perhaps a bit too much. But what else could she do? If she jumped at the offer he could take it that she was some kind of improper woman. Take liberties that she had no intention of gifting without much more information. She was already teetering in societal decorum as an improper woman, just by fleeing Court. But he offered an alternative that was acceptable and it told her that he was interested. Lest for now. With her intrigue.
&#8220;How about this, Signora, since I&#8230; my senses have taken leave due to the beauty of the arboretum and, I admit, due to your beauty as well&#8230; please have dinner at the Raniero palazzo.&#8221;
Nodding lightly and offering a genteel smile. Letting her eyes be huge and watching him like some sweet little rabbit. And he called her beautiful she looked down shyly and smiled tightly. Yes! She had captured his interests. Now how to keep them without him pushing to speak to her father or the Court?

&#8220;This I can gladly agree to. And it is properly done. Although on my account still lacking as I haven&#8217;t a proper Chaperone. But I have made my case, and I must now walk it.&#8221;

She was nodding to seat her words. Perhaps more to herself then to him. She was definitely in territory she had never been before. But she had stuck to the truth as much as possible which meant she did not have to recall many lies.

&#8220;Will your mother not wonder about my lack of companion, or why I am here without proper escort? Mon dios, Signor Raniero I did not think this out very well. I ran as fast as I could pack on the next ship to get away. I have no maid, I have no foot man, I have no house! What did I do?&#8221;

And she was about ready to start crying. If women could be in the theater perhaps she could do it. But it was also very true. She had no maid. She had no footman. She had no house. And to obtain any of them she had to return to Court and do as she were told. But none of that mattered, not one part, what mattered was the man standing before her. And not for such a womanly romantic notion.

<a href='index.php?showuser=16' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Chops</a>
word count: 421

#13
Nicomede’s brow quirked in the way most men’s did when they were bemused by the indecision of a woman. His mother’s voice harped in his ear about ladies who were not honorable, who’d faked their papers and attempted to marry into a title just the same. Still, he did not take Mercedes to be this type of charlatan. She seemed too pure for that, with the right bit of moxie to make her intriguing.

“I have no maid, I have no foot man, I have no house! What did I do?”

“You did what any normal person would do in a tenuous circumstance. Sometimes we do things that do not seem within our nature, and we are left with those kinds of questions.”

He pondered for a moment, his hand tapping his chin and then moving back down to his side. “My sister has far too many maids for her own good. How about this, since you are so reluctant to take me up on my charity.” Proud woman she was, he thought, slightly wounded at the thought that it might take more convincing, yet at this point, he began to worry about angering his mother. It wasn't as if he really knew who this woman was. “I’ll send one of her servants over to where you stay. Which is…?”
word count: 226

#14
&#8220;You did what any normal person would do in a tenuous circumstance. Sometimes we do things that do not seem within our nature, and we are left with those kinds of questions.&#8221;
She nodded and took a deep breath. He was being extremely too kind and polite to a young woman he had just met. And she was letting things get out of her control. She had made this bed and she would have to sleep in it. Now to seat this dinner and hopefully win more of his interests.

&#8220;Signor Raniero you are much too kind. You try to offer me help and charity and only now I worry about my propriety when I had already tarnished it so greatly by running. Listening to myself and your offer I had only this instant realize what trouble I have caused for myself. I have meant no rebuff on your generosity I am truly sorry to cause you any embarrassment on my part. I am the one in the wrong and you are only trying to help me. Please can you accept my apology? And if you are still offering me to meet your familia for dinner I would happily accept."
&#8220;My sister has far too many maids for her own good. How about this, since you are so reluctant to take me up on my charity.&#8221; <br>&#8220;I&#8217;ll send one of her servants over to where you stay. Which is&#8230;?&#8221;
He could see she was embarrassed, her cheeks flushing and those shy eyes.

&#8220;If it please you to do so Signor I could use the help yes. I told you I have only just arrived, and in my state found a room at the L'Anatra Ubriaco the Drunken Duck in San Polo.&#8221;
word count: 305
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