#21
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”I would like to introduce you to someone whom I have told already about you,”<br>
”You know that I keep praising your knowledge and your apothecary to everyone who might ever need your services.”
<p>
Thurenza’s dark eyes watched as a lovely spring dove pushed her way to Agustin’s side. And a dark sultry dove right behind her who immediately started preening over Agustin. She kept her tongue and watched the antics of the young man. It was Agustin’s day after all, not hers. She had little else to say to Agustin then to introduce the tailor she had retained to make him new clothe when he had need of them.
<p>
Ria was making her way up following Thurenza’s lead to the front as Thurenza had promised the tailor she’d introduce her to her newest patron. The girl was very talented and Thurenza was more than happy to solicit more work for her.
<p>
Presently with the forward interruption by the dark dove she would not interrupt his conversing with the Padre. But while she stood aside and listened she looked Michela over closely. She knew of her, in two senses. One was the love the Agustin had for her and all he had shared with Thurenza about her. Second was what any listening ear would know of the once Courtesan. That she was now kept by one patron.
<p>
Her dark eyes fell between the three, Michela, Alessandro and Agustin. And she was polite and silent waiting for her turn to share.




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</div><div class="tt">it was hard to breathe<br><span class="st">She was dark at the top of the stairs, and she called down to me</span></div></div></div><div class="dmc"><a href="http://rpg-directory.com/member.php?act ... comments/1" title="Eisande of RPGD">•</a> <a href="http://candylandcouture.b1.jcink.com/in ... wuser=5743" title="Queen Mirena of CC">•</a> <a href="http://cttw.b1.jcink.com/index.php?showuser=5515" title="Queen Mirena of CTTW">•</a> <a href="http://shine.b1.jcink.com/index.php?showuser=17698" title="Lady Claire of Shine">•</a> <a href="http://athousandfireflies.jcink.net/ind ... wuser=1616" title="Queen Mirena of ATF">•</a></div>[/dohtml]
word count: 611
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#22
Agustin's gaze sparkled differently and softened when Michela fell into his arms, congratulating him and saying that she was proud of him. Her touch had an effect on him, but it wasn't like back in January; it was just a lingering, pleasant warmth.

"Thank you &#8211; both for the congratulations and for coming over. The next time will be in many years from now on, as I must deserve a promotion&#8230; and I must serve devotedly for several years in order to achieve it. You'll recover until then," he smiled, gently teasing her. "I want to introduce you to signora Thurenza Bellamare, the most skilled herborist and healer. You know I was telling you about her."

Then, turning to Thurenza, he introduced Michela to her:

"Thurenza, she is Michela Cellini, a dear friend of my heart. I have told you about her too."

Two women important in his life, who was right to know each other. Lately, they had proved to be more important for him than Ilaria, who had congratulated him briefly and vanished away. Would he have dared to introduce Michela to Ilaria? He didn't think so. And Thurenza knew his sister already, so &#8230; better focus on the ones who mattered. Both of them, each one in a different way.

Only then he noticed that Michela was not alone. She was together with a young man, and his general allure let Agustin feel something unsettling at him, without being able to give a name to this feeling. Maybe it was just intuition, heightened today by the ordination ceremony.

"Padre Agustin Barbaro, glad to meet you too," he replied at the man's introduction, allowing the two women to exchange a few words between them.

Indeed, he was and he would remain forever Michela's good friend.

"And I am always ready to help you, whenever you need any spiritual support," he added to Alessandro.

With a gesture which he had to further practice, he offered first to the man, then to Michela the priestly blessing Thurenza had already received &#8211; the only one he couldn't offer until now.

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word count: 429

#23
It was during the final moments of the last blessing when her grandmother snorted softly and awoke with a start, digging her bony elbow into Ria's side, snapping in a whispered hiss at her grand-daughter. "Make sure the other one isn't sleeping!". From the other side, a spiky finger drilled into the soft flesh of her right, upper arm. "Tell the old crone I'd never embarrass myself so in front of the papal cardinals!" the sharp whisper could clearly be heard at least one row ahead and Ria hung her head, her cheeks flushed with embarrassed heat.

Could those two old crones not even be at peace at Easter? It was with relief, when the priests finally called the church goers up front for their personal blessings and in a show of duty and deference, she left her row to stand in line of a throng of people awaiting their blessing.
A smile softened her features when she saw she ended up right behind <a href='index.php?showuser=69' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Thurenza Bellamarre</a> and she greeted the herbalist and healer with genuine joy. "Signora Bellamarre." she said softly and stepped beside her - knowing, Thurenza wanted to introduce her to the priest she had ordered the vestments for.

Briefly, she noticed with relief, her mamas had found distraction by finding an old acquaintance they could pester for the moment. Free of their constant bickering, she moved up the line with Thurenza, increasing the distance between herself and her elders.

When <a href='index.php?showuser=87' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Agustin Barbaro</a> introduced <a href='index.php?showuser=84' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Michela Cellini</a> and <a href='index.php?showuser=23' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Alessandro da Verona</a> to Thurenza, she remained a step behind the apothecarian, patiently waiting her turn - while still with half an ear behind her almost expecting her mamas to screech her name any moment. The first genuine prayer left Ria's soul on this morning, when she begged God within her thoughts to please spare her any further embarrassing outbursts from these two crones.
word count: 384

#24
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The Tailor Ria da Volla had found her and was patient as a sweet dove she had ever met. Nearly hiding from her mother’s behind Thurenza’s attire. And Thurenza did everything she could to keep those two old wily birds from spotting their dear sweet girl. When Agustin introduced her to his love Thurenza smiled and turned towards that beautiful spring dove.
<p>
“Ah Signorita Cellini, A pleasure.” Thurenza panned her head politely to Michela. “ I think that we have oft heard of one another through the same sweet man, but, have yet to know of each other personally. I’d enjoy fixing that err if it please you the same.”
<p>
Then she turned just enough to take Ria’s hand and pulled her so both Agustin and Michela could see her.
<p>
“Please allow me to introduce both of you to Signorina Maria Rose da Volla, she owns the Il Merletto di Lilla and has graciously accepted to create my gift of vestments for Padre Barabaro when he has time to be fitted for them.”
<p>
And patting Ria’s hands she turns to Padre Barbaro and formally introduced them.
<p>
“Signorina da Volla, this Padre Agustin Barbaro. My Friend, counselor and chess partner on lazy days.” She turned to Michela Cellini and smiled. “Singorina Da Volla, this is our newest acquaintance Signorina Michela Cellini, dear friend to Padre Barabaro and I am hoping soon to be mine as well.”
<p>
She patted Ria’s hand then let her go to share her very skilled appendages with the three of them. Thurenza did not know Allessandro de Verona and he had not introduced himself to the group, only to Agustin. So she did not extend the greeting to the young dark dove as men always came before ladies. But she watched him as he spoke to Agusitn and relieved his Easter blessings. She watching him speak plainly to Michela Cellini, on obvious familiar terms. And she stayed silent as the four others met with one another.




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</div><div class="tt">it was hard to breathe<br><span class="st">She was dark at the top of the stairs, and she called down to me</span></div></div></div><div class="dmc"><a href="http://rpg-directory.com/member.php?act ... comments/1" title="Eisande of RPGD">•</a> <a href="http://candylandcouture.b1.jcink.com/in ... wuser=5743" title="Queen Mirena of CC">•</a> <a href="http://cttw.b1.jcink.com/index.php?showuser=5515" title="Queen Mirena of CTTW">•</a> <a href="http://shine.b1.jcink.com/index.php?showuser=17698" title="Lady Claire of Shine">•</a> <a href="http://athousandfireflies.jcink.net/ind ... wuser=1616" title="Queen Mirena of ATF">•</a></div>[/dohtml]
word count: 691
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#25
There were other women with the priest Michela knew too. Just how many women did such a priest want to surround himself with, Alessandro wondered shortly. And then he felt like the odd one out. Everyone were so polite and kind, but Alessandro… he felt like he shouldn’t even be here. He didn’t belong, did he? He wasn’t ever a very religious person and with the recent events in his life, why should he even believe? He had to meet the priest because it was the right thing to do and that was how people got married. But these people? He was not like them. He wasn’t good like they were; or at least he didn't feel he was.

The woman with the dark hair seemed to watch them all intently, and the priest introduced the ladies to each other. He also greeted Alessandro and said he wanted to help, if Alessandro needed spiritual support. Did he need that? Could he even be helped? He was a lost case, was he not? Oh he wanted to leave this misery of his mind behind, but he just kept falling back and now he wondered whether the priest guessed something… guessed that something was off about him.

“Thank you, Padre. I will remember your kind offer. You shouldn't be wasting your time on me though. I'm certain you have better things to do.” Alessandro told the priest, while yet another woman stepped up to the small group. She was beautiful too. They were all so beautiful and what was Alessandro? He certainly wasn’t beautiful like they were. He did not feel beautiful lately. He felt… ugly and wrong. Like a freak…

Thurenza continued to speak to them all. Introductions were made between them. Friendship would be forming between them all. Well, almost all. She didn’t speak to Alessandro. Perhaps she too understood that he wasn’t meant to be here. He inhaled a deep breath. Alessandro used to be a ray of light, that’s what his beloved and Michela had called him. But now he wasn’t even worth talking to. Quietly he looked down to his feet; taller than most, but he felt inferior to them all… “Would you rather I waited for you outside, Michela? Perhaps that would be better.” For everyone.

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word count: 464

#26
A brief glance at Alessandro revealed that he was ill at ease, and Michela was worried again for his wellbeing. She silently cursed whoever was responsible for doing this to him - taking away his joy of living. When he could not even feel safe in a Sacred Church - where then could he feel safe? She needed to speak to Father Agustin later about prayers for Alessandro&#8217;s soul. Perhaps God could help the poor boy where the humans could not.

Michela smiled when she heard the answer from Alessandro and Lucien on whether or not they could live in celibacy. Alessandro had never considered it, and Michela was not surprised. He was a man who enjoyed life - or he had been. But now&#8230; Michela was not certain anymore. She had seen the strange glances he threw at the razor. She had to mention this to Lucien. Perhaps Lucien could help Alessandro to shave, so they at least could prevent him from hurting himself.

She hoped things would be easier when Alessandro married Vittoria. At least then she would no longer be alone at night. Vittoria would be there with him, and Michela knew that Vittoria was strong. After all, he had carried her books for her when he walked her home from the Doge&#8217;s palace after she had given lessons to him and his sister.

Michela&#8217;s face beamed towards Lucien when he answered to her question. She knew well that he wanted to pull her closer, and she would love to be in his arms. Sneaking an arm under his she caressed his skin, revealing that she would be more than willing to spend a couple hours or a day in his arms once they were out of here. &#8220;I would not be able to live in celibacy near you either, my love,&#8221; she replied. &#8220;I would be a naughty nun, sneaking into your bedroom every night after prayers&#8230;&#8221;

Leaning in she gave Lucien a loving kiss on the cheek before leaving to talk to the priests. It was a silent way of reassuring him that she would always return to his side when she had completed her tasks. Today she needed to talk to the priest, to introduce Alessandro to him. Alessandro followed after her, and she cursed inwardly over the crowds when he lost her. She knew how easily he panicked these days, and she most of all wished to grab a broom and hit everyone who blocked the way for her and Alessandro on their way over to the Priest. It was lucky for the crowd that they could not read her mind&#8230;.

Then&#8230; a light touch of her arm, and she turned to smile to Alessandro, glad he was there with her. She took his hand, like a big sister guiding her little brother towards the teacher on his first day in school.

&#8220;This is the Priest I told you about, Alessandro,&#8221; she said, patient as a mother trying to comfort a fussy child. &#8220;This is Father Agustin Barbaro. Father, this is the man I have told you about - Alessandro da Verona. The groom in the wedding I told you about.&#8221;

It was lucky for Michela that the Priest was there to catch her when she fell, or she might have been flattened by the many people coming to visit the Church today. She had often thought he was a soft man - but today he had proven it to her when she landed in his arms. She smiled when he helped her back on her feet, a warmth in her eyes as she looked up at him.

&#8220;The next time you will be promoted I am sure it will be as our future Pope,&#8221; she smiled. &#8220;And yes, I am certain I have recovered until them. You are far too young to become a Pope just yet&#8230;&#8221;

She was finally introduced to Thurenza Bellamarre, the woman she had heard so much about, and she bowed her head in greeting, just like Thurenza did to her. Looking at Thurenza she could see she was a beautiful woman with dark, warm eyes. She was quite certain that the two would be great friends.

&#8220;I am glad I finally get to meet you, Signora Bellamarre,&#8221; she smiled. &#8220;I have heard so much about you. I am glad to make your acquaintance at last. I would wish to invite you for tea one day if you happen to be near Dorsoduro...&#8221; She gave the address where she currently was staying with Lucien and Alessandro. &#8220;Father Agustin mention you are a herbalist, and my servant Pietro is a great hobby gardener. I would also wish to introduce you to my maidservant Giulia, who is also a herbalist and has the gift of healing hands&#8230;&#8221;

Hearing the priest&#8217;s words about being ready to help when they needed spiritual support made her turn her head and lowering her voice. &#8220;We may need that sooner than expected, Father,&#8221; she said. &#8220;But I will speak of this on another occasion, not now.&#8221;

She smiled when she saw a young woman joining Signora Thurenza and she bowed her head slightly in greeting to the woman. She recognized her from the day where she helped a French noble woman order a new wardrobe in Signorina da Volla's shop. &#8220;It is a pleasure to meet you again too, Signorina da Volla. I may drop by the next time I am in need of new clothes for my wardrobe.&#8221;

Michela heard Alessandro&#8217;s voice behind her, asking if he should go outside and wait with Lucien, and she reached out a hand behind her, grabbed the first of Alessandro she could reach and pulled him closer. &#8220;And this,&#8221; she smiled to the two ladies. &#8220;This is my good friend Alessandro da Verona, who is practically a brother for me. He is also my host and the host of my cousin Lucien, who is waiting for us outside&#8230;&#8221;

Even when talking to the ladies, she heard Alessandro&#8217;s words to the priest, and she turned her head to look at Alessandro. &#8220;Sweet Alessandro,&#8221; she said softly, stroking his hair with sisterly love. &#8220;We came to the church today so you could meet with the Priest and get to know him before your marriage, remember? You still wish to marry Vittoria, don&#8217;t you?&#8221;

She did not mention for the ones listening to their conversation that Vittoria was not a girl, and she hoped that Alessandro didn't say anything either.

She looked warmly up at him, holding his hand to let him know she was here to protect him, and she would not let anyone harm him. &#8220;It is alright, dear one,&#8221; she said gently, low enough for only him to hear. &#8220;I am here, and I will not let anyone hurt you. Trust me&#8230;&#8221;

<a href='index.php?showuser=87' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Agustin Barbaro</a> <a href='index.php?showuser=43' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Lucien de Tournay</a> <a href='index.php?showuser=69' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Thurenza Bellamarre</a> <a href='index.php?showuser=202' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Maria Rosa da Vola</a> <a href='index.php?showuser=23' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Alessandro da Verona</a>
word count: 1289

#27
Michela’s eyes had the same lively glimmer for him, their glance telling what words weren’t allowed to. He was sure that their gazes met and talked in parallel, in their own ways, and this was something he couldn’t help. She teased him that he’d become a Pope next, and he is too young still for this. He couldn’t abstain laughing softly.

”I am too young for aiming for Bishop too,” he whispered as reply, making sure the church didn’t carry his words towards any of the Patriarch’s eyes and ears.

Thurenza and Michela, finally acquainted, how he had wanted for a while. Their sweet words, foreseeing a future friendship between them two, made Agustin happy. And Thurenza further introduced to them the good seamstress chosen to make her gift come true.

”I am glad to meet you, Signorina da Vola,” he said, adding quickly a benediction for her. ”I will come one of these days to your workshop. It has a lovely name and a lovely owner, for whose skills my friend has vouched already,” he looked at both the newcomer and Thurenza.

The world seemed to be small – Michela knew already the seamstress. This was a good sign, and he enjoyed these coincidences. The world was small when people got together again and again in the most unusual circumstances.

The one who seemed to be a bit strange in his melancholy was Alessandro. His words that he had better things to do than waste his time on him were something else than modesty. He felt the darkness underneath them.

”I have nothing else to do when a child of God needs me,” he replied.

Michela did then the full introduction – so this was the groom she had been talking about, the one he had gone to the Patriarch to ask for banns exemption. And he seemed to get suddenly cold feet and want to wait outside.

”You are welcome here,” he replied. ”Both now and another day, with your bride. We have to discuss on the preparation for marriage.”

Michela whispered in his ear that it would be something else to discuss as well. It sounded serious and most likely related to the darkness he had felt too.

”Michela, tell me when you want to come, so I can make sure I am here, with my undivided attention for you,” he said.

In fact, she had always his undivided attention. But he had also some more letters for her, written in the weeks they hadn’t seen each other, and tonight he didn’t have them with him, as he was too nervous about everything to remember about taking them.

She further mentioned that the future groom was like a brother to her, and when he wanted to go out, she reminded him about the impending marriage. A brother with problems – but indeed, she was protective of him… A little mother hen, and Agustin liked it at her.

”I am glad to have met you, Alessandro. Even more since you are so close to Michela,” he said. "And I look forward to our discussion on marriage."

He had done a couple of such discussions even as a deacon. They didn't involve sacraments, so they were open for clergy with interest in working with people.

Then, his attention returned to Thurenza, Ria and Michela.

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word count: 652

#28
Recogniton lit Ria's eyes when Thurenza stepped aside, pulled her forward and her gaze fell on Michela upon the introduction. She inclined her head toward the young woman and smiled with warmth. "It is good to see you again, Signorina Cellini." She said softly, inclinde her head politely to Alessandro as well - her friendly smile extending to the quiet man when Michela introduced him. "A pleasure to meet you." She added, before following Thurenza's continued introduction to the Priest.

"Padre Barbaro - it is an honor to meet you. Please do come by the store whenever convenient, though now having seen you, I think I can have a vestment ready for trying before the week is fully over." She blushed a little as she said it - she did not wish to appear prideful, or non-modest before a priest no less. But she now did have a good viewing of him, and it came natural to her to size people up for dressing style and size with her mere guess.

... Ria's blush deepened then - embarrassment creeping up her neck when suddenly, near the portal, one woman cried out her name. The crackling voice of the old woman thundered through the large church, carried by acoustics, echoing back from the high walls. "Madonna, save me from that embarrassment!" Ria uttered in a whisper, mortified.

"MARIA ROSA! Come back here this instance and bring that apothecarian with you. Agnese has another fit!"

Ria hastily turned toward the priest, Alessandro, and Michela - and Thurenza. "Please do excuse me, I am so sorry! Please do accompany me, Signora Bellamorra, before they get into even more trouble."

With a brief nod, Thurenza hurried after Ria and they made their way to the portal. Thankfully, the old Ladies were merely having one of their spats and heated discussions, and her mother in law claimed her grandmother's health as an excuse to get out of here, obviously having enough (oh wonder) from creating a scene.

With Thurenza's help, Ria was able to manage bundling the old ladies out of the church and she could only hope that she had not completely estranged neither the Priest, nor Michela or their friends - or her potential customers.
Once outside, Ria thanked Thurenza profoundly and was relieved, when they all were on their way and she could get her Mamas home.
Why did her Mamas always have to make a scene in public?

[Ria & Thurenza - Exit]
word count: 409

#29
Fernand was quietly waiting for his turn to congratulate Padre Agustin, when all the crowd had finished. Suddenly he saw Thurenza, who was with another lady, making room through the crowd - he assumed towards the exit. When she passed by him, he bowed his head again, greeting her loudly:

&#8221;I wish you a Happy Easter, full of everything you are wishing for. And I am glad to see you here.&#8221;

Respect was something he had been taught from early childhood. And how not to be respectful towards signora Bellamare, who had saved Margareta's life?

He was holding protectively his little gift for Agustin: a little Easter basket with coloured eggs and little <a href='http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-45_WU8YLaxg/T ... G_3334.JPG' rel='nofollow noopener' target='_blank'>Easter cakes</a> with eggs inside. They were small, fitting one egg only, but somehow similar with the traditional <a href='http://ekladata.com/m92olTGcJuVRgvt5fKBwNhRrf2k.jpg' rel='nofollow noopener' target='_blank'>Gache de Paques</a> Fernand reminisced from his childhood. If the cakes were bought from a bakery next to the docks during the afternoon, the eggs were coloured by Margareta&#8217;s sister at the &#8221;Drunken Duck&#8221; and offered to the sailors. Simply Fernand had made a share for Agustin as well, doubting that he would have the opportunity to feel the familiarity of the holiday with homemade treats. If not at Easter, and if not at his ordination, when should his friend celebrate? Easter Day surely was not a day like any other.

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word count: 350

#30
He had wanted to catch her hand, when Michela disappeared in the crowds, but he couldn’t and suddenly he was all alone and surrounded by people he didn’t know. That used to be a good thing, but it wasn’t now, because who might be hiding in that crowd? It made him panic a bit, but finally he reached Michela and stood there while she spoke to her friends there. He felt like the odd one out, although she took his hand and introduced him to the priest.

And then they all introduced themselves to each other, but Alessandro felt like they were barely looking at him… as if he shouldn’t be there. He considered leaving to wait outside after all, because he clearly wasn’t wanted after all. Why would anyone want him there anyway? It was barely even right for him to be in the church, with how he loved the wrong gender and how he was so inferior to anyone and especially dark-haired leather-clad men. He was like the devil, wasn’t he? And Alessandro had been dragged into his home. He shuddered visibly by the thought, but then Michela had pulled Alessandro closer to her to introduce him to them all.

When the priest had offered him spiritual support, Alessandro had wondered why the priest would waste his time on Alessandro and he had almost forgotten why he was here. But Michela reminded him kindly and he nodded eagerly to her question, “Of course I wish to marry Vittoria! There’s nothing I’d rather do!” He replied, he hadn’t meant for the words to come out in such a firm tone, but it happened anyway. He had indeed changed over the last few weeks. And the handsome priest shared that he had nothing else to do, when someone needed him. And he told Alessandro he was welcome now and any other day. Alessandro nodded, “Thank you, Padre.” He said and bowed his head; in respect or in shame? It was hard to tell.

Michela promised him however that she was here for him and he could trust her. She wouldn’t let anyone hurt him. Well, could she really keep such a promise? Anything could happen, at any point in time. He had thought he was safe before… but now he knew he never was.

The priest said again he was glad to have met Alessandro, and that he looked forwards to discussing their marriage, “I do to.” He replied with a small sigh, “I will make sure to contact you soon concerning said wedding.” He then promised, knowing that he was the groom and that meant he had to take some responsibility, no matter how little he felt he ought to have that. For was he really responsible, in his current state of mind?

Suddenly though, the two darkhaired ladies were needed elsewhere and almost seemed to hurry out of the church. They excused themselves and Alessandro looked after them until they were gone. They were grown women though. They could take care of themselves. More than he could.

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word count: 593
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