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A New Day

(Rome, 1693)

The next morning, a dove cooed outside her window in the sunlight. Hair a mess, she used her hand to sweep it behind her, as she snuggled and held her pillow tightly. Sleep gently released her as she breathed deeply, smelling the slight scent of the new bouquet of flowers by her bedside. Smiling, she reached for the note, which read, “For my Fia, love of my life.” Turning onto her back, she pressed the note to her bosom, remembering yesterdays afternoon delight. Miraculously, their storm had passed, and today she felt as though she could see forever.

A soft knock on the bedroom door, then Maria appeared, asking, “It’s late, would you prefer breakfast in bed, Mistress?”

Seeing what the day holds

Everything felt different, as she said, “I will dress, Maria, I want to see what the day holds for us.”

“As you wish,” Maria smiled, thinking, she’s in a good mood.

At the table, Nico squirmed as Maria steadfastly tried to interest him in porridge. Fia, looking at them both, felt genuine gratitude for her life, realizing how unlikely it was she would ever see this day.

discribe maids face

One of the maids, coming to the door, knocked slightly, “Mistress, a noble woman is waiting in your sitting room. She requests to see you, she’s… very insistent.”

Looking at Maria, Fia quickly thought, Oh, no…


possible note – don’t drop in – what kind of lady she is – see the pain in her heart calmed

The grand dam of the House Imperialli sat dressed completely in black, face solemn, yet not hard. Many tragedies, along with occasional triumphs, had befallen her during her long life, yet somehow, the loss of her beloved grandson, Matteo, outweighed them all. She held the many months she’d recently spent with him close to her heart as the world crowded in.

As Fia slowly moved towards her, Mafalda thought, Typical high born. Beauty, sensibilities, refinement, yet surprisingly underneath it all, a heart. Most aristocrats didn’t posses such human qualities, in Mafalda’s estimation, but Fiammetta did. She loved deeply, at least that was respectable – something Mafalda could work with.

Standing, with the help of her two female servants and a cane, Mafalda’s penetrating gaze met Fiammetta’s as she approached, scrutinizing her closely.

Fia, offering first her hand, then bending and embracing the old woman who shook slightly, said, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

It wasn’t her

Feeling genuine sympathy in her embrace, Mafalda thought, It wasn’t her… relaxing a bit. “He was the light of my life,” she admitted. she’s genuinely grieving. Releasing and taking the younger woman’s hand, she said, “I hope we can be friends. I assure you, I mean you no harm.”

Fia, looking at the old woman, sensing the void in her heart, rejoined, “I want us be friends, too.”

“I have something to say Fiammetta – if I may call you that?”

Hesitating momentarily, the redhead said, “Of course. May call you Mafalda?”

Smiling thinly, the old lady nodded, as Fia led her to a place to sit by the window. Arranging her own dress appropriately as she sat, Fia watched as one of the old woman’s servants helped the old woman manage hers.

Nodding to the young servant, Mafalda dismissed her, leaving herself alone with the mother of her great grandson.

Our world is a funny place

Looking out the window at the court below, Mafalda began with a sigh, “Our world is a funny place, and we are often just comedians on it’s stage.”

Respectfully, Fia listened.

“You know, Fiammetta, I loved my husband very much and was very happy the few years God gave us. He was funny, impetuous, possessed a rapier wit, and was a lion behind closed doors. I counted myself fortunate; I could have been married off to some oaf, more concerned with his hounds and riding his horse, than me. But my love wasn’t like that, we got along very well in everything that really mattered.”

Fia nodded, believing her.

“We found, though, having children was quite impossible. We tried, God knows we tried,” she said, putting her hand to her cheek, then to her lips. “I inquired of doctors, secretly of course, and they whispered to me the truth. They explained I was quite capable, and that the problem most likely lay with my beloved. Of course, I couldn’t bear to broach it with him, but it ate at me, for I ached to hold a baby.”

Oh my…

Oh my, Fia thought.

“Of course he thought it was his, and I never said otherwise.” Turning, looking at Fia fiercely, she declared, “It’s the Imperialli name, Fiammetta, that’s what matters. My son was an Imperialli all his life, grew up in privilege, went to the finest schools, married the right wife, and had my beautiful grandson…” She choked up, steadying herself on the windowsill, as she said, “….little Matteo.” After a moment, turning, she offered her hands to Fiammetta, which Fia took in return. “If we are to be friends, I mean good friends, I want you to agree with me that the name is important,” she said with a squeeze.

Fia, heart beating faster, lips slightly dry, replied, “I..I understand. He will always be an Imperialli. Your family’s name will go on.”

Seeming to soften, the grand dam said, “our family, Fiammetta, and everything that the Imperialli name brings with it will be his, I’ll make sure of it.”

May I see him?

Then, with genuine tenderness in her voice, said asked, “Please, may I see him?”

Looking towards the doorway, Fia smiled and called, “Nico!”

Bursting from the other side, the almost 3-year-old ran on his short legs to his mother’s side, giggling as he hid behind her, peering at Mafalda with big brown eyes.

Her hand on his back, Fia said, “Nico, your Nonna’s here, she wants to see you.”

Hiding his cherub face in her skirt for a moment, he looked up at his mama, then made his way towards Mafalda, opening his arms wide to hers, climbing into her lap as Fia helped.

Mafalda see Nico – almost like Matteo running in. Moment where she decides Nico is an Imperiali. Section of wealth all in. runs in naked from a bath with maria following. Fia embarrassed. Giggle remineds her of Matteo.

Fia sat back, looking at them both, knowing this was life; this is what made sense.

As they played together, the young and the old, Fia felt as though all the tumblers had just fallen into place, opening a unexpected door. The power and prestige of the House Imperialli would shield little Nico from any question of providence, his place secured in society among the richest and most powerful families in Italy. She would be the widowed mother of a prince, her son heir to a vast fortune, all the world at his feet as long as…as she played the comedian.