Today we'll start the preview of the second book in The Venetian Masquerades. Here is an overview of the story.
Diane Carrero, a cultural anthropologist, has served two years in the war zones of the Middle East as a member of the Army’s Human Terrain System. Images of death and destruction haunt her and she flees to Venice instead of returning to her teaching position at the University. Her college classmate, Paolo D’Amato and his partner, Ron Lindquist offer a peaceful respite. She tells them she needs a sign from God. Her future is uncertain, and the University president is pressuring her to return. Then Diane encounters a professional colleague and her cousins, the Paladino family. When she accepts their invitation to dinner, she meets the handsome, reserved Luca Savarese. They share an instantaneous attraction, but he runs hot and cold, leaving her confused and unsettled. A golden eagle appears on her hotel balcony, making Diane believe she has received her sign, but why is her path forward still so unclear? On a side trip to Rome, she visits the ruins of an ancient Roman temple and the experience changes her life. Diane returns home to Virginia. Six months later, Luca pays her a surprise visit, but who is Luca, and what role does he play in her life?
* * * *
Diane has arrived in Venice earlier in the day and now after resting in her hotel for a few hours, she meets her college classmate, Paolo D'Amato, for dinner.
“Ciao, bella, you rested well?” Paolo rose from a chair as I stepped into the hotel lobby, his expression a clear indication the time I spent in the spa had improved my appearance.
“Si, grazie, molto bene.” I dropped into my best dancing school curtsey.
“Andiamo, we’ll have a drink to celebrate before dinner.” Paolo escorted me out of the hotel toward one of the outdoor cafés in the square. Music from the competing mini-orchestras around the square provided a nice backdrop to the noise of the crowd. I surveyed the surrounding area, caught myself doing it, and transformed my appraisal into one of appreciation. On the wrought iron balconies around the piazza, empty urns waited the arrival of spring to come alive with cascading trails of brilliant, scented blooms. An inchoate longing for the peace to enjoy the fragrant rose beds of my own home surged through me.
“You do look better, not quite so hag ridden as when you stepped off the launch this afternoon.” He seated us at one of the outdoor tables.
“Oh, I’ll bet that was attractive. Well, I spent four hours in the hotel spa getting the works, and afterward, napped for about two hours—something I haven’t done in months. With a few weeks of this regimen, I should make a full recovery.” (To be continued next Sunday.)