The Demon Catchers of Milan #2: The Halcyon Bird

The Demon Catchers of Milan #2: The Halcyon Bird by Kat Beyer

Book: The Demon Catchers of Milan #2: The Halcyon Bird by Kat Beyer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kat Beyer
everything about love just yet,” he said.
    “Even I know that,” I replied, laughing.
    “Yes,” he agreed, smiling at me. “That will take time, too. Patience, and time, just like you will need for learning our work. Speaking of Anna Maria,” he added, “I want you to ask her for some help finding an account of a case concerning the ruler of Milan during the 1740s. She has been going throughsome notes and needs to refresh her memory as well. So when we get home, I wish you to call her and ask her. Yes?”
    I texted her instead. She answered right away. “I’ll be over for dinner, will bring them. Of course he didn’t say when, exactly, in the 1740s.”
    I texted, “Of course not,” and she wrote back, “Ha, ha, ha. See you then.”
    Nonna roped me in to make ravioli for dinner, stuffed with wild mushrooms a friend had brought from the south.
    “You’ve been having a busy week,” she said. “Did you like the Biblioteca Ambrosiana?”
    “I did,” I said. “I wish we could have stayed longer.”
    “You’ll get more chances,” she said lightly, passing me a ball of dough to knead. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?… More flour on your hands.”
    I dusted my hands thoroughly and worked the dough, thinking over Signore Strozzi’s behavior, and then the moment when I had heard my demon’s cold, gravelly voice in the piazza, and smelled cinnamon in the air.
    “Be kind to the dough!” Nonna said with a laugh. “Don’t take your thoughts out on it.”
    “Sorry,” I said. “It was not the most—comfortable—day.”
    I realized immediately this was a ridiculous thing to say to a woman who had been married to a demon catcher for sixty years. She waited for me to go on.
    “The interview went okay. Signore Strozzi is kind of a jerk.”
    She grunted agreement and took the ball of dough from me.
    “Peel and mince,” she commanded, passing me a head of garlic and some shallots.
    “But on our way there, we saw my demon.”
    Nonna lifted her head like a deer, listening.
    “Corporeally?” she asked.
    “If you mean did he take over one body after another, just for a second, yes,” I said.
    She asked, “Did he say anything?”
    “He said he would come for me,” I told her, forcing out the words.
    “Let him try,” she said, almost growling.
    I blinked and felt my spirits rise, seeing her fierce expression. She put a hand on my shoulder.
    “You are not alone, Mia,” she said. The doorbell rang and she dropped her hand. “Go get that.” She placed the dough on a floured board, still looking dangerous. I could picture her braining a demon with the rolling pin.
    Anna Maria was waiting on the doorstep with a bottle of wine and a loaf of bread. She bustled in, uncorked the wine, washed her hands, and picked up a knife.
    “You want this parsley chopped?” she asked her great-aunt.
    “Yes, very fine.”
    She sat down at the kitchen table with the cutting board and went to work. I finished the garlic and shallots. AnnaMaria and I put together the rest of the mushroom filling—the chopped parsley, garlic, and shallots—before Nonna Laura took it from me and sautéed it in a pan. Then she added the grated Grana Padano.
    I was still thinking about Nonna’s fierceness when I started spooning the mixture onto the sheets of pasta.
    “You’re overfilling those,” Nonna pointed out. “They’ll explode in the broth. Your head’s in the clouds.”
    I laughed.
    “Sorry, Nonna. Should I start over?”
    “Yes, please.”
    I began the process again.
    “Is it a guy?” asked Anna Maria.
    I blushed, even though I had nothing to blush about.
    “No,” I said. “It never is, with me.”
    “Lesbian?” she asked coolly. Nonna stiffened beside me.
    “No!” I said quickly. Then I felt bad, acting so narrow-minded. Anna Maria laughed.
    “It’s just,” I struggled. “Guys. I never have any luck. Come on, you know about my first date, right?”
    Nonna patted my arm. “Give it time,” she said.
    Anna

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