The Impatient Groom

The Impatient Groom by Sara Wood Page B

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Authors: Sara Wood
roofs.
    â€˜They call Venice La Serenissima,’ he said softly. ‘The Most Serene.’
    Tears of unexpected emotion collected in her eyes. Intending to share her feelings with Rozzano, she turned to him. He was staring at the city he loved and had eyes
for no one and nothing else. She could see that he was utterly content He’d come home.
    The tug of destiny affected her, too. For the first time she began to comprehend fully what it meant to belong to a family which had occupied a piece of land for centuries. Preserving that family line would be almost a duty. No wonder her mother’s actions had devastated the D‘Antigas.
    And now she was a part of that ancient dynasty herself—and would be helping to preserve it. Shaking off her nerves, she clutched her hands tightly in her lap and leaned forwards, studying everything intently, eager to learn something of her roots.
    â€˜Tell me what I’m seeing,’ she said with quiet intent.
    â€˜We’re coming up to the Basin of St Mark,’ he obliged quietly. ‘There...you see that bridge? And the one behind it, high above that narrow canal? The first is the Bridge of Straw and the other The Bridge of Sighs—’
    â€˜I remember. That’s the bridge between the Doge’s Palace and the prison.’
    â€˜It’s completely enclosed so that convicted prisoners couldn’t leap over the parapet and escape,’ Rozzano explained, and gave a wry smile. ‘However, the windows afforded them one last, tantalising glimpse of the city, the outside world—and freedom. Hence its name.’
    â€˜Cruel,’ she commented.
    His eyes flickered and grew distant. ‘A streak of that cruelty still runs in some of us.’
    Bitterness ran through his words. Startled, Sophia cast a quick glance at his face. There was a hardness there, a savage brutality to the line of his mouth. Yes, she thought, filled with chilling misgivings, she felt sure that he could explode into a violent fury if provoked. She
swallowed, feeling suddenly apprehensive and horribly unsure of him.
    Rozzano asked the boatman to stop for a moment and they bobbed up and down gently while she stared blankly, only managing with difficulty to focus on the beautiful pink marble façade of the Doge’s Palace, with its graceful pillars and arcades.
    â€˜Just like the pictures,’ she commented as brightly as she could.
    Her heart raced alarmingly as she tried to quell her fears. He loved her. He wouldn’t harm her. But the tension wouldn’t leave her shoulders and she sat rigidly, like a terror-stricken child, desperate to overcome her irrational sense of dread.
    He rested his arm on the back of the cushion, his expression gentling. ‘They say that if a sixteenth-century Doge were to appear now he’d find Venice much the same,’ he told her with husky affection. ‘Now—see the bell tower, the Campanile? And as we move on you’ll catch a glimpse of the domes of the Basilica of St Mark. It’s beautiful, Sophia. Wildly over-the-top, and stuffed with ancient treasures. I’m really looking forward to showing it to you.’
    Nothing was wrong, she told herself. She was being fanciful. Conscious of the long silence, she attempted to curb her over-active imagination and make some kind of intelligent comment.
    â€˜Father said the whole city is built on tiny islands and mud flats. Those buildings are massive, though. Was he right? It doesn’t seem a very reliable foundation.’
    And her marriage, a little voice nagged. How safe were the foundations for that?
    â€˜Reliable enough to last for several centuries,’ he said, amused. “Millions and millions of stakes and solid platforms
underpin the buildings. You look apprehensive.’ He laughed. ’Don’t worry! The D‘Antiga palazzo won’t collapse—I’ve seen to that. I’ve spent a good deal of time restoring

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