Portrait of a Conspiracy
Author: Donna Russo Morin
Publisher: Diversion Books
Released: May 10, 2016
Series: Da Vinci’s Disciples #1
Genre: Historical Fiction
Author contact links: Twitter, Website
Purchase links: Amazon, B&N, Books a Million, IndieBound
Isabetta took her place again as artist. She began to draw the figures themselves. Natasia, standing at her wing, began to giggle, and the loveliness of it drew them all to the work. Without guile or timidity, though Leonardo joined the group, or perhaps because he did, Isabetta allowed her strokes to pay particular attention to the formation of the men and their most manly parts. As she turned her attention to one man, Fiammetta began to laugh. “You do him far more justice than he deserves,” she chortled.
“He has nothing near that kind of…wealth.” The cackling was joyous.
Viviana struck an incredulous pose, her eyes gleaming. “And just how would you know how deeply his pockets fall?” The question only ignited more laughter.
Fiammetta shrugged a shoulder with feigned though superior nonchalance, proclaiming the truth with the drama it deserved. “I saw it with my own eyes. In my own home!”
With brows so high on her forehead, they almost reached her plucked hairline, Isabetta scoffed, “You and this man?” Everyone in the room knew who he was, who he used to be,
for he was one of the first executed. Piero Felici was a diplomat of some sort, from the court of Urbino. He was very young, very thin, and very unimposing. The thought of him and Fiammetta, together,
brought the most fanciful of images to mind.
“Do not be silly, Isabetta. You really must get hold of your priapic thoughts,” Fiammetta quickly disavowed them of the ridiculous notion. “I actually walked in on him, and some woman,
during a ball in my home.” She shook her head and tutted, “It was so rude.” This time the women kept their giggles contained, for Fiammetta’s sake. “Besides,” she leaned in and squinted, “if I were to forsake my vows to Patrizio, it would be with someone with much more to offer.”
That did it, the gales returned. Isabetta began to draw again. As she gave life to another, a taller man this time, with a long, almost delicate face none recognized, she gave him the same bounty of certain parts as she had before, expecting a similar response.
“Surely not!” Viviana squawked. With only her husband as a gauge, she found such abundance difficult to accept. If it was true, if a man could be built thusly, she was doubly deprived in life.
Isabetta just smiled, but this time Leonardo answered. Leaning in, peering over Isabetta’s shoulders, he pulled back with a slim smirk. “Oh no, that one you most certainly can leave as it is.”
The women’s jaws dropped as if in concert. Viviana put a hand on his arm, a gesture full of her pleasure that he felt safe to speak so plainly with them. Only Isabetta failed to join in; she turned quickly
away and began to sketch another man.