Visits home are few and far between. Most of the time is spent with family, but if I can squeeze in a trip to the city, I try to. Ride the incline, shop at the Strip, catch a game, cruise on the Clipper, visit a museum… The list is endless, really, when I sit down and think about all the things I’d like to do in Pittsburgh.
This latest trip, however, is in late spring/early summer. A wonderful time in the city. There’s so much to do, so much to choose from. I’d take a stroll down Fifth Avenue and look up at the gargoyles perched on Nathaniel Burton Mansion. Hmm… I feel like they’ve added a new one. It’s beautiful, in a grotesque way. But it has been a while since I’ve been there, so it could just be faulty memory.
I head over to Schenley Park and take a seat in the shade of a tree. College classes are over, but there are alway stragglers. I watch a game of flag football while I eat a sandwich I picked up at the Strip, then I munch on biscotti my grandmother made me take when I left her house that morning. I’d stopped in for coffee, and you just can’t leave her house without eating and taking a care package with you. I’m glad to have the cookie now. It’s not too sweet and makes a fine ending to my lunch.
I’m thinking about going inside Phipps Conservatory when I overhear a conversation between two people on the other side of the tree and stop to snoop. I stretch to see who they are—yeah, I don’t look at all obvious peeking around the tree trunk, but they’re oblivious to me. I can’t see their faces, anyway. The guy is huge. He’s got dark wavy hair and olive skin. She’s much smaller, but seems strong in her own right. Her red hair is a bright contrast to her fair skin, but it’s cut short in a practical yet flattering pixie style. I’d say they made a cute couple, but fireworks like that need a much stronger word than “cute.” Instead of going inside, I sit back and take in the show.
“Damn it, Vinnie, I don’t care what your mandate is. It’s a free country, and I want my freedom.”
“It might be a free country, Jo, but the prophecy says—”
“Don’t you ‘prophecy’ me. Every time you don’t get your way, you start spouting off about the prophecy. Well, guess what. I’m a construction foreperson, not an oracle. And you’re an attorney. Tell me, counselor. Is that document going to hold up in court?”
“You know it wouldn’t.”
“I didn’t think so,” she continued. “So you can’t keep me locked up like a prisoner.”
“You’re hardly imprisoned.”
“I’m not free to come and go as I please.”
“A security detail is necessary. Famous people do it all the time. Politicians. Heads of state.”
“I’m none of those things.”
He sighed. “I’m not debating this. It’s for your safety.”
“My safety wasn’t compromised until you and your brothers came along.”
“False. Your safety was compromised. You just didn’t realize it.”
“Vinnie. You don’t understand. I just want… I just…” She sighed.
“I know, Jo. I know. And it’ll all be over soon. I’ll make this right for you. I promise.”
I didn’t realize from the backs of their heads that it’s Vinnie and Jo. I guess I should have. They look pretty distinct, after all. But then again, I didn’t think they’d be out and about in the city. They should be more careful than to just be wandering aimlessly through the streets of Pittsburgh. Why? Well, you see, Jo and her sisters are the secret descendants of the Medici family, and they are targeted for assassination. They learned all this from a prophecy written by Michelangelo, a man who not only foretold all this, but who formed a secret organization to protect them.
Vinnie and Jo’s story is told in book two of the Medici Protectorate series, Mind Control. It is scheduled to release in June. I’ll be posting updates regularly until its release, so stay tuned for a cover reveal, teasers, and the release itself. Exciting things are coming! (And if you were playing close attention, there was a hint in the beginning about Love Set in Stone. Did you catch it?)