Today's Reading

The tension in his shoulders lessened a little more, and the faintest smile softened his features. "It seems adventures follow you aplenty, Lady Astley."

"Who's to say they're not following you, my lord?" Her grin responded to his. "After all, your dear home of Havensbrooke had its many secrets long before I ever arrived. And if you'll remember, our little adventure in Egypt involved your family." One of her brows tipped ever so slightly.

He narrowed his eyes in a mock glare.

Her smile twitched as she continued her teasing. "And if I'm not mistaken, you've increased your mystery reading selections lately, which would make one think that perhaps adventures might be growing on you just a little."

"Or I'm attempting to become better prepared for life with you." The light in his dark eyes inspired her smile.

"Very good strategy, my lord. Who's to say reading fiction doesn't help in very real-life situations."

He chuckled. "I would prefer adventures of the less life-threatening sort than our last few, if I could choose them." His gaze roamed over her face.
"But I suppose I do have the best sleuthing partner should adventures await."

She nearly breached the distance between them and kissed him directly on the mouth, but since they were in the middle of the street, she made do by just offering a dreamy sigh. Partners in every way, but sleuthing? Oh yes! Given a few more chances, he had the makings of an excellent sleuth. He only wanted more experience. And perhaps a few more excellent novels.

Adventures left such wonderful stories to write in her journal...and recount later with an extra dash of excitement sprinkled in here and there for posterity. Though she really hadn't had to embellish as much as she'd used to. Her healthy dose of fictional adventures had taken on a very real-life expansion since marrying her wonderful earl. What with two murder attempts, a solid man-napping, and a partially successful tomb robbery, it seemed too much to expect anything more, especially in the luxurious beauty of Italy.

She sighed up at the cerulean sky. No wonder people enjoyed traveling so much!

This warm and wonderful world of Italy bloomed with tranquility and delight.

Except for the fake purse thieving, of course.

Egypt had boasted the rust-colored desert, breathtaking pyramids, art etched into tombs, cities of tent merchants with the scents of hookah pipe smoke and jasmine in the air.

But Italy gleamed with white columns and aqua water, ancient houses painted with varying colors and embellished stone. Though the sun had shone every day in Egypt, as it had done for Frederick and Grace while in Italy, this country's reprieve from the heat came in the form of an almost constant cool breeze. And on that breeze ushered the scents of freshly baked bread mingled with wisteria and magnolia, both in abundant bloom on every street.

Without another hitch in the day, Frederick and Grace strolled the streets, enjoyed lunch, and took in a few of the most visited sites in Venice, all neatly tucked around the famous St. Mark's Square. Without her hat, she made do with the shade of a fashionable new parasol, which brought her number of parasols up to three. The few articles she'd read on using the handy device as a weapon only fueled a certain interest in collecting more.

She felt the same way about knives but kept that particular interest to herself for fear it might interrupt what little peace of mind Frederick still had after marrying her.

As they wandered from the newly reconstructed, red-brick Campanile rising high into the Venetian skyline to the magnificent St. Mark's Basilica, they took their time—with Frederick, the ever-patient one, allowing Grace moments to make quick sketches of the sites...and question the locals, using Frederick as interpreter.

St. Marco's Square truly was a remarkable representation of Venice's history and beautiful architecture. Pale stone paved the square, and glorious structures framed each side. The grand and ornate dome-shaped St. Mark's Basilica held features similar to the Cairo Citadel, but with added adornment related to a cathedral. The Doge's Palace on another side rose like a beautiful three-tiered rectangular cake, with the bottom consisting of an arched loggia, the middle an open veranda, and the enclosed top third boasting a line of pointed windows. Her guidebook stated that the palace style was "Gothic," perhaps due to the small, spire-like designs lining the top of it like spindles, but Grace had the hardest time matching 'Gothic' to the beautiful pale structure. Gothic brought visions of Dracula's Castle or Misselthwaite Manor or Thornfield Hall. Nothing as bright and hope-inspiring as this.

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