From the Sky - Part XX

"Do everyone a favor," Rae replied softly, "Don't mention the nuns to Papa or Uncle Gio. They have enough on their minds today."

"Where is Gio, anyway?" Zia asked. "I haven't seen him all morning."

"He was leaving the church just as I arrived," said Sal. "He waved as he drove past me. He just missed the nuns."

"Gio was at church?" Rae asked. "But there's no Mass on Saturday morning."

"His old guitar case was on the front seat. Father Genovese said Uncle was practicing some music in the church."

"Maybe he's going to start singing at Sunday Mass," Zia said excitedly. "I'd love that! Dump the off-key choir and let Gio croon! His singing …oh, it's a thing of beauty, isn't it?"

"It's odd," Rae observed. "Gio was up all night baking, the picnic is nearly underway, and he sneaks off to church …to sing?"

"Maybe that's where he's been disappearing to all week," added Sal. "Every morning around ten he vanishes, and he's not back until noon."

"Papa's acting strangely too," Zia said. Her smile was gone now, her expression uncertain, eyes narrowing and brow furrowing. "He's up all night every night doing some kind of secret project, and he won't tell me what it is."

"This isn't good," sighed Rae. "They're both up to something. And now …nuns! It's all because of her. It must be."

"The strega?" asked Sal, her eyes widening.

Zia's eyes flashed. "Stop it," she said. "She's no strega."

"She's enchanted you, Zia," Rae replied. "You don't see the danger."

"What I see is my watch," Zia shot back, glancing down at her wrist. "It's telling me to start on my cakes."

Zia stormed away, nearly knocking over Carlo, who was carrying boxes of bread towards the food tent.

"Something is under baby girl's skin," said Rae. "Perhaps she's fighting with one of her boyfriends."

"I doubt that," Sal sighed. "She's been avoiding them all for weeks. She won't take their calls, and she hasn't been out with any of them. Painting, painting, painting! That's all she has time for. I suppose, for that kind of money, even Zia is willing to put romance on a back burner."

"Maybe it's not that," Rae said softly. "Maybe it's more. Maybe she really is under a spell. This strega …I'm telling you Sal, she's dangerous. Remember what Madame Béatrice told us: Zia is at the heart of everything. Zia is the key."

A Gaggle of Nuns...

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