From the Sky - Part XXI

"Now that's enough!" Gio fumed. "He's just a boy! Stop all the nonsense! You don't think I know what you are saying? You think your father doesn't? We have ears everywhere in this bakery. Enough! A guest is coming tonight, and she's not to hear even a whisper of stregas, witches, curses and omens!"

Gio sent Paulie to sweep and ordered Sal and Rae back to the grounds. He turned to see Zia still standing over the dead sparrow, eyes welling up. She blushed and quickly wiped the tears from her eyes with the backs of her hands.

"It's okay Zia, to cry for the poor bird."

"I'm not. I mean, I am, but it's not just the sparrow," she replied, then paused a moment. "Rae and Sal …they don't understand, Uncle. She's not a witch. Not at all. She's wonderful!"

"You were once as superstitious as your sisters. Why have you alone put all the nonsense behind you?"

"I got to know her. Sal and Rae, they would like her if they gave her half a chance."

"They haven't had the opportunity, Zia. This woman shrouds herself in mystery and you help keep her secrets."

"She has good reason, Uncle."

Gio considered her words a few moments then shook his head. "I believe you Zia. I'm not my brother. I won't press you for more. I'll respect her wishes. I'll respect your promise to her."

"Thank you, Uncle."

"Have you finished her portrait?"

"Yes."

"And she has paid you?"

"Soon."

"And you are sure she is coming tonight?"

"Yes, Uncle. I'm sure."

Gio sighed and kissed her cheek.

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