1635: THE CANNON LAW â€“ snippet 62:
â€œWell, that couldâ€™ve gone better,â€ Sharon said to Ruy after seeing Frank and Giovanna out.
â€œFrank is not so young a man as he once was, Sharon,â€ Ruy said, in that rumbling he-man voice he put on when he thought she wasnâ€™t been too smart.
â€œI know, I know,â€ she sighed. â€œAnd if I was to be honest Iâ€™d say I pretty much expected him not to buy it. He was pretty okay about it otherwise, though.â€ Actually, Frank had doubled up laughing when Sharon had told him what Barberini had said. At first, anyway. And then heâ€™d pointed out that even if Barberini was serious, he knew from his own sources that the Inquisition was a power in its own right and while the Pope could restrain them for a time, they were waiting for an opportunity. And since heâ€™d already made himself a pain in the ass by regularly denouncing the fake propagandaâ€”Sharon had chuckled herself when Frank described the reaction of the junior priests there whenever he walked through the doorâ€”he wasnâ€™t going to put himself where the pope couldnâ€™t save him, not for anybody. And if these people really were plotting against the pope, where was the popeâ€™s guarantee if he lost?
Frank was quite happy to just keep his toehold in Rome and make sure there was a core of support that would discount the bullshit that was going around. They had a soccer league going, running more or less without their help, and numbers had picked up a bit at the club he was running. Soon enough, heâ€™d said, heâ€™d have a press of his own and he sure as shit wasnâ€™t going to use it to put himself or anyone from his organization in jail. And if he had to bug out if the pope lost, heâ€™d do it, too. They could always come back when the heat died down.
And Sharon couldnâ€™t disagree with any of it. She wondered, idly, for a moment, how Barberini was going to react at the salon sheâ€™d been invited to in two weeksâ€™ time. Would he be disappointed, or relieved? Sheâ€™d find out soon enough, of course. Enough daydreaming, she had an appointment, right after lunch.
â€œI shall go out and make more enquiries in the afternoon,â€ Ruy was saying. â€œIt may be that I can find out more of what Quevedo is doing. Two of his demonstrations in the last week have resulted in small riots. The militia grow heavy-handed, I fear. On which line of enquiry I shall be purchasing drinks for a sergeant of horse tomorrow, as I believe that the orders being given arise from more than the usual incompetence. Furthermore, there is the matter of the teams of recruiters he is now using to hire layabouts for -â€œ
Sharon leaned in close and put a finger over his lips. â€œNot this afternoon, youâ€™re not, Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz. Father Maratta and Signora Fontana will be here for a meeting. Itâ€™s not going to be a big society wedding, but we are going to make a party of it and we ought to have the planning in hand before Tom and Rita and my dad arrive.â€
â€œAh,â€ Ruy said, when she let him speak. â€œTruly, my love, I cannot let you face such things alone. Never let it be said that Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz flinched from the horrors of matrimonial strategy. Far be it from me to take the cowardâ€™s route of espionage and spycraft! I put aside all thoughts of going forth and risking mere death and disgrace! I shall face the dangers of floral arrangement! I shall brave the terrors of banquet menus! I shallâ€”what?â€
Sharon was going weak-kneed with laughter. He was funny enough, but the heroic posturing that went with it was too much. God, she thought, but I love this man. â€œStop it,â€ she snorted, â€œjust stop, all right? Itâ€™ll take an hour or so, and then you can go lurk in seedy bars and beat up on peopleâ€”â€
â€œIt was only one man, and him a pimp,â€ Ruy said, suddenly all affronted dignity, â€œhardly a person at all.â€
â€œWhatever,â€ she said, â€œJust try not to make me have to come bail you out of somewhere, okay? Bad enough at the best of times, but my dadâ€™s going to arrive tomorrow or the day after, and thatâ€™d be all I need, him growling about what a no-good bum his daughter was marrying.â€
Ruy shrugged and smiled. â€œBut Sharon, he would be right. Never let it be said that Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz is not honest, nor that he believes that confession is not good for the soul. I have broken every commandment save the first and the last. The first, because I am no sculptor, whatever my other talents. The last -?â€ he let it trail off, and shrugged.
â€œWhy not the last?â€ she asked, trying to remember what it was, and then realizing sheâ€™d given him the straight line.
He grabbed and squeezed. â€œWhy covet my neighbor’s ass?â€
â€œRuy!â€ she squealed, sounding like a schoolgirl to herself, and swatting his hand away. â€œNot here!â€
She glared around at the staff who were in the main hallway, daring any of them to laugh. To their credit, none of them were. Although every last one had a big grin in evidence, even the normally-straitlaced Adolf. Oh, well, fair was fair. They were all looking forward to the wedding too, and the searching for the right people to get the wedding organized had all been done without Sharon having to lift a finger. By all accounts, Signora Fontana was a battleaxe to beat them all, and Father Maratta was one of that large minority of Catholic priests who looked like he enjoyed a good party. If he had heard of the ascetic traditions within Christianity, he wanted no part of them. He even had a list of caterers he could recommend from personal experience, and seemed to want more input into the reception afterwards than he did into the liturgy of the nuptial mass.
Ruy was giving off his best sweet-and-innocent lookâ€”about as convincing as a party hat on a tiger, in other wordsâ€”and his eyes were twinkling.
â€œIf youâ€™ve quite done embarrassing me in front of everyone,â€ she said, trying to get a mad on and failing, â€œletâ€™s get lunch.â€