Elizabeth Romano di Venezia is the first of three daughters of the noble Romano family, and perhaps one of the most beautiful women in Venezia in 1482.
A mere twenty-one years old, she is surely a sight to behold. Long brown hair stretches far down her back in gentle, shining waves. Her face is symmetrical, her skin smooth and nearly flawless, her features delicate, and her body well-shaped, especially for bearing children.
On the surface, it is a wonder that she is the only one of her sisters that has yet to marry.
However, to those that do know her, it is obvious why she hasn’t: she has grown tired of those who vie for and crave her attention and affection, so she believes that those who do are automatically and completely unworthy of it. She snubs any and all advances of any and all men, be they noble or commoner, and she is a tricky woman to get the attention of; it is even trickier to hold her attention for longer than a moment.
So when her attention is caught by a wounded man in the alley not far from her home, it makes her wonder if the men who’ve attempted to court her would be compelled to go on moronic escapades to do the same.
The man’s eyes are hidden in the shadows cast by his hood, but the lower part of his face is bared, scratched and bleeding. Red splotches stain the gray fabric of his clothing, the rips in it revealing the sliced and bruised flesh beneath. He stands on quivering legs, his shuddering gasps for breath almost resonating throughout the empty alleyway. He appears to have escaped from something, though just barely.
His legs finally give out, and he sinks to the ground, his right hand on his left thigh, clutching weakly at the arrow that is embedded in his flesh. He breaks the shaft of it and pulls it through the other side, his teeth sinking into his lower lip to prevent himself from being noticed by those who may still be hunting him.
She approaches him, standing just within his line of sight, and he glances up to see a long blue skirt. If he were not injured, he would probably have been chasing it. He looks up further, his eyes meeting a pinched-in waist, the currently faceless woman’s hands propped upon her hips.
She kneels down to him, and even if he could, he dare not say that she’s giving him an eyeful of chest flesh from the cut of her dress. He looks further up, bleary eyes just short of meeting hers as he lets out another shuddering breath.
His eyes finally close, and he slumps against her, unconscious, his face pressing against her chest.
She sighs, almost in frustration; she cannot just leave him there. It would almost be a crime to do so after he had slipped into unconsciousness upon her bosom.
As best as she can possibly do by herself, she hoists him up, the dead weight of him a bit heavier than she had anticipated. She frowns, half carrying, half dragging the unconscious man through the empty back alleys and back to her villa. She manages to get him upstairs and to the guest room, and automatically leaves to retrieve cloth dressings and a basin of hot water.
She carefully strips him of his intricate belt and peels back his tunic and undershirt, baring the gashes on his torso to her searching eyes. She turns to soak a clean cloth in the hot water before turning back to begin cleaning his wounds, dabbing at and wiping away the blood that is sticking to his skin.
A hiss escapes him, and she looks up to his face. His eyes shut tightly for only a moment before returning to their relaxed state.
Setting down the wet, once clean cloth, she picks up one of the cloth dressings, but is interrupted by a hacking cough as he tries to pull himself up. He looks at her from underneath his hood.
“Where am I?” He questions.
“My villa.” She answers shortly.
He is about to ask why, but she holds her hand up, cutting him off before he can even begin.
“If you are able to sit up completely, do so.” She states, eyes narrow and jaw stiff.
He nods once, and lifts himself from his place. She places the end of it near his wound.
“Hold it in place.”
He does so, and she begins wrapping the bandage roll around his torso and beneath his tunic. He smirks to himself; she has to reach around him, very much in an embrace, to bring it back around him. He can feel the warmth of her skin from the cut of her dress, soft breasts pushing against him as she brings it around again and again.
“What are you hiding from?” She asks before her mind has the chance to tell her that it is a poor decision to ask such a thing.
“I am not hiding from anything.” He responds quietly.
“Questa è una bugia e lo sapete...” She almost snarls.
“Can I prove it to you in some way?”
She purses her lips, and he knows what she wants.
He swallows and pulls back his hood, revealing his face to this woman. And for the first time, they both get a good look at the other’s face.
He isn’t much younger than she thought he would be; perhaps his early twenties, mid- twenties at the very most. His skin is pale and almost ashen from blood loss, and a small scar begins above the right side of his upper lip, and spans to his chin. He has an almost boyish charm to him, mostly in his face, and dark stubble shadows his jaw line.
Her expression doesn’t change as much as he had hoped… really, it doesn’t change at all. He decides that it’s time to show this beautiful woman what he’s really made of.
His facial features soften considerably, and he leans towards her, his hand coming up to touch her cheek.
“I would like to thank you, if that is alright…” He purrs.
…and she slaps his hand away, instinctively.
“You can thank me by getting rest and healing properly. I am not interested in your ‘gratitude.’”
He blinks a few times, surprised, as she pushes his back flat against the bed and wraps another dressing around the wound the arrow had left behind on his left thigh. She then throws a clean sheet over him before turning to leave.
A beautiful woman had just turned him down.
It is unthinkable! It is unheard of! It is...
He sits up.
She stops and turns to look back at him, a scowl marring her face.
“I apologize for my behavior. It was uncalled for.”
“Apology accepted. It would be appreciated if you could hold your tongue the next time the urge might arise.” She pauses. “That is the best I can do until a doctor is called. Be grateful for that, at least.”
She shuts the door behind her.
He may have been imagining things, or it could have been a trick of the light, but he can swear that her expression had softened.