Lucrezia sit quietly in the armchair closest to the door. She is pretending to read her Jane Austen novel for class, but out of the corner of her eye, she watches the clock carefully. Five fifty. Her mother is concentrated on knitting a scarf; the one for Cesare as a Christmas gift. Lucrezia picked out the yarn; the dark, deep blood red color represented Cesare perfectly; most especially when he was with his father at the company, bossing about employees, barking directions. Five fifty-five. Yet, it was soft, warm and cozy. It reminded her of when Cesare would sneak up behind her, snake his arms around her waist and kiss her cheek. Five fifty-seven.
Lucrezia sighs and closes her book impatiently. Her mother looks up from the scarf and smiles sweetly. "What's the matter, dear?" she asks. Lucrezia's heart sped up for a brief moment. She ignores it. "Tired of reading," she lies. Her mother nods, understandingly. "Why don't you take a break from homework, hm? Go ahead and set the table. Your father and the boys should be home soon."
She nods and heads to the kitchen. Inside, Gioffre, her little brother and the youngest Borgia, is drooling over the freshly baked chocolate cake that sits on the counter. Lucrezia shoos him away, sending him to wash his face and hands before dinner. She begins to set out the dishes and silverware when she hears the door creak open. Excitedly, she runs to the mirror in the hallway next to the kitchen. Deeming her hair decent, she prances out to the living room.
There, her father, business tycoon Rodrigo Borgia, is being kissed by her mother. Juan, who just started interning at the company, wrestles Gioffre to the ground. Cesare casually hangs his coat and hat and glides over to his mother. "Hello," he greets with a kiss on the cheek. "How was your day?" he asks.
But Cesare does not listen to his mother's reply. He watches little Lucrezia's gaze peak out from her eyelashes. She beams at him, illuminating her rosy cheeks and complexion. He walks over to her slowly and pulls her in for a hug. "And how is my sweet sister?" he whispers into her ear. Lucrezia giggles and replies with a "just fine".
"Just fine?" Cesare pulls away dramatically. "Why is my dear girl only just fine?" "She's had a lot of homework today." Their mother replies behind them. She feels warm and content as she watches her eldest tickle her daughter playfully. Lucrezia has him wrapped around her little finger, she thinks.
"Ah," says Cesare. "Well, you're so smart sis. Any college would die to have you." Lucrezia wrinkles her brow. "I'm not so sure anymore. Math is more difficult this year than I had anticipated." "If you need a tutor, all you need to do is ask." Her father assures her. Juan snorts from behind them. "Or we'll pay the teacher off. Isn't that how you got through Physics, brother?"
Cesare shoots Juan and glare, but Rodrigo just laughs. "Come, come! It's time for supper!"
At the dinner table, Cesare's hand brush against Lucrezia's exactly three times. She's counted. She desperately wishes to grab his and place a kiss on it, but she knows better than that. She knows better than to do that in public.
So, instead, Lucrezia concentrates at the head of the table, on her father. He is boasting of the crucial deal that was closed today, earning his company enormous profit. Every so often, she glances over at Cesare's face. He sips his wine, carrying a bemused expression. As if he knows his little sister is watching.
Tonight is no different from other nights.
Lucrezia showers, brushes her teeth and hair, and then says goodnight to her parents and brothers. She slips under her covers and opens the Jane Austen novel and waits. She waits until she can no longer hear the hum on the television from the living room or Rodrigo's laughter. She waits until she can no longer hear Juan's music pulsing through the hallway. She waits until she can no longer hear her mother's footsteps as she carries Gioffre into his room.
It is ten-thirty when the house is fully quiet. Slowly, Lucrezia lets her feet touch the wood flooring. She sets her book onto her nightstand and turns off her lamp light. She blindly reaches for the doorknob and stumbles to Cesare's door.
Cesare hears the doorknob to his room turn. He slowly looks up from his book, though he already knows who is there. Lucrezia waits patiently in his doorway, waiting him to invite her in. His stomach twists and turns with the different emotions that course through him. Guilt. Disgust. But, love. There was always love.
He groans internally and gives into his vices. Lucrezia grins giddily and quietly shuts the door behind her. She skips towards his bed and nuzzles herself into his side.
This can't keep going; he thinks as her wraps his arm around her. We have to stop.
She places a trail of kisses on his cheek, his neck, behind his ear and on the corner of his lips. Cesare imagines stopping her. He imagines telling her to go back to her room where she belongs at this hour. He imagines packing all of his things and being out of the house by morning; out in the city, keeping her safe from his clutches.
But Cesare doesn't do that.
Instead, he cranes his neck and plants a soft kiss on her lips. Lucrezia melts into his arms, sighing softly beneath him.