The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story

The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story by Megan Chance Read Free Book Online

Book: The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story by Megan Chance Read Free Book Online
Authors: Megan Chance
helping him slip the nightshirt over his head. It clung damply, doing almost nothing to conceal him. I helped him into his room, and onto the bed, and then I left him to get the arnica in my medicine case.
    I had to move the bottle of laudanum to get to the ointment, and for a moment I stood there, holding the bottle in my hand, thinking of those bruises and the pain on his face. “I can’t sleep for the pain, and I can’t bear it when I’m awake.” What could it hurt, really? A few drops so he might sleep.
    But then I remembered. Pleading blue eyes. “You would not want me to be in such pain, would you? I can see you’re not like the others here . . .”
    I put the laudanum back. I took up the arnica and closed the case with a definitive click, and then I started back to him.
    I was halfway down the hall when I heard voices coming from his room. I stopped short, listening. Giulia again, damn her. I marched down the hall, furious, pushing open the door with such force it cracked against the wall. He was still sitting on the bed, exactly where I’d left him. He was alone.
    “Was someone here?” I asked.
    “Why would you think that?”
    “I heard voices. Were you speaking to someone? Is Giulia here? Is she hiding?”
    “Giulia isn’t here.” He looked pale and sick, his eyes haunted. Pain, I realized. The bath had been more rigorous than I’d thought.
    I faltered. “I . . . I heard someone.”
    “There’s no one here,” he said, but there was something in his voice that made me look at him more closely. “Only me.”
    I didn’t quite believe him. But I saw no sign of Giulia or anyone else. I must have been imagining things.
    I looked at the jar of ointment in my hands and said, “Take off your nightshirt and lie on your stomach.”
    He hesitated, measuring, as if he had a question he wanted to ask but was waiting for some sign that it was safe to ask it. “It won’t work, you know. I can’t be cured, and it’s getting worse. Whatever it is you want from me . . . I can’t give it to you.”
    Oh, but he could. If he only knew.
    “I am just your nurse,” I said carefully. “Now, please. This will relieve some of the pain.”

Chapter 4
    The next morning, when I came into his room with his bromide and more arnica, he was sitting in the chair by the windowed doors. I was pleased to see him up until I realized the air was strongly perfumed with garlic and piquant spice. He held a bowl of some kind of stew, already half-eaten. On the tea table was a cup holding what was unmistakably coffee.
    In dismay, I said, “What is that? Where did you get it?”
    “Good morning to you too.”
    I swooped down on the coffee. “Who brought you this?”
    “Wait! For God’s sake, don’t take it away.”
    “You aren’t supposed to have it. I gave strict instructions. No coffee. And what’s that you’re eating?”
    “ Sguassetto ,” he said. “It’s very good. Would you like a bite?”
    “I don’t need a bite to know you shouldn’t have it. I can smell it. You were to eat nothing without my permission. Who gave you this?”
    Calmly, he took a bite. “Giulia.”
    Of course. I’d known before I asked the question. I cursed.
    Samuel raised a brow.
    “I told her to stay away! I told you to keep her away!”
    “Well, she came bearing gifts. Which, as it happened, I wanted.” He set the bowl aside, swiping his hand through his hair wearily, and I saw what I hadn’t seen before, shadows that spoke of a sleepless night. I had an idea who had caused it, and I bit back another curse of pure frustration.
    “I’ll move a bed in here,” I said. “As it seems I must watch over you every moment.”
    His head jerked up. I was not imagining the fear in his eyes. “That’s not necessary.”
    “It seems it is.” I mixed the bromide salts into a glass of water and set it before him. “How else am I to keep Giulia from this room? How often must I tell you how dangerous it is for you to indulge in such

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