By Sylvain Reynard
Raven wooden spends her days at Florence's Uffizi gallery restoring Renaissance paintings. yet an blameless stroll domestic after a night with acquaintances adjustments her existence perpetually. whilst she intervenes within the mindless beating of a homeless guy, his attackers activate her, dragging her into an alley. Raven is just semiconscious whilst their attack is interrupted via a cacophony of growls by way of her attackers' screams. Mercifully, she blacks out, yet now not ahead of catching a glimpse of a shadowy determine who whispers to her . . .
while Raven awakes, she is inexplicably replaced. Upon returning to the Uffizi, nobody acknowledges her. extra disturbingly, she discovers that she's been absent a complete week. with out recollection of her disappearance, Raven learns that her absence coincides with one of many biggest robberies in Uffizi history--the robbery of a collection of beneficial Botticelli illustrations. whilst the police determine her as their leading suspect, Raven is desirous to transparent her identify. She seeks out one in every of Florence's wealthiest and so much elusive males in an try to discover the reality. Their come across leads Raven to a dismal underworld whose population kill to maintain their secrets . . .
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She begun limping quicker, her eyes mounted on her buddy, prepared herself to not journey and fall. She used to be virtually to the bridge while she observed Angelo lifting his palms and crying out. the biggest guy used to be urinating on him. Angelo attempted to maneuver away, however the guy undefined. the opposite males cheered. Raven used to be now not surprised. Angelo was once homeless, soiled, crippled, and gradual. each one of those beneficial properties might kindle any latent cruelty within the Florentine males. She felt shouts of protest bubble up in her throat. yet she didn’t open her mouth. She should still intrude. She knew it. Evil flourished whilst strong humans walked by way of and acknowledged not anything. Raven saved strolling. She was once drained after an extended day of labor and a night at Gina’s. She used to be wanting to go back to her small, quiet flat at the Piazza Santo Spirito. the entire related, she was once aware of Angelo’s cries and the laughter and cursing of the lads. the most important guy comprehensive urinating with a flourish, returning himself to the confines of his denims. by surprise, he lifted a booted foot and kicked Angelo within the ribs. He cried out in soreness, slumping to the floor. Raven stopped. the opposite males joined in, kicking and cursing Angelo with out regard to his screams. Blood poured from his mouth as he writhed at the sidewalk. “Stop! ” The loud cry, in Italian, crammed her ears. instantly, she felt pleasure on the indisputable fact that somebody, somebody, had come to Angelo’s rescue. yet her pleasure became to horror whilst the boys stopped and stared in her course. “Stop,” she repeated, in a far quieter tone. the lads exchanged glances and the biggest one stated anything derisive to his partners. He stalked in her path. As he approached, Raven may possibly see he used to be large shouldered and tall, his head shaven, his eyes darkish. She resisted the urge to retreat. “Go. ” the fellow waved at her dismissively. Raven’s eco-friendly eyes darted in the back of him, to the place Angelo was once mendacity, curled right into a ball. “Let me support him. He’s bleeding. ” The bald guy regarded over his shoulder to his partners. as though in defiance, one among them kicked Angelo within the abdominal. Her friend’s cries stuffed her ears till eventually and horribly, he fell silent. With a predatory smile, the bald guy became again to her. He pointed within the path from which she’d approached. “Run. ” Raven reflected an try to achieve Angelo’s facet, yet made up our minds opposed to it. there has been no hazard of crossing the bridge to get domestic, both. The bald guy blocked her course. She started to again away, her gait unsteady. the guy undefined. He flailed his hands and dragged his correct leg in an exaggerated impersonation of her stroll. one in all his partners shouted anything approximately Quasimodo. Resisting the urge to inform the lads that they have been the genuine monsters, she circled, suffering to maneuver speedy. The sounds of moved quickly footsteps echoed in her ears. The man’s partners had left Angelo and have been pursuing her. She heard one among them comment on how grotesque she was—too grotesque to fuck. The others laughed. considered one of them saw that she can be fucked from in the back of. Then they wouldn’t need to see her face. Raven hobbled extra speedy, looking out in useless for a unmarried pedestrian.