I Don’t Want to Hear This
In this scene from Death in Bagheria, Serafina’s third standalone mystery, Serafina and her sidekick, Rosa—a retired madam and Serafina’s lifelong friend—discuss the frayed relationship of Serafina and her oldest daughter, Carmela.
“I thought your watch was broken,” Rosa said, sitting opposite Serafina, one hand on the basket of food.
“It is. I borrowed Carmela’s.”
“I thought she wasn’t speaking to you.”
“Oh, we speak. She loves me, despite her tongue.”
Rosa was silent, looking out the window for a moment. “Don’t you think it’s jealousy? I mean, here you are, a woman in your prime—well, I exaggerate, not too far past your prime—sought after by the nobility and the commissioner to solve all manner of mysteries, blossoming in an affair with the sweetheart of your salad days—and a count, no less—and what is Carmela doing but digging in the earth when she’s not caring for young children and running the house because you’re sleeping around. She has no husband and no prospects. Why didn’t you take her tonight instead of Vicenzu? And don’t tell me it’s because she’s a woman and he’s a man.”
“But that’s precisely why.”
“So the commissioner should pick Colonna over you because he’s a man?”
“Don’t be silly.”
“Carmela has the brains and the determination we need tonight, but you, a woman, disregarded her merely because she’s a woman.”
“Vicenzu has brains, too, and more strength.”
“Carmela’s been working in the soil, and Vicenzu sits behind a counter. Feel his hands, they’re as soft as the bishop’s, and Carmela’s are hardened. And don’t forget how she helped you catch the Ambrosian murderer.”
“But Vicenzu’s a man.” What was wrong with that woman? Sometimes Rosa was more stubborn than a mule and blind to the truth. “And I know for a fact that Carmela is not jealous.”
Rosa chuckled. “I didn’t mean to imply that she is.” She picked at a thread on her sleeve. “But you are. Stamina, for instance.”
“I don’t want to hear this.”
“You’re still tired from Wednesday night’s lark about with Loffredo while you know that Carmela, at her age, could have gone without sleep for two nights in a row yet skip about the next day.”
That did it. If she wanted silence, she just got it.