Excerpt #3: My protagonist, Megan, is attending a nocturnal festival in Florence, la Festa della Rificolona, and her new friends talk about a local legend concerning the equestrian statue there, in Piazza SS Annunciata

“Look at the third floor. See the window farthest to the right?”

I nod.

“The woman who lived there married into the Riccardi family, but she and the Grand Duke, Ferdinando de’ Medici, fell in love at first sight. According to the legend, the husband kept his wife locked up to keep the two apart, but Ferdinando passed through the square every day and paused below the window. The lovers were never able to exchange more than glances. Ferdinando had his statue erected here, with the head turned so that his eyes would gaze at her window forever.”

“What a romantic story!”

“Yes. Their unrequited love was even immortalized in a poem by Robert Browning, called The Statue and the Bust, and there’s more to the legend. The owners can’t shut the window. If they do, pictures fall off the wall, things break, and so forth. You can’t tell tonight,” Shashee says, “because all the windows are open for spectators. If you come by again, take a look. I’ve never seen that window closed at any time of year, or in any weather.”

“That’s historical gossip,” Jakes says. “Not a word of truth in any of it.”

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