43 - Better Days I

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January 4, 1480

Monteriggioni, Italy

"Welcome back, Sir Auditore, Lady Catherine," Annetta smiled the moment the redheaded young woman and her companion stepped through the entrance of the Villa. They had just returned after leaving early in the morning, making sure to avoid the uproar that would come once guards found the bloody scene left in the ancient theatre. They had thankfully been successful and had a safe journey back, although they felt the effects of the fight in their bodies. It had not been as demanding as the one to protect Lorenzo, but they did not often fight so many enemies at once. Catherine knew she shouldn't have felt as lethargic as she did, but there was a distinct ache in her body. She ignored it, however, and was just glad to be home. Already she could smell breakfast in the kitchen, the two of them having arrived before it was time to eat.

"Thank-you, Annetta. You'll have to forgive me, but do you think we could go ahead and eat? It was a cold ride, and we skipped breaking our fast," Ezio smiled a bit sheepishly.

The maid chuckled, "Of course... but afterwards you will want to wash and change—your clothes need mending. And you need a doctor..."

"It's not as bad as it looks—I was able to patch him up like you showed me... but I guess it couldn't hurt. The Doc would probably get mad if we didn't, too," the redhead mused as they made for the kitchen. "A warm bath would be amazing, though."

"You have time before Sir Mario returns to eat his own meal, so feel free. Forgive me, though; if I had known you would return so soon I would have let him know and prepared your favorites as well."

Ezio waved, "It happened late last night and we returned as soon as we woke; no need to apologize. Besides, we love all your food."

"You flatter me, Sir... and I assume that means you would like something of me," the maid mused, giving him a wry smile as they entered into the kitchen. The young man chuckled, although he shook his head as the woman obtained plates for them and placed meats, eggs, and fruit onto it.

"I promise I only desire good food—nothing more. Promise."

"For once he's not lying. He was moaning the whole way about getting good food since we left before the safe house owners could make us some," Catherine snickered as she took the plate and began to scarf the heavenly goodness down. It filled her belly just right and sent warmth through her. Ezio, like-wise, ate plentifully and hummed with delight. The redhead glanced to the maid, "I guess just tell Mario we're here and we'll get ready to meet him in the office. We have news."

"So..." Annetta began, pausing to turn to them. "It... it is done then?"

"Yes—and no. But the Pazzi are finished. Our family is avenged," Ezio nodded, stepping forward to clasp the maid's shoulder. She nodded firmly, touching his hand. He smiled a bit before returning to his food.

"Mario will be pleased to hear it, and so shall the Lady Auditore. You should tell her as soon as you can."

"I will once she wakes. I need to tell them all, actually. We should have them gather during breakfast."

"Very well. I will make sure they're all awake and ready. For now, you two eat, bathe, and dress. I am afraid your day may not be as relaxed as you like with such good news."

"That figures, but we'll manage. Just don't get mad if I nod off during any celebrations," Catherine snickered before scarfing down the last bits. "Guess I'll go bathe first. Hot water good to go and everything?"

"Yes, some has been prepped for the others when they woke. I take it you would rather do it yourself, hmm?" Annetta mused, but the redhead sagged slightly.

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