Ansaldo threw open both council chamber doors. His nemesis di Ricci stopped mid-gesture before the house speaker. The brays of friends and foes silenced. Fists lowered.
If they recognised him, he was dead.
Di Ricci spared him a dismissive look. “Seize him.”
Him! The one word thrilled up his spine, until two republic guards marched on him. Ansaldo held up a scroll. “Wait!”
“Only senators may enter the chambers.” The speaker waved on the guards.
“And I am a senator. House Floria has chosen me as their representative.”
“House Floria has already demonstrated their disdain of our republic,” di Ricci spat. His faction murmured in agreement. “We’re deliberating the tyranny charge against the head of House Floria.”
“You’re mistaken.” Ansaldo bowed to the speaker. “If I may.”
The speaker nodded. The guards stepped aside for Ansaldo to hand over the scroll.
As the speaker read, di Ricci peered at him. “We’ve met before.”
Ansaldo swallowed, praying his collar covered the gesture. “We haven’t.”
Di Ricci stepped closer, breathing hotly down his neck and examining Ansaldo’s dainty chin. A better senator than a suitor, but given enough time, even he’d catch on. “You’re so pretty for a man.”
He knew. Ansaldo had to act fast.
“It’s true,” Ansaldo declared to the council. “House Floria is now led by a beautiful bastard heir.”
The senators roared with laughter, thumps of approval following. Di Ricci startled, then delivered a damning repartee.
Ansaldo smiled. They’d soon die for House Floria to be reborn. Just like Ansella died so Ansaldo could live.