SPOILER alert: don't read if you haven't read the first three Stravaganza books, Masks, Stars and Flowers.
Arianna writes: Luciano was sent away to university in Padavia and I missed him so much! So I enlisted the help of my maid Barbara to impersonate me, while I stole away to visit him. Although the last time she did that she nearly died!
Alfredo was Luciano's manservant and he was shocked by my visit.
"The expression on Alfredo’s face was a mixture of puzzled and appalled.
‘Your Grace,’ he said, making a deep bow. ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t know . . .’
‘No one does, Alfredo,’ said Arianna, shaking her hair. ‘I’m in disguise.’
‘You’re crazy,’ said Luciano.
‘I think that’s treason,’ said Arianna. ‘Even from a fiancé. Oh do stand up straight, Alfredo. I am not the Duchessa today.’
She stretched her arms and stuck her long legs in their coarse breeches out straight in front of her. ‘It feels good,’ she said. ‘I feel like the old Arianna of the Islands.’
It was true, in her boy’s clothes, she did look more like the wild girl Luciano had met in the Piazza della Maddalena more than two years ago.
‘But what about Rodolfo and Silvia?’ asked Luciano. ‘I can’t believe they let you come here on your birthday. And what about your bodyguard?’
‘They don’t know,’ she said carelessly. ‘And I didn’t bring a guard – only Marco, my maid’s betrothed. He’s hanging about outside somewhere. Perhaps you’d let him in and give him something to eat, Alfredo?’
‘Yes and bring us something too,’ said Luciano. ‘I was so surprised to see you I forgot my duties as a host.’
‘But not host to a duchessa, please,’ said Arianna. ‘Just a peasant boy from Torrone. You can call me Adamo when I’m in disguise.’
‘And when I kiss you?’ said Luciano, taking her in his arms.
‘Then you don’t need to call me anything at all,’ said Arianna, narrowing her violet eyes."