"I will be with you in a moment." I coaxed.
"Bello has sent me to find you, it concerns your father's health." Chiaro said without emotion.
I quickly looked at Firmino, "I must go now" I said hastily.
He shook his head, "Why do you care about that heartless man? He treats you like you are nothing and yet you continue to care for him. I say let him die a slow painful death."
I stood there for a moment confused. I knew how Firmino felt about Father, I felt hatred towards him too, but Firmino had never been so direct with it. "He gave me life." was the only answer I gave him before standing up.
"Forgive my rage, Fia. Just know that that man cannot feel love and if he does it is only love for his pride." Firmino went on, holding my hand. "He allows you to have no self respect, no true freedom. Please, don't let him ruin you."
I slid my hand away from Firmino's gentle grip and looked down at my bare feet. "Fiammetta, we need to get going." Chiaro stated, with a glare at Firmino. I nodded at the ground then looked up. Silently, I nodded at Firmino and left with Chiaro.
Chiaro and I walked in silence during the short trip to the house. Father and I could not afford our own barn these days so we rented a neighbor's. Once we got to the small wood house, I ran inside and into the tight enclosed room Firmino had built for Father. Bello waited beside Father's bed and Father laid still.
Noticing my reaction to Father's appearance Bello quickly soothed me, "He is not dead." With a grim look he added, "yet anyway." He was Father's barber for all his life and they knew each other well. His son went to Spain for medical school and we could not afford to send Father to the Vince hospital. Bello was our only choice.
"What is wrong?" I begged. For a moment the only noise was the fire crackling back in the main room.
"Pneumonia, I'm afraid." Bello stated quietly. Chiaro was the only thing keeping me from falling from the news. Pneumonia was rare this time of the year, but only more deadly. "I can bleed him out again, but he may be too far in to come back out." Bello appeased.
With Chiaro holding me up, and fighting the tears, I simply nodded. "How long?" I managed to choke out.
"A month at best, a week at worst." he stated matter-of-factly. He was Father's friend and he seemed heartless while delivering the news of his impending death. "I know this is a lot to swallow honey, being at your age and no husband to depend on after his death." he began.
"I can take care of myself, Bello." I growled through my tears. I hated that everyone saw me as weak because I was a female.
"They don't know about your power," Chiaro whispered. "They don't know your strength." If Chiaro was reading my thoughts again... "You'll kill me." he smirked.
Bello casted a wary glance at Father, as if to make sure he was asleep. "I know you can, honey, it's just that, well. My son is a few years older than you and will be returning soon. With his schooling done, you and he..."
"I don't care if I'm alive or dead, the whench will not be wed." Father stated without opening his eyes.
"Spietato, please. We've been friends since the girl was young. Spavaldo has always been fond of ol' Fia and..." Bello begged.
"If that diavola produces any children, it'll be the end of days." Father opened his eyes and stared at me. "I told your mother a hundy times we shoulda had ya' burned the day ye was born. She neva listened, then ya pretty boys came along," pretty boys meant the elemental angels that had come for me, "now someone lays a hand on your little head, they die." Father spat in my direction then fell back into his slumber.
The three of us stood in shock at Father's outburst. "Fia," Bello began, "I'm sure that was the fever talking, I know it was."
"Fiammetta..." Chiaro began. I didn't give him the chance to finish. I yanked myself from his grasp and ran out of the house, where I was going I didn't know.