Daughters and Marriages
I’m taking a turn from how the stories are usually written in fan verse and otherwise. Historically, Giovanni Sforza did not rape Lucrezia on their wedding night, nor did he abuse her, he was actually 29 as opposed to being in his 40′s. Cesare and the Pope did plot to get rid of him, but there is a story, apocryphal, mind you, that Cesare told Lucrezia and she told Giovanni. He actually did run, but who told him? Who knows? I thought that would make an interesting side plot, so I wrote it that way. Hope it meets your approval!
Calvino had not been right. The days did not fly by, but dragged endlessly until the morning she woke up with the cramps, and felt the familiar stickiness of blood on her thighs. She offered a prayer to the Holy Virgin, wondering if she had waited, counting days, hoping that she would not find herself with child. Had the Virgin ever been in love with someone young and handsome? What had she wanted for herself before her fate had been chosen for her? A young, handsome husband and children?
The pain shot through her again and she curled up in a ball, trying to will it to go away. Carmilla came in and saw her mistress, a sigh of relief escaping her lips. She took the hand that Constanzia held out, grasping it tightly. There would be no child this month, and if Cesare would only leave her mistress alone, she would have the chance to put him out of her life forever.
The news that Lucrezia would be arriving with her husband cheered her up somewhat. Her cousin had not yet seen Calvino, had not had the chance to give him her approval. Constanzia had missed the nights they would cuddle together in bed, spin their dreams and ambitions. She wondered how Lucrezia found life with her older spouse. She had heard the Pope and Cesare speaking behind closed doors, learning that the alliance they had counting on had not come to fruition. If the Sforzas had not intended to live up to their agreement, why arrange the marriage? The thirty-one thousand ducat dowry they had asked for and received might have been incentive.
Her dowry had been barely half that, but she was not the Pope’s daughter, only his niece. She did not envy her cousin, if Sforza died, Lucrezia might face yet another loveless political marriage, unless, of course, she fell in love with one of her suitors as she had. As is stood, Lucrezia’s marriage had been consummated, and Sforza was a healthy young man and unlikely to die soon. She wondered idly how far her uncle and Cesare would go if they wanted to end this marriage in favor of a more advantageous one.
A few days passed, and she received the news that Lucrezia and her husband would be arriving in the afternoon. Arrangements were made for a welcoming banquet, and she picked through her newly made dresses for something to wear. She settled on a dark blue satin, bordered with gold. In spite of Cesare’s wishes, she had La Bella’s maid do her hair for her, rim her eyes with kohl and rouge her lips. She and La Bella were also trying different ways of arranging her hair for her wedding to suit the gold headdress that Calvino had sent her.
Cesare was caught up in the opportunity to see his sister again, seemingly ignoring her. She did not mind, her marriage was drawing close, and she was afraid that Cesare would seek out her bed to make good on his promise to get her pregnant before her wedding. She did not want him to force himself on her, she would be more than grateful to be left alone.
Finally it was announced that the party from Pesaro was arriving. She ran to the great portico and in her eagerness she almost slipped and fell.
Cesare caught her, and put his arm around her waist to keep her from falling. “Careful,” he laughed, “I cannot wait to see her too, but you will not enjoy her company so much if you hurt yourself.” He kept a firm grip on her.
You can’t get me pregnant yet, Cesare, she thought, in a few days, yes, but not now. She watched as Giovanni and Lucrezia made their way up the stairs to bow and kiss the Pope’s ring. A strange way to greet your father, she thought, there is so much pomp and circumstance in Rome that it makes me long to be a simple noble’s daughter in Valencia. And now instead of escaping it, I’m marrying into it in Genoa. They are so power hungry and ambitious here, I wonder if I will have to learn to be that way for Calvino?
Alexander was enfolding Lucrezia in his arms. Lucrezia looked strangely content, Constanzia had not expected that. Giovanni Sforza looked as arrogant as he did the day he married his young bride, but Lucrezia looked more confident than cowed. Was it as Ascanio had predicted, did his young bride rule the household? Lucrezia was another grasping, greedy Borgia which made her a match for any Sforza, save Katerina, the true ruler of the clan. Had Cesare not said that one of the things he loved about her was the fact that she did not care for power?
That night the three of them gathered themselves in Constanzia’s room, drinking wine and talking amongst themselves; Cesare in the middle, and the girls on either side. Lucrezia’s pearly skin and golden hair glowed in the candlelight. Constanzia sure that she was a poor second until Lucrezia exclaimed over how lovely she looked in the light of the candles, her skin almost the color of precious gold.
“And I hear you are to be married, cousin, and a most fortunate match at that! I heard that a certain handsome Genoan stole your heart and we will see you married within a fortnight!” Lucrezia smiled mischievously at her own words.
“Handsome, yes, young, not so much—he is the same age as your husband though he looks younger. And he’s generous, he sent me so many bolts of beautiful fabric, you must choose one or two that suit your fancy. And he has a younger brother that I think will suit your fancy, tall, dark golden hair and seems kindness itself. If your husband bores you, you could divert yourself if you pleased.”
Lucrezia shook her head, “No, not now. I am almost six months gone with child, it would not be possible.”
Cesare and Constanzia shared a look, then he said, “Why did you not tell us sooner, does your husband know?”
“Yes, he knows, he also knows it might not be his. There are agreements we have made with each other, that certain things are not spoken of. I do not love my husband, but we do live compatibly. I do not mind him quite so much as I thought I would, nor he me. If I could get out of this marriage, I would, but not out of hate for him.”
Her cousin looked irritatingly serene. Lucrezia had clearly taken control of her situation and turned it to her advantage. Perhaps it was Katerina who possessed the brains in the Sforza family, and Ludovico and Giovanni were just weak.
Lucrezia sat up. “I am sorry, but this pregnant lady had a long journey and she is tired and longs for her bed. I will see the two of you tomorrow, I hope.”
Cesare sat up, “Do you want me to see you to bed, sis?”
“No, I am fine, keep Constanzia company. I’ve arranged to have my husband housed in his own separate rooms so I will have a peaceful night. Do not look for me too early tomorrow, I have become rather fond of sleeping these days.” She kissed them goodnight and left.
“Well, this is not what I expected, did you? Do you think her husband might be the father of her child after all?” Constanzia looked at him.
He smiled, “I don’t know, but now it is going to be harder to tell her what I have been keeping a secret from you. Father wants Sforza killed, he’s not keeping faith with the marital treaty, and he’s made a pathetic attempt at spying for the French. He has given me the task of taking care of this, and I can’t say that I mind too much.”
“I will have to confess this somehow to Ascanio, but I don’t mind so much, either. When will you tell Lucrezia?”
Cesare took her in his arms, “Tomorrow, I have better things to do tonight,” As he bent his mouth down to seek hers, she tried to push him away.
“Cesare, I…” but he silenced her.
“You are almost clean, yes? This is not the first time, now is it? I want you right now, my beautiful girl, and I will have you. Who is your lord?” His hazel eyes stared into hers.
“You, for now, but that is changing soon, cousin,” she teased.
“Don’t remind me,” he growled and took her lips with his.
When she woke the next morning, he was getting dressed. She held out her hand and pulled him to her, “Do not leave me, Cesare, you would not leave me,” she said, sweetly beguiling.
“I have to talk to Lucrezia, my love, I would have this over and done with.” He smiled at her, and reached out his hand to caress her breast.
“Lucrezia is still asleep, the child probably makes her want to sleep as much as she can. Would you wake her?”
“I must. It’s better if I tell her before the household is awake, besides, she can always go back to sleep.” He grinned at her.
“I don’t think she will want to do that after she hears what you are going to say to her. Is it possible that you can just banish him? Must you kill him?”
He leaned down and kissed her, “Sweetheart, you know the answer to that, I do not need to tell you. Now, go back to sleep, I will see you after the deed is done.”
She was in her bath when he burst into the room. “Have you seen Lucrezia? I cannot find her anywhere!”
“Well, did you tell her?” she looked at Carmilla, “Leave us, I will call for you.” She knew that her maid would be just outside the door, listening, which was exactly what she wanted her to do.
“Well, yes, I did, shortly after I left your rooms.”
“So Cesare, how did she take it?”
“Well, she wasn’t pleased, but she didn’t seem too upset—at ending her marriage anyway.” He went over to the side of the tub and looked at her, “You know something, don’t you Constanzia?”
“Yes, I do, she’s retired to the convent of San Sisto to wait out her confinement and to see what you and the Pope decide. She’s not very happy with either of you at the moment. What were her words, hmmm?” She paused, looking at him, enjoying his discomfort, “Oh yes, what she said was, and I quote, ‘They don’t need to kill him.’ I believe he’s in hiding right now and he plans to flee Rome as soon as he can.”
Cesare looked for something to kick, then remembered that though she rarely lost her temper, Constanzia in a rage was a thing to be avoided. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
“Yes I am, immensely. I agree with Lucrezia, you don’t need to kill him. If you let him keep her dowry he might decide to be agreeable to your terms. Maybe. She’s indifferent to the fate of her marriage, but killing her husband is not acceptable. Maybe an annulment?”
“Constanzia, when did you become a politician?” He dipped his hand into her bathwater, testing it, then smiled and began to remove his clothes.
“I didn’t invite you to share my bath, Cesare!”
“Did I say I required an invitation? Tell your maid to stop listening at the door, and bring us more hot water.”
“I hate you sometimes.” She glared at him.
“Well, you need only put up with me for another fortnight, and I believe we have something to take care of, don’t we?” He reached his hand underwater and found her thighs, slowly drawing them apart. She did not fight him when he kissed her—both of them knew she wouldn’t anyway.