“The stranger was a liar,” Ava said, interrupting an argument between two of the brothers at the table. They again looked at her like she was from outer space--and she may as well have been. “I know him,” she continued. “I was trying to catch him when I arrived. He’s a notorious liar.”
Brother Antonio was frantic with happiness. “Yes!” he cried. “See? A liar! A terrible liar!”
A dark-eyed priest who hadn’t yet spoken eyed Ava with obvious distaste. His low voice growled a question as though it were an accusation:
"And why should we trust you?”
His fellow priest agreed. “A shabby looking woman--who can’t even hold her tongue!”
Ava hesitated. She felt like she was at the bottom of a dark hole: the solution was so close, it felt like it should be obvious, but she had no way to reach it.
“At least let me talk to this nanny.” She strained to keep the desperation out of her voice. “The man you’re speaking of causes trouble wherever he goes. You can trust me because I’ve seen it before. I’m always left to clean up his mess!” That part, at least, wasn’t a lie.
The priests murmured to each other skeptically. She checked her watch. She’d been in the timepiece about twenty minutes now. If her grandfather had gotten this priest convicted, maybe delaying the conviction long enough would do the trick. Maybe she just had to stall.
And, of course, not get herself killed.
“Please,” she interrupted the priests’ hushed conversation. “Please, just let me question the nanny. I may be able to discover something you couldn’t. Isn’t justice worth a little delay?”
The dark-eyed priest looked like he was on the verge of a smile. “Well-spoken.” He nodded to the priest on his left. “Go and fetch Nanny Russo to us, brother.”