“Ciao, Francesco,” Niccolo cried.  “Glad you could come.  Come in, sit down, have a glass of wine.”

“Thanks, Nico,” said Francesco.  He sipped at his glass, wondering how he should broach the subject.  He decided to be direct.  “I came to talk about your new book, Nico.”

“You finished it, eh?  What did you think?”

“Well, it was–“

“It’s good, right?” Niccolo was becoming animated and wine sloshed from his cup as he gesticulated.  “I know I should be more modest but I really think I nailed it with this one.  I’m back, baby!”

“Um, yeah.  You don’t think it’s a little…blunt?”

“What do you mean?”

“The title for starters.”

“It’s a book about princes.  I called it The Prince.”

“Okay, fair enough,” Francesco allowed.  “The chapter headings, though.  They’re a bit rough.”

“Rough?  ‘How the power of every principality should be measured’.  That’s not rough.”

” ‘Why the Italian princes have lost their states’.  I’m telling you this is going to get you in trouble.”

“Come on that’s just one chapter.”

“Okay how about ‘Those who come to power by crime’ ?”

“Ah,” Niccolo waved a dismissive hand, “you’re taking that out of context.”

“Out of–“

“I’m telling you Franco, this stuff is gold!  It’s my comeback.  With the Medicis back in power it’s a sure thing.”

“Well, that’s another thing,” Francesco was took anothe sip of wine.  Each sip getting bigger as the conversation went on.  “You’re sending this to Lorenzo de Medici but it seems to be more about Cesare Borgia.”

“I know.  I got the idea when I was over there.  That Borgia knows his stuff, man.  He conquered like, a bunch of provinces and you should see that guy make an alliance…or break one.  That boy’s got moxie, chutzpah.  He’s a go-getter, baby.”

“I guess it’s a little easier when your father’s the Pope,”  Francesco muttered.

“He might be the Pope’s son but you’d never know it to party with him.”

“I’m just saying it might not look good to have a how-to manual for being a ruthless bastard.  Who would admit to reading it?”

“That’s the genius part!  Everybody’s already thinking it, they just pretend not to.  If they have the book they can say they got from me,”  Niccolo replenished the wineglasses and raised his in a satisfied toast.  “Trust me Franco, this one’s gonna be a hit.” 

About Eric Bahle

Eric Bahle stopped going to his real job so he could be a full time digital author and storyteller. He loves being in the woods with his bow or on the water in his kayak. He lives in Pennsylvania with his lovely wife and a mongrel dog. He is working on his next bestselling story.