Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Heloise West for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Author: Heloise West
Publisher: Manifold Press
Genre: Gay Romance, Historical
Release Date: 02/01/2017
They worked in the church to finish the mosaic of Madonna and Child. It was a challenge to design, but mundane in its execution. Benedetto’s companionship made the long hours sweet. There were no more swimming lessons, as the waxing and waning needs of Zeno’s illness demanded much of Benedetto’s free time.
After two weeks, the mosaic was set. All Morello had left to accomplish was the Nativity, and he had finally found the model for his shepherd.
At the end of the day, he poured another cup full of wine to ease the sharp need to make a decision. Pursue Benedetto despite the priest’s warning and the danger? Morello had once witnessed a subordinate man lashed through the streets as punishment for his passive role in relationships with men his own age. Yet even then, denying his own true sensual nature was as impossible as denying his artistic one.
Other men loved each other and came to no harm, except for broken hearts, as evidenced in Benedetto’s sad expressions.
A sharp knock at the door rescued him from his fearful thoughts.
“Come!” The cat jumped onto Morello’s lap and faced the door in anticipation of company.
The door opened, and Benedetto stepped in. “You’re busy?”
Morello broke into a sweat and, when his hand trembled, he put down the cup he had been about to bring to his lips. Even so, he managed a negligent, “No, come in. Have some wine,” as if his heart was not about to leap out of his chest with gladness. He had to search hard to find a stool for Benedetto, but found one under a pile of clothing, tucked back behind a small woodcarving.
Benedetto did not sit for long, but took up his wine cup and gazed curiously at Morello’s paintings, tools, and drawings. He laid his index finger to the tip of his nose, deep in thought for a few moments. “How do you find anything, Master?” Benedetto chided him. “Do not tell me you have a system. I will not believe you.”
Morello laughed and showed Benedetto the whimsical sketches he had done for his own amusement. He had drawn the half-wild cat that skulked about and hunted for mice in the corners. The cat in the drawing stood upright in knee-high boots, a bow strapped to his back, a sword to his belt, and a brace of mice around his neck. Benedetto laughed. Morello rolled the sketch and presented it to him.
“What will you have in return?” Benedetto asked.
“You gave it to me, just then, that laugh.”
Benedetto blushed, bringing a hue of roses to his skin.
A flutter of wings startled Benedetto. Morello turned quickly without letting him go. A small yellow bird had landed on the sill and peered at them with avid black-bead eyes and its tiny head cocked. It hopped up with a startled flap of wings when a second yellow bird joined it, but settled down beside the newcomer.
“She must feed them,” Benedetto murmured. He freed himself from Morello’s arms, approached a table, and plucked up some breadcrumbs from the plate. The birds startled again when he dropped the offering to them – his hands appeared massive beside the small bodies. They returned to peck and swallow the bread before bigger birds came to take their dinner away. With a brief chirrup, they flew off together.
“They have no need for words and each knows the other’s heart and desire,” Morello said. “You know I want more than to beg for scraps of your attention.”
Benedetto took his hand, picked up a lamp, and tugged him toward the next flight of stairs. The uppermost room of the tower was a place for guests or prisoners of the long-standing Alfieri family. There was indeed a bed, obscene in its luxury for a man who slept most nights curled up on the workshop hearth.
“That’s almost too handsome to sleep in,” Morello said of the welter of blue, yellow and rose silk sheets, thick wool blankets, and plump pillows. Four carved wooden pillars held aloft the bed curtains of deep blue and gold, embroidered with the tiny emblems of the Alfieri, a flaming sword clutched in a fist rising from a circlet of thorns. He stepped forward to inspect the gilded carvings of vines and flowers in the wooden head of the bed.
“I don’t think we will sleep,” Benedetto said.
About the Author
Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mayhem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance of all flavors. She travels and gardens with her partner of thirteen years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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