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Here’s a peek at the start of a new scene from the endless work in progress, Ardent Fire. Morello and Benedetto have only just met, and Morello is strongly attracted to the beautiful blond. He is not sure if Benedetto feels the same way about him…
The sun beat down on them like a cruel master. The path to the river meandered through the more mature orchards of peaches and pears and gave them some cover. Morello barely felt the sweat and itchy heat beneath his hose and doublet. His sun was Benedetto, and Morello’s soul turned toward him like a sunflower following Helios across the sky.
He hid his face and his emotions, he hoped, beneath the brim of a battered straw hat and focused on the sound of Benedetto’s voice as he described the workshop in Florence, their current projects, and the other artists who inhabited this glowing sphere. Every word made him hungry for another as his heart grew fat, pushing out the loneliness he could only smother with work.
The orchards gave way to the wood, and the air was cooler. The worn path finally led them to the sound of the river where laughing men and boys lounged on the riverbank and splashed in the water.
This is an excellent nonfiction exploration of homosexuality in Florence during the Renaissance and one of my major sources for the writing of Ardent Fire. The painting is from the 16th century “Bathers at San Niccolo” by Domenico Cresti, and a source of inspiration for this scene ;).