Winter 1475, Florence
Bells tolled across the city of Florence to declare the hour before dawn, muted by the shuttered windows of the room and the crackle of the dying fire in the hearth. Morello had pushed himself up to prop against the headboard a few moments before and now sat with sketching book in hand. Gazing on his sleeping lover, his hand moved to capture the dreaming Benedetto in the sparse firelight, and Morello’s heart beat fast with quiet joy. His pen scratched across the paper; he barely had to glance down, for he knew this face, could trace its outlines with a blindfold on.
Eventually he had to lay the charcoal down, before the dawn revealed them. Morello put his hand to Benedetto’s head and rubbed gently until blue eyes opened, sharp with irritation and then soft with love.
“I was dreaming of you.” Benedetto sat up, the coverlet falling from his naked torso. “Ah!” He snuggled back down under the covers and shoved himself closer to Morello. “It’s cold in here!”
Morello set the sketch aside and wrapped one arm around Benedetto. “It’s snowing.”
“Really!” Benedetto leaped from the bed and hopped naked to the window. He shivered and rubbed his hands up and down his arms. “Oh, you liar, it is not!”
“I got your lazy bones out of bed.” Morello laughed, grabbed his lover around the waist as he made to dive back in the bed, and stood. “It’s time to go to work, love. And it will be snowing soon by the look of those clouds.”
“No, just more rain.” Benedetto sighed. He turned into Morello’s arms, pushed chest and hips against Morello’s with a smile. “You warm me. I think we might have time for—”
Benedetto kissed him with warm lips that tasted of cherries and sweet red wine. The taste of love.