I hope you enjoyed the last four weeks’ preview of “A Love Like No Other.” Amazon still has the book offered at the special pricing so if you’d like to see what happened to the characters, you still have an opportunity to buy at the lower price.
Next week I have a special treat for you. Author Susan Royal will stop by for a blog interview to talk about her time travel series that includes “Not Long Ago,” and “From Now On.” I’ve read both books and they are wonderful. She combines two enduring themes that have fascinated humankind for generations: time travel and lovers who find each other across the centuries. I’ll be posting reviews this next week on Amazon Estores here in the U.S. and abroad.
This week, I’m giving you a short piece of fiction that appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of “The Florida Writer.” It is an adaptation of a scene in the second book of “The Venetian Masquerades” entitled “A Sign From Heaven Sent.” I’ll begin the preview of each of the three books in the series on December 21 because they all deal with the masks we wear and how important it is to find what we all hide behind those masks. With the New Year on the horizon, followed shortly afterward by Lent and the Carnevale, you will have the opportunity to purchase the entire set at a reduced price. Stay tuned for all the details.
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Porticoes and Passageways
Luca and I left the restaurant, passing together through the double-glassed portico. When he slung his arm around my shoulders, my whole body tingled, yet his gesture suggested nothing except casual companionship. His apparent lack of sensual interest disappointed me.
A lighthearted glint sparkled in his eyes. “Are you game to play tourist?”
“What is still open at this hour?”
“You are lacking in imagination my friend. Come with me.” He guided us along a passageway to the Grand Canal. Two gondoliers stood in their crafts talking across the short expanse of water.
“Luca, do you know how expensive gondola rides are? I can’t let you incur this kind of expense.”
“Why not? I can afford it.” He signaled to one gondolier and we stepped down into his craft. The man motioned us to the plush red velvet seats in the middle and took his place aft.
“Signore, lei desidera una canzone?”
“Si, qualche cosa tradizionale.”
At the opening notes of “O Sole Mio,” Luca shot me a chagrined look.
I couldn’t help myself—I snickered. “You didn’t specify a traditional Venetian ballad. Since only tourists take moonlit gondola rides, I guess he figures even Americans know this song, but not its Neapolitan origins.”
The shiny black gondola with its gold putti stanchions and safety chains glittering in the lights from the Piazza moved in a swift arc toward the Rialto Bridge. The silent canal waters quivered in the wake of the gondola’s passage. Lighted windows in the palazzi reflected a black and gold patchwork on the dark waterway and illuminated our journey. I trembled in reaction to the romance of the night. Sexual attraction flashed through me, hot, scalding, and bright—a reaction I couldn’t hide. Luca’s eyes sought mine and an answering response shimmered in those disturbing depths.
He looked away. “How long will you stay in Venice?”
“I’m not sure. I must move forward with my life, although I refused the appointment as Chair of the Anthropology Department.”
“Congratulations, both on the offer and the courage to turn it down. I wouldn’t have to think twice—talk about academic politics.” He concluded in a disgusted tone of voice. “Are you happy with your decision?”
“Oh yes, although I suffered a panic attack, but…”
“But?” His expression appeared amused rather than inquiring.
“Nothing. I’m pleased with my decision. The future will present itself in its own good time.”
“Yes, it will, but for now, we’d better return to the hotel.”
The gondolier broke off his serenade to guide the craft back toward the Piazza. We disembarked, but before we reached the hotel’s portico, Luca stopped in the shadow of a building.
“I want a minute of privacy, which the hotel lobby won’t afford. I enjoyed tonight, but I must leave in the morning with no chance to see you again—at least here in Venice. If things were different, I’d ask for a great deal more of your time.”
Sensual awareness shimmered again warming the night air around us. “I enjoyed the evening, and perhaps...”
“Yes, perhaps.” He reached over to caress my cheek. His touch, almost unbearable in its gentleness, traced a line to my chin. I lifted my face and lost myself in the intense gaze of his molten gold eyes.
My name uttered in his low, husky voice broke my control and I succumbed to the breathless pleasure of his full-lipped, passionate mouth savoring mine in a lingering kiss. I clung to him, weak kneed and helpless in the thrall of sensuality. His uneven breathing pulsed against my cheek. We stood locked together for a long minute before he stepped back with obvious reluctance. In silence, we entered the lobby and walked to the elevator.
“Buona notte, Diane, sleep well. We’ll see each other again, I promise.”
A gentle brush of his lips across my forehead and he departed without a backward glance. The intimacy of his kiss still throbbed in my blood. Bereft now of the warmth of his embrace, the acute loss of passions denied fulfillment left me drained of emotion and wanting. Alone now, I passed through the elevator doors and began the swift, solitary journey to my lonely room. © Robbi Perna 2012, 2014