By: Rose Anderson
After Ellie tells him of a previously unknown work of Leonardo da Vinci, a book of erotic love poems and sketches dedicated to the artist’s long-time lover Salai, Nicolas joins her in a race to save the book from destruction. Along the way they encounter Historian Luca Franco and discover a comfortable compatibility that comes to redefine their long-held notions of love.
The trio embarks on an adventure of sensual discovery, intrigue, and danger. Little do they know Leonardo da Vinci’s book is far more than meets the eye.
Nicolas has an encounter aboard ship and Ellie want details.
I’d just returned when Ellie entered our stateroom and informed me she wanted to take that bath she’d missed earlier. I watched her gather this and that and close the door behind her. That I experienced a sudden wash of guilt over my romp with the fair Dutchman came as a surprise. I didn’t like that feeling, nor did I care for it overlaying my angst associated with my newly-realized sexual nature. Pulling the cord, I waited for the steward.
The man arrived several minutes later. “How may I help you, sir?”
“Please send ‘round a decanter of brandy and two glasses if you would.”
“Yes sir, I’ll get that straightaway.”
I used the time to dress for bed. I had only the dressing gown as I usually slept in the nude, but decided for our first shared bed, it was better to be clothed. We’d been together round the clock for three days but this was our official first night. Thankfully, we had a lifetime to become accustomed to one another. And this was a good thing. My nerves were strung taut. I hoped the brandy might help.
By the time she entered the sitting room smelling of jasmine, I was pouring her a brandy and having myself a third. I’d always enjoyed the scent of jasmine.
For the first time I took notice of the little things about her, things that I’d found pleasant enough as we traveled but now found strikingly beautiful. Ellie had delicately arched eyebrows and her pink bottom lip was fuller than the top. Unpinned, her riot of cinnamon curls fell like a cloud to the small of her back and damp ringlets framed her fresh-washed face. I’d only seen her hair up in pins these past few days. I had no idea she possessed a lovely mane that would bring about the desire to bury my fingers in the mass. Art historian I, she reminded me of William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s Venus. She smiled prettily and that Venus transformed into Renoir’s Little Irene so completely, it made me blink. I’d found her high-styled and attractive that day she breezed into my home. I found her no less than a work of art now. Port and brandy loosening my tongue, I told her so.
She smiled and it lit her eyes. It wasn’t quite the bold smile she treated me to in my townhome, but it had that quality I found so appealing. In what could only be described as having the minds of two men inside my head, I felt my cock thicken, the sensation instantly squelched by that returning rush of guilt. We had to talk, and god help me, I didn’t know where to begin. I handed her the glass, took another for myself, and swept my hand to the settee. “Come sit with me, Ellie.”
She sipped her brandy and sat beside me on the small settee. She said, “We don’t have to revisit our conversation, you know. We can talk of other things.”
I nodded. I had other things on my mind at the moment. So we chatted about the meal, the dinner company, the voyage in general. Then, she suddenly thrust at me a point of no return. “He was quite handsome, don’t you think?”
I blinked. “Who?”
“Our dinner companion, Jerone Some-such. I don’t remember his last name — you know, the Dutch brother to the sister sitting with us tonight?”
My heart started to pound. “Pleasant enough. Why do you ask?” Draining my snifter in one overlarge sip that nearly choked me, I let the alcohol flame run like a burning fuse down my gullet.
Eyeing me sharply, she smiled that knowing smile of hers; a smile that caused me to feel a heavy presence between my legs. It was everything I could do to keep my robe from rising like P.T. Barnum’s circus tent.
I couldn’t help but feel she led the conversation when she said offhandedly, “I assume there will be men in your life. I might be wrong, yet I’m certain the man is attracted to you.”
Refilling my glass for the fifth time, I reached for hers as an afterthought. “You bring up a point I wish to discuss.”
Realization dawning in her wise ocean-blue eyes, she drained her brandy in one astounding swallow. Those same eyes watering, she handed me her glass. I saw the dawning transformation a split second before she burst into a delighted squeal. “You didn’t!”
I opened my mouth to speak and absolutely nothing came forth. I couldn’t think of what to say for myself. My silence condemned me.
Ellie’s eyes were bright and her color high, either from spirits or the request forming in her mind. “Will you tell me about it?”
Her assertiveness appealed to me, no question about it. However, I wasn’t sure this was a topic one had with a wife. “I don’t think… ”
“Fiddlesticks. If my own husband can’t talk to me about his lovemaking, then who can?”
My quickly-downed libations were affecting me. I didn’t know what words to use, where to begin, or even what to say. But that didn’t stop her interrogation.
“I’m assuming the two of you had some sort of encounter… ”
Seeing the blushing excitement before me, my heart fluttered unexpectedly. My Yank was desperate to know the act. The thought she’d want me to describe it left a heavy presence between my legs. In for a penny, in for a pound, I asked, “And what would your feelings be if I had?”
My eyes searched the whole of her for clues as to what she was thinking in that moment. My god, she was a lovely thing. Free of her blousy clothing, she also had small pert breasts in the gossamer folds of her dressing gown. Her nipples were hard. Wondering why, I reached for the decanter.
Her hand on my arm stopped me. Inserting the glass stopper in the bottle, she set it and snifters aside. “Nicolas, we’ve only recently met. And while I grow fonder of you by the day I’m not feeling jealousy, if that’s your concern. I do understand that you have needs that must be seen to. Homosexuality exists in the natural world, therefore is a natural chapter in the book of life. Don’t you agree?”
I nodded. In my inebriation, she might have said Father Christmas was a hedgehog who took tea with the Queen and I would have agreed.
I watched her absently twirl a cinnamon curl around her finger as if she saw what had occurred between the Dutchman and me. Her next words should have surprised me, but they didn’t. “I find the idea of my husband having male lovers a fascinating concept. And besides, how else will I learn about you if you don’t tell me?” Dropping her curl, she laid her hand on my knee. Her touch was warm through the brocade of my dressing gown. I could see the sincerity in her pale eyes when she added, “Please Nicolas, trust me with this aspect of your life. You’re safe with me.”
After three days of non-stop companionship I found myself thoroughly loving how her sharp mind rationalized things. What’s more, an assurance of safety struck a chord in me. I felt myself relaxing, or perhaps this was the work of the liquor. The latter proofed when I heard my own words come out in a slur, “What would you like to know, my dear?”
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