“Merchants of Milan.”
by Edale Lane
Book one of the Night Flyer Trilogy, “Merchants of Milan” by Edale Lane is a FF Historical Romance.
Three powerful merchants, two independent women in love, one masked vigilante.
Florentina, set on revenge for her father’s murder, creates an alter-ego known as the Night Flyer. Madelena, whose husband was also murdered, hires Florentina as a tutor for her children and love blossoms between them. However, Florentina’s vendetta is fraught with danger, and surprising developments threaten both women’s lives.
Merchants of Milan is the first book in Edale Lane’s Night Flyer Trilogy, a tale of power, passion, and payback in Renaissance Italy. If you like gadgets and gismos, rich historical background, three-dimensional characters, and fast-paced action with a slow-boil lesbian romance, then you are sure to love this series. Buy this one of a kind novel today and let the adventure begin!
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In the next instant Maddie placed a caressing hand to her face, leaned in, and kissed her. Although she had been anticipating this very possibility for hours, it came on her as swift and unforeseen as a summer storm. The sensual heat of those urgent lips melded to hers ignited something deep within Florentina’s core that sprung to life for the very first time and exploded throughout her being, a sensation so phenomenal, so novel that she had no context in which to place it. Breathless, her mind went totally blank, and she simply savored the moment.
When Madelena withdrew she whispered, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to overstep.”
“Sorry?” Florentina’s heart sank and her head spun. How could she be sorry? “Why? I’m not.”
“You’re not?” Maybe Maddie was as uncertain as she, as overcome with raw emotion and not knowing how to express it. “It’s just that–and I have contemplated this–with me being your employer and all, I don’t want you to expect you must do something you aren’t comfortable with. I would never pressure you-”
It was Florentina’s turn to be impulsive. She silenced Maddie by repeating the gesture, tasting again those full, cherry lips that flooded her mind, body, and soul with sensations. When it broke, they gazed into each other’s eyes looking for confirmation. “I understand I am only a servant in your household.”
“Don’t say that!” Maddie replied firmly. “That is not how I view you. Please, Fiore. How can I explain?”
The earlier butterflies began to settle in Florentina’s stomach and the fog of trepidation evaporate. She could perceive that the beautiful wealthy widow did regard her with esteem, did have feelings for her. This was not a mere dalliance she realized. “I care for you also,” she spoke softly and stroked Maddie’s luxurious strands. “Do not think you press me to do something I have not wanted to do since the moment I first saw you.”
Relief engulfed Madelena’s expression, and she brushed her cheek to Florentina’s then nuzzled her neck with moist, eager lips. A euphoric sigh escaped Fiore’s mouth at the intimate touch and she pulled Maddie closer. When their lips found each other’s again she opened to the honey-sweet tongue that was impatient to delve into it. Without willing them to do so, she realized her fingers were wound in those silky red strands while her other hand slid down Madelena’s back as far as the bench would allow. She could perceive her heartbeat against her own heated breast. This is what she had dreamt of and it surpassed her expectations. All she wanted to do was touch, caress, explore, and please this singular woman. Even as she was rendered breathless from the physical passion, her heart was telling her head that what she felt was far more, endlessly deeper. It was a very dangerous cavern, a bottomless pit that could spell her doom; she was falling in love.
Madelena realized she was making a mistake. She had acquired a good tutor for her children and a new friend to share meaningful experiences with, but a romantic affair? Where could that possibly lead? What would her brother think or do when he found out, and she knew he would, eventually. Hadn’t she lived a well-disciplined life? Could she not control her desires for more than a few weeks?
As her mind was blaring at her all the reasons to say no, her heart had been pleading an opposing case. Yes, she had found a teacher and a friend, but in Florentina she had discovered abundantly more. She was interesting, witty, talented, intuitive, and compassionate. She opened whole new worlds to the widow whose entire education was meant only to prepare her to be a merchant’s wife. For the past six months she had felt lost, as if she had no place and no purpose. She had helped Alessandro with the bookkeeping and personal relations with customers, but she had also spent her nights alone speculating on what the future may hold for her. She still could not answer that question, but she had spoken honestly when she said that Fiore made her feel real and alive. Since growing closer to the dark-haired inventor’s daughter she had begun to experience so many things. And today–today had likely been the best day of her twenty-eight years on this earth! Then the emotion of sharing her story, it was just all too much to expect her to maintain self-control. But now that she had initiated this passionate encounter, what would she do next?
Presently, she drew back from those sultry lips trying to regain some restraint. “Have you ever been with a woman before?” she asked to fill the silence.
Florentina shook her head. “If you mean sexually, I am quite inexperienced with anyone, male or female. Years ago when Cesare told me he was attracted to men, I mentioned that I was more drawn to women. I didn’t think he’d ever say anything; it’s not like we talked about it much, but now,” she paused casting starry eyes at Maddie, “I’m glad he did.”
She smiled and stroked Florentina’s cheek. “So am I.”
“I know you have experience,” she noted. “So, what do we do next?”
What indeed! Madelena considered. “Take one step at a time. May I suggest we try to get some sleep and take a night to process it all? I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment.”
“You’re overwhelmed?” Fiore laughed. “I’m not certain my legs will carry me upstairs!”
Maddie hesitated to move, as the tug of an invisible cord was drawing her back to her newfound treasure. Neither was Florentina was moving away. One more kiss and you must move. Give both of us time to think. She touched her lips to Fiore’s and closed her eyes. What makes one kiss a sloppy flop and another a driving, sensuous pleasure? Is it one’s mental perception or a physical current that connects two individuals who are similarly charged? I can feel the energy pass between her and I unlike any other before.
“I shall see you in the morning.” She released Florentina and pushed herself to her feet with a sheer force of will. Florentina followed saying her good-nights and Madelena closed the bedroom door behind her as she left. Alone once more, she glanced around her empty chamber and wished her lover could have stayed all night.
Edale Lane is the penname used by Melodie Romeo for LGBTQ fiction novels. She is a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, earned a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree in History from the University of West Florida.
Ms Romeo is a retired school teacher who currently travels the country as an over the road truck driver. Her first book, Vlad, a Novel, an historical thriller, was published in 2002. She has had short stories published in anthologies by Seventh Star Press, Charon Coin Press, Alban Lake Press, Less Than Three Press, and Past and Prologue Press.
Edale Lane’s first novel, Heart of Sherwood, is an historical retelling of the Robin Hood story supposing that the hooded outlaw had been a woman.
In addition to driving and writing, Melodie is also a musician who plays the French horn, composes, and has spent many years as a choral and instrumental director. She aspires to be a successful enough author to quit driving and devote herself to writing fulltime. Melodie resides in Utica, MS with her longtime partner, Johanna.
Some of her works can be found here.
In 2019 Melodie founded Past and Prologue Press. Please visit her website.
What inspires a writer to compose a scene, or create a character, or invent a plot? Imagination. But sometimes imagination gets a little boost from actual people, places, and events. Without giving away too much, I will let you slip into the logical, chaotic, wild and crazy recesses of my mind for just a few moments. The main thought process that has dominated my writing of Merchants of Milan has been to perceive a problem and devise a solution to said problem that will hopeful come off as believable and not contrived. It began with “Why does my protagonist create an alter-ego?” quickly followed by, “How is she able to fly?” “How does she meet her love interest?” “Why is her love interest interested in her?” and the list goes on.
The scene I will focus on in this article is how to get my women together. For this to happen, Chapter Eight becomes pivotal. Up until this point our leading ladies have admired one another in secret, but sooner or later they must discover each other’s inclinations or else our romance can’t develop. How to frame the reveal? Madelena is a widow, so it is natural for Florentina to assume she would not be interested in a relationship with her. Florentina is employed by Madelena, therefore she does not wish to imply that she is expected to do more than what her job description specifies. How to end the stalemate? With a wonderful and surprising field trip!
One of Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest masterpieces resides in the city of Milan, the Last Supper. It is a larger-than-life painting on a wall of the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, completed several years before this story takes place, and it was already a world-renown marvel. As tutor to Madelena’s children, and personally familiar with Master Leonardo himself, Florentina suggests an outing to take the children to see the great work and Maddie is pleased to join them.
One of the foremost determining factors for the year of this novel’s setting, 1502, was so this painting could be featured. My mother possessed (and passed on to me) a huge tabletop book of the complete works of Leonardo da Vinci. As a child I spent many a rainy day mesmerized as I looked through the pages, studying the paintings, drawings, and writings of the great master. The Last Supper always held a special fascination with me as did his many inventions, such as his prototypes for a flying machine. I even discovered more about da Vinci’s contributions to Milan while researching for the book, including his invention of locks to extend the canal system to reach destinations at the foot of the Alps. You could even go so far as to say Leonardo himself inspired the entire conception of this story!
After spending twenty-four years as a school teacher, it is natural for me to desire to pass on knowledge. That is one of the reasons I write historical fiction and romances–I want to bring history alive and teach an engaging lesson without the reader even knowing he or she has entered my classroom. The Renaissance was truly a rebirth of learning, art, literature, and invention and provides an almost infinite bounty of material for a writer to work with, yet very few novels of today are given that setting. Thus I leaped at the challenge!
But I digress… back to the lady’s outing with Maddie’s adorable children Matteo and Betta. They go to see the great masterpiece and run into one of Florentina’s old friends. Well, I can’t tell you what happens–you’ll just have to read the book to find out!