In this series of teasers, I'm working hard at not using scenes that touch on the main backbone of the plot. Spoilers and all that. Given that the various interpersonal relations are not the main backbone of the plot, I thought this might be a nice teaser from Chapter 11. Despite all my best efforts in emphasizing that Mother of Souls is even less of a "romance novel" that the previous two, there it is listed on Amazon under "Books > Romance > Lesbian Romance" and you just know that means it will get slammed in some reviews for being a really bad example of a romance novel. Alas, there isn't much I can do about that.
While not following a category-romance structure, the Alpennia series is very much about relationships. All types of relationships. It's about the vast array of relationships that women forge with each other. Some of them would fit into a standard romance plot, but there's more to life than happily-ever-after romances. Serafina Talarico is on a quest and Mother of Souls is primarily the story of how she achieves that quest in unexpected ways. Serafina is also hungry for personal connections and faces a lot of hurdles in that pursuit, but achieving personal connection is not what her story is "about". Nor is that particular pusuit resolved in the pages of this book (which is pretty much the definition of Not A Romance Novel).
She does have some interesting adventures along the way, though...
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Chapter 11 - Serafina
The thin winter sun struggled through the narrow window in Olimpia’s bedroom, such that late afternoon seemed more like dusk. The sunny rooms were reserved for painting. Serafina rolled over and squinted trying to gauge the time.
“Must you go?” Olimpia said. She twined their legs together and buried her face in the loose cloud of hair.
“Not yet, but soon.” Serafina reached across to adjust the wick on the lamp, bringing a warm glow back to the room, then relaxed across Olimpia’s body, drawing in her heat against the chill of the room. Their stolen afternoons were a warm refuge against so many things. There was nothing of her failures here, no struggle to find her place. But the mood had been broken and she sat up in the middle of the bed. The covers slipped off her bare shoulders as she fumbled for a ribbon to tame her hair until she could braid it.
“Just like that; don’t move.” Olimpia rolled off the side of the bed and snatched up the sketchpad that was never far from her reach.
The instruction was familiar by now. Serafina paused with her hands reaching behind her head as Olimpia’s hand moved quickly across the surface of the paper. “Do all your lovers have my patience?” she asked. Talking was permitted; moving was not.
“Mihail only visits for one thing and then he’s gone,” Olimpia said, pausing with her head tilted to consider the work. “And Renoz won’t ever stay still. If I can’t capture her in three lines, she’s done. Done.”
The last was meant for her. Serafina slid to the edge of the bed and held out her hand to see. It was only a rough sketch, the sort of study that littered the walls of the studio. Olimpia had captured her as if in mid-movement: her elbows akimbo as she gathered up her hair into the ribbon, a single sinuous line following the arch of her back down around the curve of her hip to where her feet peeked out from the jumbled covers. The merest impression of dark eyes and a tilting smile. “You make me beautiful,” she said.
Olimpia took the sketch back from her. “You are beautiful. I make you see it.”