Super Sweet Snippets from MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY:
I hear their muffled whispers and understand every Italian word. Every witty comment made at my expense.
It’s like my brain is automatically translating.
I bunch the soft fabric of the dress in my hand and then reach up to feel the ribbon in my hair. I lightly skim my fingers over my chin and feel my lack of zit. I take in the costumes of the crowd, the stench of the animals, and the Italian I can now speak and understand. And suddenly it hits me.
Reyna must have pulled some kind of gypsy mojo.
Maybe this is one of those nifty “change your life” magic scenarios like in the movies. I mean, mostly I’m still expecting to blink and be right back in the midst of overpriced, gaudy tourism, but for now, the gypsy-time-warp explanation is infinitely better than thinking I’ve lost my mind. As I decide to go with that option, I feel my frantic tension melt away.
The growing crowd seems to notice my change in demeanor and begins shooting one another amused looks, but I don’t care anymore. A smile stretches across my face. Evidently, I was wrong earlier; Reyna is a psychic mind reader, because if this is her special brand of bibbity-bobbity-boo, then she made my exact daydream from earlier in the courtyard come to life.
The long red gown, the braided hair, the Italian merchant’s daughter, the time period. I am in Renaissance Florence.
I stare dumbly at the ground, the words and reality sinking in.
I’m in Renaissance Florence!
Excerpt 2: Cat first meets Renaissance hottie, Lorenzo:
Alessandra jerks back like I just suggested she prance around the square naked or something. “No! I believe I understand your meaning, and Lorenzo is certainly not my suitor. He is like a brother to me—the three of us grew up together.”
She resumes walking and I fall in step beside her, understanding there has to be more to the story. And as we near the end of the row, I finally ask, “If you’re not into the guy, then what’s the problem?”
At that same moment, a rich, deep chuckle hits my ears. My stomach involuntarily clenches and my gaze sharpens on the back of this mysterious Lorenzo.
Alessandra sighs. “That is the problem.” She places her hand on my arm and solemnly looks me in the eyes. “You must be careful. Lorenzo is beautiful, and it is not uncommon for a girl to walk away from meeting him with a piece of her heart left behind. But he is just eighteen, and not yet ready for marriage.”
I roll my eyes and laugh, then realize she’s serious. “Yeah, I assure you, there’s no danger on my end. I’m not exactly looking for marriage myself.” Because that would be crazy-town.
Alessandra wrinkles her nose as if she doesn’t believe me, but she removes her hand. We close the distance and Cipriano flashes me an open, honest to goodness, lighthearted smile.
“Lorenzo, this is the cousin I was telling you about.”
Slowly the guy turns and I fall head first into the richest chocolate-brown eyes I’ve ever seen. He blinks and long, luscious lashes feather across his bronzed cheeks. I can feel myself gawking, but I physically can’t drag my eyes away. Lorenzo doesn’t smirk or act all conceited, either. He simply stares back, his eyes casually skimming over me, causing my skin to warm and break out in a whole body tingle.
Time seems to stop, and the sounds of the market mute. Alessandra was right. This boy is beautiful.
And he’s looking at me.
Excerpt 3--a slightly swoonier scene with Lorenzo:
“I thought I’d teach you a dance from where I come from,” I tell him. “One that’s much easier than that multi-step mess inside.”
I place my left hand on Lorenzo’s shoulder and slip my right one into his. I pause to listen to the music floating over the tinkling voices and bubbling fountain, and begin counting the three-beat tempo. “One, two, three. One, two, three.”
I stand still, only my head moving, slowly nodding with my words so he can hear the rhythm.
When his head begins subtly bobbing with mine, I show him how to add his feet. He takes a tentative step forward with his left while I step back with my right, then we side step, close, and repeat the steps with our other feet, all while I lightly whisper the beat count.
The breeze picks up, blowing my skirt and skimming my veil across the back of my neck. Chills run down my spine, but the warmth coursing through my veins from being in his arms provides a delicious contradiction.
Lorenzo continues nervously darting his eyes to our feet, but he is dancing. As he relaxes into the movement, his shoulders rising and falling with the steps, the confidence he always seems to exude creeps back on his face, and he tightens the hold around me. Our faces are kissably close, our lips a hairs breadth away from touching. I stare into the chocolate depths of his eyes and the rest of the ball fades away. The only music guiding our steps is my light whisper and the erratic rhythm of our breathing. Time slows. Lorenzo grins.
“I think you got it,” I say breathlessly, running my hand along the soft fabric of his shoulder, feeling the rock-hard muscles underneath.
My body curls inward, pressing against his. The proper form for the waltz is a straight spine and shoulders back, but if there was ever a time to break the rules, this is it.
And finally, Excerpt 4: A sweeter side:
“You are an artist?”
I decide to let the shock and awe in Lorenzo's voice slide. His face breaks into a breathtaking smile and I lose myself for a moment in just how gorgeous this boy really is. He scrunches his mouth, which just makes me think about kissing it again, and guides my finger to point to the sky, pressing his chest close behind me.
My eyes flitter closed and my body begins to sink against him.
“What do you see?”
At the wonder-filled whisper in my ear, my eyes open and my spine straightens. I blink to focus. “Clouds?”
I hear the soft chuckle under his breath and instantly feel stupid. This is a test. An artist’s test. A test I am going to pass with flying colors.
“I meant to say that I see an azure sky with wisps of magnolia-colored clouds,” I clarify, a smug smile creeping up my face.
“Very good,” Lorenzo says. “My father would look up and see nothing more than commonplace blue and white. He has no imagination.”
Proud that I proved myself imaginative, I sit taller.
Then he asks, “What about shapes? What objects do you see in the clouds?”
This test is harder. I let my eyes relax as I gaze above, hoping and praying I’m not as closed off as his dad. I’ve always loved art. It’s the one place I can make a name for myself—the one area I can just be me, without the mess of who my family is. But I’ve never really stopped to see the beauty in everyday things like cloud formations.
As I watch above, shapes suddenly pop out at me, and a grin creeps up my face. I haven’t stared at clouds since I was a kid, but he’s exactly right. This is art. “Well, right there—that one? That is a huge clock tower, and to the left below it is an elegant arched bridge.” Despite myself, I snuggle back into his hard chest and sigh. “I love bridges.”
Lorenzo stiffens behind me, and I look up to see him staring intently in Cipriano’s direction. I remember his promise not to touch me and go to move, but he snakes his arm around my waist, securing me against him.
As if nothing happened, he carries on. “They are quite beautiful,” he says, his whisper huskier now. I swallow and close my eyes as he presses his nose between my shoulder and neck, grazing my skin softly as he inhales deeply. “However, you missed the cherub floating down the celestial road.”