Gabriel smiled. “Not until tomorrow. You need to heal first.”

She squirmed slightly. “But it isn’t that bad. You were very careful.”

“After all that we’ve shared, I just want to hold you and be close. Rest in my arms and know that I love you. We’ll be making love again very, very soon.”

Julia felt comforted and let herself relax wholly against his body. She silently thanked the gods of large bathtubs, handsome, sexy lovers, and rose-scented bubble bath. (Not necessarily in that order.) And she thanked the gods of virgins who were about to have sex with their sex-god (no blasphemy intended) boyfriends for the mother of all orgasms. Thrice over.

In the wee hours of the morning, the Edenic lovers wound themselves around each other, flesh against flesh, sleepy and sated in a large, white bed.

Lightness and darkness, innocence and experience, kissed and caressed in the warmth and acceptance created by their love. The dark angel whispered to his muse in Italian until she fell asleep in his arms, happier than she had ever been. She was loved.

The End

Gabriel's Rapture

(Gabriel's Inferno-2)


Florence, 1290

The poet dropped the note to the floor with a shaking hand. He sat silently for several moments, motionless as a statue. Then with a great clenching of teeth he stood to his feet and swept agitatedly through his house, ignoring tables and fragile items, disdaining the other inhabitants of his home.

There was only one person whom he wished to see.

He strode quickly through the city streets, almost breaking into a run on his way to the river. He stood at the end of the bridge, their bridge, his moist eyes eagerly scanning the adjacent riverbank for the barest glimpse of his beloved.

She was nowhere to be found.

She would never return.

His beloved Beatrice was gone.


I owe a debt to the late Dorothy L. Sayers, the late Charles Williams, Mark Musa, my friend Katherine Picton, and The Dante Society of America for their expertise on Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, which informs my work. In this novel, I’ve used the Dante Society’s conventions of capitalization for places such as Hell and Paradise.

I’ve been inspired by Sandro Botticelli’s illustrations of the Comedy, which present Dante and Beatrice as I have always envisioned them.

In the course of writing this story I’ve found several electronic archives to be quite helpful, especially the Digital Dante Project of Columbia University, Danteworlds by the University of Texas at Austin, and the World of Dante by the University of Virginia. These portals will prove valuable to those readers who wish to delve more deeply into Dante’s life and works.

I’ve also consulted the Internet Archive site for its version of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s translation of La Vita Nuova along with the original Italian, which is cited in this book.

A debt of a different sort is owed to the University of Toronto and its city, both of which serve as a backdrop to this story.

I would like to thank Jennifer, who read the very first draft of this story and offered constructive criticism at every stage of the process. Her support and encouragement was invaluable, as was her keen eye. I am grateful also to Nina for her technical support, creative input, and wisdom.

Thanks are due to the fine staff of Omnific, especially Elizabeth, Ly-nette, CJ, Kim, Coreen, and Amy. It has been a pleasure working with you.

I would also like to thank those who read a previous version of my manuscript and offered criticisms, suggestions, and support, especially the Muses, Tori, Kris, and Erika.

Finally, I would like to thank my family. Sustained encouragement for the first time novelist over the course of two years is no easy thing to offer, especially when there are other important things to be done. Without their support, this project would not be.

— SR

Lent 2011

About the Author

Sylvain Reynard is a Canadian writer with an interest in Renaissance art and culture and an inordinate attachment to the city of Florence. (Parenthetically, it should be noted that the snarky narrator of “Gabriel’s Inferno” was contracted to write this biographical description, and he can attest that SR is, in fact, real, and has an enviable collection of argyle socks.)

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