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For Loving a Woman, by James Charles


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Genre: Historical/Adventure

Logline

Salvatore must battle Caribbean pirates to return home to save his son, Pietro before he is executed by the church for heresy and to find the woman he loves.   

Comparables: The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones meets Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel

Pitch:

In 17th century Tuscany, young, unwed Salvatore from a prominent Catholic family and Leah, from a well-to-do Jewish family, are forced to give up their son, Pietro after his birth.

For disgracing his father, Salvatore is sentenced to work on one the family’s merchant ships while Leah is forced by her father to marry a widower with children.

After Salvatore is accused of murdering two crew members in the Caribbean, he is abducted by pirates and compelled to sail with the infamous Captain Bara Roja despoiling merchant ships. While planning to escape to get back to Tuscany and to Leah where he hopes to find that she still loves him, Leah endures an unhappy marriage.

While at first raised in a monastery, their young and gifted son, Pietro corresponds with Galileo then later when working in Florence under the protection of Medici Duke Ferdinando II, he develops theories contrary to church teachings until Salvatore’s ruthless brother the Bishop turns Pietro over to the inquisition where he is required to stand trial for heresy. 

In the Mediterranean, Salvatore commandeers a ship and sets out to rescue Pietro. But in Rome, his brother has been tasked by papal authorities to carry out Pietro’s sentence. With only a few days to spare, will Salvatore arrive in time before his son is executed?

Chapter One

(Livorno, Tuscany, 1625)

Sweating from the labor of childbirth and the warm Mediterranean afternoon, Leah moaned, writhed, and breathed heavily. All of seventeen years old, the labor didn’t diminish her beauty as her light blue eyes, olive-brown skin, and long, shiny black hair shown through, complementing her Sephardic descent.

At last, in a small, windowless, nondescript room, the newest citizen of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany cried upon entering the world.

One of the three young nuns in attendance from Ma Donna the Blessed Virgin Convent in Florence who had delivered the baby was now cutting the umbilical cord. She then handed the baby to another nun who wiped away the amniotic fluid with a clean, white towel. After quickly wrapping it in a swaddling blanket, she handed it to an older, heavy-set nun with a wrinkled face and white hair who had been standing there watching. The older nun pivoted, starting for the door behind her.

“Is the child a boy or a girl, Mother Superior?” Leah blurted out, sitting up on her elbows, tears now dripping from her eyes.

Stopping abruptly in the doorway the Mother Superior scowled at Leah over her shoulder.

“Please, please,” Leah said, now blubbering. “In the name of He who is almighty, who has given this world a most precious child.”

Looking away again, the Mother Superior huffed and said, “A boy.”

“Please. Oh please, Mother Superior, I beg for your mercy. Please grant that I may see my child.” Leah didn’t bother wiping away the tears streaming down her sweaty face, nor did any of the others in attendance offer her towels. “Please,” Leah continued, covering the lower exposed half of her body with the bedsheet. “For the love of Him, praise his name.”

     Turning to face Leah the Mother Superior snapped, “I have been charged to take the child immediately.”

     Sniffling, and finally wiping the tears from her wet, oval face using the backs of her hands, Leah said, “Sí. Sí. But, please. Just for one moment. Please let me hold him. In the name of Him, the almighty.”

     The Mother Superior spun back towards the door then hastily marched out of the room followed by the nuns leaving Leah lying there alone, weeping.

***

     The baby’s father, Salvatore, of the Benedetto house of Livorno, gingerly stepped into the threshold of his father’s office in Livorno. Tapping gently on the door frame he said, just above a whisper, he voice quivering, “Father. You wish to speak with me?” Salvatore was a handsome young man, seventeen years of age with large brown eyes, a full head of shoulder-length silky-brown hair, and a dimple on his chin under a small Roman-shaped nose. He edged toward his father who sat working at his desk in an opulently decorated office adorned with frescoes and paintings by local artisans, including an original sketch of the Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci. His father, in contrast, was a portly man with male pattern baldness, a patch of gray hair on the sides and back, and splotchy-crimson, pudgy cheeks. He had fathered Salvatore, his youngest of eight, at the age of forty-five with his second wife who was twenty at the time. His first wife had died giving birth to their seventh child.

“The baby has been born,” Salvatore’s father said, glancing up from the papers he had been writing on. “A boy.” He went back to working on his papers.

     Salvatore stood nervously in front of his father’s desk, swaying slightly and clasping his hands tightly at his abdomen.

     His father said, still scratching his quill on the papers, “it is time for you to become a man, away from temptresses. I have made arrangements for you to work as a deckhand on the Falco, setting sail the day after tomorrow. She has been consigned, and will sail under arrangements I have made with a Spanish house. She will have a Tuscan crew, yet sail under the Spanish standard. She will drop off cargo in Rotterdam then set sail to pick up commodities in Hispaniola.”

     “But father,” Salvatore whined. “I know not of how to be a sailor.”

     Jerking his head up and furrowing his brow his father said, raising his voice, “Stop sniveling. You will learn to be a sailor. You will learn the value of hard work. Just as I have done, as my father did and my father’s father who built this business.” He again went back to his papers, but said, “And you will never see that Jewess again.” He paused, looking up and shooting daggers from his eyes. “You are a disgrace.” Tightly gripping the quill in his hand and shaking it at Salvatore, he continued, “You know what this could do to your brother Cristofano’s chances of becoming bishop? He could be a Cardinal. Perhaps, God willing, even His Holiness someday. It would ruin him.”

     Salvatore bowed his head, staring at the floor.

     “My youngest, ha. You are your mother’s darling. You are weak, Salvatore, because she would not listen to me. She pampered and spoiled you.” He paused again, continuing with his writing. "You will now learn how to be a man.” He had to catch his breath, wipe sweat from his brow with a handkerchief. “Report to Captain Merlini of the Falco at the docks tomorrow morning.” He glanced at his son. “Now get out of my sight!”

     Salvatore stood for a moment, his father ignoring him. With a long, sad face, his head drooping, Salvatore turned and shuffled out of the office.

--------

James Charles' Email: tcisot@gmail.com

 

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