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Blindsided by Desire by Leonardo Ricci

Blindsided by Desire

2

Trouble in the Vineyard

11

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Sofia awoke with a start, realizing she was cradled in the arms of a shirtless man, his lips just having parted from hers.


Embarrassment and anger surged through her, and she pushed Luca away, delivering a sharp slap across his face.


"You scoundrel! I'll report you to the authorities and have you thrown in jail!"


Luca, covering his reddening cheek, replied with a pained expression.


"You repay kindness with hostility. I wasn't taking advantage of you; I was saving your life."


Sofia's eyes narrowed in disbelief.


"You saved me? Did you also raise this beast of a dog? Neither you nor it are any good."


Despite the situation, Luca couldn't help but notice how striking she looked, even in her fury. Her eyes flashed with intensity, and her lips, though thin, were perfectly shaped.


"I'm sorry. Nero is my dog. I apologize on his behalf. It won't happen again, I promise."


"I might forgive the dog—it didn't mean any harm. But you? I can't let this go. I'm reporting you."


Luca's face softened with sincerity.


"Please, believe me. You fainted, and I was giving you artificial respiration to save you. If I hadn't, you might still be unconscious."


Sofia hesitated.


"People come here to admire the vineyards, not to be attacked by dogs. You had no right to let that beast run loose."


Luca straightened up, his initial fear replaced by a calm resolve.


"This is my family's vineyard. Let me ask you, why are you here?"


Caught off guard, Sofia stammered.


"My name is Sofia. I came to see the vineyards because... because I love them."


Luca's expression shifted from seriousness to amusement. "Sofia? What a generic name.


Sofia’s face flushed with anxiety, her eyes locked onto Luca's.


"If you don’t believe me, fine. I’m leaving. I never want to see you again."


Seeing her intent to leave, Luca quickly stepped forward, blocking her path.


"Sofia, please, I'm truly sorry for what happened today. My name is Luca. When the grapes are ripe this year, come back, and I’ll treat you to the best wine from our vineyard."


Sofia hesitated for a moment, considering his offer.


"Alright, but you owe me more than just wine."


The fear she had felt earlier was replaced by a strange sweetness in her heart. She turned away, her steps light and graceful as she walked through the vineyard.


She knew Luca was watching her, so she slowed her pace, adding a slight sway to her walk.


Luca stood there, mesmerized by her retreating figure, savoring the lingering sensation of holding her in his arms.


"She’s beautiful, truly beautiful. I must make her mine. Sofia... what a fitting name for such an encounter. This must be fate."


He collapsed onto the soft earth, the ground cushioning his fall. The wonderful feelings from their interaction left him in a daze. He couldn’t bring himself to return to his work just yet, wanting to etch Sofia’s beautiful face into his memory.


After an unknown length of time, Nero, growing hungry, nudged Luca with his snout, licking his face.


Luca sat up, gently stroking Nero’s sleek back. "Nero, you’re incredible. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have met Sofia today. I believe in rewarding good deeds. I’ll make sure to treat you well when we get home."


Luca stood, retrieved his shirt from beneath a nearby tree, and locked the gate of the vineyard.


Calling Nero to his side, the two began their walk back to the village.


Montedoro’s houses were scattered across the landscape, each with its own small courtyard. As Luca walked past his neighbor Paolo’s house, he saw Paolo sitting on his porch, eating from a large bowl.


"Paolo, what are you having?" Luca called out.


Paolo swallowed a mouthful of stew. "Would you like to try some of Maria’s potato soup? It’s delicious."


Luca chuckled. "You know how much I eat. If I join you, your family might go hungry."


Maria, Paolo’s bethrothed, heard Luca’s voice and came out from the house. "Luca, are you heading home? Why not come in for a meal before you go?"


Luca, avoiding Maria’s gaze, replied, "No, my mother has dinner ready. I must hurry home. Paolo, if you have time, come by the vineyard and give me a hand."

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