My fictional story, Dancemoon, has never been previously published. The location, but definitely not the people, were inspired by many happy stays in Tuscany with my generous friends, the King family.

‘We’re dancing to the moon,’ said Arthur, moving, it has to be admitted, a little stiffly like the old man he was. ‘Oh, darling,’ agreed Poppy, although her eyes, often out of control (they were large and blue) sidled towards Gary who was, admittedly gay, but perhaps not irremediably. ‘And what a moon!’ she added because, after all, Arthur was her husband, probably her final husband. ‘I think I’ll regain the fire,’ said Arthur puffily. ‘The fire that warms the heart. The heart that warms the blood.’

Poppy, still swaying, watched as he sank comfortably into a large armchair. She thought he talked too much – she’d noticed this fault on their first meeting – but it became particularly obvious at moments like this when bodily expression was the currency. Or should be. Flinging her arms above her pretty head, she swung round in Gary’s direction. Unfortunately, he, too, was sinking into the upholstery. That’s the trouble about gays, thought Poppy bitterly. They consort with too many clever older men who, like Arthur, think words can compete with the moon! Abruptly changing tack, Poppy glided out of the French windows and onto the terrace where the moon was even more spectacular.

The music reached her quite easily and she swooped about for some time, the moon and its lugubrious smile as good a dancing partner as any other. It was when she paused for a breather that she noticed a dark shadow on the parapet, near the end where the fig tree grew and beyond that the mountains on the other side of the valley and beyond that the open sky. The figure was hunched and human, she thought, bending forward with the suppleness of her recent exercise, most likely a fellow houseguest. Certainly, male.

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