27. RADIANT

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Madonna del Padiglione, Botticelli, 1493
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     Warmth. Lying in bed with Josiah's chest pressed against his back, Isaac felt overwhelming warmth under a plush duvet. He shifted around so that he could examine the face belonging to the boy lying so close to him. Being an artist though, he never simply looked at what was in front of him. Instead, he made observations of the most insignificant things, like the small beauty mark in the corner of his eye and a faded scar just above his dark brow.

     In his mind he enjoyed making up stories for how these little imperfections were created. He pictured a young Josiah, having received little affection from his parents, becoming adopted by the sun. The sun would embrace him with warmth in their place, kiss his cheeks gently. That's how his beauty mark came to be.

     His scar, however, was a result of a much less tender football game. It happened at the start of his athletic career, in which he wasn't the graceful and enchanting swan of the field, but instead the fuzzy ugly duckling. He laughed at the thought of a small Josiah tripping over his feet diving headfirst into the muddy grass, and the crowd gasping out loud at what they'd witnessed. Rather than crying when he rose, he'd smile brightly, completely ignorant to the crimson ink dripping down the side of his face and creating abstract art on his jersey.

     Josiah wasn't the perfect masterpiece everyone made him out to be. No, he was far from it in fact. But the more Isaac learned about the boy and his imperfections, the greater his own desire became to draw him. One day, he told himself.

     He glanced at the clock, noticing that it was already noon. "Josiah," he whispered in a lame attempt to get him to rise.

     The boy next to him stirred, eyes opening slower than molasses. His smile was weak, but genuine. "I could definitely get used to this."

     He smirked. "Used to what?"

     "Waking up to you."

     "Shut up."

     "I'm serious," he teased, quickly pressing lips against his then pulling back. "I loved last night."

     Warmth—Isaac felt his body become radiant with it. "I did too."

     Before he could rise, he was pulled into a tight, inescapable embrace. He basked in the scent of hotel soap and shampoo exuding from both their bodies. "Tell me something about yourself. It's been months since we talked like this." Josiah had surprised him with his words. "And even then, moments like these were rare."

     "What do you want to know? I feel like I've told you a lot."

     "Dunno. Like your favorite color or movie. Your biggest pet peeve. I want to know the little things. I want to know you."

     Isaac thought for several seconds. "Well...I guess my middle name is Jade."

     "That's lovely."

     "I'm embarrassed of it. It'd make more sense if my eyes were green or something, but they're the color of polluted smoke."

     "I love your silver eyes. It's like there's always a fire within you ready to be let out."

     "Now that's cheesy."

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