Chapter 32

The next morning Cayla awoke and almost panicked, unsure of where she was, but then she felt a weight across her waist. She glanced to the side and saw Caius lying on his belly. She leaned over and kissed his cheek before quietly, slipping away and dressing.
Bria had been up about an hour doing her morning chores when she saw Cayla slip from Caius' room. "He let you stay all night? OR are you crazy?"
"Crazy?" Cayla asked, stifling a yawn.
"He never lets women stay, much less slaves" Bria said.
Cayla shrugged. "We fell asleep," she said, but couldn't keep the smile from her face.
Bria smiled, "How is he?" she had to ask with curiosity.
Cayla laughed. "How would you think he was?" she retorted, helping to fold the laundry that had dried over night.
"I mean he has women enough drawn to him but...I don't actually know for myself"
"He is worth every bit of gossip," Cayla replied.
Bria grinned, "You are so lucky! You must be glad his sister is placing you here" she said. "I am jealous"
Cayla blushed. "It is not the only reason I am glad, Bria," she said. "If I have to change houses I might as well be in a Valerius home."
"Yes I know, he is attractive and well educated too so you said"
Cayla nodded. "I don't expect anything from him," she said. "I just...want it."
Bria grinned, "Careful after moving here then" she teased, ""Lest you really fall under his spell"
Cayla laughed as they folded a large sheet."I believe it was too late when Rian left," she said.
"But you said last night you only enjoyed him...and found him attractive?"
Cayla bit her lip. "I tell myself that, Bria. I have to."
"What? You don't think you?"
"I can't. Daylight is where dreams fade," Cayla said.

Bria frowned. "Why is it so hard to admit? If you can't to me then how can you ever admit it to him?"

"Admit it to Caius? The most anti-marriage, anti-love Roman in the empire? No, no, no, no, no."

Bria smiled wistfully "Could you imagine? That man falling for you of all his women?"
"I do every night," she admitted

Bria smiled softly, "see that is not so hard to admit"

"To you," she said. "Look into his eyes and try doing it."
"I see your point," Bria replied. "And I do not even love him. But I promise you I will not try and sleep with him," she said. "It is one less person you must compete with for his affections."

She smiled. "You are kind," she said. "That is a sacrifice."
"I would prefer a friend than an occasional bed partner," she replied. Cayla was sweet. She was happy to have another female to work with at Caius villa. One not so self absorbed

"It will be nice to have a friend," Cayla said. Septimus' slaves looked up to her but dared not befriend her.
Bria responded in agreement and they continued to do some chores around the villa a few hours later Bria giggled. "You must have exhausted him," she teased. "I have never seen him sleep so late."
"He worked hard setting up the fete," Cayla said, glancing over her shoulder to where he slept.
"Well, all I mean is he slept much longer than usual" Bria replied, watching Caius speak with Kiro a moment across the atrium.
Cayla chuckled. "I agree with you there," she said and followed Bria's gaze. Juliana was in the garden with Brutus, chatting. It was bizarre to see them only chatting after such a torrid affair.
Caius made his way over to the pair, "Why am I not surprised that you are still here" he said to Brutus.
"Because you knew I would not leave without a personal farewell," Brutus said with a smirk. "We are so close now, I knew you would be hurt." Connor smiled. It was good to see his master joking again.
Caius smirked, "Suddenly everyone knows me so well" he quipped dryly.
"You mean someone knows you better than me?" Brutus asked. "Who? I will send him to the arena!"
Caius smirked, and turned to Juliana, "Did you enjoy your evening?" "I did, thank you for throwing it for me"
"Did you enjoy yours Caius?" Brutus asked. "You had several lovely prospects."
Caius chuckled, "And each returned to their own homes"
"A cold bed? I'm surprised at you. Have I taught you nothing?" Brutus said, glancing at Juliana. "He's learned nothing."
Caius smirked, "When you put it that way yes. After all I taught you everything you know"
"Cold bed," Brutus shot back and put his arm around Juliana.
Caius smirked, "I did not say it was cold"
Brutus glanced back towards his room. "Is she still in there?" he asked, smiling down at Juliana.
Caius chuckled; "Quit your inquiring, my bed was as cold as your own"
Brutus chuckled and glanced around the room. His eyes stopped on a blond haired, blue eyed beauty. She really was quite stunning. "I'll bet," he said, bending to kiss Juliana's cheek. She had slept soundly last night. They both had.
Bria glanced at Cayla, "Does it anger you when he speaks of you two together...after?"
What do you mean?" Cayla asked.
She gestured to where Caius and Brutus sat talking. "When he makes light of it with his friends?" she asked thinking that was what he had done.
"Did you hear him say anything?" Cayla asked.
" But I know they make a habit of boasting of their conquests do they not?"
"Caius does not," Cayla said. "It is more something Septimus did unmarried. Or Octavian. He will speak of it with Brutus, but he does not neat to boast.
"But I have heard him name names before among friends...?"
Cayla paled slightly. "I don't think I am any conquest to brag about," she said. She had only been with Marcus and Caius in all her time here, but she was not Roman.
"Maybe it is good" Bria offered, "So his friends will not want to bed you too"
Cayla shuddered. She had not forgotten the violation of her body when she'd first been captured. "Yes, that's very, very good."
She giggled, "And I doubt you would be as happy to go for a round with one of them"
"Not at all," Cayla said. The Valerius family had kept her sheltered from that. But she'd seen the women who worked in restaurants who were required to give every service to their patrons.
"I should get you back to your husband soon Jules" Caius was saying. She shook her head, "Oh not yet please, just because you slept late doesn't mean you must hurry to be rid of me" she teased him.
"Don't you see? He wants to get back to bed," Brutus joked.
Caius smirked, "I could just as easily go out to do so"
Brutus grunted. "Sure," he said and checked the sun. "But I must go." He glanced down at Juliana.
Juliana's smile saddened but she willed herself to keep it in place, "Alright"
"There have been storms and one of my ships..." Brutus began but could not finish. It was half of his current fleet.
"You do not need to explain, attend to your business" she replied but doubted she would see him again before she moved.

Caius nodded, "See to it and if you ever need advice or consultation..." he said leaving it in an open invitation.
Brutus nodded. "I may need to take you up on that offer," he said, bending to kiss Juliana. "Be safe."
"You too" she whispered; keeping the kiss chaste.
"Caius," Brutus said and then beckoned for Connor. He nodded at Cayla.
"Alright, we should probably be getting back too" Juliana said rising. Caius smirked, "I knew you did not hesitate to leave on my account"
"Don't mock me Caius" Juliana replied, "You I know I shall see again, I do not have that assurance with him" "I know" Caius replied, "I am not offended"
Cayla approached them. "Are we leaving, my lady? Shall I get your things?"
"Yes, we have to get back" Juliana said.
Cayla quickly fetched everything and returned. She waved at Bria and mouthed 'See you soon'.
Caius mounted his horse and helped Juliana on in front of him; placing a hand on her waist to keep her balanced and gripped the reigns with his other hand. Bria shook her head at Cayla with a teasing smile mouthing, "don't be jealous" before returning to her chores with a grin.
Cayla chuckled and started walking back to prison, otherwise known as Septimus' villa.
Caius kept his horse at a walk so Cayla could keep up and he could use the time to speak with his sister. They arrived back at the villa all too soon. Caius helped his sister from the horse, "Keep me updated on your health and decision to leave the city" "I will" Juliana replied, "But it is what I need to do, at least temporarily. I will send Cayla with any news."
Cayla took the parcels from the horse, gifts and offerings Juliana had received. "Good day, my lord," she said, sneaking a peak up at him.
He wasn't entirely sure he hadn't merely imagined the conversation he'd had with hr the previous night. He believed he had slept with her but the conversation just seemed so...uncharacteristic. "Farewell Cayla" he replied. He did not need to remind her to bring news if anything changed.
She placed her hand on his knee. "Farewell Caius," she said and turned to follow her lady inside. His name was said not disrespectfully, but lovingly.
"It was a pleasant evening" Juliana said to Cayla with a smile as they headed inside.
"It was...perfect," Cayla agreed. "I especially enjoyed getting to know Caius' new slave, Bria. She is kind."
"Not just his slave" Juliana teased her. She had seen how she had gone to him un-beckoned offering a massage which did not look to just be to relieve muscle tension.
She knew Cayla was at least attracted to her brother.
Cayla blushed. "No, not just his slave," she agreed with a grin.
"Well you will not soon have to part with that particular enjoyment" Juliana teased, she was not speaking in a strictly sexual sense.
Cayla's eyes opened wide, thinking she knew who had warmed Caius' bed. "My lady," she breathed and couldn't help but laugh.
"I mean you will not have to constantly leave back and forth with quick visits. Unless you changed your mind regarding whom you wish to serve?"
"You," Cayla answered immediately. "You are more than my mistress. You have become...a friend to me."
"And I would wish to take you with me. But you know as well as I it is not possible"
Cayla sighed. "I've taught the Egyptian girl everything I know about how to serve you best," she said.
"Septimus chose her because she is a mindless girl who will obey his every word and a mousy woman he hopes would not attract my brothers interest and lead to mixed loyalties" Juliana said with a roll of her eyes, "I will choose my own slave"
Cayla shook her head. "Who? I have not had time to train her. I want her to know the things you like. How to care for you if get ill..."
"I do not know but he cannot continue to manipulate me and make me a mindless puppet incapable of choosing a slave for myself"
"You should run this house, the slaves. It is strange that he does this all when its a wife's duty," Cayla observed. Juliana did in appearance, but Septimus kept her in an iron grasp.
Juliana nodded her agreement but went silent as she saw Septimus in his study and tried to sneak past.
"Who's there?" he barked, startled by the sudden movement.
Juliana entered the doorway, "Caius slept late, I have just returned."
He put his book down. "How was the fete?" he asked wearily. It looked as though he hadn't slept for days.
"My brother has always put on great feasts, he outdid himself"
"I wish I could've been there. But these storms," he said and shook his head. "Wrecking havoc on all merchant ships."
The gods had favored Caius in bringing him safely back before the storms hit. She was grateful to them. "So I've heard"
"But because of this, we can move to the country within the week. Tomorrow even if you wish it," he said.
"I..." she hesitated. It would make it easier on her to leave Brutus on such a positive ending and before things were settled enough with his intended's family for more rumors to spread. "I will have the slaves begin to pack"
"You may keep Cayla until the move is through and then send her to your brother's," Septimus said, knowing Juliana favored this slave.
"Thank you" Juliana replied. She wondered if this was merely the calm before the storm or if he had changed?
She believed it was most likely the former while praying it was the latter.
"Now leave me. I have work to do," he said. His voice was empty of emotion.
Juliana quickly hurried away, "We are moving tomorrow" Juliana said to Cayla as she sat at her vanity penning out several letters: to her parents, each of her brothers, to Brutus explaining she and her husband would be leaving tomorrow. "Deliver these"
Cayla panicked. This was too soon. "Shall I leave it with them personally or just their slaves?" She did not want to be around when certain people read their letters.
"Directly to them however hurry back. We have to be packed. You will stay to help me move and then go to my brothers."
Cayla felt tears sting the back of her eyes. She hadn't expect his so soon. "Yes," she said and hurried away. She delivered to Marinus first and then was lucky enough to find Brutus, Marcus and Caius discussing Brutus' business venture and trying to work out the problems.
Caius frowned when he saw her, "trouble already?"
Cayla handed all three of them their letters. "I...should go now."
Caius watched her go and quickly read the letter.
Brutus frowned. "Tomorrow?"
Caius scowled "so it would seem"
Brutus crumpled the letter. "This is ridiculous! What will she do out there? Organize and reorganize her home? Read the same books until the words are worn off the page?"
Caius scowled "I do not know her plan all I know is she is moving to ostia tomorrow

Brutus glanced upwards. "At least she didn't send the ring back this time." He didn't know what to do. He wanted to run over to the villa and stop her, but that would not be wise.
Caius shook his head, "it is a foolish game you play"
"It is a game I must play or feel completely out of control," Brutus said. "Perhaps we can go and offer our services." Marcus had remained strangely silent.
Marcus shook his head, "No, they have slaves enough for that. Your knowledge of their leaving so suddenly would only re-spark his suspicions" he said.

Caius nodded, "He's right."
Brutus rose. "I cannot stay here much longer then. Your advice is invaluable, Caius. I must put it into action," he said.
"It is a proven method" Caius said rising, "Let me know how it fares for you"
Brutus clapped him on the back. "I will. Marcus, come see me some time. It has been too long."
"Of course" Marcus agreed, "You ought to join Caius and myself at the games next week"
Brutus smiled faintly. Only after tragedy did he earn his friends back. "I will. Luciana might be here then."
"Bring her with" Marcus suggested.
Brutus nodded. "Alright." Mentioning her name made Brutus feel guilt and fear. He did not want to marry Luciana as sweet and wonderful as she may be.

Cayla turned to Juliana after a long day of moving. She knew it was time but she didn't want it to be. "When will you get your new slave?" she asked quietly.

"I have her already"

"Oh," Cayla said and bowed her head.

Septimus does not like you and I am bound to follow his wishes" Juliana said.

"I know, my lady. But you are MY lady," Cayla said, glancing up and tears filled her eyes. "I am going to miss you so."

"You have been a loyal slave" Juliana replied, "I am sorry to see you go" Cayla pulled a package from the folds of her garb. "Here. I made these for you," she said. "One for each of your favorite pallas."

Juliana glanced at the woven belts she's made and smiled, "Thanks, but you should get over to my brothers"

Cayla hugged her quickly. "If you ever need me, do not hesitate to send for me," she said and left before she lost the will. The walk to Caius' villa took nearly all day and by the time she made it there she thought her feet would fall off.

Bria saw her coming and smiled, "You look weary to the bone"

Cayla smiled but it was weak. "I am. I've walked from Ostia," she said, putting down her satchel that contained her pallet and one extra pair of sandals.

"Well come on in and we can get you settled. Caius is out with Marcellus and Octavian so you should rest awhile"

Cayla followed her gratefully and unrolled her pallet in the slave's quarters beside Bria's. "This is so much bigger than Septimus'. We had no space at all," she noted consciously for the first time.

Bria smiled, "He is far wealthier then Septimus, or so I've heard"

"And he actually cares whether we live or die," Cayla said with disdain. She never wanted to hear the name Septimus again. "I just wish Juliana could've come here with me."

"Yes but she is married and has to obey her husband"

"Is he a husband or a beast? He will devour her as a lion would a gladiator," Cayla said and sighed. "Forgive me."

Bria smiled, "I'm not Caius you don't have to apologize to me"

Cayla's eyes brightened. She had found a true friend here.

"Well, I hate Septimus. At least Caius is fair," Cayla said.

"You are just biased" Bria teased.

Cayla shoved her playfully. "I am not! He is. He won't beat me all the time or get rough," she said.

Bria laughed, "Except in a good way"

"You are a naughty woman," Cayla said, following Bria. She had not yet received her assignments so she decided to help her friend. "How do you know he will at all? Maybe now that I'm readily available he'll lose interest."

Bria shugged, "I don't, but he doesn't seem the type"

"No, he does seem to see things through to the end, no matter what the end may be," she said, helping Bria to make Caius' bed.

"Well then you have nothing to worry about and will be back in here soon enough" Bria replied with a badly restrained grin.

"You're going to be trouble. I can tell," Cayla replied, tossing a pillow at her before tucking the sheet in.

Bria laughed tossing the pillow on the bed, "How is that being trouble?"

"You're going to tease me until the day I die," Cayla replied.

"Or until I can say I was right all along"

"Right about what?" Cayla asked as they began to sweep the balcony.

"You and Caius of course"

"What? We are attracted to each other and enjoy each other's company in bed," Cayla said. "I...enjoy his company elsewhere but it means NOTHING."

Bria rolled her eyes "you are a liar"

"I take offense with that statement," Cayla said, trying to hide her smile. "I am not a liar. I am a realist."

Sure you are; we both know you entertain such fantasies"

"I may entertain them, but I don't ever expect them. I may have when I first got here," Cayla said and then cocked her head to the side. "Your Latin is good and yet you sound like you're from the South. Egypt maybe?"

It had piqued Cayla's curiosity when they first met but she never felt comfortable enough to ask her about it. Now that they were talking about her intimate life with Caius she felt a bit more at ease.

"My latin is no worse than yours Gaul" Bria replied with a smile. "and yes, Egypt was my home"

"Do you miss it?" Cayla asked in Bria's language. She and Freya had practiced and she knew how much she missed her own language.

"of course, don't you miss gaul?"

"I left a piece of myself there," Cayla admitted softly. "I had a chance to back even...some parts of me can't believe I didn't take it."

"Why didn't you?"

As they worked, Cayla told her all about Rian and Gaul, how they were betrothed. She minimized her capture and then told of how she'd heard voices in her language. When she came to the part about Rian's presence in Rome they were both sitting in the garden. "And now he's gone," Cayla said softly.

"But...why would you not go? You had an opportunity to return home to your father and your clan and your husband to be. I tease you about loving Caius but surely it would not be enough to hold you here when you could re-fall in love with this Rian?" she wasn't accusing like Anya had it was curiosity.

"It's so hard to explain. When I thought Rian had died, it tore me up inside. I was a broken being. It was all I could do to keep from crying all the time. I was a princess in Gaul to top it off. I was heartbroken, humiliated, angry and everything else a slave feels when first captured. But the worst was knowing he didn't survive and I did. Then, bit by bit, I grew used to my new life. I grew to know Juliana, Marcus and Caius. Even Brutus made me feel more comfortable. Connor became a close friend. I started to accept the fact I would never see Rian or Gaul again. It settled deep within me. I began to move on." Cayla sighed. "And then I wondered what all this fighting was with Caius. It wasn't just me rebelling against my slavery. It turned out to be more. I fell in love very slowly, but surely. I finally learned to love this city and although I hate how I was brought here, I finally accept my life. When Rian came for me, it almost brought my whole world crashing down again. I couldn't...couldn't do that. That and I wasn't in love with him anymore. I had put him to rest."

Bria smiled, "I see. It was brave of you, and admirable"

"You think? Anya thinks I'm the incarnation of madness herself," Cayla said.

"I don't know who Anya is but I don't think you're mad"

"Anya is Brutus' newest slave from Germania," Cayla said and explained a few of their conversations. "I think she may have lost a lover."

"Who among us has not" Bria replied. "She shouldn't fault you for moving past it"

"I don't know," Cayla said and shrugged. "If not for that, I could really like her I think. She has a sharp wit."

"I wouldn't worry too much, now if you see her it is with Caius not running to him"

Cayla laughed. "I often am, aren't I? Everytime there is bad news. He says I am the bearer of bad news."

"Well now there is no bad news to bear. so that too will change"

"When does he return?" Cayla asked. "I am not used to having such idle time! It is rather nice." She could see the sadness in Bria's eyes, but this woman had adjust much quicker than she had. Cayla enjoyed the adaptability and spirit.

"He isn't very demanding despite what it seems" Bria replied. "I don't know when he will be back but it should be soon"

"I actually have grown to like having things to do. I helped Juliana to really organize the workings of her villa. It was fun and it made the lives of everyone much easier...or as easy as it could be there," Cayla said.

"And there is work to be done but is not overly demanding that's all I meant"

Cayla smiled. "I understand. Do you know what he will have me do?"

"I don't know, probably similar to today?"

Cayla nodded. "And we can be together," she said. "Someone to talk to." Kiro was intelligent, but he didn't care much for her. He focused on his master, much as she had on Juliana and Connor did with Brutus.

"That will be nice" she agreed.

Cayla heard horses and her heart leapt into her throat. She quickly hid her excitement. She knew Caius required no ceremony upon his return.

Bria stifled a grin and went to help in the kitchen. Caius stopped to speak with Kiro and then headed into his study.

Cayla hovered near the study and smiled at Kiro. "Does he have my duties for me?" she asked the tall, lanky slave.

Kiro glanced up at her, "If he does he has not mentioned them to me"

She'd hoped that he would know but at the same time that he wouldn't. It would give her an excuse to see Caius. "Okay." She knocked on the study door.

"Come in" Caius said without looking up from his desk.

Cayla straightened herself up as best she could and then entered. "My lord, you've returned safely," she said quietly.

"Of course" he replied glancing up.

"I'm glad," she said, approaching his desk that was covered in scrolls and piles of books.

He leaned back in his chair with a smirk, "and why is that?"

Cayla blushed. He always surprised her. "Because I do not care to see you unwell. You are much more interesting like this," she said. She wanted to kick herself. 'That came out wrong!'

"The only time I was not was of your lover's doing" he replied. There was no reason he would not be alright going to and from his villa otherwise.

Cayla winced. She couldn't get that image out of her head, of Caius helpless and bloody. "He is no longer in my life. He is but a memory," she said as her eyes focused on his side. It was strong now. He only had a scar.

"Let us hope he is not" he replied. "Was there something you needed or just to see if your lover had finished the job in your absence?" he quipped.

"Well, obviously he didn't so I may as well get to my second order of business," she shot back with a badly hidden smile. "I came to find out my assignment. When I got here I helped Bria with her chores, but I wanted to know where you would like me to be."

"I hadn't given it too much thought" he said, "I suppose you could work with Bria around the villa, Do the extra errands Kiro needs you to do and if you would like you can assist Drustan in the courtyard."

Cayla's eyes widened. He remembered how much she loved his gardens. "I that," she whispered. "It would be a pleasure." Kiro was as fair as his counterpart in Marinus' villa, Claudius. And to work with Bria would be fun. They were the same age, had similar interests and Bria was quite sweet. To be in the gardens made her feel like she was in the forests back home. It was the thing she missed most, the land, the community.

"I figured as much" Caius replied with a smirk.

Cayla reached out and smoothed out the smirk with her thumb. "Thank you," she whispered.

He waved her off stifling a chuckle at her predictability, "Go before I change my mind"

Cayla bowed her head and backed away. "Yes m'lord." She ran out and bumped into Bria.

"So...?" Bria asked curious.

"He told me I will work for you, be Kiro's call person and that I could work in the gardens!" Cayla said excitedly.

Bria laughed, "And?"

"And nothing! He didn't seem unhappy to see me," Cayla said with a smile as Bria walked her to the kitchen.

Bria shook her head with a soft laugh, "I think you will like it here just fine"

Cayla smiled. "Me too. He has the most amazing gardens," she said excitedly as they began to prepare for cena

Bria just laughed, "Yes it is his gardens you love" she teased.

Cayla smacked her arm lightly. "I do," she huffed playfully. "And when he's in them."

"Now that sounds more like it" Bria replied with a devious grin.

"We've never done that," Cayla protested. "Only talked."

Bria quirked a brow, "Really? Just an in the bedroom kind of guy?"

"I don't know. It's always been quite...random," she said. "I don't know really."

"He didn't strike me as the boring type...oh well I guess" Bria replied with a shrug.

"Oh, he could make the bedroom endlessly entertaining," Cayla assured her.

"hrm...guess I ll just have to take your word for it"

Cayla grinned. "I am not expecting anything, but it would be...nice," she said. The fatigue from the long day began to hit her.

"I;m sure it would be" Bria replied, "You should lie down, rest a bit. I do not think Caius will mind. There is little left to do now anyways"

Cayla touched Bria's arm gently. "I will not forget this kindness," she said and moved to her pallet in the slave's quarters. The moment her head hit the pillow she was alseep.


Septimus walked into Juliana's room where her new slave meekly did her hair. The slave was quiet and not very good, but seemed to be loyal enough. She was also not nearly as annoying as the Gaul. "Are you happy here thus far?" he asked Juliana, glancing out at the view. He had several acres of vineyards on this property.

"I am" she replied. It was relatively true. She missed her brothers and the sights and sounds of the city and Cayla's stories and companionship to while away the time. While she missed Brutus she refused to allow herself to think on him. She had taken off the ring so it did not serve as a constqnt reminder. At least she was away from the gossip.

"It is a most beautiful villa. I'm glad my father convinced me to buy it," Septimus said. It was strange, however. His wife was happy, but he felt ill at ease here. Maybe it was a bit too quiet for his liking.

"It is" she replied. Since they had moved he had not raised a hand to her and hoped it was not merely the calm before the storm. She had noticed his unease and was growing restless herself after about a week out in the country. "Perhaps we can go to the games tomorrow? The Thracian is up to 67 kills and will be fighting I hear" She would enjoy a visit to the city and could send an invitation to her brothers if Septimus consented.

Septimus was so glad of her suggestion he kissed her. "I think that's wonderful," he said, pushing the new slave out of the way. The girl shrank into the corner. She was intimidated by Juliana and Septimus. She was from the Orient and could barely speak Latin.

Juliana managed to keep it brief. She did not want to anger him by pulling away but she could hardly bear his touch, "Great, I will send a letter to my brothers So that they can accompany us"

Septimus felt uncomfortable around her brothers, but he knew they made her happy. "Yes, do that. They will be glad to hear from you I'm sure," Septimus said. There was something else that concerned him. He'd had his wife almost every night but still she was not pregnant again. Was it his punishment? He wanted sons.

Juliana went to her desk and composed the letters to her brothers and had a slave go to deliver them.

Septimus lay down on her bed. "Have you thought of children?"

"What of them?" Juliana asked without turning around.

"We have been together often and yet, the gods have not blessed us," Septimus mused.

"I do not wish to have children" Juliana replied, "Perhaps they are merely answering my wishes"

Septimus frowned. "Why not? It is the greatest honor to have sons of Rome," he said, slightly perturbed.

"I do not wish to be fat and ugly a second time just to lose it to your spontaneous cruelty" she said and then wished she had bitten her tongue.

Septimus bolted upright. "Bite your tongue," he growled. "We'll see about the games, you ungrateful woman." He stormed out of the room.

Juliana let out a shaky breath when he left relieved he had not lifted a hand to her. She knew they would still go to the games; he was as antsy to leave as she was and would not want to raise her brothers' suspicions when they got her letters and she was not at the games.

"My lady?" the new slave girl Ting Ting asked. "You do good?"

Juliana waved her off; "I am fine" she walked over to the window gazing out with a sigh. She missed home. She was already antsy for the morrow's games.

Ting Ting sat in the corner and sighed. She hated it here. Her master scared her and she could barely communicate with her mistress. "We go to the Roman villa tomorrow," Septimus barked as he passed her door. He was still furious.

Juliana bit her tongue to keep from further angering him and sighed heavily laying on the bed and shutting her eyes. She was so bored here and despised her husband. Rising she drank a few glasses of wine to relax and then lay down to sleep; an attempt to make time pass and bring tomorrow more quickly.

Marcus was sitting with Caius in the study when a slave arrived from Ostia bearing a sealed letter for both him and Marcus. Caius quickly opened his with a scowl anticipating bad news. Marcus opened his letter and read the contents before glancing up at Caius with a chuckle, "You worry too much" he held up his letter. "This is good, we will see our sister and you can cease being such a bore and enjoy the games again like a Roman ought to"

Caius smirked, "A bore?"

"Even our sister's slave agrees you are"

Caius chuckled, "I am a realist Marcus. While you are off increasing your reputation among the women of Rome I have dealt with our father's business as well as ensuring our sister's safety"

Cayla entered carrying a bouquet for Caius' desk. Drustan told her that Caius' preferred this arrangement and since then she'd brought them every day. The scent of the flowers was a lovely addition to the room.

"Call it what you want, you are a stranger as of late. I am bringing Aemilia and she is bringing her friend Caelinia Tacita. I believe you would like her"

Caius shook his head, "You just wish me distracted so you will actually win a few bets"

Cayla set the flowers on the desk and was just about to exit when she recognized the slave from Septimus' home. Was something wrong? She walked as slowly as she could, hoping for news.

Caius handed the slave a sealed letter in return and dismissed the slave. "Well?" Marcus asked. "I informed Juli we would be there" "Ah so Caelinia tempted you after all?"

Caius chuckled, "Not at all. I aim to teach you a lesson. Despite my absence from the games my eyes are still better able to pick the winner of a match"

Cayla's heart sped up. Would she be able to see her mistress? And who was this Caelinia?

Marcus laughed, "We shall see" He rose, "I must be off. I will tell Aemilia to bring her friend"

Caius chuckled, "It matters little to me. If she is indeed as beautiful as you say then perhaps I will pursue her but I will not be distracted enough to lose a bet to you"

Cayla kept her face blank and quietly slipped from the room. "My lord," she said to Marcus.

Marcus turned, "What is it?" he asked.

"Is my lady Juliana coming back to Rome?" Cayla asked hopefully. She missed Juliana badly. Her hands were clasped tightly together, anxious for any answer.

"She is coming to the games tomorrow" he replied.

Cayla beamed. "Really? How wonderful!" She didn't consider that she would probably not be going to the games.

Marcus chuckled "I agree. But I must go"
She bowed her head. "Yes, your horse is watered and ready," she said.
Marcus smiled, "you have learned your place and I must say I'm a little disappointed"
Cayla cocked her head to her to the side. "What do you mean?" she asked
He bent and pressed his lips to her forehead" it is nothing. Good night Cayla" he said then left.
Cayla smiled after him. That man had a heart of gold. She wished she could see him truly happy as Juliana was with Brutus or Severina was with Marinus.
Caius stood leaning against the doorjamb with a smirk. "I see you aren't entirely over Marcus."

Cayla turned to face him. "Not as a man who could've been a friend in another life," she said. "I think he's disappointed I've seemed to have lost my spirit. But...I just use it for different things now."
He arched a brow in question, "such as?"
"Your gardens, my friendship with Bria...flirting with you," she said and then almost kicked herself. 'Did I just say that out loud?'
Caius chuckled "so you feel Marcus is disappointed you lost your spirit because you are no longer flirting with him?"
"I don't know," Cayla said quietly. "I don't feel I've lost it. It's just something he said. It's rather silly." She tried to laugh it off.
"Do you think learning my place makes me weak? Makes me a traitor to my heritage?" she asked.

Caius smirked, "Of course not it is expected"

"Expected, yes. We must adapt. But it doesn't make me less...human does it? That I have accepted my fate?" Cayla asked, hugging her arms around herself.

He crossed his arms over his chest relaxing against the doorpost. "Why should it? It is natural to adapt"

She smiled with relief. "I dream of Gaul," she admitted. "The forests and the sky. My people. I miss it, but I am happy here. I never thought it could be." She paused. "I would like to go to the games tomorrow and see my lady."

Caius smirked, "You have not entirely adapted I see" he replied, "And I had already planned on bringing you along. Bria is too easily unsettled"

Cayla threw her arms around him and kissed his cheek. "Thank you! I have to go and finish my gift for her. I hadn't thought to see her so soon." She turned to go. "Oh, um, may I go?"

He waved her off, "Do what you wish I have no need of you."

Cayla's smile deepened. She ran her hand over his shoulder and kissed him gently. "I will," she promised and skipped off.

Caius watched her with a shake of his head before returning to his work for a few more hours and then retiring for the evening.