The hour was midnight in the slave-trading port of Aternam. Dancing to the slow-pounding rhythm in the dark, the boy slave Titus felt the last of his defiance melting at last, dissolving into total surrender. For three days and nights he had been beaten and starved, kicked and bullied, deprives of sleep and forced against his will into ever more feminine costumes and adornment. When he wasn't dancing in a slave-girl's simple frock for the tavern customers, or being pawed by rich potential buyers while parading in feathers and frills, Titus was in the back room being pounded up the rear chute by two big muscle-men taking him in turns. And while they did their work, fat little Rufus Rubio sat and watched, the bulge beneath his robes growing ever larger.

Titus knew what the wealthy Greek wanted. It would be so easy, taking the fat man into his mouth. As he swayed alone on the tavern's tiny stage, his bruised body aching and his heavy-lidded eyes drooping with fatigue, Titus began to imagine himself actually enjoying the act. All he had to do was close his eyes, and relax his throat. It would be just like a woman allowing the man she loved to slide deep inside of her. And when the hot gouts of milky white fluid burst in his throat and dribbled warmly into his stomach, he would imagine that he was the wife of Senator Marcus Alba. He would no longer feel ashamed of the lust that burned inside him night and day. He would become his true self at last, even if no one ever knew. It was all very sick and disgusting, of course. But Titus was exhausted, at the breaking point.

He was ready for total surrender.

The dancing slave stumbled on his tired, aching feet. Titus pried his eyes open just in time to see a new group of wealthy pleasure-seekers entering the dark, filthy slave-trader's tavern. All of them were Africans, their teeth dazzlingly white, their oiled skins shiny and black.

One of them looked familiar.