Rome, Early Winter, 25 AD
Marcellus covered his head with the red woolen cloak as he descended the marble steps to the countryside villa. He felt his stomach knot in anticipation of reigniting his relations with Eliana. He had not seen her in nearly a year. Since that time, it felt as if he had lived two existences. Before embarking on his odyssey to Britannia the previous spring, he had been a carefree young man. And now, he was a nobleman weighed down with his family’s legacy. The memories of the mystical isle known for its sorcery had been swept away and plunged into the recesses of his mind. He lost part of his soul and heart on the foreign land, but he didn’t know why.
His father’s explanation, “A Celtic barbarian slashed your belly in battle and a fever erased part of your memory,” never assuaged his need to uncover what had transformed him so completely there. Why could he remember everything clearly prior to his diplomatic mission, but not when he was in Britannia?
Pull yourself together. Leave the past you can’t bring back.
He then envisioned Eliana in a sheer tunic revealing her hardened nipples. The image of her hips swaying as she ambled toward him brought a lusty smile to his face. She had taught him the art of pleasing a woman. Touch her in the right spot. Stroke her like the strings of Apollo’s lyre. Pluck the moans of pleasure before their climactic act.
The throbbing from his abdominal wound jolted him out of his muse. He gritted his teeth to muffle his groans. He had to ignore the pain, if he were to meet his lover’s vigorous demands.
Finally reaching the villa’s front door, Marcellus stared at the lion-face door clapper and hesitated. The last time he was with Eliana, her gout-stricken husband had almost caught them in the final act. Meeting her again was reckless, he had to admit. The last thing his father needed was to hear ugly rumors of his adulterous liaison with the wife of the consul. The revelation could jeopardize the agreement that his father had made for him to marry the daughter of Praetor Frugi. This would seal a powerful alliance between their families.
Gathering courage, Marcellus raked his fingertips through his hair and straightened his shoulders. He wanted to impress Eliana with the new muscle mass he had gained, undoubtedly from training and fighting in Britannia, though he couldn’t recall doing so. He wiped hot sweat off his face and hesitantly knocked the door clapper.
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