And here’s today’s excerpt from The City War, available for preorder from Riptide Press!
You can find yesterday’s here — eventually all of them will string together to form a completed scene from the novella.
By the time the servants brought in the pig – small but well-cooked, and stuffed with tender laurices and fragrant spices — Brutus saw the horse-boy watching the dancers as well, crouched in a shadow behind a tall window that let the breeze pass from the outer yard into the triclinium. He caught the boy’s dark eyes on the hips and breasts of the girls, and left him alone.
Brutus never overindulged, or at least not to the point some men did. Cassius sometimes did, but he was careful tonight, easy with his wine and delicate with his food. Aristus, by the time the end-of-feast offering to the house gods was complete, looked like he’d rather wander off somewhere to sleep. One of the girls had laid her head in Aristus’s lap, and Brutus knew a few others were licking their chops to try the same with him.
</lj-cut text=”A nice change from the jaded whores in Rome, eh?”>“A nice change from the jaded whores in Rome, eh?” Cassius asked in Greek as a girl settled shyly on the edge of his couch.
“Not much less jaded,” Brutus remarked. There was a laugh from the doorway, and he turned, startled, but the horse-boy had already pulled back into the shadows and could not be seen. The boy’s father must have been wealthy to educate him in Greek.
He turned back to the room to find Aristus with one proprietary hand on the thigh of the girl with her head in his lap, though his eyelids were drooping. Cassius glanced casually at Brutus, who nodded.
“All right, Aristus, off with you,” Cassius said, gesturing for one of the guards to come in. Aristus looked like he was about to object, glancing from Cassius to Brutus, but he was already being walked toward the door. “Take him away, put him to bed. Let the girl go too if he wants her.”
“Sleep well, Aristus,” Brutus called, examining the desserts on the platter the servant had set out. “Partaking?” he asked Cassius.
Cassius tilted his head as a girl with some visible daring sat close to Brutus on his couch.
“Are you?” he asked, and Brutus looked up at the girl, shaking his head. She pouted but slid away.
“No, I’m tired too,” he said. “Your steward’s around here somewhere, isn’t he?”
“Tell him to pay everyone and have the musicians back here the day after tomorrow. We’ll do a feast for the local gentry.”
“Very well,” Cassius replied, hoisting himself off the couch. Brutus slipped away to his bedroom while Cassius spoke with the steward. He really should be the one, as host, but if Cassius wanted to play at domina here in Brutus’s villa, he wasn’t going to stop him.