Didia chuckled and nodded; "A man of simple pleasures, I admire that." She supposed it must have been bloody odd though; to go from slave to staying in one of the big houses to living somewhere like here. She was very much content with her little corner of the world in the insulae, never holding dreams for much more. A big house was surely just a pain to keep clean?
But his intrigue didn't go unnoticed and she retorted, amused; "Not much of a marriage it'd be if I still live with my parents and siblings, hm?" She laughed and shook her head as she swept, "No. I'm not, I was but sadly it didn't last." It wasn't that sad - her ex-husband was fine but no great love. Not that she necessarily thought such things existed. The upper classes didn't marry for love because they needed alliances, and the lower classes didn't because it didn't make good business sense. Everybody lost!
"And why do you ask?" She grinned and leant her chin on her broom, peering up at him. "Are you offering?" Her wry little smirk widened into a grin and she called out - loud enough for some of her neighbours to hear; "I can't believe I'm going to marry again! You charmer you! Of course I accept your proposal!" She heard a door open so somebody could listen in. She couldn't contain herself though and let out a loud laugh, nudging him with the broom; "A word of advice - never say such a thing to a woman, you might meet one stupider than me who actually thinks you're proposing."
Didia nodded and moved to fetch a cheaply woven basket in which to place the produce. Plebs were expected to carry their own but for the more discerning customer her Pater had insisted they carry bags and baskets of their own. She loaded up the limes and lemons as she listened to the woman and nodded her head with a soft smile. At least, the smile was on her face until she mentioned the word Venus and it fell into a frown. "Venus?" She inquired gently before it dawned on her. You absolute bloody idiot, Didia. "Oh! The Domus Venus, mistress?" What other Venus could it be? Not that she knew much about the place at all, besides the fact that it was full of the most beautiful whores money could buy - which, if you asked Didia - was a sincere waste of coin. A hole was a hole, no matter what kind of pretty face and body it came attached to. But then, perhaps she was more of a pessimist than she realised.
Finished putting the lemons and limes into the basket, she started to arrange the peaches atop of them - counting as she did and trying to keep her head down so the woman couldn't see the flush on her cheeks at the discussion of a brothel. She wasn't a prude, nor was she naive, but she certainly hadn't ever imagined meeting the owner of the most well-renowned brothel today. "It depends whereabouts she lives, mistress, for the right price we can make the trip." She neglected to say it would cost an arm and a leg, but then again - it was likely small change to somebody like her.
Having stacked up the items she scribbled down onto a wax tablet her own rudimentary markings to remind her father and herself later, of the arrangement for the peach delivery at the Venus. Appius would be delighted to visit on their rounds, she was sure of it. Her blush deepened. "For the weekly delivery I'm afraid you'll have to remind me where your place of business is, mistress, I can't say I've visited before." She grinned impishly and arched a brow.
"Bretta." She repeated the name with a soft smile on her lips but understood the intention behind his words and felt a pit of guilt in her stomach. She knew why siblings, when slaves, couldn't see one another. She just hoped that sweet Rufus' sister was somewhere good; the alternative wasn't worth thinking about. Didia also resolved to keep an ear to the ground about a Bretta with red hair and green eyes. She saw all sorts in her line of works and delivered to the houses of the high and noble as well as an assortment of popina's and not to mention where she lived. She really did see every side to Rome.
She laughed a genuine laugh, but shook her head at the offer of more wine. "Oh no, I don't want to be stumbling drunk when we try and get the cart home before the daily restriction." She chuckled and shook her head, "And it's just Lucius that's the idiot really. I never understood the phrase waste of good air until I grew older and realised that's exactly what my lovely eldest brother is." She rolled her eyes, and only hoped that the man wasn't planning on coming home any time soon to rifle through their belongings in search of money to pay this debt or that, or to dump another child on them.
She heard a whistle through the bustle of the kitchen and glanced around to see her youngest brother blinking at the two of them, sleep still in his eyes. Poor sod. "I should go." She said with a faux pout but reached out to squeeze Rufus' hand in a good natured way. "But next ides? For the abandoned house tour?" She asked excited as she stood and dusted down her tunica. "Don't forget to ask your dominus, you know I'll be back in three days for the next delivery and'll demand an answer." She chuckled and ignored Appius' sullen and pointed coughing to try and get her to leave.
Didia looked embarrassed for a brief moment (she hadn't expected him to be quite so blunt about it!) but then shrugged; "Either that or I would be killed in the first fight I had. Look at me," She scoffed with a goodnatured grin, "I'm hardly going to me much cop compared with the Amazons they have in the arena."
An equite household? Her interest was piqued but she supposed it made sense, if he was a bodyguard or trainer or whatever he suggested he was. Still - to live somewhere so fancy was intriguing. "Was it very fabulous there?" She asked, amused. She considered that something must have gone wrong for him to now be slumming it somewhere like here, but chose not to pry. She was friendly and neighbourly and enjoyed the gossip of the insulae but knew where boundaries should lay.
"Don't let my pater or any of the others hear you say that!" She said with amusement and resumed her sweeping, "He'll never find me another husband if everybody thinks I'm a strong willed woman." She tutted but meant it in jest. In truth, she could take or leave getting married again anytime soon. She supposed her father must have felt the same as he hadn't made any enquiries as far as she was aware. Then again, the situation had changed somewhat since the last time she got married; he now needed more help with the business and with Lucius off...doing what he did, Publius slacking and Suetonia in her contented little bubble with her husband it fell to herself and Appius to pick up the slack. Which, of course, meant that to marry her off meant losing support he desperately needed.
She was about to re-cover the topic and enquire as to whether that was a mistress of his household, a wife, but decided against it. Judging from his fairly indiscrete looks at her (she was not that oblivious) there either was a woman which he didn't care to mention, or there wasn't and it was none of her business.
Didia shrugged and offered a light smile; "It's nothing - I just need to show a provincial boy some proper Roman culture, that's all." Her grin widened. Rufus was neither provincial, nor uncultured she imagined (what did rich men do all day besides indulge in culture with their body slaves in tow?) but it amused her to tease him.
"What about the next ides? I can ask my pater to get Appius to do deliveries solo and for Publius to cover the stall. Layabout has been too happy in his content little bubble with his wife, it'd do him some good to work hard for a change." She loved her middle brother as much as Appius, but the man didn't have any sense of urgency or really cared about much at present besides his happy little family. "Though to give him his credit, he's better than bloody Lucius." She added the latter as a mutter and deeply wished she'd brought her own wine. Her eldest sibling was a constant source of anxiety and irritation to her, and his mere name meant she wished to settle her nerves.
She glanced at him with a frown, a thought occurring to her; "I don't remember if you said whether you had any siblings yourself?"
Didia considered the question with a little frown; "I think it's heroic not to give up." She concluded with a little nod of her head, "I suppose if I were ever in that position," Gods forbid it! "I would simply give up? Top myself or just...not bother. I think to persevere, even when you don't wish to or have no choice is." She probably wasn't explaining it right, she'd never been a good orator but to her it was clear; those slaves that actually persevered and survived, even thrived - they had her admiration. She couldn't imagine what it was like to lose, or never have one's liberty and those that were denied it earned her respect.
"Well I'm flattered," She said with a little grin. He was probably just being nice. She was the first to admit her life of work and family time was anything but fascinating. "But I don't believe you. Unless in your last insula you lived next door to some old crone who had even less of a life than me, perhaps?"
"I have a wicked side when I want to," She retorted with a roll of her eyes - obviously jesting. She'd quickly grown out of such youthful follies. Hard work did that. And she shook her head, leaning back in her seat; "I have no idea - the owner died, perhaps? Or," She frowned to herself, trying to count back on her fingers - "When was the Civil War again?" It had passed her by - as it did with most plebs she imagined, "Fifteen or so years ago? That would make sense, I suppose the owner might have left it for his son or something - if said son was elsewhere in the empire and then during the civil war he..." She drew her finger across her throat with a wince, "And it remained abandoned after that? I must have been fourteen or fifteen when we found it so it figures."
She mused silently to herself for a minute and then glanced up at Rufus with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. "Does your dominus ever give you time to yourself? We could go and see if it was still there?" It would afford her the chance to relieve her youth a little, and escape the sometimes endless drudgery that came with working every day. She didn't realise quite how it sounded though, it had not been meant as a proposition, and instead she just smiled at him - musing to herself that out of all the friends she'd made from the slaves she visited, she liked Rufus the best. Sweet boy.
Well known? Consider her interest piqued. As he explained she smiled broadly, a grin that stretched across her face and lit up her eyes. Imagine that! A gladiator living amongst them! This might have been the most exciting thing to happen in their building since that time a prostitute moved in and started sleeping with a man from every floor. Two of them, of course, didn't realise she was a prostitute and were just flattered at the attention.
"You have my awe, Alexius." She said with a laugh but wrinkled her nose, "I'm not one for the games really," the cheap seats were so far back it was as if one was watching ants fighting - hardly worth the expense or the effort to get up there, plus the bloodshed turned her stomach, "But I know a hero when I see one. I imagine not many men earn that," She gestured to his rudis. She glanced behind herself at her door as she heard noise. "My brother, Appius, he adores the games - I'm sure he'd love to meet you and I'd invite you inside for a drink but you'll never be able to leave for the questions and the chatter." Living in a three room apartment with four adults and two toddlers was trying at the best of times - let alone when one had company.
"You must think a woman who sells fruits terribly dull by comparison to some of the neighbours you must have had in your life, hmm?"
Didia smiled to herself. People watching in the Forum seemed a very...Rufus thing to do, but she couldn't quite figure out why. It was sweet, and she shook her head; "It's not stupid." She intoned. All of what he'd said she'd done before, although she supposed it'd been a while since she'd taken a walk in the gardens. It wasn't as if she could spare the time, and if she could then traipsing up to them seemed like a colossal waste of it when she could be doing something far more fun. She supposed having grown up in a city, she found the serenity of the gardens mildly unnerving.
"You know when I was a teenager one of my favourite things to do was go up the Aventine; there used to be a baker there that put out his cakes to cool - knowing full well they'd be robbed blind, which they were of course - I was never going to turn down free cake," She grinned, "And then I remember a friend and I found an abandoned domus; it was all shut up from the front but the slave entrance was bolted in a way that if you contorted yourself right, you could slip in." She sipped her wine again, "It mustn't have been touched for twenty or so years - it was almost as if somebody just...forgot about it. The gardens were so overgrown but it was beautiful, and all the glassware was still there - and all the book scrolls, but everything was covered in dust." It had been a magical wonderland to her; full of exciting things to explore and find. Whomever had lived there hadn't even taken their clothes with them, although (much to her disappointment) they were all moth eaten in the intervening years.
She set down her now empty cup - but covered it with her palm so nobody would pour her another. "Sorry," she winced, "You have to stop me if I chatter away. I was just thinking that going there might be the most cultured thing I did in Rome..." She chuckled and shook her head, "I wonder if it's still there? Still just as untouched?"
Didia smiled to herself as she swept. She suspected all men said as much; oh no, no brothels for me! I'm not that sort of man! Hilarious, really. She knew that it was a done thing, her eldest brother often boasted of his conquests and her ex-husband had frequented one or two and come back reeking of mens sweat and perfume. It didn't bother her much though, she didn't doubt that the girls and men of the brothels worked hard for their coin, and it wasn't like most of them really had a say in their profession.
She cast her bright hazel eyes up at him as he spoke of his job, leaning to rest her forearm and then her chin on the handle. She chuckled, a warm grin on her face and shook her head; "I shall bare that in mind should we have any particularly rowdy customers, but unless there's a riot for tomatoes, I suspect we'll be safe." She shook her head, amused, and added as an afterthought; "And if your work isn't so steady at the moment I'd be cautious about using the front entrance if you're renting your rooms off of Spurius Fimus," She loathed the man but had to be quietly impressed by his business acumen as a landlord, "The girl that was in your place before you - he threw her out for one months missed rent." She realised she wasn't explaining it clearly and blinked, "He hangs around with his heavies at the Popina opposite the main entrance; if you're going to be late on the rent...you're better off slipping out the back." Call it a neighbourly tip.
Chin still resting on her forearm, which in turn was resting on the end of the broom she arched a brow and inquisitively asked; "Might I ask what qualifies you, Alexius, to be such a proficient sparring partner for the wealthy?" An ex-soldier, perhaps?