Oriana was never one to talk too much around people she respected. She respected Lucius, without a doubt, so she listened. He had a way with words, something she always admired about him. There were few people in Rome that spoke as passionately and as refined as Lucius. He said that it had been a blessing that he wasn’t married—she wondered why? He then went on to say why she wasn’t married yet, but that was a story for another time. When he brought up her bodyguard, she laughed. “Oh my dear Lucius, you know nobody can compare to your attractiveness. Though I thought you already knew that?” She chuckled and drank another sip of her wine. Alexius was attractive, and she thought moreso than Lucius, but she wasn’t going to say that in front of him. She always thought Senators had pretty big egos, no matter who they were.
“But Alexius has the night off, party and all. He’s actually a former gladiator and very professional. He’s been doing jobs for a while from what he’s told me.” She was mostly telling the truth, just leaving out the part about her affair with him. “I’m not sure if I trust anyone with my life, Lucius. Secrets are a precious thing in Rome; most people will protect them with their lives. There are some secrets about myself that even I don’t know, much less something that my bodyguard would know. He’s paid to protect me, not for me to gossip with. You already fill that position,” Oriana smirked, teasing him.
She listened to him about himself forming a committee to find wives. Oriana chuckled at that request. “Most senators are...well, let’s just say they’re quite serious. Many can’t even take a joke, much less please their wives in bed. That’s probably why most are divorced, I assume,” she said laughing. Maybe it was mean, but it was probably true. She finished up her cup and got herself another one.
“As for myself not being married, I just simply haven’t been asked by anyone yet. Though it’s not like I’m going to pick one right off of the streets of Rome! I have my eyes on a couple Senators in fact, but my lips are sealed,” she said with a smirk. There were a couple she had been eyeing, and she really only trusted Lucius with that small bit of information. “When you find a woman to take care of you, we will throw a dinner party! Lucius, primed bachelor, has found a wife everybody! You’ll be the talk of the city for months.” She laughed when she said it a little louder than intended.
@The Young Pope
Gods, had Oriana changed. Before her sudden change of heart, she wouldn’t be caught dead talking to a plebeian, freedman, or slave if it wasn’t to order them around. Ever since her late husband passed, she became soft-hearted. She felt for people, and she especially felt for this hard-working kid trying to help his mother.
She laughed when Lexus said that he wasn’t old and weathered. “No you’re not old yet, but soft hands are something that girls your age long for, trust me. Hopefully this work won’t ruin them,” Oriana smiled. She then got out a small bag and put coin in it.
“Here’s an advance, just don’t run off without working. I can have Maxius show you around in the garden, if you please? I don’t know much about the work in there but he is quite knowledgeable.” She held out the small bag of coin for him to take. “What’s mine is yours, Lexus. If you ever need help with anything or need to talk to someone, I’ll be there. I was a teenager once, it’s hard to find people you can trust to talk to.” Gods, when did she get so generous?
Oriana enjoyed that Lucius confided in her about his life. There weren’t many people she trusted as much as she did the man, probably because she knew him for so long. She listened to him, realizing that he had a lot more things going on in his life than she had. He seemed as if he changed, and she wondered why. Was it age that changed him? Was it was realizing that almost every Senator was obsessed with power? He said it dawned on him naturally, but it couldn’t be just that easy, could it? Most people changed over years rather than days, but she believed Lucius. Oriana remembered changing when she married Atticus and changing after he died. There was a lot of change in her life, and whether that was for the better or not, others would decide.
“I’m so glad to hear your doing better. Change can be hard, though it seems like it’s made you a stronger person. You don’t need to thank me for anything, I’m here whenever you need to talk,” she said, smiling. Oriana had many other motives, but one of them wasn’t ever backstabbing Lucius. He was too nice and he was one of the people she would never betray. She hoped he felt the same.
Lucius spoke again, saying that if she ever need anything, especially with everything going on with her father, he would be there. He took ahold of her hand. “Thank you, Lucius. Your words mean a lot to me. If my father is awake and in good health, you are absolutely allowed to speak to him. It would probably brighten his spirits.” Oriana was usually so tired of talking about her father. Everybody asked how he was and gave their condolences to the girl. But she didn’t mind Lucius asking because he actually cared and knew her father.
She took another sip of her wine as he asked how she was. Oriana shrugged. “Not much has changed, unfortunately. Still busy with my father rushing to find a husband for me before he dies. Hm, I got a new bodyguard. And, well, that’s really about it. I’m always planning banquets and planning to attend others as well, which seems to be a full-time job in itself!” She said with a laugh. Oriana was much more busy than that, though she never really trusted anyone with the information that happened over the past few months. From her secret affair with her bodyguard to her real father being a rotten plebeian who worked at the Venus, she decided to leave those specific details out. Oriana didn’t intentionally hide those details, she just didn’t exactly speak of them.
“And you must have found a suitable wife by now! You’re one of Rome’s most eligible bachelors, are you not?” She said with a laugh. “It seems as if many Senators are single these days. Is there a reason for that?” Oriana was only teasing, but it was true. There were so many bachelor Senators to the point where she wondered if there was something wrong with their hive-mind.
@The Young Pope
Oriana always enjoyed when she had company. It was something to do other than plan parties, write contracts, and order slaves around to do things. Even if the person was rude or boring, it was still interaction she often craved for. But Lexus was a kind, hard-working kid and she really did enjoy having his company.
She smiled when he said that the home matched the hostess. With Oriana’s father sick, she has tried her best to keep the home looking the best that it can. She didn’t do a whole lot, but she made sure her slaves were organized with the work and hoped her villa wouldn’t crumble to pieces. “Thank you Lexus, I appreciate your kind words.” She smiled at the boy and took a sip of wine.
“I’d probably have you work three days during the week in my garden, if that’s okay. I have a slave, Maxius, who can show you how to cut and tend in the garden. It’s hard, physical work and it might be tough at times, I won’t lie. But I’d make sure you’re plenty hydrated and feed you two meals a day.”
“You flatter me,” she said smirking when he complimented her party and, saying it might surpass Caesar’s. His name was always thrown around at these banquets—he was the handsome, single Senator who was quite charming. He was genuine too, as most Senators seemed to have a ploy or were snakes. Though she didn’t know much about Lucius’ political life, she found him to be more honest than most Roman men. At least, that’s what she experienced with him. But gods was he attractive. She’d never admit it, stubborn as she was, and she wouldn’t ever say anything in front of Alexius either.
She took his hand and nodded. “We shall. There are many interesting people here tonight,” Oriana said, almost a bit of a chuckle in her voice. She hadn’t seen Lucius in quite some time at a banquet, so it would undoubtedly be nice to catch up with him. She had been busy and she assumed he had been too. But, it’d be nice to speak with him and indulge in Rome’s finest foods and wine.
He spoke again, talking about how great her parties were. “You are too kind Lucius, I want everyone here to have as grand of a time as I always have. And with you here, the party seems to just be getting started!” Oriana had not yet known anything about his change in personality. He would usually find a woman to go home with, and back in the day, Oriana would’ve been a tad jealous. Though now, things were most likely different between the two of them.
“Yes, we certainly need to catch up! There is plenty of room in the courtyard to sit if you want.” Oriana said to him, making her way through the people with Lucius’ hand in hers, smiling and greeting to some of them on the way. When she got to a bench, she sat down, making room for the older man. “How have you been? I feel like I haven’t seen you in ages!”
@The Young Pope
Oriana loved parties. Most of her interactions were through throwing and attending parties of notible Romans. She didn't have much else to do but to take care of her father and trade the occasional secret. When she invited others to her home, she often went all-out. She ordered wine from the best parts of Rome (and didn't water it down!), made sure to get the freshest olives, cheese, meat, and bread, and decorated with many flowers and festive pieces. She even hired a group of six men to play music at the banquet. Though she was an Equite, she had many people attending her parties, from other waelthy Equites to Senatores. Whether they had connections with her father from the military or from herself conversing at any place she could, many made sure to come to her home. She felt important in those times, like people were actually paying attention to her and noticing her. It was hard to get that kind of attention with so many people in the capital vying for it.
This time was no different. She made sure to pick out one of her best tunics; a long, silk, emerald green tunic that showed off her fair skin and light eyes. She wasn't able to wear a stolla because she was unmarried, but it made her stand out from the crowd. She didn't have to worry about being hand-in-hand with a husband all night. She was able to go from person to person, speaking and laughing and flirting as she normally did. Her father was too sick to make an appearence for the party, but that just meant she'd be the center of attention. It was a terrible reason to be happy about her father being sick, but she was able to make her own introductions and be her own person, not just Aulus' daughter.
She pinned her hair up and made sure to put on a lot of gold jewelry. People started showing up an hour early, where she would give her guests house tours and made sure they got plenty of wine and food. Before Oriana knew it, invitees started pouring in. Some went straight to the courtyard while others went to the dining area. She had a large smile on her face the whole time, happy that people were able to make it out.
A bit into the party, she heard another knock. She excused herself from the conversation with a wealthy matron and opened the door. She saw Lucius, her smile growing even wider. She was overjoyed that he was able to make it! She considered him a close friend, one of the only ones she actually considered to be an actual friend of hers. Her father sometimes had connections she cared about, and Lucius was one of them. "Lucius, I'm so glad you could make it! I was wondering if you would show up." Oriana grinned. "Let me get you some wine, that is the first order of business. This wine is truly Rome's best," she said playfully, raising her own cup.
@The Young Pope
The night before, Oriana had gone to a party and stayed up quite late. She drank a lot, snacked, and conversed with many of Rome's most notible figures. She ended up going home drunk and passing out in her bed. She didn't think she had anything going on the next day, so she didn't plan on getting up early. A slave came into her room and tried waking her up several times before they were successful. "You wake me, why?" She said, half-asleep and louder than she intended. The slave said that she had a young man waiting in her office. A young man? She wasn't exactly sure who it was, but it could be a number of people. Groggy, she got out of bed. She realized she was still wearing her silk tunic from the night before, knowing she had to get changed and brush up.
She got ready and felt bad that the young man was waiting longer than he should have. She got changed into a long, casual tunic and pinned her hair up. She figured once the man was gone, she would take a bath to get the smell of wine out of her skin. She went downstairs into her office, where she saw Lexus. A smile popped up on her face. Oriana certainly wasn't expecting him, though she was glad to see him. She wondered if Alexius was sleeping or out for the moment, but they'd meet eventually if he was to work at her villa.
"Lexus, I'm so glad you stopped by! I'm sorry to have made you wait," she said, motioning him to sit on the chair. She grabbed a jug of wine and two glasses, pouring a cup for him and a cup for her. "Are you still looking to work in my garden? That would be wonderful and I'd pay you well for it."
Oriana was never really one to hide her own ambitions. She had her secrets and specific people she wanted to protect, but her ambitions were always out in the open. She wanted to achieve more than her family ever did. Oriana always felt like she was destined to be somebody, though recently, her ambitions came to a halt with the recent presence of someone she cared about and who cared for her. She felt her priorities change, but the cunning, ambitious Oriana never went away. She felt it would never go away. Even talking to the Senator and hearing his response about her saying that the sky was the limit made her wonder. She still believed she was right, and wanted power from whoever could give it to her, but she never had one particular goal in mind. Depending on who asked her, it would change.
As the Senator said his goodbyes, she smiled. “I enjoyed speaking to you Senator, and I suppose my father did as well. You were a joy to exchange thoughts to. Hopefully next time you can speak less to my father and speak more to me.” A harmless flirtation, as she was used to. She often flirted with people at parties so it was no different now. She didn’t mean anything by it. Besides, it wasn’t like she’d ever see him again. Maybe at parties and maybe through passing, but he most likely had a wife and children at his home that he needed to take care of. That was the way of most Roman men, after all.
The light-haired girl walked back to her villa after seeing the man out. There were things she needed to do, parties to prepare, and a bodyguard waiting for her. She felt accomplished to actually not have another boring veteran at her father’s home, and though she wouldn’t forget the name, she had to focus on the people in her life that were actually there. But having an acquaintance with someone so powerful could prove beneficial, if she ever did meet the Senator again. No matter, she needed to help her father get to bed and try to eat a small bit before bed. She closed her door and wondered what the man’s true intentions were.
There were so many things about Alexius she adored. He wasn’t anything like the Senators or the Equite men. Instead, he was so real. He was so charming, kind, and strong; she wondered how she got so lucky to have him as a bodyguard. He was so much more than that though and they both knew it. Oriana and Alexius could barely keep their hands off of each other—but the reason, to her, was more than physical. She connected with him and made her want him more now that he opened up to her.
She blushed when he complimented her, as he had done so many times before. She loved being flattered. “And your strong and charming, I don’t know how I’ve been able to get someone so amazing—in every sense of the word.” She knew where this was going and she enjoyed it as she always had.
Oriana kissed him back, knowing that he was hers for at least this moment. She was scared he would be with others, though she was scared of her being with another as well. His was more out of volunteerism and hers was out of duty. Still, the situation they were in was tough, though she tried to remain optimistic.
Oriana knew her father to always be stuck in the past. Whether it was talking about her mother, his wartime with friends, his glory days; it was all so boring to her. She never cared to look to her past. Dwelling on something that will never happen again was something she didn’t care to think about. “My father is certainly stuck in the past. I don’t understand why, I think it is quite important to always be looking at the present and future and seize the opportunities that are presented.” She said in response to him talking about her father’s conversation topics.
She nodded when he wished that her walk was lovely on the present night. It was, and it was most likely a lot better than hearing the same story from her father for the fiftieth time.
He then asked something she wasn’t expecting. He wondered what she would do with the estate once her father passed and what her ambitions were. Oriana pondered for a second. She had many ambitions, though she wasn’t going to tell him all of them. Some of them were quite selfish. She smiled. “Once my father passes, I hope to be married by then. The estate will go to my husband,” Oriana said, looking back at the estate. “My ambitions on the other hand,” she said, a little coy. “Well, let’s just say the sky is the limit. Being a mother and a wife are undoubtedly important, but being a nobody to becoming a somebody is something many don’t expect in Rome. An underdog taking a liking to politics, as some might say. I’m very interested in people and motivations. Though I have said too much, Senator. Sorry if I bore you with floating ambitions.”