Oriana was used to getting invitations in the mail. Whether that be for a party, for a girl’s night out, or for business, it was never anything that surprised her. She always tried to show up when she could to events, making her presence known. It didn’t happen often that she was surprised by an invitation, but when she got one from Senator Justinus, she was actually surprised. Rarely did dinner with a Senator at his home mean anything to her; her father was the one usually invited and she would tag along. But this was different. His home was quite far too, a half-day’s travel outside of Rome. She’d have to leave early to get there in time. She accepted the invite.
A couple of days went by until it was the day of the dinner. She woke up mid-morning, got ready, and packed some things for the road. She planned on bringing Alexius since he was her bodyguard and that’s what she was paying him for. She looked in his room to see him not there. Oriana was running a little late and she couldn’t afford to find him. He had been going out a lot more, though she was so busy it was hard to notice. She took two of her slaves and the carriage driver instead, not bothering to alert Alexius where she was.
She rarely went outside of Rome, and it was unusual for her to go on the road by herself. Oriana loved the city, so she never really had a need to meet outside of it. But, this was a special occasion, and seeing parts of the countryside was something she cherished on her ride. She did nothing but look at the environment, and what should have been long hours felt short since all of this was new to her. When the carriage arrived at the Senator’s home, she walked out. The driver sat in the carriage, looking out for the horses. Her two slaves accompanied behind her.
She wore a long, navy blue silk tunic and gold jewelry along with it. She needed to look her best, as her father would want nothing else. Oriana’s slave knocked on the door for her. She wondered what this was about. Did her father say something to him she didn’t know about? It was possible. But there was only one way to find out.
Oriana enjoyed talking to Lucius about these things. It seems as if they both wanted to help a child with a lot of potential. Lucius would be the perfect teacher for the boy, and maybe he was right. Physical work was something a lot of boys grew up with, though most Senators would have no idea unless they were in the army. Lexus said that he didn’t do much physical labor, so maybe it would help him bulk up. And it didn’t hurt that he knew his way around a garden for a future wife, like Lucius said. Most women she knew loved gardens, such as herself. Her garden was something she was proud of, though she rarely touched it. That’s why she hired Lexus in the first place—she figured the boy could pay good attention to detail.
Lucius was definitely refreshing from most of the intense Senators of whom she never knew their true intentions. She never thought that Lucius had anything up his sleeve when it came to them conversing’ just old friends wanting to chat. It was a breath of fresh air since most of the other Senators had to play this game. She played the game as well, she needed a good husband after all, but it was nice to relax for a little while she joked around with Lucius and caught up with him.
“Let’s go, most people are probably wondering where their hostess is at, anyway,” she said with a smirk and took his hand as she got up. “People can get quite restless if they see their hostess disappear, though I’m certainly not going anywhere.”
@The Young Pope
Oriana wasn’t sure if she should intervene. When she spoke with Lexus at the party, he didn’t seem to hate his father for not being in his life. If he resented Alexius, she probably would have never sent him to work for her in the first place. She watched the exchange; it seemed to be certain beyond a doubt that the two were father and son. When Lexus confirmed who his mother was, the whole exchange seemed joyful.
When Lexus looked up at her, she nodded towards him. “I wasn’t sure until now. Sorry for not telling you, Lexus. I didn’t want to get your hopes up just in case he wasn’t your…” father. That was all she had to say, but her voice trailed off. This was a time for them.
“You two probably have a lot of catching up to do,” she said with a smile. “Why don’t we talk over wine, olives, and cheese?” Oriana said, looking towards one of her slaves and nodding to them, knowing that they overheard what she was saying. She turned towards the smaller of the Lexus'. “I can show you the garden another day. This is more important, I promise you.”
Oriana looked at the two men. Did...neither of them put two and two together? Even Alexius, of whom she spoke about Lexus? She didn’t want this to be awkward, but it was about to be. Oriana smiled at Alexius, almost a forced smile that might give Lexus away.
“Yes, this boy is working in the garden. He’s old enough, I would think.” She said nodding to Lexus. “This is Lexus, the young man I was telling you about. The one I met at the party?” She just outright said it, not knowing if Alexius would get it. She didn’t mean to set anyone up, it just happened to be this way.
Seeing the two of them in front of her, she could see so much in Alexius. The eyes, the hair, the facial structure—maybe Alexius didn’t even think about it. Oriana thought they were similar in appearances, but they couldn’t be any more different.
“You two will probably be seeing a lot of each other, I assume.”
Oriana was clearly upset about the situation. She wanted to get her words in, but maybe it was better to listen. She needed to settle down and hear him out. She took a breath and listened. He spoke, not in a hateful way, but in a way that she understood. She knew exactly what he was talking about and it showed on her face. She gripped her cup as she had it filled again, but she didn’t take a drink from it. Not yet. Had her father, Aulus, really slept around? She wouldn’t be surprised. She never paid attention to that kind of stuff as a child.
He asked her again why she would lie about this. She shrugged. “I don’t know. You tell me why I would lie about this.” She took a sip of her wine. “I’m richer than you. I have a great life with a great father. I gain nothing from this, but you gain everything.” If he was really a slime ball, he would use this as leverage against her. He’d tell people and she wouldn’t even be considered as a marriage candidate to Senators or anyone of her class. Everything she worked for would be...gone.
She couldn’t even look at Marcus. Oriana looked down at her wine, almost in shame at what is happening.
Oriana never really wanted children, but as a Roman woman, it was her patriotic duty to have some. It wasn’t anything she cared about nor would she think she’d ever be a good mother. Lucius was kind enough to say that she’d be a great mother, but she wasn’t really convinced. She had other priorities over having and caring for children. Though she liked older children, her having any of her own was something she just couldn’t imagine. She laughed at his comment about almost biting off his mother’s nipple. Oh, she hadn’t heard a story like that in a while!
He then spoke about Lexus. The boy was so kind and he had so much potential—Lucius was right. Rome needed someone with hope and honesty right now, and if Lexus wasn’t born a peasant, he could have been that person. But everyone in the Senate is high-born and privileged, and Lexus is too young. But if anyone could teach him, Lucius can.
“Wow, that’s actually very kind of you, Lucius. In a matter of time, he won’t be needing to work in my garden! I’d much rather him study and live a good life rather than work tirelessly on some plants. Maybe I should speak to him about it,” she said, almost puzzled herself. She knew it was probably best for the boy to study rather than do physical labor. “He’d do much better under your study anyway. You’ve always been quite smart.” Oriana took a drink of her wine. Most of the Senators weren’t the smartest men in Rome despite their title. She found many to be idiots, though she’d never say it out loud.
She laughed again when he said if they should get up or keep sitting. “I don’t know Lucius, some people like it rough,” she said, teasing and laughing. “But you are right, we should probably get up. I’m dying to try some of the olives I’ve bought from the south. That is, if they aren’t gone yet.”
@The Young Pope
Oriana nodded towards Lexus when he asked if they should go to the garden first. She smiled. “Good idea. You probably want to see where your working first.” She grabbed her cup of wine—the perfect cure for a hangover—and stood up out of her seat. She felt a little dizzy for a second, but she gained her balance and started walking. “You can follow me. I can answer any questions you may have,” she said, taking a sip of her wine.
Oriana started walking towards the garden, but she heard footsteps that didn’t sound like a slave. They had work to do anyways, so who was it? She looked and saw Alexius, who was up just as early too. “Alexius,” she called out to him, making sure he heard. “I have a guest coming to work for me.” She nodded her head towards Lexus.
And then it dawned on her.
Well, it wasn’t the most official meeting for a father and son who had really never met, but it would have to do. Her face turned red. “He’ll be working in the garden” was all she could manage to say, not even knowing why or how she forgot this important information.
Oriana laughed when he said that he was glad he wasn’t a girl. When Oriana was his age, she always wanted a man with soft hands. That was why she didn’t want to ruin his hands with too much hard work; maybe a girl would one day appreciate them, like his mother said.
He took the bag of coin and spoke about Rome being dangerous. She shrugged. “You have to try to look for the good in Rome. There sometimes doesn’t seem like a lot of it, but sometimes you get lucky.” She said nodding, drinking her wine. “There are bad places and people in Rome, and you will probably experience them one day, but hopefully they aren’t as bad as you think.”
Lexus asked if she could go with him and take him around the house and garden. Oriana was hungover and wanted to just sit for a while, but she couldn’t say no. “Yes, of course. I want you to feel as comfortable as possible here.” She’d walk him around but she knew next to nothing about garden work.
“Yes, we have more slaves. A couple work in the kitchen, one helps my father, some work around the house and around the grounds, like Maxius. My bodyguard also has his own room here,” Oriana said casually. She didn’t even think about Lexus and Alexius’ connection when they should’ve been the first thing that came to her mind. It was probably a combination of just waking up and being hungover with a headache, but she tried to not let it show. “If you want, I can show you around and we can meet up with Maxius in a little bit.”
Oriana never really got drunk at parties unless they were absolutely terrible and boring. She enjoyed rich conversation and feeling a little buzzed, but not to the point where she was falling over. Oriana thought it important to keep appearances, especially as a young bachelorette in front of people that were higher class. There would always be a group of married ladies getting drunk off of their asses, almost to the point of being embarrassing, and they would be gossip for the next couple of days. She often laughed at them, though more in a fun way rather than being mean-spirited, but she did partake in the gossip as well.
Lucius spoke about Alexius, though she didn’t know if he realized how personal of a topic that was to her. He said something about personal satisfaction and she laughed, playing it off like it was nothing. Sure, Alexius personally satisfied her, but it was more than that. Nobody needed to know that though, not even Lucius. That was a topic she kept to herself and might take to her grave, if she must.
“Cheers!” She said to him as well, raising her glass. If Atticus were still alive and also attended the party, he wouldn’t let her talk to any man for as long as she did. She enjoyed the freedom of being single, though it still made her stand out. Oriana was in her prime though, she wasn’t worried. Well, she didn’t seem worried on the outside at least. “I agree, though it’s always been about men and their ego’s, I’ve realized. They can desire many and many can desire them. But if a woman does the same, the man gets jealous and keeps a tight leash on her. She’s casted out of society as a harlot. But at least we have good taste in wine, I must say,” she said with a smirk and took a drink. Oriana wasn’t necessarily someone who ever thought to fight for those kinds of things, but she’s be damned if her reputation was ruined because of something like that.
She laughed when he told her to quiet down when she spoke about a fictional marriage. “Well Gods help the woman you’ll end up with, she’ll need it!” She joked around with him, something she couldn’t do around most other people. She knew that whoever he found would make him happier, or at least she hoped.
“Oh, you’ve met Lexus!” She commented, surprised that they knew each other. “He’s such a good kid. You’re right—he’s smart and has so much potential. He’s just working in my garden, though I wish I could give him more. I’m not very good with children, unfortunately,” she said with a laugh. Lexus was hardly a child though, a teenage boy who was growing into an adult. Still, dealing with people younger than her always proved to be a challenge.
@The Young Pope
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