After Theo and Justinia’s last encounter, she wondered if he would ever come back. Days and months had gone by and she hadn’t seen him. Part of her was worried that something happened to him—the other part of her was nervous that he wasn’t coming back because she was too much trouble. Men came and went (literally), and without any sign of Theo, she wondered if he skipped town. She wouldn’t blame him; the situation they got into was scary. It wasn’t like him to not be in contact with her over a long period of time. Maybe he moved on, and she would’ve understood.
Justinia wasn’t the new prostitute at the Venus anymore, and she had time to observe. It wasn’t a terrible place, but her once-cheerful optimism was long gone. She wasn’t as naive. Men did many things to her, some of which were unspeakable, and it made her grow up even more. Things were easier when she finally came to terms with her situation that she wasn’t going to get out of it anytime soon.
But as Saturnalia started, she was able to leave the Venus. She just wanted answers. Justinia wanted to see if Theo was still at the Ludus. Maybe he hadn’t left, maybe he was working on the things he said he would. But high hopes were a thing of the past for the woman. Still, she wanted to know.
Justinia finally got to the Ludus and she entered. It seemed as if it was pretty Barron, with a lot of people celebrating Saturnalia with their families, friends, or at a popina. Exploring a little more lead here to see someone still working despite nobody being there. She knew who the Greek man was.
“Hello Theo,” she said, confirming that he hadn’t skipped town or died. A genuine smile popped up on her face.
Justinia thrives off of stories to tell her other customers. She always had something that they wanted to hear. Sometimes customers wanted to be jealous, other times they wanted to be comforted. And the cocky man in front of her was definitely one to take up a challenge. Because of Justinia’s young age and how she was a body slave for a very demanding man the last couple of years, she outlasted all of the men that came into the Venus. She figured that the man in front of her would present a challenge—unless it was really just him talking up a big game.
“Kill? Oh no, dominus. He got much pleasure out of it. He almost passed out from how many times he finished.” She smiled. The man who had her for eight hours was not as good as some men who came to the Venus, but his wife must have left him without physical pleasure for some time if he had her for so long.
She chuckled when he did that if he failed, he would try again and again. “It sounds like something that any woman would hope for, a man who never gives up,” she said brushing her hair back. “I’ll make sure we have plenty of wine to keep yourself hydrated and some bread to have something in your system.”
Justinia wanted nothing more than to be treated like a human, and Theo was the only person that made her feel like she existed. He spoke to her like she assumed any other person would speak to a non-slave. And he hugged her in a way that made her feel like maybe she mattered. Not in the sense that she was powerful, but in the sense that she was there and thought of by him.
When he spoke, she sighed. It didn’t matter what she deserved—she knew that. Maybe nobody deserved to be treated like property, but that was the difference between her and him—when she deserved didn’t matter, only that she deserved it. He went on to say that he would fix their situation. She was worried for him.
“You are so kind.” She managed to say. “But do not do anything that would get you in trouble. I want you to be alive when I see you again. So promise me you will not get in trouble. If you did and it was because of me, I couldn’t bear it.” She couldn’t imagine seeing Theo in physical pain or indebted to someone. His life was more important than hers, and she thought he should treat it as such.
Justinia, from working at the Venus, knew how to work men both physically and mentally. Most of the men that came in the brothel were beyond rich, and most of them were Senators. Both made one have an inflated ego, so Justinia always complimenting her potential customers never hurt.
“All of those, on top of being spontaneous,” she said with a smile. “And those are traits all women would look for in a man. It seems like you must be one of the few perfect men in Rome.” She smirked, looking intrigued at the man.
When he said that he had more stamina than the older gentleman, she laughed with him. It was only natural that a younger man had more stamina than an older man, but he was very confident in himself. She wondered how he would handle her, if he choose to do so.
“My specialities?” She playfully said. “I can go for a long, long time dominus. And in those hours I can do many things.” Justinia raised an eyebrow. “I once had a senator rent me out for eight hours, and by the time we were finished, he slept for twelve at his home. I was still ready for more.” Though Justinia wasn’t a fan of being at the Venus, she was fantastic at what she did and great at playing the part. “And so I’m curious about your stamina and if you’re able to...keep up.” She realized that, not only did men like to be complimented, they also liked a challenge.
Justinia had no idea what to do. Things were never this complicated for non-slaves, were they? She had never disobeyed the rules. She always watched other people get in trouble, though she rarely deserved it. But they were caught, and she was the one who got in trouble. Justinia wondered what would happen the next time they were caught. A beating? Being shamed in front of everyone? The possibility of being resold? She knew just how wicked some of the slave owners could be, but she wasn’t sure about the ones here.
Theo hugged her, and she wrapped her arms around him. He was so nice, and she wondered why more people weren’t like him in the world. He wanted to help, but helping meant leaving. That was the last thing Justinia wanted.
“I know,” she said, her voice trembling. She didn’t want to let go. “This is my life, dominus. I have nothing to my name. If I get in trouble for spending an hour with someone that actually cares, I don’t care what we do or what happens. All I want is for you to feel comfortable and not feel guilty because of my choices.”
Justinia didn't think it was Theo's fault at all. She actually believed it was her fault--she knew the rules and she decided to break them. Theo was the customer; there should be no fault to him. The fact that she got Theo in trouble made her feel worse than if she was just in trouble. He was innocent in this whole situation, and she got him wrapped up in all of it.
"Don't be sorry. I told you it isn't your fault and it really isn't. With the things that go on in here, talking should be the least punishable offense. " She had seen so many different things in the Venus. They protected the girls from really bad guys, but money goes a long way. Even now, he was kind. He had every right to be angry but he wasn't.
When he spoke again about not coming back, her eyes sank. Gods, she was going to cry. But she couldn't. Not now. "Please come back. Please," she said, her eyes looking back up at him. "You've been the only kind person to me in years. You treat me like a human, not just some piece of property. If you stopped coming back, I don't know..." Her voice choked up. If he stopped coming back, she wouldn't know what to do. She'd keep doing her best at the Venus, but she would have nothing to look forward to.
Justinia's heart was racing more than it had been in a long time. Not since she was with her former Dominus was she more scared and fearful. She didn't want to be sold again, and no doubt she would be sold as a body slave to a Senator--that would be her price, after all. That was the most terrifying thing she could think of. She went through it once, and she wouldn't want to go through it again. At least here, she knew what to expect. Or she thought she knew.
Theo let out a breath but Justinia tried to hold back tears. She hated that she was terrified, but it was the first time she had gotten in trouble here. She hoped Faustus wouldn't tell their Domina. If he did, she'd get in trouble for sure.
"It's not your fault, don't be sorry," she said, shaking her head. "We didn't do anything wrong. At least, I didn't think we did..." She took a breath.
Justinia didn’t know what to do. Theo was right...she didn’t feel like they were doing anything wrong. But it wasn’t up to her. She was a slave. She heard that every prostitute got in trouble at least once; she hoped that this was the only time.
She stayed kneeled. Justinia was frozen in fear. Faustus just rolled his eyes at Theodorus. “You are a terrible liar, Dominus.” He said with some amusement in his voice. “But consider this your only warning to the both of you. The property in here isn’t here to talk. They are here to please. On your feet, Justinia.” She rose to her feet, feeling a little relieved.
Faustus cleated his throat. “You two will be watched. Any more of this...talking, and I will report to my domina. And neither of you want that.” Justinia quickly nodded. She wondered what changed Faustus’ mind.
Justinia was finally...accustomed to the Domus Venus. She knew how things worked and what she needed to do to pull in clients. Unlike some, she never felt like she was competing with the other prostitutes. Justinia was only surviving, and even if she was just good enough, she would still be there.
Luckily for her, she was still the new girl. Everyone wanted a piece of her, and she even got compliments for how good she was despite her lack of experience. As long as people talked about her, she could be here for years and not be sent to the mine. It didn’t hurt that she was only eighteen too—one of the younger ones at the brothel.
She was flirting with an older man, one she assumed was a Senator. On busy evenings, she often wore her rich blue transparent silk that one of her customers bought for her. She giggled at the man’s jokes and the conversation was pleasant, but it was a conversation she had a million times before.
Out of nowhere, another man came rushing in. He laid flat on a sofa and looked at the two of them. Justinia couldn’t help but laugh, and the man she was with got up and left.
“I am,” she said with a smile. “And you are spontaneous, dominus!” She chuckled. He did come out of nowhere and it was amusing. As long as he was her new customer, she would be fine. She took the goblet and drank from it.
He then said business would be more pleasurable with him. She got that line more than he probably thought she did. She flipped her hair over her shoulder with her free hand. “Well I am glad. You certainly seem like you have more...stamina than the older gentleman.” She winked at the man.
Justinia really enjoyed Theodorus' company, and she wasn't going to give out his name to Vibia. She was naive, but she was also cautious around new people. Especially this girl. So far, her intentions weren't very good. But Justinia played it off. "I can't tell you his name. I never confess about my favorite customer," she laughed. She didn't think she could trust anyone with his name. She didn't want him to get in trouble or herself to get in trouble. "But no, he doesn't touch me. He's a very kind man, I must say." Justinia was being honest for the most part. She really didn't get a good vibe from Vibia. Maybe it was because she was a freedwoman that she didn't trust her. Or maybe it was the way she treated her.
When she spoke about how she must have hated it here, she didn't answer. Justinia didn't...hate it here. She disliked it, yes, but she would never admit it. She just didn't enjoy sex as much as her customers or most of the workers here. Since she was small, she usually got the overbearing and sometimes quite aggressive men. Justinia just shrugged at her comment, not saying anything that Vibia could possibly use against her.
Vibia then spoke of her favorite customer, a man who knew what he was doing. She smiled when she said that Justinia would steal him off of her if she knew his name. Unlikely, as she never got to choose her customers and really didn't care who came to visit her. As long as she was getting customers, and she definitely was, that was all that mattered.
"Well this was great, but I should really get back to preparing my room for tonight." The girl wanted to get out of Vibia's room. She made her uncomfortable and felt quite belittled by her. This was why she didn't have any friends.