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Oriana loved attending parties. It was no secret the heiress threw them herself nor was it a secret that she went to them. She loved conversing, or more rather, loved listening to people drop their weaknesses over too much wine. Listening was the best part of parties as she made her way through the crowd, creating small talk but always keeping her ears open. This particular party was for a Senatore's Wife, though Oriana couldn't care less about someone turning 37. Oriana always made sure she stood out though, wearing a red silk tunic and plenty of gold jewelry that her late husband gave her in place of him being gone. She always showed up in the best of the best because she knew she had to make an entrance. She always seemed to have a glass of wine in her hand, though she only drank a lot of it if the party was awful. She had other plans when she got home, so she needed to be at least a little sober. 

She said hello to her usual friend group of mostly married women who loved to gossip. She didn't care to gossip herself, but she would always listen in on what everyone had to say. Oriana always seemed so friendly on the outside, always having a smile on her face and keeping up the exhausting charisma of being a noble. Sometimes she would just sit at the table and drink her wine, waiting for someone to come up to her while she listened to everyone else. The main topic of most people who knew her was how her father was, who was sick, though she was so tired of talking about that. The sooner he died, the sooner she would get all of his money. That was exactly the way she looked at it. 

The woman made her way through the party, snacking on the delicacies that were there and drinking wine. Her favorite conversations included talking about the politics of Rome and how everything could go wrong, but very rarely did someone talk about that to her. Most of her conversations were about clothes, wine, and her father, which she found so boring. She was so interested in the power and politics of Rome that she wanted to be up there. Oriana wanted to be one of the most influential people in Rome, and she needed to figure out how she was going to do it. That's why she was so picky about who she married. There always seemed like a better opportunity elsewhere. 

She sat on the couch, drinking her wine and watching the crowd. There were people she'd only conversed with a couple times there, though she was pretty well-known with being "friendly" with everyone. If they only knew. Someone sat down on the couch next to her and she slightly turned her head. Raising an eyebrow at the man, she took a sip of her wine. "Lucius Metellus, right?" She said, identifying the man and remembering him as a Senator. She didn't know much about him and they didn't run in the same circles, but if she could learn about him, it might give her an upper hand. "From what I can tell, you don't seem like the party type of man." 

@Brian

Edited by Sydney

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There were parties that he enjoyed and those that he did not. This event was not particularly of note. Still, making appearances was important and it gave a chance to network with his peers. Lucius was not oblivious to the role that women played within Roman society, and it was part of why his wife's passing was so painful for him years prior. Well-dressed, his servant followed him at a respectable distance and walked around the event. This time he found the occasion more irritating than he could have believed possible. Despite his boredom, his facial expression remained a perfect picture of aristocratic disdain and polite friendliness. When he sat down on one of the sofas, he did not notice her at first until she spoke and inwardly, he wished he had selected better.

The way she greeted him was certainly not the polite way to greet someone, and no introduction? Was this girl raised in a barn? Along with a raised eyebrow? Did no-one instruct this woman who should know better.  

However, a political aristocrat, the expression on his face remained relatively neutral and friendly. There was no-one who was present to be an easy distraction or a way for him to excuse himself easily. He looked at her and recognised her face from around the various social events. Yet he could not think of her family name. Perhaps a hint at decorum would assist her on the proper way to move through polite society? 

"I do not think that I have had the pleasure of an introduction," He replied, Lucius looked at her and waited for her to do so. It was not proper for her to introduce herself although he saw no father, brother, nor husband to do it for her. Nor did he notice a wedding ring on her hand. The band that would bind to her heart with her passing. 

@Sydney

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There was something about this man that made Oriana wonder. In a strange way, there was something that reminded him of her late husband, of whom she hated. Maybe it was the fact that she didn't answer the question she asked, or the fact that he just gave off some sort of strange attitude. It was already like he had complete control over the situation before the conversation even started. And though she had enough wine not to tense up, she would if she was sober. But thank the Gods she wasn't completely sober. She knew most of the people at the party so being informal was a given, but this one was different. She knew of him, but he must have not known her. No wonder he didn't come to parties very often. 

Oriana smiled, keeping control and composure. She was used to this with Atticus, so she knew how to deal with people who didn't answer her questions and were all about formalities. "I apologize, my father is usually here to make my introduction," she said, playing the naive young woman. "My name is Oriana Laecania, my father being Aulus Ordovian Laencanius V." Oriana was never this formal around her friends, but he obviously wasn't a friend. 

She tried to read the man's expression, but all she could read was indifference. It was always the men that gave her the most trouble. Women were usually fine and informal around her, with men always a stickler for formalities. She didn't know much of the man except for his name, as she never forgot a name and a face, but if he wanted to play the formality game, she would play it back. 

@Brian

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Lucius gave a polite nod in response to the introduction. Around them the party continued to blossom and the sounds of other conversations filled the room. A part of him wondered when he had become too old or disinterested in such things. His late wife had enjoyed them and so he would indulge her in coming with her. Perhaps it would be wise for him to leave soon? 

He tried to think of the name that had been mentioned. It was not from one of the older families of Rome, likely an Equite and given her rise it meant the family likely had profitable businesses. While a good name and heritage made a Roman prominent. Finances could never be forgotten when it came to power. The name was vague although he did recall something about the man being ill at the moment. 

"A pleasure," He answered politely, then sipped his wine and figured that it could not hurt to keep the conversation going with her. "It is a shame that your father was not here to make introductions. I believe I heard something about him being ill?" Lucius asked, it may have been a little more forward than he would have preferred to be. It gave him a chance to view her appearance up close. She was pretty, vibrant eyes and copper coloured hair that was desired in Rome. 

@Sydney

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Oriana was the only child of her father, so it was always necessary to make a proper appearance at events, even if she didn't want to. She made many acquaintances that she sometimes forgot her manners, though she wasn't sure about the man having a stick so far up his own ass. She was so used to bossing around slaves and low-lives that she interacted with that it was a strange, though refreshing, conversation. It brought her back to her society and class when she met a stranger. Maybe it was she who had the stick up her ass criticizing this man who was a stickler for formalities. She wasn't letting her guard down, but she had to remember where she was. 

She internally took a deep breath, her mind relaxing just a bit but herself physically not relaxing. It was just a conversation, right? She sipped her wine, listening to the man. So he had heard of her or, at least, heard about her father. Her father being ill always seemed to be the first topic everybody talked about with her. She was quite tired of answering the topic, but she didn't let anybody else know that. Instead, she nodded.

"Yes, he is quite ill. I do not think he'll make it much longer, unfortunately." Her tone was of sadness, but she was actually quite happy about the whole thing if she was honest. Everything would eventually be hers, or her husbands, but she wouldn't have the burden of her father anymore. Taking care of him was a pain and it was a waste of slaves she could use for other things. 

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He did not particularly care about her nor her father. The world was often not kind to young and unmarried women without male kinfolk who were willing to protect them. If his daughter had of lived, and if the worst had of happened. He would have ensured she was married and secure. From what he could tell, there was no husband nor arrangements that had been made for her and for that reason. Lucius felt for her. It could not have been easy to be in her position, and silently he wished her fortune in the years after her father passed. Still, the proper pleasantries needed to be said. 

"I regret his loss and hope his passing his peaceful," He answered. Admittedly, Lucius had to agree that the dark clothing of mourning would suit Oceania and no doubt it would enhance her colouring. Especially her bright, blue eyes. Again, it would be inappropriate for him to discuss it and many men would have no doubt tried to set up an intimate arrangement with her. Lucius believed her to be too low in status to be with him in marriage, and he did not wish to harm her nor her reputation by flirtation with anything more. He sipped his wine and was quiet for a moment. He looked around the crowd. 

Lucius debated his next move and compassion surprisingly won out. 

"If you need any assistance, you only need to send a messenger to my Domus and I will do what I can." He invited. 

@Sydney

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Oriana knew the parties were nothing but trying your best to play the game. Small talk, fake kindness, and pretending like anyone cared went a long way. It could be exhausting at times. It was easy to tell who cared and who didn’t, though the higher up one was, the more they didn’t have to play. Oriana, being lower-level than some at parties, had to play it to perfection. She was good at it, there was no doubt, but she wasn’t perfect. Sometimes she just wanted to get drunk and complain. It was disgraceful, and she’d never do it, but there were times where it sounded better than pretending to be a perfect bachelorette. 

She nodded when he spoke about her father. “Thank you, your words are very generous.” She did mean it, though it was something she often said when someone offered her comforting words when hearing about her father. She couldn’t tell if he was being genuinely nice or just saying that. 

When Lucius invited his hospitality towards her, she assumed it was an empty gesture. Something said, but not acted upon. That was how it usually worked in the upper society of Rome. “I appreciate your invitation. It is very kind of you to offer such a thing.” She smiled and took another sip of her wine. “And my father’s Domus is always open to you as well, if you ever need to reach out.” 

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Lucius knew that an unmarried woman without protective male relatives could find herself in a position of danger. Still, he wanted to do what he could. He smiled politely when she offered the invitation to him, and doubted he would ever need it. Times could always change in Rome, and if he suddenly found himself out of favour there was a chance that he could find himself on the run. It left the door open to her potentially being taken advantage of. Not that he would. If she had of been of a suitable status there was a chance he would have introduced her to his son, Lucius Minor. Yet he did not want any potentially romantic ideals filling the boy's head. Marriage was for companionship and legitimate children.

Still, she was steadily growing on him. 

"Thank you, Oceania. That is most kind of you," He smiled, sipped his wine and wondered how long this damned party was going to drawl on for. Lucius may regret what he would say in the morning. "Are you inviting me or are you only offered because I did out of the dance of pleasantries?" He asked, smiled and waited to see whether or not she would bite to the question.

All families wished for their family to rise throughout the ranks. It was expected and considered normal for them. 

@Sydney

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Oriana seemed innocent enough, which is usually the type of woman she played at these parties. Naive, innocent, and kind. It was really the exact opposite of her real personality, though she usually kept her backstabbing ambition in private. Still, it was fun talking to people who were a little more on the less sociable side, like it seemed the man she was talking to was. He seemed like a threat to a lot of people. He’d either make a powerful ally or a dangerous enemy. She had to avoid stepping on his toes. 

He then called her by the wrong name, which she only smiled at. Gods help her, she wished she was more drunk. Oriana took another sip of her wine. She wondered if he intentionally mispronounced her name, though she figured that was the case. He seemed like the type of man to push people to their limits. 

He then followed up with the question, one that confirmed her last thought. He did seemed to be a bit edgy, but she didn’t let the question bother her. Oriana smiled. “Of course I’m inviting you, my father and I would love to have visitors come by. I often buy the best wine the empire makes, though it is hard to drink it all when it’s just the two of us to enjoy it.” Her father rarely drank, so she often saved the best wine for her parties. 

@Brian

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He noticed that she said nothing when he called her by the wrong name.

Strange, either she did not catch him do it or did not wish to rock the boat. He was not sure whether she would bring it up or not. Lucius lifted his goblet to his lips and sipped his wine when she answered him. Lucius remained a bachelor of an ancient name. Lucius listened to her, smiled and gave her goblet an affectionate clink with the edge. "I am more than happy to assist you when it comes to assisting you in drinking your wine," He answered, and now he wondered whether it would be wise to withdraw from the invitation later. Either way, it was interesting. 

Lucius leaned forward with a wickedly cheeky smirk on his classically handsome face. "Now, why didn't you say anything when I called you by the wrong name?" He asked, he may have been stirring the pot a little. Still, an answer was still an answer. No-one liked being called the wrong name. Especially women. In his experience calling them the wrong name could result in a slap or an insulted huff. She had done neither. 

@Sydney

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Posted (edited)

Oriana was surprised when Lucius said he would assist her in drinking wine. It was not often people took up offers such as that. She couldn’t tell if it was a good thing or a bad thing. This man was certainly keeping her on edge. She had to think quick while still be charming. He asked her questions that wouldn’t be made with kind small talk. They were challenging, as if he were waiting to see a reaction rise out of her. He was sly, there was no doubt about that. 

“Fantastic, I will be looking forward to it.” She smiled, taking a sip of her wine. Oriana couldn’t tell what his intentions were. Maybe Lucius was just a blunt man and there was nothing more to it. But Senators always had something to hide. She just couldn’t tell what. 

His next question did catch her off guard. He asked why she didn’t say anything when he called her the wrong name. So he said it wrong on purpose, she thought. But why? Oriana looked down at her cup with a smirk. She then looked back up. “You should know as much as anyone that what we are called should not matter. Rather, it is the name we are given to carry out our family legacy. My name being mispronounced would not insult me. My father’s or husband’s name being mispronounced would, and I would have corrected you then.” She drank her wine, her face not giving away much. 

“But if I may ask, why did you mispronounce my name on purpose?” She said with a hint of curiosity in her voice. It was not often that someone called another by the wrong name on purpose. What was his reason? 

@Brian

Edited by Sydney
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Posted (edited)

He doubted what she said about her family name but did not openly say so. The answer was formal and to be expected. It was not what he wished to hear and he assumed what was expected. Strangely, it was not what he wanted to hear from her. He wanted to hear her genuine reaction, and at this moment he wondered whether the host had managed to spike his drink with something. 

Lucius shrugged his shoulders and leaned close to her, a twinkle in his eye as he did so. "I wanted to see if you would say anything or whether you would brush it under the rug." He answered idly. It would have given the party a bit more spark and entertainment. Again, he shrugged his shoulders in consideration at her answer and her question. Honesty was a weird sensation in this conversation.

"And you, played along completely." Lucius stated to emphasise the point. He sipped his wine again and the realisation that it was now empty. He reached out his hand, clicked his fingers and placed the goblet in his hand before he extended it. The silent command was given and soon a watchful slave hurried to refill his cup and he sipped it again.

 

@Sydney

Edited by Brian
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