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Late August, 75 AD

Boring, boring, boring… the lessons with Aia had ended for the day and Marcus didn’t have any plans for the day. He could of course get into a litter and go visit one of his friends, or he could practice his fighting skills, but it was high summer and it was too hot to do anything. He lay on his bed, on his stomach, with Silvanus massaging his back. It felt nice, but he couldn’t do this all day. Maybe a trip to the thermae? That might be nice, to cool down. Or maybe a dip in the Tiber, far from where people lived, so the river wouldn’t be disgusting.

Or… maybe Caecina had an idea on what to do! She often did, he thought. Or else they’d just get some alone-time and kiss. He could spend a day doing that too. It had been a few months now, since their little escapade to the Poppina Via Lata and the Gardens of Sullust, where they promised they wanted each other, but also kept it a secret so far. And a secret their relationship remained all summer. Marcus would sneak kisses from her whenever he had the chance, fighting to control himself to not push for more than what she wanted. She was just so… beautiful and alluring, wasn’t she?

He pushed Silvanus away and had the slave hand him a light blue tunica to wear. Marcus walked though their home in Rome to Caecina’s chamber. The curtain at the door frame was drawn, so he stopped outside and ran a hand through his hair, which most likely fell perfectly as it always did.

“Caecina… are you in there? Can I come in?” He asked out loud and waited as patiently as he could.

@Echo

Edited by Atrice
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Caecina's brain always hurt after their lessons with Aia. She frankly saw little need in knowing so much, when her one purpose in life was to get married and bear her husband's children. Juliana had once said that the lessons were so that she could teach her own children one day - but if she married well enough, why should she spend her time teaching her children when she could just hire a tutor to do it? So, her mind was crammed full of knowledge and she had decided to rest in her chambers for a while after the lessons ended. 

She had been almost at the point of sleep when she heard an all-too-familiar voice: Marcus, asking to come into her bedroom. Immediately awake again, she rose off the bed and checked her reflection in her mirror. The reclining position she had just vacated had given her cheeks an especially pink glow. "Just a moment, Marcus," she called back. Quickly, she gathered her vial of cologne and poured a small amount in her hand, placing tiny amounts on her wrists and neck and behind her ears. 

Then, once she was ready, she sat on the edge of her bed and arranged her skirts. "Come in," she said lightly, giving him a soft smile as he entered. 

@Atrice Lol sorry, forgot to tag you yesterday!!

Edited by Echo
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It really was easier to stay at home on such a warm day, than going somewhere. The thermae were very tempting though, but he didn't feel like going alone and decided it would be much more fun to see what Caecina was up to, today. And if she wasn't up to anything, well, Marcus had an idea or two. She didn't answer right away, but he could hear her move and then she said he could come in just a moment. In just a moment? Was she not... decent and ready to receive company? Marcus leaned against the wall next to the doorway with a small smile, imagining her looking less proper than usual. It was a nice image, he thought to himself. But then she said he could come in and Marcus glanced around, before he pushed the curtain aside and entered her room. She sat ever so prettily on the edge of the bed.

"I hope I didn't disturb you." Marcus said with a grin and sat down next to her on the bed. She smelled very nice, he thought. Marcus looked around for a moment then, "No slaves nearby?" He asked, mostly because if they were alone, he knew exactly what to do next with her. Marcus looked at her with an interested smile, hoping they were entirely alone. That's how he preferred it, with Caecina. And as long as no one spoke of her marriage, she was definitely free to spend time with him. Right?

@Echo

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Caecina grinned as Marcus entered, as suave and handsome as he always was. He had that way of pushing his hair back that just let it fall right back into place, and she thought he must have done that recently with how his hair was looking now. He spoke then, saying that he hoped he hadn't disturbed her and she shook her head. "Of course not. I'm always happy to have you, you know that." Even if she had been about to take a nap, spending time with him was much more preferable. 

The young man sat on the bed next to her and she gazed into his light blue eyes as he asked whether there were slaves nearby. "Not one." She wasn't sure where Astraea had gone off to, but Caecina had said she didn't need her for a few hours. That only left Manius as a variable, but she hadn't indicated she was going anywhere today, so there was no reason for him to come by. "Did you come here, just hoping to catch a poor, innocent girl by herself?" Her voice was teasing. 

@Atrice

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There was a precious grin on her face as he entered and he knew she was happy to see him. And why shouldn't she be? They were so... great together, really! Not that they did not spend time together before, they had done that for years, enjoying each other's company and shenanigans, but after their kiss this spring, things had just progressed. It was different, but not in a bad way. Marcus really liked being together with Caecina and to be honest, he kind of liked the secrecy of it all. Of course it would be better if they could be open about it, but that wouldn't do, they were basically siblings, even if they had no parents in common. The only mother he ever really knew was hers too though, which made it strange and outrageous. But all the more exciting too! 

She said she was happy to have him and Marcus grinned, "You can have me anytime, you know that. Just tell me when." He replied with a playful tone to her and then he'd looked around to see if they were alone. She said there weren't any slaves nearby and he smiled, looking at her. She teased him then, claiming to be a poor and innocent girl. He let out a little laugh.

"You, a poor and innocent girl?" Marcus replied and inched closer to her, placing a hand on the bed behind her and leaning closer, "And just how innocent are you supposed to be?"

@Echo 

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How had one kiss led to all of this? Caecina had never had such feelings before, but she was glad that they had kissed on another by that stream. It had given way to so many more interesting things, more temptation to get into mischief, so much fun. She wished they had realized their feelings sooner, so they could have had more fun together. But she lived in the present, and for right now, Marcus was sitting on the bed next to her and looking at her with those sparkling blue eyes that Caecina had grown to adore. Marcus said she could have him anytime and she blushed and laughed at the innuendo, whether he meant it or not. "Idiot," she murmured affectionately.

Marcus then challenged her earlier statement about being an innocent girl and she grinned, wanting to keep up the play-acting. "I am innocent, Marcus, and you're going to take advantage of me," she teased. "I'm so innocent that if you should kiss me, why - I think I'd faint!" He had leaned closer and she stole a glance at his lips, hoping he would kiss her soon but not wanting to make the first move. 

@Atrice

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Well he meant it - she could have him anytime she wanted to, all she had to do was tell him... or let him know otherwise, that she wanted him. He kind of knew that she did though, but she had to save herself for a possible future husband. Marcus doubted it would be him. He had nothing to offer her and Juliana would be outraged by the idea, he was sure of it. Maybe they should elope? On the other hand, marriage, at the bright young age of 17? When he had so much more to do and see before he should settle down with a wife? No, he would rather wait a few years, even if it meant not having Caecina. Maybe he would have her though? Maybe they would meet, because of course they were beloved siblings, but when they were alone, they would do things that siblings should not do. Meanwhile, Caecina just called him an idiot and then he'd commented on her idea of being an innocent girl. 

She grinned, claiming her innoncence that he would just take advantage of her. And she'd faint if he kissed her. Marcus grinned, "As long as you don't scream." He replied, leaning closer, his lips hovering just above hers, "And what if I would take advantage of you... what would you do?" He asked and pressed his lips to the corner of hers and left a trace of little kisses and nibbles along her jawline to tease her. Then he pulled back and met her eyes with a spark in his own, "Would you try to stop me?" 

@Echo

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Of course, he had meant it - but Caecina hoped that he also knew that she could never take him up on that offer. Her honor was a big factor in what made her a valuable bride, and if she lost that, she would lose her reputation and all hopes for a good marriage. No matter how much she liked Marcus, she couldn't risk her future like that. No more than she could expect Marcus to marry her now, with no money to his name, no house of his own, and about to start the course of honor - it wouldn't be fair to either of them. 

But now was not the time for such serious thoughts - he was speaking in such an enchanting, devilish voice, his lips just above hers. So tempting... "I can't scream if I've fainted, now can I?" He then asked her what she would do if he took advantage of her and she chuckled slightly as he kissed everywhere but her lips. "I'm nothing but a girl, Marcus - how could I have the strength to stop you?"

@Atrice

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Yes, of course he had meant it. That she could have him anytime, she just had to say it. Marcus also knew though, that she wouldn’t. Caecina could take flirting very far and she was so charming and tempting, but she also knew that she could not afford to lose her innocence completely. She had to remain pure until she married. Marcus often cursed that idea, because he did want her and so badly too! They had been doing this for months now. They had met and kissed in secret, they flirted, they had fun together but when it came to taking it one step further… they didn’t. And it wasn’t because he didn’t want to!

Now he was teasing her again and she joked about how she couldn’t scream if she fainted. Marcus grinned, “I wouldn’t want you to faint.” He said and then his lips caressed her skin, anywhere but her lips while he continued to tempt her, wondering if she’d stop him. She chuckled and said she wouldn’t have the strength to stop him.

“So if I did this…” Marcus said and slid an arm around her front, pushing her gently to get down onto her back and he followed, lying next to her, “You’d just let me, right? And you would want me to do it…” He inched closer and finally kissed her lips. He could seduce her, couldn’t he? But he liked her and he knew her and he wouldn’t want to hurt her. They were just words, but words he wished would be more, “I wish you weren't so irresistible… sister.”

@Echo

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Caecina enjoyed her flirtatious behavior with Marcus - it was always behind closed doors, with no one around, ensuring both her reputation and his remained intact. Of course, if she ever caught wind of a household slave gossiping about her, she would find her wrath very hard to control. It was nobody's business what she and her stepbrother got up to together - moreover, if Juliana wasn't there to stop them, there was no reason for her to find out about it! So she worried very little about the implications of her activities with Marcus and just enjoyed them - up until the point where they could actually harm her future, of course. 

Marcus said that he didn't want her to faint, proceeding to caress her with his lips in a very tempting way. His lips were so soft and gentle against her flesh that it sent goosebumps up her arms and back. Marcus then gently pushed her down onto her back and she was more than willing to let him do it. He asked if she would let him do it and she grinned up at him, but before she could respond, his mouth covered hers finally. Her own lips met his with vigor, all the more excited because of his teasing and caresses. But then he called her sister and she quirked an eyebrow at him. "Oh, don't call me sister when we're kissing," she said, exasperated but amused. "It's just Caecina." Then she kissed him again, pulling him closer. 

@Atrice

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Marcus very much enjoyed her flirtatious behavior too – how could he not, when she was so easy on the eyes and knew just how to respond to his words and action? They were of course careful, they never kissed or anything out in the open, where people could see them, but it was different in her room. Marcus didn’t see anyone before he entered, so no one knew he was here. He had Caecina all to himself and that suited him perfectly. What also suited him perfectly was that she allowed him to tease her with his lips and he pushed her down onto her back. She grinned at him, when he spoke to her and when he kissed her, she passionately kissed him back.

Gods it was so hard to not just… try a little harder to convince to sleep with him. It would be so good. She was so sexy! But she arched a brow when he called him sister, telling him to just call her Caecina. Before he could respond, it was apparently now her turn to pull him close and into a kiss. Marcus smiled into the kiss, inching closer towards her, sliding a hand over her body to feel her although they were both still dressed. Maybe they could do other things, things that would keep her as a virgin but still allow a little bit of fun. Sex was more than just putting one thing into another, after all.

The kiss broke and he smiled down at her, “You really are tempting, Caecina.” He said with a grin and the hand he had on her body slid down over it, to the hem of her dress, toying with it, “You know, we wouldn’t have to go all the way to… have some more fun. Do you want to?” Marcus wasn’t quite like this with other girls he had been with before, lower classes and slaves and prostitutes… but Caecina, he liked for more than just her body and a bit of satisfaction, so he wouldn’t do anything she wouldn’t. But damn he wanted to!

@Echo

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Caecina vaguely felt Marcus's hand running over her body, and she couldn't deny the wave of pleasure that washed over her. He had told her before, but his hand was a reassurance that he found her attractive, that fear that often ran through the minds of young women. One of her hands pressed to his cheek, while the other brushed his side lightly. His lips tasted just as she remembered, a taste that lingered in her memory when they were apart from one another. 

He pulled away for a moment, calling her tempting again and plucking at the hem of her chiton. And then he spoke about not going all the way, clearly hinting that he wanted more. Of course he would want to, but she wasn't sure... "What... exactly did you have in mind?"

@Atrice

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Manius knew that Caecina’s daily lessons with their private teacher were over. He was patiently waiting now, to go and see her and find out if she had any other plans for the day. During the morning, he had spent time cleaning his room and he had polished his personal sword a bit, although of course he could not carry that out into Rome. Not even a bodyguard could wear arms here in Rome, but luckily, Manius knew how to fight without it. He’d be a bad bodyguard if he did not have that ability.

Now he was all done, the sun was high up in the sky and he thought Caecina had plenty of time to relax after the lessons now. He walked through the house, it was somewhat quiet here after noon. Rome was warm at this hour and most liked to relax in the hottest hours of the day. Not Manius though, he wasn’t very good at relaxing.

He reached Caecina’s room and was about to enter when he heard voices from there. Caecina, of course, but it wasn’t her slave Astraea she was talking to. No, it was a male voice and he thought it sounded like Caecina’s stepbrother, Marcus. Manius thought the boy was a little rascal, he seemed so spoiled and careless and definitely constantly up to no good. Why was he alone with Caecina in her room? Sure, they were siblings, but they weren’t children and he didn’t trust the boy. Manius inched closer to the drawn curtain, listening to… breaths and… what in the name of Jupiter was going on in there?!

Manius mostly wanted to just barge in, but it was her private room and he didn’t want her to fire him… “Caecina?” Manius asked, trying to keep a voice that didn’t sound like he’d been eavesdropping. He leaned closer to the curtain, put a hand on it, “I need to talk to you!”

@Echo

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She didn't seem to mind his hand on her body one bit, she didn't push him away and not when he touched the hem of her dress either. Marcus wanted to convince her and show her that pleasure could be more than just intercourse. It could be so much more! She knew less than he, he imagined, but he would more than love to teach her a thing or two. He probably shouldn't, but they were alone and the house was quiet and what else was there to do right now? He tried his best to persuade her, but she seemed a bit uncertain, as always. She really should stop leading him on, shouldn't she? Then she asked what he had in mind and Marcus smiled, she at least wasn't denying anything. She was curious. She did want it too.

"I'll show you..." Marcus said with a grin, before he closed his eyes and kissed her again and pushed up her chiton to touch her bare skin underneath. He was startled when there was a voice just outside the room and he froze for a second, looking at her. It was that fucking annoying bodyguard Manius that someone hired for Caecina. He'd seen the looks the freedman gave him. Marcus pulled away from Caecina and stood, brushing his tunica down, looking at her.

Fuck! How much had Manius heard?

@Echo

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Caecina smiled a little apprehensively at Marcus, but she trusted him. They had been companions for all these years, it seemed only natural that their relationship should progress further. She shivered slightly when Marcus touched her bare skin, nervous but excited to see what was to come. But then -- Manius! Caecina sat bolt upright as she heard his voice, eyes wide and startled. What had he heard? Or was he really just here to talk to her? She hastily pulled down her chiton before standing to straighten it further. Then, she gave Marcus a look that meant "be quiet!" before approaching the curtain. 

Pulling it aside only far enough that her face was showing, she smiled at Manius, hoping her face wasn't too flushed that it would give them away. "Hello, Manius. What did you want to talk about?" She hoped her voice was as casual as she meant it to be. 

@Atrice

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Marcus definitely stayed quiet now. He'd moved himself away from Caecina, a few steps away from the bed. His heart was hammering fast, as he wondered just how much Manius had heard or even seen. What if he had looked through the curtain before he spoke? And Marcus had been halfway on top of Caecina and touched her bare legs underneath the chiton! They could not afford having anyone find out about their little... whatever it was. He didn't want to stop it with her. What had started as an innocent kiss in the spring had over the summer become something more and he was not about to give it up yet.

Meanwhile Manius still stood outside the curtain and Caecina finally appeared, pulling it only slightly aside and she sounded casual, wondering what he wanted.

"I actually came to ask if you'd need my services this afternoon, but..." Manius said, trying to control his voice and his temper, but it was not right. He knew she wasn't alone in there. Did she think he was stupid or something? He tried to remain calm, but she should not be alone with any man but him and certainly not in her room behind closed curtains! What if it got out, her reputation would be ruined. Manius was here to protect her in any manner and he wouldn't tell anyone but her mother about this... but first he needed a few words with these kids... "I know you're not alone in there, so you can drop the act. What exactly is going on?" 

@Echo

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Caecina's expression changed into a light frown as Manius said to drop the act, asking what was going on. How dare he intrude on them like this? In the back of her mind, she felt a tiny prick of relief, though - what if they hadn't been able to stop? Manius had stopped it for them. But her outer self remained indignant. "Nothing is going on, Manius," she said coolly, pulling back the curtain. "Marcus and I were discussing today's lesson." It was obviously not true, but Caecina remained a level-headed liar, and rather convincing. "And you may have the rest of the day off. I was planning on staying in this evening."

@Atrice

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She frowned when he told her he knew she was not alone in her room - the kind of frown someone made when they'd been doing things they shouldn't and were then discovered, Manius thought. Then Caecina claimed nothing was going on and that she and Marcus were just discussing their lessons. She pulled back the curtain so Manius could see Marcus standing there, almost as if frozen. Oh he definitely looked guilty of something! Weren't they supposed to be siblings? Meanwhile Caecina said that Manius could have the rest of the day off, as she was planning to stay in tonight.

"I don't think you were discussing your lessons." Manius said. He was probably annoying her now, but with her father not present in Rome and her step-mother not always here either, someone had to look out for her and that was Manius' job now. He decided they'd not get away with it so easily and then he entered Caecina's chamber and pulled the curtain behind him. He leaned against the wall just next to the doorway, crossing his arms, looking at them both.

"You two were doing something. I don't know what, but from what I heard, it was a very passionate discussion you had. Passionate in a way I doubt you really are, concerning those lessons. And I don't want to be hearing that again. Not between two young people who are not married to each other." He had not seen anything, but he heard something and he had to make them understand. Marcus meanwhile stood still, he mostly wanted to excuse himself and just leave, but he had a feeling Manius would not let him do that. He had to come up with something.

"We're just good friends, that's all... really. Can't a pair of siblings have a little fun?" Marcus asked and Manius looked at him, "You really think I'll believe that? But you can go. I need to talk to your sister right now." Marcus looked at Caecina, silently wishing her good look and then he left. Perhaps it was best to get dressed and leave the house entirely for the rest of the day. He did not want to run into Manius today! Meanwhile Manius was left behind with Caecina and he had not left his spot by the doorway.

"What would your parents say, if I told them what I heard?" He then asked Caecina.

@Echo

 

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Caecina regarded Manius cautiously, her expression little changed from the frown that she had put on as soon as he had accused them. How dare this simple bodyguard barge in on them and interrupt everything? He should only come when he was beckoned, Caecina thought furiously. She listened to the conversation between Manius and Marcus, analyzing everything - until Manius dismissed her stepbrother like he was some servant or a child. 

As Marcus left, the girl drew herself up to her full height, donning an imperious expression that communicated that she thought she was above reproach. He had no place to tell her parents - no right at all! "Whatever you think you heard, Manius, I am sure you know that it was not what you thought. And further, if you feel the need to jeopardize your job, you may feel free to tell them. But who are they going to believe? Me, or you?" Her voice betrayed barely-contained fury, as did her thin lips and the flash in her eyes. "Frankly, I fail to see how any of this is your business."

@Atrice

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Manius might right now just be a freedman and a simple bodyguard to her - she didn't know his past or what he'd done. That he used to work for none other than the infamous Manius Rutilius Cyprianus, who was dictator while Caecina was nothing but a toddler. Manius was much more than just a simple bodyguard, he had been behind the most powerful man in Rome once... but she didn't know that. He was also an awful human being of course, for having the flaws he had. But that also meant he worked hard to satisfy his employers and he would not fail this time. And his job was to protect Caecina and with an absent father and almost as absent stepmother, he was the one who was here to look out for her. And he would. He'd protect her against any wrongdoers, including her own half-brother or what you'd call him. That boy was up to no good, he knew it. 

And she just stood there with a frown, naturally upset about how Manius accussed them of doing more than discussing their lessons... but he was quite sure he was right. Why else would she be so upset, if she wasn't telling the truth? Besides, he knew what he heard. She dared him to go tell what he'd heard and threatened with Manius losing his job, because they would not believe him. She claimed it was none of his business. But it was. 

"It is every bit my business, Caecina." Manius said, standing still, remaining calm and he even uncrossed his arms again to appear more relaxed and less threatening to her, "I have been hired to protect you - to guard you until you are married and perhaps beyond that, if your future husband will allow me. And your brother, or what you prefer to call him... he is no good for you. I can't allow him to ruin you." Manius paused, watching her carefully, "I am not here to irritate you, please understand that. I am here to guard you... help you. And I won't tell them this time, if you can promise me to be more careful too." Manius rarely spoke so many words in one round, he was usually quiet and alert and he only spoke when there was a real need to. When it mattered. And this... this mattered. He could not allow her brother to ruin her. 

@Echo

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