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Mid-August, 75AD

Vibia primped and preened as she always did before a client. Her various pots of lotions and potions and cosmetics were well used but still did the job as she etched kohl around her bright blue eyes and dabbed rosewater on her throat and between her thighs. There was no need to spend hours agonising over an outfit choice for this job, however. This wasn't the first time Secundus had visited her, and she knew him well enough to know what he liked. There was also the chance that perhaps the nature of her job wouldn't come into play at all, and he'd just be after conversation. But not being an oracle and knowing for definite, she still dressed in her usual sort of attire of a gauzy tunica that revealed more than a hint of what curves lurked underneath, with her rare, bright blonde hair half pulled up and half left to trail in waves over her shoulders and down her back. 

She made no move to attend the atrium where clients mingled and chose girls, and instead stayed in her room. Secundus knew the way, and this was a pre-booked arrangement. No need to parade herself this evening like cattle ready and waiting to be picked. 

Instead, she reclined on her bed, fingers twirling through a strand of her hair as she glanced at nothing in particular. Secundus was better than some but worse than others, not that it really mattered. She wasn't a slave and thus had more say in the clients she serviced but ultimately her employment rested on her willingness to service all who chose her. Besides, the man was useful. Whilst she didn't - or hadn't - sold any of his secrets back to her handlers in both the Syndicate and the Servian Collegium, it didn't mean she wouldn't. There was something intriguing about the man lurking just beneath the surface and she was determined to pry it out of him. And when she did, she'd decide what to do with it. 

A noise alerted her to a visitor and the door swung open, and the curtain beyond it pulled back. Vibia propped herself up on her elbows and gave a sly, seductive smile. "Hello stranger." 

 

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Secundus loved to visit Domus Venus. It was only here, surrounded by the women of the brothel, that he felt at home. Rome was a civilized place, which felt alien. He dreamt of his time with the barbarians of Germania. A little depravity was just what he needed, and he could not have that with his wife. There was something unique about Venus' women. They knew how to elicit the perfect response. Under her roof, Secundus was nothing but a body with a hunger. He was the thing of flesh and blood that had nearly died, only to suffer years in captivity. Vibia was beautiful, but a beauty that did not tame itself. She was beauty wild and untrammeled, like Venus herself, perhaps.

He passed the girls who displayed their bodies for all to say. He supposed some men with weak spirits enjoyed the act of selection, but his favorite part of courting a woman was not in persuading her. Secundus was glad that they could arrange meetings that began in private; he found it too difficult to put down the mask of respected senator after putting it on, but now he was not a man of rank or birth. He was an animal. He felt the strange appetites rise again, but ignored them. Vibia could only feed some of them. The rest would continue to plague him.

He stormed up to the door and swung it open, not deigning to knock. There was no need to announce his presence. Secundus took her in, smiling at the display. She reclined on her bed, her fingers twirling around a strand of her hair as she gazed distantly. He wondered if there was anything in her mind besides becoming an object of his obsession. He wondered if she thought of that even when he took her. Vibia propped herself up on her elbows and smiled slyly at him. His smile widened, this time showing teeth. It was a cruel smile; she had seen them before, but not often. Enough of them signaled that there would be no talking, but one meant little on its own.

"Vision of beauty, gift of Venus to man. A poem, embodied, so that those among us who lack the wisdom or patience of scholars can appreciate it. Vibia. You look as you always do."

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Vibia chuckled but made no move to sit up. Some men liked a coy, doe-eyed girl as a lover, others liked something to control and whilst she could play both of those parts when the need arose, she was far more comfortable as the aloof woman that she was. 

"I shall take that as a compliment and not some sort of slander." She shifted a little so the neckline of her tunica dipped to just below respectable. What with the flimsy material of the fabric and the fact that he was a repeat customer, it wasn't as if it was particularly scandalous but she hoped it was seductive. Finally stretching out like a cat, she propped herself up on her side and then swung her legs languidly off the bed until they were dangling, toes barely touching the floor. 

"Wine?" She stifled a yawn and reached out to a low table next to her bed, pouring two cups before he had much of a chance to respond. 

 

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Secundus approached, staring down at her as she stretched. Every motion showing off her best features- his wife only signaled her disinterest, but Vibia could make him feel like a man. He took one of the cups, toasting silently. He sipped slowly. He reached out a hand to stroke her hair. He paused just short of touching her, giving her the opportunity to resist- he wouldn't stop, if she resisted, but it might add an interesting flavor to the rest of the evening. He thought they might just talk. He thrummed with the wanting of her, but he also felt the bloodlust tonight. It was so rarely a good idea to combine the two.

"As Venus provides, so do we drink. Is your favorite man a drunk one? Wine draws out the beast within me, you'll remember. He is not satisfied easily."

He looked about, affecting disinterest. Secundus enjoyed making a game of it. He had paid for this night, but he wanted to feel as though he was working for it. He would earn the right to have her before he could have her, one way or another. Vibia had been a welcome discovery. Most of the other girls here did not know how to play the game. They were pretty, but their heads were as empty as any Roman woman. Vibia had something much more capable behind that kohl-eyed pretty face.

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Vibia watched him pad around the room, big blue eyes narrowed on his form. He seemed in a mercurial mood this evening and she was more than happy to play along. It made a somewhat refreshing change from the men that turned up, asked for her to lie on her belly and finished all of three pumps later in a sticky mess. Ugh. 

"It's a good job I'm good at satisfying then, hm?" She arched a brow and watched him with lazy dispassion. If he wanted to act disinterested then she'd do likewise. She shuffled up a little against the mound of cushions that littered the bed, drawing up her knees. The shift made one of the straps of her tunica fall down her shoulder. "What's the matter with you this evening?" She asked directly, with no preamble. If he wanted her to be direct, then so be it. She offered a sly smile at the corners of her lips as she surveyed him, "Something is bothering you, hmm?" 

 

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She was satisfying. Enticing him, drawing his attention back...Secundus stared, now. Her position now proclaimed innocence, but he recognized the serpent that lie beneath the facade. He watched her eagerly. Was something the matter with him? Since the earthquake, he felt rather like something within him had shaken loose. Perhaps it was the argument with Tertius at the family home. Perhaps it was the time passing as he remained childless, with a wife that feared him. He savored her fear, even as it perfectly symbolize his failures. Yes, something was the matter with him tonight. Thinking on this always put him in the worst mood.

"Have you ever known me to be a careless man? I am always bothered by something. The affairs of stuffy politicians with their ailing bodies and fading minds, or of my fearful, withholding wife. Rome vexes me. My family vexes me. You vex me."

He turned the full force of his gaze on her. Secundus was not aware of just how intense it could be, to have the weight of his eyes on you. He judged her, and evaluated what he would do with her. There was something dangerous, there, a glint in the eyes- but it was contained, always, by his professionalism. Even when they were in the throes of it, he would behave impeccably until she finally took him over the edge. Then he would scream, wild, like an animal. He studied her, turning her over in his mind. He had already seen more of her than Livia, he thought bitterly.

"What do you expect tonight, Vibia? Tell me what you imagine will happen next."

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Vibia smirked. "No need to think of her tonight," She watched him, "Unless you want to of course." Her meaning was implicit. Some men even went so far as to dress her up in wigs and their wives clothes to make the fantasy seem real; that their spouse wanted them. Secundus didn't seem the sort, but she didn't know him well and his moods and wishes were always fairly mercurial. 

She stared him right back as he flicked his intense gaze on to her. She saw the danger lurking just beneath the surface of his glance, she recognised it. But she wasn't afraid of him. 

"Hmm." She narrowed her eyes at his question and shifted to kneel up on the bed so she could reach over and pour herself another cup of wine before she settled back to it on her heels. "I think you'll have another cup of wine," She eyed him, a sly smile on her lips as she tossed her long white blonde hair over her shoulder to reveal her collarbone and the top of her breast from where the strap of her tunica had fallen, "And then I think you'll tell me exactly what you want me to do to you, and I'll listen and obey," Her smirk stretched into a feline grin. She knew men like Secundus, they weren't used to being crossed and so she added; "Or perhaps I will. Maybe I won't." She knelt up again, "Maybe I'll make you pleasure me, and only when I'm satisfied will I let you have some attention." 

 

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Secundus stopped short. She was right. He did not want to think of Livia while he was with Vibia. He doubted the woman thought of him when she took those young men to her bed- speculation, he reminded himself. Paranoia. Livia was too virtuous to sleep with another man. And if virtue failed her, distance would prevent it. They spent nearly all of their time at the villa, now. When would she have the opportunity? If that, too, failed to protect her from her own impulses...her fear of the consequences should stay her hand. She knew he would not tolerate that.

"Thank you for the reminder. You are so kind, Vibia, to keep my attention on the important things."

Secundus returned his attention to more important things. He watched her drain her cup, listening to her pretty voice and her prettier words. Obedience. A fantasy he dared no longer dream of, but Vibia was a dream incarnate. She had been sent to please him. She was only here to serve at his pleasure. He indulged in the thought, let it twist and turn in his mind. And then she grinned. She continued, revealing the other side. He could be the predator, or the prey. It was not his choice, tonight, it was hers. Besides, a woman of Domus Venus could not truly fight him if he wanted to win. So it was his choice whether to win, or to lose.

"Who will fortune favor? The warrior, or the musician?"

He wondered if any men preferred to avail themselves of her other services. He had sometimes just spoken with her, but Secundus found tonight that he had lost any interest in music or speech. The pursuits of the mind were nothing compared to this, he thought. He placed a hand on her shoulder, slowly moving it down her arm. He pulled her closer, roughly, his hand around her arm gripping tightly. He wrapped one arm around her waist, breathlessly, and then stopped moving, waiting for a command. Vibia was making the choices; he was only taking action. She was the stone and the sculptor, while he was the hammer and chisel. This was the only art that mattered.

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Vibia smirked. "How poetic you are Secundus." She arched a brow and watched him as he drew near. She knew she was pushing him, but in her experience some men liked to be pushed. Others, of course, like a meek little thing to lie on her belly and wait for him to be spent, but Secundus was not the usual sort of clients. Besides, most men who chose Vibia didn't buy her (very expensive) time for a simple, quick fuck. There were plenty of beautiful young men and women for that in the Venus. No, most saw her for something else; she wasn't the most gorgeous here but her sly smile, her tricks and her games were enticing and now she had Secundus firmly in her thrall.

She smirked and flicked her eyes up to watch him as he grabbed her, their bodies pressed together. She was unable to move away but she was unafraid. No Senator was above the law if they harmed one of the girls or boys at the premier brothel in the city. They knew that, and if they had those particular tastes they were better suited to the depravity of The Elysium. 

They stayed still and quiet for a moment as Vibias eyes flicked up and over his body. She noticed the tension in his form, the breathlessness and her smirk stretched into a feline grin. Gently, she trailed her fingers down his arm and arched a brow up at him. Cautiously, she attempted to pry his fingers from their tight grip on her arm to move it and drag down the other shoulder of her chiton so she was bare chested. "And what will my warrior do to his Queen, to show his loyalty I wonder? I'm not a woman easily pleased." Her eyes flashed with challenge. 

 

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Secundus felt her body against his, knowing both that she was unafraid and that she could not stop him. It was a heady combination. He allowed her to move his hand. He was under her control, no matter how much they pretended he could control her. He should be in control, but this was her domain. Vibia understood the art of pleasure. He had known only war. They lay at an impasse, and no matter his strength, Secundus could not break it in the ways he was used to. For him, most interactions with other people were combats in miniature. This was not his area of expertise.

He listened to her intently. If his queen wanted him to pleasure her and prove his worth, then he would. They had only played this particular game once before; other nights, Secundus was not in the mood to be told what to do by a woman, no matter her status. But tonight- he served her. Secundus tried to please her, and if she was dissatisfied, he awaited her next command. They were both predators, of sorts, contained only by the rules of formality; no such rules remained here. Only the give and take. Only his role and hers. Perhaps by the standards of a woman of Domus Venus, his most impressive contributions were too traditional, but one thing that he had over other men his age was surprising stamina.

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---

After they were finished, Vibia led there on her bed with a smirk on her face, twisting her full lips. Her cheeks were flushed and hair mussed, one of the braids atop her head now tangled and fallen. The kohl around her eyes was smudged across her temples. Her chest rose and fell gently and she glanced sideways at Secundus. Gingerly, she trailed fingers up and down his arm with an arched brow. He was in a good mood tonight, and had shown her just how good a mood a few moments earlier. She moved to collect one of the mussed sheets and wrapped herself in it. Not one, usually, for modesty she nonetheless felt the need to with him. He could be mercurial, and she didn't know where he'd settle in the post-coital haze. 

"More wine?" She asked, her voice somewhat hoarse and with her smirk turning into an impish smile. She didn't wait for an answer as she dragged the sheet off the bed as a shroud and rummaged around on the floor until she found the abandoned jug and some cups, decanting a little. "You never told me," She glanced over her shoulder back at him, a quizzical look on her face, "If there was anything in particular that drove you here tonight." She was a good whore but an even better conversationalist when the mood struck her and secrets could be priceless. She held the cup just out of arms reach from him, the devilish gleam in her eyes back again.

 

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Secundus sighed happily. This was the simplest pleasure. Under the roof of Domus Venus, with a woman at his side from whom he needed nothing else, and who needed nothing else from him. Concerns of wives and payment did not belong in this moment. This, at its core, was the only thing he could do to escape the whirring gears of his own mind. Weightier concerns, of blood and state, awaited, but he had put them aside. He breathed in, and out, and reveled in her touch. He snorted disdainfully when he saw her covering herself.

"More wine," he repeated slowly. His voice was no more hoarse than it always was, but he appreciated that hers was. He shifted on the bed, watching her lazily as they waited. Even covered up, the sheet did little to disguise her shape. He allowed himself to be taken in, only for her words to dampen his enthusiasm. What had driven him here was the ongoing family drama he had started at home. Between his wife and her body slave, Secundus had created a problem nearly as big as the one Tertius had long since left in the past. He would be the laughingstock of the Palatine.

She smiled, a monster in fair guise, as she offered him the wine. Secundus glared haughtily from his unwieldy perch, one arm now dangling off the bed. In the time since she had stood, he had managed to completely take over the available space. She was shamelessly plying him for gossip. Women always wanted gossip. Vibia was more interested than most, though. She cared about his life, not about the stale gossip of the senate. There was so much he should not say to her, but he found himself tempted. At least she might listen.

"What else drives a man to Domus Venus? Marriage."

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Vibia smiled slyly and continued to hold the wine a little out of his reach, as if depriving a prized dog of its favourite toy. But as he gave her a morsel, she repaid it in kind by setting down the wine on the table next to his languidly sprawled figure. She herself, took a seat on the very edge of the bed, folding herself up to fit into the meagre space he had left from his sprawling. 

"Ah, but some men come here to forget their wives, some men come here to reimagine them in...a more attractive fashion...and some men even bring their spouses, would you believe." She chuckled. Not many, granted, but some of the most powerful men of the Senate yielded similar power of his home life and deigned to command his wife to make love to a whore or two. Others, of course, just wanted to live out the teenage fantasy of two women at once. Not that she minded, she was still paid handsomely either way. She narrowed her eyes on his prone form and leaned her chin into her palm, watching him intently. "What sort of wife doesn't appreciate you?" She was in dangerous territory, but she would place good gold on the fact that her current client could use a sympathetic ear. "A foolish one, obviously. If you want, you could send her to me to learn a few tricks of the trade?" She was teasing, joking of course, but the thought amused her nonetheless. 

 

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Secundus made no move to take the wine just yet. He considered her question. He would not mind forgetting Livia, for a time. His duty to her was one of the most important parts of his life, but given how little stock she put in her duty to him, he thought he deserved a respite. That wasn't why he came to Vibia, though. He couldn't imagine involving Livia in this. She was constantly on edge, preparing for the next threat, as though he would allow anything to touch her. He resented the implication that he could not protect his wife. Vibia, though, did not imply anything. She stated it outright. He found that refreshing.

There was no pleasure in having both of them, or in replacing his wife. While Secundus did use Vibia for things which his wife would not assist him with, she was not merely a stand-in for her. He would rather have had Livia in his bed than Vibia, if she would have him- but when he was Vibia, he did not think of his wife, most nights.  Today, he'd found himself discussing his marriage with her. He resolved not to mention Livia in front of her again. When he thought of his wife, Secundus always thought of what he needed to do to leave his mark on Rome, and if wives were a poor choice of topic in front of a whore, children would be even more distasteful.

"Livia has some regrets. She married shortly after she was widowed, and was unprepared to be a wife so soon after her loss. She's not a practical woman, as you are. She follows her emotions over her sense."

He sighed, running his hand through her hair as he spoke, more relaxed now than he had been all evening.

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Vibia watched him intently right up until he began to run his fingers through her hair. She grinned and relaxed into his touch, feeling much like a cat being petted by an owner whilst luxuriating itself. She wanted to say that Livia sounded like a frigid bitch, but restrained herself. It was obviously a topic of sensitivity for him, judging by how little else he said. 

"Us women can be like that," She said sympathetically but the coy smile on her face was anything but genuine, "Getting all hot and bothered and stressed over things we really shouldn't worry about. That's why it's nice being here," She shrugged, "All my food and needs met, in every sense," she chuckled and ran a hand over his chest languorously, "And no grief to worry about, no need to be prepared for being a wife and when I'm good and ready I'll have saved up enough to maybe run my own establishment one day." She had it better than most of the girls here, she was a freedwoman after all and not a slave. She had an out. At least, in a hypothetical sense she did - if her life wasn't as controlled by the Collegia of Rome as it was. 

"As long as you're happy whilst you're here, if not at home, then I'm happy." She really couldn't have given a toss either way, but compliments were all part of the service.

 

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Secundus chuckled as she waxed poetic about the many virtues of life as a whore. He did see the logic. There was something alluring about having all of the privilege without any of the responsibility. He was happy to be a man and a senator rather than a woman of Domus Venus, but he could admit that there was something to be said for the freedom. He wondered if Vibia would marry one day. Did the laws preclude it? He had never thought at all of the laws surrounding whores, besides the ones that affected him. Idly, he wished her the best. It would be challenging to command respect after a lifetime of prostitution.

"You make me a very happy man, Vibia. It's quite the testament to your skill- or a sign of my low expectations."

He sighed, thoughts drifting homeward once more. Secundus shook his head slightly to clear it. He should think about something else while lying in bed with a beautiful woman. In fact, now that she had discussed her future, he wondered about that. He knew so little of what her prospects must be. Would it be impolite to ask her? His fantasies did not require that she be available to him forever, so he might even stand a chance at hearing her honest assessment of Rome's laws.

"How would you come to run your own establishment? Are there special laws governing whores and brothels? It has never been much a point of much interest in the past, but I am curious."

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Vibia grinned like a cat that had the last of the cream at his compliment (was it really a compliment?) - she'd have to make sure he left a review somewhere public so others could see. She wasn't the youngest, or perhaps the most attractive at the Venus, and every good review helped. 

But he seemed genuinely intrigued about her future prospects and she shrugged her shoulders, leaning forward from her folded up position to swipe her refilled cup of wine, taking a deep sip. "I'm sure there's plenty of laws and regulations," She waved a hand and arched a brow, "But money can make a lot of things disappear - you're a wealthy man, you must appreciate that." She grinned teasingly at him before continuing, "And most of the brothels, the good brothels in the city have a bit of help from the Collegia in one way or another." It wasn't as if it was a secret, and besides, who was Secundus going to tell? She vaguely recalled that another Varus was a Praetor but magistrates could always be paid off, so what did it matter to her? "Why?" She arched a brow, "Thinking of running your own, hmm?" She narrowed her eyes, "I could be your very first whore, though we'd have to think of a good name for it..." She was joking, of course, but if truth were told she'd never really considered her future prospects and making light of them helped her cope. Gods, what if all she was, was a whore for the rest of her life?!

 

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He laughed heartily, eyes flitting shut. Secundus did know about the power of money- more than money, status. Status clung to a family long after the purse-strings tightened. He had turned attention away from his own failings, and so few suspected that anything might be amiss. Vibia knew his blood coursed with darker, harsher, barbaric impulses, but she never shied away from fulfilling his desires. The rest of Rome could imagine that he resembled every other stuffy, proper senator, who had his own private interests, simple to satisfy yet nonetheless embarrassing to admit existed. Somehow, men must be virile until they could be respectable. Secundus resented Rome's strictures nearly as much as he did its disloyalty.

The Collegia, too, Secundus mused, deserved a disruption. Yet who was he to provide one? He had not interest in politics, only power. He wanted to establish a place for the Varus family. That was his only ambition, in the end. The Collegia and the brothels; Secundus wondered what some of his fellow senators thought of that. Hypocrisy abounded among most of his fellows. Pathetic. He wondered if Tertius thought himself above that, too. Tertius would be livid about this if he heard, and would insist on claiming superiority, as though he had any ground on which to do so.

At Vibia's brazen question, Secundus looked askance. If he ran a brothel, he supposed it would bring shame upon his family name and scandalize everyone Secundus had ever known. It almost made him wish he could do it. Still, when it came to reality, he was curious what would happen to Vibia. Secundus had not thought about what happened to a whore when her looks faded as her body aged. How many former whores could run a brothel? Certainly, not most of them. What would the others do? Or did they age and continue working, with fewer and fewer men taking an interest- he hadn't paid any attention to the other whores this time, as he was already familiar with Vibia, but if he had, might he have seen them? Or were they hidden someplace, only trotted out if a man requested them?

"If running a brothel with you would not disparage the Varus family name, my dear, I would do so happily. I will satisfy myself with admiring your work from a distance- once we've fully enjoyed your time as a gift of Venus, that is."

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Vibia smirked like a cat who had the cream. She knew some Senators dabbled in the lewd world of hers, with shady (and illegal) business deals commonplace. She didn't think Secundus would be reticent about such things, but then she supposed she didn't know him much at all. 

"From a distance?" She arched a brow and leaned in, hovering just above him, teasingly out of reach. She tossed her hair over her shoulder and after a quick kiss on his neck, pulled back to sit curled up at his feet. "Perhaps I shouldn't be a madame," She ventured with narrowed eyes, "I'm a musician as well, a good one." Sometimes her two skills intertwined when she was hired to cater to the rich parties of the nobles, playing music and then playing with the men once the proper evening entertaining was done. 

"You could hire me for a party, perhaps? Get me out of the Venus for an evening?" 

 

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Secundus watched her move with lithe grace. She knew exactly what to do to entice him. Despite his exhaustion, he felt renewed vigor at just the possibility of another round. He resisted the urge to end the conversation, though. He was no longer a young man, and needed the time to recuperate. Some light teasing and conversation filled a different need, no less important.

You are talented,” he mused. Secundus had only heard Vibia play outside, during his first visit. Venus paraded their girls around displaying their most unique assets- in Vibia’s case, this included her skill with music, in addition to the skills he had called upon more frequently. Secundus indulged the fantasy for a brief moment- inviting a whore to play music at a party, and introducing her to his wife. The look on Livia’s face would be gratifying- she so rarely bothered to react to him with anything but cold dismissal or suspicion.

"Perhaps I shall. How would you prefer to be introduced, Vibia? I would not want to give my guests a mistaken impression of your broad range of skills.”

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"Too talented, really. The Gods blessed me with beauty, skills, wit..." She chuckled, jesting. Her skill with the cithara wasn't a divine gift, she'd worked night and day to perfect it - and her natural inclination and talent for music had only played a small part.

She watched his face as he mulled over his suggestion, a devilish little smile playing on her lips. If there was something she enjoyed, she was driven to get it, and one of her most favourite pastimes was watching crestfallen, haughty Roman matrons as their husbands salivated over her image. "Oh I suspect you should introduce me just as a musician at first," Her eyes followed him and her lips were full with a smirk, "At least at the beginning of the evening, and then as the night draws on, and the good ladies retire for the evening to take off their wigs and cosmetics and the men are left with no entertainment, you can reveal my true calling?" She neglected to mention that a good number of his party guests might know exactly what she did for a living, given that they haunted the Venus as much as he did. 

 

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Secundus smiled knowingly. Vibia's blend of false modesty and false confidence only made her more attractive. She knew exactly how to draw men in. He wondered if any of her clients had convinced themselves they loved her. It was a tempting preoccupation among young men, to decide that they were in love. He had never held any such romantic notions, for he had grown up suddenly- after years of revelry and fun, he had been thrown straight into adulthood without much warning. He wondered if there was much reward in pretending romantic interest. Perhaps he should have tried it. Now it was a bit late, though. Ah, well. Sometimes, an opportunity was gone before one noticed it leaving. He would have to live with that.

"Your true calling! Yes, after the ladies abandon their posts, you will have to substitute yourself for them. Quite ably, I am sure. Have you ever played the lady, Vibia? Outside these walls. Or do you prefer the life of a madam?"

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Vibia chuckled and tossed that long blonde hair back over her shoulder. "Of course I have." She grinned that devilishly seductive smile and arched a well-shaped brow, "I had a man that took me home to meet his mother, claiming I was some senatorial girl he was planning on wedding." She chuckled. The poor fool. She hadn't the heart to tell him that his mother could see straight through the ruse, and his brother had propositioned her in the atrium. Bless him, the fool.

"And I've been invited to plenty of parties purely for my musical talents too, although I must admit that's a rarer occurrence...I mean, why would you pay good coin to hire me just to play the strings of my cithara?" She tilted her head and eyed him with intrigue, "Are you genuinely considering my offer of entertainment? I can put on a good show, that I assure you, and your wife needn't know." And if she did find out her true profession then...what did it matter to Vibia? Sowing a bit of marital discord was just a perk of the job, as far as she was concerned.

 

TAG: @Járnviðr

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Secundus smiled, his eyes glinting dangerously. He needed to do something to get Livia's attention. She had been distant lately, an unwelcome return to the earliest days of their marriage. He wanted to provoke a reaction- and the only way to do that was to make her temper flare. He had learned that lesson a long time ago. Perhaps showing off Vibia would offend her into speaking to him with something other than downcast eyes and false deference. He was growing weary of her games.

Secundus pulled back, finger tickling Vibia's chin. He had places to go, and things to do. This had been a pleasant diversion, but...he should be off soon enough. He moved languidly, though, not quite motivated enough by the prospect of responsibilities and business to leave the bed. This was what made Vibia so dangerous, he thought: her ability to draw him in with narry but a sultry tone and honeyed words. He ought to be above such manipulation- and perhaps today, he had been. Perhaps today, he had said nothing that would incriminate him or scandalize anyone important. But perhaps another day, he would be less careful. That was the draw, really. The inherent danger with trusting so much of himself to a stranger. He sat up, stretching slightly.

"Your musical talents will be much appreciated. If any of our guests appreciate any of your other virtues, then I'm sure they will do so respectfully. And perhaps I will be hiring you for more than just your musical talent. Perhaps the expression on my wife's face at the sight of you is part of the experience."

@Sara

Edited by Járnviðr
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Vibia watched him sit up with a faux-pout of sadness, and eyed him with wide eyes not unlike a puppy. Languidly, she moved off the bed and reached out to take a robe to loosely tie over herself, shielding what little modesty she had as he likewise made moves to leave. 

"Well, you know where to find me, should this party become a reality, as I so sincerely hope it does." She had a mental image in her mind of Secundus' wife; some dowdy, middle-aged woman with an awful wig and an even worse figure whose jowly cheeks would flush bright red at the imposition of a sex worker in her home. She grinned to herself at the thought and moved to kneel up on the bed, draping her arms around his shoulders and preventing him from leaving. If her robe fluttered open a touch, she didn't pay any notice. 

"Now, you be good until I see you next, hmm?" She grinned that feline grin, "And maybe if you are, I'll give you a treat next time, hm?" 

 

TAG: @Járnviðr

I think we're nearly wrapped?

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