From Book 3. Raw, unedited, and subject to change.
His hands were clean. He blinked a couple of times and turned them over to inspect his palms.
All evidence of his crime had washed away, but still it felt as if blood were dripping from his fingers.
Allerix balled his immaculate hands into fists before reaching for another bite of his evening meal when a younger slave he didn’t recognize crossed the threshold to the modest dining hall. The skinny lad unfurled a slender papyrus scroll as if he were a proud town herald and declared in his high-pitched, feeble voice, “Commander Fabius requires the companionship of the bed warmer named Alexandros.”
When Alle didn’t respond or even move, Bryaxis shoved him with his shoulder. “That would be you, Dacian. Or don’t you recognize your own name?”
“Alexandros. That is your name, isn’t it?”
Bry’s raised brow and lopsided, knowing grin threw Alle off balance. Playing the part of common peasant should have become easier by now. He was so close, only a few more steps to his glorious destiny.
“Uh…yeah,” Alle replied between mouthfuls. “Alexandros. That would be me.”
“You’ve been acting all out of sorts since returning from that trip to the Praetorians’ camp. What by the gods happened there?”
Lifting his head from his pile of food, Simon stared with wide green eyes and waited for Alle to answer to Bry’s question.
Allerix swallowed again and mumbled, “Nothing happened.”
“Did you see any of the prisoners they have jailed there?” Simon asked. “Rumors are that’s where the emperor is keeping all the Dacian heathens he’s going to throw to the beasts during his triumphal games.”
“I saw no one, except a handful of fuck ugly Roman soldiers. Dominus delivered some correspondence, chatted briefly with the brutes, and we left. Short and quick.”
“Were you scared? Shit, I’d have been terrified.” Simon shoved a piece of bread into his mouth, babbling through the crumbs that spilled out of his lips and onto his plate. “That high-walled compound looks scary from the outside, never mind whatever’s behind those huge metal doors.”
“It’s just a fort, Simon—filled with armed guards drudging through their daily chores. They looked more tired than frightening. Ugly and bored.”
“You’re lying.” Simon snorted bitterly. “Alexandros.”
Allerix wiped his mouth before lifting his left hand to flash Simon the Roman soldiers’ salute.
“You’re not allowed to do that! You can’t use Dom’s favorite gesture.”
Allerix smiled sarcastically. “The Roman wouldn’t have taught me a few obscene curses if he didn’t expect me to use them. Here, have another.”
“Bryaxis! Make him stop.”
“Gods, enough bickering, for fuck’s sake.” Bryaxis exhaled and rubbed his face. “And speaking of expectations, don’t you expect your time in Fabius’s bed tonight to be either short or quick, Dacian. Go on, then. Finish that last bite and make sure you give yourself a good bum wash before I deliver you to the randy old bastard.”