Another drafty bit from Book 3, unedited and subject to change. This scene features Gaius, Marcia, Trajan, Plotina, and Sabina. Super snarky Gaius’s POV. Yes, we’re having a lovely family dinner. NOTE: Bit spoilery but not too much.
After Plotina rose and extended her arms to cradle the child, a foul smell drifted through the air. Dribbles of greenish-brown excrement leaked from underneath the baby’s nappy and oozed down its pudgy leg. Plotina wrinkled her nose, pulling back in disgust. “Perhaps later.”
“My deepest apologies, my noble Empress,” Marcia apologized, her face scarlet from embarrassment, before she ordered one of her maids to take the child back to the nursery for a wash and a fresh cloth.
“All babies poop, dear wife.” Marcus shrugged and then laughed. “But only imperial babies shit with such impressive vigor.”
Closing his eyes, Gaius rubbed the bridge of nose. By Cupid’s filthy fat bottom—the dinner hadn’t even started and already this annoying, regrettable family function had lasted far too long. He hadn’t noticed her alongside him until she spoke.
“You may not trust my sincerity, but I am truly happy for you, Gaius,” she said in her most kittenish tone.
“Thank you, Sabina,” Gaius replied flatly. Once, her sultry Siren’s voice and enchanting beauty could seduce him into doing anything for her. Vibia Sabina had trapped him squarely under her pretty, young thumb. No longer. She might think she still had some modicum of influence over his heart, but her spell had died a long bloody time ago.
She moved closer, stroking his forearm with her soft hand. “I wonder—if we had wed as we’d planned, would we have produced a boy or a girl first?”
Gaius’s flimsy façade of decorum shattered.
“Considering you’re married to our dear Greekling, and you’ve produced a child for absolutely fucking no one, I find your question both juvenile and absurd. Oh, look—the appetizers have arrived. Shall we take our spots?” Gaius gestured towards the couches before backpedaling to offer his elbow to Marcia. She grabbed hold of his bicep and squeezed hard while smiling in triumph.