28. One Last Thing to Break

Soundtrack and Video: Frank Turner, “Recovery (Live)” Six weeks later, Tereus presses a note into Valeria’s palm. It says, “Meet me in the hayloft tonight, if you can.” Of course she makes her way to the barn, climbs the ladder into the hayloft. It doesn’t much matter what she does. It feels like her conduct […]

27. Feeling His Humiliation

Lucius Shelawn sits in the library, as he often does. If someone were to ask what he’s doing, he would say that he is feeling his humiliation. No one asks, so there’s no opportunity to say this, but it is what he thinks as he sits there, hour after hour. “Library” is a grand name […]

26. Sympathy and Longing

Fall sets in. Winter is coming. There’s little work on the farm. Tereus and Valeria divide it between themselves silently and efficiently. Lavinia cooks on occasion and watches the children. Camilla continues to help her mother. Valeria tries to teach Claudius his letters, but he’s restless and can’t be made to practice with his chalk […]

25. Collateral Damage

When she returns in the morning, Lucius is awake, and she can hear him and Tereus talking quietly, though she can’t make out the words. Their voices are almost indistinguishable — clear, sweet. As young men they could imitate each other flawlessly. Tereus would mimic Lucius’s precise, measured diplomat’s tones, and Lucius could easily adopt […]

24. The Furies Settle in the Rafters

When she rises at dawn, Lucius is still not there. She bathes and dresses hastily, checks on Camilla and Claudius, who are in trance. She finds Lucius in the library, curled up on the couch like a kitten. She feels real affection for him, the way he’s hunched one shoulder, wrapped his arms arounds himself.  […]

23. Reckless Greed

Tereus’s passion is fierce, painful. He’s always enjoyed sex, but for him it’s a casual pleasure, well below drinking and battle and smoking, and good food, for that matter. Now that he is deprived of other vices, his constant, punishing rounds of craving and satisfaction center on Valeria and the need to possess her. Valeria […]

22. Forgive Me, Love Me, Let Me Love You

9/1/17— His beauty has gradually impressed itself upon me. I feel his intellect, the force of his will, but more than anything, I feel his masculine vigor. We lay there talking. Because he asked, I told him what I thought of him back then. He listened thoughtfully and said, “I always found you witty, intriguing. […]