b'Chapter OneL ivia intended to make the most of her freedombefore an unwanted husband ruined everything. She reveled in Romes early-morning bustle: slaves carrying laden bas-kets, toga-clad men heading to conduct business in the forum, and merchants from every corner of the empire crying their wares with exotic accents and atrocious grammar. She admired a display of colorful woven rugs, poked through a shelf of cop-per serving spoons, and purchased honey-glazed almond pas-tries to share with her ever-watchful escort, Tyndareus.The big slave dipped his head and murmured thanks while Agneta tutted. Livias maidservant didnt approve of slaves shar-ing snacks with their mistress. Or impromptu shopping trips. Or fun of any kind.Herloss.Thepastriesweredelicious.Livialickedthelast smudge of honey from her fingers. Lets head to the other side of the forum. Agnetas narrow face pinched in disapproval. The most im-portant day in my ladys life and she sees fit to wander the seven hills.Meeting a prospective husband was hardly the most impor-tant day in a girls life, especially when the man in question was not remotely acceptable. If only she could find a way to convince her father of that truth. A fruitless hope. When had Father ever listened to her? She wandered the market stalls as long as she dared then opt-ed for a roundabout route home, detouring off the main street onto the Quirinal Hill. Near the top of the ridge she spotted a handsome black cat sitting in the mouth of an alley. The cats intelligent eyes met hers. What a beguiling creature.'