b'12LISA E. BETZHe took his time traversing the unstable wreckage. When he neared the slab, he prodded the various charred beams. Selecting one, he wrapped his arms around it. His muscles bulged. Nothing happened. He adjusted his footing and tried again. This time the beam creaked. He strained. The slab shifted, causing a cascade of rubble. Tyndareus shouted and leapt clear. He stumbled a step or two. Dropped to his knees. He pitched forward, his torso disappearing into a cavity, then lay still.GuiltstabbedLivia.Hadherimpulsivenessgottenhimin-jured? Please, Lord Christ, dont let him be hurt.Ten agonizing breaths later he stood, a small figure in his arms. He carried her to the alley. A skinny young woman, covered in soot and pungent with burnt lumber mixed with overtones of sewer. Despite the filth, Livia recognized her. Why was Aunt Porcias newest slave hiding under a pile of rubble? Had she run away?Thirsty, the slave rasped through cracked lips.The poor thing was half-dead from lack of water. Wed better take her to the house.Agneta drew a sharp breath. Even Tyndareus looked uneasy. Livias parents would not be pleased to learn their daughter was bringing home a stray slave girl, particularly on the day they en-tertained her potential husband.Trust me. I know what Im doing.Actually, know was too strong a word, but she was almost cer-tain, and that was enough. She led them straight home, entering the house through the slaves entrance to avoid her parents no-tice. She flitted through the house to her bedroom. As Tyndareus laid the listless girl on the floor, Agneta clicked her tongue. Look at the filthy creature on your nice clean floor. Your mother will have a fit.In moments like this, Livia could slap her maid for being so callous. Fetch a basin of water and some towels.'