b'DEATH AND A CROCODILE 19made no attempt to disguise her graying hair and sagging skin. Livia found her aunts courage inspiring. Her parents did not. They thought Aunt Livilla eccentric but they couldnt deny her respectability. Her late husband had been a senator, and thus proved the family was worthy of Avitus at-tention. Fathers younger brother, Gemellus, was notably miss-ing for the same reason. He was an embarrassment to the family and would have behaved badly, especially toward Avitus, whom he despised.Livia would have her own challenges remaining charitable to a man she did not want in her life. She was glad to have her aunt with her on this difficult night. Thank you for coming.Youre welcome, my dear. Now then, lets meet your special guest. AuntLivillacrookedherarmthroughLiviasandsteered her into the dining room where the men waited. Fathers broad frame dwarfed their guesta short, wiry man of perhaps thirty, wearing the broad-striped toga that marked him as a member of the senatorial class. Ah, the women, at last. Father gestured to the man standing beside him. Ladies, our honored guest, Aulus Memmius Avitus. May I present my wife, Sentia, and my sister, Livilla, widow of Senator Balbinus.Their guest gave the older women polite nods.And this is my daughter, Livia. Avitus studied her from head to toe. His frank appraisal was not lascivious, but heat rose in her cheeks. She lifted her chin and stared back. His scarred face was not as startling as shed been led to believe. His left cheek was marred by puckered skin, but it did not hide his patrician features, the proud angle of his chin, the confident set of his shoulders. An aristocrat, through and through.'