b'22LISA E. BETZHerfatherswordssettledintoLiviasgut.Ifshemarried Avitus, she would exchange a life dominated by Fathers iron will for one manipulated by the lawyers agile mind. Either way she had little hope of becoming the woman she wished to be.For the rest of the evening, Father kept the conversation on safer topics, querying Avitus opinion on everything from wine to chariot teams. Every Roman was a staunch supporter of one of the four chariot franchises. Avitus actually showed a modicum of animation when he made his claim for the Blues.Livia preferred the Reds.By the time the slaves whisked the final course from the table, her jaw ached from the effort of sustaining a polite smile. How much longer must she endure this emotionless and tiresome aris-tocrat? He failed to live up to Marcellus in every way. Why was God allowing her to marry this dreadful man instead of the one she adored? Father turned to their guest. I trust you are pleased with my daughter? Mother hid her scandalized gasp with a slurp of wine while Livia and Auntie glared daggers at Father. Not that he noticed. As always, he was oblivious to the feelings of others. Especially females.Avitus merely raised an eyebrow. If we are being blunt, I must ask about your son, Curio. I understand he is close friends with Marcellus. Should I expect any trouble from either of them?Curio was Livias older brother. Father had caught Curio steal-ing money from their investment partners to pay off his gam-bling debts. Father had been so furious hed banished Curio, even threatened to disinherit him. Livia had not seen him in three long years. Fathersjawtwitched.Marcellushastoomanyproblems of his own to cause trouble. As for my son, until he admits his wrongdoingandmakesamendsheremainsbannedfromthe'