b'Chapter Three A n hour later Avitus strode through dark streets on his waytoCuriosapartment.Heignoredthemuttered curses and sullen looks. Men of wealth were not wel-come in the narrow alleys of the lower Aventine, but Avitus had little to fear with Sorex at his side. The big slave fought as a gladiator before Avitus bought him. His brawny arms were crisscrossed with the marks of old battles, and a puckered scar creased his face into a permanent scowl that dissuaded all but the most foolhardy.Thepairreachedtheapartmentunmolestedandweread-mitted by the lone slave. Curio greeted them with one quirked eyebrow. What brings you here? I thought we were avoiding each oth-ers company.The men had met two years ago, when Curio was a key wit-ness in a case. During the case theyd kept their association se-cret in an effort to surprise the opposition. When Avitus saw whataknackCuriohadforferretingoutinformation,here-turned a month later to ask for assistance on another case. Curio had agreed, so long as they continued to meet out of the public eye. He claimed many of his lower-class acquaintances would stop trusting him if they saw him hobnobbing with aristocrats. Amused by the request, Avitus had agreed.But now their situation had changed. Thetimeforsecrecyisover.Ivedecidedtomarryyour sister.Curios look of stunned surprise was worth the hike across the city. It lasted several entertaining seconds before shifting to a crooked smile.'