b'26LISA E. BETZIvegottohearthisstory.Ithoughtyoudgivenupon marriage.I had, until recently.Respectable Roman men married and bore sons to carry on thefamilyname,butAvitushadneverfoundamarriageable woman who could look past the scars and see him for who he was. He could not abide to live with a woman who either de-spised or pitied him. And then Curios sister had become available. Avitus studied his friend. Curios features were strikingly like Livias: intelligent dark brown eyes, firm mouth, strong chin. Did the similarity between siblings end there, or might Livia share other qualities with her rogue of a brother who could be equally at ease with a senator or a pickpocket? Would that make her more or less attractive as a wife? An amusing question to consider.Care for some wine? Curio held out a pitcher.Avitus shook his head. Ive had my limit for tonight. I dined at your fathers house before coming here.Then youve met the family?Yes. Your parents are just as I expected they would be.A bitter laugh. Let me guess, Father was blunt and overbear-ing while Mother agreed with everything he said and drank too much wine?Just so.And Livia?Afascinatingyounglady,quiteunlikethetepidgirlsmy brother suggests I ought to marry. In fact, she tried to engage me in verbal combat. Our discussion felt rather like adversaries probing for weakness.Is that a nice way of saying she hated you?I wasnt expecting to win her heart with my perfect looks and sparkling conversation.But she won yours?She earned my respect.'