b'36LISA E. BETZherunusualbeliefs.AftermanytalksLiviahadacceptedthe teachings of Jesus as her own. Now she stepped into the warm, yeasty shop and breathed in the aroma of home. Of her true family. Of love. Placida envel-oped her in a hug. How are you, my dear girl? And who is this?My new maid, Roxana. Or so I hope. She quickly explained the situation. Im taking her to meet Mother now.I understand. Ill tell Pansa. And well be praying for you, her eyes added.Thank you.Withthatboostofconfidence,Liviaheadedtothehouse. When she entered, the doorkeeper cleared his throat in the dis-creet way that meant he wanted to say something. What is it?Your mother has been looking for you, my lady.Where is she?In her sitting room, I believe.Thank you for the warning. She beckoned Roxana. Follow me, keep your eyes firmly on the floor, and dont say a word un-less she addresses you directly.Livia led her maid to Mothers sitting room, which was filled withornatefurnitureandsilk-coveredpillows.Thefrescoed walls featured a selection of the more virtuous characters from Greek legends, including Odysseus being reunited with his faith-ful wife, Penelope. Every item was of the finest quality, yet the room always felt stiff and unwelcoming. Just like Mother.She was seated on her couch, the worst effects of last nights wineconcealedbehindartfulcosmetics.Eunice,herfavorite maid, stood behind her. Eunice was the prettiest slave in the household,butalsothehaughtiestandmostvindictive.Livia would need to warn Roxana to watch herself.But first to win Mothers approval. Good morning, Livia said in her softest voice. I hope you are feeling well?'