b'40LISA E. BETZSounds like you need a refill. Curio poured wine into both cups, followed by a splash of water. Any good news?Im not finished with the bad news. I found out whos behind your father revoking my betrothal arrangement. Gemellus. The honeyed-tongued jackal has been feeding your father a pack of lies. Gemellus was Curios uncle. He was a grasping and manipula-tive man with a dangerously scheming mind. He never did any-thing unless it was for his own interest. What does your uncle gain from poisoning your father against me?No idea. Who can understand how his twisted mind works? Curio made a disgusted face. Hes been poisoning Fathers mind aboutmeforyears.Isometimeswonderifhesimplyenjoys spreading lies to ruin peoples reputations just for sport.Your father knows what a scoundrel Gemellus is. Cant you make him see reason?I doubt it.Marcellus took a sip of wine. Time to prod his friend to ac-tion. The worst news of all is that your father is ready to sign a betrothal agreement with Memmius Avitus.New travels fast. How did you find out?I make it my business to know how your sister is faring. If you loved her, youd find a way to stop it.Curios eyebrow rose in a cynical arch. I know youre bitter about losing her, but theres nothing either of us can do. You mustnt let her marry Avitus.I hear hes a decent man. Not too old and still has all his hair. She could do worse.Then you dont know him. Marcellus leaned close. Curio must hear the truth and understand what was at stake. Listen to me. Avitus is cursed. The gods are against him.If the gods are against him, how does he win so many cases?There lies my proof. He must rely on mystical powers to defy the gods. Illicit powers. Dark powers.'