b'DEATH AND A CROCODILE 41Curio rolled his eyes. Spare me. Marcellus grabbed his friends arm. You cant afford to disre-gard the gods, not when your sisters safety is at stake. We must not allow him to marry Livia.You sound like a jealous lover. Curio waggled a finger. I hope you have not been meddling in Livias affairs.Someoneneedstomeddle,unlessyouwanttoseeLivia doomed to a life of torment with that wretch.Marcellus,Marcellus.Curiorefilledbothcups.Everthe hopeless romantic, eh? Unfortunately, youll have to make do with writing poems about unrequited love, because the betrothal is set for next week. All we can do is watch and pray.Marcellus had done more than pray. He had brought offerings to Venus. Expensive offerings. And hed begged the goddess to grant him favor. Last week hed been given a positive answer: Livias heart was given to him and no other.Curio slapped his shoulder. Dont be so upset. Livia will al-ways adore you, regardless of who Father chooses as her husband. Lets talk about something else. What have you heard about the upcoming chariot races? I hear the Greens have a new team that they think will beat all comers. The Greens may think so, but the rest of us know better. My money stays with the Reds.An hour later Marcellus stood. I think thats enough wine for tonight. Its been a long day and I should get home. I must travel downriver to Ostia in the morning to deal with shipping issues. Somewhere in that port I am missing twenty amphoras of Chian wine.Goodnight, then.Goodnight. Marcellus ensured his coin pouch was secure in-side his tunic and headed across town on legs steadier than one might have guessed after four cups of wine. Tonight Venus was watching over him.'