Late in the Roman occupation of Britain, a young Welsh tribeswoman is hand selected and captured to serve as a courtesan to a Roman Legate and his wife. Escape proves impossible, but Seren is never completely abandoned. Her grandmother’s cryptic prophecy through their psychic connection seals her fate—it will be Seren’s lot to yield. The words both relieve Seren and further mystify her: You must find pleasure in your present life. Fulfillment will not be yours until after you cross into the next.
Roman-Occupied Wales, 3rd Century A.D.
“You will try to escape.” The tall, curvaceous Roman woman who called herself Livia gave Seren a daring look. “I can tell by the set of your jaw, but you won’t succeed. My husband has built a fortress on this hill.”
Seren stood knee deep in warm water. She swallowed hard as Livia spread more of a soft, slick substance over her breasts. In Seren’s homeland, water was viewed as sacred, to be treated with reverence. They’d never think of wasting so much water for mere self-cleansing. Would she be cursed for her lack of reverence? The long fingers caressing her breasts didn’t feel like a curse.
She counted three nights since she’d been captured—three long days of travel to arrive at this daunting villa, surpassing in size anything she’d ever seen. In her tribe’s hill fort her father’s dwelling was the largest, but even as their leader, he possessed only one great round room under a thatched roof.
Was she now in Venta Silurum, the market town she’d heard her father speak of? She hoped her family and companions were searching for her, but even they wouldn’t be able to penetrate the defenses built by the Romans. Her people were a warrior people, but they did not hide behind walls to do their fighting, nor were they capable of being regimented like the Romans. When her people fought, it was with stealth and surprise, never in orderly lines.
Her tribe—the Silures—were fiercely independent. That was the blood coursing through her veins.
Ignoring as best she could the tingling across her breasts and loins, Seren murmured, “Why me?”
Livia paused and stared intensely. “That should be clear. You will be my personal courtesan. If that concept is not clear to you, then in your culture’s terms, you will be my personal handmaiden. We selected you with great care.”
“Me?” Seren had wondered from the start whether she’d been singled out or if she’d been taken randomly.
“You will soap my breasts like I’ve done yours.” Livia arched an eyebrow until Seren began spreading the foamy white substance across the rise of Livia’s right breast. “Ah, you have a delicate touch.”
“Why me?” Seren insisted, extending her fingers in small circles.
“I’d never say anyone in your land is royalty, but we know your father is a chieftain. He’s instructed you in many things. This is unusual for a woman of your tribe—you must have been singled out for some special reason. And he taught you some of our language. Although touch is a universal language.” A small moan escaped from Livia’s lips. “I wanted a courtesan whom I could seduce with words, and vice versa. Your beauty and your raven hair are striking, and you are nearly my height. And you have a proven taste for the female body.”
Seren held her fingers steady. What didn’t they know about her?
“You and your cousin lived with two brothers.” Livia chuckled and squeezed Seren’s fingers, encouraging her to continue massaging. “A most convenient arrangement. I’m a woman who also likes two cocks now and then, and sometimes more. We’ve had spies watching you for weeks. Do you even know which brother is the father of your daughter?”
Seren shook her head, fighting back tears. Tegan, her dark-haired three-year-old, must be filled with fear. “What will happen to Tegan?”
Livia drew a finger across Seren’s cheek and lips. “That depends some on how you behave. We will see that your daughter is properly cared for and educated. She sees both you and your cousin as mothers. She’ll adjust. We cannot bring her here. Your entire attention must be devoted to my pleasure and my husband’s pleasure. He is often gone. I am not. You are my handmaiden. I will share you with him when I choose to.”
Seren stood still as Livia slanted her mouth across hers. She did her best not to respond.
Breaking away, Livia playfully pinched Seren’s nipple. “You will respond to me when I kiss you, or you will feel the sting of my hand on your bottom. Perhaps you like a little pain with your pleasure.”
Seren shook her head. She remembered the embarrassment of being spanked endlessly by an aunt when she was a little girl. Swallowing, she puckered her lips.
“That’s better.” Livia pecked at Seren’s lips and pressed onward, deepening their embrace. Her tongue wormed its way into Seren’s mouth.
Seren couldn’t hold back a groan.
Livia encircled Seren’s wrist and lowered it until her fingers cupped Livia’s mound. Without breaking their kiss, Livia rounded her eyes, making her demand clear.
Feeling a rush of excitement she hadn’t anticipated, Seren palmed Livia’s soaking outer folds. Livia drove her tongue in and out of Seren’s mouth until Seren eased a finger into Livia’s channel. She was concentrating so hard on what she was doing that she startled when she felt Livia’s fingers parting her own nether lips.
Soon both women were lost in giving and receiving pleasure. Seren gave up trying to hold back. It wasn’t in her nature to do so. She’d been taught at a young age how to give and receive sexual pleasure—no one had ever taught her to withhold.
Her Roman captor had two fingers curled inside her aching channel before Seren could protest. Seren inched her feet further apart. Protest would have to wait. She worked a second finger into Livia, and they paced each other stroke by stroke.
They crashed at almost the same instant. Seren withdrew her fingers and held on to Livia to keep from falling.
It was Livia who broke the silence. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Her mouth turned up into a smile.
Regaining her composure, Seren said, “I don’t want to be a captive. They will come for me.”