Eleanor’s romantic tour of Italy shatters when her long-time boyfriend dumps her in Pompeii. Hoping an evening with a handsome Roman might save her trip, she contacts Madame Eve at 1Night Stand, then goes out to explore, buying a small golden signet in a mysterious antiquities shop near the Forum. Darius, a hard-working Senator in Ancient Rome, is puzzled by the Sibyl’s words: You will not find love in your lifetime. Following her directions, he spots Eleanor, a barbarian wearing his stolen senator’s ring. A night spent together may be just what they both need to break down the columns of time that stand between them.
“What is it?” She moved closer to examine the object he held.
“A senator’s ring from the time of Augustus.” He waved the item with a flourish. “A rare and beautiful find, for a deserving young woman.”
The golden circle sparkled in the half-light like the wedding band that shone in her dreams. She tried to control her sharp intake of breath.
“A rather personal memento, wouldn’t you say?”
“Which senator?” Gorgeous. What a find. Was it legal to take it out of the country? Surely it held historical significance.
“Yes, it can be exported,” the shopkeeper said. “We don’t know who owned the signet, as many records of the Senate at that time were lost, but it has been cleared by the Antiquities Commission.”
She hadn’t mentioned exporting it aloud. Had he read her mind? No, that wasn’t possible. She squirmed. Nothing about the shop or its contents felt normal. One thing was certain. The ring was amazing. And perfect.
“What does the engraving say?” she asked.
She drew in a quick breath, as a gasp of warm air breezed across her neck, making the hairs stand. She shuddered. I’ve been watching too many old movies.
“As common as the name was at the time, no senators named Darius are on any rolls.” The shopkeeper pushed it closer to her face. “And Madame Eve recommends it. What do you say?”
“How much?” Eleanor whispered.
“Ah.” The shopkeeper grinned. “What price would you pay for a little ring that will change your life forever?”