He walked behind her with heavy thoughts, the impulse to watch her hips sway rhythmically was there, yet he could not muster the desire.
The two problems he was faced with were all that occupied his mind; How was he to battle a demon that none had defeated?
And how was he to lay with Domina when his feelings for Naevia continued to grow? How could he be with another woman whilst she stood just outside?
She stopped and motioned for him to go ahead, her face down.
He gazed at her for a moment as he passed, guilt and regret clutching him, the guilt that he was to lay with another and the regret that he could possibly leave for the after-life tomorrow never to be with the one he truly wanted.
He stepped into the darked room, the Domina hidden in shadow, away from the pool of light that beamed into the middle of the room.
“Step into the light” she commanded, her voice husky.
He looked up at the open roof where the light produced from the moon shone into the room before he stepped forward.
“Let me gaze upon the champion of Capua…” said Domina as she moved in the shadows to face him “you truly are a wonder” she marvelled.
“As are you Domina” he gruffly knowing that was what she wanted to hear.
She gathered her dress and stepped into the light anxiously, “We don’t have much time, and I will see it well used” she said stepping up to him purposefully, “Do I stir you to passion?” she asked in a whisper.
“Yes Domina” he lied.
Part of their arrangement was that she was to keep him safe and he was to worship her.
She reached under his garment and gripped him; he sucked in a breath harshly at her touch.
Her face fell when she felt him limp, “Your cock would disagree” she said with disappointment.
“Excuse my distraction Domina” he said thickly, “I have thoughts of tomorrow”
“And I would have you in the moment…” she whispered huskily, “deep inside me” she whispered.
How was he to be with her? How was she to understand?
“I’ve never faced and opponent like Theokoles” he relented; he didn’t want to explain himself, least of all to her.
“And he has never met a man like you” she purred before she dropped to her knees reaching under his garment, he sucked in a quick breath through his nose, looking up to the ceiling as she gripped him.
He could die tomorrow. An all too real possibility in facing Theokoles, he did not want the scent of a Domina on him. For her to be the last love he had known before he left for the afterlife. For making love to her be the act that drained him before he faced Theokoles.
“I beg favour Domina” he began as she placed her lips on him, “love makes a man weak before battle” he said.
If she cared for him in the way that she said, the way he wished Naevia did, she would let him leave.
She released him and stood up, staring him straight in the eye, looking for a sign of deception. He did not let his steely gaze waver; she seemed to close in on herself as she accepted his words.
“I would have you strong” she said, her voice filled with pain and sadness filled her eyes at the small rejection “We will forgo pleasures of a single evening and pray to the gods for many more to come” she said passionately.
He looked down, unable to take the adoration in her voice as he was once again wishing the words were coming from another’s lips. That it was the small slave that stood just outside the door that was pleading for him to stay.
As if to grab his attention she pressed her lips to his, but he remained as unresponsive as stone. He did not love her; he knew that now as what he felt for her was a pale shadow of what he felt for Naevia.
As soon as her lips left his, he seized the opportunity, “Domina” he said quietly before turning to take his leave.
His eyes locked with Naevia for a split second bringing him to a stop as something flickered through her eyes, happiness? Sadness? Before he could identify the emotion it vanished and she looked down, they walked in silence back to the cell.
She stepped to the side with her head down, why did it bother him?
Why did the thought that he could die tomorrow without his intentions to her being fully known? Why did he not want to die knowing how she felt?
A way to right the situation evaded him; he walked toward his cell and past her with a heavy heart.
But a small hand gripped his arm, the touch as light as a feather but enough to stop him, “You are going to die tomorrow aren’t you?” asked a sad voice.
He stared down at the ground, how he wished that the possibility was not true, how he wished Theokoles were like every other opponent he faced, “Only the gods divine the future” was the only comforting words he could offer her.
Her heard her voice break with tears, “Why didn’t you let Illythia help you?” she whispered, “She could have spoken to her Father-” she began.
He turned to look at her, did she not understand? Of course not. She hated the games. And he was a Gladiator.
“To what end?” he demanded quietly, though the thought had crossed his mind, to remove himself from harm, to be with Naevia. The thought had crossed his mind.
But the blood of a Gladiator flowed through his veins, he could not deny it, but he could see she did not understand, “Humiliation?” he asked, hoping she would understand.
She sniffed and stared down at the ground, “honour and glory” she began, looking up into his eyes “that’s all you care about isn’t it?” she asked, her voice choking on tears.
He watched as a single crystal fell from her eye, leaving a sparkling track down her perfect skin he felt his face soften.
She did care. He knew that now.
But she feared her feelings were not returned. She feared she’d loose him.
Compassion overwhelmed him.
It welled up inside until he couldn’t control it, the uncontrollable urge to wipe her tears away, to see her smile, grew too strong.
Slowly he raised his hand, bringing his thumb to his face he gently wiped the tear away, marvelling at how large his hand was compared to her tiny face, “not all” he answered quietly, his voice choked with emotion.
How could she doubt his feelings for her?
Their eyes locked as his hand lingered on her face, how he wanted to cup her face in his hands, to feel her smooth skin and silky skin.
He made to remove her hand but she reached up and stopped him, two of her small hands holding his hand to her face.
“Still a fool” she whispered her eyes stared straight at him with imploring eyes.
That small encouragement was all he needed, he stepped forward as she stepped backwards, pulling him towards her in the shyest of manners, “still” he murmured.
He couldn’t take the distance between them anymore, but unlike the first time when he had been filled with desire, the feelings stirring in him were tender.
He closed the distance between them as her hand slid delicately up his neck to grasp him; he leaned down and captured her lips with his own.
This time she was not shocked, standing as stone with no inclination of what to do, this time she held him close almost pulling him down to her as she continued to walk backwards.
He pushed a stray wash cloth that was hanging out of the way with his free hand, breaking away for only a moment before he pressed his lips to hers once more; he felt his hand that was gripping her back touch the wall pressing their bodies together.
The feel of her against him was enough to make him groan, especially with her hand running up his chest with the lightest of touch she placed it over his heart before gently breaking away.
He saw her eyes open in alarm, normally he would have taken this as a sign of rejection, to stop, but he was unable to part himself from her, the heat of her body burning him as she stared at him with frightened eyes.
“You said love drains a man” she said breathlessly.
How he longed to kiss her again, could she not see? He did not love Domina. He loved her.
“It can give him hope, in the right arms” he said huskily.
He felt her chest rise against his to draw in breath, her luscious lips parting.
Reason left him as he gave into his desires and captured her soft lips with his own again, he tightened his grip around her back, crushing her to his chest as her soft hand slowly slid up to grip his shoulder.
The feel, the taste, the scent of her, they were all intoxicating as the kissing deepened and her yielding lips moulded to his.
This was where he wanted to be. She was who he wanted to be with.
He stood in the gateway to the arena with the Thracian, Spartacus, his mind full of the upcoming battle- how were they to win? To defeat a man that had never been defeated?
“Citizens of Capua, brothers of Rome” called the Magistrate, the crowd cheered wildly, a sound like music to his ears, “in the name of our forefathers, I Titus Calavius, present to you the final event, a spectacle” he continued, his old voice carrying through to all corners of the arena from the Palvanus.
But his attention did not stay on the old man for long, his eyes by their own accord found Naevia, her face etched with anxiety and fear.
Slowly she raised her beautiful brown eyes to him, a smile tugged at the side of his face as memories from the previous night flooded back to him. The way her soft lips had felt against his, how she had moulded to his body…
He raised his head slightly in acknowledgment.
No, he was not ready to leave this world. To leave her.
His smile faded as he looked down, to face Theokeles and live was to defy death… His thought immediately went to that of the Thracian. Spartacus.
How many times he had defied death. Fated for execution and lived. Fated against him and lost, yet still he lived. He even survived the horror of the pits… For what?
He drowned out the Magistrate; though his gaze stayed forward he only had ears for the Thracian.
“Your women” he began gruffly, “is she the reason you refused to die?” he demanded.
There was silence for a moment before he answered, “She is” he replied simply.
He turned his eyes to Naevia, her radiant beauty evident to him even at the distance he was, the feelings she stirred in him, the reason he didn’t want to die…
His life for so long had been about the glory of the arena, was there perhaps more to life?
“The perhaps there is something beyond glory” he said more to himself as he placed his helmet, determined to live so to once again hold her in his arms.
She watched in horror as he ran his sword right through the monster, yet Theokeles refused to fall. The brief victory that had passed before, when the monster had been on the ground and thoughts that Crixus had won flooded her heart, how he had looked to her to share the moment of glory… though it had happened mare moments ago, it seemed like a life time ago.
She flinched back in horror as Theokoles slashed his sword down to open Crixus’s chest causing blood to fill the air. She watched as he fell to the ground, blood oozing from his mouth as he looked up at her.
She once heard the story of how a man looked into the eyes of his lover right before he was exit this life for another on the ancient battlefields of Rome, how seeing her one last time gave him strength to carry on, but as Theokoles brought his sword down and slashed open his back spilling blood onto the ground, she knew that the story couldn’t possibly be true as the man she loved fell to the ground.
She kept her eyes on him as the rains fell. All those around her rejoiced and called out the Thracians name.
It seemed she alone shed tears for the fallen hero as he was dragged off the sand; her heart went with him into the dark depths of the arena.