It’s time once again to share the next chapter of Domna, Part One: The Sun God’s Daughter. As you’ll remember, Chapter 12 left off with a bit of a cliffhanger when Sofia, who is on her way to enter into her arranged marriage to Sirius Verus, was handed a letter from her former lover, Papinias.
But before we find out what horrible news Papinias has for Sofia, let me take a quick moment to clue you in on a promo that’s full of new releases from dozens of science fiction and fantasy authors. Each book should be priced at a mere 99c so it’s a great way to try out something new, or to snag a bargain on a new title from a certain author you might already know (hint hint….).
The sale lasts throughout the month of January and you can start browsing by clicking on the image below….
Shopping all done? Good. Now, kick back, put your feet up, and enjoy a bit of reading. If you haven’t met Domna yet, you can read the book’s description here or catch up with Chapters…
Chapter 13 – The Letter
My Dearest Sofia,
You must hate me by now. I’ve written page after page of words to you, but Plautinius always finds them, or men in his service who I think are my friends deliver the letters to him. I feel my hands are tied tighter than those of any slave. But I believe Macrinus is a true friend, although I fear a bit too handsome and that one look into those eyes that drive all the women mad – even the old ones who shouldn’t care about such things – will make you forget me. Or perhaps you already have. If you haven’t you will wish you had after you read this. There’s no easy way to say this so I’ll be out with it.
Like you, it wasn’t by my choice. After three months in Portaceae, Plautinius discovered letters in which I lamented about stealing you away and escaping from the world. You’ll laugh, but I sometimes dreamt of us walling ourselves into the olive grove of Dekos. Calling me a troublemaker, he convinced Sirius the only way to contain me was to force me into a marriage. Legally this can’t be done to Osterians with full citizenship, but since I’m a Bendrian I won’t be considered a true citizen for another couple years, so the contract they’ve made for my arranged marriage is binding.
The Hawk is beyond clever. If I didn’t despise him so much, I would admire the way his devious mind works. The contract required I marry a relative of the Solon. The relative had to be distant enough that no child we might make would ever inherit the solonship, but close enough that if I strayed or abandoned her it could be declared treason.
She is a plain woman with straight, chestnut hair that could be pretty if she bothered to do anything with it. Although she’s not gone to fat, she has the large structure of someone with the potential for it. I suppose I look for faults because I worry one day she won’t be able to make it out the door of our house if she continues to eat and drink at the rate she does (she has an endless craving for honey cakes and beer).
I don’t love her, Sofia. I swear it on Hera’s toes. Had she any redeeming qualities, I could settle into a life with her, but I cannot admire her. Although she can, she won’t read. Although she complains of boredom, she doesn’t take any interest in going out walking or riding with me or in taking up any productive hobbies. Although she gripes about our servants’ inefficiency (and that I won’t keep slaves), she can’t be bothered with any of the household organizing. Besides her honey cakes and beer, her only pastime is playing cards and she loses more often than not which strains our finances. I try to share her bed as little as I can get away with, but she is lusty when she’s in her cups and I must accommodate her desires so she can’t have anything to complain about to the Solon.
I try to tell myself that you and I can be no more than friends, but my eyes are starving to see you. I don’t know what you’ll think of me on reading this, but I didn’t seek out this marriage, just as you didn’t seek out yours. Your stars that you put so much faith in have been most cruel to us. However, from getting to know Sirius and learning his character, I believe you will be much happier in your marriage than I could ever hope to be in mine.
I think of you. I miss you. I love you.
P.S. I’m afraid in my longing for you I couldn’t stop myself and have told Macrinus all about you and your beauty. I think he’s fallen in love with you from my words alone. He vows he will get you to kiss him even if it’s just a peck on the cheek. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I didn’t move for what felt like hours. The words of the letter washed over me like water does when the skin is covered in oil. My hands trembled, but my mind remained blank waiting for the numbing oil to rinse off and the words to absorb into me. I could feel Macrinus stealing glances at me under his long lashes, waiting for me to react, but he stayed silent and I was grateful for that. Drop by drop the news seeped in.
Papinias was married.
And not to me.
It seemed impossible. More impossible than my heading from one end of Osteria to the other to marry Sirius. At least that concept had burrowed into a small spot in my mind over the past year, but I couldn’t find room in there to hold onto the idea that Papinias had a wife. All thanks to the Hawk’s scheming. I liked to think Sirius, left to his own devices, would simply have hoped I would forget Papinias and become happy in our marriage. Only Plautinius could be so cruel as to force this on Papi. The thought that my lover had bedded this woman crawled along my flesh like an ant you can’t seem to swat away.
“Is she pretty?” were my first words. Macrinus belted out a hearty laugh.
“You silly, vain little thing.” He patted my hand and I didn’t mind when he let it linger a moment before pulling it away. “No, Domna. She’s not ugly, but Papinias’s words are true. Her dull mind gives her a dull countenance that only lights up at the sight of those honey cakes he mentions. He doesn’t love her, but he is kind to her, he tries his best to be a companion to her, and he is a decent husband for all his not wanting to be one. He doesn’t criticize, and does try to encourage her to improve herself. Unfortunately, she has no ambition for herself and is a poor match for him.”
“And who would she be a good match for?” I felt petty but couldn’t put a stopper on the jealousy pouring through my veins. At the mention of this woman having no ambition, I wondered if Sirius might not be a better partner for her.
Macrinus looked to the sky as if trying to remember something. Then he began slowly nodding his head as if he’d found the answer.
“I once heard rumors of a dimwitted troll who roamed Cedonia. He might do.”
Despite the pain in my heart I laughed. It felt good, but I also knew the tears would come when I was alone with my thoughts that night.
As they had done throughout our voyage, Saltia slept next me, and Macrinus rested not more than two paces from where we placed our blankets. Their presence, the idea that I had two true friends in this vast realm didn’t exactly push the heartache over Papinias away, nor did it stop my tears, but it did keep me from wallowing in as deep a well of self-pity I might have dug for myself had I been alone.
As ever, thanks for reading. The final chapters of Domna, Part One will be posted over the next several weeks. But, if you order your copy today, you can read the dramatic conclusion without having to wait!!
See you next Wednesday when Finn and I will have a very exciting announcement to share!!!
* * *
Domna is Now Available for Pre-Order!!!!
You can also pre-order Parts Two through Six for only 99c of this highly-anticipated serialized historical fantasy novel. That 99c price will go up soon after each part’s release, so you might want to get your copy today!
Simply follow these Universal Book Links to treat yourself to a little something special at a fabulous bargain.
- Domna, Part One: The Sun God’s Daughter
- Domna, Part Two: The Solon’s Son
- Domna, Part Three: The Centaur’s Gamble
- Domna, Part Four: The Regent’s Edict
- Domna, Part Five: The Forgotten Heir*
- Domna, Part Six: The Solon’s Wife*
*These titles are not yet available for pre-order on Amazon