Love of the Gladiator (Affairs of the Arena Book 2)

BOOK: Love of the Gladiator (Affairs of the Arena Book 2)
6.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Love of the Gladiator

Affairs of the Arena, Volume 2

Lydia Pax

Published by Princeps Publishing, 2015.

This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.

LOVE OF THE GLADIATOR

First edition. October 15, 2015.

Copyright © 2015 Lydia Pax.

Written by Lydia Pax.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Get in touch!

Also available in the Affairs of the Arena series

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Epilogue

Thank you!

Bibliography

Further Reading: Desire of the Gladiator

About the Author

Get in touch!

––––––––

L
ydia Pax Website

Lydia Pax on Facebook

Lydia Pax on Twitter

Lydia Pax on Goodreads

Also available in the Affairs of the Arena series

Heart of the Gladiator

Desire of the Gladiator

––––––––

W
ant to get the latest new releases from me and offers for free Advance Review Copies before anyone else?
Sign up for my new release newsletter!

Chapter 1

––––––––

L
ucius saw her first in the markets of Puteoli throwing her fists in a fight, vicious and unforgiving. It had been raining all day. In the center of the market there was a small green square where slaves often were sold. In times of excessive rain, though, the green could quickly turn to mud from the foot traffic.

The fight was ugly. The woman he had noticed was winning, but bloody for the effort. Scrapes ran along her shoulders and knees from rocks buried in the mud.

She did her honest best to strangle the woman underneath her. Hands wrapped tight like vises, fury in her face. Everything about her was savage and wild. She was of average height, her build layered with muscles hard-earned from years of service. Flaming red hair that could just be made out beneath the layers of mud she struggled in.

And he wanted her.

Maybe it was her face—it was lovely, to be sure, with bright cobalt eyes shining through the deep grime of the mud. But more than the curve of her lips or the tilt of her cheekbones, he saw a brilliance of life that did not belong in a slave. A bright, shining desire to live and to thrive, the kind that a man like himself could not help but see and want to bind himself to.

Again and again, the woman underneath her kicked upward, flipping them over through the slop. And again, the woman who had caught Lucius’s eye simply countered and returned fire with elbows and fists. She roared with rage, the flames of victory stoking in her chest. Lucius felt a familiar tug as he witnessed her momentum in the fight.

Lucius had been raised to be a gladiator by trade. Even so, he had not been in the arena for more than a year and a half. His arm had been mangled by a tiger and had not healed correctly. Every day that he could not fight broke his heart.

He drank to deal with the pain. For the pain in his arm, for every kind of pain.

Today, he was in the market to assist in buying new slaves for the ludus where he lived. Specifically, the Domina of House Varinius wanted women slaves—a great many of them. At least fifteen, all in peak physical condition.

Porcia Calidius Minor of House Varinius operated a ludus—a gladiator school. Why they would need so many female slaves was a bit beyond Lucius’s understanding. He had some suspicions, of course, but most of them were outlandish conclusions, that even the relatively unhinged Porcia would not dare to do.

He was a doctore now—a trainer for other gladiators. It surprised him to be sent on an errand of this sort, but a slave obeyed. Porcia may not have been able to get rid of him, but that didn't stop her from needling away at him with strange missions all over the city of Puteoli.

Lucius, still watching the fight, found a nearby merchant. “What’s the story there?”

“Oh, those two? As much trouble as I’ve ever had.”

“They’re yours?”

“Not for long, thank the gods. I hope to find a buyer with a zest for discipline. The one on top is Gwenn. From the Celtic tribes way up north. That’s the tattoos on her shoulders there. The other is Sabiana. She’s from the Julian line, believe it or not. But her family crossed Emperor Severus, and she got caught in the purges. The two of them don’t get along.”

“Why are they fighting like that?”

“I think Sabiana stole some bread from Gwenn. She’s not real keen on slaves having something she wants. Needs a swift learning of her place. If you use the whip, she'll learn in a hurry. I wanted to keep her unmarked for sale, though.”

The man was patently disgusting, but most slave traders were, in Lucius’s experience.

“Why aren’t you stopping them?”

He laughed and gestured at the crowd. “Look at all these folks gathered around. I got slaves who aren’t fighting at all. Meek as cats. And some too smart to fight in public, unlike that Gwenn there. Her passions get the better of her. Anyway, it’s marketing, isn’t it?”

Lucius did not get along with his Domina. Once upon a time he had been her paramour. But after his crippling injury, she became cold and distant toward him.

And then, that coldness turned to anger—angry at him for being unable to be who he once was, a fighting god—the champion of Puteoli. Porcia had never been altogether balanced in her emotions. Now, she threatened him every day. The only thing keeping Lucius alive was superstition.

The will of Porcia’s dead husband stipulated that Lucius was to be kept well and given all the luxuries of a champion such as he deserved, no matter if he won or lost.

In Roman society, breaking the confines of a will was sacrilegious, and commonly thought to bring curses down on the person who broke the agreement. Porcia, a lifelong gambler, took supernatural occurrences like curses and blessings with immense seriousness.

In the mud, Gwenn stood, roaring with her hands up.

Lucius found his heart racing with her victory. Bright bursts of her hair shone through the layers of mud. Her body, so clearly built for his temptation, shook with the exultation of winning. Those blue eyes, again, thrummed with the life force of a thousand women all at once.

She was radiant.

A warrior woman beyond compare. He felt a strong, inexorable pull toward her, and Lucius had to remember that the heart could not form breezes from nothing, could not actually blow people away.

For a moment, he felt as if he were on some cliff side, leaning into a breeze. All of himself open. All of himself vulnerable. He wanted to fall into this woman’s gaze.

Images flashed through his mind, imagining what their savage coupling might be like if he were to abandon himself to the mud and couple with her willing, dirty body then and there. They would make the foundations of the city shake.

He imagined Porcia’s face upon seeing such a woman enter her home, and smiled. A beautiful, wild, untameable woman who would not ever bow to another human.

“I want to make you an offer,” he said to the trader.

The thought of returning back to House Varinius with the most unruly slaves possible appealed to him greatly. And even if it didn't, there would be no denying the appeal of keeping this Gwenn close to where he kept his bed.

Chapter 2

––––––––

G
wenn was part of the sale of fifteen women arranged by the doctore, Lucius.

Right away, she did not like him. His face was too stupidly handsome, with a smarmy smile that seemed as permanent as the obvious injuries to his arm. His hair was dark, his eyes a deep blue, and his nose strong and regal. He had introduced himself and his position when he bought her, and had this expectant look in his face, as if perhaps she or any of the others might be desperately curious as to what his name was.

Sorry, friend—but you’re not
that
handsome.

She had to admit that he was very close, though.

He had to attach manacles he brought to the slaves so that the traders could have their own. When his hands ran over her wrists, she felt a sudden thrill.

Her mind quickly brought forth sights of running her hands over the thick muscles of his chest and arms. Feeling those hands—rough, and yet strangely gentle—pushing down from her hair, to her throat, to her belly, to below even that...

She was so taken with the thought that she forgot to sneer at him as he locked her wrists down.

Soon enough, she decided. He would learn what it was to enslave a woman like her.

Certainly Sabiana had learned what it was to cross her. She had been another of Lucius's acquisitions. Her face was bruised and she had shallow cuts running down her arms and legs from their fight.

Sabiana had tried to take Gwenn's food ration for the day—saying as she was nobility, she deserved it more than Gwenn.

Their fight and Sabiana's subsequent pounding, Gwenn hoped, had corrected that notion.

Three armed guards walked with Lucius and his new acquisitions, and once they were out of the city walls of Puteoli, he guided the newly acquired slaves to a small outcropping of rocks. His voice was clear, if tired.

“You are to work for House Varinius. I am not sure what your duties will be. The Domina is...” he cast a look at the guards. “...elemental in her nature, so mind your words and you should be fine.”

He looked then at Gwenn. Her breath caught—damnable thing—as his eyes ran her body up and down. She decided not to enjoy the feeling just as he stopped. That allotted her still many moments of electric prickles up her spine from the unrestrained nature of his gaze.

His body had some strange appeal on her that she could not explain. She could envision, clearly and without bidding it, the sight of him naked and pushing her up against a wall. Hands with strength crafted by a lifetime of fighting holding her by the rear and pinning her beneath every solid ounce of his masculinity.

An intoxicating thought. She banished it.

He was a bastard, pure and simple.

“I mean you, especially,” he said to Gwenn. “I saw you fighting. Your passion could have you killed.”

She straightened her neck. “And what is a life as a slave if not lived with passion?”

“It’s a life that is lived long, little flame.”

“Little flame?” She stepped forward, caught in her bonds. The chains attached to her were attached also to every other girl. In this way, it made it almost impossible for slaves to run away during transport. “I’ll show you a flame, you stupid bastard. I’ll burn you to the ground.”

“Yes,” said Lucius, wagging a finger. “That. Don’t talk like that to her.”

Gwenn straightened and spat at his feet. “I talk how I please.”

“And you talk well. How did a barbarian from Celtic lands learn the language of Romans?”

“I’ve been a slave for more than five years. I haven’t had an owner for longer than four months in that time. If you think you can scare me with big talk about some cruel mistress, save it. I’ve heard it all. I’ve seen it all. I’ve felt it all, and I’ve got the scars to prove it.”

The scars made a criss-crossing pattern down her back. Some were from whips. Others from attempts to brand her. There were long crooked scars along the blue tattoos on her shoulders and neck where one Dominus thought it a good idea to “write over” the ink of her home.

BOOK: Love of the Gladiator (Affairs of the Arena Book 2)
6.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Paris Directive by Gerald Jay
The Death of King Arthur by Peter Ackroyd
Recuerdos prestados by Cecelia Ahern
Down to the Wire by Shannon Greenland
Can't Stop Loving You by Lisa Harrison Jackson
Nikki's Heart by Nona j. Moss
Always by Timmothy B. Mccann
Agape Agape by William Gaddis