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Today’s excerpt takes place after Thane’s tryst with Phaedra. A daily routine like a bath can make life very interesting for a gladiator, especially one as popular as The Gladiator Prince…
THE GLADIATOR PRINCE
By Minnette Meador
CHAPTER VI EXCERPT
Thane groaned when the two guards escorted him through the door. Women lounged everywhere in the bath, some swimming, others splashing arms and feet in the hot waters, while others cupped water into their hands, releasing it against their breasts. It was a soft dance of seduction that Thane found amusing. How they knew he would be there was beyond him, but he suspected that Thaddeus, one of his two guards, and a damned good auctorati, had sold the information. Thane did not fault him; the man had a wife and four children to feed.
Thane presented his shackled wrists to Delius, the other guard, who removed them cheerfully, giving Thane his usual leer. “Busy night, Prince? Not one, but two? How do you do it?”
“Briton secret, son.”
Thane gazed across the crowded bath at a wake of naked women, from youngsters no more than twelve to old women skirting sixty. As always, the two guards waded into the bath to urge the knot of female bodies away to make room for the gladiator. A chorus of disappointed moans flowed softly against the roiling steam.
Thane eased himself into the hot water, sore from his training and from his evening ventures. The guards usually held the ladies at bay so he could wash; however, most of the time they were distracted by young ones who would move in hoping to get close to Thane or cause a diversion so others could. Fights always broke out in the ludus for the privilege of taking Thane to the baths. It was one of the more stimulating duties of the auctorati.
Two Nubian women sailed through the water toward Thane as another three distracted the guards.
“My sire,” called the tall one at the lead. She had skin the color of burnt coal and eyes like honey. Thane found the combination compelling. The friend gliding forward with her was equally attractive. He had never been with an Afrikan.
When they got nearer, the first one stopped and pulled the second one to her side running her hand under the other woman’s breasts one at a time.
“This one, my prince,” she claimed, her accent heavy but arresting. “Her name is Adama, and she desire to pierce herself on your belly. A virgin.”
Startling white teeth shone from the younger one as she smiled then covered it up with a shy hand. “She my sister, sire. She take your seed and have a beautiful man child.”
“You are very beautiful,” he said to the sister, “but…”
“She not speak Latin, sire. But I will tell her.”
“Well, tell her she is lovely and will make beautiful children someday with a man. I am not that man.”
“But, sire,” the first one said, “we will both lay with you and give you beautiful sons.”
Delius had managed to disentangle himself from the other women and came over to fulfill his function.
“All right, ladies. Off you go. The Prince needs his privacy.”
Just then, a loud voice called for order, and two Roman soldiers appeared on the marble deck above the baths sending the women scattering and diving to cover their nakedness. Thane never understood this habit amongst their own kind. They never dove when the gladiators came to the baths… quite the contrary.
“You ladies will have to leave the bathhouse.” The soldier’s voice shifted through the bathhouse echoing loudly against the marble pillars. “By order of the procurator. All of you out.”
A general trumpeting of disappointment or anger drowned out the man’s voice. Thane would not have given the two of them a single chance against that mob. The other soldier pulled his sword and leveled a stern frown at them. “If we have to, your husbands and fathers can be called to get you out.”
That did it. The women, though still protesting, moved swiftly to the edges of the bath and disappeared into the catacombs towards the dressing areas.
Thane was moving to the edge of the pool as well, but the soldier with the sword pointed the tip at the two guards.
“You and you may wait outside for the gladiator. We will see to it he does not wander.”
Confused, but not inclined to argue with the tip of the gladius, the two guards got out, took up their clothes and scrambled through the door, both shooting glances back at Thane.
Moving to the edge of the pool, Thane called up to one of the soldiers. “What is this about?” A strangling apprehension settled on his shoulders. Something was wrong. “I am the property of Abella.”
The two guards ignored him and went to a dark entrance at the back of the bath. There, standing in the shadows, stood a woman enveloped in a heavy cloak. She spoke with them briefly, and Thane knew there was some argument, but apparently, she won it, for they both turned on their heels and left her alone in the bath.
Another woman. This had to be yet another of Abella’s elite. She must have been wealthy indeed to get him alone in the bath with the fine wives of citizens chased out by two Roman soldiers.
The light was very dim in the bath, so he could not make out her features as she moved to him. Her gait seemed oddly heavy, as if she carried something. The steam now released from all the commotion rose thickly around him, and he could not see her face when she stopped next to him and slid her cloak and tunic to the floor, but he could see why she walked with such a burden. It looked as if the child she carried would be there at any moment.
As she slid down the stairs into the bath, Thane caught a glimpse of auburn hair and bright blue eyes. A Brit? It would have been very unusual for a Briton woman to wish to lay with him even if she was not carrying a child. However, Thane had had enough for one day.
“Forgive me, mistress,” he said as she glided through the water toward him, “but I have fought and trained all day and lain with two women. I am afraid I do not have the strength to satisfy you tonight. Perhaps tomorrow…”
“Tomorrow it will be too late, cousin.” The face that materialized out of the steam smiled at him with mischievous glee. “Besides, I have heard that it would take more than two women to satisfy the great Gladiator Prince. Perhaps six or seven…”
“Your majesty.” Thane immediately lowered his eyes before her, and she lifted her hand to touch his face.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Somewhere between thirty and dust...red hair, blue eyes...six kids, one slightly used husband, and any number of pets from time to time... wanttabe hippy... wanttheirmoney yuppie...pro musician and actress for 20 Years... native Oregonian... lover of music, beauty, and all things green. Willing slave to the venerable muse. Minnette currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, having replaced the children with one dog. The dog, Pierre, pretty much runs the show.