Naomi stood behind her, pulling a comb through her hair. She saw Naomi’s beaming smile in the reflection of the polished bronze mirror.
“You are beautiful, Domina,” Naomi said, pinning her hair. “Senator Felix is a lucky man.”
Livia reached up and rested her hand on top of Naomi’s. “No. I am the lucky one.” Daughters were possessions. Fathers and husbands could dispose of them as they wished. She was marrying a good man, a man who understood the strong connection between a woman and her personal servant. Scarlet rose in Livia’s cheeks.
Senator Felix didn’t know just how deep their connection went. At least, Livia prayed that he didn’t. Somehow they would continue their private pleasure. Livia couldn’t imagine a day without seeing Naomi’s sweet face, her bright smile. She warmed Livia’s cold days, and soothed her every sorrow and ache.
Father had warned her against forming a personal attachment with the slaves. He bought and sold them at will and at need. Slaves were just another tool to be used or discarded as necessary. Livia had heeded his advice in every regard except for Naomi. Their bond went beyond friendship, beyond sisterly affection. While such closeness was forbidden according to society’s expectations it did not change her feelings, did not diminish her love.
She knew she would never have these same feelings for the husband she would marry out of duty to her father.
Tears pooled in Naomi’s eyes. “All these years it has just been the two of us, Domina—”
“You are coming with me,” Livia said.
“Yes, but it will be different.”
“Hopefully not so different,” Livia said, and then forced a smile. Seeing Naomi so shook up unnerved her. Something was bothering her.
“What is wrong?” she asked, not wanting to see her Naomi frown.
“It is nothing, Domina. My apologies for not being cheerful on your wedding day.”
Livia tilted her head to the side, regarding her lover. “Something has been on your mind for several nundinaes. Now tell me.”
Naomi swallowed and opened her mouth, but no words came.
Livia waited. She knew Naomi could not resist an order from her Domina.
“It is Senator Felix,” Naomi said softly. “The way he looks at me…”
“I saw,” Livia said, keeping emotion out of her voice. She did not like how her soon to be husband looked at her lover.