Short and bittersweet. From Book 3. Raw and unedited. Subject to change. We’re going to need more than one box of tissues for this book.
Ruins of the hippodrome garden in the imperial palace on the Palatine Hill, Rome
A few dinner guests bid their farewells; the remaining men turned their lascivious attentions to their own pleasure slaves. Barely dressed pretty pets climbed up onto their masters’ couches for sweet treats and lewd affection. Perfect young pink penises popped out and up all over the room. Everyone quickly forgot all propriety as they sucked and kissed and fucked in plain sight. Everyone, except for Commander Fabius.
He hadn’t moved. Across the room, he sat upright on the royal couch, completely alone. His eyes were fixed and his face expressionless as he stared off into the distance at some object that didn’t exist on the wall beside Max’s shoulder. Still as a statue, except for his trembling hands that he tried to hide in the fabric of his costume. A few moments later, without warning or word, he rose, rearranged the folds of his cumbersome toga, and walked out of the dining hall.
The Commander’s brother turned around. “Where is he going?”
“I don’t know, sir,” Max replied.
“Go after him, Maximus, and ensure he doesn’t do anything daft.”
Max jogged out of the hall and finally caught up with Dom—Commander Fabius in the hallway that led to the palace’s formal, private gardens.
“Are you unwell, Commander?” Max inquired from behind the Commander’s shoulder. Stupid question.
Unsure what to do next, Max kept quiet but remained a step behind his former master as they entered the massive, elliptical-shaped flower garden crowded with sculptures and fountains. The Commander headed straight for the covered walkway and marched across its colorful mosaic floors so fast that even with his longer legs Max had trouble keeping the pace. The early evening air was cool—almost cold but not quite. After two ridiculously rapid laps around the circuit, beads of sweat broke out across Max’s brow but he kept going.
Halfway through the third lap, in front of a sublime bronze statue of a young, nubile Apollo, the Commander stopped. Max froze, and waited until Commander Fabius turned around.
Gods, he was crying—no noise, just an unending flood of tears—and Max had no fucking clue what to say, so he did the only thing he could think of and held out his arms to invite an embrace.