Escape to Love
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by Lindsay Townsend
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
Description: Severus is a slave, dragged from the fields to an uncertain future. Warned to expect no mercy from a mysterious young woman who comes to him in the night, he learns that his natural father is his owner, Calvus, and that he has a half-brother, Thallus. Thallus has no sexual interest in women but he is desperate for an heir. Severus and Thallus' sexy young wife Lydia, whom Severus recognizes as the mystery woman who warned him, are sent to the family palace at Baiae and expected to breed. Lydia, used to an unconsummated, loveless marriage, is intrigued by the handsome Severus and appalled by her husband's and father-in-law's treatment of him. She finds herself anticipating their lovemaking. She also wants to help Severus to escape because she knows that once he has served his purpose, Thallus and Calvus will never let him live. They have just a month to escape. [Erotic Historical Romance: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./Siren Classic, 2008 2008
eBookwise Release Date: September 2009
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [79 KB]
Reading time: 45-63 min.
"5 Angels--Escape To Love is a rare erotic romance set in Roman times. The unique setting prompts equally unique sexual positions and variations. The writing sparkles, the research is well woven in, and the emotion builds. Severus is strong yet gallant. The first scene made me sympathetic to his situation. Lydia is witty and brave. Together, they work as a couple. Escape To Love is a extraordinary read."--Kimber, Fallen Angel Reviews
"5 Cherries--It's very clear that the author did her research, and knows her facts about the Roman Empire. I found those little details she incorporated about everyday life fascinating and they greatly enriched the plot. Parts of this story were laugh out loud funny, and others were just how I like my romance: Hot. Thanks to Lindsay Townsend, I will never look at spanking the same again. I highly enjoyed, and greatly recommend Escape to Love!"--Daisy, Whipped Cream Reviews
"4 Bookmarks--Lindsay Townsend's ability to weave historical tales with the amount of passion and sensuality has me completely hooked. Escape to Love is timeless and true love lasts forever and is able to scale all heights. Severus and Lydia beat the odds and for that I am glad. Escape to Love is available at Siren Publishing. Lovers of historical romance will be thrilled with this steamy and sweet novella. I know I was!"--Natalie S., Wild on Books
"4 Stars--Escape To Love is written with humor. The scenes where Apollonius is giving the couple instructions on how to create a child are funny."--Anne Boling, ReviewYourBook.com
Rome AD 125
He came awake. A prickling discomfort, sharpening to pain, jabbed into the middle of his back.
"Have I your attention?'" The whisper was close to his ear. He tried to turn and the knife held at his back pricked him again. "Do not look round!"
The knife-wielder was female, young, and scared. Severus could have disarmed her in less than a breath, but he guessed that she had things to tell him, things he needed to hear. So much that was strange had already happened to him today that he was astonished he had slept at all.
"Who are you?" he murmured.
"You will know, soon enough, although I tell you now that I did not know of your existence before yesterday."
He felt her hot breath against his naked shoulder, smelt her clean skin and the peppermint leaves she used to freshen her mouth. A thread of finely-woven cloth brushed his lower back: she was crouched close to where he lay on the tiles, her knife prodding against his spine. Whoever she was, the girl was no slave, although she was as fast and nervous as one, creeping upon him in the deserted atrium. "Did you douse the lights?" he whispered in Latin.
"Yes, and drugged the maid who is my keeper, so listen! Tomorrow may be a shock at first to you--it certainly was to me and I have had a full day to reflect on it, but keep this in mind: it is a chance for you. If you pass the trial tomorrow--don't ask what, there's no time to explain!--We'll both be sent away to the family villa at Baiae. You will have a full month. Use the days to work out an escape for yourself. Pretend you do not understand much Latin. They'll be expecting that and it may work to your advantage. They may promise you riches and freedom. Don't believe them! If their plans work, they will never let you live. Do you understand Greek?"
Startled by the question, he automatically answered, "Yes."
"Good, because they do not. It may be we can speak together after all, so long as we take care."
"What is this month you speak of? What is Baiae?"
"You will know what the month is tomorrow. Baiae is a city beside the sea, a place of hot springs, theatres, parks and boating parties; where the rich and noble go for their summer holidays. A place where behaviors frowned on here near Rome can be indulged. Now I must grope my way back, before I am missed. Farewell!"
This last was in Greek. He felt a pair of soft warm lips kiss his shoulder and even as he rolled onto his stomach, trying to catch a glimpse of her in the humid darkness, the young woman was gone. He peered into the shadows of a corridor, willing his eyes to see more, but could scarcely make out his own hands.
He waited a few moments, listening, but the great hall remained as dark and silent as a tomb. Rolling onto his back, Severus thought of the woman's warning and recalled the previous day, when everything in his life had changed.
Until yesterday he had been a field-slave, picking grapes, hoeing fields, fixing carts, repairing walls--any task about the huge farm that the overseers wanted doing quickly and well. He labored hard because it was a point of pride to do so and because then he would sleep through the night, untroubled by dreams. Yesterday had been different, beginning at dawn when two overseers had shackled him in irons and brought him to the main house, where he had never been before.
Thrust down onto his knees on the smooth limestone steps of the villa, he wondered what he had done, that they should want to kill him. Yes, he had been free eight years ago, before his father had sold him into slavery to pay off a gambling debt. Yes, he was a Gaul who understood Latin and Greek; he had picked up both languages while he was a boy working in his father's inn in the mountains to the north. Yes, he was sinewy and strong, but he had never rebelled. As a new slave, he and other farm-hands had been walked along the Appian Way, strung with the bodies of the dying slaves who had rebelled against their masters. Severus had learned then; revolt against Rome was impossible.
So what had he done that was wrong? He had not stolen, or murdered, or made trouble. He had born his slavery in silence, accepting as a man sometimes must. Determined not to plead, he awaited the death stroke in silence.
It never came. Instead, he was hauled to his feet again and inspected like an animal: the state of his teeth, the breadth of his shoulders, the resilience of his skin. Whoever ordered him to be stripped, prodded and sluiced down with ice cold water remained in the shadows of the villa's portico, calling out crisp orders.
"Does he understand much Latin?" inquired the voice, and Severus made his face go slack. If he must, he would obey orders but he would not invite them.
Hours later, lying washed, scrubbed and hungry on the mosaic tiles of the villa's atrium, he was glad to have admitted nothing. There was a mystery here in this household; he could sense the feel of the place; a sad desperation. Just as he knew that beyond each of the closed doors leading from the atrium, there were corridors patrolled by guards. Even now, when he strained his hearing, he could hear the soft march of their steps. He was unarmed, nude and very much a prisoner.
What is the test I will undergo tomorrow? Despite the smooth comfort of the tiles and the lingering early summer heat in the villa, he shivered, wondering afresh about the girl. What risks had she taken, to bring him warning? Who was she? Why did she care what happened to a slave farm-hand?
More than the knife at his back he thought of the kiss she had given him, a hasty gesture of comfort and support, almost of companionship. Why? * * * *
Early the following morning, he found out just how greatly his night time visitor was involved. It began when all the doors leading from the corridors were opened and light streamed into the atrium, followed by four burly guards and three male slaves. The guards man-handled him to a pillar and tied him to it by cords, the slaves set out two chairs, close to his position, and quickly placed a table, wine and silver cups beside the chairs. The slaves left quickly, the guards checked his bonds again and marched out along another corridor and there was silence.
Two men in togas strolled into the atrium and Severus felt his breath stop.
"By all the gods, it is like looking into my mirror," remarked the shorter, younger man. He came up close, pinched Severus' arm as if to check he was real, and settled onto the nearest chair. "How is this likeness possible?"
The older man grinned, speaking directly to his captive. "Good day to be thrown to my dogs, today, slave, yes?"
Severus pretended not to understand and smiled in return.
"Good teeth," said the younger man. "Are mine as good?"
"Here comes a pretty thing to admire," went on the elder. "If you turn your head you will see her."
Remembering the girl's warnings, Severus stared straight ahead.
"Good." The elder picked up the wine jug and poured himself a glass. "The brute understands nothing and has forgotten most of the Latin he once learned. That will make it easier."
"But how does he look so much like me?"
There was a whining quality to the younger man's question, Severus thought, and he was not alone. The older man clicked his tongue against his teeth.
"How do you think, boy? This is your half-brother from a different mother, older than you by half a year. You played together as brats. I sold him and his mother on when it was clear you would live. My agents have kept an eye on him ever since and bought him for a bargain when his reckless step father sold him back to me. I thought he would prove useful when he survived as a farm slave. Son of a slave but the family blood is there, if diluted. We can use him to overcome our problem."
The younger man blushed and hung his head while Severus clenched the pillar with his bound hands, wanting to wrench the solid marble from its base and use it against these two. A half-brother he had never known of, a father who had watched from afar and allowed him to be sold into one of the worst kinds of slavery. For a moment, he truly wondered if he did understand Latin. What inhuman parent did that to a child? His innkeeper father, his stepfather, Severus corrected, had been kindly enough, merely weak when it came to dice. This man, with the clear blue eyes, pale, unlined face, sleek dark hair and even countenance, was of a different order of corruption.
Again, the warning of the strange young woman whispered in his mind. They may promise you riches and freedom; don't believe them. How much did she know of this?
"Where is that useless wife of yours?"
The older man swiveled on the chair, glowering into first one corridor then another. "You did tell her the first hour after dawn?"
"Yes, Father, but..." Again, the younger man, his half-brother, looked Severus up and down. "Can we not try something else?"
"What, boy? We tried other methods with that first wife of yours and nothing worked. My seed won't flow now so it has to be this way. Unless he has the same preferences as you and won't rise for a woman."
"I'm sorry," the younger man whispered, huddling down in his chair, running his hands through his long black hair.
"You are sorry," snorted his father. "You are pathetic! No man!" It was clearly an old and bitter dispute.
Severus watched the handsome, anguished face of the man who was his blood relative and felt more and more confused and bewildered. Neither his father nor his sibling was paying any real attention to him, his shock. Even his pity for his bullied younger half-brother went unnoticed.
Why not? he thought. To them I am merely a slave and less than human. But they want to breed from me, because of my stock.
And he already knew whom they wanted him to mate with; the second wife of his half-brother. Briefly, he wondered what had happened to the first wife, with whom this dreadful pair had tried 'other methods'. The old man must want an heir very badly.
"Where is she?" hissed the man who had given him life and then sold him. "If you ordered her to come here as I told you, why is she still absent?"
"Father, must we subject her to this trial? Can we not do this with a slave?"
"No good! The blood-stock is everything and she comes from a noble family. We are already diluting our bloodline by using your half-brother. I do not want to dilute it any more. If you want a son and she wants to be a proper Roman matron, it must be her, now! I admit your wife is pretty but if he finds her unappealing..." the older man waved without looking at the pillar where Severus was tethered "We shall have to reconsider. You did instruct her in what she must do?"
"He did, sir," said a new, warm voice, as a small, slim young woman stepped into the atrium.
It was the girl from last night, Severus realized. In spite of everything he felt his spirits lifting.
Her face, now that he could see her, matched her voice. She had warm brown eyes, an engaging mouth that, even in repose, seemed unable to frown and an impudent, slightly tip-tilted nose. Dressed in a flowing, sleeveless, ankle-length tunic, she looked pale and strained; tension revealed in her slender jaw and stiff arms, but she had done her best to seem at ease with this strange situation. With a fresh pang of sympathy he noted her bright brown tumble of hair, swept into a pony tail, her painted eyes and lips, her small garnet earrings and necklace of red beads. She had added trinkets and cosmetics to buoy her mood, to disguise her true feelings for whatever was coming next.
"What!" The older man's spidery dark brows met in a scowl. "Why the tunic? I said a short gown or less! I said she should be almost naked! I told you, Thallus!"
The rest of his complaint to his legitimate son gagged in his scrawny throat as his daughter-in-law dropped off her loose robe. Beneath it she wore nothing except for two strips of cunningly-worked cloth: a snug pink loin cloth about her hips and two matching narrow oval discs stretched across her pert breasts. The slivers of fabric shone with threads of blue and gold so that as she straightened and opened her arms as if to embrace an invisible companion, her lithe body shimmered. Her legs were long for her size and shapely, her waist tiny, her breasts full, bouncing.
Bound to the pillar, wishing he could seize and carry her away with him--save her, take her, help her, fuck her--Severus went hard.
"By all the Gods," murmured Thallus, whether in envy or appreciation of his erection, Severus neither knew nor cared. His eyes were fixed on the woman, feasting on her, savoring her lush beauty. To 'breed' with her would be bliss.
"You provoke, girl," growled the older man. "You go too far."
"My name is Lydia," the beauty standing in the center of the atrium said quietly, adding, "I obeyed my husband's instructions. Such swimwear is all fashion at Baiae this year." She paused, adding in a softer voice, "You know all you need to know now. I await your further pleasure, Calvus."
Severus felt another bolt of desire, deep in his groin. Although she was looking at her sour parent-in-law, it was if she spoke only to him. She had cleverly told him her name, too. Lydia.
"Get out!" snapped Calvus. "Remember this, you are only the vessel for your family's blood-line and my family's stock; you are nothing, girl! You are little better than this slave here, who only has value because he carries my blood! Pick up your frippery and go! Tell the slaves to bring in buckets of cold water. Go!"
She was already gone, a whiff of her rose perfume lingering in the air as she slipped out of the atrium. Severus braced himself for the cold water, his mind and balls throbbing.
He would have her, he vowed, whatever the cost. * * * *