Heavily-scented guards pressed around Meagan. No wonder claustrophobia is a Latin word, she thought as they jostled her. This was happening too quickly. “Of course I will visit you, Horace. Do I have to go?”
“We could escape.” The baritone voice was husky as he leaned close. “I have family in Lazio. We could be married. We could…” Horace stopped himself, seeing her head shake slowly.
Meagan was surprised by the matter-of-fact proposal. She had not until that moment fully realized she was of marriageable age. Of course she would be considered mere property in the arrangement, but the offer touched her. “Horace, I can’t. It’s not my choice. I … I don’t belong here. Please understand, I cannot.”
Horace raised his gaze to the sky and recited softly, “Her voice rings through me like a song on a lyre, yet it is only an echo on the wind.” He looked down again, his expression carefully composed. “Does it sound like the great Horatius, even a little? It is mine, for you.”
A tear streaked down Meagan’s face. “Please, Horace …”
“You make me think of the dog of my boyhood, Highest Lady. I always thought my Hercules was very stupid because he chased birds. Now I know why.”
“Horace,” Meagan smiled as she wiped her eyes. “As advice, never tell a girl she reminds you of a dog.”
The expression on his ruined face was soft. “It is to see them fly.”
A tightness grew in Meagan’s chest. “You saved me, Horace. Don’t forget that.”
“It was only my destiny. I will remember you.” Horace stepped forward and kissed her forehead. He bowed as guards pushed her on.
A cleared space followed Meagan like a spotlight as she was escorted through the tight crowd. A beaming Master of Horse called warmly, hurrying closer. “There she is, Excellency! My assistant!” The man’s voice was familiar but his manner was not: he was being nice. “Are you well, sweet child?” the man doted. “I hope you had no trouble with the Blue fans!”
Seated on the high bench was a smiling Emperor. His voice was gentle. “Bring the slave closer, Cornelius.”
Excerpted from Eclipsed by Shadow, the award-winning first volume of “The Legend of the Great Horse” trilogy. (Hrdbk pg. 172)
Book II: The Golden Spark is available! Book III announcements coming soon…
Read the 1st Chapter (free) online!
Copyright © 2008 John Royce