Chapter 1- Shy Glances
I heard her before I saw her.
The ringing sound of her laughter which had left my heart thrumming against my insides, it was a familiar yet inexplicable feeling. One that I did not want to lose.
“Who is that?” I asked, standing beside one of the many pillars that kept my palace upright.
“That would be Valeria, she is the younger sister of Julius,” Tiberius said as he watched me gazing at her. “If I remember correctly, you had met her a number of years back,” He added on and with that statement, I felt myself remember.
“Right, I do remember Julius having a sister, I didn’t pay much attention to her before, but now...” I drifted off at a loss for words. How was it possible for someone to grow so beautiful? As a child she was cute but there was nothing out of the ordinary about her.
Now, however... It was all different, even her voice seemed much more beautiful.
“Why have I not seen her before?” I asked, narrowing my gaze in her direction. There would be no way that someone as enticing as she could walk around without my notice in my very own palace. There’s no way that I wouldn’t notice her.
“She doesn’t visit very often. She is a sheltered child and doesn’t stray far from her Domus but today she was running an errand for her mother,”
“An errand?” I echoed, gesturing for him to further explain.
“It wasn’t an important errand, just to deliver some fruits as Julius hasn’t returned home to them in some time. Her mother is currently not in the best of health so I’m guessing that this is the reason for her visit,” I hummed after that, leaning against the pillar with crossed arms, silently continuing to watch her laugh and giggle with her brother as they talked about something in the confines of my large garden.
Julius is the head of my guard and he was a good one, having taken over the spot his father left him a few years back, I’d call him a friend too. I knew that he had a younger sister but not once did I think much of her as I hadn’t the faintest idea of the kind of woman she’d grown up to become.
“Is there anything you want me to do, your imperial majesty?” Tiberius asked.
“I want her,” I muttered to myself.
“Pardon me, your imperial majesty?” He said, surprised by my choice of words.
“Nothing,” I waved, dismissing him and he didn’t waste a second to bow a deep bow before scurrying away and leaving me alone with a few slaves and two guards.
I didn’t waste more than a few seconds to push myself off the pillar and stride towards where she was stood. Julius was the first to notice me and the small smile which had been resting on his face instantly disappeared as he dipped down into a respectable bow.
“Your imperial majesty,” He said and I waved him off as he stood up once more, a confused look on his face as I stared at the woman who had caught my eye.
Upon a closer look, she was even more beautiful than I had thought and as she turned to look at me, her large doe eyes filled with both mischief and innocence, I worked to hold myself back from grabbing her right then and there to drag her back to my chambers.
“Hello,” I smiled at her, hands locking behind my back and she turned her body away from her brother to face me, a smile creeping onto her beautiful honey-kissed skin. This woman was really working me to the bone right now.
“Hello,” She nodded at me, head moving down into a bow before she picked herself up once more, eyes locking onto mine and it looked like she wasn’t planning on looking away. With her large hazel eyes that reminded me of fresh honey, her smile was beautiful enough to leave any normal man on his knees in front of her.
Her light brown hair was tied into a messy bun, strands left framing her face nicely with natural gold highlights which seemed brighter thanks to the suns rays, she wore a simple white sleeveless tunic, her sun-kissed arms on display for my eyes to feast on.
Never in my life had I seen a woman as entrancing as her before.
“...Your imperial majesty,” Her brother leaned down to whisper in her ear. She looked confused for a moment until realisation seemed to dawn on her.
“Oh, right... Hello, your imperial majesty,” She greeted once more, this time correctly. Holding the skirt of her dress as she dipped down into a perfect curtsy.
“No need to be so formal. I do not believe that I have had the pleasure of meeting you before, I wouldn’t be unaware of such a beautiful woman wandering around my palace,” I leaned down towards her and she gulped, taking a hesitant step closer towards her brother as a shy blush painted itself onto her cheeks and I smirked at the adorable sight.
I want to see more of these expressions on her face.
Her eyes broke free from our staring contest and she turned her head up to look at her brother before shyly glancing back to me and then turned to stare at the ground, biting down on her bottom lip and I almost jumped forward to pull her lip away from her teeth.
“This is my younger sister, she doesn’t visit the palace much,” Her brother explained as he spared a small smile towards her when she clutched onto the end of his shirt with her hand.
I hummed, tilting my head to the side as I turned to look back at her. She had a short mental debate with herself before slowly picking her head up and looking up at me once more.
“It is... Nice to meet you,” She smiled a shy smile towards me.
“I could say the same to you,” Not being able to hold myself back, I stepped forward and grabbed her hand, leaning down to kiss her knuckles, succeeding in catching another blush.
“If I were to ask you to accompany me for a stroll around my garden, would you say yes or no?” I raised a brow, waiting for her answer.
“If I were to say no, would that be rude?” She surprised me by leaning forward and whispering back.
I blinked, taken aback by her blunt reply but nonetheless, I felt a laugh break free from my chest as I stood up straight and sighed down at her as she gave me an odd look.
“Julius, will you leave us alone for some time? Do not worry, I will make sure that she stays safe,” He was going to say something but bit it back and hesitantly nodded his head before leaning down to kiss the side of her head and ran off after bowing to me once more.
“Your name...” I started, wanting to hear it from her lips.
“Valeria,” She said and I hummed once more.
“Tis’ a beautiful name,” I nudged my head, asking for her to walk down the path with me and she didn’t say anything but did as told, keeping a safe distance between us as we walked.
“Thank you,” She mumbled, rubbing her forearm with her hand.
“Please, call me Anastasius,” I smiled and she halted in her tracks, snapping her head up to look at me with wide eyes.
“That would not be appropriate,” She mumbled, looking away while tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. Smiling, I stepped forward and outstretched a hand, tucking her loose strand of hair behind her ear.
“I think that you are very well aware of my intentions towards you. Now, the question is whether you are really that oblivious or if you are simply good at teasing a man? With beauty like yours, you must be quite used to turning men away, am I right?” She was shocked by my blunt words but the shock didn’t last long.
Her eyes narrowed into slits as she stared at me and once more, I felt my heart thrum against my chest at the new, interesting look that masked her face.
“As you have said, I am very well aware of your... intentions. However, I am not in the least bit interested in them. Rather than teasing a man, I prefer to steer clear of them and because of that, no, I am not used to turning men away,”
My, oh my, this woman really knew how to play with me.
And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t having fun.
Smirking, I leaned down towards her and she gulped, leaning back. “Valeria,” I called, loving the sound of her beautiful name leaving my lips.
“...Yes...” She unsurely replied, cheeks tinting with a red blush.
“I am going to make you mine,”
Emperor- An emperor is a monarch, and usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm.
Domus- A type of townhouse occupied by the upper classes and some wealthy freedmen during the Republican and Imperial eras. It was found in almost all the major cities throughout the Roman territories.
Tunic- Also known as chiton, was worn as a shirt or gown by both genders among the ancient Romans. The body garment was loose-fitting for males, usually beginning at the neck and ending above the knee. A woman’s garment could be either close-fitting or loose, beginning at the neck and extending over a skirt or skirts.
AN- If there are any other words that you don’t understand the meaning of, then feel free to ask and I’ll be happy to answer.