Virgilia handed Martius the tiny bundle, her arms shaking with effort.
“Estne Puer? An Paella?” (Is it a Boy or girl?) Martius asked.
“Puer.” Virginia hadn’t taken her eyes off the baby, but glanced at her proud husband.
Martius stroked his son’s forehead before leaning down to kiss Virgilia’s sweaty forehead.
She drifted off to sleep for a bit, then rose to sponge off. She glanced at the cradle and froze. No.
Virginia limped into the living room. The hang was reclined on a bench, her feet being massaged by a slave.
“You” She turned to the slave and told him to leave.
“My dear, if you wanted him to yourself–” Volumnia shrugged.
“Where is my baby?”
Volumnia wouldn’t look at her. Her shoulders dropped.
Virgilia stared, swallowed hard.
“You told him-!”
Volumnia shook her head.
“He took the boy himself!” She walked over to Virgilia.
She was reduced to tears. “It’s barbaric!” Martius came in then, empty handed. Virgilia flew at him with all the energy she had left in her, pounding on his chest.
When she came to Rome, Virgilia was aware of some of the more strange rituals they practiced. But how could her husband expose his own son to the elements?
“He’s a strong one,” Martius said.
“He’s a baby, A baby! ” She slapped him once, but he caught her hand and led her back to their chamber.
Volumnia watched them before summoning the young slave.
“Five of these,” she said holding up a silver coin. “If you watch over the babe til dawn.”