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The Bracelet

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The bracelet was a gift, to Claudia from Octavia. It was gold, set with carnelians and a perfect oval of turquoise. Octavia said it suited Claudia's fair hair and pale skin. Claudia loved it because she loved Octavia, and she cherished anything that came from her hand. Dark Octavia was married first, and widowed first, and grieved for her husband. Claudia's husband attended little to his wife, preferring his captive Gaulish warrior's bed to her own after the birth of his heir. Claudia did not mind. She wore the bracelet whenever she visited Octavia. One day, leaning over a parapet to point some interesting sight out to Octavia, the bracelet threatened to slip from her arm. Octavia reached to prevent the loss, and when their hands met, their eyes did as well. Daring, Claudia laced her fingers through Octavia's, and the clouds of sorrow began to lighten in Octavia's face. Daring further, Claudia slipped her other hand from Octavia's shoulder to caress the back of her neck. "You know I love you," Claudia's fingers said, "I have always loved you." Her lips curved as invitingly as Cupid's bow, and her eyes shone.

Willingly, gladly, Octavia bent into the offered kiss.


Gallo-Roman Women, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema