TITLE: The Secret History
GENRE: Historical Fiction
Theatre tart turned Constantinople’s premier courtesan, Theodora must decide what’s more important: pleasing the emperor who claims to love her or keeping the son he can never know about.
My life began the night death visited our house.
I lay on the straw pallet with my sisters and listened to Comito grind her teeth and Anastasia’s even breathing in the dark. An animal snorted in the distance, probably the scraggly new bear Father had acquired to train for the Greens, a beast scarcely fit for the spectacle of the Hippodrome. The fleas were bad tonight and Constantinople’s sticky heat made the stench of the nearby garbage heap especially pungent. I missed our old home in Cyprus, the salty smell of the Mediterranean and the cicadas’ screams amidst the olive trees. Our ramshackle house near Constantinople’s amphitheater could scarcely compare.
There was a shuffle in the dark—possibly a rat—but then my father grunted.
“Quiet, Acacius.” My mother giggled. “You’ll wake the girls.”
She gave a little moan as I snuggled into Anastasia’s bare back, hoping for more dreams like last night’s fantasy of roasted goat with mint yogurt. Comito claimed I made cow eyes at the butcher’s son when Mother sent us to collect our monthly grain ration today, but in truth I was more impressed with the fresh leg of goat hanging from his stall than the cut of his calves under his tunica. It seemed like years since we’d had meat.
“Acacius.” My mother’s tone was the same she used when my father came home after too much wine at the Boar’s Eye. There was another sound, a thud like a sack of flour hitting the ground. “Acacius!”