“On the Waterfront, Cleopatra style.”–Barbara Peters on the second Eye of Isis novel.
She was about to cross the street when a cabrio pulled in front of her, obstructing her way. She looked around with what she felt was pardonable irritation. “Excuse me, sir, but I believe pedestrians have the right of way here.”
“Indeed they do, but a conveyance picking up passengers is allowed a brief stop, I believe. It is Tetisheri of House Nebenteru, is it not? May I offer you a ride? We appear to be going in the same direction.”
All her senses went on the alert and she took a careful step back, only to tread on someone’s toes. She looked around to see a solidly built man in a nondescript tunic with a businesslike gladius strapped to his belt. His hair was cut close to his scalp and his square face set in unsmiling lines. He had the foursquare solidity of the Roman veteran and nothing less than the authority of a tesserarius. He met her eyes with an impersonal gaze. He was definitely on the job and he wouldn’t work cheap.
She looked back at the cabrio which held the man who must be his employer. He was smiling at her, showing a set of well-kept teeth. It was not an expression that engendered any feeling of warmth or humor or, for that matter, safety. Thick through the torso with massive thighs, he looked more like an Iberian bull than a man. He would do well in the arena. His hands were large-knuckled and covered with old scars, but now they were softened by lotion and his nails were neatly pared, as if he’d once had to work for a living and had since moved up to a position in life where he did not. He was dressed plainly in a well-tailored tunic of a dark green weave that included threads of darker green silk that sparkled discreetly in the sun, and his sandals were made of fine leather in the very latest style.
“And you are?” she said.
His smile didn’t change but his eyes did. A man used to people knowing who he was, then. As to that she had a pretty fair idea but she refused to cater to his ego by saying so. He gave a slight bow from his seated position. “Otho the Builder, lady.”
She threw him a sop. “Ah. Otho, the Master of Builders, is I believe your full title.”
Predictably, he preened a little. “Some call me so indeed, lady. You’ve already met Calvus, my manservant.” He waved. “We are, as you so rightly pointed out, obstructing traffic. Again I ask, may I offer you transportation? As I said, we seem to be going in the same direction.”
She felt a distinct pressure at her back, as if she were being herded.
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The book will launch on Saturday, January 15, 2022, at 2pm at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore. Covid willing, it will be an in person event. I hope to see you there!
Download a copy of the first Eye of Isis novel, Death of an Eye, here.
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