WARNING: Although it does not go into graphic detail there is suggested non-con towards the end of this chapter. If that is triggery to you at all than please avoid it.
Maximus wasn't surprised that Candace made sure that Proxmio was gone before she spoke. She was use to having to keep things a secret based on how she had managed to keep her love for her brother hidden for so long.
"You wanted to see me?" Candace asked.
"Yes," Maximus said. He wandered over to the bench where he sat down, trying to gather his thoughts. "I know that you would never betray your brother…"
"I have had enough of underhanded scheming," Candace snapped. "Just tell me what you want."
Maximus huffed out a short laugh. "I see you haven't changed," He muttered. Then he brought his eyes up to lock with hers. "Commodus means to kill me, doesn't he?"
Candace let out a soft sigh, her eyes moving away from his as she nodded. "He has become far too stubborn, which makes him hard to handle. He is convinced that you are a threat to his reign that must be destroyed. Nothing will change his mind. Not even…" She trailed off, her eyes darting back over to him. "Not even how much my sister loves you."
Maximus shook his head with an incredulous smile. "She might have loved me once," He said, "but it never lasted."
"You don't know that," Candace said. She moved forward with a purposeful step, her voice gaining more heat as she spoke. "You weren't there to see how she wept after our father forced you apart. You weren't there to witness the battles she raged with our father over it. She has never stopped loving you."
"Is that so?" Maximus asked. "Then why did she marry another man?"
"It was not her choice," Candace said. "Titus did come to love her fiercely, but she was never able to feel anything for him but friendship."
"And yet she gave him a child," Maximus said. He was taken aback by the smirk that appeared on Candace's lips at what he spoke.
"That's what you think," She said. "You know how old her son is, don't you?"
"Yes, he is six," Maximus said. "But what does this have to do with-"
"The same length of time that you have been away from Rome," Candace said, cutting across his words. "And his name is Decimus. A name that she took from your own. Now why do you think she would do that?"
"I don't care about this!" Maximus snapped.
"You should," Candace shot back.
"And why is that?" Maximus demanded.
"Because we are talking about your son," Candace said.
Maximus felt as though she had just dumped a bucket of ice over him. He shook his head slowly, unable to believe what he was hearing. "That is impossible," He murmured. "My son is dead."
"One is," Candace replied, her voice soft. "Not the other."
Maximus stared at her astonishment, his voice quiet as he spoke the question that forced its way from his mouth. "How?"
Candace smiled kindly at him as she laid her hands on his shoulders. "I know that you were with my sister in that way more than once before you went to ask my father for permission to marry her. She had intended to tell you on that day, but our father had already sent you away. She didn't have any other choice but to reveal her condition and when she did our father forced her into marriage." She titled her head to the side, looking a little confused. "There is one thing that I have never been able to understand, however. Why didn't my father agree to your suit?"
It took Maximus more than a few moments to adapt to the abrupt change in conversation. "You must know that your father considered me to be like a son to him. I thought that this would work in my favor when I went to ask for your sister's hand in marriage, but instead it proved to be my downfall." He let out a soft sigh as he was made to remember one of the memories he hated the most. "I delivered my proposal in the most eloquent way that I could think of, hoping that your father's love for me would sway his decision in my favor. But instead he was horrified at my suggestion. I was someone that he viewed as his own child, asking to marry his daughter. It reminded him of a relationship of a similar relationship that he had recently discovered amongst his children. He ordered that I would be sent off to be trained as a soldier to prevent such a terrible even from happening." He paused, glancing up at Candace with a wary expression. "Are you sure that the boy is mine?"
"Maximus, you were the only lover my sister ever had," Candace said. "I know for a fact that Decimus is your son."
Maximus still wasn't sure what to make of this newfound information, but he did know one thing. "I need to see Tessa."
Candace cast him a small, soft smile. "Then, if nothing stands in our way, you will see her tonight."
Candace had gone to see her sister as soon as she had gotten back from seeing Maximus. Tessa had nearly become upset with her for having told the man the truth about Decimus, but she recovered from it quickly upon hearing that the gladiator wanted to meet with her. The two of them had already created a story to explain where she was so Commodus wouldn't question her disappearance.
She was heading off to her brother's rooms now since Tessa had told her that he had been looking for her. She just hoped that he hadn't become curious enough to start making inquires as to where she had went.
She expected that Commodus would be there to greet her once she arrived so she frowned when she didn't see him anywhere in sight. She cast a quick glance around the chamber to make sure that she hadn't been mistaken, turning to go as she decided that she hadn't been.
"Where have you been?"
Candace froze, turning back only just noticing Commodus seated behind a large fixture of flowers. He looked back at her as she stared at him.
"I sent for you," He said.
Candace morphed her face into a mask of serenity as she moved towards Commodus. "I am sorry, brother," She said. "I was taking care of matters outside the palace." She frowned slightly as she noticed the fresh lines that had formed on her brother's face. "Commodus, what's wrong?"
Commodus moved his eyes up to her slowly, a slightly dangerous undertone to his voice as he spoke. "Does Gracchus have a new lover?"
Candace was taken aback by the question since it hadn't been something that she had expected to hear. "I don't know," She said.
"Oh? I thought you'd seen him," Commodus said. "He infects everyone like a putrid fever. For the health of Rome the Senate must be bled and he will bleed too. Very soon."
Candace found herself unnerved by the cold, almost sinister expression on his face as he spoke. There had been times in the past when he had started to say things like this, but never with dark sort of sense in his words. "But not tonight," She murmured. She couldn't stop herself from tensing as he rose up from his chair to stand before her. He only remained there for a moment, however, before moving around her to sit down on the bed.
"Do you remember what our father said once?" He said. "It's a dream, a frightful dream, life is." He waited until his sister had turned to face him to speak again. "Do you think that's true?"
"I don't know," Candace replied.
"I think it is," Commodus said. His eyes flicker up towards her. "And I have only you to share it with."
Candace was tempted to remind him that he had Tessa as well, but she bit her tongue, moving over to sit down next to him instead. She was about to wrap an arm around him when he leaned in towards her, laying his head down on her shoulder unexpectedly. She nearly managed to adjust to the surprise until Commodus rose a hand to press gently on her other side, pushing her back down onto the bed. She kept her eyes fixed to the canopy that hung above them instead of on her brother's face which hovered nearby as his hand rested on her collarbone. She forced herself not to pull away as he pressed a finger against her lips.
"Open your mouth," Commodus ordered softly.
Candace knew better than to disobey him when he was in such a mood and parted her lips ever so slightly. Her brow furrowed as he dipped the tip of his finger past her lips, wondering what he was doing. Her silent question was answered hardly a moment later, however, as her brother raised the same finger up to his lips, pressing a kiss to it. Then his hand was clasping her chin, lips floating only a few inches above her own. She was prepared for him to kiss her that she was taken aback when he moved his head down towards her neck instead.
She thought for a moment that all he wanted was to cuddle with her, as he tended to do so often now. Her whole body tensed up a moment later, however, as she felt his fingers curl around the fabric at her thigh, dragging it slowly upwards. "Commodus, what are you-" She didn't get any farther than that for a small shushing sound came from her brother.
"I'm not going to harm you," Commodus said. He pressed a kiss against her neck, frowning as she shivered against him. "What's the matter?'
"It's just…" Even now Candace didn't dare to look at him as she spoke. "I thought I told you that I wasn't ready for this yet."
There was aggravation in the sigh that Commodus let out. "It's something that you will have to grow use to soon." He twirled a piece of the fabric in his hand absently around one of his fingers. "I plan to announce my plans to marry you after Maximus has been taken care of."
Candace was surprised by the way that her anger at these words overtook the panic that she felt. "You what?" She exclaimed. "Why didn't you consult me about this!"
Commodus hadn't seemed to have expected her to be upset by what he had told her. "I didn't think such a thing to be necessary," He said. "We have almost always agreed with things in the past."
"Yes, but not when it comes to this," Candace said. "This isn't something that I want." She struggled as she attempted to push him off her so that she could sit up and talk to him properly. "Commodus, I-" Her words came to an end as the hand that had been on her thigh shot up to curl around her throat.
"Silence!" Commodus hissed. "This is something that I have wanted for a long time, dear sister. You should have learned how to align your desires with my own by now." He moved his hand away from her neck, making her wonder if she would have the chance to talk him back down. Any such words died on her lips, however, as the layers of her skirts were ripped away. "You have belonged to me since the day that you were born. It is about time that you learned to accept it."
Candace opened her mouth to retaliate against such words, her eyes flashing with anger. But then Commodus thrust forward and any words that she might have spoken were lost in a scream as pain overtook her.
The worry that had come over Tessa when a servant had arrived to bring her to Commodus's chambers was only increased as she saw how terrified the woman leading her there was. She told the woman to wait outside with two of her ladies that had accompanied her before entering the room. The lights had been cast down unordinary low and the curtains were drawn so it took her a few moments to make out much of anything. But then she spotted a figure sprawled out across the bed. A gasp escaped from her as she realized that the person was her sister and that there was blood all around on the sheets on which the other girl was laying.
She raced towards the doorway, issuing a hasty demand to the three servants there to bring her a basin of warm water along with a cloth and fresh sheets. Her tone turned harsher as her command wasn't followed immediately, looking at the servants through narrowed eyes until they rushed off to do as they were told. She was glad that they didn't take too long in gathering what she had asked for at least. She gathered the objects up, ordering the servants to return to their business and waiting until they had disappeared to re-enter the room.
She draped the sheets across the bed before sitting down next to Candace, placing the bowel of water in her lap. She dipped the cloth into the water, waiting until it had been thoroughly dampened to pull it out. She cast a wary glance down at the girl next to her. "This might sting a bit," She warned. She sighed as she didn't receive any sort of answer, bending down to mop up the blood that was stuck to Candace's legs.
She frowned as she discovered bruises on the inside of her sister's thighs. They were similar to the ones that she could see forming along the girl's arms on her wrists in particular.
"Candace, what happened?" She asked.
When the other girl spoke it was with a voice that had become hoarse from constant screams. "Commodus."
Commodus was pacing across his study when the servant he had sent escorted Tessa in. He dismissed the servant before rushing over to her with an anxious expression on his face. "How is Candace?" He asked. "Is she alright?" He was taken aback by the cold glare that he received in response.
"Candace is fine now," Tessa replied. "I have had her moved back to her own rooms after taking something that will help her be able to sleep. You better not disturb her or else she won't be able to heal properly." She shot him a glance out of the corner of her eye, shivering as though disgusted with something. "I know what you did to her, Commodus, and I don't think I'll ever forgive you for it. Or if Candace will be able to." Then with that said, she spun on her heel and marched straight back out of his study.
Commodus stood there trying to process what she had said to him. She couldn't be right, of course, for Candace always forgave anything that he did, no matter how dreadful it was. So, this time shouldn't be any different…right?