Chapter 29

 She had escaped to the stable the next day, the thoughts of Giddeon and their encounter the day before overwhelming her mind and her heart. Was it right or wrong? Whether it was, was she in love with him? She brushed Nakatara aimlessly, unconcerned as dust floated in the air before her, catching in her hair and on her skirts.

Yes, she believed she was. But, what would they do? Cassandra refused to think of Alezander and her engagement doing her best to push it to the backs of her mind, but it was hard to ignore. A smile fluttered on her lips. Could they run away together? She would be disowned, and amany hard times would come from this illogical thought, but there was a certain whimsy to it...fleeing from her captors and her forced marriage, riding at the side of her lover to some secret place....

"Cassandra...what are you doing here?"

 Her thoughts skipped a beat, turning away from Nakatara to face Sam. Suddenly she remembered the other day, him and Lady Henrietta. Suddenly she felt a flair of anger.

"I could ask you the same thing," the Princess replied smartly.  The stable boy silenced with a raise of a brow, she looked back to her mare, who even in the dusky shadows seemed to sparkle. "Why didn't you tell me?"

He was quiet still, shifting back and forth on his feet. She moved her gaze back to him, waiting, though it was not as stern. "She is pretty...very pretty," Cassandra murmured, lowering her eyes. She cleared her throat, attempting at a curt coversation. She could not help to keep a light sarcasim out of her tone, "So, how did the two of you happen to meet? It is not everyday a Lady of heritage and finery falls for a stable hand."

"Cassandra," he sighed, resting his hands in his pockets so that his arms were hanging awkwardly about him. It looked as if he was about to say more, but he couldn't find the words.

"You love her, don't you?" the Princess inquired, almost a whisper. "It is about time, yes? What, you are almost eighteen, a man, yes?"

"Um," nodded Sam, averting his gaze. After a pause, he looked up suddenly, his tongue sharpened, "And why do you care, anyways? Are you jealous?"

Cassandra blinked twice, flustered at his reply. "Why, no!" she scoffed. She felt quite shaken by his unanticipated answer, letting another silence drop between them. "Well, you cannot marry her, can you?" she began, resting her hands on her hips. "Her parents do not know, obviously, and they will not approve. That is for certain. When they find of your 'secret love', Henrietta will likely be disowned, cast away. She will lose her life, and you will be responsible. Responsible for her. And she must live a life, giving up her cushioned life for her heart's feeling, though she may not quite understand this yet..."

"Cassandra!" Sam stopped her, putting his hands to his head as if it ached. "We understand. I understand."

He disappeared from her view as he plopped himself down on the floor just before the stall front. Cassandra moved to lean over it to look at him.

"I plan to break it off tomorrow," muttered Sam. "It was foolish of us, and you are right. She needs to marry one of her own kind."

She frowned, putting her hand gently on his shoulder. Guilt flooded over her. How hypocritial was she? Her thoughts were just leaning on some foolish, improper marriage of whimsy. And, too, she had failed to tell him of her own 'secret love' for Giddeon, and the kiss they shared. She felt horrible. "I'm sorry," she said, attempting to comfort him. "I wish I could do something for you."

"No, you can't," he replied, deflated. He placed his hand over hers patting it gently, "It's alright."

The End

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