Tainted Saint, Chapter TenMature

One week later, and Amadeo still had not forgotten those broken eyes.

The atmosphere of the palace had changed into one of anticipation - anticipation of what the King would do with his "ill-directed" affections. Not even Marcos and Gabelle could understand what it was that Amadeo saw in the filthy wench. All they could see in their minds' eyes when they heard Amadeo talk about her was a greasy-haired, stench-ridden prostitute with deceptive eyes.

Was she a greasy-haired, stench-ridden prostitute with deceptive eyes? A prostitute, certainly. Greasy-haired and stench-ridden, perhaps. But deceptive eyes? No! The stories of grief which were spoken by her eyes were true. Amadeo just knew they were.

And it was this conclusion that drove Amadeo to action.

As the King waited for a stableboy to fetch his horse, Marcos approached, eyes tainted with concern. "Where are you going, Your Highness?" he demanded, brow furrowed.

"Marcos, I know you're not going to approve of this," Amadeo said, hoisting himself onto his stallion's back, "but I'm going to visit Nicu, whether or not anyone comes with me."

Marcos reacted just as Amadeo had expected. "You're not serious, Sire! You're out of your mind, if I may say so!"

Amadeo shook his head. "You're probably right, but - "

" - Probably right? You know I'm right, Your Highness. I know I'm speaking frankly, but you've got me worried, to say the least!"

"Marcos," Amadeo said, leaning down slightly to better meet his adviser's eyes. "Listen to me. When you met Gabelle, weren't you willing to take a chance to see if she was the right woman for you?" He watched as Marcos sighed, then grudgingly nodded his head. "I know you're concerned for me, and I appreciate that. But I have to know why I feel so strongly about someone, even if I hardly know her. What if there's something there?"

"You won't find anything with her, I'm sure."

"But I have to know, Marcos. I have to know."

Amadeo saw conflicting emotions and opinions run through Marcos' eyes. He sighed. Marcos said nothing.

Finally, Marcos shrugged. "I guess," he said, then whistled for a stableboy. "Fetch Khai, please," he said, referring to his mare.

Amadeo smiled. "You're coming with me?" he asked, pleased and not afraid to show it.

Marcos said nothing as he waited for Khai. When he'd mounted his mare, he let out a good-natured groan. "It looks as though I have no choice, now, does it?"

But Marcos' casual question was lost on Amadeo as he urged his horse forward. Something within him told him that he was making the right choice, that he was about to experience something that would forever change his life.

He only hoped he could impress the girl.

The End

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