Hadrian dragged Cassandra through the crowd, muttering incoherently to himself as he did so. Trying her best not to cry out in pain, Cassandra allowed herself to be pulled into her tenement.
Once they were safely inside, Hadrian released Cassandra's arm, sending her to the floor with great force. Cassandra tried to scramble to her feet, but Hadrian pushed her back down again.
"You wretch! You urchin! You whore!" Hadrian shouted, stunning Cassandra with a painful blow to the head.
Covering the area where Hadrian had hit her head, Cassandra closed her eyes and turned her face away. "Hadrian..." she whimpered, heart throbbing with emotion she could barely contain. "You know I didn't do anything...I only met his eyes..."
"You vulgar liar!" Hadrian shouted. He yanked Cassandra up from the ground and threw her against the wall. "Look me in the eyes and tell me you weren't considering his offer!"
"He was offering me nothing!"
"He wanted to get to know you!" Hadrian exclaimed, spittle spewing forth from his mouth and flecking Cassandra's face. Absently, the thought crossed Cassandra's mind that Hadrian's breath smelled of strong liquor. "He wanted to steal my property!"
"He wanted nothing from me!"
"You unfaithful lout! Lie to my face one more time - " and here, Hadrian broke off his own words and covered Cassandra's lips with his own.
Confused but immediately drawn in by her lover's intoxicating kisses, Cassandra allowed herself to indulge in Hadrian's lips, taking her fill of them and wanting more. But before she could even register what was going on, Hadrian pulled away and pinned her to the wall, face inches from hers. "Swear to me you won't even think about him," he hissed.
"I swear," Cassandra whispered, trembling with both fear and desire. "I swear, I won't think about him."
Hadrian shook Cassandra by her shoulders. "That wasn't convincing," he growled.
"I swear!" Cassandra pleaded, horrified by the tears that wouldn't stop flowing.
"Your crying disgusts me."
Cassandra tried to fall to her knees, but Hadrian only gripped her shoulders more firmly. "Stand up straight and look me in the eyes!" he demanded, eyes flashing with rage.
Knees shaking, Cassandra gathered what strength was left in her and stood her ground.
"Do you want me?"
Cassandra nodded, her heart bleeding with every beat. "Yes, Hadrian," she wept.
"Do you want me?"
Choking a sob in her throat, Cassandra nodded. "Yes," she whispered.
Hadrian's voice was still gruff and commanding. "Do you want me?"
And then, a great change swept over Hadrian. He suavely smoothed hair from Cassandra's face and kissed her, touch far gentler than before. "Do you want me?" he asked, his tone rich and enticing.
Cassandra let her guard down completely. "Yes..." she whispered. "Yes, Hadrian, I love you..."