Tainted Saint, Chapter SixteenMature

When Cassandra had been a little girl - only five or six or so - she had had her first taste of life as a "woman of the industry." Shattered by rape, she had withdrawn from the world and lived her life, huddled in a little corner. When she was just a little older, her mother had died, and Cassandra had been forced to follow her mother's career and sell herself in order to earn money.

The vulnerability, the taintedness that Cassandra had felt because of the rape had been devastating. At one time, she had been a bubbly, bouncing little girl, overzealous for the things she loved. But suddenly, she became quiet and submissive to the point of being constantly abused. She had never been the same again.

Even now, somewhere around fifteen years later, Cassandra still felt dirty - not only because of her lifestyle, but also because of the man who had taken advantage of a hapless little girl. No matter how many times she bathed, no matter how many times she scrubbed her skin until it was raw and pink, she still felt tainted. Used up. Damaged. And her way of earning money only made the dirtiness worsen.

Now, Cassandra stood by the washbasin, vigorously rubbing at her body and trying to no avail to rid herself of the filthiness she felt. But no rag, no scalding water, no amount of lathering soap could wash away the grime that had taken hold of her soul. Sighing, she threw the rag into the washbasin and lifted her face to stare at herself in the mirror.

"Cassandra Morrow," Cassandra whispered to herself, "you know this isn't going to work."

Hadrian had given Cassandra a cheap necklace the night before, an inexpensive bauble to add to her repertoire of poorly-made jewelry. Hadrian always gave Cassandra gifts - none of them of any level of sacrifice, of course. They were never special. Sometimes, Cassandra even found duplicates of them on street vendors' carts.

"Nobody will ever think you're special," Cassandra whispered to herself, echoing the words Hadrian had spoken to her only several hours before. "I'm lucky to have Hadrian, because nobody will ever think I'm special."

She stooped down, picked up the washrag, and tried again to scrub away her sins.

The End

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