Tainted Saint, Chapter Twenty-TwoMature

"I'd like to thank each and every one of you for coming to this celebration tonight," Amadeo smiled, welcoming his guests. "To take time out of your work day to attend an anniversary party is a sacrifice, and for that, I thank you profusely - as do Marcos and Gabelle themselves."

The guests exploded into applause, which gave Amadeo time to look over and see Lemuel Morris, one of his most recently employed stable hands, enter the room. He was alone; that was odd. In the short amount of time that the man had worked for the King, Amadeo had learned that Lemuel was a ladies' man indeed, whether he would admit to it or not. Pleased that Lemuel, who had gone missing, had arrived, Amadeo nodded discreetly to his guest, then continued speaking.

"Today marks four years of Marcos' and Gabelle's much-romanticized marriage. I know you all had matched the two together long before they even knew one another, and I remember how greatly we all rejoiced at the announcement of their marriage. So it is extra meaningful to us now, as we gather to celebrate Marcos and Gabelle. They have, after all, been referred to as the kingdom's 'darlings.'"

Knowing that he was well-meaningly embarrassing his friend, Amadeo looked over and subtly winked at the couple, who had yet to enter the room. Gabelle was blushing - Marcos seemed to be good-naturedly annoyed.

As Amadeo continued, he caught himself subconsciously checking for the broken-eyed girl. But it was all to no avail. Why had he thought she would attend, anyways? It wasn't as though she'd even been invited.

Nearing the end of his speech, Amadeo looked out over the crowd of guests. "Again, thank-you all for coming. It is with great pride and joy that I present to you the reasons for this party - Marcos and Gabelle, the guests of honor!" He stepped back to let Marcos and Gabelle step forward.

Well aware of the fact that he was one of the few people in the room without a companion, Amadeo watched with longing as the doting couple raised their hands in acknowledgement of their friends' applause.

Where are you, beautiful stranger?

The End

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