Tainted Saint, Chapter Thirty-TwoMature

Cassandra was feeling well enough to eat some of the thick, stale bread Hadrian had afforded her. Even though the bread tasted dry and rusty in her mouth, she forced herself to eat a few bites before collapsing back into the bed. The lukewarm water did nothing to help her, either. She couldn't wait until she could have some real food.

But she would only have real food once she was back on her own, and Cassandra dreaded going back to work. With every fiber of her being, she dreaded going back to work!

The door opened again, and this time, Cassandra knew better than to fake sleep. She pulled the blanket up to her chin and tried to be as small as she could be. She simply couldn't stand up to Hadrian today; it was all she could do to even ask for food.

"How are you feeling?" Hadrian asked gruffly. He smelled of that putrid "Lilac Sin" again. Cassandra's stomach sank, and not from the scent.

"I'm a bit better."

"If I didn't love you, Cassandra, you wouldn't be here in my apartment," Hadrian said. "If I wasn't devoted to you, I wouldn't have followed you to the party and back. But you know I only want what's best for you, so I did. You know I care about you."

Cassandra said nothing. In all honesty, it would have been better to be in her own bed. And she had been near houses; she could have eventually searched elsewhere for help. Hadrian was a fool.

"You know I care about you," Hadrian repeated, and it was clear from his tone of voice that he expected Cassandra to agree with him.

After a moment's hesitation, Cassandra sighed. "Yes, I know."

A possessive smile briefly crossed Hadrian's lips before he turned around and began to rummage around in his cupboards. Pulling out a flask of something Cassandra couldn't identify, he laughed.

"What are you laughing at?" Cassandra demanded, hating herself for caring.

"Oh, just the irony of this situation. Usually, it's me who is in your tenement. Don't expect favors from me very often. You're lucky that I even care."

"That sounds strangely different from what you just said," Cassandra pointed out. "You said you were devoted to me." Her head began to ache, and she closed her mouth. She didn't want to earn another blow from Hadrian; she was already in enough pain.

Hadrian said nothing, only continued to look through his cupboard before he found a plate. Within several minutes, he had sliced himself some fresh bread and spread butter on it. Even that looked good to Cassandra. But Hadrian didn't offer her any, and Cassandra knew better than to ask.

Once finished, Hadrian turned to leave. Before he walked out, however, he made one last remark. "You look like a mess. The King could never care about you."

And the words continued to resonate in Cassandra's mind, long after her "lover" had left.

The End

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