Tainted Saint, Chapter Forty-OneMature

Amadeo had just found the perfect place for a picnic - a stretch of grass beneath the shade of some type of expansive oak tree - when he realized Cassandra had fallen a ways behind him. Turning around, he watched as the beautiful girl surveyed her surroundings.

"I didn't know this place existed in Nicu," Cassandra said softly.

"It's perfect, isn't it?" Not receiving a response, though he hadn't really expected one, Amadeo continued. "Sometimes, it's nice to get away from all the people and find a place of rest."

"You don't have to do this, you know," Cassandra said, changing the subject entirely. "You don't have to be eating with me."

Surprised, Amadeo met Cassandra's eyes. "Don't you know I want to be here?" he asked, concerned. "I wouldn't have come all this way, if I didn't want to be with you."

"I don't know why you're doing this..." Cassandra's voice trailed off.

Amadeo spread out the food he'd purchased and the plates and silverware he'd packed. He realized he'd forgotten cups. Either they would have to drink from the same bottle of grape juice, or he'd let Cassandra have it all.

The meal was clearly finer than any other meal Cassandra had ever eaten, for she took delicate, mincing bites, savoring each bit of food before swallowing. Finally, she smiled at Amadeo and said, "This is better than anything else I've ever eaten."

Pleased, Amadeo smiled back. "I tried to pick out things I thought you'd enjoy."

"Do you have anything to drink?"

Hesitating, Amadeo pulled out the bottle. "Grape juice," he explained, "but I forgot cups."

It took only a moment for the facts to register. Shaking her head, Cassandra pushed the bottle away. "Oh, you can have it, then," she said. "I'm not all that thirsty, anyways."

"I'm not opposed to sharing the same bottle."

Raising her eyebrows, Cassandra sat back and snorted. "I'm not so sure," she replied. "Wouldn't want you to contract any type of illness from me. I'm not really healthy, you see."

"Then you can drink it all," Amadeo said. "I don't want you to be thirsty."

"I couldn't drink it all."

"Then we'll share." Amadeo held out the bottle to Cassandra and watched as she slowly took a sip.

"It's good," Cassandra said, quiet. And then, "You really don't mind sharing this?"

Proving his point, Amadeo took the bottle from Cassandra, put it to his lips, and drank deeply. The refreshing taste of grape juice quenched his thirst, and he took several more swallows of it before putting the drink down. "Of course, I don't mind."

Cassandra had watched Amadeo in silence as he'd drunk the juice. Finally, she said, "Most people wouldn't even consider drinking out of the same bottle as a prostitute."

Amadeo leaned just a little closer to Cassandra and tried to meet her averted eyes. "Cassandra," he began, "is a 'prostitute' all you think of yourself as?"

The End

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