Tainted Saint, Chapter Forty-FiveMature

The rest of the week passed rather uneventfully. Though her fever had returned as soon as she had fled Amadeo, Cassandra was feeling almost completely well a few days later. And though her head still retained traces of ache, Cassandra was healthy enough to return to her normal daily habits.

Men came and went, as always, leaving behind them coins and shame. Cassandra's jewelry box slowly continued to fill, though it was not jewelry Cassandra sought.

She didn't quite know what it was that she sought.

Lizzie had not spoken a word to Cassandra, which was not, in Cassandra's opinion, any sort of a problem. Their once-strong friendship had crumbled the moment Cassandra had recognized Lilac Sin on Lizzie.

But the unease in Cassandra's heart was steadily growing. During the day, she was able to keep thoughts of Amadeo at bay...but whenever she tried to sleep, her closed eyelids paraded before her images of the handsome King. His love was undeniable; his pursuit, inescapable.

Hadn't the King offered his chambers as a place for Cassandra to stay? No, that was Cassandra's mind, twisting things until they fit her idea of what love was. Amadeo had not offered his chambers; he'd offered a place elsewhere for her to stay. Had he really meant it? Or had he only been caught up in the moment, trying to get Cassandra to run back to their picnic?

I messed up a beautiful thing. Why must I always run from the things that heal me?

On an annoyingly bright and chipper morning, Cassandra awoke with a terrible sense of doom. Though she could not exactly explain why, she somehow knew that not all was right.

In fact, she sensed that everything was wrong.

Throwing on a dark green dress that flattered her skin tone and accentuated her curves, Cassandra left her apartment to stand in the streets. Something told her that she was needed outside the tenement...but what for, she didn't know.

Cassandra's senses were right. For there, standing in front of the entrance doors to the apartment building in which both Cassandra and Lizzie stayed, was Morris.

"Morris!" Cassandra exclaimed, shocked. "I thought you were at the castle!"

"Yes."

Undaunted by Morris' less-than-explanatory response, Cassandra closed the door behind her so that she was standing completely outside the building. "I don't know why, but I got this strange feeling that I should leave my apartment...How long have you been here?"

"A minute or two."

"And why are you back here?" Cassandra pried further, still confused as to why Morris would return. Hadn't he left with high hopes of leading a better lifestyle?

"Cassandra, I...I..." Morris' voice trailed off, and he looked away. Every inch of him spelled shame and grief.

"You returned because you couldn't stay away," Cassandra said quietly, understanding. She understood...because she had done the same thing many times with Hadrian. "Let's go somewhere, a place where we can talk. I think you and I both need to take another look at what we're doing."

The End

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