Tainted Saint, Chapter Fifty-FourMature

But Cassandra had only gotten a few paces away from King Amadeo when he gently but firmly reached out and grasped her arm. "Cassandra, wait," he called, and he released her arm so that it would be Cassandra's choice whether or not she stayed.

"If I stayed..." Cassandra began, then stopped.

The King's face lit up, and he nodded. "Well, say what you're going to say," he said with such enthusiasm that Cassandra's heart sped up a bit.

"If I stayed, would you expect me to...to give you the favors I've given men in the past?"

"Do you think I'd keep you around, only for your body?"

Cassandra looked away. "That's what all the other men do," she said, her voice dropping in shame. "They've never kept me around for any other reason. I know you're different, but..."

"I would never expect that of you, Cassandra." The King's face was filled with sorrow, and Cassandra could tell that her question had saddened him. "Has no one ever valued you for anything other than what you could give them?"

"Why would anyone ever value me for anything else? I mean, what do you value me for?" The question was forward, and Cassandra was immediately embarrassed for having asked.

"Well, it's true that you give me great pleasure, but that's not the only reason I love you. I also love you because I honestly believe I could give you great pleasure, too."

"That doesn't make sense."

The King stepped toward Cassandra. "There is nothing that gives me greater joy than knowing that I've made you smile."

"But why? No offense, but...you're not really...making sense." Cassandra delivered the words as softly as she could, but in the end, all she managed to do was make herself sound like a bumbling mess.

Amadeo laughed. "I guess I'll make things a bit simpler and ask you if you would do me the honor of joining me for dinner tonight?"

Instantly worried, Cassandra shook her head. "No," she said. "I've got nothing fancy to wear, and besides, I wouldn't know how to say or what to act. I mean, what to say or how to act." She blushed and ducked her head. "I'm not making any sense," she said, embarrassed at her stumbling around with her words.

"You're making sense to me. But I completely disagree. You always know how to say and what to act," here, the King smiled, "and I can find you a dress so lovely that not even Gabelle could disapprove."

"You'd really do that?" Cassandra asked, before she could stop herself.

"Of course!" Amadeo exclaimed, eyes dancing. Cassandra's own heart danced at the sight of the happiness in his eyes.

And it occurred to Cassandra that maybe, just maybe, she knew just a little about what the King meant when he said that nothing gave him greater joy than to see her smile.

The End

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