Tainted Saint, Chapter Fifty-FiveMature

Cassandra was exhausted by the time she retired to her personal chambers at the end of the day. She had been rather at ease the rest of the day with Amadeo - even at the dinner, which had been far more comfortable than she had anticipated - but the thought of Hadrian hadn't wanted to leave her alone...

Looking in the mirror, Cassandra surveyed her outfit and thought of how awed Amadeo had been when he'd seen her.

"You took my breath away," Amadeo said, eyes wide. "You look...marvelous."

And it was true. Cassandra, dressed in a dark blue gown that drew out the color of her eyes and flattered her figure without revealing it, felt more beautiful than she ever had felt before in her entire life. Beautiful diamonds graced her neck and dangled from her ears. Her hair had been carefully twisted and pinned in a most elegant fashion that looked fit for a queen. Diamonds had been woven into her tresses, a luxury that until then, Cassandra had only ever admired from afar. Her eyes had been surrounded with and her cheekbones had been highlighted with tasteful amounts of cosmetics that Cassandra couldn't have named, even if she'd tried. Her shoes had been carefully embroidered to perfectly coordinate with her dress.

And her heart had never felt more lighthearted, more free, than it had in that moment, when Amadeo had been so delighted at the sight of his dinner companion.

Cassandra smiled softly at the memory, but at the same time, her heart sank. For even as she now studied her reflection, the dress and jewels and cosmetics and shoes only seemed like mere baubles, used to cover up the soiled woman she really was.

"Who am I kidding by staying here?" Cassandra asked nobody in particular. "I don't belong here. I belong with Hadrian and all the other men who use me. I'm not meant for this."

Quietly slipping from her gown, Cassandra held the beautiful luxury to her chest for one moment before folding it and setting it atop her bed. Next came the jewelry, which Cassandra laid carefully on the set of drawers. And her hair...no, she could keep her hair like that. And the cosmetics couldn't exactly be returned - she would wash her face later.

Cassandra was about to change back into her own underclothes when she caught another glimpse of herself in the mirror. Hadrian would like these, she thought. And anyways, Amadeo said I could keep the clothing. Surely, I could keep these underclothes. And so she slid her old dress back on, over the dainty undergarments...even though she felt absolutely despicable for doing so. "Just don't think about it," she muttered. "You'll back out, if you do."

And with that, Cassandra left, leaving nearly everything as though she had never been there in the first place.

The End

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