Tainted Saint, Chapter Fifty-SevenMature

I can't believe I did this. I can't believe I ran right back to the life I hate. I can't believe I'm here. Hands trembling, Cassandra hesitated, then knocked tentatively on the door of Hadrian's apartment.

Silence.

Clasping her hands together, Cassandra looked nervously down the hallway. I might have time to run back out of the building without Hadrian ever knowing I was here. But somehow, Cassandra knew she couldn't run away. Hadrian always knew when she'd been about to return.

Just when Cassandra was beginning to believe that Hadrian wasn't in his apartment, the old door creaked open with a cringe-worthy squeal.

"Well, if it isn't the little street rat, come back to her nest," Hadrian murmured.

Cassandra knew Hadrian's mood well. Often, when he was about to explode, he got extremely cool and sarcastic. A shouting match was sure to ensue. The thought that Amadeo wouldn't treat Cassandra harmfully flitted across Cassandra's mind, but she shoved the irksome thought away. Hadrian could usually tell when she was thinking about the King.

"Y-yes. I've come back. I...couldn't stay away."

Hadrian gave the air an exaggerated sniff. "You smell terrible," he muttered. "What is that smell?"

Immediately defensive, Cassandra frowned. "It's a rose perfume. You like lilac perfume, and that's not much of a difference." Oh, no. I'm rambling. "Why do I smell bad?"

"No, no, no. Not the roses." Hadrian leaned closer and inhaled slowly, his face less than a mere inch away from Cassandra's neck. Her skin tingled at his close proximity. Then, Hadrian drew away, face the picture of disgust. "I thought so," he said. "You smell like castle filth." He slammed the door, right in Cassandra's face.

"Hadrian, no!" Cassandra's eyes began to fill with tears. I did not come all this way, just to be turned back! "Please, Hadrian." Her voice lowered to a whisper. "Don't send me away...please..."

The door opened again. "If you stay," Hadrian said, "you can never run away again. Do you hear me? I'm not going to share you with some pigheaded man who runs around wearing a crown and calling himself 'King.'"

Shaking her head vigorously, Cassandra took a step forward. "I will never, ever run away again," she vowed.

It was then that Hadrian reached out, grasped Cassandra's arm, and roughly dragged her into his tenement. Gripping Cassandra's arm so tightly that she gasped, Hadrian slammed the door shut with his foot and pinned Cassandra up against the wall. "You sure you want to stay?" he snarled.

Unable to speak from her fright, Cassandra could only nod.

"Then I'll teach you a lesson." Hadrian said, shaking Cassandra by the shoulders before throwing her against the wall again. "This is what happens to little rats who run away from their sewer."

The End

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