As the sunlight drifted in, the scent of sweat and alcohol met Cassandra's nose. She had been awake for only moments, yet she was instantly recalling the horrors of the night before. The horrors which she had begged Hadrian for. The horrors that kept her from Amadeo's Love.
Rolling over, Cassandra stared at Hadrian. He'd never been anything but a sweaty, drunken mess. Yet why was he so enticing? What about him kept her running back?
I just want to go back to sleep, and sleep forever...
But sleeping forever was simply not an option. Of course, Cassandra could choose to drown her sorrows in liquor, Hadrian's choice poison. It had been Morris' means of escape in the darkest of his days, as well, but...
The thought of Morris made Cassandra's heart ache. So, he did turn out to be far stronger than me...I hope he stays at the castle. It's where I ought to be, too. Cassandra shivered and tried to warm her cold soul by pulling the blankets up to her chin.
Remembering Hadrian's response to the clothes Cassandra had brought back from the castle, she wanted to weep. He'd taken one look at the luxurious garments, a sick smile on his face. "So," he'd said, "you've brought back royal scum from the palace? Look at how pretty and snotty you are. You thought I'd like these, did you?" He'd laughed, shaking his head. "You look ridiculous."
Nothing I do is ever enough for him. Sitting up in bed, Cassandra looked over at the door. Longingly, she imagined stepping outside the apartment and returning.
But returning to what? To her life of brokenness? To the castle? Where did she belong? What place was she made for?
From out of nowhere, Hadrian reached over and pulled Cassandra back down. "Thinking of leaving, are we?" he asked, voice groggy from sleep. "After all I've done for you, you're thinking of leaving?"
"I'll never leave."
"That's what you said before," Hadrian whispered. He propped himself up on one arm so that he was both reclining and looking down at Cassandra. "What makes you think that Amadeo will want Hadrian's damaged goods?"
Tears filled Cassandra's eyes, and she looked away. "You're right," she murmured.
Hadrian bent down. "Of course, I'm right," he replied, brushing his lips against Cassandra's forehead. "You need me, Cassandra. I don't need you; I don't need anyone. But I want you. You ought to feel like a very special girl."
"I do." Cassandra closed her eyes, bracing herself for the rough kisses that were sure to follow.
"I chose you for this," Hadrian whispered, voice suddenly lower and huskier. "I chose you for the darkness. This is who you are. This is what you were made for. Don't even think about believing otherwise."
"I won't," Cassandra whispered. "I know you chose me." She reached up and encircled Hadrian's neck with her arms and allowed herself to meet his expectations.