Tainted Saint, Chapter Sixty-FiveMature

Cassandra knew Amadeo knew the answer to his question. Why did you leave? Still, she found a need to answer Amadeo's question. After several moments of trying to gather the right words to articulate her feelings, she simply said, "I don't belong here."

"And you believe that because...?"

Irritated that the conversation had so quickly turned into an examination of her soul, Cassandra shrugged. "It doesn't matter. I'm here now."

"But Cassandra, if you continue to believe you don't belong here...you'll leave again."

The words were unnervingly poignant. Unbearably true. "But I'm here now..." Cassandra repeated, this time far more feebly than before.

"It's not enough that you're here now, Cassandra. I want you here for always." Amadeo gently smoothed a tendril of hair from Cassandra's face, then took her hand and said, "I don't know how else to say this. I want you here. I don't want you to run away again." He sighed. "What can I do to show you that you were meant to be here?"

"Hit me. Tell me how much you hate me, and then tell me how much you want me - both in one breath. That'll make it seem like home." The words were unexpectedly bitter, and Cassandra tried to disguise their heartfulness by adding a nervous chuckle to the end.

But Amadeo failed to see the attempted humor in Cassandra's statement. "You think I'd hit you and use you," he stated, voice flat.

Unflinchingly, Cassandra replied, "Perhaps not physically, but I know that you have more power to hurt me than anyone else does."

"And why is that?"

Unwilling to admit that Amadeo had begun to capture her soul - not just her body and fragments of her heart, but her very soul - Cassandra bit her lip and shook her head. "I don't know," she offered lamely.

"And you honestly believe I'd hurt you?"

There was nothing Cassandra could say, as guilt overtook her and rested on her trembling frame. Was it just her, or was her fever burning more than it had been before? "Listen...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come. I'm just causing trouble. Again."

"I want you to stay. I want to show you that you are meant to be here." Amadeo's voice was pleading, but far from whining. "Please, Cassandra. Stay." He released Cassandra's hand so as to give her the impression that he was not forcing her to stay with him. "Will you stay?"

The End

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