Will I stay?
Impulsively, Cassandra nodded. "Yes," she whispered. Then, more loudly. "Yes! Yes, I'll stay!"
"For always?" Amadeo asked, eyes searching Cassandra's soul.
But before Cassandra could respond, an image of Hadrian's hateful face flashed before her eyes. After a sharp intake of breath, she took a step back from Amadeo. "If he'll let me," she finally managed, overcome with remorse that she was already reconsidering her promise to stay.
"Cassandra, it's not a matter of whether or not he'll let you. It's a matter of whether or not you'll let you."
"I'm here now, though, and I'm safe. That's all that matters." For now. "Morris said you missed me." Suddenly feeling rather small and insignificant, she blushed. "But I mean, maybe he was just making things up."
"You think I didn't miss you? That's crazy, Cassandra." Amadeo looked over Cassandra's shoulder. He appeared to be watching for something...or someone. He hesitated, then took Cassandra's hand. "Are you hungry? Tired? Thirsty?" He laughed. "Come on. Let's get you somewhere you can sit down."
Thankful for Amadeo's offer, Cassandra allowed herself to be escorted to the castle doors. All around her, everyone resumed their chattering, as though they had been waiting with baited breath to see if the urchin would stay at the castle or not. Trying not to be bothered by the stares of those around her, Cassandra bit her lip, held her head high, and tried her best to set her shoulders back. If she must be an urchin, then she would be an urchin with dignity.
Amadeo smiled and patted Cassandra's hand gently before opening the doors himself.
But just before stepping through the castle doors to the freedom that awaited her, Cassandra turned and looked behind her. The path to the castle gates stretched out in front of her eyes...her way of escape. If necessary.
Cassandra walked through the doorway. The doors shut behind her. She was enclosed in the castle.