It was early in the morning - no later than the second hour or so - and Adrian still hadn't returned.
But at the moment, Adrian's return was the last thing on Alexander's mind. He stood on the balcony that overlooked the expansive garden, his hands gripping the railing so tightly that his knuckles were white.
Five years ago, Alexander had stood at that balcony, in the same position with the same thoughts running through his head. The aftermath of making wrong decisions - no matter what the wrong decisions were - was always the worst. It had been the reason Alexander had started drinking in the first place.
I'm such a bad prince. No, I'm such a bad person in general. What's to keep me from getting worse?
Certain that Sara's voice had been a mere figment of his imagination, Alexander didn't respond, still wrestling with his inwardly tremendous, torturous torment.
But it was all the prince's fault. There was absolutely nobody but him who could take the blame.
Straightening at the sound of Sara's voice, Alexander turned and saw the tiny woman watching him, eyes filled with an emotion that the prince could not read. "Shouldn't you be asleep?" he asked softly, trying to sift the grief from his voice. No sense letting Sara into his personal hell.
I need to stop this. I need to stop focusing on my problems and start listening to what Sara has to say. Making an honest effort to pull his thoughts from all that had transpired, Alexander smiled gently at the prisoner.
"Listen, I...from my prison window, I can see this balcony, and I saw you standing out here, and I noticed that you seemed to be struggling, so I came to see you, and now I'm just rambling." Sara blushed and looked away.
"You don't have to be here, Sara. Really. You need your sleep."
"So do you, but you look like you haven't been able to sleep a wink." Sara shifted uncomfortably. "Listen, I...I've been thinking about how I spoke to you earlier. While I still feel the same way as I expressed myself today, I shouldn't have cut you down when I can see that on the inside, you're..." She stopped and looked away.
And then, strong, tough Sara began to cry.
Alexander wasn't sure what to do. He wasn't sure if Sara expected him to rush to her side or if she wanted him to stay away. So he did the only thing he could do.