Hunger, when mixed with stress and all kinds of unidentifiable emotions, was not the best of companions.
Zahra hugged her knees to her chest and closed her eyes, praying that Alexander would treat the letter with discernment. The possibilities of what could happen looked grim.
Half Zahra's heart hoped that Alexander would throw away the letter, that he would not consider her offer. Why, an honorable man would have nothing to do with Zahra's peace offering!
But the other half...
Perhaps he'll come to meet me, just to talk. Perhaps he'll be able to see that the letter was written under stress, and he'll come to rescue me. He's more honorable than to accept my offer; I know he's more honorable than that! Well, at least, I think he is...
Zahra looked up and saw Cain watching her. "You're an evil man, Cain," she growled. "If the Prince finds out what you've done - "
"The only way he'll find out is if he proves to be a weak man and comes to collect his much desired reward."
Spitting at Cain's feet, Zahra shook her head. "He wouldn't."
"He already asked you to be his mistress, Zahra. I know you think he's had a change of heart, but would you put it past someone like him to reject such a tempting offer? He's a broken man, little girl. And being a broken man, I doubt he'd think twice about taking you in as his 'secret wife,' as I've heard it called."
"He is better than all that, Cain!"
"Oh, and I suppose he proved his goodness by how he responded to Xanthe? Yes, I know about Xanthe. I know about all the women this Prince has romanced. Don't forget that I have spies absolutely everywhere."
Somehow, Zahra doubted that Cain was as powerful as he let on. "I can't believe you would use me like this," she muttered through gritted teeth.
Cain stepped over to Zahra and forced her chin up so that she faced him. "Listen to me, Zahra. I will do absolutely anything to absolutely anyone in order to get what I want. Why else do you think our dear mother is sick? Father will be sick soon, too, and we'll receive the inheritance we deserve." He forced Zahra's head back down. "Weep if you must. Your Prince will be here soon."