Chapter Ten

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"What the hell do you want to be married for?"

Knees bent hip-level beside Cassandra, pinning needles through her oversized cargo pants, I flash a look of warning in Damien's direction while he sips mischievously on the blood he requested.

"Just because you chose not to marry your partner doesn't mean we must follow in your footsteps."

"The relationship you share goes way beyond the confines of marriage, my brilliant mentor. The entire concept is incredibly overrated."

"That's what I said," Cassandra pips in, meaning to test me.

"I should remind you I'm in possession of sharp objects."

"You gonna poke me purposely, doctor?"

Damien chimes in laughter at Cassandra's irritating banter. It's been like this since we exited the bathroom. Damien leans forward to hand me a few more pins when I stretch out my arm. "You are bound, Elijah. You are inhuman. Considering there's no way to properly wed, vows are a waste of time, don't you think?"

"You were changed already in love with someone, Damien, and at that time, you weren't free to marry openly. Wasn't there a time during any of the years that you wished for some title of commitment?"

"If I did, I can no longer remember it."

"Well, when you've lived beyond the 12th century without a partner to confide and depend on, and seen and done the things I've done in order to survive this long, then I'd welcome your opinion."

Damien's eyes roll in Cassandra's direction. "All right, well, should we begin preparations for a wedding? Will we be doing this before or after the battle to end all battles?"

"Cassandra's asked there be no wedding," I divulge.

"Smart girl. I've organized a few. They can be costly."

"Money is of no issue."

Cassandra shifts her weight while she has the chance. It's her next admission that stuns me into silence. "A wedding seems too... pure after what we've...I've...been through. I can't even see myself walking down an aisle in white. We all know there isn't an ounce of innocence in me. It would be mortifying."

While all this time Damien's been speaking in unison with her beliefs, this rare moment of true visibility sets him back as well. Our eyes meet briefly before parting, not desiring to make her uncomfortable.

Pure? Mortifying?

Rather than insist she explain now, knowing it will lead nowhere, I settle on making a mental note to inquire further later. I push back, looking over the military uniform she's swimming in.

"That's the best I'm going to achieve. Go slip out of this and bring it back... carefully."

She unbuttons the pants, and right where she is, pushes down the material. I'm eye-level with lace undergarments, blanching.

"There's a room—"

"Why bother? Damien doesn't care, does he?"

Damien snickers at the defeated sigh that leaves me, standing up to take her hand and twirl her around carelessly while I take the pants. "To behold such an angel, of course not."

"Bodies are bodies," Paris adds, striding back into the room after conversing with the pilot. "You'd think after living so long, you'd be a tad less fettered by nudity, master."

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