Okay, I finally got the motivation I needed to write this chapter. Lol. Enjoy!!!

Chapter Eight:

Tristan shifted again to accommodate the pain in his shoulder. This long ride was butchering his scar. At least it wasn't bleeding. He felt the scar was a part of his punishment. He missed Cassandra's company. She was presently riding with her maidens now and he desperately wished for her to talk to him, to take his mind off of Charlotte. Cassandra wasn't afraid to speak her mind and she had a good heart. Tristan shook his head. He only liked her company because she was unconventional, different from the ladies at court.

He smiled as he remembered the love that had shone in her eyes as she reminisced about the academic and magical teachings of her mentor Mamma Cora. He wished he could think the old woman for not teaching Cassandra to be stiff and obedient. He wondered if it was even possible to do so.

The more he thought of her the more he missed her company. Giving up on his reluctance he jerked the reigns of his horse in a circle and headed for her.

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Cassandra stroked Mischief behind his ears, annoying her pet as she ruffled his fur.

"Are you excited about court?" Meg asked both Bridget and her Lady.

The sun was slowly setting and its rays cast a purplish pink light over the land. Cassie felt truly blessed to be here.

"Of course." Bridget answered.

Cassie turned her head and felt a jolt of pleasure when she noticed Tristan heading her way. He was so magnificent, his hair caused him to look even more roguish when an errant lock fell across his forehead and shadowed one of his eyes.

His eyes. They had changed since she first met him. Had she been the reason?

Tristan half-smiled as he rode up beside Cassandra. "Lady, would you please grant my request for conversation, else I fear I will perish from boredom if you deny." He gallantly bowed from atop his horse.

"Nay."

Her words caused him to glance at her.

"I do not deny."

Cassie watched the slow smile curve up his face and felt happiness down to her toes.

"Do you mind?" Cassie asked her maidens. She did not want to hurt their feelings.

"Nay." Bridget smiled. She pushed at Cassie with her hands none too subtly.

"We will speak of other matters." Meg smiled slyly as Cassie nodded.

"Alright." Cassie rode off with Tristan close by her side.

"Was that not a bit odd to you?" Tristan asked. How he wished he could kiss her again. It was merely gratitude he told himself. He did not love her. Nay, he only warranted her friendship.

She laughed softly. "They are probably scheming behind my back."

Tristan shook his head. "You never cease to amaze me."

"How so?" she inquired.

He gave a thoughtful look. "First you treat your maidens as if they were of rank. That is commendable. Second, you are kind to everyone you meet," he paused, "with the exception of me." He laughed.

Cassie's heart swelled at his compliments. "Why, I should feel so flattered to be paid a compliment by Lord Tristan."

He chuckled. "Minx."

"Men!" Cassie rolled her eyes heavenward. "They know how to ruin the moment."

Tristan laughed. Their verbal sparring had definitely relieved him of his boredom.

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As Keifer bedded down for the night he decided he couldn't fight this love for Victoria. It had somehow taken a hold of him and consumed his heart and soul. If he was careful she would never know. Then she wouldn't use it against him.

Would she? His mind countered. She is entirely different from Joslyn.

All women are the same, he growled.

As stirring brought him from his mind and to the realization that Victoria slept on a pallet only a few feet away. He turned over and let his eyes roam over her sleeping face.

She looked angelic in her sleep. He resisted the urge to get up and trace her lips with his fingers, to kiss her softly.

His heart was completely gone when she sighed in deep content. He wanted to protect her, marry her, make her forget all about Gil. He would give her time. Six or seven months was all his heart would allow.

His eyes fell to her neck where the ever present crystal lay. Both sisters refused to remove them. What was its importance? Why did Victoria refuse to tell him?

It was really none of his business, she would tell him in her own time.

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Cassie flicked open the carriage curtain and couldn't help but sigh. The rain continued on, it seemed, forever and she was stuck in this stifling carriage. The only thing good about it was that every time the driver hit a bump Tristan's knee brushed hers. It sent jolts of electricity straight to her heart, making the poor organ beat even faster.

She twirled a lock of hair around her finger and untwirled it for the thousandth time.

"Will you quit that?" Victoria chastened her twin. "We will be able to escape soon."

Cassie moaned. "Tis not soon enough!"

Tristan laughed softly. "Shhh now." He turned his head to see her. "We will be alright."

"I want to go riding."

Keifer smiled and patted Victoria's knee in indulgence. "Once you ride it seems you don't want to stop."

Victoria had to think of something to keep her mind off of Keifer. So she asked a question. "What kind of training will we be doing?"

Keifer removed his hand from her knee. "You will be trained in extensive martial arts, the Craft of the Mother, and even some in the Shadow Craft."

Cassie snapped her head from the window in intrest. "Why the Shadow Craft?"

"If the time arises that you must help the armies fight the Evil One." Tristan answered.

The twins shivered involuntarily at the mention of the name.

"You can choose whatever weopin you wish to excel in but you will have to learn them all." Tristan told them.

"When would we begin training?"

"Three days after arriving at the palace." Keifer answered.

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Cassie couldn't help but overhear Bridget and Meg's conversation. They spoke softly of Kaleer Manor and of Dominic. Was Bridget taken with him?

Dominic!

She heard the heart wrenching scream. She could see the separate times merging.

Cassie snapped her eyes open and ducked. An arrow flew over her head. As she stood again she saw a small woman running and turned to see a shadowy figure. As the shadows cleared she gasped. It was Dominic fighting someone off. All around her the sound of battle rang out.

"Dominic!" Cassie recognized Bridget's voice.

Cassie tried to warn Dominic but before her eyes his opponent ran him through with his sword. Bridget rushed to attach Dominic's aggressor.

"No!" Cassie sat up, the furs sliding from her numb and listless body and pooling on the ground around her. With a quick glance she saw that everyone was asleep. How long had the vision gone on?

"Are you alright?" Tristan placed a hand on her shoulder. He felt her jump.

Cassie turned and was surprised at his nearness. He crouched on one knee beside her in nothing but a pair of pants. His bare chest brushed her shoudler. In his nearness she forgot about the vision.

"Are you alright?" Tristan asked again. Her body being so close to his, energized by the Feeling, affected him in ways he very much understood but chose to ignore. He leaned closer at her whisper.

"Yes." Cassie gathered her thoughts. "I just had a vision, I will be alright."

Tristan could feel her shaking. Involuntarily his hands came up to rub his arms. He did so slowly, warming her skin. "Relax. Would you like to talk about it?"

Cassie breathed in slowly as much to calm herself as to ignore his hands on her skin. She shook her head slowly. "Perhaps on the morn."

"Then I'll bid you goodnight." He whispered. One of his hands left her arm to tilt her chin. "A kiss of friendhsip." He murmered.

Cassie held her breath, her heartbeat pounding faster. When his lips touched hers it flet like their souls were joining.

Tristan felt as if Cassie were made just for him. He promised a kiss of friendship but he felt himself deepening the kiss, tilting her head backward. Cassie brought a hand up and caressed his hair, threading it through her fingers. It was heaven. She;d waited so long for a kiss to come again and now that she had a taste she reveled in it.

Tristan wallowed in the sensations she aroused. It was not like kissing Olivia. The name was like a splash of icy cold water. He ended the kiss by reluctantly pulling away. Where was his honor?

"I am sorry." Cassie told him.

Tristan ran a hand through his hair. "You have no need to apologize. It was my fault."

He walked slowly to his pallet.

"Are we still friends?" the question was asked timidly.

"I will always be here for you." he whispered back, sensing her vulnerability.

Okay, what do you guys think? Review please! It motivates me to write faster and better!!!