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Keeping the Heart by Keya

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Waking up was like pushing an angry bullfrog out of his territory. Cassandra groaned, tossed and turned, not wanting to open her eyes and face the day. It felt like a lump of coal had settled itself in the pit of her stomach and her head hammered with an unearthly headache. Remembering little of the night before, the werewolf prayed that she hadn't danced on the tables and stripped for the many guys that seemed to follow Anna, Star and herself around like little lost puppies, or had she? Cassandra couldn't even begin to imagine Marco's anger if she had.

"Cassandra, you promised to take me out shopping for comic books!"

Sam's voice pierced Cassandra's eardrums and made her wish she had closed the door, but too late, Sam was already in her room.

"Oh, go away!" Cassandra mumbled into the pillow, but then gave up as two hands sneaked inside the covers, and managed to attack Cassandra by tickling her all over.

"All right, all right, I'm up, you need not be so pushy about it!"

Sam grinned and set off to finish getting ready, going down the stairs like a herd of elephants. Getting out of bed was hard, getting dressed was pure agony. Selecting a black halter-top borrowed from Anna, and a pair of special jeans that had wolves painted on the legs, Cassandra quietly made her way downstairs, hoping against all hopes that Sam had gone without her.

"Ready?" Sam asked, folding a stack of twenties in his pocket. Grandpa had sold three stuffed animals to Sam's high school teacher in agreement that he would get fifty percent of the profit, and in comic books, eighty dollars could go a long way.

"Yeah, Sammy, let's hit the road."

An hour later Cassandra was running to catch up with Sam when she stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of a red dress in a store. It was enchanting with an open-back, and two tiny straps that would show her shoulders nicely and make Marco's eyes pop open in total awe.

Mesmerized, Cassandra walked towards the store, not noticing the condemned sign across the front, or the aged cedar floor rotting. To her eyes the shop was flawless, the floor recently polished, and the sign surrounded with delightful flowers, including ivy, and climbing yellow roses, her favorite.

"Wow," Cassandra said, feeling the smooth texture of the silky dress. She had to have it; it had to be on her tonight. Looking for an attendant to help her, Cassandra nearly fainted when she saw the man, smiling, holding out the dress in an offer to try it on. He was elegant, wearing dark pants and a ruby shirt that matched the dress perfectly. His eyes were golden, the actual color of the roses outside.

"Would you like to try it on, lass?"

Of course, he was Irish, a highlander perhaps, or was he a laird of his own castle? Laird, definitely laird, Cassandra thought while taking the dress. He pointed to the direction of where she could change and it took all of Cassandra's willpower to walk away from him. His charms were just too powerful to ignore.

Changing took a matter of moments, and the dress fit wonderfully, snug in the front, but fell gracefully down to highlight her figure. Yes, indeed, she would give anything to have the dress. Marco would just go nuts!

"Anything?"

Turning, Cassandra gasped for the attendant stood beside her, his strange eyes glittering. It was uncanny that Cassandra wasn't afraid. She just wanted him to touch her, to make her feel that the dress gave her the power to capture any man she desired, including him.

He gently pulled her closer to him, his touch hot against her bare back. He tilted his head, like a wolf, studying his prey, amused on how quickly she came under his spell.

"Anything?" He repeated, his voice sending shivers down her spine. His eyes seemed to grow larger, more seductive, and quickly as a snake, he captured her lips cruelly, as if he had the right to brand her and he did. Before she could respond, he nipped her lip, making it bleed, and pain and pleasure combined.

He drew away from her slowly, his breath hot against her face. He smiled, enjoying her, knowing she would be his to control.

"Cassandra, come on!"

The voice sounded familiar, but Cassandra couldn't pull herself away. His body was too warm, so comforting that she wanted to fall asleep. Closing her eyes, she leaned against him, seeking for him to wrap his arms around her again.

"Cassandra!"

No, this isn't right, Cassandra yelled within herself. She had to answer Sam. Let him know that she was all right, but she wasn't. She felt entombed, his power was submerging her own and making her feel sensations that were staggering to behold.

"Go now, Cassandra, we shall meet again."

Abruptly, everything disappeared, including the man. Dazed, Cassandra stared in disbelief at the crumbling wood and sign that looked ugly with brown branches and thorns covering it.

"Cassandra!"

Sam came up to her, and took her arm, pulling her towards a comic store, but suddenly stopped, looking puzzled.

"Did you buy a new dress? It looks good. Really hot."

Cassandra looked down, shocked that she wore the red dress. Pinned at the waist was a heart-shaped note that read: "You owe me anything that I want and I want you, lass. Enjoy the dress."

It was signed, "Sereno."
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