I WOKE THE next morning and lay there, feeling a horrible sense of loss followed by an overwhelming fury.

Why am I letting this bother me? So he'd turned out not to be who I thought he was; it wasn't the first time this had happened to me. And I liked being single. I loved it. No-one to have to report to or think about and I LIKED BEING SINGLE!

Tears welled in my eyes and flowed down my cheeks. I stuffed the sheet in my mouth to stop any sounds. Why? What had I done?

He'd seemed so sweet and thoughtful and I thought the chemistry was there. The weird pain in my chest wouldn't go away and it hurt to breathe. I curled into a ball and pulled the covers over my head. Yanking the sheet out of my mouth, I wept into my pillow. I couldn't decide what was worse; the sensation of loss or the feeling of self-deception at allowing a mere male to affect me like this.

A STRANGE NOISE whispered into her dream. Kassie thrashed about, wondering at the whimpering sound and woke disorientated, staring about the room. What is that sound?

It happened again and she realized. Cat. She leaped out of bed and pulled Cat's covers back then felt her heart wrench. Cat lay curled in a ball, sobbing her heart out into her pillow.

'Honey, little kitty cat,' Kassie crooned as she scrambled into the bed and wrapped an arm around her friend. Sian and Loi had woken and joined her, kneeling beside the bed.

'I'm sorry,' Cat snuffled. 'I hate myself for being so stupid. I'm sorry, I'll be okay in a minute, I'm sorry.'

'Stop apologizing, Cat, it's not your fault.' Sian stroked Cat's head.

It took a while to calm her down. Eventually they got her out of bed and into the bathroom. While she showered they laid out her clothes for the first day of training.

'Do you think she'll be okay?' Loi looked at the other two.

'Cat's a trooper.' Sian had her stoic face on. 'She'll deal with this. She has to.'

Kassie gave a sad sigh. 'But what happened? It looked so right.'

The door to the washroom opened and they fell silent.

IT FELT SOMEWHAT comforting to put on my arrival outfit again. The others appeared to feel the same and our room was silent while we got ready. Nnelg hadn't slept over and Audrey waited impatiently for us to get on our way. Breakfast flew by and before I knew it we all sat in the library while Elena requested two of the men join us today. Only Rumal, Daron and Sabyn came to the library, and Daron and Sabyn agreed to accompany us. The air felt somewhat tense as Loi, Sian and Kassie kept firm looks on their faces when they spoke to their guys. I wished they wouldn't. It wasn't their fault.

'Where is Gredel?' Loi asked, while the unspoken question of a certain other rang loud.

'With his wife,' Elena said briskly. 'Spending some much needed time together.'

We stood to leave. 'Catherine, a word?' Elena arched an eyebrow then nodded to the others to go on. The door closed behind them and I turned back to Elena with a sense of apprehension. The Sorceress had an impassive look on her face. 'I'm sorry that things appear to have not worked out well with you and Alek, but I expect you to uphold your end of the bargain. I'm not interested in any silly hysterics, so I trust you got them out of the way this morning.'

My face flushed hot and anger swirled in my gut. Staring at her coolly I snapped, 'I'll uphold my end. I'll need all the skills I can get for when I leave at the month's end.' Her expression didn't change. Damn it! I'd thought that might get a rise from her. I stalked off.

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