22 - Tomorrow Will Be Kinder

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April 3, 1477

Monteriggioni, Italy

Catherine groaned when she woke, her body sore and breathing somewhat painful—not terribly so, but enough that she noticed. Her head throbbed, too, and she was acutely aware of some swelling on one side of her face. Her abdomen hurt the most and touching at it made her hiss slightly. She opened her eyes slowly, noting it was rather dark in the room, although she could see enough light coming through the window to suggest it was well into the day. That was surprising—Ghita would have woken her up if she hadn't herself, and she rarely, if ever, missed her wake up. She was even more surprised Mario wasn't here yelling at her, or that Ezio hadn't come to get her. Why was she still in bed?

'Wait.'

She paused as she rubbed the bridge of her nose and blinked slowly. She was in bed. She didn't recall doing that, and she was still dressed in her clothes from the night before. Her collar was ripped and blood-stained. Her hair was in a knotted mess, too, and she could taste the remnants of copper—blood—in her mouth. What had happened? How had she gotten here?

For once, her questions were answered right away. Memories came flooding back, and she shuddered at them. Emilio had attacked her, and might have done worse before killing her. Luck had been on her side, though—the Doctor and Marsilio had saved her, and she'd managed to get back to the Villa. She'd struggled all the way to her room. Then she'd collapsed and Ezio had been there.

"Oh, fuck me," she groaned as she eased herself up and rubbed her eyes, which felt heavy and puffy. She wasn't surprised. She'd no doubt cried for an hour or more to make herself collapse from exhaustion. She couldn't help feeling a flicker of shame, but then wondered why? Any other woman in her position would have cried, too, wouldn't they? A man might not, but she wasn't a man was she? No, she was a woman, and she was much weaker than them despite her efforts. Emilio might not have gotten what he wanted, but the damage was done.

Tears threatened to come forth again, but she pushed them behind a new dam. She couldn't help it before, but she wanted to at least hold on to some pride and decency despite her train wreck the night before. Oh, she knew it was foolish to do so when it had all been laid bare, but she was pitiful enough to try. Besides, neither Ezio nor anyone else was here right now to get in the way—to keep her from steeling herself. It still proved to be hard as she fought against the truths—that she was a pathetic wretch who had failed and was weak and a liar and selfish—but she did enough to not start sobbing. She even managed to shove the covers back and slip off her bed. Her legs threatened to give out under her weight, but she held fast and breathed in deep despite the ache it sent through her.

Catherine trudged on, working her way to her vanity slowly at first, but then at a more normal pace. She still leaned on the wood as she looked into the mirror and winced. Her left side had a decent bruise over her cheek. There was still blood caked under her nostril and over her lip, but it had healed overnight. She imagined the bruise would have been worse if she didn't heal as fast as she did now. It was tender, and would be until tomorrow no doubt. She sighed as she touched at her ripped collar, lamenting the fabric. Dea could potentially fix it, but the blood stains might not come out so easy. She undid the buttons of her vest then and pulled her undershirt free. She rolled it up and grimaced at the sight of the blue and purple beneath. It thankfully didn't reach to her ribs, although it certainly felt like it. She had been lucky in that, too.

Sighing again, the redhead moved to slip off her vest, but suddenly hissed as a sharp pain went through her right shoulder. She vaguely recalled it being the one pinned against the wall. She hadn't thought it'd been hurt that badly, but it must have hit just right or something. It was yet more pain to force herself through, but that was nothing she wasn't used to. She just wished it didn't keep reminding her of the night before. Of course, there would be no forgetting—not even when the bruises had faded and the pain ebbed.

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