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Breaking the Chains of Convention
Chapter 7

See disclaimer chapter 1

Tessa watched in amazement as Leopold went upstairs with Cherie. Tears welled up in her eyes as she pushed Edward away. She fled to her room, flung herself on the big bed that she had shared with Leo and wept. Why did it hurt so badly? He had availed himself with her girls before. 'But not since he's been with you,' her inner voice said. Had she done the unthinkable? Had she fallen in love with the Duke of Albany?

"Nonsense!" she said aloud. Slowly her sadness gave way to anger. How dare he make her feel special and then just toss her away? What made him think he was any better than any other man who walked through her door? She was mad at herself too, for getting emotionally involved. She knew better; she knew the rules. There was not going to be a happily ever after for her. She had forgotten that fact when she was in Leo arms. Somehow, deep inside her heart, was the hope that she could become something more than what she was, that magically, he could change everything. But tonight reality had set in. She was who and what she was, a whore. All he had done was treat her like one. It didn't stop the ache in her heart but it did place the logic back in her brain. She cleaned up her tear-streaked face and headed back into the parlor.

Meanwhile, in Cherie's room, Leopold was sitting on the edge of the bed watching the girl disrobe. He knew he was not going to touch her, that was out of the question and he told her so.

"Is there a problem, Your Grace? If you are not happy with me, I can get one of the others to attend to you."

Leo's smile was weary. "No, Cherie, I do not require someone else. I am just not up to this tonight."

The blonde sat down next to him. "Does it have anything to do with Miss Tessa? I was very surprised when you brought me up here. We all know that you prefer her. As a matter of fact, most of us were beginning to think that you are in love with her."

Leo was amazed. "Is it that obvious?"

"To us, yes. We know when a man is smitten." Cherie grinned. "So now what?"

Leo thought for a moment. He didn't want to hurry downstairs after rushing up here. "Do you have a deck of cards?"

Tessa looked up to see Leopold coming slowly down the staircase, Cherie on his arm. The pair were laughing at something Cherie had said. Hurt simmered deep inside Tessa. Leo thanked the girl for a pleasant evening and started toward the door. Tessa stopped him. "Your Grace, please do not forget to settle your account with Gus before you leave. You are no longer welcome at this establishment."

Leopold was stunned. She was banning him from the Salon? And reminding him to pay, as if he was no gentleman at all? His hazel eyes flashed as he withdrew some bills from his pocket. "I think that will suffice," he stated, jaw clenched, as he threw the money at Tessa. The door slammed after him as he stormed out.

The room was silent. Every eye was turned toward Tessa as she stood there, the money at her feet. Cherie started to approach her. "Don't come near me," Tessa warned her.

"But, Miss Tessa..." Cherie began.

Tessa cut her off. "I don't want to hear it." She was shaking with anger and fear. "I would prefer that you stay away from me right now." Tessa walked out the front door. She had to get some fresh air, she couldn't breathe. For the second time that night, tears fell unchecked from her eyes. It was over. She would never see him again. Life would go on.

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