The next morning was shattering.
He woke in an empty bed. She was gone.
He was despirited beyond feeling, and didn't bother to change from his pajamas, or to even leave the room. He just sat on the edge of the bed, reading over and over the note she'd left, which bore just two words in her cute-but-graceful handwriting: "I'm sorry". The more he thought about it, the more he wondered what she possibly felt she had to be sorry for. The entire mess was his fault...Him and his stupid self-consciousness.
There was a knock on the door. "Sir?" came Ilano's worried voice.
"Yes?" Zarador said.
"It's noon, sir...You haven't come out."
"I know where I have or haven't gone, Ilano. What is it you need?"
"Is something wrong, sir?"
"It's none of your business. You're a servant, not a counsellor. Now, is there something that's so pressing you absolutely had to disturb me, or are you just wasting my time?"
"We - I mean me and the others living here - were just getting worried something had happened, sir."
"Well worry elsewhere and leave me be!"
"Yes, sir...I apologize..." Ilano said, and left.
Phinelli had disappeared completely. No one had seen her leave, but she wasn't anywhere in the palace either. Zarador did not extend the search beyond the building. She wanted to be gone, and he wasn't going to force her back. But it still ached him - the second only person he'd ever managed to make a commitment to, and she was gone in a day like the first.
History, as they say, was doomed to repeat itself after all.