Out Shopping



"Crackle, crackle..."

Stefan frowned despite his amusement. "Such childish tactics will not succeed this time," he said sternly. "I insist that you take your guards along during this outing."

"No." Faith Ward pouted prettily, even though her new husband could not see her expression through the phone's receiver. "I don't need two big bodyguards standing around the women's department of Wyndhams."

"Faith-"

"Goodbye, Stefan," she cut him off. "I'll call you when I'm through." Quickly she placed the receiver down, ending the call. No doubt he would be angry at her disregard for his wishes, but Stefan could not remain angry with her. Of that Faith was confident. And once he saw the things she bought for his pleasure, he would quickly appreciate her stubbornness.

Stefan slowly pulled the receiver down from his ear. His wife was a spoiled, headstrong creature and dealing with her had been a constant learning experience for him. One he was eternally grateful for. Faith had come into his life and shown him things he had not even dreamed of. And if he was to be honest, her stubborn ways and sometimes demanding behavior merely added spice to their tempestuous relationship.

"Have the car waiting," Stefan instructed the guard standing near the door. If Faith would not take her protection seriously, he would have to do so for her. Stefan had no fear that the guards would leave their charge on her own. But Faith's unpredictability worried him. She was not above having the store's management remove the two men from their premises, thereby effectively accomplishing her goal.

Shaking his head, Stefan stood and retrieved his jacket. He eased the tailored garment onto his deceptively muscled shoulders and shrugged it easily into place. With a nod, he directed the remaining bodyguard to precede him from the room.

#####

The two bodyguards gave quick sighs of relief as they spied their employer striding quietly into view. The new mistress had ordered them out of her viewing distance, and they had reluctantly complied. Only moments later, she had begun to alternately summon them to assist her in various tasks. After years of dealing only with the stoic Cassadine men, the impulsive behavior of the newest family addition was unsettling for the guards.

"The Lady is over there," the first guard informed Stefan, and pointed toward a section of women's garments.

Stefan nodded his understanding and reassured them with a curt gesture. "Well done," he said.

Just as he began to move toward the area where his maddening wife was said to be, Stefan heard Faith's cultured voice call. "Fyodor, come please. Hand me my next dress."

Wordlessly Stefan walked over to the dazzling array of garments that hung near the dressing room door. He pulled the nearest to him and silently held it near the door, which was now ajar.

"Thank you. You may go," the imperious voice stated.

Stefan remained unmoving. At some point, Faith would emerge from her sanctuary. Perhaps the surprise of encountering her irritated husband might reinforce the reality of his anger with her.

#####

Out of the corner of her eye, Faith caught sight of the shoes. Men's shoes. Hadn't Fyodor heard her command to retreat back to his place? She strode toward the door, determined to re-emphasize to Stefan's guards that they were to obey her wishes. But something about the shoes caught her eye.

Faith stopped suddenly and stared intently at the soft leather wingtips that clad the feet of the man standing just beyond the door. Her gaze moved up to the finely tailored trousers and recognition set in. If it was one thing she was familiar with, it was fashion and designers. She recognized both right away.

Stefan.

If she knew her husband of five months, then he was no doubt patiently awaiting her emergence from the dressing room. His countenance would be neutral, but his irritation at her disregard for protocol would scream itself at her.

An impish smile graced her face. Faith shrugged off the ornate dress she was trying on, leaving her clad in only sheer stockings, garters, a lacy bra, and stiletto heels. "Fyodor," she called quietly, not wanting to attract the attention of the guard, "what do you think of this?" Faith opened the dressing room door slightly and presented one stiletto-heeled foot for his inspection.

Stefan blinked as one sexy foot clad in high heels thrust itself from behind the door.

"Do they go with these hose?" Faith continued, exposing a slender calf and knee.

Again Stefan blinked as the lean, shapely line of his wife's lower leg peeked cheekily from behind the door. What was going on?

Faith bit her lip to keep from laughing aloud. Through the tiny slits in the woodwork of the door, she could see Stefan's rapidly outraged expression. "They are stockings, you know," she called out casually. "Not pantyhose. These are worn with garters."

Stefan stiffened in shock as more and more of his wife's perfectly formed leg became visible. His eyes followed the growing expanse of tawny skin as she exposed a sexy thigh to his ravenous gaze. Higher and higher he gazed, until the sight of black garters snapped him back to awareness. His new bride thought she was indulging in such antics with one of the men in his employ.

"Faith!" he hissed, grabbing the door and throwing it open. Only to come face to face with his smirking bride.

Faith smiled knowingly at Stefan's jealous anger. "Hello, my love," she managed to say between muffled laughter.

A moment later, all laughter ceased. Faith's breath caught in her throat as she took in Stefan's feral expression. With two quick strides, he crushed her scantily clad form to him and proceeded to press her relentlessly against the wall of the small dressing room.

"Stefan!" she gasped, stunned by the ferocity of his actions.

"Correct," he nodded dangerously. "Perhaps I was not clear on how dear you are to me." He reached back and closed and locked the door. "When I am through here, there will be no doubts."

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