Carlotta Jensen lay sleeping comfortably on her side. The self-made darling of the clothing design industry had been among the near-victims of the bombing attack in London.  Her breathing was deep and even, her body relaxed.

The early morning sun was just beginning to filter through the sheer curtains adorning the window.  The room’s heavy damask drapes were thrown open.  Carlotta had preferred it that way.  Her feelings were undoubtedly the aftermath of her brush with death.  The room seemed too oppressive with the drapes drawn.

Unconsciously Stefan’s arms tightened about the woman lying beside him in bed.  Carlotta stirred restlessly and he realized his body’s instinctive reaction to the thought of her near demise.  Stefan loosened his embrace and Carlotta’s breathing soon returned to its easy rhythm.

Stefan eased out of bed and made his way to the bathroom.  He quietly washed his face and ran impatient fingers through his sandy hair.  Every minute or so he paused to listen through the open door for any sounds of distress from the sleeping woman in the next room.

His attempt at grooming complete, Stefan returned to Carlotta’s bedside.  He gazed down at her before taking a seat in a nearby chair.  His body was weary from a long flight across the Atlantic Ocean and an even longer night at Carlotta’s side.

“Good morning.”  The object of Stefan’s thoughts spoke.  “I didn’t feel you leave the bed,” Carlotta said.

“That is good.  You needed your rest.”

Carlotta cast a critical eye at the man she’d once envisioned her future with.  Stefan’s weariness was just visible beneath the calm exterior he wore.  “What about your rest?  Neither one of us certainly got very much last night.”

Stefan smiled.  “True.  I had forgotten how very… enthusiastic you could be.”

“Don’t remind me,” Carlotta blushed.  “I was just so-”

A soft knock interrupted her explanation.  Stefan rose and answered the door.  “Good morning,” he intoned formally.

“Good morning.”  Dara’s eyes traveled from Stefan’s slightly tousled hair to her mother reclining comfortably against the headboard of her bed.  The linen sheets pooled about Carlotta’s waist, exposing the delicate silk nightwear she wore.  “I just wanted to check on you,” Dara explained.  Her voice and her face revealed nothing of her thoughts.  “Maybe I should come back later.”

“There is no need,” Stefan replied.  “I will entrust Carlotta into your capable care and begin the process of arranging our return to Wyndemere.”

“When you say ‘our’, exactly who do you mean?”  Carlotta reached over and grabbed her robe.  She hadn’t missed Dara’s silent examination of she and Stefan.  “Because I have no intention of staying at Wyndemere.”  She glanced swiftly at her daughter.  “I will return to Port Charles and stay a few days with Dara if she will have me.”

Dara nodded.  “Of course you are welcome, Mama.”

“Very well.”  Stefan conceded to their wishes.  “Now… if you will excuse me, there are calls I must make.”

~ Back in Port Charles, Later that Same Day ~


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