The Bed You Make

Chapter 14

~ Water Seeks its Own Level ~

As Nikolas made his way down the corridor, his muscles both protested and welcomed the familiar weariness that came from his regular morning ride on Sheba. At least three days a week he rose even earlier than usual and took the big horse out and around Spoon Island.

The first minutes of every ride were spent wrestling Sheba for control. Like all the thoroughbreds in the Cassadine stables, she had been chosen as much for her fiery spirit as her impeccable bloodlines.

He had been surprised – and a little frightened – when Stefan had first presented Sheba to him as his own. Nikolas had been trained upon mounts already gentled and made obedient. With Sheba, he'd had to establish that bond of trust himself. It was a good lesson, his uncle said, in realizing that respect – even from animals – could only be earned, not forced.

“Good morning, my son.”

Nikolas had been so caught up in his musings that he had not even noticed Stefan standing beside his door like some silent sentry. “Good morning, Uncle.” Nikolas preceded Stefan into the Royal Suite. For a while he'd tried calling the place just his bedroom, but the servants' reverence of it made that impossible. “Do you need something of me?”

“Only to inform you that I have arranged an outing for today.”

Nikolas paused in the act of removing his sweat-soaked riding gear. “You and I?”

Dara and I,” Stefan clarified. “A change of scenery should benefit her in light of her recent disappointment.”

“I agree.” Nikolas leaned against the dresser and levered off black custom-made riding boots that always slipped on with far more ease than they were removed. “Though Dara pretends otherwise, she is still very upset.”

Stefan acknowledged the observation with a small nod. “Unnecessarily so. In time she will realize that her plans have not been derailed, merely rearranged. I trust,” Stefan continued, “that in our absence you will occupy your day productively.”

“Of course. There is an errand I can run today.” Nikolas waited a beat for the inevitable question. To his frustration, Stefan did not seem inclined to inquire further. This was one occasion when Nikolas would have welcomed his uncle's dedicated attention to the details of Nikolas' life. An uncomfortable dialogue could have been opened and the subject of Alexis' excommunication from the family discussed.

“Breakfast begins in seventeen minutes.” Stefan glanced pointedly at his watch.

“Understood, Uncle. You may expect me there promptly.”