The Bed You Make,
Chapter 2

The cavernous shower sounded unnaturally quiet once the water ceased flowing. Nikolas Cassadine wiped his face and stepped out of the shower. He blinked several times in an attempt to rid his eyes of the moisture that clumped his long, dark lashes and blurred his vision.

Automatically Nikolas grabbed one of the plush towels hanging on the nearby rack. The absorbent Egyptian cotton was still warm from where the housekeeper Mrs. Landsbury had set it in the warmer to heat for Nikolas' use. During the chilly Port Charles winters, heated bath towels were a Cassadine necessity, not a luxury.

Nikolas did not bother to dry off. Instead, he wrapped the towel low about his hips and went into the bedroom. A curious mixture of hope and caution filled Nikolas as he stared into the mirror. Major changes had recently taken place within the Cassadine universe, not the least of which was his uncle's marriage to attorney Dara Jensen.

He had already begun to reap the benefits of the union. Dara's constant presence meant Stefan now had someone else about whom he could concern himself. Since Dara's arrival in their lives, Nikolas could feel the faintest easing of his uncle's protective tendencies. It wasn't, the young prince amended, that his Uncle's concern for him was obsessive or unhealthy. It was merely unrelenting.

Nikolas grinned. Unless he misjudged Dara Jensen's character, Stefan would find it far more difficult to maneuver his new wife. And that was a good thing. Over the years Nikolas had come to one truth about his uncle. In many ways Stefan viewed people with the same detached interest that a psychiatrist did. He learned what motivated them and what tempted them; and depending on whether they were friend or foe, he used that knowledge accordingly.

Tonight the shoe, as the saying went, would be on the other foot for Stefan. Nikolas suspected that as soon as his uncle and Dara entered the Outback they would be the subject of intense speculation. The atmosphere would only get more intense when knowledge of their union spread among the citizens of Port Charles.

A trickle of cool water raced down the very center of Nikolas' back, jolting him uncomfortably from his thoughts. He loosened the towel from his hips and let it fall atop the puddle of water that had formed upon the smooth stone floor. Naked, he padded back to the bathroom for a new heated towel.