The Bed You Make
Chapter 24
~ ... And Into the fire ~


“So… It would seem that the charade has ended.”

Dara sat bolt upright. The precise, icy voice that floated out of the darkness was as singular as the person to whom it belonged. “How did you get into my room?” Dara asked. “How long have you been sitting here in the darkness?”

Helena Cassadine tilted her head to one side as if considering her response. Moonlight softly illuminated her immaculately coiffed hair. “There are so many far more important matters to discuss, don't you think? After all, it hardly matters how I gained entrance to your room. I am here now.”

“True.” Dara knew that she needed to move carefully. Helena had the advantage of surprise and experience on her side for this encounter. She decided to go on the offensive. “You are here now … and I am sleepy. So, could you skip any threats or warnings and cut straight to the chase? Just give me the condensed version, as it were?”

“So bold,” Helena replied. “One would almost believe you had the upper hand.” The Cassadine matriarch stood; a shaft of light from the open balcony doors glinted off a polished metal object in her right hand. Despite her resolve, Dara recoiled slightly.

“Did I frighten you, my dear?” Helena's lips curved into a perfect smile. She calmly placed the sterling silver pen she held onto the little bedside table near Dara's head. “My apologies,” she added.

Dara understood at that moment all of Nikolas' grim warnings. ‘My uncle and I cannot truly prepare you for an encounter with Grandmother. Until you have realized for yourself her danger, all our warnings are pointless.'

“What do you want?” Dara managed to keep her voice even.

“Come now. We are family. I came to get to know my son's new wife.” Helena touched a finely manicured hand to her throat. “You can imagine my surprise when I was informed that I would find you here and not in my son's bed where a new bride should be. A more cynical person than I might assume that your marriage was not as legitimate as you swore it to be.”

“My being in this room is the result of our first argument as husband and wife,” Dara replied. “Nothing more.”

“Do you think the family in Greece would believe such a story? Already they have begun to wonder why Stefan hasn't introduced his new bride to them.”

Light flooded the room as the adjoining door opened. “Dara?”

“Ah, Stefan, come in,” Helena invited her son. “Have you come to kiss and make up with your bride? She tells me that you have had a lover's quarrel.”

“The state of my marriage does not concern you, Mother. Now… allow me to escort you to the launch. The guards will escort you to the docks.”

Helena waved a graceful hand. “That isn't necessary,” she said. “I am certain your Mr. Petrov would not mind being my escort to the launch.” She turned slightly. “Would he?”

I will escort you, Mother. Now, please.”

Dara watched their interaction. Though Helena quietly complied with her son's demand, Dara got the impression that she did so out of choice.

“Miss Jensen,” Helena paused to say, “I look forward to future conversations with you.”

“Yeah, well… call first.”