The Bed You Make
Chapter 44
~ Passashok! ~
(One for the road)

The daily security review with Petrov was ended, Stefan’s own examination of security was concluded and there was nothing keeping him from returning to his suite and ending what had been a long and somewhat eventful day. Nothing except a wife who Stefan suspected was still irritated with him about the earlier encounter with the Countess de Mardors. A less confident man would have been daunted by the prospect of treading into what was - for Stefan - quite unfamiliar territory. As he strode down the hallway to the suite he shared with his wife, Stefan found himself in the curious position of looking forward to it all.

Upon entering the suite, Stefan quickly noted that Dara was nowhere to be seen. Curious, he checked the balcony. From their first day together as man and wife, Dara had demonstrated a fondness for the view from the balconies of Wyndemere. Stefan recalled drolly informing her that balconies were historically among the top three Cassadine methods of removing unwanted spouses. Dara merely quirked her lips at the tongue-in-cheek warning and remarked that - tradition notwithstanding - she doubted Stefan would ever be so obvious.

His wife’s dry humor came as a pleasant surprise over the course of their short marriage. It was not unlike his own, and in quiet moments Stefan found himself hard-pressed not to smile at Dara’s barbed observations of all things Cassadine. If truth were to be told, Stefan admitted, all of Dara’s moods fascinated him. Quite frequently she reacted in ways that left him just a bit off-balance. Like earlier that evening. Dara seemed more angry with him about Jacqueline’s behavior than she was with the Countess herself. When Stefan mildly offered up the protest that he’d done nothing, Dara had fixed him with a searing expression that would have melted iron.

If she had been a mistress, Stefan would have appeased her anger with an expensive gift designed to soothe her hurt feelings. He’d dealt with a mistress’ anger before. Those women had gone into the relationships well aware that they held no rights (but those he granted them) where Stefan was concerned. Dara had made it clear to the Countess - and to him as well - that she expected nothing less than all the proprietary rights her position as Mrs. Stefan Cassadine afforded her.

Stefan guided his thoughts back to the search for his wife. Dara was not on the balcony. She had been, though. A nearly empty decanter of vodka stood on the writing desk beside the doors. Stefan winced at the thought that Dara might be responsible for the decanter’s empty state. The last time it had been so completely drained was during a visit by Stefan's longtime friend Count Andrasy. The unscheduled visit had spanned several days over which Dimitri celebrated and bemoaned the grown son he'd only recently discovered he possessed. Stefan had indulged sparingly of the potent vodka. Instead he had provided counsel and comfort to his friend. When the vodka was finally gone, a hung-over and bleary-eyed Dimitri Marick returned to Vadzel, his ancestral castle in Hungary.