The Bed You Make
Chapter 45
~ It's a Long way down ~

As the vague sounds of activity grew around her, Dara Jensen Cassadine floated her way up from the inky darkness of sound sleep. Her tongue felt heavy and thick and her eyelids glued shut. Blindly she felt around the mattress to her left. It was empty. Dara was not surprised to find Stefan absent from the bed. Her best guess, based on the sunlight bleeding through her lids, was that it was nearly mid-morning, long past the time he would have begun his day. She hadn't felt him leave the bed, but in her drunken state she doubted she would have felt the start of World War IV.

Bits and pieces of the previous evening wafted by just out of reach, taunting Dara with cryptic glimpses of a bigger picture she could not quite make out. A random flash of memory pushed its way to the forefront of her mind. It was the image of an empty decanter that once held Stefan's private reserve vodka. Immediately Dara cringed, but other than slightly blurred vision and a tongue that felt like a giant bunny slipper, she felt surprisingly good.

She hazily recalled a short conversation with Stefan sometime during the night. He'd awakened her from sleep and insisted Dara swallow a glass full of some vile concoction that would have made her vomit if her stomach hadn't already been so empty. Here, drink this... Yes, you must...No, it is not deadly poison... Still, whatever Stefan had given her most definitely seemed to be working.

Dara carefully pushed back the linens and with effort sat up in bed. A slight chill danced across her flesh and she glanced down in confusion. 'Oh, shit!' She scrambled for the covers and pulled them up over her chest - her naked chest. 'Where's my top?' Even as she hissed the words, a more startling realization struck. Her top wasn't the only part of her that was bare! Dara dove beneath the covers and quickly located her silken shorts tangled around one ankle. Her top was nowhere to be found.

"Breathe, Dara," she urged herself. There was a reasonable explanation for her state of undress if she just calmed herself enough to recall. "Nothing happened." Of that Dara was certain. Even drunken, there was no way could she have had sex with a man like Stefan Cassadine and not awoken with a bit of tenderness between her thighs.

A quick glance of the room located her silk nightwear neatly folded across the back of a nearby chair. Such a precise fold could only belong to either Stefan or Mrs. Landsbury, the housekeeper. Either way, it meant that someone was all too aware that Dara had spent the night naked beneath the sheets.

The idea that it might be Stefan made her ears hot. Dara told herself that her flushed reaction came from the realization that she had foolishly provided him with another tool for her manipulation. The little voice that had succeeded in getting her drunk the night before quickly countered that it was far more likely that Dara's ears were hot because she wasn't as adverse to the idea of Stefan seeing her naked as she claimed. Or was her body lying when it experienced a little flutter between her thighs as she climbed into bed beside her 'husband' each night?

'You shut up!' Dara hissed aloud, not that it silenced the little voice. Resolutely she tugged the sheet from the bed, wrapped it around her and made her way into the bathroom. A hot shower was what she needed. The pounding spray would not only wash away the toxins left over from her unwise vodka binge, but it would also drown out the sound of a growing truth Dara was not quite ready to admit.