The Bed You Make
Chapter 47
~ no room for buyer's remorse ~

Dara was certain that her mouth hung open stupidly. She shook her head, an attempt in part to sweep away several unbidden X-rated thoughts. What?

I said that I would prefer to forego the use of a prophylactic, Stefan repeated. "You are, I believe, on a daily regimen of contraceptives?"

"I am. One of the Cassadine Industries products, in fact." Dara struggled to match Stefan's matter-of-fact tone. "My doctor prescribed it because of its effectiveness." She had been pleasantly surprised to discover that the manufacturers of her daily birth control belonged to Cassadine Laboratories. The pill had a prevention rate of 99.6 percent effectiveness. Its success confirmed Stefan's assertion that the Cassadine researchers were focused on creating medicine that worked. "Actually, what I ' m having trouble with," Dara blinked, "is hearing the word bareback ' come out of your mouth. Where in the world did you learn it?

Stefan calmly met her astonished gaze. It is a phrase I observed on the prophylactic dispenser in the men ' s room of that small jazz club you had us visit. And though the dispenser's label made its purpose quite clear, several gentlemen in the process of purchasing condoms took it upon themselves to explain the concept in great detail. It seems they observed us as we took in the musical acts, Stefan went on. They believed me to be your... benefactor . His lips curved in a hint of a smile. They were quite surprised and quite congratulatory upon discovering that I had 'put a ring on it', I believe were their words. An extremely elderly gentleman among them nodded his approval of their sentiment and firmly suggested I be good to you or somehow face his wrath."

"You didn't tell me about this."

"It was a conversation between gentleman."

"They thought we were a couple...all the way back then..." Dara murmured, too softly for Stefan to hear.

"I am afraid I did not hear you."

Dara just shook her head. "Nothing."

"In that case I will assume you accept my lone stipulation. The matter is settled?" When Dara did not immediately reply, Stefan attempted to decipher the reason for her silence. "You need not have health concerns," he said. "I have been diligent in the use of condoms in all my sexual encounters since Nikolas'birth."

"Every one?" Dara asked.

Stefan nodded. "Yes, each one. While fond of my sexual partners, an unplanned pregnancy would have been a complication of enormous proportions." He did not elaborate. "I have," he offered, "the medical proof of my good health, should you require it."

"No. As crazy as it sounds, I have no problem believing you possessed the restraint to use a condom every time you had sex. What I am trying to figure out is why you want to change that now."

"You are concerned that I might take this opportunity to use such intimacy against you? You needn't worry." Stefan captured and held Dara's gaze. "My reasons are purely physical, I assure you. There is a delightful...friction...that cannot be achieved while using a condom."

Dara virtually catapulted from her seat. She poured herself a glass of water from the pitcher on the dresser. It was a stalling technique designed to give her time to still her trembling hands.

"Do we have, then, an agreement?" Stefan's voice came from right behind her. Dara had been so focused on appearing composed that she hadn't heard his approach.

She nodded softly. "We do."


bACK | continued