The Preparation, 6

The sun rose, warm and lazy above the horizon outside the window of the seldom used room. Rays of sunlight began to chase away the night shadows. Andresj' hadn't noticed them; for most of the night he sat in front of the large window and allowed his thoughts to race wherever they wished.

The young royal felt a sense of calm about him in the wake of the devastating revelation. Or, Dre considered, he was simply in shock like the rest of the planet. Either way, he felt none of the hysteria that gripped the world 's population at the scientists ' announcement that every living thing on planet Earth would soon die.

Death was no stranger to the Cassadines. Like every member of his family, Andresj ' had always imagined he would go at the hands of another Cassadine. Or perhaps Luke Spencer or his son Lorenzo would do the deed. He'd said as much to Nikolas once. His older brother insisted that Luke Spencer was ultimately only talk, and Lorenzo would never harm Nikolas' brother. Nikolas credited them with a sense of honor and decency that Andresj ' did not believe either man possessed.

The subject of Luke Spencer led Dre's thoughts to his grandmother, Helena. Despite the stable of pretty young male servants attending her, she was basically alone. Andresj' tried to imagine what her thoughts were the moment she heard the news. He doubted that an Extinction Level Event would be enough to frighten his grandmother. Andresj ' wondered if (like most of the people on earth) she would abandon her plans for the future and simply address the things she desired most in her heart.

Grandmother without restraint ... That was a frightening thought. Ironically it made Andresj ' grin.

His moment of humor did not last particularly long. The light from the rising sun revealed plumes of smoke all along the horizon. Frightened citizens were responding with chaos and violence to the disaster scientists predicted would shortly come.

"Why am I not surprised to find you here, Princess? ” Andresj ' glanced back at the interruption then silently returned his view to the vista before him. "This has always been the place you go to brood over the unfairness of your life, ” his guest continued.

The words were designed to provoke a response. Andresj ' didn't bother. His silence would irritate far more than any retort ever could. “Tell me,” his guest mocked, “do you somehow feel closer to the other pretty princess long dead?"

“Until this point,” Andresj' replied quietly, “Uncle Stavros' room has been quite effective at deterring uninvited - and unwanted - guests.”

"Careful, there, Princess. Your veil of civility just slipped."

The words dripped with disdain, which was not an uncommon occurrence in the Cassadine realm. Exchanges among the family were often sharp, biting things having two (and sometimes three) meanings. Still, it made Andresj' wonder just what had ever brought about this particular state of relationship.

Since the age of twelve, there had been an air of resentment that suddenly colored his encounters with his cousin. It was a sentiment that seemingly did not apply to anyone else. Andresj's only guess about its cause was envy of the devotion that the women in his life offered him: his mother Faith, Mrs. Landsbury, Theas Tasha and Sabrina, Sascha Leonides ... "How may I be of help, Raisa?”

Raisa Teplov was (to the keepers of Cassadine lineage) a minor cousin. Related by a great-grandmother who'd refused an arranged marriage and run off with the family's stableman, Raisa was the first of her line to reconnect with her Cassadine relatives.

Raisa was also considered the family embarrassment by many. Not primarily because she was homosexual. Rumor had it that the stableman who'd married her great-grandmother had done so in an attempt to quiet his urges for sex with little boys. Perversion, it was whispered, ran rampant in that branch of the Cassadine tree. No, Raisa was problematic for the way that she seemed to go out of her way to draw the wrong kind of attention. The nightclub fight that occurred after she propositioned the fiancée of a male member of Parliament. The commotion she caused when she was refused service for a man's bespoke tuxedo at Savile Row. Those incidents (and others) were successfully buried by Cassadine Security but it troubled many in the family nonetheless.

“I'd hoped to speak with your father about any further travel plans, ” Raisa said. “ I should have boarded the plane returning others to their homes,” she explained, “but I thought I would stay and offer my support. Stefan will need all he can get while you are up here crying about your tragic love life. ”

"Which is the greater tragedy, I wonder? Me, who sits here mourning the unknown woman who will never know the depth of love I have to give her,” Andresj mused, “or you ... desperately hoping for the love of a woman who is not only taken by her true love, but not made to have you even if she were free." Andresj's gaze stayed fixed on the horizon. "Your feelings for my Thea are poorly hidden. You watch her with a kind of hunger when you believe that no one is looking.”

'Dre did not need to see his grenade land to know that it did so with concussive force. "Have I been that obvious?" Raisa's voice was small and had lost all its previous bite.

"To me? Yes," Andresj' replied. “To Papa, most assuredly. And of course, to Thea Sabrina. Thea Tasha, on the other hand, suspects nothing of your feelings for her."

The majority of the family mistakenly believed that the object of Raisa's crush was the outrageous doctor who showed no distaste of her cousin's sexual orientation. More often than not, Sabrina indulged Raisa's ‘in-your-face' defiance as a kind of protective shield around her young cousin's feelings. It was Alexis, though, who had drawn Raisa's attentions.

Andresj rose. “So, Cousin. I thank you for the interruption. My brooding , as you term it, is done. For despite the world's prognosis,” he said, “I realize that in the limited time remaining there is yet hope that my dreams of abiding love might somehow be met.” The smile Andresj ' flashed Raisa held no affection.

“Unlike you.”

 

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