Part Twenty

Minutes after easing into bed, Alexandra, Princess Cassadine, had been struck by a depressing irony. The pleasure and comfort she presently felt in her husband's bed would be the only such occurrence for her during the course of their marriage. Stavros' arrival in the upcoming days would forever alter any sense of fondness or security she might harbor for their private rooms.

Despite her anticipation, Alexandra fell easily into a deep, dreamless sleep. Prince Stavros' massive bed was the most sumptuously comfortable thing she had ever experienced. The 400-count Egyptian linen sheets were cool against her skin and the oversized mattress cradled her body gently.

After what seemed to her like mere moments of slumber, the young princess awoke cautiously. Her body was boneless with ease, but her mind raced with warnings of caution. Alexandra lay quietly and attempted to gather her swirling thoughts.

She had been married to Stavros Cassadine less than a week, yet even in his absence the man's mercurial presence could not be escaped. Alexandra knew intellectually that Stavros was an entire continent away. Still she could not shake a sense of dread that her new husband would saunter nude and erect from inside the lavish bathroom and utter the words Alexandra had come to abhor above all others.

A knock at the suite door stopped Alexandra's heart before she realized that Stavros was highly unlikely to knock upon the door of his own suite. Or any other room in Wyndemere for that matter, Alexandra mused.

“Come in,” the newest member of the Cassadine family invited weakly.

Mrs. Landsbury briskly entered the room bearing a breakfast tray laden with dishes. “Good morning, Princess Alexandra.”

Alexandra sat up and clutched the fine linen sheet to her chest. “Good morning.” She watched Mrs. Landsbury place the tray atop the dresser and then disappear into the huge walk-in closet. The longtime Cassadine retainer quickly emerged carrying a delicate lavender robe which she offered wordlessly to the new Princess.

Gratefully Alexandra slipped the filmy garment on. Mrs. Landsbury's thoughtful act brought home to Alexandra the fact that she had unconsciously obeyed her husband's demand that she always retire to their bed unclothed. That in such a short time Stavros maintained such a power over her was a matter that Alexandra did not wish to consider too closely.

“You are very kind.”

Mrs. Landsbury dismissed the statement. “It is not kindness, Princess Alexandra. It is my job to serve you.” She placed the tray across the young woman's thighs and removed the lids from the various dishes thereon.

“Nonetheless,” Alexandra insisted, inhaling gratefully, “I thank you for this.”

“Master Stefan thought you might appreciate these few moments alone. He has issued an invitation, though. After breakfast you are invited to join Miss Faith and young Master Andresj' in a horseback ride with Master Stefan about the island.” The housekeeper met Alexandra's gaze evenly. “Shall I relay your acceptance?”

Alexandra paused in her eating to consider the housekeeper's wording. Mrs. Landsbury's question seemed instead to be a subtle suggestion.

“Please do, Mrs. Landsbury,” Alexandra finally replied.