Part Twenty-Two

Alexandra slid from her horse Cinque with a little assistance from Andresj'. She stretched and gave a little moan that she did not realize was audible.

“It will get better with time,” Andresj' promised. He kept his eyes on his uncle's new bride. He had no desire to watch his father grope Faith Ward under the pretense of helping her from his steed Sirocco. “You have not taken lessons for very long, have you?”

Alexandra smiled ruefully. “Is it that obvious?” she winced.

“No, of course not,” ‘Dre insisted. “In fact, I noticed that you have a most impressive seat.”

“Th-thank you.” Alexandra frowned in confusion. She could have sworn that her new nephew had uttered the compliment with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. “My brother Tony has been working with me for a few weeks now.”

Stefan and Faith walked up just in time to overhear Alexandra's last comment. “I did not have the pleasure of meeting your brother Anthony at the wedding,” Stefan subtly probed.

Alexandra did not pretend to misunderstand the purpose of their leisurely outing. When the four of them had set out on horseback, Alexandra decided to wait for her companions' first move.

The absence of her new sister-in-law Doctor Sabrina DeLane ensured that the awkward, straightforward questions would not be fired at Alexandra nonstop. The young bride was unsure just whether she was grateful for Sabrina's absence or not. At least with the brash, outspoken physician there were no doubts about her intentions.

Stefan Cassadine's fiancée Faith Ward was another matter altogether. Alexandra had not spent enough time with Faith to know her well, but the other woman was definitely secure enough to confront the princess head-on if she desired. Yet Alexandra had gotten the impression that the beautiful clothier reserved such actions for anyone who threatened those she loved.

No, Alexandra had no misconceptions about the architect of their excursion. Stefan Cassadine had set his mind to understand the hows and whys of her marriage to his brother Stavros. Alexandra was equally determined to understand just why Stefan needed such information.

“Tony was not at our wedding,” Alexandra replied quietly. “I don't even know if he knows that I got married.” She met Stefan's gaze evenly. “How could he know?” she amended. “I didn't know myself.”

The sound of approaching hoof beats silenced the young woman. All heads turned toward the sound. “Mrs. Landsbury said that you were all here,” Nikolas remarked stiffly when his horse reached the group. “Since this seems to be a family outing, I thought that Gia and I would join you.” He slid easily from the borrowed mount and reached up to assist his fiancée from the saddle.

Stefan glanced at Faith and exchanged a look filled with meaning. There would be no further discussion this afternoon of Alexandra's reasons for marrying Stavros. In light of Nikolas' sullen attitude and animosity toward the family, they could not chance putting Stavros' young bride at risk of her husband's anger should Nikolas decide to inform his father of any conversation.