Part Twenty-Five

Prepare yourself for me.

If the hours of separation from Stavros had lessened the impact of that particular phrase, then the sound of his voice solemnly intoning it brought it all back to Alexandra in a sickening rush.

Alexandra exited the bathroom and glanced apprehensively at her husband, the Cassadine Prince. Against every instinct her hopes rose, for his hands were empty of ‘toys'.

The young woman supposed she should be grateful for that small favor. She had taken Stavros at his word upon parting and fully expected to find her husband equipped with all manner of untold perversions to use during this the ‘christening of their marriage bed'.

“Ahh…beautiful,” he breathed, admiring the filmy peignoir that Alexandra wore to momentarily cloak her nudity. The sheer covering was an allowance that Stavros this night granted his shy young wife.

“Do not appear so wary, my Princess.” Stavros' voice eased over her like warm honey. Under different circumstances, Alexandra would have basked in the rich, full sound of it.

Stavros could be charming when he so desired. He was a darkly handsome man, erudite and urbane. But all it took was a single glance into his dark eyes and not even Stavros' considerable charm could erase the cruelty so abundant there.

“Please, allow me.” Stavros tenderly removed the gauzy robe from Alexandra's shoulders. He bent and placed a line of feathery kisses along the curve of her neck.

Alexandra watched in silence as her husband gallantly took her hand and escorted her to the bed. She slid gracefully atop the covers and waited for Stavros to indicate what was to come next.

Her face creased in confusion as he walked over to the dresser and retrieved the bottle of port she'd found upon arriving at Wyndemere that first day. Stavros poured two small glasses full and carried them back to where she sat watching.

“This is a most special vintage,” Stavros smiled and handed Alexandra a glass. “With it let us toast our marriage.”

Without prompting, Alexandra drained her glass. One glance into her husband's eyes had revealed an unholy glee that sent plummeting her hopes for a speedy end to their reunion.

Stavros took their glasses and returned them to the nearby dresser. “Come now,” he urged, “tell me about your time here at Wyndemere.” He sat facing her atop the bed.

Alexandra did not hesitate too long. She did not understand this unexpected request by Stavros, but neither was she willing to overlook the opportunity to delay his attentions.

“Everyone was quite kind to me…” the young woman began.

It was as far as she got before a strange sensation washed over her. Alexandra's tongue grew heavy and she found herself unable to complete her thought. “Wha is…” she slurred heavily.

Her physician's training took control and her mind began to race. Clinically, Alexandra attempted to match the symptoms of her collapsing body with the mental database of medical ailments. Was she having a stroke?