Part Twenty-Eight

Stavros slept lightly, alert for any sounds or signs that his young bride might be in distress. Alexandra lay on her right side, spooned within her husband's steady embrace.

The toxin she had unknowingly ingested had not yet worn off. Alexandra remained as still as she had been since the toxin first took effect.

“My darling…”

A calm, cultured voice cut through the darkness of the royal suite. Stavros gently disengaged from his wife and rolled over toward the sound. “Mother?”

“Yes, my darling.”

Prince Stavros slid from the bed, and nude, padded across the room to Helena's side. “Mother, why are you here?” He took Helena's arm and led her toward a beam of moonlight that streamed in through the high window. The soft light bathed both mother and son.

Helena stroked away the frown that marred her son's keen, dark features. If she was at all affected by Stavros' naked state, it did not show. “I had concerns about the toxin.”

“The toxin worked as it was designed, Mother. You can scarcely blame your earlier failure to dispose of my weakling brother upon the toxin's efficacy.”

Helena did not appreciate the reminder of her failure in that regard. She bit back her anger. “How long has she been drugged?”

Stavros stepped in front of his mother and impeded her progress as Helena headed for the bed where Alexandra lay helpless. He pulled the soft comforter across Alexandra's body and lightly caressed her cheek in a tender gesture that did not go unnoticed.

This time Helena did not bother to disguise her irritation. Stavros was so intent upon the young woman he had married that he missed Helena's angry scowl. “Stavros, do not lose sight of the objectives of this marriage.”

“I have lost sight of nothing, Mother.” Stavros' voice was suddenly soft and silky. He closed the distance between them until they stood so close that he could feel the brush of his mother's clothing against his naked flesh. “It is you who has lost sight of the fact that I alone am Prince of this family.”

Stavros' voice hardened. “I trust I will not be forced to remind you that Alexandra is now your Princess.”