Part Thirty-One

It had taken most of the morning for Alexandra to fully regain control her limbs. And as much as it galled her to admit it, the physician in her credited the steady improvement of her body to the warm, soothing bath she had shared with her husband, Stavros.

By the time the housekeeper Mrs. Landsbury knocked and was granted entrance to the suite, Alexandra could maintain a steady, albeit shaky, control of her muscles and limbs. In a soft voice, she bid a soft ‘Good morning' to the longtime employee.

“Good morning, Princess.” Mrs. Landsbury nodded curtly at Stavros as well. “Prince Stavros.”

Alexandra watched their interaction carefully. Stavros neither took offense nor did he correct the housekeeper for the order in which she had addressed them. Mrs. Landsbury seemed to be the only person in Cassadine employ that was not intimidated by her husband or his temper. Alexandra filed that fact away as a topic she would think about later.

“You may take away the linens,” Stavros announced neutrally. He nodded toward a pile of sheets just beside the bed. The bloodstained bed sheet lay prominently on top all the others, arranged so by Stavros' own hand.

Alexandra felt the heat of blood rushing to her face and neck. Was the atrocity of the previous night never to end?

Mrs. Landsbury calmly straightened up the dresser before gathering up the soiled linen. She softly excused herself from the room. The silence her departure left seemed impossibly heavy and Alexandra found it difficult to breathe normally.

For several moments Stavros observed her quietly. Alexandra's expression was stoic and implacable, but Stavros knew that her anger boiled just beneath the calm surface.

“There is something you wish to say, Princess?”

Alexandra lifted blazing eyes to her watchful husband. She felt a recklessness overcome her and decided that after the assault she had survived upon her body, there was no longer a reason for caution. “ Damn you to hell ,” she hissed.

All breath was driven from her body as Alexandra found the weight of Stavros' body suddenly upon her. He moved so explosively that his startled wife had no time to react. Alexandra instantly found herself crushed beneath Stavros' steely body.

“You mistake my tenderness for weakness.” The Prince's voice was not raised in anger, but Alexandra had no difficulty recognizing his ire. His dark eyes were now a fathomless black. “Do not allow the love I feel for you to mislead you again.”

Alexandra refused to look away. Defiantly she held her husband's gaze and tried desperately to ignore the growing proof of Stavros' arousal branding her thigh. Some instinct within her warned that the outcome of this particular confrontation was all-important. It was not a battle Alexandra could afford to lose.

“Very good, my Princess,” Stavros finally uttered after what seemed like an eternity. “You have passed this test.”