Part Thirty-Eight

Alexandra concentrated on following her husband's lead down the quiet corridor. Between her body's growing fatigue and her wariness regarding Stavros' imminent surprise, the young doctor had more than enough to handle.

“What is this?” the Princess asked. They had stopped before a partially opened door on the second floor of Wyndemere's north hall.

“This is your surprise.” Stavros pushed open the heavy door and then stepped back to allow Alexandra to precede him into the room.

The Princess Cassadine stared in amazement. It was as though she had been transported hundreds of miles away to a tropical rainforest. Lush greenery filled every inch of the room and the aroma of wild orchids softened the air.

Alexandra instinctively flinched as a flash of color seemed to dart directly at her head. But she could not refrain from startled laughter as the blur of color landed gently upon her shoulder. “Piorun!”

“This room is his home,” Stavros explained. He looked around the room. “And your sanctuary, should you desire one.” He took his wife by the hand and led her to a padded bench just visible amid the lush foliage. “You may come here whenever you are in need of privacy.”

“While it is true that the door to this room is quite old,” Stavros explained, “the lock upon it is brand new.” The Prince held up a large metal key. “Beside yours, there is only one other key. And I do not possess it.”

Alexandra did not care that her skepticism showed on her face. “Really? Then who does?”

“The room's caretaker. He is responsible for the well being of everything within these four walls, including Piorun. He has raised him from a hatchling.” Stavros nodded thoughtfully and angled his gaze off to the far left where the beautiful macaw now sat preening himself on the sill of an open window.

“A leading expert,” the Prince recounted conversationally, “recommended that I have Piorun's wings clipped in order to prevent his ability to fly free from here. But I could not see destroying his beauty that way.” Stavros' eyes swung back and met Alexandra's. “Instead, I insured that the consequences of his single attempt at escape were so painful that he has not dared try again.”

Stavros pressed the metal key into Alexandra's unresisting hand. He leaned forward and kissed her gently on the forehead. “Do not make me regret this tenderness.”