Part Forty-Seven

Stefan did not have to wait long for their conversation to commence. Tony DiMera took the lead in their exchange just as Stefan knew he would. Dealing with the scion of the DiMera family was, Stefan suspected, much like dealing with his older brother Stavros. Both men were throwbacks from another age. They were charming and urbane, educated and arrogant. And both Stavros and Count DiMera possessed the capacity for great cruelty in the name of love or revenge… or simple amusement.

“Most people,” Tony DiMera began, “are most struck by Alexandra's delicate beauty when they meet. It was not so for me. I had known her mother Celeste for quite some time, and as I am sure your research has shown you, she too is a woman of great beauty.”

The Count did not look to Stefan for confirmation or denial that he had investigated Alexandra's family. “No,” Tony continued, “I took a single look at Alexandra and wondered where among the DiMeras could such a gentle soul find refuge without being swallowed alive.”

Count DiMera's words struck a chord with Stefan. He had wondered that very thing as he watched Nikolas grow up. It was apparent that Stavros' heir was nothing like his father, a fact that only strengthened the Prince's determination to ‘correct' Nikolas' behavior.

“Alexandra surprised me.” Stefan heard the wonder in Count DiMera's voice. “She has become the strongest force of us all.” An expression raced across Tony's face too quickly for Stefan to identify it. “I did not believe it possible to love another human being as purely as I love Alexandra.”

Tony took a single step toward Stefan. “My sister tilts the balance of our family's natural tendencies back toward the civil. Should anything happen to Alexandra, there would be no influence on earth capable of righting that scale again.”

Stefan understood perfectly. Count DiMera placed the responsibility of his younger sister's well-being directly in Stefan's hands. “Alexandra is also my sister now,” Stefan replied calmly. He chose not to react angrily to Anthony DiMera's subtle threat. It would accomplish nothing. “I will care for her accordingly.”

“I am glad to hear it,” Tony responded just as quietly. “Make no mistake,” he added, “Alexandra's life is in your hands. As the lives of those you love will be in mine.”

Tony gave Stefan a polite nod. “Now, if you will have a servant lead me to the launch, I will take my leave.”