"So, this is what you call going straight?" If looks could kill, Anya would have done Dimitri in by now. Thankfully, they could not, which had saved them a lot of trouble over the past few years. Standing outside his jail cell, she possessed more power than would have been expected of a pampered Grand Duchess of Russia but then she had grown to be much more than that. She was now the wife of a conman and could hold her own in an argument, "You promised me, Dimitri. You promised that you were going to get a decent job and go straight once we were in America. No more bootlegging, no more money-making schemes and no more cons."
Dimitri placed his hands on the cell bars, "I know what I said, Anya. And I know you're angry with me, but it wasn't like that. If you'd just let me explain--"
"No. I don't want to talk about it, Dimitri." Cutting him off, she turned to the police officer who had shown her into the hallway. After signaling for the balding, fat prison guard to come over and open the cell door, she continued with an exhaustion that was as much emotional as it was physical creeping into her voice, "I've already paid your bail and I just want to go home now."
"Fine. Have it your way." He accepted this, knowing full well that it would be impossible to talk to her like this. When things got this way between them, sometimes it was just better to wait it out. One of them would eventually apologize and they'd go back to talking like nothing had happened, it was becoming routine by now. Still, the walk home through the Chicago streets to their small apartment was more silent than he would have liked, with neither of them saying a word to the other.
When they arrived in their one room apartment, Dimitri tried to get in a few more words, "Anya, look, I just need to explain--" His attempted rebuilding of the bridge between them met with only stony silence from the redhead and then the slamming of the bedroom door as Anya locked herself inside. He sighed and sat down on the rather lumpy couch, his usual spot after one of their rows.
Dimitri surveyed the apartment with dismay. The roof was still leaking, with only a bucket underneath to protect the creaky floorboards from further decay. It was nothing like the Winter Palace, nothing like Anya deserved. He knew he could do better than this for the both of them, for the baby that was coming in a few months, if only he hadn't made that promise to his wife. Very few legit businesses would hire an immigrant these days, especially one with such a checkered past.
He'd done it though, for a few months he'd managed to walk the straight and narrow. As boring and slow as it was to do things legally, there was some pride in making an honest living for their family. This new deal had just been too sweet to pass up, one last bargain before adulthood and parenthood set in. If the cops hadn't busted in the joint at the last second, he would have gotten away as free as a bird and been able to bring back the present for Anya without this trouble. Maybe there was still a way to salvage something from this mess though.
Anya wasn't expecting to find the small box sitting on the bed she shared with Dimitri that morning. She had just walked out of the shower to find it waiting for her, with a note from the man she was still not talking to even two days after picking him up from the police station. She recognized the handwriting, though the note only said two words: "For you."
Turning the ornately carved box over in her hands, it felt warm to her touch and somehow familiar, like from a dream. She knew this feeling, it always came to her when she came across something from her life in the royal court, before her amnesia altered the course of her life so dramatically. The lock on the box clicked open with a touch, almost as if it had been waiting for her fingers to graze it for years and let its contents be seen once more by her eyes.
Inside were sepia-hued pictures of her family: mother, father, sisters, brother and herself. So many moments she had forgotten about, all there in front of her again. There were other things too, like locks of hair from their first haircuts, old love letters from her father to her mother, things that were irreplaceable and things she once thought had been lost forever.
She barely noticed as Dimitri entered the room behind her, picking up a picture of her as a young child. Though his teasing voice broke through her intense focus, "You always were sorta funny looking. I just thought it was something you grew into."
Anya forgot to be mad at him in that instance and poked him in the arm. "Flattery will get you no where, Dimitri." She paused and then looked up at him with gentle awe and immense gratitude, "Did you do this? Where did you get all this from?"
"That's what I was trying to explain to you before. I won it in a card game down in this shady bar on the edge of the city. I heard Slim Jones was toting it around and I finally got him to play me for it. I didn't figure for the cops busting the joint that night. I hid it behind one of the tables right before I got arrested. I figured it rightfully belonged to you," He placed his hand on her stomach, wondering how long it would be before they could feel the baby kick, "And when our baby is born, it would be nice to show him or her where they came from."
She hugged him tightly, all the anger of their previous fight forgotten. Somehow Dimitri always came through for her in the end. And no matter how much trouble he got into and how many times she had to get him out of it, in the end it was worth it.