AN/ Hello out there! It has been over half a year since I posted in this, but I'm back. After battling harsh writer's block and severe perfectionism, I finally present to you, my loyal fans, Chapter Eight of With Him.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
The drive was considerably shorter than it had been to my father's place. That still sounded weird. My father. My father. My father. The man who… I stopped that thought. Didn't need to think about my mom doing that.
Every nerve ending in my body was a live wire. I was hyped up and terrified. What was I going to say? What was I going to do? How would I make them believe me? How was I supposed to convince them that Dimitri and I – two dhampirs – had a child when I only had theories myself? What would they say? What would I say! Would they believe me? What are they like, are they nice people? Are they exactly like Dimitri described them to me? He sisters, his mother and grandmother. His little nephew – who, now thinking about it, is no longer so little.
I couldn't even think how hurt Adam had been. Couldn't think about the look on his face when he told me he wouldn't come.
Will they look at my baby and see what I and clearly my father sees? Dimitri's face and hair and smile and would they look at me and see that he has my hands and ears and mischievous streak. No, no, no. You can't see a mischievous streak. But my hands and ears.
The car stopped.
Ohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrap. What the hell was I going to do?
"I can't do it." I whispered to Lissa who was holding my hand supportively.
"Yes you can, Rose. I promise. You're so strong. You can do anything."
"I can't. I can't even make myself believe that two dhampirs can have a baby."
"I know. I've been talking to Adrian about it, theorizing." Then she whispered something in my ear. Something that more sense to me than anything I had ever heard. I looked at my best friend in wonder.
"Can you do it now, Rose?" She asked with an amused smile.
"Yeah. I think I can."
I got out of the car still holding Lissa's hand. Dimka was immersed in a serious conversation with Abe. Adam was standing, looking sullen. Tad was still in the car, talking into a Bluetooth. Abe finished with Dimka and they both came over to me. I let go of Lissa's hand to meet them half way.
"Good luck, my dear. Tad called ahead. They're expecting you." He kissed my hand and moved for the car.
"You're not coming with me?" I asked, irrationally upset.
"No, my dear, I'm needed elsewhere. I'm sorry. I'll see you soon, I expect." Then he walked away.
"Bye, Dad." I whispered, just to see how it sounded.
I turned back to Lissa.
"Let's get this over with." She took my hand again and smiled. I smiled back wanly and she pulled me into a hug.
"Mommy, who was the man who just left?" Dimka asked. I smiled at him, a real smile and let go of Lissa to take his smile fingers in mine. With Dimka's hand in one of my own and Lissa's in my other, I walked up the path to the little house.
Lissa had to knock for me. I picked up Dimka and held him to me. He fidgeted a little, but settled against my shoulder.
"Maybe they're not here." I suggested. "Maybe they had to run a last minute errand. We should go. This was a bad idea. Lissa, what if they do believe me? What happens if they want to take my baby from me?"
Lissa looked at me as if I had just grown a second head. She raised her hand to knock again, but the door opened.
The woman was pretty. She was older, late forties, early fifties. And looking at her, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she was Dimitri's mother.
"You must be Rose and Vasilisa. Mr. Mazur told us you'd be coming." She spoke with a quiet authority. Her voice was mild and pleasant. I studied her for another moment and I saw Dimitri as well as my son in her face.
"Come in." She gestured inside the house. Lissa stepped into the house and I cautiously followed. Dimitri's mother led me into her house and into a cozy family room. Lissa sat on a sofa and I sat next to her with Dimka on my lap. I held him a little too tightly. He gave me a questioning look.
"Sorry, Baby." I murmured. Dimitri's mother sat on a chair opposite us.
"Well, I was told to expect a moroi and a guardian whose visit would be dramatically important to my family. Well?"
"Did my father really say that?" I shook my head. "I only just met him, but from what I can tell it seems he has a bit of a flair for the melodramatic. Probably where I get it from." I laughed. "Anyway, Mrs. Belikov –"
"Please, call me Olena." I nodded.
"Olena, I knew your son when I was at St. Vladimir's." She closed her eyes. Her expression became pained. This would be hard for her. She took a deep breath.
"Rose…Hathaway?" I nodded. "He mentioned you in a few of his letters. He was your mentor? Yes. I remember. You ran away from the school? The both of you, yes?" Lissa and I both blushed. She grinned.
"Yeah. Well. Yes. He was my mentor…but we also…became…involved." Olena nodded.
"I sort of figured since you came here." Then she looked pointedly at Dimka. "He looks like my Dimka." I nodded again.
"I only have theories. I don't know what happened or how it happened, but Dimitri was the only one I had ever been with…like that." Olena looked at me strangely. "I'm not crazy. Really I'm not."
"I don't think you are." Olena said kindly.
"Thanks. Um…well, by the time I even knew I was pregnant, he was…gone." She took in a sharp breath. My own chest hurt with the acute pain of the death of my love. Lissa put her arm around me. Dimka was uncharacteristically silent. "When he was born, I couldn't call him anything other than Dimitri. I loved your son, Olena. Oh god, did I love him. He fought so hard…he made me leave him…he told them to drag me out…they pulled me by my arms…I couldn't save him…Oh, god…I couldn't save him…I tried…I couldn't…" I began to sob. Olena crossed the room and put her arms around me.
"Shh, it's alright." She murmured. She was crying, too. We cried together for a while. When neither of us had any more tears, she stood. She looked at Dimka, who had escaped the waterworks and was now sitting on Lissa who looked sympathetic. He looked back at her, with her son's eyes. Her own eyes. She held out a hand for him and he cautiously approached her. She grabbed and squashed him into a hug. She finally let him go after several minutes and said,
"So tell me some of these theories you mentioned."
We were sitting in the kitchen, sipping hot cocoa. Dimka was playing on the floor with his cousins Paul, who was almost twice his age, and Zoya, Paul's younger sister, and Dimka's own age and lastly Anastasiya who was a little less than a year younger than he. Lissa had left to take a walk, but I knew she wanted to give me some time with the people who in another life, one where Dimitri and I hadn't been born dhampirs, could have been my in – laws. I had told Lissa's theories to Olena, most of them having to do with Spirit and my death and revival. She had nodded and inserted her comments when appropriate. Two of Dimitri's sisters, Karolina and Sonya, the respective mothers of the children on the floor with my son, had also shown up. Olena had filled them in rapid Russian. They're reactions had varied. But they had both been as quick to believe as Olena.
"And you're still a guardian?" Sonya asked when I finished. I nodded mutely. Conversation turned lighter, then. About me, my life. My job, my relationship with Dimitri. Everything I was fine with. Until that last one. I almost cried again. We were talking about Dimitri when someone who could only be the last Belikov daughter along with another woman. Olena looked mortified suddenly.
"Rose, this is my youngest daughter, Viktoria. With her is Marina, a family friend. Viktoria, Marina, this is Rose Hathaway. She knew Dimka at St. Vladimir's." My Dimka looked up at his name, but turned back to play when he realized we weren't talking about him.
"Knew is a little bit of an understatement." I said at the same exact time Viktoria said,
"Marina is a bit more than a family friend." Olena closed her eyes, exasperated. She said something in Russian to Viktoria, who turned bright red. Marina frowned and looked angrily at me. Sonya leaned over and whispered in my ear,
"Dimitri and Marina were together before he left for the US. They never officially broke up. He just wrote to her less and less frequently until he just stopped. From what you said before, his letters started tapering off a few months after he became your mentor." Oh. I frowned.
"Let's not have her find out that last part." I whispered back to Sonya. I looked up to see Marina glaring at me with utter loathing on her face. I was determined not to sink to her petty level in front of Dimitri's family. I stood and, with my face carefully composed into my guardian mask, I held out my hand and said,
"Nice to meet you." My tone wasn't friendly, but it wasn't mean, either. She just focused her glare on my hand. She said something in Russian to Viktoria, then turned on her heel and stormed out. We all silently watched her leave. Once she was gone, Olena sighed.
Fantastic. I hadn't been here a day and already I had an enemy.