Damn, I'm embarrassed to be updating just now. It has been almost a year that I hadn't updated, so y'all have every right to be mad at me. I have just been trying to refresh my brain for BS after I'd done several updates on my other story. Working on two stories at the same time really sucks, but that's not any reason for me not updating for almost a year. I am so, so sorry. ;(

There's gonna be a surprise in this chapter… ENJOY!

I heard this quote from an episode in Spongebob Squarepants and I couldn't help but post it here: Love is handing someone a gun and letting it point to your head, believing that he won't pull the trigger.

Oh, and PLEASE read my other story "When Lightning Strikes!"


Chapter Fifteen

Wake Me up When December Ends

DPOV

Consciousness.

I never realized how consciousness meant before she came along. Naturally, I would have welcomed those black lights of oblivion, but just at the sight of her tears—clear, beautiful tears—that ran down her cheeks altered my outlook of those dim lights of void. And with that outlook, it altered me as a whole man, too—dhampir or not.

Looking at her now, with my cognizance slipping away, I felt a pang inside my heart. I realized that I couldn't leave her. I couldn't leave her—not again. But now, here I was, breaking her heart with my careless words of reassurance. Or so I thought they were reassurance. She blamed herself to what happened to me, and…the way she looked at me it was as if she had known me forever. It irked me to know that I felt the same way about her too, but I just didn't know why…

Maybe the gunshot was making me delirious.

The tough dhampir that I had just met an hour ago became something else. Something wonderful, but that was an understatement. She was so… I don't know—perfect? Beautiful? And yet, I felt a faint wave of prohibition from this beautiful stranger.

Rose, I told myself while fighting off the drowsiness I felt. Her name is Rose.

The last thing on my mind before I slipped into oblivion was how Rose and the girl in the painting I saw before resembled.

~o~oo~o~

"—stubborn. Let me check your arm."

The words drifted in like wind. There was a sound of heavy cloth rustling. It probably was the expensive draperies my brother opts to buy, I thought.

Maxim had always prided himself in being mature and independent. He fancied things that never held the slightest interest to me. He liked animals, I didn't. We were total opposites, yet we were so much alike. It was amazing how genes can do that to people.

"I'm fine." The words were said stubbornly. "You don't have to baby me; it's your brother who got shot, not me."

A sigh came out not far from where I lay. "Rose, I've done already my best to soothe his pain, what more can I do for my brother? Now, let me check your arm—"

There was a long, feral hiss. "My arm, Maxim, is the least of your worries. There's a killer on lose out there, and I don't like feeling that I can't do anything. It makes me feel so fucking useless—and if you know me well enough, I dislike uselessness." The word was as potent as saying poison.

The girl, Rose, had this spunk in her that only few men could resist—and many succumb into. I, for one, could be one of those men who would succumb freely, yet I wondered how I would. Didn't I just establish that I was uninterested in women except for a few exceptions? Exceptions being my sisters and childhood friends.

Apparently, I did, but yet…Rose was different. She felt different.

No, I chastised myself. She is Maxim's, not mine.

A dull ache in my chest made itself known. The ache was a constant pain in the ass, but nothing I couldn't handle.

For now, anyway.


RPOV

"No, Maxim, you cannot begin to understand how lucky I feel to have you here."

"Has nobody ever told you before that your sarcasm can lead your life into jeopardy?" The last thing I expected from Maxim was a retort. And an impatient and half-angry one at that. But…given his situation that his brother just got shot from saving me inside his territory, it was understandable.

And Maxim's brother—Dimitri… it was still unbelievable, it was like saying a sea horse lives in land.

An invisible fist clenched around my heart, hurting me, tormenting me like it always had since the night of the near-massacre back at the Romanov Palace in Hobson. I tried to squelch the bad feeling, but it did little good to my reaction to Maxim's unprecedented snap.

"I think at this moment, it might be worth putting my life in jeopardy! Everyone's involved already! You, Dimitri, Abe, even the freaking human police and the Court!"

Maxim's answer was not what I had expected. I had expected a growl, or a "get out and commit suicide" but not this. He was composed, almost resigned. He sighed and leaned back on the wingback chair he was sitting for the last few hours on, a tired look set on his gorgeous features. The scar on his face seemed to become more noticeable with the look on his face.

Suddenly, I felt guilty. Not only for giving him a hard time, but guilty for bringing this to him—giving him these troubles I was bound to have.

Love, I knew, was hard. It was also damn blind. It was hate at first sight for Maxim and I but as time passed when we were together, we just clicked, and then we fell for each other in the most unexpected way. Yet…it wasn't enough.

"I never understood why I fell in love with you, Rose. Of all women, you turned out to be the woman who stole my heart…" His expression turned placid for a moment, and then his expression turned back to the tired, resigned Maxim. "But—despite your rash attitudes—all I want to do is fall down on my knees and thank the gods they gave you to me. I'm such a masochist."

My heart fluttered at his words. Nobody, not even Dimitri, has ever said those words to me. It made me frightened and yet so, so elated—it was absurd. I squelched my elation with words I never thought I'd say to anybody. "How the lies slip out of your tongue."

Once, Dimitri told me about my impulsiveness. He told me I always act without thinking and he righted some of those wrongs. That was one thing I loved about Dimitri—he calmed the storm raging inside me, replacing it with a docile one. In Dimitri's young years, he had been so, so wise it was no wonder his brother turned out to be the last living Royal Romanov Prince.

Romanov Prince, I repeated silently. The last Romanov Prince in love with a dhampir—in love with me. It was simply…preposterous.

Maxim's face turned stony, and I felt sick for doing that to him. Maxim has done nothing to deserve that kind of treatment from me, but I wanted him to let me go. I didn't want him to fall more in love with me.

I was saved from a loud knock on the door. Maxim stood up without a word to get it.

I closed my eyes and clenched my fists, sorting out my tangled nerves. The day had been emotionally and physically exhausting I wondered why I was even awake. Maxim had problems of his own and was trying his best to fix things and I was only making it worse for him, so I had to just keep my mouth shut. For now at least.

Okay, one problem solved, a thousand and three more to go.

I sighed and put my hands on my face and I dropped on the bed where Dimitri lay unconscious. I looked at him and put a hand on his leg protectively. I wasn't going to play helpless damsel now, I was going to fix this mess if it's the last thing I'll do. I'm going to get this murdered and beat up those infiltrators.

With resolve, I stood up from where I was just as Dimitri woke up.

"Hey," I said, my voice almost choked.

His shoulder-length hair was ruffled, making him look more gorgeous than he already was. His face was pale but all in all, he was a far-cry from the recently-shot Dimitri.

He looked up at me and I was surprised at the smile that tilted his lips. "Rose, you didn't leave." His voice was rough around the edges.

I smiled, my heart flying. "Of course I didn't, you big oaf." I told him and sat down beside him.

He grunted in pain and touched the gauze at the side of his stomach. "It hurts," he said it like it was foreign.

"Of course it does." I said put a hand on the gauze. "You took a bullet for me."

He didn't answer but he tried to sit up. With a grunt, he did. He didn't even need my help. Dhampirs could heal real fast—abnormally fast though. It has only been three hours since the shoot-out.

"Careful. Watch it, you have stitches."

"Stitches?" he asked, and then took off the gauze to peek at his wound.

"You're insane!" I almost shouted when he stripped the sheet of white cloth away from him. What I saw there wasn't what I expected. I expected stitches like those nasty ones I always get, but this wasn't. There was no stitch nor was there a wound. The only thing covering his skin was a moderate-sized blue bruise to indicate that he had been shot.

"What the fuck?" I said and reached out for the bruise.

The expression on his face didn't give away any emotion. "It's healed."

"No shit?" I said just in time Maxim came back inside the room with a woman. Well, a Moroi woman. Just one look at her, I knew exactly who she was. Her heart-shaped face was haloed with long raven locks, and eyes as pale and wintry as Christian's. Right on her left cheek were purplish marks that marred her once-beautiful face. Marks that looked awfully like bites.

"Tasha Ozera, it's nice meeting you again." Tasha, I knew, was two years older than me. She had been a senior when I was in my sophomore year in the Academy. She had been one of those rare Moroi who opposed to living like walking steaks. She had made a group of Moroi who used their elemental magic as offense, straying the Queen's orders. I admired her for that.

Her eyes widened in surprise and delight. "Rose! Oh my God, I can't believe you're here!" she ran up to me and gave me a hug that surprised me from both her delight and strength. She was such a skinny thing I doubted she'd have squeezed the life out of me. But in fact, she did.

When she pulled back, her face turned serious. "I heard Dimka got shot, and I came here as fast as I could. I was just at Augsburg when I heard the human police were involved."

Human police again… and…Dimka? Have I heard that before?

"Yeah, human police…" I said, trailing off thoughtfully.

Tasha jumped on Dimitri, fussing. If I didn't know better, I thought Tasha was taking advantage on Dimitri's weakened state to sit on his lap and touch him. And yes, I did not know better. So…Tasha was into groping huh…

"Tasha," Dimitri said, smiling a little.

An odd flutter warned inside me that came close to being jealousy. My shoulders stiffened and I ad to exhale to let out the feeling. Well, not entirely all of it, but some of it.

"Dimka, are you alright? I thought you were going to die! I mean guns! They had guns; I was hysterical when I heard you were shot. Don't worry; they'll get the punishment they deserve…" Tasha was rambling; tears clear on her large blue eyes.

Dimitri almost rolled his eyes. Almost. He smiled at her, the smile reminding me of the one he gave me. The jealousy burst again.

"Hey, you don't need to cry, I'm fine. I'm tough, remember?" he told her, stroking her gorgeous raven hair.

I wanted to shout so badly that I cringed.

Tasha had once been a Moroi I admired and respected, but now, looking at her all going gaga over Dimitri—my Dimitri—it took all I had not to bang her upside her head.

Well, Dimitri wasn't technically mine but…well…whatever.

Tasha had already turned up her waterworks and her head was buried on Dimitri's shoulder as she sobbed. Dimitri continued to stroke her hair and soothed her with his words.

I sighed and noted how many times I have sighed this day. I was jealous for certain, but I was glad that Dimitri was alright. It was a blow to my ego too that Dimitri had gotten himself a girl after me. ME!

Dimitri looked up from Tasha to me. I mustered up a smile. He mouthed "later" at me, and gave me one last small, almost unnoticeable, smile.

I looked away, not knowing what to do. He had dismissed me, alright, and I didn't like that one bit. Maybe Dimitri's feelings for me were gone. Maybe he really did forget about me. Maybe Xander's compulsion was strong enough to even erase those feelings buried in him. With a nod at him, I turned my back on him, not wanting to see the two of them together.

A hand landed on my shoulder. I knew it was Maxim before he spoke.

"Rose, we need to talk." His words were brisk and formal, no warmth applied like before.

Again, I sighed for the hundredth time and followed him outside to the corridor.

As soon as the door closed behind us, he locked me in place, his arms on either side of the wall I was leaning on. He pressed a long, slow kiss on my lips. I relaxed a little and it vexed me to realize that he had this effect on me.

He broke the kiss and leaned to kiss my forehead, murmuring, "Let it go, Rose." quietly.

With a choked cry, tears welled up my eyes and I vowed to myself that this will be the last time I would cry. It took time for me to collect my wits, but eventually, I did. Maxim just stayed by my side the whole time I broke down. He didn't murmur any soothing words, but his presence enough. He was so like Dimitri in many ways, yet they were different. That realization made me cry more, but about ten minutes passed, I grew tired of crying and being helpless.

I stood up, a newfound determination rising up. I was going to solve this case, I was going to get Dimitri back, and nobody will stop me from doing what I want.

Maxim stood up with me and put a hand on my shoulder. "We have the infiltrators in one chamber. Accompany me?" he asked.

I nodded vigorously. "Of course."


Interrogation's in the next chapter. Let's hope I can update soon.

From Kate with LOVE!

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