Hi Everyone... Well, here it is... the last chapter... I've loved writing this story so much and all of your wonderful reviews have made me smile on so many occasions. So thank you all so very much.
A HUGE thank you to my wonderful beta delicious for all of her hard work... I luv ya lots babe, keep your chin up!
And before you ask... yes, I will now continue with Achilles... Woo Hoo! :-) In this new year, I will also be posting another story that's about 3/4 prewritten, so when I upload it, I will post a couple of chapters daily... Won't that be nice! hehehe
And finally... There is a song that I think goes perfectly with this story, especially this last chapter. If you'd like to listen while you read, here's the link... (just take out the ()'s and spaces... )
http:/www (.) youtube (.) com/watch?v=vp7nD29v8cU
Fight Another Day by Brandon Heath.
Till next time, and I hope everyone has a great and safe 2012!
Chapter 30 Looking Back.
Five years... I can't believe it's been five years since my life changed forever. There are some days that I look back at it all and think that it was all just a really, really bad nightmare; something that I really didn't go through. But then I'll either look up and see Dimitri standing in front of me or I'll be at work or training and I'll know that for all that to be in my life, the bad stuff must have really happened...
Memories of that horrible day in the hospital; more disjointed flashes and feelings rather than full on images, would occasionally flicker through my mind. Normally they wouldn't interrupt the flow of my day any longer than it took to push them back into the pit they belonged in, but in the years since our 'healing holiday' as we jokingly refer it as, they've cropped up uninvited a few nights...
What happened after we returned was clearer in my head...
It took us less time to get home than what I would have liked and as we drove up to the Dragomir house, my stomach dropped...
"What in the hell are they doing here?" I said to no-one in particular.
"Only one way to find out." Dimitri said as he gave my hand a squeeze.
Dimitri pulled the car up on one side of the driveway, allowing room for Christian to pull up beside us. As we all got out of our cars, Lissa looked at me confused...
"Is that who I think it is?" she asked.
"Yeah, they'd better have good news."
Just then the front door opened and Mrs D came flying out with a smile spread across her face, threatening to snap her head in half...
"My babies... ERIC! Get your ass out here!"
God, how I missed this woman... Her joy at having us home almost made me forget who was obviously waiting for us in the house.
"Mom..." Liss said as her mother flung herself at her. Reflexively, Christian's hand came up behind Liss, steadying her from being pushed to the ground. Mrs D gave her daughter a quick kiss on the cheek before looking over to me and holding her arm out, inviting me in for a hug.
"My girls are home... As much as I loved that you had a good time and wrote to me religiously allowing me to live vicariously though you; don't ever go away for that long again!"
I couldn't help but laugh as Mrs D kissed my cheek.
"We won't Ma."
After a few more hard hugs and cheek pats, Liss and I were released... sort of. Our hands were still gripped firmly in my pseudo mother's... I looked up to see Mr D holding his hand out to Dimitri and Christian.
"I'd like to thank you guys for looking after our girls so well; and I hear there's some good news too!"
"Oh, shit... I can't believe he said that first!" Mrs D cried out. "Congratulations Rose, give me look Sweetie." I looked over to Dimitri as I lifted my left hand to find him grinning like he'd just won the most coveted prize on earth... Well, I suppose he had! "Holy shit... Oh, sorry, but... Wow! That's one seriously beautiful ring. It looks... Is it an older ring?" she asked both of us.
"Yeah, it used to belong to Dimitri's grandmother." I told her. I knew he didn't give me this because his father had given it to his mother, so I just left that part out of the story.
"It's beautiful and it's wonderful that you have something that means so much."
"What are they doing here?" I asked, nodding to the car sitting by the curb.
"They called this morning and when I said that you were on your way home, they said that they'd come over, they have some things to talk to you about I think."
We decided that we'd get the luggage later and deal with whatever awaited us in the house.
"Rose, Dimitri, It's good to see you both. Looks like your time away was beneficial." Detective Morris said.
"Yeah, we had a great time; it was a shame it had to end. If it were up to me..." I said glaring at Lissa, "I wouldn't be here right now." She answered me by poking her tongue at me.
"Well, I'm sorry to have to put a downer on your return, well not so much a downer, more like having to talk about 'them'... I didn't want to interrupt your holiday unless I really had to and that's why I called Mrs Dragomir this morning. It was quite fortuitous that you were on your way home when I called."
"Yes... quite." I said dryly. "So, what's going on? I'd actually expected something to happen before now."
"Unfortunately Rose, the wheels of justice are sometimes rather slow, but eventually they do get there. A date for the trial has been set. After Aaron's little 'tale' at the hearing, things have been moving along quite nicely. It's been proven that he didn't send any message to Adrian. Even though he still won't admit it, I know that he knew exactly what the other two were up to and was an active participant in everything that happened that night."
She wasn't the only one...
"So when's the trial set for?" Mr D asked.
"Next week." Whoa... "We'll need to get you in to go over your testimony and talk you though what to expect, what the defence is likely to put you through."
I saw by her face and those of everyone around me that they didn't think I would be able to handle it.
"I'm not the victim I once was." I told Detective Morris with conviction. "Dimitri has taught me to fight physically, my family has taught me to fight emotionally... but it was Jesse and his last attack that taught me to fight mentally. His first attack took away my sense of security; in myself and in my own home. When he attacked me again and no-one was there to help me... I had to dig deep and find the courage in myself to fight the fear that he'd made me feel for so long... and I did. Even though it took me a while to get from that point to where I am now, I knew without a doubt that I had it in me to fight for myself, that I was NO victim. And now... he no longer represents my nightmares..."
When she smiled, I felt a little embarrassed about my rant but as I looked around the room, her face was mirrored in everyone else's, including Adrian's aunt...
The trial went forward and I felt strong and in control. I looked those pricks in the eyes as I told the court everything they put me through. The physical pain, the bruises, the cut lips, the broken bones... I told of the soul destroying terror of being touched by males, even from men that I had known and loved for years like my own father, Andre and Mr D who were as much my family as those I shared blood with. Detective Morris had told me not to specifically say that they'd killed Mason as that was a whole other case and saying too much could potentially allow them to get away with it... I could never let that happen. I let it known just how much they'd taken away from me.
'They took my trust and turned it into fear. They took my ability to go to college away, to go to a movie, to go to anywhere where there were crowds. I also lost my boyfriend that night; a caring, loving young man with his whole life ahead of him and I couldn't even go to his funeral without a panic attack and covering my head so I could fool myself into thinking there wasn't anyone else there. There wasn't one aspect of my life that there attack on me didn't rip away.'
Jesse, Ralf and Aaron were all charged with Criminal Assault, attempted rape and various drug and conspiracy charges. Morris and Ivanson weren't sure how they'd go on the last charge but they were hopeful! Jesse's second assault on me at my house, accounted for the additional charges against him.
Aaron's ramblings at the preliminary hearing a couple of months before only made him look like the liar he was and indicated that he was trying anything he could to shift the blame onto the other two; I had no doubt that after the trial ended he would have found prison an even worse place to be in without his 'friends' to back him up.
I knew something more was going with that whole story, I'd seen the looks between Adrian and Dimitri whenever it came up in conversation, but nothing has ever been said about it... and I've never asked.
It wasn't long after those three were sentenced and sent to jail that we had to face the next trials; Victor's and Natoli's. Victor's went on for nearly twelve months and we were all shocked at just how intricate his plan had become. At his trial when they read out his charges, it read like a short story... They included things like conspiracy, abduction, fraud and firearm charges just to name a few; he was found guilty on all charges and would spend the next forty-six years behind bars and at his age, that meant he was likely to die in jail... I couldn't feel sorry for that fact.
Natoli's trial wasn't so straight forward. He had no real part in his father's plans, other than what he'd been forced into doing. As much as we'd all hated the fact that Christian had been shot by his hand, we knew that Nat had been almost as much a victim in his father's crimes as the rest of us.
Lissa, Dimitri and I all testified on his behalf, even Christian. The whole time Liss and I were on the stand, tears fell unhindered down Nat's cheeks; anyone could see the pain he felt over his part in it all, even if he hadn't done it willingly. The jurors found him not guilty on nearly all charges but guilty of the lesser crime of failing to report on what he knew his father was doing... Well, not those exact words but close enough... Because of our testimonies, the judge was more lenient on sentencing Nat and he was spared prison time but was put on a good behaviour bond for the next five years and made to do 200 hours of community service as well as a hefty fine.
We've all stayed in contact with him, watching him as he forges an honest name for himself in the advertising business, something he'd always wanted to do, and now that he didn't have his father telling him what he could and couldn't do... well, he was finally living a mostly happy life; but, we can all tell how lonely he is. We've actually tried to get him to go out with us a few times but we're pretty sure that even after all this time, his part in his father's plans still haunts him. Unbeknownst to him, we've set him up on a blind date in two weeks time with a woman that Dimitri and I work with, she's hot and strong and doesn't take shit from anyone... I can't wait!
That's another new development... For the last two years, Dimitri and I run our own personal protection business. My mother even works for us now... She was sick of all the paperwork and stress of administration and wanted to back 'out in the field'... We don't really deal with the 'corporate and business' side of things like Guardian Security did, we do more personal guarding of celebrities and the likes... Sometimes I wonder which would be less dangerous; corporate America or Hollywood.
"Rose, I'll need you up front today alright?" my mother said on our way to our client's house. "It'll seem a little less conspicuous having you walk with Scarlett than me."
Even though technically Mom worked for me, I was still what you would call 'new' to this business and I wasn't naive enough to recognise her experience in the field. I always deferred to her and Dimitri when we went out, especially with such a high profile client like Scarlett. Every time I went out, I came home with more knowledge and more confidence in my abilities.
Mom and I had both been hired to walk the red carpet with Scarlett because of threats made because of her latest movie... Some unusually aggressive fan had made it clear that they weren't happy and would "make sure she knew just how much they disagreed with her choice of movie" as the note said...
She tried to do the right thing and talk to her fans as she walked; she even signed a few books thrust into her face. When a hand shot out between her and where my mother was standing, the air was suddenly charged with nervous energy. I'd never seen my mother move so fast! The man who had tried to grab Scarlett was suddenly pulled to the ground and practically hog-tied before he even knew what was happening. It was so cool! I quickly made our apologies to everyone around us and promptly escorted Scarlett inside before anything else happened.
It wasn't until the drive home from Scarlett's home in the early hours of the next day that I realised that my mother had been hurt in the scuffle. Apparently while she'd held the man down with the weight of her own body, some stupid female in the crowd had stomped on her leg with the heel of her stiletto shoe! The gash and subsequent blood loss had been hidden under her dress. My mother was one tough woman!
My relationship with my parents isn't really as close as most 'child/parent' relationships go, but we're closer than I ever thought possible. After losing a month long argument with my father, Dimitri and I finally relented into taking my father's offer of giving us the down payment for a house of our own. In a lot of ways, I didn't want to be indebted to my father and I know just how much it took for Dimitri to take the money. With a mother as strong as Olena, he'd been brought up with a strong sense of self worth and the 'work for the things you want' belief... It was actually his mother that swayed him... 'Think of this as another way you can help heal Rose's relationship with her parents... If I had been lucky enough to have the money Abe has, I would offer you both the exact same thing as he is... and I wouldn't take no for an answer! It's what parents do, if they can.'
They tried to help with furnishing but with one look from Dimitri; they backed off... It didn't take long before we had the place looking great and feeling like 'us'. We even started having regular dinners with them in the hopes of 'building some more bridges' with them. Anymore friggin bridges and I'd have start building a boat, because obviously I now lived in Pittsburgh! Maybe I could make a sign and nail it to the letterbox... 'Little Pittsburgh, House of Bridges'... HA! Personally I just think he hated that I didn't have a mother I deserved; a mother like his... Even though I was more than happy with having that relationship with both Mrs D and Olena, he wanted more for me; how could I not love him even more for that?
Mia transferred to California twelve months after starting college, she missed Eddie to much apparently; I couldn't blame her really. Six months after moving, they married. They also have a daughter, Cassy who is eighteen months old and they are expecting baby number two in a couple of weeks. They knew what they're expecting but they won't tell anyone. We've told them on every occasion we speak how rude that is, but it's had no effect on getting them to spill the beans, they just laugh and say, 'You'll see!'... They didn't even say a word when Liss sent a truck and a little boy's outfit and I sent a doll and a pink frill dress in the mail... All we got was a thank you phone call saying how much they loved the gifts... All we knew was that one of us was right...
Speaking of marriages, Andre finally convinced Sydney that she couldn't live without him and they're currently living in England setting up the new European branch of Dragon Medical Laboratories. Adrian finally found a woman to put him in his place and made him fall to his knees; the only problem with his choice was in the fact that the girl turned out to be Dimitri's younger sister, Viktoria. I honestly thought Dimitri was going to kill him when he found out. Luckily Viktoria is as fiery and obstinate as her brother and quite able to fight her own battles. They aren't married yet, but they are engaged and living together.
Then we had Lissa and Christian, who finally tied the knot two years after she started her medical studies, in a ceremony that would rival the English monarchy. She certainly looked the part of a princess complete with tiara headpiece and everything; she even arrived at the church in a horse drawn carriage. And as much as it pains me to say this, Christian didn't look half bad in his tux. But nowhere near what the man next to him looked like, nothing could tear my eyes away him...
Imagine this... A six foot, seven inch tall, muscle bound Russian God staring at you like he wanted to take you hard and fast while you walked down the aisle towards him. I think it was only the fact that we were in a church full of family and friends that he stayed where he was. He had all my girly bits go nuclear and in the back of my 'Dimitri induced, dirty, gutter mind', I held out hope that the long assed bridesmaid dress I was wearing would mop up the snail trail I was surely leaving in my wake... I'd thought that my want and need for him would diminish over time; I can't tell you how glad I was to be proven wrong... If anything, it had only got worse!
If anyone asked me how the service was that day, I wouldn't have been able to answer them with any sort of truth, well; I suppose I could say it was beautiful as I'm sure it was... I really had no idea how it turned out, I spent the whole time with my eyes locked together with my man... I desperately wanted to pull his long brown hair out of its bindings and run my fingers through it silkiness.
But I digress...
It's now five years and I'm sitting in the passenger seat of our car, looking at my man in profile.
"Are you sure you're alright, Roza?"
"Yes babe, I'm good..."
"Then why are you looking at me like that?"
"Like that..." I couldn't help but smile at his gorgeous face. "Shouldn't you... you know, be more in pain?"
I thought about it for a while and realised he was probably right. "Probably." I wondered briefly if I should be worried about the fact that I wasn't in pain...
We pulled up outside the hospital and he turned to me seriously. "Stay there; I'll come help you out."
"Stop it!" He said wide eyed and barely holding back a smirk. I waited patiently as he half ran around the front of the car to my side, smiling as he opened the door and reached a hand out for me. "You seriously worry me sometimes, my Love."
"No I don't... you love it."
"...Normally. Just let me get you inside and make sure everything's alright... please?"
"Fine... lead on Comrade." I giggled at the soft growl emanating I got in return. I loved pushing his buttons.
"I knew tonight was a bad idea, I had a bad feeling about letting you come..."
"Letting me? Letting? Dimitri that would imply you had a choice."
"I did have a choice..." he huffed, "You're just too bloody stubborn for your own good."
"Just how you like me..."
Just then we walked into the emergency room. We walked up to the front desk and the nurse on duty looked up almost bored.
"Can I help you?"
"Yes, my wife's waters broke about thirty minutes ago." Dimitri answered. The nurse looked at me, probably waiting for me to start screaming... or clutching my huge belly. I briefly considered that it might hurry her up if I did...
"Are you sure it was your waters? Maybe the baby just pressed against your bladder."
What the hell? "I did not piss myself, trust me..."
Dimitri's right hand reached out and grabbed my left hand which was now attached to the underside of my belly. It felt so tight down there.
"Have you had any contractions?" Nurse Ratchet asked.
"Not that I'm aware of." I said testily... I just wanted to get this show on the road; I was sick of looking like a beached whale and I wanted this baby out! As in five minutes ago... Just then I heard multiple footsteps behind us...
The cavalry has arrived.
"Why are you still here?" My mother said as she came to stand beside me.
"Well apparently, there's some issue over the fact that I've probably just pissed myself as I haven't felt any contractions..."
The nurse was about to speak when my mother let fly...
"WHAT! Oh for fucks sake..." Yeah, I liked this side of my mother. "Listen here Nurse Twadwollop... For four generations of my family, we don't get contractions until right at the very end of our labour and that's normally when the baby is coming out! My daughters water broke... more than half an hour ago," she said looking down at her watch. "... and if she's anything like me or my aunts and my mother, she's probably nearly fully dilated already... so if you don't want to be personally sued for making my daughter deliver her first child on the cold, dirty floor of this hospital then you'll get off you fat ass and get her a wheelchair... Comprende?"
"You can't..." the nurse spluttered.
"GET UP!" Mom yelled.
"Mom... it's alright, there's no... OH Holy shit!" I gasped as I gripped my stomach. "Fuck that hurts..." I felt something burning between my legs and it took everything in me not to pee myself right then and there. Pressure like... well, I don't know what it was like, I'd never felt anything like it before. If I didn't know better I would have thought someone just shoved the hand where the sun didn't shine... My stomach clenched hard and all I could do was scream in my head...
I didn't hear anything else my mother may or may not have said, but by the time the next contraction hit, my ass was in a wheelchair and I was being pushed down a long corridor.
"It's alright babe, I'm with you every step of the way." Dimitri said from beside me.
"I thought we'd discussed the fact you have no choice in anything that happens in your life Dimitri... now it's mine... OH Shit!"
"Breathe Roza." Even in my pain, I could hear the smile in his words... he would pay for that!
"Stop smiling, shit-for-brains... This was all your bright fuckin' idea..." I said through clenched teeth.
"Sweetheart, remember you didn't want to swear throughout the labour." I almost told him where to shove his advice... I guess my rather heated glare told him exactly what I'd wanted to say as he lifted his hands in the universal sign of 'Whatever you want, dear!' If I wasn't in so much pain, I would most likely be laughing right now.
Seconds later we were wheeled into a birthing suite with my baby doctor hot on our heels. When I turned to Dimitri in surprise he told me that he'd called him as my mother got me into the car at the reception. Now my stupid 'pregnant brain' finally realised why we'd had more than enough staff at the wedding of our clients; apparently I was the only one who didn't think going into labour on the night was a possibility.
"Good evening Mrs Belikov, I see someone's in a bit of a hurry." He motioned to my rock hard stomach. "Can you hop up onto the bed and I'll have a look at where we're at shall we?"
When I tried to move, all I could do was scream... bloody hell that hurt... I clenched my eyes as hard as I clenched my jaw; the pain wasn't like the labour pains. I felt arms come around me and lift me out of the chair.
"Be careful as you put her down, she's obviously further along than we thought." I heard someone say. "Breathe Rose."
I can't... holy hell this hurts! That's all I could think of – the pain. It was so 'all encompassing'; for the first time in a long time, the thought of 'I can't do this, I can't handle this' went through my head.
"Yes, you can Roza. You can do this, you're strong... so, so strong, that's why I love you."
Thirty seven minutes later, I lay panting on the narrow excuse for a bed, holding my son to my chest with tears streaming down my face.
"I'm so proud of you." Dimitri whispered against my lips. I giggled a snotty laugh as I looked into his watery eyes. "My son..." My heart doubled in size as I watched him gaze at his son in absolute awe. His huge, calloused hands traced our child's face with a touch as soft as feathers. "He's so beautiful."
"Like his dad." I whispered.
"Roza, I'll go clean him up for you." Olena whispered above me. She had as many tears falling down her face as I did. "I'll bring him back as soon as I make sure everything's good, okay?"
I nodded and watched as she walked over to the other side of the room. As she went to work, measuring and weighing and cleaning, I turned back to a radiant Dimitri. "We did good, didn't we?"
"We most certainly did Beautiful. How could we not when he has you for his mother. I love you so very much."
"I love you babe." He kissed me softly as Lissa walked up to me with a nurse holding a needle.
"Congrats Rose, he's beautiful... Sorry to interrupt, but you need to have this."
"Well, why are you standing down there?" I asked.
"It goes in your leg." I grimaced... I hated needles in the leg, they hurt like a bitch. "It's to help you pass the afterbirth." Liss hadn't finished her medical studies and even though she probably knew more than the nurse, she wasn't allowed to do anything medical yet, even if it was just a needle. Dimitri knew that I wanted her there with me throughout the labour and made sure she was allowed in the birthing suite.
Within thirty seconds of the needle, I felt pains similar to labour pains but nowhere near as bad. "Oh, that's just gross..." I said after the afterbirth came out.
Then I had my boy back in my arms. "Hey baby..." I whispered, "I've been dying to meet you." I pressed a kiss to his forehead and breathed his wonderful baby scent in... There was nothing in this world that smelt better than 'baby'... especially your own.
He started squirming and making little grunts as he pulled funny faces, making me smile. "What's he doing?" I asked looking up at Olena.
"Looks like he's hungry already, Roza."
"Like father, like son." I mumbled as I looked over to Dimitri. He just smirked and shrugged his shoulders unapologetically.
"Dimitri, do something constructive and help me sit Roza up." Olena said. Dimitri watched with wonder in his eyes as I was shown how to correctly attach my son to my breast; it warmed my heart to see him so taken by this whole event. I knew he'd be a wonderful father, but it was another thing entirely to see him melt in the presence of this tiny little person we'd created... Well, tiny probably wasn't the right word. Weighing in a nine pound seven, our son really couldn't be called small...
"Have you guys decided on a name yet?" Liss asked.
"Yes, we have. Nikolai Mason Belikov." Dimitri answered. It had actually been his idea to give him Mason's name. He said he'd be proud to have his son named after a man who'd died protecting me, ensuring that neither he nor his sacrifice, ever be forgotten.
It's no wonder that I feel like I'm living in a dream. Honestly, how could I, Rosemarie Hathaway, be lucky enough to have someone as perfect as Dimitri in their lives, let alone be married to him...? Okay, he's not completely perfect, he has his faults, but he's 100% perfect for me and I love him with my whole heart and soul.
"Well, now that you're both all cleaned up and presentable and we have the right person with the full belly at last, I'm pretty sure that there are certain people outside who won't be leaving until they meet this gorgeous boy. Are you ready for a quick visit?" Olena said smiling.
"Yeah, okay." I said happily. As she walked to the door, I turned to Dimitri and smiled. "Would you like the honours of the first burp?" I asked him.
"I'd love to." He smiled. I couldn't keep the shit-eating grin off my face as I watched him expertly bring his son into his arms and place soft kisses against his head, nose and lips... "Привет моему сыну ("Privet moemu synu; Hello my son.)"
When the shock of finding out we were pregnant finally wore off, I knew right away that I wanted our child to speak both languages. Dimitri had taught me a fair amount of Russian since we'd been together but there was still a lot I didn't know. I wanted to be able to speak fluently so that my child could too, so while I was pregnant, we spoke Russian the majority of the time, unless we were at work or if I didn't know the words. It was extremely hard and extremely frustrating at times, but it did the trick.
Dimitri's family helped too, only ever speaking to me in Russian and now it was only on the odd occasion that I needed to use a word or phrase that I hadn't used before that would catch me up.
I was too busy melting at the vision in front of me to hear the room fill up behind me; it was a hand to my shoulder that pulled me out of my stupor. I turned around to the shining eyes of my mother.
"Congratulations Rose, he's beautiful... just like you."
Oh, crap... here comes the waterworks again!
She kissed my forehead and my eyes went to the smiling face of my father as Mom stood up and walked over to the other side of my bed to where my reasons for living currently sat.
"You did good, Kiz." Dad said proudly. "He's a big boy, no!"
"That he is, dad... How could he not be really?"
"He's not as big as his daddy was, you'll be happy to know." Olena said smiling.
"You're kidding... Oh, thank God for that." Everyone laughed around me. "I'm scared to ask."
"Dimitri was the equivalent to ten pound six; I thought I was going to die!"
"You better thank your lucky stars he didn't come out any bigger Dimitri, you wouldn't be sitting there smiling if he had!"
As I sit here on the back deck of our house in the morning sun, watching as my body continues to feed and nourish our newborn son, I thank God for the day that Dimitri came into my life. I know without a shadow of a doubt that without his love, his strength and his guidance, I would not be where I am today.
He let me borrow his strength when I didn't have enough of my own and then he showed me how to find my strength in the shadows that Jesse and the others had forced it in. He taught me to trust again, to taught me love again, but most of all, he taught me how to fight back.
P.S. If you want to know when the new story goes up, put me on Author Alert...
Also, even though this story is officially finished, watch out for another update in a couple of weeks. It will contain
a part of this chapter that I haven't put in... :-) I know you're all missing it, but it didn't flow, so it'll be in an outtake!