Where You Used To Be
I can still (very) clearly remember the agony I felt when Dimitri was sent away. Alberta had pulled me aside shortly after the kiss Dimitri and I had shared in the gym, and regretfully informed me that we had been found out.
The next day Dimitri was sent to a school in
Manhattan, New York to work. I was left completely heartbroken, still aching from the loss of a friend, and alone. Luckily, Adrian Ivashkov had been there to comfort me.
"Rose, c'mon!" Adrian called rom the next room. I swiped on one last layer of mascara before glancing over to my daughter, who played with a fake straightener. She ran it through her shoulder length, dark brown hair, batting her eyelashes as she did so.
I crouched down and ran a clean blusher brush over her cheeks, one I kept especially for Arianna. She loved putting on 'make up'. I tickled her nose with the brush, and she giggled, dropping the toy straightener.
"Momma!" she giggled, wrapping her arms around my arm. I lifted her easily, catching her when she wasn't able to hold on any longer.
"Adrian, can you get you're a-s-s in here and put Arianna's dress on? She wants to wear the purple one."
Suddenly, Arianna crossed her arms, her lips sliding into a cute pout. "No pur-poh. I want yewwow!" she said grumpily.
Adrian appeared in the doorway, and smiled down at his daughter. "You want yellow?" He ran a hand through his hair and picked up Arianna, who squealed in delight.
"Yeah!" she yelled, and then pointed at the toy on the floor. "Dadda, can I have it?" she asked, and then poked him in the nose.
"What's the magic word, Arianna?" he said, but he was already leaning to get it. I watched all of this while I pulled my hair up into a ponytail and smoothed the ends of my hair. I was casual tonight, because we were taking Arianna to Chuckie Cheese's for her birthday.
"Pweassseee." She drew out the word, and wrapped her arms around his neck. He grinned, and handed the toy to her.
Without even looking at the two, I reminded her, "What do you say, Arianna?"
Adrian chuckled and set her back down. "Put your arms up, Arianna!" he told her, because she only allowed people to help her undress when she was in control. She did so, and he slid her little white t-shirt over her head.
He let her put her hands on his shoulders while she stepped out of her pants, and then he swooped her up and tickled her stomach. She giggled and kicked until he stopped, and then she looked around for her dress. It was a yellow sundress, one that Adrian's mother had actually bought for her. Normally, at this time of year, I wouldn't allow her to wear a sundress, but it was still quite warm here at Court.
"Hathaway, your daughter is hungry. Hurry up."
I rolled my eyes and stuck my tongue out at him. "She's your daughter too, Plant Boy." Adrian grinned and stood up to kiss my forehead. I switched off the straightener and then unplugged it, and then let him wrap his arms around me.
"Momma! I'm HUNGRY!" Arianna said crossly, and then put her little hands on her hips.
"Okay baby, I get it. Lemme brush your hair and we can go."
"I want the yewwow bow, Momma!"
"Say please, Arianna."
I snatched up her bag of bows from the counter and rifled around until I found the yellow bow that had white flowers printed onto it, the one that matched her dress. After brushing her hair and pinning it back, I asked her if she had to go to the bathroom. She shook her head no, so I let her put on her own sandals and we got out of there.
When we exited Court, we had to flash our IDs, and of course the guardians wanted to chat for a moment. Because Adrian was the one driving, they had to lean across him to talk. So of course he saw the way their eyes flicked down to my chest and back up every few seconds.
"Okay, guys, stop drooling. You're getting Adrian's lap wet," I smirked, and then shooshed them when they opened their mouths to retort. "I have Arianna with me."
With that, they simply rolled their eyes at Adrian and waved us through the gates. It took long enough to get to the nearest Chuckie Cheese's for Arianna to start making noises again. She hated car rides, and made that very clear whenever we strapped her into her car seat.
Finally, we arrived in the parking lot, so I reached back and unbuckled her seat belt before getting out of the car myself. The car was a little four door Honda Civic, so it made it much easier to get to my daughter. Adrian had purchased it the moment he was told I was pregnant. Which made him all that much sweeter, of course.
When I had made sure we had everything we needed (band-aids, wet wipes, apple juice), we set off across the parking lot, Adrian telling Arianna the wonders of Chuckie Cheese's. Of course, I had no clue how he had been, but he assured me I didn't really want to know. I would get it out of him later.
We entered the building, and Arianna's eyes went baseball sized. I laughed softly as I watched her excitement at getting a stamp on her hand you could only see with a special light, and nearly died laughing when she immediately ran to the mechanical Chuckie Cheese and wanted a picture with it.
Yeah, tonight was going to be a long night.
I had been right, of course. But Adrian kept up his commentary the whole time, keeping Arianna at the table long enough to finish her food, and all I had to do was guide her around the crowded play place and watch her as she slid down slides.
A trip to Baskin Robins and four bags of presents later, I carried Arianna back up to our apartment. Even though I was still Lissa's guardian, I didn't live with her unless there was a threat in the area. Tonight, Lissa had been busy with a meeting with the Queen, which was the only reason her and Christian hadn't joined us for our little outing.
As soon as Arianna had had her bath and was tucked into bed, Adrian's arms were around me, pulling me onto the sofa. He left for a second, switching off the lights, lighting a couple of candles, and then he handed me a glass of red wine.
I smiled gratefully, rubbing my temples, kicking off my sneakers. Adrian sat back down beside me, and started rubbing the tension out of my shoulders.
"What's wrong, little dhampir?" he asked quietly, kissing the nape of my neck. I almost moaned with pleasure, but sipped at my wine instead.
"I hate Chuckie Cheese's," I groaned, and leaned into Adrian, loving the feel of his long fingers massaging the stress out of my body.
"It was fun for Arianna," he reminded me, and I nodded, my eyes almost rolling back in my head.
"Yeah..mmm.." I said softly, and turned, setting the glass of wine down, and straddled him. Kissing his neck and raking my nails down his chest, I pushed him backwards on the sofa. He laughed and held me close, running his hands through my hair after undoing the ponytail. I sighed, closing my eyes and letting my head fall to his chest. He continued tangling his fingers in my hair and lightly tugging on it.
His lips were at my throat again, and my eyes flashed open. I grinned, and pulled away, kissing down his chest. His hands immediately went to my hips, pulling me up and jerking me roughly against him. Through the layers of clothing, I could tell the only weapon he currently carried with him wasn't deadly at all.
I smiled again at that thought, and we continued on…