Chapter Twenty Two

I still hadn't told him. It'd been three days, and I still hadn't told him. And yet, here I was, standing in the back room with Dimitri, discussing work calmly. I pointed to the map, at an area that was pinned in red.

"Is this where the Strigoi are attacking most?" I asked, not meeting his eyes as I did so. He was so close, yet so far away. His body heat just barely reached out and touched my skin, his aftershave filling the room. I breathed shallowly, not wanting to inhale too many of those fumes and become stupid.

"Yes. We sent out a couple of guardians to patrol the area, but there's not much else we can do as far as protection for everyone there goes. As far as we go, we're stepping up the shifts for guardians. When you go in the gates now, you have to have your eyes checked; you have to have your car thoroughly searched, and all the other stuff that they go through. In the main buildings here at Court, you now have to have an ID to get in, proving that you do belong here."

"By shifts for guardians, what do you mean? I haven't been told of this yet."

"Exactly, I'm telling you now. Because I gave the information, I'm now in charge. And I mean that you will be working less shifts for Lissa and more shifts for Court. And conditioning will have to be daily now. If you don't have the time for it, too bad. You have to find a way. So, be in the gym at five o'clock today."

"What the hell am I supposed to do with my daughter? Adrian was going out with some friends tonight."

Dimitri gave me a cold, steady look. "Sounds like a personal problem to me."

Oohh, that just pissed me off. I clenched my teeth and turned, walking away before I could hit him.

I pushed through the doors and out into the main room, which was empty. I thought I was safe from Dimitri until I heard the doors open a second time.

"Rose!" he called, but I didn't turn. I stopped though, which was one of the dumbest things I have ever done in my whole life. I needed to stop this nonsense and get on with planning my wedding. Or more importantly, how to tell Adrian what I had done.

I listened to his footsteps and the pounding of my heart as he approached. My fists were still clenched from being so angry, and I just wanted to turn around and punch him for having potentially ruined the best part of what could have been.

"Look, I'm sorry I'm being such an asshole…." he started, and I turned around and put a hand up. He went silent.

"No, I don't care about that. I just need to tell Adrian what happened and move on. I don't want anything else between you and I. We are over. We've been over for years. I don't know why that happened the other night, but I know it didn't need to happen, and it never should have happened."

He didn't show the hurt he must have been feeling. His face remained cool, calm, collected. I winced internally at that, because some deep part of me, no matter how sick and twisted, wanted him to fight for me. He fought for Moroi, why not for the one he loved?

I didn't want to be the one he loved.

Oh, but you do!

Shut up.

Fuck, I'm fighting with myself.

I shook my head, turning around. Dimitri's hand came down on my shoulder. I stopped again, again knowing I shouldn't have, and listened as he talked.

"I love you. I can give you everything Adrian can. You love me too, don't you?"

I nodded. "But I-"

"So it's no different. We deserve to be together too."

"No, it is different. Adrian doesn't deserve this. Arianna doesn't deserve this. Just leave me alone…"

He whirled me around and kissed me. As soon as his lips met mine, a warning shouted in my head. But my arms went around him anyway, twisting themselves into his t-shirt, trying to yank the fabric up. He kept his hands at my hips however, only pressing against me, not letting his hands roam. I moaned under his lips, and felt his mouth curve up into a smile.

And then, as soon as the kiss had started, it ended.

He pulled away, keeping eye contact. "That's only one of the reasons we deserve to be together."