Sonia ran the computer mouse looking device across my stomach. The gel she spread on my skin was warm and semi-sticky. After some time she shrugged and looked back at me, "The baby looks fine. Very healthy, strong heart beat. I really don't see the need to worry about this aura flux. It could be something unrelated."
"But if it's something to do with my body, it could affect the baby," I clung to Dimitri's hand for dear life. I was almost in a full panic. Although, Sonia had helped to calm my nerves by confirming the baby's safety.
She nodded, "I completely know what you mean and I'll continue to monitor you but it doesn't seem to be affecting him too much."
A spark lit in Dimitri's eyes, "Him?"
She frowned, "You didn't know yet?"
My heart nearly jumped from my chest with excitement. "A boy..." I was pretty speechless except to echo what news we had just received. Dimitri and I exchanged smiles and he wrapped me into his arms. He kissed my forehead, my cheeks, my lips, my eye lids. His lips covered every spot on my face. I laughed out from the 'attack'.
"Congratulations," she slipped the gloves off and handed me a damp towel. "Go ahead and wipe yourself down and you can share your news."
I nodded happily and started wiping away the muck absentmindedly. I looked back at Dimitri who seemed to be glowing. Suddenly I felt like such a jerk. I had been so consumed by my own personal stuff that I had forgotten about Sonia's new bundle of joy. "How's being a mom treating you?"
She sighed softly and smiled like she was deep in thought, "Violet is quite a handful but daddy helps alot too. I'm just here for a few more days and then I'm a full time mom." She pulled out a picture from her purse and held it out to me. The little baby girl in the picture had short thick red hair with giant blue eyes. Her little yellow outfit made her hair look the color of flames.
But I was concerned about one thing, "You're quitting?" I couldn't have that.
She shook her head, "Just some time off. Vi needs me at home. Mostly Mikhail needs me." She gave me a sly look, "And don't worry. I'll be here when you need me."
That made my tension ease up a bit, "Thank you. And good luck at home."
"Oh, I think I'm going to need it." She laughed, "Just call me up when you need me. Consider me your midwife."
"Midwife?" I gave Dimitri a curious look.
He smiled at me, "Someone who will assist you through your childbirth."
"Very good, Guardian Belikov. I see you've been doing your reading," she clapped.
He shrugged, "One of us had to."
I punched his arm, "I have done my own research and reading on stuff."
Great. I had just lied and he was calling me out on it. So I said the first thing that came to mind, "Names."
"Names?" He looked surprised.
I nodded, "Yea, unlike you, I have actually been looking for a name for our child."
He looked slightly impressed, "And have you found a boy name you like?"
He looked like he was waiting, "Well? I would like to give my input on the names."
"Maybe you two should discuss this privately? Like at home?" Sonia was putting all the machines in their rightful places.
I agreed, "Yes! She is right." And it'll give me time to think up some names on the way to the room.
He looked indifferent, "Ok. Let's get home."
The walk seemed like it was too short when we had reached the door to our room. I still hadn't really settled on any names that I liked. Some were cute like Dylan or David but none really caught my attention too well. I sighed as I dragged myself into the room.
Dimitri grabbed my hand and pulled me onto his lap as he fell back on the couch. He kissed my cheek, "I didn't know you had been trying so hard to find a name, Roza. That's really great of you. That might be one of the hardest parts."
"Aside from pushing the baby out," I scoffed.
He chuckled, "That's a given." His hand was running in an infinity design on my thigh. "Want to run some ideas by me?"
I shrugged, "I don't know. None of them are too great."
"Come on. Maybe if you say one aloud it will sound good." He kissed my cheek.
Here goes nothing. "Okay. I thought about Dylan?"
He shook his head, "Errr no."
"How about David?"
He chuckled, "David?"
I tried to get off his lap, "Let's stop. I don't want to keep going."
He held me down, "I'm sorry. Continue." I glared at him. He just smiled, "Please?"
I groaned, "Fine." Then something crossed my mind, "Gabriel?"
"Gabriel?" His smile had softened and his gaze was far off.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have suggested it. Forget I said any..."
"I think that's a great idea," he pulled me closer against him. "Gabriel Belikov." He rubbed his hand over my stomach and scooted me off his lap. He put his face real close to my tummy and whispered, "What about it, son? You want to be called Gabriel?"
My stomach fluttered which caused me to startle. Dimitri looked up at me with that look. The look that held a million emotions and thoughts. The one that made me feel like I was the perfect girl, and we had a perfect love. It was an amazing feeling to get caught in that gaze. "I think he likes it."
He rose his head and kissed my lips. It was tender and soft. "I like it too." He kissed me again, "I love you, Roza."
"I love you," I pulled him to me and we laid together on the couch in each other's arms. I cuddled up against him. I had to throw a few pillows off to make room. "Are you scared?"
He sighed, "No. Nervous maybe but not scared." His hand was resting on my bump. "We're going to have a baby. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is all real."
"Me too. I'm just really scared about how to go about things once he is here. Once I have him in my arms," I looked down at my bump and tried to picture him. But my mind wouldn't settle on one idea.
"What do you mean? I think you're going to be a wonderful mom," he began running his fingers through my hair.
I shook my head, "I mean what do I do? I want to continue being a Guardian. But I want to be there for my child. I cannot abandon him like my parents did to me. It wouldn't be right."
He shrugged, "I could go back to teaching at the school since Christian is here at Court all the time anyway." He kissed my head, "Then I'll be able to spend time with him."
"But what about me? I'll be the absent mother?"
"No," he chuckled.
I was getting restless now thinking about it, "Then what?"
He held me tightly, "Take your time, Roza. You will get a few weeks to start off and then we can find a trusted person to help care for him when we have to be away. Once he starts school it'll be easier."
"You think so?" I wasn't so sure.
He just smiled, "I'm sure. You can ask to help train at the school as well. Teach."
I laughed, "Me? A teacher? You must be losing it."
"Why not?" He looked serious.
I shook my head, "Because I'm short tempered and if I have to teach a kid that is going to smart mouth me I'll wind up either getting fired for kicking their ass or quitting to save myself the trouble of having to kick their ass." I pulled myself up to sit, "It just all seems like too much..."
"Responsibility?" He sat up beside me and cupped my face. "Roza, what we have here is a miracle. No Dhampir in history has ever had a biological baby with another Dhampir. Our child will be the only one of his kind. We should be worried about keeping him and you safe before we worry about going back to work once Gabe is here." His hands rubbed softly over my arm and shoulder.
I nodded, "Agreed." A small laugh broke through, "We're having a baby."
"We are. A baby boy. In just four more months," he laid his head on my lap and stared at my bump. He splayed his hand over my stomach. His hands were so big that just the one hand nearly covered my entire baby bump. "We're going to take good care of you, мой сын."
"Our son. Since I believe I'm going to be the one carrying him around for the next few months and not to mention the birth part." I was actually starting to dread the thought of natural delivery.
He laughed, "I'm sure I'll be doing plenty of work on my end."
I frowned, "And why do you think that?"
"All the food runs for your cravings and your moods..." His voice trailed off as he said the word.
"I don't think you want to finish that sentence," I sighed.
He pulled me firmly against him and squeezed gently. Some air got pushed out of my chest and I coughed up a laugh. "Considering the moods you already have I think I'm going to be working over time."
I struggled to get out of his grip but he had me held against him pretty good. "That was a jerk thing to say."
"I know. But do you see how badly it got to you?" He smirked and it caught me off guard. I thought about it and, I hate to say it, he was right. I was over reacting for some off handed comment about me getting mood swings. Which was true. One of the many joys of pregnancy.
I stopped struggling and nodded in defeat, "Okay. You're right. I'm calm now."
He released me slowly. Obviously still wary of my reaction. "But the good news, for you, is that I am your slave for the next few months." He pressed a kiss to my lips.
"Really? I thought I pretty much already had you wrapped around my finger," I pushed off of him and batted my eyes as I backed away.
He rose from the couch and eyed me, "Is that so?"
I rose a brow, "Yes, yes it is."
He shot for me but I saw it coming. I darted out of the room and straight into our bedroom. I turned to find him directly opposite of me from the other side of the bed. My heart was racing and I felt like I wanted to laugh out. We never had time to play and joke like this. It was quite exhilerating.
"You have quite a way with words, Roza." He faked a right and made me flinch but I wasn't completely fooled.
I scoffed, "Coming from the Zen Master? That means so much." I dramatically placed my hands over my heart and swooned.
Which was a bad idea. He took the opportunity of my lack of attention and dove over the bed. He caught my wrists and pulled me down onto the mattress with him. He was strong and had a firm hold of me. He slid me beneath him and stared down at me with his gorgeous eyes and breath taking smile. My heart was beating a million miles an hour. Or at least it felt that way.
"Careful! The baby!"
He laughed, "I am being careful." He leaned over me and his hair draped forward from his ponytail. He tucked some of the strands back but they just fell forward again. So I reached up and held back his hair. The texture of it was smooth and silky in my hands. "You are... something else."
I had to guess that was something good from the way he was looking down at me. "I am my own genre," I laughed.
"No," he chuckled. "I mean the way you are. Your personality, your gifts, just everything about you. I've never met someone even remotely close to resembling you in any way."
I shook my head, "There are plenty of people who have my traits."
"Not like this. Some people are kind, some are protective, brave, strong, fierce, or what have you. But all those qualities in one?" He caressed my face, "You are the only one like you."
I felt the blush stain my cheeks and butterflies flutter in my stomach. "You're not just saying that?"
He smiled, "I meant every word of it. I think that's why I love you so much. It's impossible to escape. Even when I tried. It torn at my heart to refuse you." His smile dimmed and his eyes steadied as his gaze focused on mine. "I regret ever doing that."
"Shh." I shook my head, "That was like forever ago." We both chuckled. "What we have here and now more than makes up for any of those things. You are mine and I'm yours." I pulled him down and our lips met for a passionate kiss.
He managed to whisper between kisses, "I'm yours."
My cell phone was going off by my head. Over and over and over again until I was annoyed just enough to answer it. "This better be important." Even I could hear the irritated grog in my voice.
"It may be," it was Adrian.
I sighed, "Why didn't you just visit me in a dream then?"
He scoffed, "Because I'm not tired and I have other things to do. Apparently I am co-hosting the baby shower."
"Baby shower?" Then I understood, "Sonia told you?"
"Yep, she did. Congrats by the way," I could hear clattering on his end. "What are you naming him?" he paused for a moment, "You have been trying to find a name, right?"
I growled, "Yes, Adrian! We have a name for him."
He chuckled, "Good. Well get your prince charming, warrior, Russian hubby up and both of you get dressed. We are eating out and Liss should be getting to your room soon."
"Be ready!" CLICK!
I stared down at the screen, "Thanks, Ivashkov."
Dimitri's arm tightened around me, "Adrian?"
"Yea. We have to get up and get dressed. Going out." I threw the blanket off and rolled over to look at him. He hair always looked so nice even after he just woke up. I self consciously ran my hand over my head remembering the bad cases of bed head I have once had on many an occasion.
He smiled at me as if reading my mind, "You look beautiful." He pulled my hand down and kissed it.
I felt the blush stain my face, "You don't have to lie."
His face went serious, "I never lie to you, Roza."
"I was just playing," I felt my heart skip a beat. "I know you would never lie to me." At least I hoped he never did.
"Come on," he patted my hip causing me to spring up, "Better get ready then."
We were up and dressed just as the knock came at the door. I smiled at Dimitri, "That will be Liss." I opened the door a little surprised to see a different face. "Hey."
Jill shied back slightly, "Hi. Liss asked me to come instead. She got caught up with Christian and getting things ready. I thought sending me in her place might seem a little shocking. I didn't know if you would mind. You don't mind, do you?" She caught her breath once her usual adorable rambles were through.
I shook my head, "No, it's perfectly okay. We are ready to go."
"Okay," she sighed and smiled meekly.
Dimitri walked up behind me, "Hello, Jill. Haven't seen your face in some time."
She seemed to shrink even more, "Oh, I've been kept under lock and key. Ever since I voiced my wish to leave Court I've been treated like a child. I don't understand how some people don't get that I am sixteen now and I am not a child." She jolted suddenly like something hit her, "I'm sorry. I'm keeping you held up with my ranting."
He chuckled, "It's fine. I understand how you can be frustrated under these circumstances."
"But now you're free, right?" I reached out to pat her head but thought better and patted her shoulder.
She nodded enthusiastically, "Yes! Liss was kind enough to get me on parole. Now I can actually venture out instead of having someone sent out for me." Her mood seemed to brighten.
"That's great!" I looked back at Dimitri who just gave a simple nod. "Are you ready?"
"Oh, yea. Sorry. I did it again."
She perked and lead the way out to one of my favorite Italian places I had really become accustomed to. I inhaled the scent in the air. The delicious aroma filled my lungs and mmm was instantly released.
"Guys! Over here!" Mia was waving over the few tables that were taken. The table everyone was sitting at had balloons floating around the chairs held down only by brightly colored metalic ribbons. In the center sat a sign that read 'It's a Boy!' with blue ruffles making it look like a baby bib. There were platters of food and a cake sitting around it. My stomach growled.
Liss was the first to meet me, "Congrats, Rose!" She hugged me and our baby bumps rubbed together. It almost made me laugh.
"Thanks, Liss. It was quite a shock," I pulled back enough to look down at her slightly bigger bump. "And how's your little one doing?"
"Moving around and such. Healthy as can be," she ran her hand over her stomach.
Dimitri was shaking hands with Christian, Eddie, and Adrian. They seemed to be caught on their own 'man' conversation. He looked back at me with a look that I thought might never have met his face. A look of pride in becoming a father. The look Mikhail had when he announced Sonia's pregnancy. The look Christian wore. I was just so happy that he could have it now in place of that longing one.
We finally got to sit. I was ready to dig in, if that wasn't obvious by now. But Mia shook her head and tsked me, "First we should all make a toast." She rose her glass and we all followed, "To my best friends. We may not have started off on the right foot but the things in our past have brought us to this moment. And I wouldn't change it for the world."
Eddie stood up and rose his glass, "To our pasts. The people who have journeyed with us. Present and lost."
"To making new unexpected friends," Sydney held her glass up now. "I'm here celebrating with people I never once thought I'd be so close to. But I'm so grateful for it all."
Adrian nodded and rose his, "To unexpected surprises. Both the people I love around me and the bundle of joys." I was almost expecting snark but he sounded truly sincere.
"To freedom. And hoping it lasts. For all of us present and expected," Jill rose her glass of water.
"To... to love." That was almost surprising coming from Christian. "May it only grow stronger as the years pass us."
Liss took his hand, "To peace. I'm really looking forward to the years of peace I might bring with leading our people. Peace among us and within us."
"To strengths..." Dimitri started.
Adrian chuckled, "Strengths?"
He nodded, "We have all had to face things we never thought we would. We overcame out weakness, overcame the obstacles. We became one another's strengths."
He nodded, "Well said."
I had to laugh, "To friendship." I looked around at all their faces. "I don't want to sound all mushy but I have to say honestly I think you all are the reasons I am here today. That I am here at this table about to celebrate the news of having a baby. Celebrating my best friend's own baby. You are all my reasons to be alive. So thank you."
The glasses clinked as they made contact with one another. Some drank wine while others, such as myself, had to settle for water or juice. I prefered the water. And the pasta prima vera. And the garlic bread. Well, pretty much everything that was at the table was just amazing. Except the fancy cheese. For some reason I just couldn't put it to my mouth.
The night seemed to started to fade quickly. We might have been there for hours just talking and laughing with each other. Adrian would say some joke that made some laugh while others found it slightly offensive or rude. Christian would follow up with one of his smartass remarks about the joke. They would playfully banter while Sydney and Liss tried to show them up by pointing out how stupid and pointless the whole thing was. Eddie seemed so quiet. His eyes were on the people around us but it was like he just wanted to step back and watch them. Like me. I didn't need to be a part of it all. I was just enjoying seeing them like this. Mia would say something and try to get Eddie to agree but he would just nod and smile and she would carry on. Jill sat in her chair leaning in. She didn't say much but she would agree or disagree every so often with something being said. It was nice to see her blending in so well after all this time she had been gone.
I felt Dimitri's hand cradle mine. He squeezed softly and leaned in close to me, "Are you enjoying yourself?"
I nodded, "Yea. I'm just taking it all in."
He kissed my head, "I'm glad."
"Are you enjoying this?"
He smiled, "Of course. Being around everyone like this is fun."
"Fun?" I laughed, "Did you just say 'fun'?"
He chuckled alloud, "Yes, I said 'fun'. I'm not so grown up as to where I can't have fun with my friends."
I smiled at him and rested my head on hsi shoulder, "I like this side of you. It's fun."
By Shadow Kissed Mori