"It's not funny." Dimitri says drily, staring fixedly ahead at nothing.

Beside him, I purse my lips in an effort not to laugh which would inevitably lead to me being rendered to the floor. My shoulders shake with the effort to keep the dam from bursting. At least I'm the only one having trouble with self-control. On my other side Lissa was staring in the opposite direction opting for the 'out of sight out of mind' tactic, it was only barely working. Although as a Princess and a member of a Royal Moroi family, she'd been brought up with the ability to remain stoic and refined as she was under constant scrutiny as there was an expected way to behave. Right now this was an advantage to her but barely.

I had no such decorum and knowing Dimitri was already humiliated was the only reason I was fighting for self-control. Fighting the undead is easier. He was a private person, always exhorting the air of control and calmness and although this made the situation all the more hysterical I had to keep it together, partly because if I started laughing I might not be able to stop.

But damn its hard.

Human firefighters are rushing around, getting the fire under control whilst Dimitri, Christian, Lissa, Adrian and I stand in the parking lot trying not to draw attention to ourselves. If the car's engine wasn't fried we would have been long out of here.

Through the bond I felt Lissa focusing on something else which would simultaneously help me as I felt her emotions as well as my own, she was concentrating on anxiety. She worried Christian would be caught for this, his affinity with fire was one of the things she loved and admired about him however under the influence of alcohol one of his 'party tricks' had gone wrong and set fire to our room's curtains. It was unfortunately bad timing that Dimitri had been in the shower. It didn't help that Adrian had mistaken a bottle of vodka for water and thrown it upon the flames in an effort to put it out. Lissa might be genuinely worried but the idea of Christian being dragged off for nearly burning down an apartment building only added to my hysteria. A snicker escaped which gave someone an opening for the first joke of the night.

"If this goes on much longer." Adrian began taking a cigarette from his breast pocket, "We'll have to find somewhere else to stay. Regrettably I left my wallet in the room so we'll have to find some other way to make money. Belikov's lack of attire should attract business."

He casts a sideways look at us but when Dimitri doesn't bite and he pouts. A smirk cracks upon my lips and I glance away before my resolve crumbles. It didn't help I could feel Lissa's laughter bubbling away like it's in my stomach.

"The Full Monty might be the way to go." Christian quips, still quite drunk despite the excitement of the past half hour. I clench my teeth and Lissa gives him a warning nudge but he only smiles at her and drapes an arm over her shoulders.

Irritation and embarrassment radiate off Dimitri but his face remains impassive as one hand holds onto the towel at his waist. The frenzy in me is pushed down as sympathy unfurls and I step in front of the 6'7 Russian warrior hoping to hide some of his exposed flesh. After all, no one was allowed to see him this naked except me and I was the only one allowed to tease him.

"Or we could turn Christian in for the reward money." I manage to say steadily trying to hold a glare but the threats lost. Christian's blue eyes dance with mirth and it sends the hysteria up my throat.

I turn away as my facial muscles spasm.

"For which crime?" Dimitri answers unexpectedly. "Underage drinking or arson?"

He was a glacier, he would not break and despite everything I had to admire that. If it were me standing in a towel I would have punched Christian by now.

"Adrian made it a hellavu lot worse!" Christian protests. He staggers to the side and Lissa pulls him against her.

"Hey! I was trying to help." Adrian says in a cheery voice and the smell of cloves drifts past my nose.

"Remind me to never call you when the day needs saving." I retort and shift my body to hide more of what I could of Dimitri. Hopefully, after all of this, he wouldn't be too agitated and would finish his shower…I could join him and that was bound to cheer him up.

Adrian rolls his eyes but the glee is radiant on his face. He glances back toward us before exhaling smoke. "That's the least of our worries. We'll probably get arrested on suspicion of sex trafficking."

Try as I might I'm only (half) human. Laughter burst from my lips and even Dimitri's mortification couldn't hinder it. He sighs heavily, his breath stirring my hair. Lissa tries clamping a hand over her mouth to conceal her giggle, I wasn't that subtle, I was kind of having trouble breathing.

Christian extends high five toward Adrian. Of course they'd put aside snarky remarks about each other and team up in this ridiculous situation, although I had no doubt that if either one of them were standing in a towel they'd show the other no mercy. I was just grateful nobody had whipped out their cell phone because I was sure Dimitri would snap and then we'd all be sorry. They didn't call him a 'God' for nothing. He could be formidable… even in a cotton towel. At least it was long. And if someone were to pull out their cell phone it wouldn't be Dimitri they'd have to worry about.

I was pretty certain if things were reversed and it was anyone of us standing in a towel he would have found a coat or a sheet to help the victim keep their dignity. A courtesy they hadn't extended toward him but in all fairness it was unlikely we could find something out in the hotel parking lot that would be useful. I would bet my last tube of lip-gloss someone wasn't likely to metalize with a duster.

Dimitri naked in a duster…. Now there was an image.

I try to sober my expression and turn to look up at him. He doesn't meet my eyes and I slip my arms around his waist, beginning to feel uncomfortable with his exposure. Yeah it had been funny but the humour was giving way to a territorial urge within me. He was mine and if I caught anyone admiring him I would not be responsible for my actions, pouring bleach in their eyes for example. Even if those so called admirers did have exquisite taste but thankfully the private apartment block we'd stopped at was more or less empty so not too many people had been evacuated to the parking lot.

"Don't worry. I'm coming up with a plan to avenge your honour." I murmur so the others can't hear. He looks blankly down at me. "Oh c'mon comrade, you have to admit it's pretty funny."

He quirks an eyebrow and I can't help but be envious. I wasn't able to pull off such an aloof gesture.

"A little funny?" I try but he says nothing. I nudge him with my hip. "Where is your sense of humour? Did you leave it in the shower?"

I start giggling despite myself and he shakes his head exasperated just like he would have done back in the days when he had been my instructor and I'd made a ridiculous joke during training. I was positive there was a part of him willing to see the funny side of this, it was lurking just below the surface and I just needed to coax it out. A movement past his bicep caught my attention and I focused on two older women smiling and whispering together. Clearly appreciating Dimitri's sculpted back. He was lean but he was all muscle, tan delicious skin, with broad shoulders, dark hair damp and slicked back. It was natural for any female with working eyes to be attracted to him, to admire him, especially in a state of such undress. However this reasoning was beyond the point and I glowered at them. They caught my dangerous gaze and hastily turned away.

"Still funny?" Dimitri asks coolly. I tear my eyes away from the women and scowl up at him before wrapping my arms tighter around his naked torso trying to shield it with my own. That finally roused a small chuckle from him.

"Oh now you're laughing." I grumble. My jealousy was funny but supporting a loin cloth was beyond the pale. "Would it help if I stripped off too?"

"Oooh" Christian exclaims clearly having overheard. He was serious danger from my fist and Lissa must have guessed as much as she pushed the other two boys a little way away.

"No Roza." Dimitri murmured, his voice low and warm. "It would certainly not help."

I look up at him from under my eyelashes. "Really? It wouldn't make you feel better?"

His dark eyes smouldered. "There's a time and a place."

His skin hummed under my hands, begging to be explored. "Well you'd think someone would have told you that."

His expression promised that I was going to pay for that and I grinned.

"Her name was Dimika, she was a show girl. She had flowers in her hair and didn't have any underwear…"

"Adrian unless you want to be six feet under flowers you'll shut up." I hiss through Christian's laughter.

"Will I have clothes?"

"Adrian, stop it." Lissa says.

"Yes but you'll lose a few other things."

My threat just seems to amuse him further.

"Don't mind the little boys Roza." Dimitri tells me, wrapping his free arm around my waist. Him this naked and holding me was really testing my self-control. I hold onto him tighter like it will somehow hide the fact he's naked. The whole thing didn't seem funny at all anymore, especially when those two old hags were back to staring at him and whispering between themselves.

"This is so absurd, it was only curtains. Why haven't they finished yet?" Lissa says. Christian looks like he's nodding off against her shoulder.

"Maybe they found some drugs." Adrian suggests and we all look at him.


"Why would they find drugs?" Dimitri asks. His voice sounded like it was pulled through his teeth.

Adrian shrugs and flicks away his cigarette.

"You haven't have you?" Lissa asks.

"Have I what?"

"Got drugs in the room."

"Why would I have drugs?"

"You just said-"

"I was speculating! Or are we all supposed to be guilty of one criminal act here? Well, nudist and arsonist are taken…"

Lissa groans. "Shut up Adrian."

"That's mean."

"Idiot." Dimitri mutters.

"I'm the fire starter." Christian sings sleepily and I would have encouraged an encore but something else had my attention.


"I guess that clarifies Rose will be the murderer."

"Rose, don't draw attention." Lissa says, glancing nervously over at the cougars.

"I think that ship has sailed Liss."

"Lissa's right." Dimitri says, trying to soothe me. "Besides, I prefer brunettes."

I smirk up at him. "So do I."

"What would Lissa be?" Adrian ponders aloud. "Maybe she could be the drug smuggler, no one would ever suspect that face."

"It's a nice face." Christian says grinning stupidly at her and she flushes.

I roll my eyes and lean my head against his chest. His perfectly contoured and broad chest… it takes everything in me not press my lips to his skin.

"This is all so stupid." I whine.

"You're only just realising?" Dimitri asks.

"I'm hungry." Christian moans.

"We'll use the curtains to make smores." Adrian exclaims throwing up his hands excitedly.

"I'm going to put you on the barbeque."

"You're so hostile, Rose."

"I think the manager's coming over." Lissa whispers.

"Let me do the talking."

"Yes, let the man in the towel explain why there was a fire in our suite. Does this sound white trash to anyone else?" Adrian says.

"Are you on drugs?" I ask seriously.

"God I wish."

"Both of you shut up." Dimitri orders, uncurling his arm and I turn around to see a portly-looking man in a suit making his way toward us. His face shines like a red beacon, we were in trouble.

"How are you going to explain this?" Lissa asks Dimitri and her anxiety pangs in my stomach.

"Easily… I was just hoping you'd be able to help smooth it over."


Their voices are background noise to me because the cougar with the streaky tan was running her eyes all over Dimitri, her eyes practically burning through the towel.

"I'm going to have a word with that woman." I say and Dimitri takes my arm keeping me in place.

"I don't think I could give you an alibi Rose. I'm laid back about most things but murder I draw the line at." Adrian says, shaking his head sadly.

"You can be my first victim." I snap.

"Who's going to foot the bill then?"

"You have me there."

"I could." Lissa supplies.

"Cousin are you selling me out? What the hell."

Dimitri shushes us and I see the manager is nearly upon us.

"Am I to understand that you are the occupants of our deluxe suite? Under the name Ivashkov." He demands, a vein ticking away in his head.

I turn around to face him, keeping my back aligned with Dimitri's chest. For all I know the dude's into dudes but he wasn't allowed to get a sneak peek at mine and the high-pitched cackling from those two hags are eally starting to get to me.

"Yes, we are and we have a perfectly good explanation for the damage caused." Dimitri's calm voice explains from overhead.

"And you're going to find it perfectly justifiable." Lissa says silkily drawing his attention. Through the bond, I feel the power surging through her. His eyes glaze over and Lissa smiles. "Just listen to what my friend has to say."

"Ah the old saying, trust anyone supporting cotton" Adrian muses.

"It was an accident-" Dimitri begins but his voice is drowned out as Christian promptly throws up all over the manager's shoes.