Hi y'all! I've just realized that it's been a year since this story was updated which was not my intention at all and I'm so sorry for not getting this chapter out to you sooner. The next chapter will be up sooner than a year and I hope y'all enjoy this chapter! Feel free to leave a review with your comments and thoughts!
One Week Later
It almost felt like déjà vu as graduation morning rolled around once again at Cornell University. I hadn't spoken to Dimitri all week, letting him get his distance, though that didn't stop him from texting me every morning. It was always just a simple good morning text, but it never failed to bring a smile to my face.
This morning was no exception.
Dimitri (6:07): Good morning, Roza. Happy graduation day. I'm so proud of you.
My thumbs hovered over the screen, tempted to text him back. The déjà vu hit me hard again as I remembered how I was ignoring his messages three years prior, on the verge of breaking up with him. My fingers typed out a message and hit send before I could register what I was doing.
Rose (7:34): Good morning. Lissa has your ticket for the ceremony.
I had to physically stop myself from adding that I couldn't wait to see him. I had only had him back in my life for a handful of days and was already craving him again like a drug I couldn't live without.
Part of me knew that he meant it when he said that he would always love me, but another part of me was convinced that the week apart had allowed him to come to his senses. It had convinced me that Dimitri was going to leave me the same way that I left him three years ago.
A knock on the door broke me out of my thoughts. Lissa stuck her head around the corner.
"Good morning," she said as she slipped into the room. "How was NYC?"
I couldn't help but smile. "It was good. It was nice to be away for a little bit."
My parents, Adrian, and I had flown back to Ithaca late last night, and I hadn't had time to catch up with Lissa yet, though I had sent her a handful of texts throughout the week.
Lissa shot me a look. "Rose."
"There's something you're not telling me," she said.
She gestured for me to sit in front of the vanity where she had already plugged in a curling iron. I did as she silently asked and sighed as she quickly ran a brush through my long hair.
The brush in my hair froze for a moment before continuing. Lissa had finished brushing my hair and had moved on to sectioning it so she could start curling it before I spoke again.
"I kind of have no choice but to tell," I said before recounting what had happened.
I could tell Lissa was smiling without even having to look in the mirror. "I knew he still loves you."
I couldn't help but smile. "Yeah, he does."
"And you still love him."
It wasn't a question, but I answered it like one anyways. "I've loved him practically since I met him, Liss. And I never stopped. I got really good at pretending and really good at forgetting, but I never truly stopped. I don't think I ever will."
"So, your answer is yes? You're going to get back together with him?"
I bit my bottom lip. "I don't know."
Lissa sighed and set the curling iron down on the vanity. Part of me thought it was so she didn't purposefully burn me with it.
"How can you say that?"
"How can I not?" I replied. "You know better than anyone how much of a mess I was after we broke up last time. What's to say that's not going to happen again?"
"What's to say that it will?"
"Did you make some mistakes in the past? Yes. Did you learn from those mistakes? Yes. Are you the same person you were three years ago? No," Lissa said. "Rose, c'mon. You can't seriously be sitting there thinking that it would be a good idea to not get back together with Dimitri after all of this."
She picked back up the curling iron to finish my hair as I thought about what she said. She wasn't wrong. I wasn't the same person as I was three years. I wasn't nineteen and naively in love for the first time, even though Dimitri is and will always be my first love.
Lissa finished my hair in silence and unplugged the curling iron. Before she went to leave the room to get breakfast, she turned and looked at me one more time.
"You asked me three years ago if I thought you were making the wrong decision when breaking up with Dimitri. I didn't give you a straight answer then, not wanting to sway you. But I'll give you one now. I think you'd be making the wrong decision if you decide not to get back with Dimitri," she said.
She shut the door softly behind her, leaving me staring at my reflection and contemplating her words.
When I arrived at the university, I was immediately ushered into the waiting area with the rest of the graduates, waiting for the procession to start. I mingled with some of my classmates, wishing that Lissa was there with me. She was supposed to graduate with me this semester but had to tack on an extra semester because of her added minor. While I had made friends in my classes, none of them were as close as me and Lissa. Luckily, I didn't have to wait long for the procession to start, and there wasn't much time for students to chat in between the procession ending and the president beginning her speech.
I listened intently to the speech, intrigued, but also trying to distract myself from looking around to see if Dimitri had shown up or not. I told myself that I didn't really want to know. Even though it was a lie, it was enough to distract me until my row was motioned to stand to walk to the stage.
We had been given cards at check-in that listed our names on them that we would hand to the people on the stage that would read the names aloud. We were also given the option to phonetically spell out our names, but I had left that section alone. I figured that enough people knew my family to know how to pronounce my name, and it wasn't particularly hard.
I handed my card to the lady standing at the microphone and waited for my cue.
"Rosemarie Hathaway Mazur."
I started walking across the stage, a smile on my face, as I heard the cheers coming from one of the sections. I could hear my father yelling, and for a second, I thought I heard Dimitri too, but I still couldn't bring myself to look. I posed for a picture with the dean, and then with the president, holding the diploma cover in both before walking down the front stairs of the stage and back to my seat.
The rest of the ceremony seemed to drag by, and at one point, I pulled out my phone to look at the time to see a message from Lissa. It was a selfie of her with an air horn, with an accompanying text explaining that she had had to wrestle that from my father before he could use it while I was walking across the stage. I smiled and slid my phone back into my purse.
Adrian pulled me into a hug the second I joined him, Lissa, and my family in front of the library, near the same fountain that I last saw Dimitri three years ago. It truly was going to be a day of déjà vu, considering that another break-up at this fountain was quickly approaching. There were a few other graduates and their families around, taking pictures in front of the fountain, and I couldn't help but look around to see if Dimitri was there too. While I didn't see him, I couldn't help but notice a few people who were obviously paparazzi, even if they were trying not to be conspicuous. Adrian kissed my cheek, and I knew that he had also seen the paparazzi.
"Rose," my father said, holding open his arms.
I quickly made my way to him, hugging him tightly before hugging my mother the same.
"We're so proud of you," she whispered. "I hope you know that."
I nodded. I did. Despite the challenges that I had (and still have) with my parents, I know that they love me and that they are proud of me.
"Can I have a favor?" I asked.
"Anything," my dad said.
"I need a moment alone with Adrian," I said. "But there's paparazzi behind me, and who knows where else. Could you spare Nicholas and his team for a few minutes to clear out the area and secure it so that the paparazzi can't get back through?"
My parents shared a look.
"Sure, Rose," my mother said, nudging my father.
He pulled out his phone, quickly typing something out.
"It'll be done," he said, pocketing his phone again. "Have your moment. We'll be back in ten minutes to get your pictures done."
"Thank you," I said, leaning up to kiss his cheek before giving him another hug. I hugged my mother again as well, before walking a few feet over to Lissa to fill her in.
She nodded after I told her, a knowing smile on her face.
"If you see Dimitri," I said, "tell Nicholas that he's allowed to come through."
Her smile only got bigger.
"Rose?" Adrian asked. "What's going on?"
He gestured to the people starting to leave the area, and I could see Nicholas grabbing one of the paparazzo's by the collar of their shirt to drag them away since they weren't willing to leave voluntarily.
"We need to talk," I said. "And I didn't want paparazzi taking pictures of our entire conversation, so we have this area blocked off for the next ten minutes, give or take."
Adrian sighed and ran his hand through his hair, making his purposefully messy hairstyle even messier looking. "You're right. We do need to talk."
I led him over to a bench that was behind the fountain, partially hidden by some bushes. We sat in silence for a moment while I gathered up the courage, and Adrian reached over to grab my hand.
"Rose," he said softly. "Whatever it is, just say it."
"I love you," I started. "You know that."
He nodded, smiling slightly. He squeezed my hand in encouragement.
"But I can't do this anymore," I said. "We have to break up. And I wish I had done this on any other day than graduation but—"
"Rose," Adrian said, cutting me off. "It's okay. I agree. I was actually planning on having this exact same conversation with you later this week."
Adrian smiled. "I've known from the moment that I saw Dimitri in your hospital room that we were done, Rose. But on top of that, I've met someone."
"I'm sorry, Adrian. I should have done this – wait, did you say you met someone?"
He nodded. "I did. A few months ago, actually. But it wasn't until recently that I realized that I've been falling in love with her."
"Oh, Adrian, I'm glad you met someone. Who is she? Do I know her?"
He shook his head. "I don't think so. She's a student at NYU, studying architecture. Her name is Sydney."
I smiled. "Well, you'll have to introduce us. I want to meet the girl who stole Adrian Ivashkov's heart."
He pulled me into another hug. "You know I'll always love you."
I nodded. "Me too. You'll always be my best friend."
Adrian pulled back, gripping his chest. "Relegated to the friendzone by Rose Hathaway Mazur. How will I ever survive?"
I laughed. "I'm sure Sydney will be able to help you out."
It seemed our ten minutes were up because when we looked up, my father was standing by the fountain again, tapping his wrist. I rolled my eyes, but Adrian stood and pulled me to my feet. We rejoined them at the fountain, where Nicholas was again taking a break from being head of security to play photographer.
We took pictures of me and my parents, of me and Lissa, of me, Lissa, and Adrian, and some of just me and Adrian. We also squeezed in a few of all of us, and some of me, my parents, and Lissa. When my parents were satisfied, they stepped back, away from the fountain.
"Have you seen Dimitri?" I asked Lissa, still looking around for him.
The paparazzi had returned, along with several graduates and their families, yet still no sign of Dimitri.
She shook her head.
"But he was at the ceremony, right?"
Like the year that I attended Dimitri's graduation, since I had gotten all of the tickets together, they were all grouped together, and Dimitri would have ended up sitting next to Lissa, Adrian, and my parents.
"He was there. He even left the field with us, but he must have gotten separated with the crowd," Lissa said. "Has he tried to call you?"
I felt like smacking myself. I had completely forgotten about the fact that I had put my phone on Do Not Disturb before graduation so none of my notifications had been coming through. Maybe Dimitri had been trying to call or text me.
But when I pulled out my phone, I didn't have any missed calls or texts from him. I showed the empty notification center to Lissa before sliding my phone back into my purse.
"Are you ready for lunch?" my dad asked from behind me.
I turned around, the answer freezing on the tip of my tongue when I saw Dimitri standing behind me instead, holding a bouquet of flowers.
"Sorry I'm late," he said softly. "You would not believe how hard it was to find some of this."
He handed me the bouquet and as I took it, I breathed in deep, smelling the sweet scent of the flowers. I immediately recognized the red roses. Dimitri had gotten me a bouquet of them for Valentine's Day three years ago. They were meant to symbolize love.
Dimitri took a step closer to me. "I know you don't particularly love rose-themed things but—"
"I love these," I said, interrupting.
He laughed. "I'm glad. The other flowers are amaryllises. It's supposed to symbolize pride. I want you to know how proud I am of you. I know how hard you've worked for this moment, and you should be so proud of yourself. And finally—"
"Sage," I whispered. I could just barely see the thinner stalks of the light pink, almost purple sage flowers peeking through the roses and the amaryllis.
"As you said, it means wisdom, and you are wise, Rose," he said. "And it just felt right to include sage in your bouquet, even if I practically had to drive all over New York to find the right color."
I laughed, trying to hold back my tears. "Thank you. I love it."
I turned to hand the bouquet off to Lissa so that I could hug Dimitri, one that I never wanted to end.
"Don't cry," he whispered.
"They're happy tears," I whispered back.
I finally pulled away from Dimitri's embrace, only slightly encouraged by my father clearing his throat, and dragged him over in front of the fountain. Lissa took my purse from me, and I adjusted my gown and cap before posing with Dimitri for pictures.
"There," I said softly after the pictures were over. "Now we'll have pictures from your graduation and mine. And one will be a happier occasion than the other."
Dimitri looked down at me, a small smile on his face. "Oh?"
I nodded. And then I leaned up to kiss him. I knew it probably wasn't the smartest move, considering that the paparazzi were still watching, but I was tired of waiting.
"Does that answer your question?" I whispered.
Instead of answering, he just leaned down and kissed me again.
After lunch, we returned to the apartment. My stuff was already packed up and on its way to New York City, and it felt almost bittersweet to be leaving Ithaca. I changed out of my graduation dress into a pair of joggers and a t-shirt, and tucked the dress, along with the cap and gown into my suitcase.
"Rose?" my mother was hovering in the doorway. "The plane is leaving at six. Are you ready?"
"I'm actually going to drive back to the city with Dimitri," I said. "So, we'll probably spend another night in Ithaca and then drive out tomorrow."
She nodded. "If that's what you want. Don't forget that you're meeting with the lawyers on Monday."
"Okay," I said. I hugged her and followed her out to the living room to hug my father too before they both left to head back to the city. Adrian was flying back with them and followed them out the door before also hugging me.
I walked back to my bedroom to find Dimitri standing there, holding a photo of us from his graduation three years ago.
"I didn't know you had this."
I blushed. "Your mom sent it to me. Even though she had to of known that we were broken up. I don't know what made me print it out, but I've had it tucked away ever since." I had pulled out the second copy of my ultrasound for Dimitri, which I had kept in my jewelry armoire, and it was also where I had been keeping the photo of us from graduation. "I kept it with the ultrasound. They must have been stuck together without me realizing."
I could see the lingering sadness and pain in his eyes when he looked up from the pictures. He set the pictures on top of my suitcase and held out his hand.
"C'mon. There's something I want to show you."
We headed back towards campus in Dimitri's car, and the drive didn't take very long considering that the apartment wasn't far.
"What are we doing here?"
"Did you know that there's a couple of waterfalls on campus? A trail surrounds them. It's not the same as Buttermilk Falls, but it's a decent substitute," Dimitri said.
"I vaguely recall one of my classmates mentioning one of the gorges out here," I said, as we started walking along the trail. "But I've never been."
There weren't many people out, considering that with graduation being over, the university was heading into the small lull before the summer semester started. We reached a short stone bridge crossing over the water, and I paused, staring out at the view. To our right, it looked like there was the tail-end of a gorge and when Dimitri and I started walking again, we walked that way, instead of walking to the left to complete the loop. According to the university website, we were heading towards the Hemlock Gorge, which had its own overlook.
"When I get back to the city, I'm going to start seeing a therapist again," I said quietly. "I was mandated to see one for a bit after the miscarriage, and it did help a little bit, so I figured it wouldn't hurt now, especially with everything that's happened recently."
"I think that's a great idea, Roza," Dimitri said, looking over at me with a smile. "I've seen a therapist on and off over the years, and it has helped me."
I bit my lip, contemplating my next words. "Would you consider seeing a therapist together? Doing a joint session?"
"It's something that I've already thought about," he admitted. "I wasn't sure if it were something you would be interested in or open to trying. But it is something that I would like to do. Find a non-biased third party, someone who specializes in it so you can have your therapist, and I can have mine, and then we could have ours."
"I'd like that," I said as we reached the overlook for the gorge.
The view was gorgeous from where we stood, though it had nothing on Buttermilk Falls. I turned to Dimitri, leaning up to kiss him. He bent a little, making the distance between us shorter, and I wrapped my arms around his neck, prolonging the kiss.
We finally pulled apart when we heard some people on the trail whooping and cheering us on. I blushed, but that didn't stop me from kissing Dimitri one last time, though this one was shorter than the last.
"I love you, Roza."
"I love you, too."
Dimitri pulled me back into his arms where we stood, and I wrapped my arms around his waist tightly, resting my head against his chest. For the first time in three years, I finally felt like I was where I belonged.
1) This story is almost over! I predict that there will be two, maybe three chapters left before it's complete!
2) I have absolutely no clue if Cornell's president is a woman or not (and I didn't feel like looking it up but I suspect not) but given the lack of females in high-level positions in the higher education field, I decided to make the president a woman because it's my story and I can