Hello, y'all! I think this is probably the longest chapter for this fic (it's a little over 7,000 words long) plus there's a little bonus scene at the end for y'all that I really hope you'll enjoy! Feel free to leave a review with your comments and thoughts and happy reading.
Dimitri was already awake when I rolled over in the bed the next morning. I could just barely see the sunlight at the edges of the drawn curtains. The hotel we checked into last night was a small, family-owned one, and it was nicer than most of the hotels that I've stayed at in bigger cities. I made a mental note to book a reservation here for Lissa's graduation in December.
"Good morning," I whispered, sitting up.
"Good morning," Dimitri said, leaning over to kiss me. Before I could say anything else, he handed me his phone which had an article pulled up on it.
It appears that Rosemarie Hathaway Mazur and Adrian Ivashkov's yearlong romance has come to an end. The pair were spotted over the weekend at Hathaway Mazur's graduation ceremony from Cornell University, and sources report that the couple appeared to be having a serious conversation, at one point clearing out an area of campus to prevent people from spotting them. Paparazzi managed to take a few photos before being escorted out of the area.
The article broke there to show a picture of me leading Adrian to the bench behind the fountain, a serious look on both of our faces.
Less than thirty minutes later, Hathaway Mazur was spotted kissing another man, who sources reveal to be Dimitri Belikov. Sources close to Hathaway Mazur exclusively confirm to us that the pair dated for eight months when she first started attending Cornell University in the fall of 2015.
The article broke again to reveal a picture of me and Dimitri kissing in front of the fountain. I knew at the time that it would come back to bite me in the ass, but I honestly couldn't really bring myself to care that much. I still wouldn't have changed a thing.
A quick review of Hathaway Mazur's Instagram account reveals that she started following Belikov recently, as he's currently near the top of her following list. While Belikov's account is currently set to private, a search of Hathaway Mazur's followers confirmed that he is also following her, although it is unknown when he started following her.
Sources close to the couple share that Hathaway Mazur also has a second, private Instagram account which she also follows Belikov from, and that he follows this second account as well. Sources reveal that this second account has been around for years. Belikov reportedly followed the account for nine months while he and Hathaway Mazur dated during her freshman year at Cornell University before he either unfollowed the account or Hathaway Mazur removed him from the account. Sources declined to share the username of the account.
Representatives for Rosemarie Hathaway Mazur and Adrian Ivashkov declined to comment, and Dimitri Belikov did not respond to our requests for comment before the publication of this article.
"Fuck," I whispered.
Dimitri laughed. "It's not that bad."
"Well aside from it making me seem terrible for breaking up with Adrian and kissing you in practically the same breath, they also published that I have a second account. And reached out to our publicist for comment who surely reached out to my parents."
"Roza," Dimitri said, "it's going to be okay. You'll see."
The drive back to New York City was long and felt longer due to the fact that I spent most of the drive worrying about having to see my parents when I got back. The worry only spiked every time a new follow request popped up across my other Instagram account. A few random people had found the page in the past, but now that it's been stated that I have a private account, more people were intent on finding it. Why they thought that I'd randomly accept a total stranger on a private account was beyond me though.
It was mid-afternoon by the time Dimitri pulled into the underground garage at my parents' house. We stopped for lunch outside the city, shortly before crossing into New Jersey. The cross into New Jersey meant that the trip was almost over. We'd been in New Jersey for less than twenty minutes and then at my parents' house less than ten minutes after crossing back into New York.
"Let's get this over with," I said, stepping out of the car. I waited for Dimitri to lock it, and he grabbed my hand as we walked towards the elevator. I assumed my parents would be waiting in the living room for us, so I hit the button for the tenth floor.
"Rose?" my mom called out as the elevator doors opened with a ding.
We both kicked our shoes off at the elevator, pushing them aside, so they were out of the way. Taking a deep breath, I led Dimitri into the living room to find it empty.
"Sorry, we're in the kitchen," my dad called down. I glanced up to see him looking at the pair of us over the dining room's railing. "We'll be down in a moment."
"Take your time."
Dimitri moved a couple of pillows out of the way on the couch before sitting down on the center corner cushion. He stretched his legs out along the bigger section of the couch and I sat half on his cushion and half on the cushion next to his, tucking my legs up underneath me. Dimitri adjusted the pillows again and rested his arm along the back of the couch so that I could lean back against both him and the pillows.
My parents came down the stairs moments later. My dad was carrying a tray with a few bottles of water and a few bottles of soda on it, while my mom had a small charcuterie tray.
"Are you hungry?"
I shook my head. "We stopped for lunch about an hour ago."
My mom sat on the cushion next to mine, setting the food tray on the small table that was between the two cushions.
"How was the drive?" my dad asked, handing me and Dimitri both bottles of water. He sat on the other side of my mom, on the cushioned bench that was almost opposite Dimitri.
"It was okay," I said. "Traffic wasn't too bad."
"We mostly stayed in New York," Dimitri added. "Except for the small bit at the end where we had to cross into New Jersey. Maybe when we go out for Lissa's graduation, we can go through Pennsylvania."
My dad nodded, but I could tell that he wasn't completely listening, and I sighed.
"Okay, let's address the elephant in the room. I know you both have seen the article by now. And I'm sorry that I didn't tell you about the account—"
"Rose," my dad said, cutting me off. "We've known about the account for years. I think we probably knew about it almost as soon as it was created."
My mom laughed. "Rose, your username is rose dot marie. It's really not that hard to figure out. Plus, your phone number is linked to the account, so Instagram showed the account under the suggested accounts section since you're a contact of mine."
"Why didn't you say anything?" I asked.
"We figured that there was a reason why you felt the need to create a second account and not tell us," my dad said. "So, we left it alone. We assumed you'd tell us eventually if you wanted to."
I ignored his pointed tone. "I didn't tell you because I just wanted a space for me to be me without having to be Rosemarie Hathaway Mazur."
My parents shared a confused look.
"It's Rose-logic," Dimitri said. "Just go with it."
"Look, what I'm trying to say is that it's basically just a fun account for me to post random pictures without having to worry about what hundreds or thousands of people are going to comment and without having to worry about what might be published in some stupid article the next day," I said. "It's only been for my closest friends. There are like eighty people following the account, I think, give or take. Friends that I know and trust."
"You don't have to explain yourself to us, Rose," my mom said. "I know we've had our issues in the past. I'm glad we've been able to mend some of those issues in recent years. But you're allowed to have your secrets. You're an adult; you can make choices for yourself."
"You're not mad?"
"We're not mad," my dad confirmed. "Just promise me that you're not posting anything there that you wouldn't be okay with everybody else seeing? You never know how safe anything is anymore."
I laughed. "There's nothing inappropriate on there, promise."
My dad nodded. "Good."
"You both look exhausted. Why don't you go downstairs and take a nap? I'll wake you when dinner is ready in a few hours," my mom said.
I yawned. "That sounds like an excellent idea."
I stood and gave both of my parents a hug before following Dimitri back to the elevator. We went into my room on the ninth floor, and I pulled my sweatshirt over my head, leaving my tank top on. I undid my bra and tossed it on my dresser along with my sweatshirt. I took my sweats off, exchanging them for short, knowing that I was bound to get hot while sleeping, especially with Dimitri next to me. When I turned back around to climb into bed, I noticed that Dimitri had turned the opposite way to give me privacy.
"You can turn back around," I said, crawling underneath the covers. "Thank you."
Dimitri turned back around and smiled before crawling under covers with me. "You're welcome."
He laid flat on his back and held out his arm, so I crawled over to him, resting my head against his chest with my body half on him and half off. I had my arm across his chest as well, and one of my legs was intertwined with his.
He wrapped his arm around my waist, and I looked up to kiss him.
"See? I told you it would all be okay."
I yawned again. "You were right."
I could feel his smile as he pressed another kiss to my forehead. "Get some sleep. I love you."
"I love you too."
Dimitri was by my side when I walked into my parents' lawyer's office later the next morning.
"It's going to be okay, Roza," he murmured, squeezing my hand. "That bastard isn't getting off."
I only nodded, knowing that if I opened my mouth, my words might reveal my true thoughts.
"Miss Hathaway Mazur?" A woman with curly shoulder-length hair walked around the corner. She held her hand out to me. "I'm Emilia Warner. It's nice to meet you."
I shook her hand. "Likewise. And, please, call me Rose. This is my boyfriend, Dimitri Belikov."
Emilia shook Dimitri's hand as well, and we both followed her back to her office.
"We'll be meeting the district attorney's office in Ithaca via Zoom in thirty minutes since the case will have to be prosecuted in the district and county where the crime happened. I would like us to spend the next twenty-five of those minutes going over what happened so that we have all of the information that we need. I'm sure you already know this, but you do have attorney-client privilege with me. You both do," she said, including Dimitri. "Nothing you tell me will leave this room without your explicit and written permission, not even to your parents, Rose. They may be the ones paying me, but you're my client."
Dimitri squeezed my hand.
"Okay," I said. "I'll start from the beginning."
I told Emilia everything, not leaving anything out even though it took more than one attempt for some of the details. Dimitri filled in where he could, in places where he was present, and could pick up where I left off. Emilia took notes of what we were saying, but they weren't long, and I had to assume that she was writing in some kind of shorthand to prevent someone else from reading what she was writing.
"Thank you, Rose," Emilia said, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. "I know it wasn't easy sharing all of that. George Cohen is a great lawyer and an even better district attorney. He's going to get this guy."
I nodded, too worn out to say anything else at the moment.
There were only a few minutes left before our scheduled meeting with the district attorney and Emilia slid her notepad aside in favor of setting up the laptop that was sitting on the desk in front of her.
As the Zoom meeting connected, Dimitri shifted his chair so that he was closer than before and sitting as close as possible.
"Ms. Warner," the district attorney on the screen greeted.
"Mr. Cohen," Emilia greeted him.
"Miss Hathaway Mazur, good to see you," he added. "Who else is with you?"
"My boyfriend. Dimitri Belikov," I said, trying to keep my voice from cracking.
The district attorney nodded. "Okay, let's get started. While an arraignment date hasn't been set yet, I suspect that we'll be hearing very shortly about a date, mostly due to your last name, Miss Hathaway Mazur. If this goes to trial, there will be a lot of media coverage. You'll need to prepare for that."
"What do you mean if?" Dimitri asked.
"We're prepared to offer the defendant a plea deal. If he were to accept, the case wouldn't go to trial, and there would be less media coverage on it, which is something that might be more beneficial to you, Miss Hathaway Mazur," Cohen explained.
"I don't care about the media coverage," I snapped. "I care that the asshole who raped me is going to get what he deserves by facing jail time, and I care that he's not going to be let off easy."
"I assure you he won't be let off easy. The defendant is being charged with rape in the first degree. That carries a sentence of five to twenty-five years if convicted, along with fines and having to register as a sex offender. Since we have his DNA linking him to the crime, as well as video footage from your old place of employment and from street cameras from the night in question, the district attorney's office believes that we have a very strong case against him," Cohen explained.
"Wait, footage from the bookstore?" I asked.
"And from the street?" Dimitri added.
Cohen nodded, glancing down at the open folder in front of him. "We were provided with footage from your old place of work which establishes a pattern of the defendant stalking you at work to learn your schedule and plan his crime. As for the footage from the street, it's not the best view and doesn't capture much but it does show you being pulled into an alleyway, Miss Hathaway Mazur. At the very least, it shows that the act wasn't consensual.
"Furthermore, the plea deal doesn't only benefit him, it'll also benefit you. You'd be placed on the stand to testify if we went to trial, and unfortunately, that opens you up to questions from the defense. The defendant's defense team will do everything they can to discount everything you say and make it seem like you had consensual sex with the defendant. They would attempt to shred your testimony on the stand and would try to get you to perjure yourself or make you come across as unreliable at the very least. Their method of defense is less about proving their client innocent and more about personally attacking the victim by victim-shaming, among other tactics. I've seen how some of these cases go, and with defense teams like the one he hired, they never end well if they go to trial," Cohen said.
I nodded stiffly. "What's the plea offer?"
"Eighteen years and no fine, but he still has to register as a sex offender," he said. "There's a chance that this plea will not be accepted but that they'll counter with one of their own. The judge will be the final party to accept the plea bargain, and I don't see the judge denying the prosecution's plea deal."
"When will we know if he's accepted the deal?" Dimitri said.
"A week once the deal is presented to the defendant. We can technically offer the plea deal at any time, but I wanted to have this meeting with you first before we did that," Cohen said.
"I appreciate that," I said. "I look forward to hearing from you sometime within the next week, then."
The call ended shortly after that, with Cohen and Emilia finishing up a few small things. Afterward, Emilia escorted us out of the building, making sure to leave her business card with both of us.
"Don't hesitate to reach out if you need anything," she said. "I'll be in touch as soon as I hear anything."
As she walked back into the building, I glanced up at Dimitri, shielding my eyes from the sun.
"Let's go to Dylan's," I said. "I could use a good candy stockpile."
Dimitri chuckled and took my hand. "Dylan's it is."
Three days later, Dimitri was sitting at his desk, studying for a test in one of his elective courses. I had spent the night at his apartment and was lounging on his couch playing a game on my phone while waiting for him to finish studying so that we could go get lunch.
My phone rang, the ringtone somehow turned up about five notches higher than I normally kept it, startling the both of us. Dimitri glanced over at me.
"Sorry," I said, silencing my phone. I walked towards Dimitri's bedroom, answering the phone as I went. "Hello?"
"Hi, can I speak to Rosemarie Hathaway Mazur please?"
"This is her," I said, adjusting my grip on my phone. I moved my free arm across my chest, tucking my hand between where my forearm and upper arm met as I held the phone.
"Hi, Rose, this is Emilia Warner. How are you doing?"
"Hi, Emilia, I'm doing alright," I said. "How are you?"
I was desperate to skip the small talk, but the manners ingrained in me from a young age wouldn't allow it.
Dimitri, having heard Emilia's name, wandered into the bedroom and leaned against the doorframe.
"I'm good," she said. "I'm calling because I just got off the phone with the district attorney from Ithaca, George Cohen. The plea deal was accepted this morning, and the paperwork was signed and made official within the last hour."
"Oh my god," I said, blinking back tears. "Thank you for calling."
I didn't hear what else Emilia said beyond the basic pleasantries of saying goodbye. I tossed my phone on the bed behind me before taking two steps towards Dimitri and falling into his arms. I knew there was no use in holding back my tears now, and Dimitri held me tightly.
"Roza? What did Emilia say?"
"He took the plea," I whispered through my tears. My happy tears. "No counteroffer, no negotiating."
Dimitri hugged me tighter than before, rubbing his hand over my back and through my hair in a soothing motion. "It's over. He's not going to be able to hurt you or anyone else again."
6 Months Later
"Good morning, Roza," Dimitri whispered, pressing a kiss to my neck.
I smiled and rolled over in the bed. "Good morning."
His smile was radiant, and the sun peeping in from the curtain behind me made his brown eyes radiant.
I leaned forward to kiss him, a kiss that he met enthusiastically. We were both still naked from the night before, which made things incredibly easy for the morning, but before I could initiate anything, Dimitri pulled away.
"Later," he promised. "We're meeting Lissa and her family for brunch, remember?"
I groaned. I had completely forgotten. Dimitri and I had driven to Ithaca yesterday to celebrate Lissa's graduation, which was tomorrow. When I had last seen Lissa at Thanksgiving, we had made plans to do brunch with her family on Friday morning after they flew in since Saturday was going to be too hectic with the commencement ceremony.
"Okay, okay," I said. "I'm getting up."
I sighed and pulled myself out of the bed. I could feel Dimitri's eyes on me, and I smiled.
"You know," I said, turning to look at him over my shoulder as I walked towards the bathroom. "We could always shower together."
Dimitri rolled his eyes. "We both know that would take more time than we have. But I'm holding you to that offer later. We'll probably need it."
I blushed, knowing that he wasn't wrong. I continued to the bathroom before we could waste any more time tempting each other.
I quickly washed my hair and let the conditioner soak in while I quickly shaved and washed my body and face. Rinsing the conditioner from my hair always took the longest, and for what felt like the thousandth time, I contemplate cutting my hair shorter. As soon as I thought it though, I dismissed it like always. Dimitri liked my hair long, and I did too, even though it could be a pain.
Dimitri got into the shower once I got out, and I started blow drying my hair once I had pulled on a bra and pair of underwear. It was too cold in Ithaca to go outside with wet hair, and I wasn't going to risk getting sick because of it.
I was almost done blow drying my hair when Dimitri got out of the shower and he wrapped a towel around his waist before stepping out of the shower. He pressed another kiss to my neck, and I shoved him away with a laugh, pointing the hairdryer at him.
"Don't start something you can't finish," I warned.
He laughed and walked out of the bathroom.
We ended up being late to brunch, to the surprise of no one, but since the restaurant was busy, it ended up working in our favor. The waitress was just getting ready to seat Lissa and her family when we walked in. Lissa met my eyes with a small smile, and I rolled my eyes, pointing at Dimitri. He elbowed me lightly, which made Lissa smile bigger.
"Rose, it's so good to see you," Rhea Dragomir said, hugging me.
Her husband, Eric, was introducing himself to Dimitri and shaking his hand. He hugged me next before we all sat down at the table. Andre waved at me from the other end of the table, and I smiled and waved back. It had been a few years since I had seen him since he had moved to Washington D.C. to pursue a master's in political science and a subsequent career in politics. Dimitri was sitting across the table from him, and they quietly started their own conversation, reminding me that they vaguely knew each other since they had both been TAs for the same professor during mine and Lissa's freshman year.
"How are you doing, Rose?" Eric asked, pulling my attention back to my side of the table.
"I'm doing good," I said. "I'm working as a marketing and fundraising manager for a non-profit in the city. I've only been working there for a few months, but I enjoy it so far."
Rhea's brow furrowed. "I thought you were continuing school to get your MBA. I could have sworn that that was what your parents had told me."
I sighed. "That was the original plan. In the end, I decided that I didn't really want to pursue my MBA, so I didn't enroll at NYU. I decided to enter the workforce instead."
Dimitri squeezed my hand under the table, and I realized that he and Andre must have ended their conversation to join ours. We both remembered the night I told my parents that I wasn't going to enroll at NYU and wasn't going to start working for my dad. They accepted my decision now and were happy that I was happy, but it was definitely different when I first told them. I knew Dimitri was proud of me for actually doing something that I wanted though.
"Well, good for you, Rose," Andre said. "I'm sure you've done amazing work so far."
I smiled. "Thank you. I'm sure you've done the same."
The conversation drifted away from our jobs and to Lissa and Dimitri who were both finishing up school. Lissa was finished officially tomorrow morning when she walked across the stage, and Dimitri had one more semester left of medical school before he'd be starting his residency in family medicine. That would take three years, and then he'd be a full-fledged doctor. I was almost positive that he had a calendar hidden somewhere that was counting down the days.
It was early afternoon when we left the restaurant, but instead of turning back towards the hotel we were staying at, Dimitri turned the car in the opposite direction.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
He looked over at me with a smile. "It's a surprise."
I smiled and reached over to grab his hand. "Okay."
It didn't take long for me to figure out the destination, and shortly after I figured it out, Dimitri was pulling up to the small office booth at the entrance to Buttermilk Falls State Park. I smiled again, and Dimitri squeezed my hand.
"Have you been out here in the winter?"
I shook my head. "I never came back out here after we came here together," I admitted.
Something flashed in his eyes too quickly for me to identify. "Well, I'm glad I could bring you out here again while we're in Ithaca. It's almost a completely different place in the winter."
Dimitri parked and walked around the car to open my door. He took my hand again, and we walked toward the trail. At the base of the main waterfall, I could see what Dimitri meant. The edges of one of the swimming areas were starting the freeze and parts of the waterfall draining into the pool were starting to freeze too, even as the water continued to run.
Dimitri directed me towards the Gorge Trail, which ran alongside the waterfall as we walked upwards. I'm not sure how long we were walking up the trail before we came to an overlook that gave us a great view of the main waterfall as well as the surrounding area. There was snow covering the trees and rocks that surrounded us, and the sun reflected off the snow. I could see a few other spots in the distance where the waterfalls had frozen and turned to point it out to Dimitri.
When I turned around, I found him bent down on one knee, a black velvet ring box held in his left hand. He opened the box with his right hand once he saw me turn around and looked up at me.
"Roza," he said, cutting me off. He smiled. "I know we've only been back together for a handful of months, but I'd be lying if I said that I haven't thought about marrying you since July. I love you with all that I am, and these past six months have shown me that I can't live without you, and I never want to live without you again."
I could feel myself starting to cry, and I reached up to brush the tears away.
"Roza, will you marry me?" Dimitri asked.
"Yes," I cried. "Holy shit, yes, I'll marry you."
Dimitri laughed as I ripped my left glove off so he could slide the ring onto my finger. As soon as the ring was on, I threw myself down into Dimitri's arms, tackling him into the snow-covered ground. It was easy to ignore the cold of the snow creeping through my clothes when our bodies were pressed together and even easier to ignore once I leaned down to kiss him.
"I love you," I whispered against his lips, only pulling back from our kiss long enough to say that.
"I love you too," he whispered back, leaning up to recapture my lips with his.
The sound of clapping and cheers made us break our kiss a second time, and I looked to our left to see my parents, Dimitri's family, Lissa and her family, and Adrian and his girlfriend, Sydney, coming around the other side of the overlook. I turned back to Dimitri, surprised, to see another big smile on his face.
"You didn't think I could organize this without their help, did you?" he asked teasingly. He moved me to the side so that I was no longer straddling him and stood, leaning down a moment later to help me stand up. "I'm pretty sure your dad would have killed me if I proposed to you and he wasn't there. I thought he was going to kill me when I told him that I was planning on proposing."
I didn't have time to say anything to that before Lissa and Adrian reached me. They both hugged me, with Lissa hugging me a little longer.
"Congratulations!" she said. "You would not believe how hard it was to keep this a secret from you."
"How long have you known?"
"A month or so. Dimitri told us of his plans at Thanksgiving and asked for our help," Adrian said.
"Viktoria took photos of the whole thing," Lissa added, gesturing to where Viktoria was standing with a large DSLR camera in her hand. Dimitri was standing next to her, and she was showing him some of the photos that she had taken. The back of his coat was still covered in snow.
"Welcome to the family, Rose," Olena said from behind me, and I turned around to hug her.
"Thank you," I murmured. "I couldn't be happier."
I glanced down at the ring, truly getting a moment to admire it. The center stone was a small diamond, and on either side were smaller dark emerald gems. On either side of the emeralds were even smaller diamonds, with the entire thing set on a simple white gold band.
"It belonged to Yeva originally," Olena said, gesturing to where Dimitri was now in deep conversation with his grandmother, Viktoria off to the side, looking at the camera with my parents. "She always said she would give it to him when he was ready."
"But she doesn't like me," I said.
Olena smiled. "I'll let you in on a little secret. She's usually pretending not to like someone. It's true that she didn't think the best of you when you first met her but considering the situation and how much you and Dimitri have both changed since then, it'd be close to impossible for her not to like you. And trust me, she wouldn't have given Dimitri the ring if she didn't approve of him asking you to marry him. So, truly, welcome to the family."
I gave her another hug and discreetly wiped my eyes clear of tears again. When I pulled back, I saw that Dimitri had rejoined me, and he wrapped his arm around my waist. He leaned down to kiss me again, and I couldn't help but deepen our kiss.
"Ready to celebrate?" he asked, pulling back.
I nodded. "I believe you have some promises to keep."
His eyes darkened. "Family celebration first, Roza. But later, you'll have me all to yourself."
"Good," I said. "I intend to cash in on those promises tonight."
Dimitri kissed me again, and again I deepened the kiss. We finally separated when I heard my father clearing his throat, and we both laughed.
"Thank you, Roza," Dimitri said as we walked down the trail.
"For what?" I asked, squeezing his hand.
"For making me the happiest man alive right now," he said, grinning. "I can't wait to marry you."
"And I can't wait to marry you," I responded. "I love you."
"I love you too."
I woke up to see Rose perched on our bed, staring at me.
"Roza?" I reached over to turn on the bedside lamp before turning back to look at her. "What's wrong?"
She sighed. "Do you want kids?"
I sat upright, staring at her. "Kids? Of course, I do."
She nodded absentmindedly. "We never really talked about it after I told you about Sage, so I was never sure."
"Roza, where is this coming from?"
Silently, she handed me a slender white stick. I recognized it instantly as a pregnancy test. It was facing down, the results hidden. There was a strange sinking feeling in my stomach when I flipped the test over to see the negative result.
"My period is late," she said. "It's been mostly regular since I started taking the new birth control pills, and considering that I was on birth control the first time I got pregnant, I couldn't help but check."
"Oh, Roza," I said, pulling her into my arms. "I'll admit that I felt a little disappointed to see the negative result."
"Yeah?" she questioned, pulling out of my embrace enough to look up at me.
I nodded. "I've always wanted kids, and I would love to have a kid, or even multiple kids, with you."
"I know we're not ready for a baby, not by a long shot," she whispered, "but that didn't stop me from being sad that the test was negative. Having children with you is something I would love. At least one."
"When would you want to start trying?" I asked.
Rose shrugged. "Not for a year or two, at the very least. After we've settled our lives a bit."
I nodded. "I have a semester left, and then my residency will take three years. Once that's over, I can get a real job and be able to support you. And before you say anything, I want to. I know I don't have to since you have your own job and your trust fund, but I want to."
Rose rolled her eyes, but I could see the love shining in her eyes. "So three years?"
I nodded. "Three years. But if it happens sooner—"
Rose's eyes widened, and she blushed. I thought I heard her mutter something about needing stronger birth control, but before I could question her, an unopened condom was being pressed into my hand, and Rose was climbing onto my lap.
We were the first ones to arrive at Rose's parents for Thanksgiving, which wasn't surprising, considering that we were currently living in the unit below theirs. Abe and Janine owned the entire building and occasionally rented out the other two units in the building but were graciously letting me and Rose occupy one rent-free while I finished school. My lease for my apartment offered through the medical school had been up for renewal in July but since Rose and I were already spending practically every night together at either her parents' apartment or my apartment, we decided to move in together. It had been Rose's idea to move into the empty unit below her parents and since it was saving a lot of money, I found that I couldn't say no. Abe and Janine weren't in the city most of the time anyway, so Rose and I usually had the whole building to ourselves.
By early afternoon, the apartment was crowded. My family had driven into the city from Albany, and Lissa had flown in from Ithaca. Her family was originally planning on coming as well but were unable to make it at the last moment. Adrian and his girlfriend, Sydney, were also in attendance. Rose and Sydney had become fast friends after being introduced over the summer, which was an interesting friendship, given Rose's and Sydney's opposite personalities.
After we had finished dinner, the group moved to the living room on the floor below, where there was plenty of room for everyone to spread out on the Hathaway Mazur's giant couch. Rose didn't follow, choosing instead to walk over the sliding door that led to the terrace off the kitchen. It was too cold to go outside without a jacket, being November in New York, but that didn't stop Rose from going out. I followed her, sliding the door shut behind us.
"Are you okay?" I asked, wrapping my arms around her waist from behind. She leaned back so she was resting against me and sighed.
"This morning," she said. "About what could have been. Sage would have been nearly three."
I tightened my grip on her waist. The third anniversary of Rose's miscarriage had passed over the summer, and it had been tough on both of us because it was Rose's first time sharing it with someone who wasn't Lissa or her parents or Adrian, and it had been my first time experiencing it at all. Had Rose not miscarried, the baby would have been born at the end of January, only a couple of months from now.
We stood there in silence for a moment. Rose was the first to pull away.
"I'm going to go for a walk. I want to clear my head," she said.
I nodded and led her back inside. "Do you want some company?"
She shook her head. "No, I just want to be alone right now, if that's okay."
"Of course, Roza," I murmured. I kissed her forehead. "Promise me you'll wear a jacket, though? And text me or call me if you need anything."
She nodded. "I will. I love you."
She slipped down the stairs to avoid drawing attention to the elevator, and I knew she would call it when she reached the bottom floor of the penthouse when the guests in the living room wouldn't be able to hear the tell-tale ding of the doors opening.
"Where's Rose?" Abe asked when I finally joined everybody else in the living room a moment later.
"She went for a walk," I said. "She wanted to clear her head a little bit."
Abe and Janine both understood immediately that Rose was likely walking to the cemetery, and I couldn't help but wonder if she told them about the pregnancy scare this morning. It only took Lissa a moment longer to realize that that was where Rose was going, and I knew without a doubt that Rose had told Lissa about the pregnancy scare. I had seen them slip upstairs before dinner, and they hadn't returned for a while. It didn't take a genius to figure out why they were hiding away.
"Paul," Yeva said before I could speak again. She continued in Russian. "The adults need to speak. Take Zoya upstairs and watch a movie."
Paul knew better than to argue and instead nodded before scooping his little sister up into his arms and carrying her to the elevator. Abe watched the pair go, and I remembered that he understood Russian as well as he understood English.
"What's going on?" Abe said. "What conversation do we need to have?"
Something in his eyes told me that he already knew what I was planning on saying.
"I want to propose to Rose," I said.
"No." Abe's answer was immediate. Janine smacked his arm. "Ow."
"Why?" Janine said. "What makes you want to propose to Rose now?"
"Part of me has always known that she was the one for me from the moment I met her," I said. "We both had some growing up to do before we could be together again, and I'll spend the rest of my life regretting that I wasn't able to be there for Rose during some of that time when she needed me the most. I'd be lying if I said that part of me wasn't hoping that I'd run into her when I came to visit Vika in Ithaca back in May. Granted, I definitely wish it had been under different circumstances, but I'm glad I was there for her this time when she needed somebody.
"Again, I'd be lying if I said that part of me hadn't always wondered about being with Rose again, reconnecting with her, but I didn't think it would ever happen. Now that I'm with Rose again, I never want to let her go, never want to be without her again. I want to propose when we come out for your graduation, Lissa," I said, turning to her. "I want to take her out to Buttermilk Falls, where we had our first date, and propose there. I think it's the best spot."
I could see that Lissa had tears in her eyes.
"Do you have a ring?" Janine asked, a twinkle in her eyes.
I started to say no because I hadn't had the chance to talk to Babushka yet when she pulled the small black box out of her purse.
"It's here," she said. She winked at me, and I smiled.
"I was planning on using my grandmother's ring, with her blessing," I said, "which she's given by bringing the ring here."
"I get the feeling that you're not asking," Abe finally said.
I didn't hesitate. "No, sir."
"Dimka!" my mother scolded, though I could tell she was trying to stifle a laugh.
"It's alright, Olena," Abe said. "I appreciate the honesty."
"I love your daughter, Abe. We've been through a lot together, and I know that we're meant to be together. I'd love for all of you to be there when I propose to Rose, and I'm sure she would like that too, but no, I'm not asking for permission."
"Welcome to the family, Belikov," Abe said, raising his glass in a toast, a small smile on his face.
When Rose returned ten minutes later, she was none the wiser. The ring had been tucked back away with Babushka, and Lissa was telling stories about her final semester. Rose curled up into my arms on the couch, content to sit there and listen to Lissa's stories and Vika's stories when she joined in about her last semester back in May.
I pressed a kiss to Rose's forehead, and she smiled up at me. I leaned down, pressing another kiss to her lips. As she got comfortable leaning against me again, I started counting down the days until I would propose, and she'd be one step closer to becoming Mrs. Belikov.
I hope y'all enjoyed the little bonus scene from Dimitri's POV. It was fun to get in his head a little bit for this fic, especially since I did originally write their flashback break-up scene (the first version of it) from his point of view and then never wrote in his point of view for this fic again.
There will definitely be one more chapter to this fic! But would y'all be interested in more of these little bonus scenes, from various points of view? If so, let me know in the reviews, and let me know if there any scene, in particular, you'd like to see in someone else's POV (and who) or if there's a scene in the future (or flashback) that you'd like to see and I may be able to work something in!