Merry Christmas to everyone who is celebrating! I hope y'all are having a great day and hope you enjoy this chapter! Drop a review with your thoughts, opinions, and questions!


Four Years Ago

I got out of the car and stared up at the old historic buildings. Students were walking to and from cars that were lining up, and I took in a deep breath, and parents following excited freshmen around.

I felt a small pang as I remembered that my parents weren't here. Abe Mazur and Janine Hathaway were too busy to spend a day helping me move in. They had sent one of their chauffeurs and my mother's closest assistant to help me instead. I couldn't remember what country they had jet-setted off to this time.

"Rosemarie!" Melissa, my mother's assistant, called out, exasperated.

I ignored her in favor of running to where I saw Lissa's car pull up ahead of ours. I knew that if I turned around, I would see one of our security members following close behind me, but I ignored him in favor of yanking Lissa into a tight hug.

"Rose!" She hugged me back, laughing. "It's only been a week!"

She had spent the summer in the Turks and Caicos, and while I had spent a lot of the summer with her, I had come back to the United States a week earlier.

I shrugged. "I know. I just missed you."

She laughed again and started to tug me towards the entrance to the housing building. There was a man in a polo greeting people at the door.

"Hi," he said. "Welcome to Cornell University! Just follow the signs for last names to get your room keys."

We thanked him before separating so that Lissa could slip into the A-E line while I walked further down to the F-J line. The line moved quickly as three people in red and grey polos called students up to get their paperwork signed and checked in.

A girl whose nametag read Marcie motioned me forward. "Hi, what's your last name?"

"Hathaway Mazur," I said. "Rosemarie."

Recognition flashed in her eyes, and she tried to discreetly peer around me, presumably to see if my parents were here. Her face fell slightly when she realized that they weren't in line with me or anywhere near me, and she turned back to her list. She pulled out a small envelope and turned her clipboard around so that I could sign next to my name, agreeing to all the rules and regulations of living on campus.

"You're on the first floor, room 17, bedroom A," she said. "Here's your room key and mail key; make sure you hang on to these because there is a fee for losing the keys."

"Thank you," I said, even though both of us knew that even if I lost my keys, paying for a replacement would nothing to me.

I took the keys and stepped out of line, to the side, to wait for Lissa to get out of her line. While I was waiting, I took out my keychain lanyard to put the keys on to them.

"Rosemarie. There you are." Melissa appeared beside me, a stern look on her face. "You shouldn't be running off. Your mother—"

"My mother isn't here," I interrupted. "And you're not my nanny."

"Rose," she said, facing me. "I'm not trying to make this tough. I know I'm not an adequate replacement for your parents, but I'm just trying to help you."

I spotted Lissa stepping out of line, and she met my gaze. I left Melissa behind again, not wanting to hear her excuses for my parents. I met up with Lissa halfway through the lobby, and we both turned through the double doors that were propped open. A resident assistant was greeting us as we walked through the door and explained that we would have to use our student IDs to get into the housing building, and then to get into our dorm hall as well.

Lissa and I walked together through the hall, dodging as students and parents came through pushing carts and pulling suitcases. The housing hall was crowded but thinned out as we made our way further back to where our room was.

The door was slightly propped open when we reached, and Lissa and I shared a look. We had been assigned a random third roommate, and while we hadn't met her yet, we had exchanged a few text messages.

I nudged the door open, pulling my suitcase behind me, and immediately saw a tall man with brown hair that was pulled back at the nape of his neck. His brown eyes were kind, and humor flashed in them as he spoke to a younger girl. Her back was to us, and her long brown hair had purple streaks in it.

The man gestured, and the girl spun around to face us. Her eyes were brown, the same shade as the man's, and she smiled widely.

"Hi! I'm Viktoria," she said.

Lissa spoke first. "I'm Lissa, that's Rose."

I lifted my hand in greeting as Lissa's parents and Melissa caught up to us.

"Rosemarie," Melissa said, exasperated again. She was pulling a dolly stacked with three boxes, but not a hair out of place. "You shouldn't be running ahead of me or Nicholas."

Nicholas was the security detail that had been assigned to accompany us today, and when I met his eyes, he almost looked as fed up with Melissa as I was. I knew that he had had me in his eyesight all afternoon. That's just how he was. Lissa's parents exchanged a look as well, and I sighed. They also had someone on security detail, but I didn't see him or her anywhere.

"This place is swarming with security," I said. "I'm sure it was fine."

Melissa and I held eye contact for a moment before she backed down, knowing that it wasn't best to make a scene, especially in front of my new roommate.

"Sorry," I said, turning back to Viktoria and the man. "This is Melissa and Nicholas. They're accompanying me today in place of my parents."

If they didn't know who we were, I wasn't going to clue them in. Let them think that they're relatives or family friends.

"These are my parents, Rhea and Eric," Lissa said. "My brother, Andre, is running around campus somewhere, I'm sure. He's a senior here."

Viktoria smiled and held out her hand to both parties. "Hi, nice to meet you. I'm Viktoria Belikova." She gestured behind her, where the man was still standing. "That's my brother, Dimitri. He's starting his senior year here too."

"Hello," he said, his accent slightly stronger than Viktoria's. "It's nice to meet you all. We'll let you get settled in."

Viktoria grabbed her purse off the counter. "We're just going to grab lunch. Would you guys like us to bring you anything?"

Lissa and I shared a looked.

"We're good," I said. "Thank you, though."

Viktoria smiled before she and Dimitri left the room, letting the door shut softly.

I took the chance to look around the room, now that it was less crowded, and saw that it was bigger than I was expecting. It was set up like an apartment would be, with a small living room and a tiny kitchen that held a full-size refrigerator and oven. The bedrooms and bathrooms were down a carpeted hall, each of them labeled with a letter and a sticker that had our names on them.

My room was first, with Rosemarie written inside a sunflower. It was bordering the living room, and Nicholas had already moved a few boxes into the room while I had been looking around. There was a full-sized bed pushed up against one wall, with a desk put into a small window alcove. The closet cut-out was next to the desk cut-out, and there were two racks attached to the wall there.

Lissa's room was right next to mine, with Vasilisa written inside a daisy, and her room was set up the same, except with her bed against the opposite wall. Viktoria's room was at the end, her name written inside a black-eyed Susan. The door was shut, and I ignored it in favor of turning to where there were two bathrooms, with a double vanity in between them. One of the bathrooms had a small shower, while the other had a bathtub.

Lissa was following me through the dorm, looking at everything too before we went into our separate rooms to start unpacking. After all of my boxes had been brought in, I managed to get Nicholas and Melissa to leave me alone, even though I knew they would be back in the morning.

Lissa's parents left shortly after them, and we worked silently for a bit setting up our room until I heard my phone going off with a FaceTime call.

"Hi," I said, my mother and father appearing on the screen as I accepted it. I sat on the smaller of the two couches in the living room, adjusting to get comfortable.

My mother sighed. "Rosemarie, are you giving Melissa a hard time?"

I rolled my eyes. "It's nothing. She just needs to back off a bit."

"We gave her instructions for this weekend," my father said sternly. "We expect both of you to get alone and to let her help you."

"She's babying me! I'm 18, I don't need a babysitter," I said. "And if you were here—"

"Don't even start," my mother said. "You know we're on a business trip and couldn't make it."

More pleasure than business, I thought but didn't dare say.

"I have to go finish unpacking my room," I said. "I'll talk to you later."

I didn't wait for them to say anything before hanging up and walked back into my room. Lissa walked around the corner after a moment.

"Everything okay?"

I just nodded. "Everything is fine."

She frowned but didn't push the subject, known better by now that I'll talk about it later if I felt up to it.

"So, I saw you looking at Viktoria's brother."

I blushed. "He's cute."

"Mhmm. He seemed to be looking at you a lot too," she said.

I glared at her. "Shut up."

She laughed. "Just pointing out what I see!"

I tossed one of my pillows at her, and she grabbed another off my bed to toss back at me, and we kept tossing the pillows back and forth, practically whipping them at each other within a few minutes. We had ended up backing up into the living room for more space, and at one point, Lissa climbed on the couch to get a better vantage.

Neither of us noticed Dimitri and Viktoria walking back into the apartment until my pillow went slightly off track, and he snatched it out of the air before it could hit him.

"Oh my god, I'm so sorry," I blurted.

He laughed, and a warmth spread through my chest. "It's okay. Just girls having fun, right?"

Lissa and I nodded. "Pillow fights are great stress relievers," I said solemnly.

Viktoria laughed. "Dimka and I used to have epic pillow fights."

"Vika, I'm leaving before you reveal all of my secrets, but I'll see you later," Dimitri said, ruffling her hair. He turned to me and Lissa, holding my gaze. "I guess I'll be seeing you guys around."

I smiled despite my chest tightening as my mother's words reverberated in my head.

Don't get attached, Rosemarie. People always leave.


Disclaimer that I don't really know what Cornell University's dorms look like, aside from the old, historic buildings, so I based it off my own two years in the dorms at my university instead! Hope you enjoyed a little look back at how Rose and Dimitri first met!