Hi everybody! Sorry, not truly a new chapter, I've just decided to take this off the end of Taken and make it the first chapter of the sequel instead. I am hoping to get a completely new chapter up soon thought! Please review and give your thoughts on where you think the sequel might be going!
Dimitri wasn't in bed in the morning when I woke up, but his side as still warm. I pulled out my phone, checking my email and text messages. The first email I noticed was from my professor for my Intro to Gender Studies course. She wanted to meet for lunch sometime this week so I emailed her back, letting her know that I could meet today if she was available.
A reply with a location and time came less than five minutes later. I felt uneasy as I got out of bed and went in search of Dimitri. It didn't take long to find him. I leaned against the door frame of Levi's room, watching Dimitri soothe him while changing his diaper. I smiled as I watched them interact, Levi smiling as Dimitri played with his toes.
Dimitri snapped Levi's onesie back in place and lifted him into his arms. He noticed me as he looked up and smiled.
"Hello, Roza," he murmured, pressing a kiss to my forehead.
"Hi," I said, taking Levi from him and cradling him close. "You're great with him."
Dimitri smiled again. "He's an easy baby."
I bit my lip before looking up at Dimitri. "Do you want children? Children of your own, I mean."
He gave me a look. "Katya and Levi are my children. At least in my eyes, they are. It doesn't matter to me if they're not biologically mine or not."
I pressed the subject anyways. "But do you want that? Biological children?"
Dimitri sighed. "I've always wanted kids. I doted on my nephew for years because he was the only child in my life because of my want of children. But like I said, to me, Katerina and Levi are mine. That being said, if a third child is something that you're interested in, I wouldn't be opposed."
"Okay," I said. "It wouldn't be any time soon since we have a few obstacles to overcome first, but I would love to have a baby with you. I've always wanted a big family."
Dimitri's smile was blinding, and he leaned down to kiss me. Levi squirmed in my arms and he pressed a kiss to his forehead too.
"It doesn't matter how long it takes," he said. "We're both still young. We have years to have more children. Not to mention that it would probably be best to wait until Katerina and Levi are older to add another child, especially since he's going to be crawling soon," Dimitri said as we walked down the hallway towards Katerina's room.
"Don't remind me," I said. "He's growing too fast."
We both paused outside of her room and I saw that she was still sound asleep.
"Will you wake Sleeping Beauty while I feed this guy? They both need to get some new clothes, so I was thinking of taking them to the mall. And one of my professors for the fall emailed me and asked if I would be able to meet with her sometime this week so I told her that I could meet her today."
"Are you going to take them to the meeting?"
"Yeah, I was planning on it because I told her that I would meet her for lunch at a small restaurant right near campus."
"I'll come with you to the mall and then I'll take them while you're in the meeting. Find a park or somewhere so Katerina can play and have fun," he said, heading into Katerina's room.
"You're the best," I said as I walked down the stairs and into the living room.
An hour and a half later, we were pulling up to an Old Navy near downtown. Giant signs in the window advertised the sales they had going on, including most baby and toddler items on sale for $4.99.
As we got closer to the doors, having situated Katerina and Levi in the stroller, I saw a smaller sign that advertised the fact that they were hiring.
"Maybe I should apply here," I said.
"You can, if you want," Dimitri said, his eyebrows furrowed. "But you don't have to, Rose. I make more than enough within my position at the FBI that you wouldn't have to worry about getting a part-time job."
"I know," I said. "I looked up the salaries once. But I just want to feel like I'm contributing."
Dimitri pulled me aside, into a corner of the men's section. "Roza, you are contributing. You basically paid for the house and for so much else, and raising Katerina and Levi is already a full-time job. I'm not going to force you to not apply or anything, but I don't want you to feel as though it's necessary."
"I consider it," I said, before walking to the baby section.
I took advantage of the sales, stocking up on onesies in a variety of sizes since it was unlikely that they'd be on a giant sale like this any time soon. For Levi, I picked out matching Team Mommy and Team Daddy onesies, a grey one that said Best Bro Ever as well as a couple of striped ones. Dimitri grabbed a red dinosaur one off the shelf in a couple of different sizes as well as a few plain grey and black ones. We both laughed at a long sleeve onesie that had a vampire on it with the words teething is scary and Dimitri added it to the cart since Levi would start teething any day now. We grabbed a few romper looking onesies too, including a grey one with rainbow stripes and a blue one that had moons on it. Dimitri added a handful of shorts to the bag before we moved on to the toddler section for Katerina.
I picked out a couple of floral rompers for her to wear that she noticed immediately while Dimitri grabbed a grey sweatshirt that had a sun on it and said hello sunshine. Katerina also immediately ran over the leggings section and picked out a couple of pairs of polka dot leggings in pink, purple, and blue. She also got matching polka dot shorts and a handful of t-shirts and tank tops. There was a recurring theme of polka dots and Minnie Mouse in her shirts, but it was exciting seeing her so happy. She also got a yellow totally amazing sister shirt to match Levi's best bro onesie before we moved on to dresses. She picked out matching blue and pink patterned dresses, while I grabbed a couple of striped and plain colored dresses.
By the time that we got to the checkout, we had spent well over two hundred dollars, but they were both going to be set for months now in terms of clothes and I could never resist a good sale.
Dimitri dropped me off in the parking lot of the restaurant after Old Navy and promised to stay close by in case I needed something or in case the kids needed something from me.
The second I stepped into Kerbey Lane Café, I felt like I was being transported to heaven. The entire restaurant smelled so delicious and as a waitress passed with a steaming bowl of queso, I fell even more in love. I knew that I would have to bring Dimitri and the kids back here another day because Dimitri would surely love it and I had no doubt that it would become a regular place for us.
It took me a few seconds to spot my professor, but as soon as she saw me, she waved me over. A feeling of dread settled in my stomach and I tried to push it away.
"Hi, Rose," the woman said, a smile on her face. "Thank you for meeting with me on such short notice."
"Thank you for reaching out, Professor Novak," I said, sitting down across from her.
"Please, call me Beth."
The waiter came over to take our drink orders and Beth also ordered a bowl of the queso that I had been eyeing on the way in. I ordered water with lemon.
"I really do appreciate you meeting with me on such short notice, especially since we're still a few months out from classes beginning. I also apologize for emailing your personal account but that was all that the school had on file since you haven't created your student email yet."
"I'm excited for classes to begin, actually. It's been a while since I was in an academic setting and while I wasn't originally going to reapply to universities, my best friend pushed me to, and I'm actually glad that I did. UT Austin seems like a great university to attend."
Something flickered in her face, but she didn't say anything as the waiter placed the chips and queso on the table.
"Are y'all ready to order?"
Beth went first, ordering off the lunch menu, while I stuck to the breakfast menu and ordered a potato omelet. He jotted down our orders before hurrying off again.
"Yes," Beth said, picking up our conversation once more. "UT Austin is one of the best schools to attend, but maybe I'm a bit biased. But you returning to school is actually what I wanted to talk to you about."
Confusion must show on my face because she continues.
"The reason I asked you to lunch today is because I wanted to discuss the syllabus with you," she said, pulling out a packet of paper. "One of the modules we'll be covering in the course this semester involves crimes committed against women, both sexual and nonsexual."
The feeling of dread came back.
"And one of the cases I had included in the syllabus is yours."
I froze, a cheese covered chip halfway to my mouth. I was scared to eat it for the fear of choking as I felt my chest tighten.
Beth's eyes were sympathetic. "I've already turned in my syllabus to my dean and my chair of my department and I don't have much wiggle room once it's submitted. It's also a case I've been covering since the trial with my students and it's one that I've become well versed in.
I finally managed to eat the chip and pulled the syllabus towards me, flipping through the pages. It didn't take long to find my module.
Week 5: Rosemarie Hathaway v. Adrian Ivashkov
Below the module heading were a few pieces of required text for that week, including news articles about the trial.
"I wanted to discuss this with you and work out any necessary accommodations to make this as easy as possible, even if that means dropping the course," Beth said.
"Nothing's going to make it easier," I said. "I'd rather be there in class, hearing what's being said, than hear about it around campus, even though I know that that'll happen anyways."
The waiter stopped by to drop off our food and I picked up my fork, forcing myself to take a bite even as my stomach twisted further into knots.
"I don't want to hold back your class either," I said. "That last thing I want to do is make waves."
"I never expected to have personal connections to the cases I teach in my classes and when I saw your name on my roster, I couldn't let you just walk blindly into that on the first day. I knew that I had to reach out to you. I don't want to push on such a sensitive subject."
"I can tell you now that I'll likely be very quiet during that module, so I hope class participation isn't a huge part of the course grade."
"While there is a class participation component to your grade, I would never penalize you for something like this."
"What all will be discussed?"
"Mostly the court transcript and some of the evidence in the case. None of the pictures or videos from the trial will be shown and while we'll be covering his escape from prison, I'm just going to be glossing over his death and we won't have a discussion on that. I also plan on implementing specific rules for your privacy and consideration during the module to make it as easy as possible on you."
"I appreciate you giving me the heads up so that I wouldn't be blindsided," I said.
My phone buzzed and I glanced down.
Dimitri (13:27): I know you're busy, but Levi is hungry and fussy and he's refusing to take his bottle.
Rose (13:27): You can bring him in. I'll feed him.
I look up from my phone. "My fiancé and children are going to join us for a moment if you don't mind."
"Of course not," she said.
Dimitri walked in a moment later, trying to soothe Levi with a pacifier and Katerina walking beside him. I slid over in the boot so that Dimitri could sit next to me and he passed me Levi before pulling Katerina on to his lap.
Levi settled the moment he got in my arms and made quick work of my blouse to feed him. Dimitri helped adjust the blanket over him and my chest, protecting my modesty.
Dimitri and Beth were talking quietly but I saw Dimitri's eyes glance down at the syllabus and when he stiffened, I knew that he had seen my name. I could tell from the gleam in Beth's eyes that she recognized Dimitri as well, which made sense if she'd been covering the case since the arrest and trial.
"What is it that you teach?"
"I teach a wide variety of gender studies, and Rose will be in my intro class in the fall," she said.
"And that includes a section about her?" Dimitri's voice wasn't frigid, but the normal warmth was gone.
Beth looked apologetic. "I've been covering her case in my classes for the past few semesters and even though it has since concluded, I've continued to teach it. It's why I asked Rose to meet with me so that she would know about it beforehand and had the option of dropping the course if she wished."
"Dimitri, it's okay," I said.
"Are you sure?" he asked lowly.
I nodded. "I've handled worse. I can handle a course with a small section about myself."
"If you say so," he said, pressing a small kiss to my forehead.
He took Levi from my arms to burp him so I could continue to pick at my omelet, and I pulled Katerina on to my lap to give her some. I could tell from the look that he gave me that there would be a lecture about me not eating when we got back to the house.
"Congratulations on your engagement," Beth said softly. "I hadn't realized the two of you were together."
Dimitri shrugged. "We tried to keep it out of the papers. The last thing we needed was harassment about us. So, we kept it lowkey."
The topic strayed from me as the lunch continued and both Katerina and Levi were asleep by the time we wrapped up. Beth covered the meal, insisting on paying for it since she was the one to invite me.
As we stood, she pulled Dimitri aside, talking to him in a soft undertone. We had once again switched off on carrying the children and Levi was in a carrier strapped to my chest that Dimitri had previously been wearing while he carried Katerina. Beth wrote something down on a piece of paper and handed it to him. He slipped it into his pocket and mouthed later to me when he realized I had noticed.
"Thank you again, Rose," she said, before leaving the restaurant first.
"What did she give you?" I asked and we walked out and towards the car.
"Her number," Dimitri said. "She wanted to know if I would mind giving a guest lecture during that week since I worked on the case as well as to be there for you during the week to make things easier for you. She told me to reach out to set everything up through the university."
"Oh," I said. "Makes sense that she'd want you to talk about it since I'm not planning on saying anything."
"I'm more concerned with being there for you, and I promise to be there for every class during that week."
"I love you," I said, kissing him as we reached the car.
Dimitri was already in bed when I came out of the bathroom that night and I crossed the room to climb on the bed and straddled his lap. I saw his brief look of surprise before I leaned forward to kiss him.
"Rose," Dimitri said, pulling back from the kiss.
"You said we could try," I reminded him, shifting on his lap.
"I did say that, but I want to make sure that you're sure. And it's been an emotionally draining day."
"And all I want is you. I'm sure. I want this. I want you," I said. "I love you."
I slipped my hands under his shirt and rucked it up enough to make it easy to pull over his head. I shifted against him again and just barely heard him moan and felt him against me. A shiver ran through me, partially fear and partially excitement. I leaned back slightly, just enough to pull my shirt over my head too.
"Roza," Dimitri whispered, his hands finding my waist. They were warm against my waist as he gripped me tight. "You're beautiful."
I didn't bother correcting him, didn't want this to stop. I knew if I said anything, I would get a lecture, so instead, I leaned forward and kissed him again.
I let him unsnap my bra as he trailed kisses along my jaw and neck. He continued to worship me, pressing burning kisses everywhere he could reach, even leaning down to suck a nipple into his mouth. Pleasure raced through me and I cried out, my back arching involuntarily.
He switched to the other side and I carded my fingers through his hair, urging him on. I felt him get harder against me and moved my hips to grind down against him. He let out a groan, vibrations running through me.
He moved then, swiftly lifting me off his lap and flipping us so that he was hovering over me. Ice cold fear rushed through me, and I whimpered.
"Please, no," I whispered, gripping Dimitri's biceps and pushing.
He let me shove him away and moved to the end of the bed. I sat up, grabbing me my shirt and hastily pulling it back on.
"Roza?" Dimitri said softly. "Are you okay?"
"I'm sorry," I whispered. "I—"
"You don't have to apologize or explain," he said. "We both knew it wasn't going to be easy."
"But I shouldn't be equating him to you! You're not the same. You're nothing like him."
"I know," he said. "You're not equating us. Based on your last experience like that, I'm almost surprised it didn't happen sooner. I should have let you keep control. It's okay that it takes time. I've waited before and I can wait some more."
"It's not your fault," I said. "It was too optimistic to think it that we would succeed on the first try."
"It's not your fault either, Rose," he said.
"Okay," I said, holding back tears.
He moved closer. "Can I touch you?"
I nodded and he pulled me to him, and I relaxed in his embrace. My body shook as tears fell.
"It's okay, Roza," he said, rubbing my back. "We'll get there. It's going to be okay."
"I just feel so fucking broken," I sobbed. "He ruined everything."
"We can try again. We can try as many times as we need to," he said, soothingly. "This isn't an end all be all."
"But what if it never works?"
Dimitri shrugged. "Then so be it. Sex isn't a deal breaker."
"I don't deserve you," I muttered.
"It's me who doesn't deserve you," he said.
Dimitri pulled back to look me in the eyes. "Roza, that's the further thing from a lie. I am so lucky to have someone like you as my fiancée. You're an amazing mother, amazing friend, an amazing everything. I am so proud and thankful that I get to spend every day of the rest of my life with you."
I wiped at my eyes. "You're going to make me cry again."
Dimitri winked. "Just think of it as a precursor to my vows."