Chapter 41: A Very Good Dream

Sorry for the delay, this is a bit of a fluff chapter which will hopefully provide you with a distraction, at least for a little while due to world events. Thank you to everyone who continues to read my story and stay safe out there.

I felt like I was in a black hole, I could hear voices, but I couldn't make out what they were saying. A baritone voice stood out more than the others and I desperately wanted to get to that voice because I knew it would keep me safe.

I started to wake up when I felt someone pressing their fingers on the back of my head. I opened my eyes to find the doctor next to me and a very anxious Dimitri perched at the end of the couch rubbing my legs asking the doctor a million questions. When I finally got my bearings straight, I realized I was lying on the couch of Dimitri's childhood home in Baia, where two of my father's guardians pulled me into a wall in an effort to protect me.

"Rose, how are you feeling?" the doctor asked.

"Okay, my head is a little sore."

"Yes, you have a nice bump on the back of your head." She continued to feel around my head and then she did a few tests like having me following her finger with my eyes. "Okay, let's sit you up and see how you feel."

The doctor and Dimitri helped me sit up and the room started spinning. "Whoa" I said as I tried to hold onto anything hoping to make the spinning stop.

"Let's lie you back down." The doctor said as she helped me lie back down on the couch. "I think you should spend the next 12 hours on bedrest. Either rest in your bed or here on the couch and I will be back in the morning to check on you. While I don't think there is anything seriously wrong, you have been through a lot and while you were healed with Spirit, we still don't know enough about it."

The doctor backed away and Guardian Brown walked up and said "Rose, Guardian Belikov, I have replaced the two guardians, Pavel has been informed of the situation and I can have Oksana brought here if you think it is necessary."

"No, we don't need to bother Oksana" I said.

"Rose" Dimitri pleaded.

"Dimitri, the doctor is right, we don't know all the ramifications of Spirit healing."

"You're right, but that means you are resting the whole trip here." Dimitri ordered in the tone that meant 'do not challenge me on this'.

"Rose, I agree with Dimitri, take it easy tonight and I will be back in the morning. Feel free to call me at any time but especially if you get nauseous or your headache worsens." Dimitri stood up and followed the doctor and Guardian Brown asking multiple questions.

Olena came over once the doctor and Dimitri had left. She sat on the side of the couch and in a motherly way her hand brushed the side of my face. Then she said "Lift your head up, I have an ice pack for you." She placed it behind my head and it instantly made my head stop throbbing. It still hurt, but the ice pack made it feel better.

When I looked up at her she had a motherly way about her that I had never experienced in my life. "I am used to treating bumps and bruises. Mostly from Dimitri while he was training and now that Vika's training. Dimitri walked over and Olena stood up and told Dimitri "Take her upstairs to your room, I will prepare a tray of food for her.

"Come on, let's get you upstairs to rest" Dimitri said as he picked me up bridal style and walked to the stairs.

"But" I tried protesting because I wouldn't be able to visit with his family.

"No buts" Dimitri said declaring the discussion over. He easily carried me up the stairs and brought me into his childhood bedroom. He walked over to the bed and pulled the covers down and placed me on the bed. He propped pillows behind me so I could sit up against the headboard. He took off my shoes and then he pulled the covers back up over my legs.

"I'm going downstairs to get our bags. I'll be right back." Dimitri said as he kissed the top of my head and walked out of his room leaving the door slightly ajar. I looked around his room, it was similar to his room at the Academy, neat but sparse. There was a wardrobe, a nightstand and an empty bookcase where he must have kept his westerns that were now presiding in our room at my father's compound. There was a door open that led to a bathroom and it looked like it had a big bathtub in it. I appreciated that with a household of women that Dimitri would have his own bathroom. The queen size bed I was currently lying in was covered in a gorgeous quilt that looked like a stain glass window that depicted an old castle.

There was a knock on the door and I said "Come in".

The door to the room slowly creaked open and I saw a shy Paul start to peer around the door with Vika behind him. "He wanted to see how you were" Vika said.

"Hi Paul" I said.

"Are you okay Auntie Rose? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get you hurt." Paul quietly said.

"Come on up here" I said patting the spot next to me. Paul walked in and climbed on the bed and I put my arm around him and said "Paul, you did nothing wrong, this was not your fault, okay."

"Okay" he said, but he was looking down at his hands and still speaking quietly. I looked up at Vika and she gave me a small smile.

Dimitri walked in with our bag and raised his eyebrow looking between Paul, Vika and me. Plus, I think he was surprised to see Paul sitting on the bed with me. "Paul, I thought you were downstairs getting ready for dinner?"

I cleared my throat to get Dimitri's attention and gave him a subtle headshake, then I said "Paul was going to keep me company until you came back up with dinner."

Dimitri nodded to me, letting me know he understood and said "That's a great idea Paul, thank you for staying with Rose." The small praise from Dimitri was enough to lift his spirits as he lifted his head up and had a huge smile on his face.

"Anything you want in particular for dinner Roza?" Dimitri asked me.

"No, whatever you decide will be fine." I said. After Dimitri and Vika left to go downstairs, I started talking with Paul asking him about school and Zoya. He told me that one of his favorite things to do is to read to Zoya.

"Really?" I asked and he nodded his head. "Well, maybe you could read to me tomorrow and help me learn some Russian."

"Okay, I would love to teach you some Russian" Paul said as his whole face lit up. Just then Dimitri walked in with a bed tray with a huge amount of food.

"Paul, your mama is looking for you." Paul turned to me and gave me a quick hug then jumped off the bed and gave Dimitri a hug after he had placed the tray on the bed. "See you tomorrow Auntie Rose, Uncle Dimka"

"Night Paul" Dimitri and I said almost in sync. Dimitri closed the door after Paul left and then came to sit on the bed next to me. He pulled the tray over to me so it was just above my legs. "These are Pirogis, which are stuffed with cabbage, buttered black bread and I bought up water and juice as well."

"It smells good Comrade" I said as I started eating. We were quiet while we were eating, I think we were both hungrier than we realized.

Once everything was consumed including a second helping, I said "I'm so full Comrade, thankfully I am in bed already so I don't have to worry about moving."

Dimitri chuckled at me and said "I'll bring this downstairs and I will be back shortly. In case you hadn't noticed, there is a bathroom thru that door if you need it." He picked up our bag and pulled out my pajamas and put our toiletries in the bathroom.

As soon as Dimitri left, I grabbed my pajamas and went to the bathroom to check it out. When I walked in, I think that my mouth hit the floor, there was a huge tub that would easily fit the two of us. I looked around at the rest and noticed that there was a huge shower and the shower head was high up, probably to fit Dimitri because of his height. I quickly changed into my pjs, then I brushed my teeth and washed my face. I picked up my clothes and threw them in our bag doing my best to keep things somewhat tidy for my neat freak boyfriend.

I was at the door between the bathroom and the bedroom, when I heard a knock on the door. I said "Come in." not knowing who it could be since Dimitri would have just come in being his room and all.

The door opened and Paul poked his head through the door and said "Auntie Rose, can I read you a story? It always helps Zoya when she is upset or sick."

"Sure Paul". I got into bed and pulled the comfortable and sheets up and I patted the seat next to me and Paul hopped up on the bed and got under the covers as well. He opened the book and put it on the bed between us and started reading. It was in Russian, so I couldn't read the stories but the pages were beautifully drawn which seemed to explain the story well.

"Once upon a time, in a small village, there was a King and a beautiful Queen. They had four children, three beautiful daughters and one son. The two eldest daughters were married with children and the son and youngest daughter had yet to marry. The King was very sick, so the Prince needed to find a bride soon, so he could take over the Kingdom. The King arranged for a grand ball for every unmarried maiden from all the Kingdoms in order for the Prince to find his Princess."

I wondered if that was really the story in the book or if Paul was just making it up as he went along. The more Paul spoke, the harder it was to keep my eyes open. He just had a soothing voice for a ten-year-old and I could see how Zoya fell asleep listening to his story. I finally stopped fighting, closed my eyes and fell asleep instantly.

And then I started dreaming:

I woke up to a knock on my door. God it's early, I thought to myself, but then the knocking stopped. Yes! I thought and I snuggled deeper down into my bed, but then the knocking started again, louder and faster. For fuck's sake! The door opened and Alberta's voice filled the room "Princess Rose, your father is requesting your presence at breakfast."

Alberta had been my nanny when I was younger, but she had stayed on to take care of me as I grew older. I loved her dearly, she was like a second mother to me. But on mornings like this one, she was not necessarily my favorite person.

I heard her walk across my vast bedroom to the windows flinging the curtains open. I groaned as the sunlight poured into the room and I retaliated by throwing the covers over my head.

"Don't make me get your Head Guard Alto in here to get you out of bed." Alberta threatened. I groaned out loud, Alberta knew I hated Stan. I had refused to call him by his surname and that infuriated him. Plus, I spent most of my time trying to lose him or playing practical jokes on him.

"Fine, I'm up." I groaned at Alberta "What does Baba want?"

"I don't know, he just asked me to go get you for breakfast."

I went into my bathroom to freshen up and when I walked back into my bedroom, I noticed a dress lying on my bed. Obviously, Alberta had laid it out for me to wear for breakfast. I slipped it on over my head and then I slipped my feet into my shoes as Alberta brushed my hair and quickly braided it.

I walked down the grand staircase in the palace and entered the breakfast room. Baba looked up over his paper as I entered and said "Finally Kiz." To which I bowed and said "Your majesty." Knowing that he hated when I did that to him.

My father was the King of Turkey, making my mother the Queen, who was fiercely protective of her family, to the point that she was trained in martial arts. I had two older brothers, Prince Mason who was first in line to the throne and was married to Abby Badica, who was pregnant with their first child. My other brother was Prince Edwin who was second in line for the throne and was dating Jill Dragomir, the younger sister of my best friend Princess Lissa Dragomir.

I was Princess Rosemarie Mazur and due to archaic laws, females would never rule Turkey. The best I could dream is to be married to a prince and become a Queen when he became King.

My father started speaking brining me out of my thoughts. "Sit down Rose, your mother and I need to speak with you." Uh, oh that was never good. I quickly tried to think back to figure out what I might have done to anger my parents. I couldn't think of anything. I had even been nice to Stan this past week.

"You have done nothing wrong." Baba said as winked at me, reading my thoughts correctly. I sat down across from my parents and a servant brought some food over for me.

"We have received an invitation from the King of Russia to visit him and his family at their summer palace in Sochi for the month of August." Baba stated. His face was unreadable but the huge smile on my mother's face spoke volumes. Ugh, it meant that all the single princesses from nearby kingdoms were to be paraded in front of the Crown Prince like livestock so he could pick a bride.

Baba knowing me better than I knew myself sometimes said "Relax, this is just a way to introduce you into society. I listened to your mother years ago when she begged me not to arrange a marriage for you, but it's time for you to get out there and meet noble men and begin thinking about marriage and family."

"Why do I have to get married?" I groaned.

"Rose, you know why, I am not getting into this argument again. You and your mother will be going to the market to look for fabric for new dresses for the both of you. We will be leaving in two weeks and will be sailing across the Black Sea." Declaring the discussion over, Baba folded his paper, placed it on the table and stood up walking to the door with Pavel, his guard behind him. Just as he reached the door to the hallway he said "Oh, I forgot to tell you Lissa and her family were also invited and we will be picking them up on the way."

"Yes!" I screamed as he walked out of the room. My mother shook her head laughing at me. "Eat up Rosemarie" she said and then turned to one of her many ladies in waiting "Please get everyone ready for Rosemarie and I to go to the markets. I want to leave in about fifteen minutes."

I woofed my food down in about five minutes and said "Done". Normally, my mother would scold me for eating so fast but she was on a mission to get to the market. I got up from the table and went to the Grand Hall where Stan and my other bodyguards plus Alberta were waiting. My mother joined me shortly thereafter with her guards, the royal seamstresses and three of her ladies in waiting.

It was a short walk to the bazaar and now that summer had begun the goal was to get what we needed before midday when it was too hot to be in direct sunlight.

The market was fairly busy for a Tuesday and it was quite loud as merchants would yell trying to entice customers to buy their goods. We headed straight towards the fabric shops where my mother and a few of the Royal dress makers were thrusting fabric after fabric at me. Normally, this would drive me crazy but today I didn't care because I was so excited to spend a month with Lissa.

It was hard to communicate with Lissa because it would take so long for our letters to go back and forth between the two countries. Lissa was a Princess like me, her father was King of Poland and she had an older brother Andre who was already married and would be the next King.

I picked out 10 different fabrics that I liked and my mother picked out dozens of fabrics with the royal dressmakers. Once we were done in the market, I practically skipped the whole way home.

Thankfully, the two weeks went by very quickly and it was finally the day we were departing and Alberta was helping me pack my trunks. The seamstress' were still working on some of the dresses for me and my mother, so they would becoming with us to continue working on them.

Mom, Alberta and I left for the dock to board the yacht. Alberta and Mom had an interesting friendship, they have been best friends forever, but Alberta was in charge of taking care of me. No one ever explained the history behind their friendship, I sort of assumed that Alberta didn't have family of her own.

I was skipping down the stone pathway towards the docks where the Royal Yacht. As I approached, there was a fury of activity happening, mostly related to the loading of the boat. I saw Pavel up ahead giving orders to everyone meaning that my father was on board already. I could see the scowl on Pavel's face when he saw me approaching, while we were still within the Palace grounds, he still wanted me to stay with my guards.

I ran up the gangway and then up the stairs to the top deck to find the chair I intended to sit on and soak up as much sun as possible. Thankfully, Eddie had saved me the best seat right next to him. He was just as excited as I was to see the Dragomir's as I suspected that Jill, Lissa's younger sister would be coming back with us to Turkey after Russia. At the very least, I expected a proposal and potential wedding date.

"Hey, Rose? Excited to see Lissa?" Eddie asked as he patted the chair next to him.

"Yes, I can't wait! One whole month with Lissa!" I squealed very Lissa like and very unlike me.

Eddie just laughed at me.

"So, what about you and Jill? Are you going to give me any information?" I pleaded Eddie giving him my best eyelash batting.

"Yes, I can't wait to see her and no, you are not getting any information until it is time for anything to be announced."

"Why not?" I whined.

"Because Lissa and you will blab to everyone." Eddie laughed at me as I rolled my eyes.

Mason and Abby came on deck and sat near us as Baba, Mom and Pavel joined us.

Pavel started "Alright everyone listen up. We will be leaving shortly. We should arrive at the shore of Poland at night where we will dock overnight and the Dragomir's will join us in the morning and we will be arriving in Sochi in the afternoon."

"The Russian Royal family will be in charge of security. From what I understand, the entire town will be shut off from the rest of Russia while all the royal families are in attendance. With that said, there will be a Russian guard to mirror your own private guard and one or both must be in attendance unless you are in some of the main areas. I will be going over the security detail with you individually over the next few days." Pavel said looking specifically at me.

Baba started "Rose and Eddie, the two of you will keep up with your fight training."

"What?" I exclaimed.

"You could do your studies instead." Our mother threatened.

"Nope, training's good." I said rolling my eyes at Eddie.

I sat back in my chair soaking up the sun, it felt so good on my face. My parents had left us to go to their cabin, so it was just Eddie, Mason, Abby and I talking and sunbathing. I was laughing because Abby and Mason were trying to get information out of Eddie about his thoughts about Jill but much to our disappointment he wouldn't reveal anything.

We reached the shore of Poland and docked for the night and after a huge meal I was starting to get sleepy plus there was something about being on the water that always seemed to tire me out.

I woke up uncharacteristically early and quickly got dressed and ran to the top deck. Only my father was up and he looked at me suspiciously until I asked "Are they here yet?"

"Not yet but soon. A few of their advanced security have arrived."

I looked over the side of the yacht to see the activity of the dock come alive. I went to the table where breakfast was laid out and filled my plate sky high. I then brought it over to the edge of the yacht to wait for Lissa. I could hear Baba laughing at my excitement.

Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long as Lissa and her family appeared about an hour later. I ran down to the dock and practically tackled Lissa but her hug was equally forceful as mine. It didn't take long for the Dragomir's belongings to be loaded and then we were on our way.

Lissa and I sat in two chairs away from everyone so we could catch up on everything. The biggest news was that Lissa had talked about how she didn't like Aaron, her supposed betrothed, anymore, but had not figured out how to tell her parents.

I promised her that before we left Russia we would come up with a strategy to let her parents know, plus I joked that maybe she would become the next Queen of Russia.

As soon as we got closer to the beach of Sochi, I ran to the front of the ship to take in the sights. There were huge green trees with snow-capped mountains in the background. There were pristine beaches along the coastline and the water was peppered with ships like ours. The yachts were docked at these long piers or people were ferried to land or between ships in smaller boats. And between the beach and the green trees were these magnificent tents, some as big as the Grand Bazaar, others seemed tiny and there were all different sizes in between. The colors were the riches colors that I have ever seen. Rich reds, regal greens and gold everywhere. Every color seemed so vibrant, I had never seen anything like it.

I had just finished combat training and I was still in those clothes and Lissa was in her traveling clothes. As soon as we got close enough to start docking, I grabbed her hand and started running for the gang plank. Lissa squealed and I vaguely heard Baba telling me to be back in one hour to get ready for the welcome feast for tonight.

I heard Eddie and Jill following us and letting Baba know, he would keep an eye out for us and Pavel was ordering someone to follow us. I waved at Baba to let him know that I understood. I ran down the stairs and out onto the gang plank, I'm not even sure if it had officially hit the dock yet.

Lissa was yelling at me to slow down, but I could hear her giggling at the same time. Lissa and I hit the beach before Eddie, Jill and our guards could set foot on the dock. The beach was crowded but there was enough room for us to zigzag through people on the beach.

Lissa called my name and I turned around to see what she wanted and the next thing I knew I ran right into someone knocking him into the sand and me on top of him. I got off of him and started to apologize and put my arm out to help him back up, but when he grabbed it, he fell back down and the people near us started laughing at us.

I could see the anger and hatred rising on his face and eyes as he yelled something about being Lissa and I being peasant girls and that we needed to be taught a lesson. My first instinct was to step in front of Lissa and protect her, if the guy decided to strike out I was pretty sure I could handle it, after all it was my fault. But Lissa would be greatly injured if he hit her.

Just as I was contemplating this, I felt the sting of a blow and I found myself on the ground. "Rose" I heard Lissa screaming and I braced myself for another blow as I could see a shadow that began to loom over me. I closed my eyes and waited, but the blow never came.

I looked around and saw Lissa kneeling next to me crying but looking okay. Then I saw the man who I ran into out cold and another man kneeling next to me talking but I couldn't hear what he was saying. He reached his hand out to help me stand up and I placed my hand in his and immediately noticed how warm it was. Once I got to my feet I looked up at his face and notice he was tall, like really tall and he had these deep chocolate brown colored eyes.

"Are you okay?' His deep voice asked.

"Yup" I said "Your pretty." My world began spinning and the darkness started to take over but not before I felt warm arms envelope me.

I started to hear voices and then I felt someone brushing hair out of my face. I could tell I was lying down and there was something cold pressed on the left side of my face. I tried to differentiate between the voices but also realized that different languages were being spoken as well.

It all started to come back, Lissa, Sochi, the beach, the asshole who hit me and the man with the chocolate brown eyes. I opened my eyes suddenly and sat up way to fast but I needed to make sure that Lissa was okay.

"Whoa, not so fast, you took a pretty hard hit." An accented voice said.

"Lissa!" I all but screamed but that made my head seem to hurt more as I brought my hand to my temple feeling a huge welt as well as something wet. I brought my fingers into eyesight and realized it was blood.

"I'm right here Rose" Lissa said. "And so is Eddie and Jill."

"Rose" the accented voice said "I'm Dimitri and this is my mother Olena, she is going to look at the side of your face, to make sure you are okay and see if you need some stitches."

"Okay"

Dimitri moved so his mother could get closer to me but I realized that he didn't go too far and he kept holding my hand. Olena felt around my head and occasionally I winced, then she moved onto the cut on my face.

"I don't think you need any stitches, but we will keep an eye on it. Why don't we try to have you stand up." Olena said and instantly Eddie and Dimitri were on either side of me helping me up.

"How do you feel Rose?" Olena asked.

"A little dizzy. I am so sorry, I didn't mean to run into that guy…" I started.

"Don't apologize" Dimitri said a little harshly. "If I have any say and I do, he will be sent to the coldest parts of Russia."

"If you have any say? What are you the Crown Prince of Russia?" I joked. I watched Olena cover the smirk on her lips and Dimitri started chuckling. "Oh God, you are, aren't you?"

I tried to curtsy but failed miserably but I did notice that Lissa and Jill were already in a deep curtsy and Eddie bowed.

"Whoa, what do you think you are doing?" Dimitri asked.

"I am curtseying."

"Rose, that is not necessary, plus I am afraid if you go to deep, you will fall over." Dimitri joked.

"But protocol dictates that as a Royal not in direct line to her own throne that I must curtsy to a Royal who is in direct line."

I watched as Dimitri's eyes grew wide realizing he did not know who I was "Rose, what is your full name?" He slowly asked me.

"Her Royal Highness Princess Rosemarie Mazur of Turkey." I said and then Dimitri looked at each one of us silently asking everyone else's name.

"Her Royal Highness Princess Vasilisa and Princess Jillian Dragomir of Poland" Lissa said for the two of them.

"His Royal Highness Prince Edwin Mazur of Turkey"

Dimitri took a deep breath in and looked at his mother quickly then turned back towards us. "Well, if you are feeling up to it Princess Rosemarie, I believe I should escort you back to you father to explain what happened and hope I am not beheaded."

"First, please call me Rose, the only person who calls me Rosemarie is my mother. Secondly, it's not necessary, we all came on the same ship, so they can walk me back. And thirdly, Comrade, we only execute people once a month."

I watched as Dimitri raised a single eyebrow, basically calling me out on my shit. Eddie started laughing as he was well aware of my affinity for pulling pranks.

"All the same, I should probably apologize to your parents. Mama, I'll be back within the hour to get ready for tonight's feast."

Olena nodded at Dimitri and then addressed our group "It was nice to meet everyone, Rose, I hope you are feeling better and I will see you tonight." Olena said.

"Yes Ma'am, thank you." I replied as Olena walked out of the tent.

"Alright, let's get you back to your ship." Dimitri said as he placed an arm out of my waist to help me walk back. I was starting to feel a little self-conscious as we were walking back as people were staring at us. The worst part was that many young women were giving me death stares.

I was actually happy to make it back to our boat and as soon as we hit the top deck, my parents were at our sides. "Baba, Mom, this is His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Russia Dimitri Belikov" I started to introduce but my mother practically screamed "Rosemarie, what happened to your face."

"Lissa and I were running on the beach" I started but Dimitri cut me off and said "Your Highnesses, I apologize one of the guards in my regiment was completely out of line and struck your daughter. He has been dealt with swiftly and sharply and Princess Rose will never see him again, but I apologize on the behalf of Russia and myself."

Baba came over to inspect my face and then he shook Dimitri's hand and said "Thank you for escorting her back."

"It's the least I could do. Please excuse me, I must get ready for tonight's feast." Dimitri stated then he turned to me, took my hand and kissed the back of it "Rose, I will see you later".

Lissa, Jill and I went down to my cabin to get ready for dinner tonight. I wasn't sure what the required attire was for tonight but thankfully Alberta had taken care of that for me. After a quick shower, I decided to pull my hair back on the sides but leave the rest curly and cascading down in the back.

I slipped on the dress and when I turned to Lissa and Jill to get their opinion, they both gasped. "Rose, it's gorgeous." Lissa said and Jill was nodding her head in agreement.

The dress was a midnight blue color with cap sleeves and at my waist was a thick band of fabric with a sequence design. The dress was floor length and was covered in lace over the midnight blue fabric. It was probably the most beautiful dress that I had ever seen.

We went ashore and walked into the huge tent which was decorated with huge chandeliers, flowers everywhere and table décor unlike I had ever seen.

While I was taking in the scene in front of me, I was scanning for a very tall Crown Prince. Almost, as if he could sense my presence, he appeared next to me and said "Rose, you look very beautiful." He grabbed my hand bringing it up to his lips kissing it and continued to hold my hand as he continued "I'm glad that you are feeling well enough to participate in tonight's festivities."

"I wouldn't miss it for the world, this is gorgeous." I replied. Dimitri placed my hand on his forearm "If you will all follow me, your table right over here." He led us to a table decorated with multiple plates, silver and glasses and even though I had been brought up as a royal, I wasn't sure I knew what all the pieces were for.

Dimitri pulled out Lissa and my chair before leaving us but promised to return later. Once everyone was seated at the table and I looked around at everyone, I instantly wished that I hadn't. Lissa's mother and my mother looked like they were planning my wedding and the names of my future children. My father's face fleeted from happiness to murder for anyone daring to think whatever they thought Dimitri was thinking. Lissa, Jill and Abby had far off fairytale looks on their faces, I swear I could see the bluebirds circling their heads. Then there were my brothers, doing their best to wiggle their eyebrows while holding in their laughter. I rolled my eyes at the two of them and thankfully Jill and Abby were paying attention and slapped the two of them on the back of their heads to get them to stop.

Dinner was spectacular, the food and wine were perfect as well as the roving entertainment. Jill, Lissa and their parents wanted to adjourn to the ship since their journey had been longer than ours. I was a little sad that I had not gotten to interact with Dimitri again, but I realized he was playing host to everyone.

I excused myself from the table and told my parents I was going to do a little sightseeing, swearing not to go too far, take too long or cause any problems. I found a hedge garden maze like thing and started exploring. I came upon a girl about my age who was crying and I recognized her as Dimitri's younger sister Princess Viktoria.

I slowly approached her and said "Princess Viktoria, are you okay?"

"Just Vika, your Princess Rosemarie, right?" She responded wiping her tears away as she stared at my cut indicating she knew the story.

"Yes, and it's just Rose. Are you okay?" I asked again, which was clearly a stupid question since she was crying.

"No, arranged marriages are so stupid!" She spat out. "I am guessing since you are here, you are not being forced to marry someone?"

"No, sorry, my father's family has been against that for a while now. Who do they want you to marry?" I inquired surprised that if Dimitri was allowed to choose his bride then shouldn't Vika be able to choose her groom.

"Some old guy that I don't even know" she stated which brought on another round of tears. I sat down next to her and put my arm around her shoulder to comfort her.

I waited till her crying had calmed down a little and asked "Is there someone you want to marry?"

Vika took a big breath and then blew it out "Yeah, Dimka's best friend Ivan."

"Oh"

"Yeah, oh"

"Does he feel the same way?" I asked.

"Yes, we have been sneaking around for about six months and I don't know what to do."

"So, how come Dimitri gets to pick a wife but you have to have an arranged marriage?"

"It is some archaic law; my father apparently picked my husband when I was young."

"How does Dimitri feel about it?" I asked trying to reconcile the double standard.

"He's not a fan of it. Our mother and father did not get along at all and seemed to fight all the time. Karo first marriage was a disaster, but her current husband is the nicest guy ever. And as far as Sonya, they are recently married, so it is hard to tell." Vika explained.

"Would Dimitri let you decide on your own if he could change the practice?"

Vika started to ponder the thought and was just about to speak when two men emerged from the maze to where Vika and I were sitting. I recognized one of the men as Dimitri and was unsure of the other.

"Vika, there you are, we have been looking all over for you." Dimitri said with concern evident in his voice, then asked "Have you been crying?"

Vika just shrugged and at that point Dimitri seemed to notice my presence. "Rose, I was wondering where you went off to. Rose, this is my best friend Ivan. Ivan this is Princess Rose of Turkey."

Ivan bowed at me as I rolled my eyes and he laughed "Not much on protocol?" Ivan asked.

"No"

"Dimka, why don't I walk Vika back to her room and you can escort Rose back to her ship." Ivan suggested grabbing Vika's hand and almost running away with her.

Once we were alone, Dimitri and I started laughing as he offered his hand to help me up off the bench. As we walked toward the docks, Dimitri started "I'm not the archaic jerk she probably told you about. I don't believe in arranged marriages and as soon as I become King, I am hoping to abolish arranged marriages."

"Well, that's good" I said sort of sarcastic.

"And I know that Vika and Ivan are seeing each other, trying to sneak around. But I have to admit I am having fun trying to catch them in the act." Dimitri laughed.

"Oh my god, you are so evil!" I squealed out.

"I know, but it's so much fun." Dimitri continued to laugh and this time I laughed with him. As a princess, there are not a lot of opportunities to date, but I was surprised how well I was getting along with Dimitri as well as his mother and Vika.

"Earth to Rose" Dimitri said attempting to get my attention.

"Huh?"

"You sort of drifted off there, what were you thinking about?" Dimitri asked and I couldn't help the blush that started to form on my face. I attempted to hide it by looking down and letting my hair obscure my face, but it was too late.

"Roza" Dimitri slightly growled and when I looked up, he had raised one eyebrow plus there was a smirk on his face. God, he was gorgeous, I thought to myself, unfortunately this only increased my flushing.

Dimitri stopped walking and turned towards me "Rose, you intrigue me and I was hoping, if you were interested, that we could spend some time together and get to know one another."

"Yes, I would love too." I responded.

"Great, how about a picnic lunch tomorrow? I know a really great secluded area and since it would be inappropriate for us to be alone at this point, I was thinking of inviting Vika, Ivan and Christian, who is another good friend of mine."

"Can I bring Lissa with me? We rarely get to see each other and I don't want to leave her behind with all the old people."

Dimitri let out this rich deep laughter, that was like music to my ears and said "Of course, I will come by the yacht around 11am and pick up the both of you."

Dimitri and I continued walking towards the dock as he asked me questions about what it was like in Turkey. We reached the gang plank and Dimitri took my hand and kissed the back of it and said "Goodnight Rose, I'll see you tomorrow."

"Goodnight Dimitri" I said then turned to walk up the gang plank and when I reached the yacht entrance I looked back and he was still there, waiting for me to go inside. Such the gentleman I thought as I waved at him and he waved back at me.

I walked back to the room that Lissa and I were sharing, actually it was more like I floated than walked. What was this man doing to me I thought but decided I didn't care because I loved the way I felt when I was him.