Chapter 41: It Ended Too Soon

I woke up to hear Lissa crying but when I looked over at her she appeared to still be asleep. I got up and went over to her bed and started to shake her shoulders in an attempt to wake her up. After about a minute, her eyes opened and she asked "Rose?" while looking around the room in a moment of confusion.

"I think you were having a nightmare, Liss" I said as I wiped the tears from her face.

"OMG, it was awful" Lissa cried "I dreamt that my entire family died in an accident, but you and I survived."

"I'm so sorry Liss, that sounds awful" I said as I hugged her tightly.

Just then my stomach growled voicing its usual morning greeting. I looked at Lissa and we both broke out in hysterical giggles.

"Let's get dressed and go get you some food." Lissa said knowing me way to well.

"Hey, Dimitri invited you and I to have a picnic lunch with him plus his sister Vika and his two best friends Ivan and Christian. He said they like to hike up to this lake near the mountains. Are you up for that?"

"Sure" Lissa responded, her mood improving greatly. We dressed in some comfortable clothes suitable for hiking or whatever we might be doing.

We made it up to the top deck of the yacht, the sun was brightly shining and the sky was a beautiful clear blue. I could easily see how this was the Royal Russian's Summer Palace destination. Lissa's and my parent were eating breakfast together and after we grabbed food, we went to sit down with them.

"Baba, Mom, Mr. and Mrs. Dragomir, the Crown Prince Dimitri Belikov has asked Lissa and I to go on a picnic with his sister Princess Viktoria and his two friends Ivan and Christian. Can we both go?" I asked using my sweetest voice.

Our parents looked at each other and then Baba said "Yes, I don't see a problem with that, but you need some security with you."

Please not Stan, I chanted in my head over and over.

"Why don't you take Emil and Celeste with you, they both enjoy the outdoors." Baba said.

Yes, thank god! Lissa and I ate breakfast almost silently but I had the biggest smile on my face. Once we finished, we still had about an hour before Dimitri came to get us, so Lissa and I found chairs to soak up as much sun as possible. Well, more me than Lissa, she favored the shade due to her porcelain white skin which easily burned. But between my olive skin as well as living in Turkey my whole life, my skin just naturally tanned.

At around 10:30 am, I started to hear some commotion and when I opened my eyes, I saw Dimitri ascending to the top deck. He looked even better than I remembered. His eyes instantly found mine and he gave me the best smile I have ever seen.

Lissa and I got up at that same time as our parents to greet Dimitri. "Good Morning Rose, Good Morning Lissa." Dimitri addressed us in his baritone accented voice than turned to our parents and properly greeted them.

Baba started "Rose has told us that you and your friends have invited the Princess's for a hike and a picnic?"

"Yes, two of my friends Lord Christian Ozera and Lord Ivan Zeklos along with my younger sister Princess Viktoria. It's about an hour hike to a lake where we often have picnics and swim. Ladies, if you have bathing suits, the lake is refreshing at this time of the year." Dimitri said addressing Lissa and I at the end.

"And what about security?" Baba asked.

"Ivan, Christian and I are well trained in self-defense but we will have four guards with us and I anticipate the Princesses will have guards with them?"

"Yes, I am sending two guards with the girls as well. Lissa, Rose, why don't you pack a bag for your hike while Dimitri and I speak." Baba stated.

"Okay" I said and Lissa and I walked as fast as we could and as soon as we hit the stairs we ran to our room. Neither of us wanted Dimitri to spend too much time with our parents because it usually ended with the guys running away.

Not knowing what to pack, I threw in my bathing suit, a towel and a pair of shorts. Lissa packed the same as me as well as a hat, which I thought was a good idea, so I threw one in my backpack as well. We ran back up to the top deck to rescue Dimitri and much to our surprise, everyone was laughing and appeared to be getting along well.

Dimitri shook Baba's hand and then walked towards us "Ready to go?"

"Yes" I replied.

"Have fun" my mother yelled at us.

We made it to the dock and Emil and Celeste were waiting for us, I introduced Dimitri to them and then we headed over to the far side of the beach where I saw Viktoria, Ivan and whom I was assuming Christian. Dimitri introduced everyone and I had to bite the inside of my cheek to prevent the smirk that was threatening to come out as I watched Lissa and Christian make googly eyes at each other. Looking around at the rest of the group, I realized everyone else was noticing it as well.

We started our hike with security in front of us and behind us and we had naturally split ourselves into groups of two, Ivan and Viktoria, Dimitri and I, and Lissa and Christian. It was also the perfect trail in my opinion as the guys had to help us over fallen trees and across streams.

About halfway through the hike, Dimitri just continued holding my hand instead of letting it go after he helped me over a fallen tree. His hand was so warm plus it felt like there was this electricity that went through us and I couldn't have been happier.

We reached the lake and it was probably the most beautiful lake I had ever seen. It was crystal clear water and one end had flat rocks that jutted out like a dock and there were bigger rocks on the side that looked like you might be able to jump off them.

Dimitri stopped walking and took off his backpack, which I finally realized that all the guys had bigger backpacks than us.

"We're here" Ivan said in a happy voice and Vika laughed at him. I looked over at Lissa and saw that she was still making googly eyes with Christian. I looked over at Dimitri and he smirked at me as he followed my gaze.

"Well, we have food, blankets and a tent." Dimitri said as he started unpacking and Ivan started unpacking his bag as well. I helped Dimitri put out some blankets and Ivan and Vika put up a small tent.

Dimitri cleared his throat "Christian? Earth to Christian?"

"Yeah?" Christian answered without looking away from Lissa.

Dimitri chuckled "Can we have your backpack?"

"Oh yeah, sorry" Christian said finally breaking away from staring at Lissa. I wiggled both my eyebrows at Lissa and she started blushing.

Christian and Dimitri started unpacking the food and they laid out fruits, sandwiches, and meat and cheese platters. As well as some wine, water and some juices. I saw Vika emerge from the tent in her bathing suit.

"We brought the tent for you girls to change in or if any of you got too hot in the sun." Dimitri said.

"Thanks."

"Can the two of you swim?" Dimitri asked me and Lissa.

I answered for the two of us because I knew Lissa would be embarrassed. "I can swim but Lissa can only swim a little."

"That's okay, it's really shallow near these flat rocks, it doesn't really get deeper until near those big rocks." Dimitri said and just as he pointed towards the rocks, we watched Ivan jump off and Vika jumped off right behind him screaming all the way down.

"OMG" I slightly screamed as I watched Ivan than Vika scream on the way down. I turned towards Dimitri as I heard him laughing while watching them jump. He turned towards me and said "Do you want to swim for a little bit and then we can eat and relax?"

I looked at Lissa for her opinion and she nodded yes and I turned back to Dimitri and said "Sounds good." Lissa and I grabbed our backpacks and went into the tent to change.

When we came out, Dimitri and Christian had changed into board shorts. Holy Heavens was all I could think as I saw Dimitri's chest, he was in great shape. It was obvious Dimitri worked out and worked out often, his chest was well chiseled and he his abs were more than a six-pack.

When I finished looking Dimitri up and down, I noticed that that he was appraising me in the same way. I started blushing and turned away from his gaze. Lissa and I grabbed our towels and laid them beside where Dimitri and Christian had laid down their towels on the rocks Dimitri had pointed out earlier.

Lissa and I sat down on the rocks dipping our feet into the cool water, but it felt nice after the short hike we took to the lake. Dimitri and Christian were already in the water, chest deep for Christian but waist deep for Dimitri, which I did not mind because it allowed me to stare at his chest longer. I got in the water which now came to just above my knees and I could appreciate the coolness of the lake a little more. Once I was about thigh level in the water, I decided to bite the bullet and dive under the water. It was still refreshing, but the water was cooler than the Turkish water that I was used to at home.

Ivan and Vika had continued their jumping from the rocks as we were alerted every five minutes or so with Vika's screams on the way down. We started fooling around in the water and splashing each other. Ivan and Vika joined in occasionally on their way by after jumping off the rock. It seemed to take them longer and longer to jump off the rocks, I started to wonder if there was a little kissing happening out of sight from the group.

After a while, Dimitri asked "Do you want to jump off the rocks?"

"Only if you come with me" I said.

He grabbed my hand and said "Right this way."

I looked back at Lissa but saw that she was engrossed with Christian so I didn't feel bad leaving her to go with Dimitri. Dimitri helped me out of the lake onto the shore and then he lowered himself down to me with his back to me "Hop on, it's a little rocky."

I jumped on his back and if I thought holding his hand caused tingles in my body, this was so much more intense as was the warmth of his body. We reached the edge of the rock and looking down it seemed so much higher.

Dimitri noticed my slight hesitation and asked "Nervous?"

"A little" I responded.

"Don't worry" he said and he grabbed my hand giving it a squeeze and then we jumped off. I screamed like Vika and closed my eyes but Dimitri held my hand tightly the whole way down. We hit the water faster than I thought but Dimitri was right there and as soon as we came up to the surface, he pulled me to him.

"Are you okay Roza?" Dimitri asked as he placed his arm around my waist.

"That was freaking awesome" I laughed and shortly after Dimitri laughed with me. We jumped off the rock about a dozen more times. He carried me up to the rock and held my hand every time we jumped.

We eventually stopped jumping and swimming so we could eat lunch and lay out in the sun. I ate too much as usual and drank a little more wine than I should so Dimitri suggested we lie on the rock while our food digested and the wine was absorbed.

Lissa and Christian were sleeping in the tent partly due to food coma and partly to Lissa seeking time out of the sun since her skin causes her to burn easily and apparently Christian's skin as well. Ivan and Vika had gone for a walk to "work off" their appetite, but Dimitri sent one guard to keep an eye on them.

I was definitely more open and gigglier than usual with Dimitri, but honestly, he was very easy to speak with and he was equally open with me.

Once we felt back to normal, we started packing up our stuff and headed back to the yacht before the sun went down. I was happy that Dimitri had taken my hand while on the trail even before he needed to help me. I was so happy; it was probably one of the best days of my life.

The end of the month and the end of our time in Russia came faster than I had hoped for. I had enjoyed the time I had spent with Dimitri, Ivan, Christian, Vika and Lissa but mostly Dimitri and Lissa. I became fast friends with Vika as well as Ivan and Christian, the latter and I bantered much to Lissa chagrin. The six of us spent as much time as possible together, but we were hindered mostly by Dimitri's schedule as he still had royal duties to attend to.

Before I knew it, the final ball known as the Crystal Ball was upon us, and Dimitri had asked me to be his date and I gladly accepted. I couldn't wait to see the dress for tonight as the royal dressmakers had kept it secret from me. Lissa and I got our hair and make-up done and then I walked into my bedroom and saw the most beautiful gown I had ever seen. It was a midnight blue A-line dress. The whole dress was covered in lace and crystals and sparkled in the light every time I moved.

Lissa's dress was just as beautiful, it was an A-line dress as well, it was an aquamarine color that was perfect for her skin tone. Once we were dressed, we went up to the deck to join our family before leaving for the ball. To my surprise, Dimitri and Christian were speaking with our families but with their backs to us.

I watched as Jill and Abby's mouths dropped but then turned into huge smiles when they saw us. I watched in slow motion as Dimitri turned around and looked at me from head to toe and back up again. I looked him over as well and Dimitri looked so regal in his formal dress consisting of black pants, a black jacket, white shirt and a red sash, plus some pins that I didn't know what they represented.

Dimitri walked over to me and his scent washed over me, calming me down a little. He looked into my eyes as he grabbed my hand and brought it up to his lips. Just before he kissed my hand he said "Roza, I have never seen anyone as beautiful as you."

I blushed and said "Thank you Dimitri. You aren't too bad looking either."

Dimitri chuckled and then addressed Lissa "Lissa, you look absolutely radiant." and he elbowed Christian in the ribs, since Christian had not said a word and still had his mouth open.

"Yes, Lissa you look ravishing." Christian finally spit out and I brought my hand up to cover the laugh that I could not prevent escaping my mouth.

"Christian, you clean up well, I am quite surprised." I said to him while smirking.

"I'm sorry have we met?" Christian asked giving me a dig "You look like Rose but you couldn't be her."

I gave Christian the stink eye while Lissa hit the back of his head. Dimitri ended our banter as he held out his arm for me "Shall we?"

"Yes" I said taking his arm and walking with him all the way to the huge tent where the ball was being held. It was still warm out, but you could tell the cooler air was making its way in as it was the end of August. I was initially worried I might be cold later but realized my Russian god would keep me warm all night.

When we arrived at the ball, all eyes were on Dimitri and me. It was no secret that we had spent almost the entire month together and that he had paid no attention to any other girls that summer unless royal business dictated.

I am not sure whether Dimitri had noticed, but I had definitely noticed the glares from the other girls who had hoped to be noticed but I didn't care. I was just happy being with Dimitri. Tonight's ball stood out for many reasons, first being the last ball of season and therefore my time with Dimitri was coming to an end. But at all of the other balls, Dimitri politely danced with other women, but he still danced the majority of the dances with me. But this time, he danced every dance with me and never looked at or acknowledged anyone else.

It was the last dance of the evening, Dimitri was holding me close and with our height difference, my head was against his chest and his head was resting on top of my head. It started to hit me that this was the end, my family and I were leaving in the morning and that meant leaving Dimitri. My breathing started to pick up and Dimitri started to notice.

"What is it Roza?"

"Nothing" I responded but I could tell he didn't believe me.

"Roza" he said as he put his hand under my chin and lifted my face to meet his "What is it?"

"It's just that it's the last day and I don't know if I am ever going to see you again."

"Trust me Roza, you are going to see me again and it will probably be very soon after I have a talk with your father."

I closed my eyes and I leaned into Dimitri going up on my tippy toes to meet him halfway when he bent down to kiss me. I opened my eyes when I felt kisses all over my face and was momentarily confused when I found myself lying in bed with Dimitri above me showering my face with kisses. I whined slightly and Dimitri said "Sorry to wake you up but the doctor is on her way over to check on you."

"Okay, I was just having the best dream and you woke me up right before the prince kissed me." I giggled while telling him.

"Oh, really and what did this prince look like?" Dimitri smirked.

"Well, he had chocolate brown eyes and brown silky hair. He was very tall and muscular everywhere."

"I see and where did this prince live?" Dimitri continued smirking at me.

"In Russia, we were visiting him in Sochi for the month of August and he was just about to kiss me." I pouted at him.

"I'm so sorry Roza." Dimitri said feigning compassion. "Maybe I can make up for it."

Dimitri slowly brought his hand up to cup my face and guided me to his lips. It was a soft but powerful kiss and when I parted my lips to moan, he slipped his tongue into meet mine. But unfortunately, he stopped to soon for my liking and I pouted.

While Dimitri's hand still cupped my face, his thumb ran across my bottom lip and he said "We will continue you this later."

"Promise?" I asked my eyes narrowing at him.

"I promise now let's get you dressed and downstairs to be checked out by the doctor and then eat some breakfast."

I reluctantly got out of bed and freshened up in the bathroom changing into comfy clothes then Dimitri swooped me off my feet.

"I can walk, you know." I tried to sound irritated but I ended up giggling because I secretly liked being in his arms.

"Doctors orders and my orders." Dimitri carried me down the stairs and placed me on the couch.

"Morning Rose, how are you feeling this morning? Did you sleep well?" Olena asked.

"Morning, I feel good and I slept well, thank you."

Just then there was a knock on the door and one of the guardians went to answer it. The doctor walked into the living area and came over to me. "Rose, how are you feeling?"

"Good, really good."

"Any pain, dizziness or nausea?" She asked.

"Nope" I answered.

She palpated my head then did a few tests and then said "I think food, staying hydrated and a little TLC and you will be better than new. Don't hesitate to call me."

"Thank you" I said and Dimitri walked her out. I got up off the couch and went to the table to get some breakfast before my stomach embarrassed me.

It was such a relaxing weekend in Baia at the Belikov's. I learned how to cook a little under the careful eye of Olena and Dimitri. I learned a little bit of Russian from Paul, who was the perfect teacher since he didn't get too mad as I butchered the language. Plus, I played with Zoya and changed my first diaper ever.

I had such a great time getting to know Dimitri's family. With training and everything else, I really haven't had the chance to get to know anyone other than Vika. And if the smile on Dimitri's face was any indication, I think I had won his family over.

And Speaking of Vika, we heard how Matt had attempted to sneak into Vika's room multiple times at night but was caught by every time by Yeva. It took me about half an hour to stop laughing as I heard the stories.

I watched how Matt interacted with the family and noticed he had taken a different approach. It took him awhile and several attempts, but he eventually won over Yeva and after that the rest of the Belikov women were a breeze.

By the time we left Baia, I was so relaxed and happy and couldn't wait to return for another visit. I looked over at Dimitri and I had never seen him so happy.