Hello loves! I'm back :)

I am so sorry for taking so long to upload this chapter. I appreciate every single one of you for being so supportive. This year has been a wreck with school work, illness, and family issues, and I just needed to take a break from writing.

I'm grateful to say that my family has recovered from Covid-19 and I am now back on track. I hope you all enjoy! :)

*Warning: The content in this chapter is sensitive.*

My vision was blinded by bright lights as soon as I woke up. I blinked a few times to let my eyes adjust despite the headache and nausea that consumed me. Where was I? This most definitely was not my bedroom or Dimitri's. I could even hear footsteps in what I assumed was a hallway, announcements coming from the ceiling, a needle in my arm—a hospital! What in the world was I doing here?

"She's waking up."

I blinked again and turned my head to the side where I saw Dimitri sitting on a chair next to my bed. On the opposing wall was Ivan with his arms crossed, his gaze focussed on me.

"Careful," Dimitri said, moving closer when I tried to get up. My head didn't seem to agree with my body's movements, so I simply rested my back against the clutter of pillows behind me.

"What happened?" I asked. "Why am I here?"

Dimitri looked like he was reluctant to spill before he grabbed my hand with gentleness. "Do you remember anything from last night, Rose?"

My memories from last night were completely fogged up. I remembered driving to the house party, talking with friends...

"Oh shit," I blurted out, "did I get that drunk? Oh god, did I drive my car? Cause you know, the penalty for a DUI is pretty serious—"

"You didn't get drunk," Dimitri cut me off. "When I picked you up last night, I thought you were. You could barely walk, your speech was slurred, and you were sick. But you weren't drunk."

"Okay, so...what happened?" I repeated. Dimitri went silent for a second and gave Ivan a side-long glance. My frustration started to grow as I looked between the two.

"Hello? I'm in a hospital! I want to know what happened. If none of you tell me, I'll look at the charts myself." When I tried to get up again, Dimitri pushed me back down with his hands.

"Sit," he said with an exasperated sigh. "Ivan drove your friends home last night. When I came to pick you up, someone was dragging you towards another car. You were drugged."

There was a brief moment of silence as I tried to take in the information. I half-expected myself to start freaking out over the situation. Instead, I started laughing.

"Drugged," I giggled, trying to ignore the worsening ache in my head. When Dimitri and Ivan's expression remained solemn, my laughter started to die down and my smile faded.

"Oh. You're serious," I realized. The severity of the situation started to sink in and I covered my mouth to conceal my horror. Dimitri moved closer and grabbed my hand to try to calm me down.

"The doctors found flunitrazepam in your system," he explained. "You must have consumed it at the party without noticing."

"Flunitrazepam? I-I don't even know what that is," I said worriedly.

"We know," Ivan added. "We're saying someone slipped it into your drink when you weren't looking. Whoever did it was working with someone else. If Dimitri hadn't gotten to you in time, you probably wouldn't be here."

I leaned my head over and ran a hand through my hair, staring at the large tiles that made up the hospital floor. This was bad. I would say this was a bunch of men picking a random college girl to prey on, but the chances were slim. It couldn't have been a coincidence that they had chosen me. It had to be him.

Without moving my head, I shut my eyes and asked, "What was the colour of the car? The one you said I was being dragged towards."

"Silver? Maybe grey," Dimitri answered. My heart dropped a little, but I shouldn't have been surprised. He was still after me.

"Is it him?" Ivan asked. "It is your ex-boyfriend?"

I nodded while trying to hold back my tears. I could hear my heart rate getting faster on the cardiac monitor beside me and tried to calm myself down before it could get out of hand. Breathe, I told myself. I needed to breathe. I couldn't break down now—not in front of them.

"Ivan, do you mind giving us some time alone?" Dimitri asked. He looked angry, but like me, he didn't seem surprised. Ivan left and quietly closed the door, leaving us alone in the room. We were quiet for a little while as he stroked my hand with his thumb, but there seemed to be something else on his mind—and it was bothering him.

"What's wrong?" I asked him, placing my hand on his cheek. Dimitri melted into my touch and placed his hand over mine, placing a gentle kiss on my fingers.

"We'll talk about it when we get home."

After a few more assessments at the hospital, the doctor discharged me and advised me to rest. I was still feeling sluggish by the time I got to Dimitri's condo, so he let me sit on the couch with my legs sprawled across his lap. I knew something was still on his mind, so I asked him again. Dimitri took a deep breath, looking as if he dreaded his next words.

"Before you passed out last night, you mentioned something about a baby."

Oh no. I was hoping I could avoid that part of my life, but it was only a matter of time before Dimitri found out. I had been keeping it to myself from the start, but I couldn't anymore—not with the trust Dimitri and I had established between each other.

"Did you have a baby? Is there a child involved that I don't know about?"

"No, there's no child," I said, sounding slightly annoyed. "But I was pregnant once—in the summer. I thought we were careful, but you know...accidents happen."

Dimitri inhaled deeply, looking around as he tried to process things in his mind. "So you were pregnant. What did you do when you found out?"

"At first, I freaked out. I wasn't ready for a child, and I'm still not ready now. I especially didn't want a child with him. He would've hurt them too."

"I don't doubt that," Dimitri agreed. "So, what did you do?"

My chest started to tighten. The whole situation made me emotional every time I thought about it. Before I could even get words out, tears started to pool in my eyes.

"Was it a miscarriage?"

Again, I remained silent. Yes, it had been somewhat of a miscarriage, but there was more to it than that. I'd had a choice to make and it had been taken away from me.

"Did you terminate your pregnancy?" Dimitri pushed. I felt a tear fall down on my cheek and abruptly wiped it away in frustration.

"I wasn't sure if I wanted to at the time. I couldn't make a decision fast enough, so he—" I choked on my words as a sob ripped through my chest and Dimitri tightened his grip on my hand.

"Roza, no matter what happened, you know I won't judge you for it. I'm here for you. Talk to me," he said softly, tipping my face towards him.

"Nathan found some medical forms in my bag—that's how he found out about the pregnancy. He wanted to control everything—including what I did with my body. So, he handled the situation himself."

"What do you mean he handled it? What did he do, Rose?"

I let out another tear and sniffled as I mustered up the courage to tell Dimitri the truth. "He beat me. I miscarried later that night."

Dimitri froze for a moment. His eyes started to pop out of his skull as he realized the severity of the situation before he finally pulled me into his arms. "I'm so sorry. That's horrible, Roza. You never deserved any of this."

"I'm fine. I wasn't ready for a child anyways," I argued, shamingly pushing my hurt feelings away. "Well, I'm still not ready, but that's not the point. After it happened, there was some sort of complication. Because of the physical damage that was caused, my doctor said I'd be at risk for miscarriages or complications. I can still get pregnant which is why I'm on the pill, but it's not likely that I'll have a healthy pregnancy in the future."

"Nathan hurt you that badly," Dimitri questioned, although it came out as a statement.

I nodded and said, "He took my choices away. I'll never forget it."

Dimitri tightened his hold on me and placed his chin on my head. "Why didn't you tell me this before? This isn't something to be taken lightly."

"Exactly. It took a huge toll on me. I don't like to think about it."

"I understand but you're missing the point. I'm your boyfriend. We need to communicate. We need to be honest with each other."

"I know," I said, sliding my face into my hand in shame. Dimitri pulled my hand away and made me face him, but I couldn't make eye contact. I'd broken our trust.

"Speaking of communication," he went on, "I think it's time you go to the police with this."

"No. No way. I can't—I'm not ready. Nathan will find out—"

"The longer you cover for him, the more damage he's going to do. Rose, I know you're scared, but you can't keep this in the dark anymore. Nathan should be behind bars."

I sighed. Could I really do this? Nathan knew a lot of people. But I knew that if I held back any longer, I'd have less protection. Dimitri couldn't protect me all the time. I wasn't trained enough to protect myself yet.

"Okay." I pulled back and whispered a prayer in my head before facing Dimitri once again. "We'll go to the police station tomorrow."

The next morning was taken up by phone calls. The process was slow and I was surprised to have even gotten an interview this afternoon. I had stood in front of the station for several minutes and almost turned away before I went in, but Dimitri convinced me to stay. He couldn't go into the interrogation room with me, but I felt okay knowing he was just outside.

I sat in the small, dull room with the two-way mirror beside me as the detective across from me repeated the information I gave her. She was blonde and surprisingly young—I'd say she was only in her mid-twenties, but she was sharp. She had been asking me questions that were fairly easy to answer at first, but the hard part was still to come.

"Can you describe the nature of these altercations?" she asked, crossing her legs under the table. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair before clearing my throat.

"They were violent," I admitted.

"Violent," she repeated, taking notes in her notebook. I nodded.

"When I made him angry, he got really angry. At first, he would yell. And then...he'd break things, or throw items across the room."

"And it was like this every time you fought?"

"It was more than that. He beat me—severely."

The detective halted her hand movements and slowly looked up, locking her eyes with mine. "Where, exactly? And was it just hitting, or was there more?"

"He kicked me too." When I didn't continue, the detective tilted her head to the side as if she expected more.

"I-in the stomach, mostly. He always hit my face. My arms were also bruised."

"And how long did this usually go on for?"

"Sometimes, it'd go on for hours. But the fear...the fear never ended. I still have nightmares to this day." Not that that was relevant to her case. I had to remind myself that she was a detective, not a therapist.

"Did your abuser threaten you often?" she continued.

"Yes. Most of the time, he threatened me with violence. Death threats too, occasionally."

"After you split up, has he threatened you since? And has he attempted to see you?"

"He did—does. He broke into my apartment a few times. I didn't feel safe, so I moved into my boyfriend's condo for now."

The detective set her lips into a hard line as she took down more notes. I mentioned the induced miscarriage as well which was hard to get through, but I wasn't planning on leaving out any details. When she was finished taking everything down, she sat back and squinted her eyes. "Why didn't you go to the police with this sooner?"

I was hoping she wouldn't ask me that. I hated it when anyone asked me that. Of course, going to the police sounded like the most obvious and logical thing to do, but it wasn't as easy as it seemed—not when your abuser was threatening to hurt you.

I shrugged and said, "I was scared Nathan would find me. He could be planning my death for all I know. It took every bit of strength I have left in me to even come here today."

"What changed your mind? Why decide to report him now?"

"Did you not read the statement I reported this morning? This guy tried to kidnap me last night." I was aware of how rude I sounded, but her questions were starting to piss me off. I was tired and agitated. On the other hand, the detective didn't seem bothered in the slightest with my attitude. Maybe she was used to this.

"It says here that you were drugged with flunitrazepam," she said, flipping to another page in her book. "I'm assuming you don't remember much from last night. Your boyfriend was with you, correct?"

"Yes. Well, he arrived later, but he knows what happened."

The detective pulled out her cell phone and dialled a number, saying, "Hans, bring him in."

Just a few minutes later, Dimitri walked into the room and greeted the detective with a nod. He sat down beside me and grabbed my hand, and I immediately felt better. His presence was oddly comforting even in this predicament.

Dimitri answered some basic questions to confirm his identity for the first few minutes. Once everything was finalized, the young woman started to ask questions about last night.

"So, when you arrived at the scene, you saw Rose being dragged by another man?"

"Yes. He was working with Nathan."

"Did you actually see the driver of the car?"

"I...well, no. It was dark, but it was him. Unless he has a whole team working for him, it couldn't have been anyone else."

"But you didn't actually see him in the car. You just suspect it was him."

"It was him!" I cried, slamming my hands on the table. The detective stopped writing and eyed me carefully after my outburst. Dimitri rubbed my back just as someone else walked into the room. He was an officer I didn't recognize, but he must have been standing outside the whole time.

"Is there a problem in here?" he asked. The detective held her hand up without facing him.

"We're fine here. Just got a little carried away."

The officer scanned the room one more time with a watchful eye before he sighed and closed the door, leaving us in silence.

"Sorry," I whispered, trying to calm my nerves.

"That's alright. I understand emotions can get cluttered. I'm just trying to understand what happened without falsely accusing anyone. I'm not saying it wasn't him; it very well could've been. It could've also been someone else who wanted to take advantage of you. Without hard evidence, I can't prove anything."

"It couldn't have been someone else," I said in a hard voice. "Nathan's been looking for me for as long as I can remember. He knows where I live—that's why I've been living with Dimitri. He knows which school I go to. He probably knows where I work. He has ways of finding out where I go. That's why he tried to kidnap me from the party."

"The vehicle that was used was a silver sedan," Dimitri pointed out.

"That's what his looked like. It had to be him, detective."

"Did you get a license plate number?" she asked.

"There was none. Not in the front, at least. He must have taken it off."

"Nathan's smart. Even if there was a license plate, it's probably fake," I told them.

Dimitri looked perplexed. It was a rare look on him, but he was at a loss for words. He wanted Nathan gone just as much as I did, but it wasn't going to be easy. That was the worst part of it all—it was so easy for him to get to me but so difficult for us to get to him. The fact that he had people helping him made it even harder.

The detective continued with us for another half hour, but the next series of questions were repetitive which gradually got more annoying. When we were finally allowed to leave the room, we were told to stay and wait in the main lobby.

"That wasn't so bad, was it?" Dimitri asked, slipping his hands into his pockets.

"Are you kidding? I had to repeat myself ten times. That girl probably has short-term memory loss or something."

Dimitri chuckled, making me even more confused. "Rose, that's normal. It's a tactic detectives use to make sure your story doesn't change. Same questions, same answers."

Well, that made sense. I thought that woman just hadn't paid enough attention.

I heard the sound of the detective's heels on the floor as she entered the main lobby. She had her hair tucked behind her to expose her face, and as she got closer, I noticed a very faint golden tattoo on one of her cheeks. It looked like some kind of flower that branched out from below her cheekbone. In a weird way, it suited her.

"Sorry that took so long. I'll need some time to go over everything you told me today. In the meantime, if you ever feel like your life is in danger, call 911 and tell them your name. We can also offer police protection if needed. If you have any more information, please give me a call to let me know. Here's my number." The detective handed me a piece of paper with her number on it which I put in my pocket for safekeeping.

"Do you think you can find him?" I asked with a hopeful voice.

"I'll admit, you have a difficult case, Rose. It won't be easy, but we're doing everything we can. Be careful. We'll let you know if anything comes up."

I nodded and shook her hand, feeling her firm grip on mine. "Thank you. Oh, and what's your name again?"

"Sydney," she answered, giving me a tight but reassuring smile. "Sydney Sage."