Dimitri and I traipsed down the stairs to find Chief Croft sitting in my living room with a slightly amused looked on his face. It was clear a party had happened, with the empty solo cups and cans all over the place. I gave him a meek smile and wandering into the living room.
"Good morning," I said brushing my hair back behind my ear. Dimitri murmured his greeting as well as we sat on the couch across from Croft. Croft smiled and nodded his head in return.
"Good morning. I take it you had a fun night?" Croft said with a slight chuckle. I scoffed a laugh and nodded.
"Is there something we can help you with?" I asked politely.
"No I wanted to give you an update. With the new information we have, we will be turning the investigation over to the police shortly. We believe that this is a gang related offense. The only person we've been able to connect to the fire is Nathan Ivashkov, but he has vanished into thin air since you saw him," Croft explained.
"Gang related?" I asked, crossing my legs on the couch. Croft nodded and opened the file that was beside him that I hadn't noticed. "Does my baba know this?"
"Yes," Chief Croft said, "I spoke with him last night. He asked if I would stop by and let you know."
I nodded and listened patiently as he went over the information that they had for me. It turned out that Nathan Ivashkov came from a Romanian family that was well know in Europe. Almost like a mob family. If the investigation the fire department had done, it was clear that the Ivashkov family was trying to destroy their stock when it spread. As Croft went on, I felt a heavy feeling in my stomach grow. What started out as a small fire to conceal evidence of a drug ring turned into a catastrophic fire.
An event that changed the lives of many people.
Croft seemed to realize that a lot of the information didn't make sense to me or was going completely over my head.
"If I leave you the file, will that help more?"
"Yes. Sorry, it's just a lot to take in," I said apologetically. Croft nodded with an understanding look.
"It's understandable, it looks like you had a long night."
I chuckled. There was a lot of truth to that. Croft stood up and wrote a phone number on the inside of the file in case I wanted to ask anything questions, joking with me that I should clean up the mess. I rolled my eyes and showed him to the door.
"Thank you for all the information you've given me, Chief Croft. I really appreciate it," I said as I opened the door for Croft. After he left I leaned against the closed door with a sigh, catching Lissa standing in the kitchen with raised brows. I nodded and walked back into the living room to find Dimitri spread out over the couch, eyes closed as he relaxed.
I made my way over and climbed on top of him, laying down gently and snuggling up.
"Are you going to help me clean this up?!" Lissa called out from the kitchen. I snickered quietly and tucked my face into Dimitri's chest.
"Yeah! Just let me chill for a few minutes!" I called out, revelling in the comfort for a few minutes before reluctantly pulling myself off the couch and dragging Dimitri with me to help finish cleaning up.
Four days after Croft gave me the file I had gone through two notepads of paper and two pens. My desk looked like a bomb went off so I ended up venturing down to the island in the kitchen because it gave me more room.
I pulled my hair up off of my face and secured it with a hair tie. There was something about Igor Ivashkov that didn't sit right with me. I knew that he had three sons but couldn't find anything about the third. Nathan and Mikhail, I could find a lot of information, but it's like the third and youngest disappeared into thin air.
But Mikhail's face. There was something about the shape of his eyes that stirred familiarity within me.
The shrill ring of my phone made me jump, knocking my mug off the counter. I tensed for a moment, waiting for that sickening sound of glass shattering, but I was lucky. It was still intact.
"Fuck," I muttered under my breath as I picked up the phone. "Hello?"
I smirked to myself as I pulled the paper towel off the roll and started to wipe up my mess.
"Hey Comrade, what's up?"
"Not much, you busy?"
I looked up at the computer before answering. "No, not at all."
The kitchen door opened behind me and I turned to find Dimitri walking through it, phone to his ear.
"Good," Dimitri said before hanging up the call. I smiled at him and balled up the used paper towel, tossing it in the trash. Dimitri followed me around the counter and slipped his arms around me, pulling me into a tight hug. I hummed quietly and rested my face against his chest and then stretched up to kiss his cheek.
"Coffee?" I asked as I refilled my mug.
"Yes please," Dimitri responded as he sat down at the island. I pulled another mug from the cupboard and filled it, fixing it with milk and sugar before serving it to him.
Dimitri smiled as he lifted the mug to his lips, sipping it as I sat down beside him and opened my browser again.
"Who's that?" Dimitri asked.
"Mikhail Ivashkov. After our talk with Chief Croft, I just wanted to know more about them."
Dimitri chuckled as he shifted the papers on the counter, flipping over my scrawl on the papers.
"I see that. Rose, don't you think that you're putting yourself under a lot of stress over this? Croft said that they were still doing some investigating before turning it over to the police," Dimitri said gently, resting his hand over mine.
I looked at him and could see his concern clear on his face. I flipped my hand over and squeezed his gently, giving me a small smile before leaning in and kissing his cheek.
"I'm fine. I promise," I said softly as I turned back to my computer and maximized the browser. Dimitri chuckled lightly and shifted his chair closer to me, reading over my notes as I scrolled on the internet. I found a link that looked promising and opened it, looking at the photo of the young man that appeared at the beginning before reading the article underneath.
"I think I've seen him before," Dimitri said, leaning over my shoulder. I turned my head to look at him, raising my brows at him in question.
"Yeah. He looks like my uncle Misha. But I haven't seen him since I was a kid," Dimitri said.
"Isn't Misha a nickname for Mikhail?" I asked with furrowed brows.
"Yes," Dimitri said with a nod, "but I never heard anyone call him Mikhail. Only Misha."
I chewed on my lip and sighed. I typed Misha Belikov into the search engine, but nothing came up.
"That's not right."
"What do you mean?" I asked Dimitri.
"Belikov my mother's last name. Not Randall's. For some reason he took Mama's name instead."
My stomach turned and I typed another name into the search engine.
Well…I had hoped that nothing had come up, but something did. A photo came up with three young men. One was clearly Nathan Ivashkov, the youngest of the bunch, Randall. I clicked on the link and pulled up the article, but it was in Russian. More Russian then I could understand.
I turned to Dimitri and met his eyes, wondering what to do next. Dimitri moved the laptop so that he could look at it better. I sat silently as I watched him read, the crease between his eyebrows deepening the further he read. When he reached the end of the article he sat back in the chair, shaking his head before sighing heavily.
"What did it say?" I asked, biting my lip as I watched him.
Dimitri sat silently for a minute or two and I was starting to get concerned before he spoke.
"Long story short; my father was pretty much part of a mob family up until he disappeared at eighteen. I don't really know who I'm living with apparently," Dimitri explained.
"I'm sorry," I said, feeling guilty for digging all of this up. Dimitri shook his head and slipped his hand under mine.
"It's not your fault, Roza," Dimitri said quietly, pulling me out of my chair and wrapping his arm around my shoulder. I rested my cheek on my shoulder and sighed.
"Do you think your mom knows this?" I asked quietly. Dimitri stroked his thumb over my shoulder and rested his head on top of mine.
"I have no idea."
I took a slow breath and pulled back to look at him. "Do you want to know if she knew?"
Dimitri shrugged. "I don't know. But if she doesn't know, it'll kill her. You know that honesty is one of the most important things to her."
I found the person of my interest quickly and stalked towards them. I slipped my arm around the closest arm and tugged.
"Sorry to interrupt, but it's urgent," I said to Abby Badica as I pulled Adrian away from her, dragging him into the hall that lead to the maintenance rooms. Adrian looked confused as I forcibly moved him further down the hall, but let me do it anyways.
"Did you know? When you were asking me questions about Dimitri. Did you know something?" I demanded, crossing my arms over my chest. Adrian stared at me for a moment with a confused expression before his face relaxed.
"Did I know what?" Adrian asked slowly, stuffing his hands into his pockets.
"About Randall Belikov. That he is actually an Ivashkov?"
Adrian looked at the ground and nodded his head. "Yeah. I found out that Randall was out of the loop after I asked you those questions about Dimitri. I guess Dad was right when he said Randall wanted out."
"Out?" I asked.
"Yes. From what I heard, Randall left home at eighteen and cut all ties with the family except for Mikhail. Mikhail was kind of like mutual group in the family until he died last year," Adrian explained as he leaned against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest. I shook my head and leaned against the wall, sliding down it slowly and sitting on the cold floor.
Despite wearing a skirt, I bent my knees a bit and rested my elbows against them, my hands over my face. God, can this year get any weirder?
"What?" I asked from behind my hands.
"For what it's worth, I'm sorry. "
I laughed humourlessly as I removed my hands. "Your dad set the fire that killed my mom and you're sorry?" I shook my head and scoffed, tipping my head back against the concrete.
"I am, Rose. You have to believe me! I know what it's like to lose a parent! It's not something I would ever wish upon someone," Adrian implored coming to crouch in front of me. I took a deep breath in and lifted my head up.
"I didn't mean that you didn't feel sorry. You shouldn't need to feel sorry," I said quietly as I bit my lip to keep my emotions in control. Adrian nodded and gave me a small smile, offering his hand out to me to help me stand up. I took and pulled myself to my feet, dusting the back of my skirt off and straightening it.
The two of us walked down the hall as the bell rang to single that class had started. I ran my hand through my hair as I turned to go towards me class.
"Hey, Lil' Twirler!"
I stopped and turned to face Adrian. "Yeah?"
"Does Dimitri know?"
I nodded my head slowly.
"If it helps, tell him I want out of that family as much as his dad did."
I frowned and nodded. It never crossed my mind that Adrian would possibly want out of that life. But I don't think I'd want that life either.
Hello! I'm sorry for the delay in updating. My computer was being a dick and I was having a really rough week.
I have some bad news. I don't think I will be updating this story for two or three weeks. I am losing momentum with this story and I am trying to make things work. I know where I want this story to go and how I want it to go, but I just don't know how to get there.
I love writing and I love writing for you all.