My eyes flickered over the bodies in the room, everyone drinking and happy that exams were finished and they could party.
I wrinkled my nose. How the hell was I attracted to this guy? Honestly? How did I spend two years dating him? He's a pig. A sexist pig. Did my brain seriously overlook the red flags?
"Jesse. Knock it off."
"C'mon Rose, we both know I can give you a good time," Jesse slurred before he tensed up and practically scurried away. I turned and smirked, finding Dimitri behind me with a capped beer in his hands.
"You look like you need another one," Dimitri said, handing it to me as his eyes flicked over my shoulder before going to my face.
I gave him a full smile and uncapped the beer, clicking the neck of the bottle against his. Reading the social cues of the last few weeks I stepped closer to him, brushing my arm against his as I sipped my beer.
Dimitri looked over the top of my head as he brushed his hand against my arm. "He didn't bother you, did he?"
I shook my head. "It's not a big deal. He's just drunk," I said waving him off. Dimitri nodded his head slowly, sipping his beer as his eyes stayed trained behind me. I furrowed my brows at him but tried to ignore it. But there was a feeling in my gut that said something was off. I poked Dimitri's abs playfully, which brought his attention back down to me instead.
"Got any fun plans for this weekend?"
Dimitri shook his head.
"Well, how about you and I grab dinner?" I asked hopefully, giving him a small smile. I had been toying with the idea of asking Dimitri on a date for a few weeks now. Figured the time was right. Dimitri smiled sweetly and tucked the curls that had fallen in my face behind my ear.
I frowned. "No?"
Dimitri chuckled and leaned down to kiss my cheek. "No, because I was supposed to ask you that. I was going to ask you, but you said it first," he said, laughing at my perturbed face. I let what he said sink in before I rolled my eyes and playfully smacked his shoulder.
"Yes," I said, "I would love to go to dinner with you."
As the night went on, I let loose a bit. I snickered at Lissa as she danced on the coffee table and set my empty drink down to join her. The music vibrated through the room and I smiled, raising my hands in the air as I danced freely.
I could feel eyes on me and I looked around, finding the owner of those eyes standing against the wall. I sent him a man-eating smile and continued to dance, grabbing Lissa when she lost her footing on the table. I turned and helped her down to safer ground and steered her towards her boyfriend, Christian.
After handing Lissa off to Christian I caught Jesse starring in my direction. I grimaced before turning around, finding Dimitri staring back at Jesse.
I observed the staring match going down between Dimitri and Jesse when the events of the last few weeks fell into place together.
"But the bastard was huge. I mean, built like a house and taller than anyone I've ever seen."
Dimitri coming to class with bruised and beaten hands a few days after I told Dimitri what happened.
"Is everything okay?" "Um yeah," I said, clearing my throat and putting my phone away, "Someone jumped my ex last night. He's in the hospital." "Maybe that will be enough to make him never lay his hands on another person."
"Oh my God," I said quietly, looking up at Dimitri, taking a short breath in. Dimitri looked at me and furrowed his brows at me as I looked back and forth between Dimitri and Jesse before squeezing my way out of the room.
I pushed through the door and made it outside, my head spinning as I bent over and braced myself on my knees. I never put two and two together. How could I not put two and two together. The door behind me opened and someone else walked out. I stood up and took a deep breath, turning to find Dimitri standing behind me. Dimitri looked at me with concern as he stepped closer.
"Roza? Are you ok?"
"It was you."
Dimitri stopped and regarded me carefully.
"It was you," I whispered again.
Dimitri nodded his head just enough to make his chin length hair move gently. I shook my head and took a step away from him, to which he sighed.
"Please let me explain."
"Explain? Dimitri, my ex beat the shit out of me, and I confided in you about it. Then you turn around and jump him. How am I supposed to feel!? How did you even know what Jesse looked like? I never showed you a picture of him."
"Roza, please," Dimitri implored. I huffed and crossed my arms, looking at him.
Dimitri crouched down and sat down on the concrete, scrubbing his hands over his face as he leaned back against the wall.
"I knew who Jesse was because he attacked my sister. Vika, my younger sister; she's a year younger than you. It was about a year ago. He came on to her at a party and she turned him down, and he didn't like that. I didn't know that her Jesse was the same as yours. After I left class that day, I was out at the bar with my friend Mikhail and there was this guy across the room, practically bragging about how he beat up his girlfriend. Mikhail and I listened for a bit and I realized that he was talking about you, Roza. And that," Dimitri explained, his voice shaking a bit, "I couldn't stand that. It made my blood boil listening to him talk like that."
I sighed and sank down on the concrete too.
"Did you hit him because of what he did to your sister, or because of what he did to me?" I asked, tucking my knees up to my chest and resting my cheek on them.
"Both. I just… I don't know. I just couldn't let him get away with it again. I'm sorry if I've scared you because of it," Dimitri said quietly, his hands still over his face.
I stood up as I started to shiver and tugged my sweater tighter around me.
"I need some time to think," I said, walking away. I stuffed my hands into my sleeves as I walked, cursing myself that I left without my coat. Footsteps followed a few steps behind me before a coat was draped over my shoulders. I knew whose it was by the smell that enveloped me, but I didn't acknowledge him, other than tucking the duster tighter around me.
When I got back to my apartment I turned to face Dimitri, pulling the duster off.
"You didn't need to do that," I said quietly, sniffing as the cold nipped my nose. Dimitri took the duster back and put it on.
"I didn't want you to walk home alone. Call me when you're ready to talk?" he said, his eyes guarded, but a small flicker of hope in his eyes. I nodded my head and pulled my keys out of my pocket, unlocking the door and slipping inside.
Lissa poked me in the side with her pen a little harder than necessary.
"You have been really mopey for the last week. It's Christmas, for Christ's sake. Lighten up. Go call that hunky English Lit guy!"
I pursed my lips as I flipped through my magazine, looking up at her before looking back down.
"Ok. What is going on? A week ago, you couldn't shut up about him, now you are silent. What happened? Not that great of a kisser?" she teased. She grew quiet at my lack of response before tossing her pillow at me.
"The fuck, Liss?!"
"Tell me why you're being such a Grinch."
I sighed and sat up, preparing myself to explain what happened. Lissa was thankfully the kind of friend who would patiently listen until the very end. Lissa had a blank look on her face as I finished and she turned thoughtful.
"And you're upset because he defended both yours and his sister's honour by knocking Jesse around?" Lissa asked carefully.
"No," I huffed, "I'm upset that instead of being repulsed or disgusted, I felt… I don't know, flattered? That his admission made my heart speed up a little bit? That despite his actions, I still felt safe with him? How fucked up is that? Jesse beat the crap out of me and I almost swoon when Dimitri tells me he beat up Jesse. What the hell is wrong with me?"
Lissa smiled and crawled across her bed, wrapping her arms around my neck. "Oh, Rose. Nothing is wrong with you. He defended you. He didn't do it to get his jollies," Lissa said, tucking my hair back from my face as she pulled away.
"You sure?" I asked quietly. Lissa nodded her head and squeezed my shoulders.
"Now, I think you've made Dimitri wait it out long enough," Lissa said as she got up from the bed. I sighed deeply and got up from the bed, pulling on my coat and boots.
"I'll be back in a bit," I said as I walked out the door.
And that's how I ended up outside Dimitri's place, teeth chattering violently as the cold air blew over my skin. I knocked on the door again and tucked my hands into my sleeves. The door opened and I was surprised to find a young woman standing on the other side of the door.
"Oh," I said, stepping back to look at the number on the siding, "I might have the wrong house." I had only been to Dimitri's place once.
"Who are you looking for? I'm just visiting," the girl said. I looked her over and was stunned at the familiarity of her. Kind brown eyes, brown hair with gold streaks, tall and slim.
"Um, I'm looking for Dimitri," I said slowly, crossing my arms over my chest when a gust of wind blew against me.
The girl nodded and gestured for me to come in and I smiled gratefully as I headed in from the cold. The girl took my coat from me and hung it up on the coat rack.
"I'm Dimitri's sister, Vika. Dimitri's is just at the store. I may or may not have burned dinner," she said with a slight laugh. I stilled and looked up at her.
"You're Dimitri's sister?"
Vika nodded and sat down on the couch, gesturing for me to sit opposite her.
"I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."
"Rose," I said with a small smile. Vika's smile faded a bit when I said my name. She tried to cover it up quickly though.
"Dimka told me a lot about you, he rarely shuts up about you," Vika said, tucking her legs up onto the couch.
"Yeah! I don't think I've ever heard him talk that much about someone outside of our family. He really cares about you. He ... he told me what happened," Vika complained, trailing off at the end. I nodded and gave her a small smile.
"He told me a bit about you too," I replied. Vika nodded and opened her mouth to speak again when the lock turned in the door, alerting us to the fact that we were no longer alone. I turned to look over the back of the couch as the door swung open, Dimitri emerging while juggling two take-out bags.
"I hope you still like Thai, it was the only place that wasn't swamped right now," Dimitri said as he set one of the bags on the small table inside the door, turning to shut the door. I looked over to Vika and she shrugged at me. Dimitri picked up the take-out bag and turned around, spotting me on the couch and stilling.
"Hey Comrade," I said softly, letting him know that I wasn't upset with him. Dimitri's lips quirked before his eyes looked to Vika and then back to me. Vika got up from the couch and walked over to him, taking the take-out bags.
"I'm going to take these into the kitchen. I'll let you two talk," Vika said with a light tone, giving me an amused look as she headed into the kitchen. Dimitri looked at me as I stood up from the couch, turning to face him. We both opened our mouths to talk before stopping. I chuckled and gestured for him to come sit with me.
Dimitri made his way around the couch and sat down at one end, and I sat down next to him. Far enough to be respectful but close enough that I could feel the warmth radiating from his body.
"I was going to call you, but figured we should talk in person," I said, tucking my hair behind my ears. Dimitri nodded and matched my body language, turning towards me. I bit my lip and took a deep breath, calming myself before speaking.
"I wanted to say thank you."
Dimitri's brow went up and the look on his face was almost comical.
"Thank you for caring about me so much to defend me, even when you didn't need to and weren't obligated," I elaborated, reaching out and tentatively putting my hand on his. Dimitri looked down at my hand before slipping his hand into mine, intertwining my fingers with his. I squeezed it gently and gave him a small smile.
"I'm sorry for the way I reacted. It wasn't anything to do with you. It was me, I was more upset at how I felt about it than what you did," I continued, looking down at our hand before looking up at Dimitri.
"And that was?" Dimitri prompted, placing his other hand on top of mine and leaning towards me. I shifted in my seat and sighed.
"I…I felt safe? Safe despite what you did to Jesse. Safe because of what you did. If any other person had done that I would have run for the hills. But with you ..." I said, trailing off when I couldn't find the right words to explain. Dimitri seemed to already understand what I was trying to say, and tugged my hand gently, pulling me into his embrace.
I snuggled into him immediately, enjoying the instant feeling of security and comfort. I took in a subtle breath, breathing in his distinctive smell and I didn't realize I started to miss. Dimitri pulled away after a few moments and stroked my cheek with the back of his hand.
"I'm sorry it took me a bit to figure out how I was feeling," I said leaning into his touch.
"Don't be sorry, Roza."
"If you two are done having your heart-to-heart, just kiss her already!" Vika called out from the kitchen, making Dimitri and I both laugh. I felt my cheeks heat up at Vika's comment, too, smiling coyly at Dimitri. Dimitri smiled in return, stroking my cheekbone with his thumb tenderly.
Like magnets, we moved towards each other, our lips coming together as one. It was short but warm, filling me up with a light and airy feeling. We pulled away and I licked my lip, smiling slightly to myself at the sweet taste that lingered on my lips.
"Do you want to stay for dinner? I bought extra food," Dimitri asked, canting his head towards the kitchen. I smirked as my stomach rumbled.
"I'd love to," I said as he stood up, extending his hand out to me. I took it and pulled myself up, ready to follow him when he dipped his head down and pecked my lips.
"I still want to take you out for dinner," Dimitri whispered, a smirk on his lip. A sight giggle passed my lips and I nodded, squeezing his hand.
Big thank you to HonestPassion13 for editing my chapter. You're a gem!:)