Chapter 2

I awoke with a pounding skull and heavy lids. Feeling a hand on my shoulder, I squirmed and whimpered, remembering a time long ago when another hand was on my shoulder shaking me awake after a terrible accident that changed my life forever.

"Shh, Princess, it's alright. You're safe." An unfamiliar voice sounded with…was that a Russian accent? I squirmed again and squeezed my eyes closed, working against the heaviness of sleep and opening them slightly so that I could barely see. The first thing that registered was the piercing light and I hissed, shutting my eyes immediately. Suddenly, the light switched off and I could open my eyes freely and without pain.

I groaned and looked around, my eyes resting on a tall shadow that stood in my room. I let out a soft shriek and backed as far as I could against the wall. I couldn't see the profile, and frankly, the shadow was scaring me to death. It reminded me way too much of the shadows I saw that night before the guardians dragged me away to safety.

"Woah, hold on. I'm terribly sorry for startling you, Princess." The shadow moved forward so that he was in the light of the bedside lamp which had still been left on. "My name is Dimitri Belikov. Guardian Dimitri Belikov." He turned, pulling back his chin-length brown hair to reveal his neck which held six molnija marks. I relaxed slightly, putting my hand to my chest in an effort to calm my breathing.

"Great way to introduce yourself." I snorted and groaned as my head pounded again, holding a hand to it and squeezing my eyes shut. Suddenly there was another hand on top of mine, pulling it away and examining my skull.

"There is no external damage, most likely just a headache. I'll have the doctor fetch you some medication so it won't be a bother anymore, Princess." I looked up at Dimitri with a sideways glance and took in his features. This was certainly an interesting wakeup call. Dimitri was quite tall, towering over me even though I was sitting on a raised bed. His hair was a dark brown color, much like mine, but his ended at his jawline, hanging over his face, casting a shadow over his mysterious brown eyes. Damn, he was hot.

"Thanks." I said meekly, leaning against the wall for support and closing my eyes. Hearing—or rather feeling—him sit on the bed, I opened my right eye to gaze at him suspiciously. He was staring at me intently, and in order to break the silence, I cleared my throat and turned my head at him. "So, do you mind explaining to me what you're doing here?" I knew I was being somewhat rude, but my head was pounding and I was not in the best of moods. He coughed and let out a low chuckle.

"Right, sorry. It's actually kind of a complicated story. After you collapsed, Vasilisa rushed you here immediately and explained what had happened. Once she mentioned Lord Zeklos, he was immediately brought in and questioned. Unfortunately, a "weird look" isn't enough hard evidence, so he was let go. But, don't worry, Princess, we'll figure out what happened. A Moroi never gets sick, and we'll get to the bottom of what happened. As for why I'm here, Headmistress Kirova decided you needed some extra protection considering Vasilisa is still in classes so I'm going to be your new assigned guardian. Once Vasilisa and you graduate, Vasilisa will join me and we will both be your assigned guardians." Dimitri explained and the further into the story he got the more my head hurt.

"So…I have a guardian? And Jesse is still prowling the academy for horny young girls? Perfect." I snorted and closed my eyes again, but opened them when I realized how much of a bitch I just sounded like. "Yeesh, sorry. I get a little snippy when I have a headache." I smiled sheepishly and was glad when he returned it.

"No worries, Princess. I've had to deal with a lot more than a sick and snippy teenage girl." I smiled at his joke and leaned my head back against the wall, enjoying the cool feeling it was giving against my head.

"Well, first things first. If you're going to be my guardian, please, just call me Rose. I hate being called Princess." I said and he frowned, obviously uncomfortable with the non-formal term. "Guardian Belikov, please." He sighed and looked at me before nodding.

"Deal. As long as you call me Dimitri." I smiled and nodded before the doctor came back in. He did some tests on my vitals, and made me stare at a stupid light that hurt my eyes. When he started asking me my name and what month it was I got a little testy.

"You know my name, for god's sake!" I growled and the doctor sighed, putting down the light and removing his glasses. Turning to Dimitri, he wrote some things down on a chart.

"Well, based on her vitals, I would say she's completely fine except for an exceptionally low temperament." I stuck my tongue out at him when he wasn't looking and saw Dimitri hold back a smile. "She's free to go. I'll give you the medication for your headache on your way out, Princess." Dimitri nodded and thanked the doctor before coming over to me and handing me the jacket I had been wearing when I was with Lissa. Speaking of my best friend, where was she?

"Hey, where's Lissa?" I asked, sliding my arms into the sleeves with Dimitri's help. He chuckled and simply guided me outside, which is where I got my answer. Lissa was there in the waiting room, pacing frantically.

"Hey, Liss." I said and she looked up immediately before rushing to me and gripping my shoulders. She looked into my eyes and as I scanned her aura I realized she was extremely on edge with her worry for me.

"Jesus, Rose, are you okay? They wouldn't let me in and I was seriously ready to slap some people. God, your head is killing you." She said, reaching her fingers up to brush against my forehead. I waved her away and shook my head.

"Nonsense, it's bearable." I shrugged and she narrowed her eyes.

"No use lying to me, I can feel how badly it hurts you, remember?" She looked behind me and waved Dimitri over. "Rose's head is hurting her badly, can we get the medication and leave so she can get some rest?" I was about to protest when I felt Dimitri's hand on my shoulder, the warmth of it making me shut my mouth abruptly.

"Of course. Ah, here is the medication." Dimitri took it from the doctor and exchanged a few words with some glances in my direction, signaling that they were talking about me. I sighed and leaned tiredly on Lissa. She placed her arm around me and rubbed my arm gently, whispering in my ear that we could get back to my room soon so I could sleep. I smiled and nodded gratefully, resting my head on her shoulder and closing my eyes.

I must have dozed off because the next thing I knew I was being lifted into strong arms and being carried out of the office. I looked up confusedly and saw Dimitri's face above me and Lissa next to me. "Wha…?" I mumbled and Dimitri chuckled, his chest rumbling against my head.

"Relax, Rose. It's just easier this way." Lissa said and I blew out a breath, too tired to argue. Resting my head completely against Dimitri's chest, I let him carry me to my room.

I awoke the next morning {Or night, I guess} alone in my room with my head feeling slightly better. Groaning and turning to my side, I saw a bottle of pills on my nightstand and a yellow post-it note. On it read:

Take 2 of these when you wake up!

-hugs and kisses—


I groaned again and sat up, the pounding in my head increasing with the movement. God, it's like a never ending hangover. I reached over and grabbed two of the pills as Lissa had instructed, taking them dry and almost instantly began to feel better. Sighing, I looked at my calendar and saw that classes resumed today, and guess who was in two of mine? Jesse Zeklos. I groaned and got out of bed, quickly stepping in the shower and letting the hot water run over my body.

Once I was fully cleansed, I peered inside my dresser drawers and frowned. Where had all my good clothes gone? Especially my turquoise shirt. I loved that shirt. Sighing, I pulled out some high-waisted jean shorts and a horizontal striped crewneck sweater-shirt that was an off-white color with black stripes. After another moments thought and a look out of my window, I also pulled out some maroon tights to fight against the chill. All together with my brown mini-zip up boots I had to say I looked pretty good. I brushed out my wavy dark brown hair so it rested down almost to my butt and dabbed on some mascara before deeming myself ready to face the day.

Walking outside with my brown leather purse that carried all of my books in hand, I jumped about three feet in the air when I found Dimitri standing outside my door.

"Jesus! Would you quite scaring me?" I yelped, holding a hand to my chest to calm my breathing. Dimitri chuckled and shook his head.

"Well, maybe you should stop being so jumpy." I glared at him and stuck my tongue out, resuming my walk to the breakfast hall.

"So are you just going to follow me everywhere?" I asked. This might get in the way of a few things…

"That's my job." He said with a smile, as if he knew exactly what he was preventing by not letting me out of his sight. Bye bye boys. I sighed and shook my head. The rest of the walk was in silence, and every time I glanced over at Dimitri he was scanning the area. Jeez, I was inside the school grounds, how much danger could I be in besides from one perverted teenager?

Getting to the breakfast hall, I saw Lissa sitting with a group of our friends and she waved to me, pointing to a seat next to her. I smiled and nodded, but pointed at the feeders building to my right. She nodded and turned back to Mason, who apparently had engrossed her in an intense level of conversation. I turned and walked into the separate hallway that held the feeders and stood in line. Looking down into my bag, suddenly there was a hand on top of mine on the handle, and I looked up into the eyes of Jesse Zeklos.