Two Years Later…
It had been two years. Two years since my heart had been mercilessly shattered into pathetic bits. I had picked up the pieces, and took them to Russia to hunt Strigoi. It was the only thing I knew how to do, and I wasn't going to let all those years of training go to waste. I ended up calling the only people in Russia that I knew where to find, the Belikovs. It was painful, seeing them reminded me so much of him, but I was desperate for a place to sleep, and the Belikovs were incredibly hospitable. I remember showing up on their doorstep like it was yesterday.
I slammed the taxi door, grabbing the remainder of my luggage from the trunk and dragging it up the walkway towards the house. The door flew open, revealing a squealing Viktoria. I had been unsure about her reaction upon seeing me, remembering how angry she'd been with me when I left.
"ROZA!" I flinched at my name in Russian, recalling how it'd been Dimitri's nickname for me. She sprinted the short distance separating us, flinging herself onto me, wrapping her arms and legs around me. "Oh, Roza I'm so very sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I was so naïve. I talked to Sonya and she told me what happened. I'm so sorry for everything. I feel awful about what I said. You're just as much a part of this family as I am. I'm so sorry, Roza." She rushed out her apology, talking a million miles an hour. I gave her a weak smile, gasping for breath as her bear hug squeezed the air out of my lungs, leaving me to choke.
"Can't…. breathe… squeezing… me…" I managed, waiting until Viki realized she was suffocating me. She jumped off me, holding my shoulders and checking me up and down before looking at her feet and blushing fiercely.
"It's okay. We're all good. I know you didn't mean what you said. It's okay to be wrong sometimes. God knows I do it more than anyone else." I laughed, trying to lighten the mood and distract my thoughts from how painfully similar she looked to him. I sighed, indulging myself in a few moments of sorrow before mentally chastising myself and refocusing myself on the emerging Belikov family.
Viki gave me a look that said we'd talk later. I gave a brisk nod before turning to greet Olena.
"Roza! Where have you been, child? We were so very worried about you! Where did you go? Yeva told us you were fine but we were still confused as to why you left without a word! Come in, tell us!" She ushered me inside, sat me down, fed me, then coaxed the story out of me. I told them everything, minus the parts about my captivity in Galina's estate. I explained everything up to Dimitri's restoration. I didn't need to fill in the details about the break up. Dimitri cared a lot about what his family thought, and I didn't need to tarnish their opinion of him. It wasn't my place, and as tempting as it was to hurt him by taking that away from him, I didn't have the heart to do it. Let them think what they want, ignorance was good for them.
"You left a part out, Roza." Yeva growled. I looked up, startled. Did she know?
"I'm sorry? I don't think I missed anything." I played dumb, praying that she'd let it go. I really didn't want to delve into the heartbreak anymore.
"You'd still protect his honor, even after all he's done to hurt you? That boy is an idiot!" Yeva exclaimed, losing her temper. The Belikov family looked between us, alarm and confusion written on their faces.
"I'd rather not discuss it, Yeva. You mean a lot to him, and I'm not going to take you away from him. I've had virtually no family my entire life, and I won't do that to him. It'd be selfish and awful. He doesn't deserve that." I was trying to be efficient and concise, but emotion seeped into my words, and tears began to sting the backs of my eyes, threatening to water.
Yeva was fuming by the end. She slammed her wrinkly hand on the table, glaring at me. She was angry that I was defending her grandson? What the hell?
"He doesn't deserve your sympathy or your love He deserves every bit of pain he's caused you! That foolish boy!" She stood up abruptly, exiting the room, muttering angrily under her breath in Russian. I sighed, knowing that this wasn't over. The Belikovs looked at me expectantly. I caved, covering the topic of my heartbreak briefly before excusing myself to shower and take a nap. It had been a long trip.
I sat up in bed slowly, taking in my surroundings. I surveyed Dimitri's old room before climbing out of bed. A dull ache in the back of my head echoed from last night. I was visiting the Belikovs from Novosibirsk. Shortly after returning to Baia, I called up Lev and his team to see if our offer still stood. They'd been ecstatic by the chance to reform the Strigoi-killing-dream-team we'd made back when I was hunting Dimitri.
"Roza? Are you awake yet? Breakfast is ready!" I hauled myself out of my bedroom and made my way downstairs. Little did I know what lay ahead.