Kady's Story - Chapter 3
I was five minutes early for the guardian meeting. I know that you're probably thinking 'Rose? Early? Never!' But there you have it. I proved to be professional when it came to my job, therefore requiring me to be on time. I was hardly ever late for anything, guardian related that is. When it came to meeting friends for dinner etc…Well you could count on me to be 'fashionably' late.
I took my place at my usual seat, near the front. I had moved up in ranks quickly, despite a slow start from having my little angel. The east wing was separated into even smaller sections and I was in charge of one of these sections, East wing: Section 8. I had guardians answer to me, and I can assure you that that small amount of power felt grrr-reat. Meanwhile my mother was deputy to Guardian Rainer. Talking of my mother, she caught my eye and came over to me, seeing as the meeting hadn't started as of yet.
"Rose, how are you? How's my granddaughter?" It was only Kady who could break through the tough exterior of Guardian Hathaway. She loved my daughter, her granddaughter, and I think subconsciously she was trying to make up for being a crappy mother over the years by being a loving grandmother. Whatever it was, me and my mother had slowly become closer over the years and opened up to each other slightly more than we would have, say, four years ago. It felt nice.
"I'm good. She's good. Adrian's taking care of her today." I saw her face give the smallest frown of disapprovement. However, I knew her view of Adrian was improving as he proved to be a great friend to me and a great uncle to Kady.
"Well, I haven't been able to spend much time with either of you lately, I've been busy. I was wondering if we could…have dinner tonight. I…ummm…I actually have some news to tell you." Okaaay…my mother never falters, and I could've sworn she looked nervous.
"Yeah, that's fine by me. How about at my apartment? We could order take out?" I suggested. There is no way I would cook. I didn't even know how to work the oven! My idea of cooking was stuffing leftovers in the microwave.
"That's fine. I'll be there at 7." She nodded curtly and headed back to her seat beside Guardian Rainer. He stood up calling attention to all the guardians. Let the meeting commence.
"Settle down," he said in a stern voice. No one messed with Guardian Rainer. He could switch from nice guy to 'shut the fuck up!' with a blink of an eye. He wasn't short tempered or anything, but being in this job you always had to be on your guard - well, obviously - and the situation could change abruptly from pissing around to Strigoi attack; not that the court came across any. He paused until he had everyone's attention. "We have a new guardian on board, I'm sure you all know him anyway so there's no need for an introduction. Guardian Belikov and his charge, Natasha Ozera, have come to visit for a while." I glimpsed over at where he'd been pointing. I was a bit taken aback, I hadn't noticed that Dimitri had been sitting directly across from me. I guess I'd been too busy talking to my mother. "Guardian Hathaway," Rainer looked at me, "stay behind after the meeting so we can discuss some changes with regards to Guardian Belikov." I nodded, keeping my emotions in check.
This was so unlike me, I was feeling all jittery and nervous as I made my way towards Guardian Rainer after the meeting had come to a close. I pulled out the chair beside him, while Dimitri occupied the seat beside my mother. I didn't make eye contact. "There's nothing much to say on the topic other than this, Hathaway," said Guardian Rainer succinctly. "Guardian Belikov will be working within section 8. I'm sure you'll both get along just fine seeing as you were previously student and mentor." I blinked while Guardian Rainer smiled back, as if expecting us to jump with joy at this news.
Oh…fuck. I was in charge of him. Awkward, I sang in my head. What an ironic change of events? "That's fine," I just about managed to say. I nodded my head and walked out the room, distinctly aware that Dimitri was following close behind.
I reached the outside of the meeting room and abruptly turned around facing him. "The Drozdovs have invited some friends and family. It's a fairly small gathering, but there will still be a couple of extra guardians on hand. I want you supervising the upper west wing of the Drozdovs' building." I quickly decided for this to work I had to be strictly professional. I had to keep any irrational thoughts hidden away, and let me tell you that was fricking impossible. His dark brown hair was pulled back into a pony tail at the nape of his neck. A few strands shaped around his face, which he'd tuck behind his ear every so often. It was a habit of his I clearly remembered. I tried looking anywhere but at those mesmerizing eyes. My eyes lingered upon those lips. If only I could press my lips to his…just a touch…a soft peck…or more. His lips suddenly twitched at the corner of his mouth. Shit. I cleared my throat and blinked a few times. Dimitri held back a smile. He'd known what I'd been thinking, of course he did. That's what made us so special, we knew each other more than we knew ourselves. We belonged. I internally sighed. Of course Dimitri didn't believe that. He left me, I thought simply.
"We'll need to talk," he finally said quietly. And with that he swiftly turned around, heading towards the upper west wing of the Drozdovs' building.
I got changed into my workout clothes, black sweats and a thin black hoodie. I then walked onto the field - I remembered to use the automatic doors this time - and fell into an even paced run. I ended up running 20 laps. My heart was pumping, my blood coursed through my veins. I was ready for the fight. However, before anything could happen I had to get my little angel. I had told Adrian to meet me outside the gym building at the water fountain. The fountain was a spectacular piece of art. I mean, I wasn't a deep person, but even I could appreciate the beauty of this work. In the middle of the fountain was a magnificent angel. Her wings were enclosed around her so all you could see was her head poking out looking up into the heavens. The detail on the wings were incredible.
Suddenly, I felt a masculine arm drape around my shoulders. "Little Dhampir, looking as beautiful as ever." Adrian inclined his head into the crook of my neck and inhaled closing his eyes. He opened them again, looking back at me with those emerald eyes sparkling. "You smell delectable."
"I forgot you enjoy the smell of my BO," I rolled my eyes.
"No. I love the smell of your natural scent. 90 percent natural with a hint of perfume. And a hundred percent delicious," he whispered seductively.
"Pack it in, my daughters here."
And like that Kady yelled, "Mommy, let's go!"
I was glad for the interruption. I knew this was typical Adrian behaviour. However, I wasn't ignorant enough to believe there wasn't a deeper meaning behind his continuous flirtations. He was in love with me. We never really talked about it. After Kady's birth he openly suggested us being together. I refused and he never pushed me. Adrian knew I couldn't reciprocate those feelings. One look at my aura and he'd know all I felt was love towards him…as a friend.
I jogged over towards my little angel. "You ready to kick butt?"
"Yeah!" Kady exclaimed, giving me a high five.
"Look out boys, the Hathaway girls are coming," Adrian muttered behind me.
As soon as I entered the gym all eyes were on me. They knew I was the one to beat. Oh - and the banter begins… "Hathaway! You prepared to fall on your knees for me?" Trey called out from the other end of the gym. I didn't miss his wink.
"Watch it! I've got my kid with me," I glared. No one wanted to get on the wrong side of me; so when I was pissed off, they knew I was serious. Some of the guardians had the grace to look away from me and shut up quickly. Others made their way over to say a quick 'hey' to Kady. They all loved her, no matter how macho they acted. The guards were all used to me bringing Kady to the gym every now and then. Some would take the time to teach her a few things. My little angel was a natural, she learned steps straight off the bat. I guess you'd expect that seeing as she was the daughter of Rosemarie Hathaway and Dimitri Belikov and granddaughter of Janine Hathaway.
I looked at the clock: 5 0'clock. "Let the games begin!" I yelled and everyone cheered as two guardians were pushed into the middle of the spar area. As if it was orchestrated, the music blared with the first hit. The bass of the beats vibrated the room, bringing an added thrill to the fight and atmosphere. This particular fight was Michaels against Gray. Michaels had the upper hand, not only did he have greater strength, he had tonnes of previous training experience. He was one of the best skilled guardians at the court and deadly against Strigoi. Here he was having fun, although the blows were just as brutal. Gray? Gray had graduated two years earlier than me and he was still sloppy, like any other novice. This really was an unfair fight. Ah well, Gray had to learn somehow, right? Michaels threw a dangerous uppercut his way. Gray's head snapped back and he stumbled. Michaels could've pinned him down 4-5 times within the first five minutes, but where was the fun in that? Gray was doing alright, but he had nothing against Michaels. After another five minutes Michaels finally decided to end Gray's misery and he pinned him down. Everyone cheered. Michaels got up walking back into the circle, as if he was having a leisurely stroll at the park. Judging from the fight, he kind of was. Poor Gray, he clutched his stomach and limped back into the circle.
The next fight was fairer: Andrew versus Safin. They were both bulky, yet moved and fought with precision. Safin sent a brutal punch to the side of Andrew's head. Shit, that got to hurt! I don't know how Andrew managed to stay on his feet, but he did and quickly recovered by forcing a kick towards Safin's stomach. Safin quickly turned, but not quick enough. The kick connected to the side of his ribs and he flew backwards a couple of yards towards the edge of the guardian circle. The guardians around shoved themselves back whilst cheering for Andrew to finish it off. Andrew drew closer and was about to aim a solid punch to Safin's, already damaged, ribs. Safin rolled to the side in the knick of time, flipped up, bouncing on the balls of his feet. He didn't waste any time and sent a roundhouse kick to the side of Andrew's head. "Oooh," went the crowd. Andrew's head must be pounding. He slowed down from that hit and after sharing a few more kicks and punches Safin took advantage and pinned Andrew down.
The song changed to Usher's 'Oh my gosh', the bass thumping.
"Belikov! Get in there," one of the guards shouted.
I searched around until my eyes met with those deep brown ones. He looked straight at me, standing at the opposite side, right at the edge of the circle. His stance was challenging.
"Hathaway! Hathaway!" they all started chanting.
I kept my eyes firmly on his and then the bastard - slash, the damn sexy Russian - raised one of his eyebrows. Damn, he was too fine!
"Go on, little Dhampir. You know you want to," Adrian whispered right into my ear.
I felt a tug on my arm and looked down. "Yeah, mommy. You know you wanna," she said cheekily. I don't even know how she'd heard. "Kick Dimitri's butt, mommy!" I saw Dimitri look down at Kady and his lips turned up into those rare full on smiles, leaving me completely and utterly breathless. Kady looked back at him, waved, then stuck out her tongue. Dimitri chuckled and it sent goose bumps all over, despite the fact that I couldn't actually hear him.
I crouched down so I was Kady's height and told her, "I can only win if you cheer me on," I pointed into her chest.
"Go, mommy!" she cheered, punching her tiny fist into the air like a cheerleader. I laughed.
"Let's kick butt, angel," I held up my palm.
She smacked it, yelling, "Yeah!"
I stood up and took a deep breath, exhaled…and walked into the middle of the circle. The noise level tripled as everyone cheered and whooped. Some of the guardians started making bets. "Rose's got this in the bag, she never loses." "Until now! Belikov's her mentor. There's no way she's winning this one." Wait to be proved wrong, asshole; I thought to myself.
Dimitri came to stand in front of me. "Rose," he said simply.
"Dimitri," I replied, my guardian mask in place.
We then simultaneously walked back, getting into our fighting stances.
Baby let me love you down
There's so many ways to love ya
I tuned out the music and excess noise of the crowd. It was just me and him. We circled each other for a bit until he abruptly directed a punch to my ribs. I saw his movements from the second he made his decision, effectively blocking the punch with my arms. I brought my legs up to kick him on the thigh. His hand shot out and he shoved my leg back. Just as I was about to punch him, he pushed that arm back too with his left arm, while at the same time bringing up his right leg to kick me viciously in the chest. Ummm…ow. I nearly fell back but kept my feet rooted on the mats, held my ground and immediately whacked my fist onto the side of his face. His head snapped back, then recovered within the second.
The next few minutes went on like that. Us punching and kicking, some would be deflected; meanwhile others connected. Damn was I gonna have bruises all over in the morning!
This technique of ours clearly wasn't working. We knew each other's moves too well, even with the four year separation. I looked at his face, and I mean really looked at him. I forced myself to remember the hurt and pain he'd inflicted on me all those years back. The pain then had been incredibly unbearable, it didn't even compare to the beating I was receiving now. I let all those dark emotions I had felt towards him resurface and consume me. I felt the odd bits of darkness from Lissa creep into my blood stream. And then I looked at him. Again. What did I see? I saw the man that left me heartlessly after claiming to have loved me, and then leave within the next few hours.
With that last thought I brought up my fist, which slammed into the side of his head. And he stumbled! I took that small millisecond of a break to make my advance. I kicked and punched one after another. The blows seemed to have doubled in strength. With each hit I ran that same cold thought through my head: he left me! Dimitri tried blocking my hits, 'tried' being the operative word. I sent a lethal uppercut to his jaw and his head shot back, spewing brilliant red blood onto the mats. He caught my eye, his widening minutely. I went in for another blow, but this time he grabbed my fist, twisted me around, and jammed my own arm against my neck. He bent his head towards my neck and whispered, "Roza…this isn't you." I thrashed around. He exerted slightly more pressure around my neck forcing me to stop.
I blinked. 'This isn't you' I repeated his voice in my head. I felt my body relax. Dimitri's hold on me lessened. I suddenly caught a glimpse of my little angel. She held onto Adrian's hand, shouting, "Go, mommy, go!" That was all I needed.
I elbowed Dimitri in the stomach. Hard. He groaned and bent over. I twisted around to face him. I stuck out my leg to kick him in the chest, but I had misjudged the distance between the two of us. We were too close. He grabbed my leg and punched me in the ribs. Trying to prevent my fall I gripped him by the shoulders. It failed. I fell on my ass and then my back, pulling Dimitri along with me. My butt cheeks fricking hurt, but I'd worry about that later. I tried rolling us over. Dimitri had something else in mind. He grabbed my wrists and locked my legs between his. I couldn't move.
"Sneaky. Now that was you," he whispered. Both our breathing had become laboured, of course. He looked intensely into my eyes. We were mere inches apart. Was it me or was he edging closer, ever so slowly? The soft touch of his lips was a breath away. "I win," he breathed out huskily. And like that his body no longer weighted down on mine. I sighed and my head fell back on the mats. Damn it! It was me who'd been edging closer.
It was 6:45 by the time we left the gym. Kady and I were having dinner with my mother. While on our way to our apartment I made a call for Chinese food. Being the guardian of Princess Vasilissa Dragomir had its perks. They ensured delivery by 7, bang on time.
"You were great, mommy," my little angel assured me, as we entered our apartment. "Even if you didn't win you still kicked Dimitri's butt!"
"You think so, angel?"
"Yeah," she replied, like I'd lost it.
"Thanks, angel," I kissed her brilliant red cheeks. She'd been screaming at the top of her lungs and jumping up and down for the past hour, while watching the various fights unfold. I could tell she was exhausted, more exhausted than me.
There was a knock at the door and I went to open it. It was my mother. "Hey, I thought you were gonna be the Chinese guy," I said as she walked in.
"What gave it away?" Okaaay…that was an uncharacteristic response.
There was another knock at the door, which happened to be our food - well the Chinese guy with our food.
"Grandma, mommy kicked Dimitri's butt today," Kady informed animatedly.
"Did she, sweety?" my mother asked, not really looking very interested. In fact, it seemed as if something else was on her mind. She'd normally have her full attention towards her granddaughter.
Nevertheless, that was cue enough for Kady to take the reins and she ranted on and on about the fight between Dimitri and I. I still felt a little flustered every time I thought about what had happened at the end of the fight. It felt so wrong to feel that way because he was with Tasha. No matter how hard I tried to push the feelings aside, I just couldn't help it. I loved him. I loved him and I always will love him. However, he was with someone else.
Anyways, I would only have to face him for a couple of weeks. Once Lissa and Christian's wedding was over and done with they'd leave. Kady and I could go back to how we'd always known it: Kady without her father and me without the man I loved. There was no point telling Dimitri about Kady, I thought logically. He was with Tasha! It's not as if he'd miraculously up and leave his girlfriend for me, right? Then again, wasn't the reason he was with Tasha was so that he could have kids and still guard? We could do that together, right? No. No, what was I thinking? He was with Tasha. For the rest of his stay here I just had to keep reminding myself of that one sole fact: Dimitri was with Tasha.
"Rose?" my mother spoke exasperatedly.
I blinked. "What?"
"I called out your name a couple of times already."
"So, I have news," she said abruptly. I narrowed my eyes. She looked at me and realised I wasn't going to say anything until she came out with it. She went on matter-of-factly, "I am getting back with your father."