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EPILOGUE: In Which She Extends an Olive Tree
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Author :Por KanyeInterruptedMe
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EPILOGUE: In Which She Extends an Olive Tree

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EPILOGUE: In Which She Extends an Olive Tree
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I was wet. Absolutely. Soaking. Wet.

It wasn’t the kind of wetness that was brought on by a freak rainstorm, or from getting caught out on the lawn when the sprinkler went off – or even from my husband whispering the dirtiest, lewdest things in my ear out in public (something he enjoyed doing to watch me squirm in discomfort).

A few more minutes, I thought to myself, shifting in the sopping wet seat.

I had been doing an awesome job of ignoring the waves of pain that rolled and retreated every few minutes – every nine minutes – but I made myself focus on the tall, dark-haired man in a charcoal-black suit standing at the podium in front of me, his deep voice carrying across the packed conference room.

“And finally, the Alvonich family has undertaken the responsibility of ensuring that the female literacy rate in Ruslavia increases,” Nikolai was saying, eyes sweeping the room before resting solely on me. “Every child deserves an education, regardless of gender.”

My back chose that exact moment to act up and I could no longer pretend that I wasn’t going into labour. The contractions had started a few weeks ago and were more or less bearable, although I had to keep reassuring Nikolai that I was okay.

But now there was no grinning and bearing it. Not when my water had broken about one minute ago.

“Holy fucking shit!” I screamed, flailing for the nearest person beside me – Rory – and digging my fingernails into her forearm.

The room went quiet when Nikolai halted mid-sentence, his face visibly paling in understanding.

“Oh, God, Fee! Your water broke!” Rory screeched like a banshee, jumping to her feet and staring in shock at the liquid dripping onto the floor before jumping into action.

The pain was now harder to ignore, even as I told myself that I wasn’t the first woman on God’s green earth to experience it. In fact, I was probably one of the lucky ones who could calmly sit through my water breaking and irritating contractions…

That built up to fucking knives stabbing me everywhere!

“Why in blooming hell were you just sitting there, sweetheart?” Rory was asking incredulously, but it felt like her voice was miles away. “Keep breathing. Nikolai, she’s having the baby! Have you turned into a statue?”

“I’m…fucking…breathing!” I gasped, squeezing my eyes shut as another contraction slammed into me, this time with the force of a goddamn freight train.

It took three minutes for Lev and Rory to get me out of the conference room and into the car.

“Where’s my husband?” I hissed at Rory between gasps for air, leaning back in my seat and trying desperately to concentrate on my breathing. I closed my eyes again, reaching for anything to tear my nails through.

“Right here, kitten.” Nikolai’s gentle voice came from my other side. The scent of his cologne wafted into my nostrils and I instantly felt like puking my spleen out. Or my baby. Preferably my baby.


My nails found purchase in Nikolai’s forearm, the skin exposed because he’d rolled up the sleeves of his dress shirt. Eyes flying open, I bit out a high-pitched, “This is all your fucking fault!”

The one time I forgot to take my pill and he seduced the shit out of me. So here we were, eight-plus months later, reaping the end result. Not that I had anything to complain about. Two years of marriage and I was still amazed that he – a guy who continued to worship the ground I walked on even when I was repulsive and difficult – was all mine.

“Deep breaths, angel,” Rory was murmuring over the sound of the car engine, gently dragging loose tendrils of my hair out of my face.
“Breathe, baby,” Nikolai chimed in, placing a soft kiss on my damp brow. “I’m right here. You're doing great.”

“Can’t keep your dick in your pants,” I wailed, “so now I –” A contraction blindsided me, more intense than any of the previous ones and I fervently began to wish for death.

Thank you so much, Eve, for eating that fruit. Thank you for leaving womankind with the legacy of labour pains.

“Fuck,” I heard Nikolai curse loudly. I had no idea if it was from my startled cry of pain, or from the sting of my nails finally drawing blood from his arm. “Put your fucking foot on the pedal, Lev!”

“Calm down,” Rory chided, rubbing my back in small circles, “and breathe. Everyone’s meeting us at the hospital. You just need to breathe.”

Breathe? Was that alleviating the pain in any way? No. Not one bit.

Nothing I had ever experienced in all my twenty-seven years could have prepared me for this immense feeling of being battered inside-out. The pain was almost unbearable and, despite how irrational it was, I was mentally cursing Nikolai’s zealous libido. As if I hadn’t been as hungry for him as he was for me. As if I wasn’t excited to be having his baby; to be having our baby.

“Oh, God,” I sobbed, tasting salt in my mouth. “I want to…push! Need to!”

“We’re almost there, baby,” Nikolai said softly, sounding pained. “Why didn’t you say anything during my speech? You should have –”

“We were fine,” I breathed, referring to me and the baby. “You were…great up there.” I sucked in air. “If I wasn’t already having your baby, I would’ve…wantedto have your babies.”

He laughed weakly, and then suddenly there was nothing to laugh about because yet another powerful contraction stole my breath and my French tips were intent on piercing a vein in his arm.

***

Sonya Aurora Alvonich took her own sweet time to enter the world and when she finally did – hours and hours after her father’s press conference – no one was happier to see her than me, the woman who’d refused an epidural.

There were no words to describe the swirl of emotion I felt after the slime was wiped away from my baby girl and I finally, finally got to hold her – after her father had hogged her, of course. Nikolai was enchanted by Sonya, the tiny, beautiful creature we had made together. She had a full head of dark, silky curls and, when they eventually opened, the biggest cornflower blue eyes I had ever seen. With a Cupid’s bow mouth and apple cheeks, the wrinkles in her red face were quickly overlooked.

I was in love.

Nikolai manoeuvred his big body onto the hospital bed and got behind me, bracketing my body with his long legs. Exhausted, I leaned back into his powerful frame, cradling the tiny creature that was swathed in a blanket in my arms in a way that we could both gawk at her like the love-struck pair we were.

“Thank you, kitten,” Nikolai said softly, his breath tickling the shell of my ear. He kissed it.

I knew what he meant and it brought tears to my eyes. He had thanked me every single day of my pregnancy – and every single night, when I had felt as huge as the White House, he showed me how grateful he was.

“I love you, Kolya,” I whispered, eyes trained on our now-sleeping baby. After bawling her eyes out for what felt like hours, she was now comatose. Of course, after I had nursed her for the first time, with the help of a nurse and under the hungry scrutiny of my husband…
“I love you more. Always.” He nuzzled his nose into my tangled hair. “I love her, too. My docha,” he said on an exhale, stroking Sonya’s cheek with one fingertip. “How fucking blessed am I?”

And on that note, the royal physician allowed “everyone” to stream into the room.

Rory instantly cooed over her first grandchild and Devin, who probably wanted to believe that this was a virgin birth, surprised me by tearing up. And that made me tear up. Again.

“Oh, Dad,” I whispered, handing Sonya to him.

His hair was greyer now but he certainly didn’t look old enough to be a grandfather. “She’s gorgeous,” he sighed, relinquishing her to Rory.

“I finished writing Princess Sonya yesterday, by the way,” Rory mentioned, brushing her fingertips against Sonya’s cheeks. “Calvin did the illustrations. I’m only going to print one edition for her. She’s absolutely beautiful and… Bloody hell, I’m about to cry.”

Nikolai hugged me close, pressing his mouth against the side of my throat. I shivered. As disgusting and shattered as I felt, I couldn’t stop the prickle of awareness spiking down my spine.

“Looking lovely as always, Aunt O,” a teasing voice came from the doorway, and if I hadn’t been too weak, I would’ve rolled my eyes at the speaker.

Mikhail marched inside with a huge bouquet of calla lilies in one hand and Inga’s hand in the other.

“Are you kidding me? I look like sh- Crap.” I slid my eyes to Sonya. “I look like crap.”

Rory shot me a dark look. “We talked about this. G-rated language from now on, Mum,” she rebuked in hushed tones, allowing herself to be flanked by Mikhail and Inga.

“These two have to be the biggest potty-mouthed parents I’ve ever met,” Calvin quipped, striding into the room with his flavour-of-the-month, a tiny blonde called Ava. “And this is with Devin and Aurora Shaw walking around.”

“Oh, fudge off,” Nikolai grunted from behind me.

“Exactly what he said,” muttered my father.

I tilted my head to accept a quick peck on the cheek from my brother, who abruptly left my side for the baby, leaving his girlfriend to stand awkwardly to one side. It wasn’t going to last with this one – it never did – but judging from the way Ava wore her heart in her eyeballs, it was easy to see how much she cared about my brother. Calvin was nineteen now and was probably too young to have been in love, which was why I decided that I was rooting for this lovesick Ava. She obviously loved him.

I sighed heavily, briefly closing my eyes and listening to the hushed chatter of my relatives brought together by one – now that I thought about how Sonya was conceived – indecent act on a balcony. Savita was back in Miami with her son, James, who turned out to be Ryan’s. My best friend had mellowed down after James’ birth and the subsequent end of her marriage. Turned out that Ryan’s realisation that he could’ve easily caught – and transmitted – an STD was enough to kick his high school sweetheart to the kerb without so much as a backward glance. I hadn’t seen Sav since James’ birth and I missed her way too freaking much for it to be legal.

It took me a while to realise that I had unceremoniously dozed off. The distinct smell of fried chicken woke me up, as did the awareness of the almost silent room. Everyone had left, save for Nikolai, who was pacing the room with a gurgling Sonya in his arms. His low voice was inaudible but I knew he was drilling Ruslavian into our daughter’s head.

“I could eat you,” I said in a hoarse voice, rubbing my rumbling stomach. The food was on the bedside table and I reached down for it, devouring it in three minutes flat. Being in labour for twelve hours was tiring business.
But it was absolutely worth it, if the end result was my princess, Sonya.

“Look, docha,” Nikolai said softly, walking over to my side. “Mommy’s awake now. Isn’t she spectacular?”

“Spectacular?” I snorted. “Spectacularly huge, you mean.”

Nikolai’s piercing blue eyes glittered. “And that only means more delicious curves for me to…navigate.”

I laughed. “Hope you have Sat-Nav, then.”

“Oh, but my tongue has a better sense of direction, kitten,” he lustily retorted.

I groaned, leaning back into the mass of pillows behind me. “Our daughter’s first word will be cunnilingus if we’re not careful.”

A knock resounded at the door, cutting Nikolai’s laughter short.

“Enter,” he called out, and Asya bounded inside.

“It’s a girl, right? How did you know it would be a girl?” she screeched, hopping onto the bed beside me and swinging her leather-booted feet over the edge. “Can I hold her, Kolya? Ophelia? Please? I promise I won’t drop her!”

“Calm down, angel face,” Nikolai told his little cousin, suddenly looking as tired as I felt. Probably because he’d been right there with me through every push and curse and sob.

“Of course you can hold her,” I insisted, unable to hide the smile that crept onto my face at the sight of my husband helping Asya hold Sonya properly. I hated to admit it, but Nikolai probably had more experience with kids than I did.

“Oh, she’s so tiny,” Asya remarked, staring down at Sonya. “Hello, I’m Asya. Your mama and papa named you after my aunt. They already knew you were going to be a girl. It’s like magic, Sonya.”

Rory poked her head inside. “Let’s go get some hot chocolate, Asya sweetheart.”

Nikolai retrieved the baby and Asya hopped off the bed, promising to babysit and or help me lose the baby weight at the playground.

“She’s something else,” I murmured when she was gone.

“Indeed,” was Nikolai’s husky response.

“Uh-oh. I recognise that look. It’s the same one that brought Sonya into this world,” I whispered, my throat dry. I stared up at him as he approached me and sat down.

“Kiss me, Ophelia. My hands are busy.”

So I did. Leaned into him, cupped his face and gave him my mouth. Ran my tongue along the seam of his lips, coaxing him to open for me; for my tongue. And then, like we always did, the kissing became tongue-fucking.

Realising that she was being neglected, Sonya gurgled between us, flailing her little fists against my chest. That brought on another spell of Nikolai and me looking at her with twin gazes of adoration.

“I’m going to call her,” I said quietly, unable to resist the urge to stroke my daughter’s thick mop of hair.

Nikolai didn’t have to ask who the “her” in question was. We had discussed this during the course of my pregnancy. During the times I’d worried that I wasn’t mother material. During the times I’d worried about my vocation – running the various NGOs Nikolai and I had set up in his country – being put on the backburner to raise a baby. During the times I’d worried about ending up as awful as her…

“You know I’m behind you one-hundred percent, baby,” Nikolai softly intoned, rocking Sonya in his arms as she continued to burble.

“I know you are, Panty Dropper. I know.” I sucked in air. “I need a phone. Quickly, before I change my mind.”

He chuckled. “The old, by-the-book Ophelia would never have chickened out. She had balls, that one.” He dug into his pockets with his free hand.

I winked at him. “I had your balls. I still do.”

He sighed heavily, handing me his BlackBerry. “When will you give them back?”

“Never.”

“Good.” He dipped his head and pecked our daughter on her button nose. “You own what’s in my chest and what’s in my boxers. I wouldn’t have it any other way, pussycat.”

I smiled at him, drinking in his dishevelled clothing and animated features. This man – this prince – had given me excitement, love and a child I knew I would gladly lay my life down for.

He gave me courage.

With shaky hands, I dialled the number I had memorised a long while ago, sighing heavily when the person on the other end eventually picked up.

“Natalya?” I began, meeting Nikolai’s encouraging gaze. “It’s me. Ophelia.”

***

A/N: Thank you for supporting this novella! I am immensely glad that you enjoyed Nikolai and Ophelia’s story. For the record, there won’t be a story about Calvin, but rest assured, every Shaw has a happy ending at some point ;) Now that this book is done, I will (hopefully) have more time to focus on either reworking/continuing SSSSD. Thank you for reading! xo – kim
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