This scene was posted and shared in my Facebook group in early 2021. I’d forgotten about it until a devout reader, Louise, reminded me the other day. I’m ecstatic she did! Thank you, Louise!
A little background about it first…
This snippet was inspired by the many questions I get from readers who need more of Kova and Adrianna. I’d asked readers to submit a question, and then I’d answer it from the character’s point of view. I intended to answer one question a month. Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I only did this one.
Rereading this left me awestruck. I miss Kova and Ria so much that I’m tempted to start this up again. What do you think? If you’d like to see more, submit your question for either Kova or Ria below, and I’ll come up with something for next month. It must be submitted in question form.
“Adrianna, do you remember what the first thing you said to Kova when he finally showed up years later?”
I lift my gaze to find Avery watching me with curiosity. Her head tilts to the side and I purse my lips together.
Svetlana, sitting in Avery’s crossed lap on the living room carpet floor, sucks her thumb with sleepy eyes. My daughter is glued to Avery when she visits Oklahoma. She loves her Auntie and cries when Avery goes back to Florida. It’s the cutest thing ever.
I turn to look at the man who’s captured my heart for all of eternity as I hold my pregnant belly, rolling into my third trimester like a roly-poly, trying to recall what the very first words were off my lips I said. My memory eludes me more with each kid I push out.
“What in the h-e-double hockey stick took so long is what I probably said.”
I glare at him but not glaring at him. The question brings up bittersweet nostalgia about the years we went through the motions without each other. The loneliness is something I never want to think about again. I wish I could forget the emptiness my miserable heart felt as the days slowly passed by. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and reach for him to make sure he’s really here with me.
Before he has a chance to answer, I glance back at Avery. “Sometimes I get annoyed at him for taking as long as he did. He made me second guess him. I blame him for my anxiety.”
Kova sighs deeply, rubs his eye with his knuckle, and then looks at me. There’s a grin he’s suppressing that he thinks he’s hiding. I love the sweetness that fills his face when he smiles. This man still manages to get my blood simmering with a simple glance.
“I don’t blame you,” my bestie says, gently brushing back Svetlana’s messy red curls from her face. “You’re fertile myrtle over here. He hasn’t been able to stop knocking you up since he saw you again.” This time we all laugh at the hilarity of her words. “You know I’m right,” she gestures to my large stomach.
Shrugging unapologetically, Kova reaches for my knee and tries to guide me toward him. Tiredness surrounds his eyes as I lift my legs and place my feet in his lap, getting adjusted on the sofa. He’ll never admit he’s exhausted though, so I’ll have to make sure he’s taken care of later. He begins to knead the arch and I almost moan in delight. Pregnancy is always hard on my body, especially toward the end, even when I’m on bedrest.
“Malysh, that might have been what you thought in your head, but it is not the very first thing that happened.”
“It actually is.” I’m sure of it now. Simply because he said it’s not.
Kova looks at me, his hands stilling on the arch of my foot. I grind my back teeth together and say under my breath, “harder,” forgetting for a fleeting moment what the topic of conversation is. My knee trembles at the relief. Auto-immune and multiple pregnancies do not mesh well together.
He pushes deeper and I grimace. He releases the pressure, and my shoulders relax.
“Would you like me to recall that moment with you, my love?”
“I would,” Avery says excitedly. Svetlana jumps in her lap and Avery covers her mouth in apology. “I would,” she repeats, whispering this time.
I watch him with curiosity. “I’d like you to too, because that day is still as fresh as the day before, and I’m pretty sure that’s what I said.”
Large green eyes stare back at me, waiting for a response.
My wife has the worst memory. With each pregnancy it stretches further from existence that it has become a bit of a joke in our home.
“Your memory is shit,” I tell her.
She gawks. “I can’t help it that the babies suck me dry, and I forget what I cooked for dinner last week.”
“Malysh,” I say, sweetening my tone. “what did you cook for dinner last week?”
“You cooked?” Avery chimes in, surprised.
Her eyes lowered. Ria cannot cook to save her life, and she knows it. When we finally got back together, her apartment had junk food galore in it and those nauseating pre-prepped meals she was still living on like during her time days at World Cup. She said she was fulfilling all her desires Joy stripped of her as an adolescent and that half of a box of Twinkies was perfectly acceptable as a meal.
That was a huge no-go in my eyes. I whipped her ass into shape quickly. Her body should be treated like a temple, not god damn garbage disposal.
“As a mother and wife,” she says with a little indignation, which I cannot help but love, “I choose only to remember the important things, and what I cooked isn’t one of them. If I’m not incubating one, I’ve got one latched to my boob while having a tea party with dinosaur figures.” She pauses, and I wait for her to bring up something random from five years ago like she loves to do. I cannot wait to see where she goes with this. “I made an organic pizza in the oven… on Sunday.”
“It was a Wednesday, Malysh, and you left the cardboard on the bottom of the pizza when you baked it.”
Avery giggles. “No way! She didn’t tell me that!”
“Of course she did not,” I say in jest. “She nearly burnt the kitchen down with a frozen pizza.”
Ria kicks my thigh. I grab her toes and they crack as I pull her leg back to me. Her cheeks tinge with color as words rise to her smiling lips directed right for me. She knows I am only playing with her yet she cannot stop herself. I do not mind though – it is our version of foreplay. A grin tugs at my lips that I cannot force back any longer. She sits up straighter as laughter rips from my chest and points a stiff finger at me.
My wife is so fucking adorable.
“He’s the biggest liar I’ve ever met. I don’t know why I married you.” Her eyes widen and I can’t help but get a kick out of her. “I thought it was the baking pan like it came together,” she says loudly over my and Avery’s laughter. “I didn’t know I needed to remove it. I thought I just put it in the oven and it bakes on it.”
“You did not,” Avery deadpans.
Ria nods subtly. “I did.” She is dead serious, making it so difficult to stop laughing. Svetlana rustles awake and reaches out, probably looking for her twin Nastia. Avery immediately places her hand in Svetlana’s and nurtures her back to sleep.
“You know what?” Ria begins, firmly crossing her arms under her breasts. “You’re not coming in the delivery room with me when this one is ready to pop out.”
She takes her legs back and turns her face away, leaning into the corner of the couch. She flips me off without looking and I bellow in laughter. She does not know that I can see her smiling from behind – I bet she is biting her dry lips to pretend she is mad. Ria does not get mad, and if she does, she does not stay mad for long. She values life too much, and I value hers more than life.
I cannot take it any longer and reach out, crawling my way closer to her. The little banter bouncing between us makes blood surge to my cock. Wrapping my arms around her shoulders, I pull Ria against my chest and kiss the top of her head. A tiny giggle falls from her lips. She nestles closer to me and rests her cheek on my arm, curling up. Her big belly lays to the side, so I grab a throw pillow and wedge it under her for support. She claims it helps with the weight on her aching bones. This home has foo-foo pillows in every room.
Her word, not mine. That is for sure.
My palm rubs circles on the side of her belly. She lets out a deep breath.
“She did not burn the kitchen down – just the pizza to ashes. The house was next.”
Teeth sink into my forearm before I have a chance to react. Ria gives me a playful bite, then rests her cheek back down again.
“Cravings, Konstantin. Happy wife, happy life. Don’t play with my emotions – or with my food. I’m hormonal right now and want this baby out of me.”
“Have you never made a frozen pizza before?” Avery asks.
“No, I always got it delivered, or we picked it up. I saw this one in particular at the grocery store, though. It looked so good that I decided I needed it as soon as I got home.”
“What was on it?” Avery asks, curious now.
“Pineapple! Who knew it would be so good!”
Avery and Ria get into a full discussion on whether pineapple should be on pizza or not. Being Russian, I eat food my wife is not accustomed to, so we try to experiment with foods, especially for the kids.
I tried her pizza. It tasted like shit, and I chalked it up to pregnancy cravings. I have learned not to question those or the morbid culinary dishes she has put together.
“This is just another reason why I’m not having kids. I’ll take one of yours when I’m having baby fever. Your cravings sound repulsive.”
“I have plenty,” I tell Avery with a dead straight face. “Take your pick.”
“Stop deflecting,” Ria says, elbowing my ribs. “Tell me what you insist happened when I first saw you years later.”
“The exact moment?”
Ria looks up and studies my eyes. There is a slight crease between her brows as if she is trying to recall the past. She nods. Looking only at my wife, I speak to her so she knows how much that moment still means to me.
“You opened the door and stood there looking at me for a good ten seconds in silence. I will never forget the turbulent look in your eyes.” I shake my head, wondering why the fuck I waited so long too. “You reeked of defeat. I could taste it in the air. I was sick to my stomach because that was not the Ria I knew. I thought I was too late.
“But you shocked me. Tears filled your eyes, much like they are now,” I say, and she smiles bashfully, remembering way back when “and they streamed down your cheeks. You stood on the other side of your door with your fists balled at your side, not uttering a word like you were waiting for me to say something when it hit me.” I pause, emotion choking me now. “You were waiting for me to take the final step for you.” A smile of gratitude fills her face. “So I pushed myself inside and grabbed you. Only then did you say—”
“Finally,” she whispers at the same time as I say it.
Ria’s first word, right before my lips smashed into hers, was finally.
A few seconds of silence go by as we get lost in the past and the torrent of emotion from that day. How she cried through her embrace, her legs winding around my waist immediately like she was afraid to let go.
“I thought she would first yell at me, even slap me across the face, but she did not.”
“Because once you came to me completely, I belonged to you forever,” she says softly. “Everything else could be sorted out later.”
Ria blinks slowly and opens her eyes. I can see her pulse hammering away in her neck. The way she looks at me like I am the only man in the entire fucking world is enough for me and what I aim to make my mission to see in her gaze each day. I swallow thickly hoping not a day goes by where she will ever have to question my love and devotion to her – and our growing family.
“She needed me to come completely to her, so I did.”
I smile down at my beautiful wife. She did not forget what she had said to me – she wanted me to remind her.
If two hearts could truly beat as one, then ours were destined to unify. I fucking love this woman.
“Did that really happen?” Avery asks, her voice airy. “Just like that?”
Ria shakes her head to confirm and tells Avery, “It did. When I saw him, I only wanted to run to him. You know I was madly in love with him still. But I was scared. I couldn’t call you for advice, I had no idea where he stood in his life other than his journals, and his sudden appearance when I needed it more than ever caught me in a web of defenselessness. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought I was dreaming until I saw his jaw flex and then heard him breathe deeply. I wasn’t dreaming, and he was standing across from me. I looked Kova straight in the eyes and waited for him to make the final move. He came this far. He could finish, right?”
Avery looked over her friend’s head at me. “I was always Team Ria. So I agree with her. You effed up royally.”
My wife chuckles, and I can hear the weariness in her laugh. I move the hair from her neck and feel a dampness. Her body overheats so easily when she is pregnant.
“It took two seconds. He ripped his hat off and followed me inside.”
“Who locked the door behind me?” I ask. I love that she did that and will not let her live it down.
“Me,” Ria says proudly. Avery smiles, still holding Svetlana in her lap. “I wasn’t kidding. We belonged to each other. He wasn’t allowed to leave after that.” Avery watches Ria with a fascination that reminds me of when my daughters watch those princess Disney movies. “The next day, though, I distinctly remember having some very colorful words for him that had nothing to do with hockey sticks.”