The First Measure of a Concerto

Part II

They were in love. It had been so easy and so fast, that Helena barely registered Eden drifting away from her. Being with Viktor was new, yet Helena felt like she had always been with him or waited to be with him. In school, if she had been popular before, it was nothing compared to now. She was the talk of the week and girls lined up to ask her how he was really like and how someone who attended high school had grabbed his attention.

Helena ignored most of it. School had become something that made her wait anxiously before she could see Viktor and everyone only made it worse by talking about him. She craved to be alone with him in his garden.

After cheerleading practice, he would always be there, leaning against his car while he watched her practice on the field through the fence. Sometimes he only drove her home, but the few minutes she had in his car was better than not seeing him at all. And they would kiss. Helena never thought him to be someone to make out for hours on the backseat of a car.

On weekends, he took her places. They would go into town, to theatres and movies and dinners. Once, she even invited Eden to go to the theatre with them. Eden had accepted, like Helena knew she would, and as they watched the play, her sister remained with a stoic expression that lasted until they were back home. She hadn't said a word to Viktor and before Helena went to bed, Eden asked her not to invite her out again.

Helena knew that Eden would get over it. She wasn't quite sure if it was jealousy or betrayal running in her sister's veins, but she knew it would all pass. Helena felt like she wasn't doing the right thing whenever Eden woke up in a mood to ignore her. She missed her sister, but she was falling for Viktor and lately, she could only find herself wanting to be near him.

For her eighteenth birthday, Viktor offered to throw her a party at the mansion. She was allowed to invite all of her friends, but because he had a meeting that day, he wouldn't be able to make it until later. Helena hated overstepping her boundaries and in the end, she thought that a tea party with her closest friends would be ideal.

She was excited that he would lend his house like that, but there wasn't a lot she wanted to do besides spend her birthday with her friends. She had the party in the garden, with white tents making a shade for them. Light yellow and pink balloons decorated the scenery and white roses were placed in wine bottles that followed the walkway up to the tables.

Eliza had done all of it and as Viktor showed everything to her, Helena smiled excitedly and turned to him. She was wearing a blue dress that stuck to her figure nicely. For the first time, Helena felt like a grown up. In Viktor's eyes, she could see how she appeared to him and she loved what reflected back at her.

"You know, Eliza is my friend, too," she said. "I think the girls would love to have her around. And she clearly deserves a break…"

She bit her lip, raising an eyebrow at him suggestively. Viktor chuckled and threw his head back.

"Fine," he said. "What the birthday girl asks, she gets."

Helena's smile grew so much that it hurt her face and she stood on the tip of her toes to kiss him.

"Thank you!"

She was about to run off when he grabbed her hand and brought her back to his chest, holding her firmly by the small of her back. She naturally curved towards him.

"Have fun," he said, brushing her cheek with his knuckles. "I'll be back by six so we can spend the last few hours of your day together."

She shivered and nodded, not trusting her voice at all. He kissed her tenderly for a moment, his touch holding so much promise that she wondered if she could wait until six o'clock. But when he let her go and pushed her back towards the mansion, she remembered about Eliza and ran towards the house, passing the trail of wine bottles with the roses.

"Eliza!" Helena exclaimed as soon as she opened the doors to the kitchen. She was always in the kitchen.

Helena halted as she saw her cake on the island.

"Whoa," she said.

"It was meant to be a surprise," Eliza said shyly, placing a single, silver candle on top of the white frosting. The flowers matched the colors of the balloons outside, and Helena neared it to see that instead of her name written loudly across the cake, her initials were on the top, right corner instead.

"I never had something this fancy," she said, letting a breath out.

Eliza shrugged. "I made it," she said. "I've been doing courses as Mr. Poulton requested."

"You're very talented," Helena said. "Thank you. And I came to personally invite you to my party."

Eliza paled and swallowed. "What?"

"You're my friend, too," she said. "Just because you work here doesn't mean you can't attend. Besides, everything is beautiful, thanks to you. So, please?"

She smoothed down her hands in front of her uniform, unsure.

"Does Viktor know?"

"Yes, I asked him," Helena said, gathering Eliza's hands in hers. "Do you have anything to wear?"

"Well, I might have a dress," she said shyly.

"Go on then," Helena said, laughing.

Helena was walking back to the garden when she saw Eden walk through the big gates. A heavy frown adorned her face, making her absolutely stick out in such a peaceful and light atmosphere. Helena was surprised. Her sister was avoiding her even in their own home. Eden was the last person she expected to come for her birthday.

"Hello," she said, meeting Eden halfway through the grand driveway.

"Well, we can definitely say you'll fit in here," Eden said, practically throwing her gift at her. "Mom sent those."

"I don't doubt it," Helena said sourly. "You don't have to be here, you know."

Eden raised her sunglasses to regard her sister and popped her gum. "Oh, but haven't you heard? It's the gathering of the year."

Helena watched her sister's hips swish from side to side as she walked through the pathway that Eliza had carefully placed. She was starting to worry. If Eden was there it certainly meant something bad was going to happen. She tried to ignore where her thoughts were leading, but it was hard to disregard Eden's disapproval of everything.

When the girls finally arrived, Helena was mostly excited to see Eliza. Her bun had come down while she wore a lovely yellow dress that complimented her skin. For reasons that were more for support, Helena laced their arms together and presented her to the other girls. She didn't mention that Eliza worked there. Eliza was too shy to be put onto the spot like that and Helena figured her sister would be the first one to attack that valid information.

The girls gushed at Helena, telling her how lucky she was. Viktor was something of a mystery and king in their eyes. Helena just saw the quiet, smart boy she was falling so headstrong for. It was weird to think of him the way the girls did. She had once been like them, but now she knew too much. His look that may be confused with a certain of degree of mean was actually just authority and the intimidation people had with him was only because he was smart and had money.

Helena opened her mouth to explain Viktor to them, but then she thought otherwise. They would just think she was bluffing and it would probably create room for more rumours and judgment. So she opted for sharing secret smiles with Eliza.

"How did you manage to catch his attention, Helena?" her friend Sarah asked.

It made her realize that perhaps the closest friend she was having at the moment was Eliza. These girls no longer knew anything about her life nor could she tell them the truth.

She opened her mouth to answer, but Eden beat her to it.

"Sleeping with him," she said. "How else?"

The effect was immediate. Sarah's mouth hung open, imitating the rest of the girls' expressions. One let her glass drop and Eliza moved to stand, but Helena placed a hand on hers to stop her. She wouldn't let her clean after these girls, not in their presence.

"Is that true?" Clare gasped. Helena felt like she wanted to slap someone.

With a shaky hand, she brought her champagne glass to her lips in hopes of hiding her blush.

"You know ladies shouldn't kiss and tell," she said, almost coldly. It was only to hide the tremor in her voice.

"Well, that's certainly more than kissing," said Karen, flipping her red hair as if in disapproval.

"How did it happen?" one asked.

"How was it?" asked another.

"You always said things about the boys in our school," said Sarah haughtily.

"Girls," Eden said suddenly, "she's right. A lady should never tell such things. It's good, too, that she has Viktor now. I mean, she has no hopes for college. Marrying someone rich that could support her is every girl's dream and the most she could have hoped for. I'm glad your dreams are coming true, sis."

Helena forced herself to swallow to keep herself quiet. She wouldn't ruin her image for these girls, nor Viktor's.

"I'm sure we need more drinks," she said, trying to say it in an upbeat tone. "Let me go see what is taking those maids so long to serve us. Excuse me."

Helena shouldn't have left. She knew that. Once she was inside, though, she realized how tense she was around them.

As the maids went off to serve the girls more sparkling drinks, Helena tried to gather whatever dignity she had left. She couldn't stay long, but she did tell them to serve the cake an hour and a half earlier. She wanted these girls gone, and most importantly, her sister gone.

When she walked back, the first thing she saw was Eden handing out cigarettes. Eliza politely declined and Helena snatched the cigarette from Eden's hand.

"What are you doing?" she asked her.

"Oh, Helena, come on," she said giving her a look as she lit her cigarette and threw the match aside, giving the girls the box so they could light theirs, too. "It's a party. Besides, every movie star is doing it. Live in the modern times, Lena."

Fits of coughs surrounded her before the smoke did. Helena stepped aside, watching her friends giggle at each other between their fits of cough. Eden stood there, smoking as if it was second nature to her. It probably was.

They didn't see it, until a bright light flashed against the table where the appetizers were. Helena jumped back in time as the fire that had been burning a piece of cloth spread to a bigger part. She watched in horror as the lace crumbled and turned to ash as the fire consumed it. The girls shouted, gathering the attention of the maids nearby. One had the notion to throw a jar full of champagne at it. Eliza yelled at her, but it was too late.

Helena could only turn and look at Eden, who was no longer smoking, but smiling. Then she remembered her action of throwing away the match.

Eliza and Helena tried to beat the fire away with the thin napkins as it grew around the table. It had already reached a rose bush by the time a few of the maids came back from the house with fire extinguishers. Once she made sure everyone was safe, however horrified they looked, Helena dropped the scorched napkin on the ground and walked quietly back into the house.

Eliza had followed her, thankfully. She directed Helena to Viktor's room and inside his bathroom. She sat down against the large bathtub as Eliza gathered a towel and a robe. She had never been to Viktor's room, despite Eden's lies. Helena could barely process it all. Her anger was keeping her paralyzed to her place.

"Your dress is a mess, Helena," Eliza was saying as she filled the bathtub, the oils making the air sweet. "I'll get someone to go into town and get something for you quickly."

She barely paid attention and once Eliza was gone, it took her a long while to remove her blackened dress. She could only think of the talk in school on Monday. They would talk about how she had slept her way into a relationship with Viktor Poulton, how she was one of the gold digging girls her parents had always told her not be and how her birthday party had been a disaster. She would be the laughing stock and so would Viktor.

What would they say if they knew the truth?

. . .

She was in her robe, beside the bathtub when she heard Viktor calling her name. She smelled like expensive flower oils now and she was playing with a bottle of one. She was making a disaster of things. With her family, friends and now even Viktor.

She jumped, dropping the bottle when he opened the door. The expression on his face calmed her somewhat. Where she thought she would see anger, she only saw concern. His tie was a bit askew and she wondered who had called him to rush from work so quickly.

"Helena," he said, taking a step forward.

She didn't care if her hair was wet and dripping down her back, much less that she was in a robe. She stood up in a rush, nearly tripping on her way as she ran towards him. He caught her with an arm, his hand so warm through her robe.

"What happened?" he asked. "Eliza said there was a fire?"

"It was my sister," she said, pulling away enough to stare at his face. She ran a finger over his jaw, mesmerized that only the sight of him could calm her fears. He frowned deeply and she was a little surprised when he grabbed her wrists, pushing her until her back hit a wall. His mouth descended hard and fast down on hers, swallowing her surprised gasp.

Her body tingled as a hand enclosed on the knot of her robe. Helena pushed herself against him, framing his cheek with a hand as he kissed her.

"I'm sorry," he said, pulling away from her with a shake of his head. "I was going to do this later tonight, but…"

He was angry. She could feel him trying to control it as his hand turned into fists. It wasn't his battle, and yet his rage was even beyond hers. For a moment she was relieved that Eden wouldn't destroy this part of them.

Then he kneeled on one knee, grabbing a Tiffany's box from his pocket.

"Marry me, Helena," he said, opening the box to show the ring inside. "Please, marry me. And let me give you a life you deserve. You're so much more than these people."

The ring was gorgeous, like she always had hoped it would be, but it was his eyes that she looked more at. They were a steady brown, one that calmed her nerves and spoke of honesty. There was an innocence about Viktor that maybe one only got when he was shielded all of his life. But she loved him and he was kneeling, proving his love for her.

"Happy birthday," he whispered lamely when she realized she was taking too long to answer.

"Oh, God, yes!" she said. "Of course, Viktor."

He let out a breath, rising up to put the ring on her finger. Her hand was shaking and he laughed, admitting how nervous he had been before. When the ring was finally on her finger, a glittering diamond that felt too heavy, she rose on the tip of her toes to kiss him.

She shouldn't have expected anything other than an engagement like that. They had fallen in love much like she had fallen from his wall; hard and fast. So why shouldn't everything with them follow the same way? It wasn't the fact that she needed him that made her say yes, however. Viktor needed her, as well. He wouldn't let it on, but she had always felt very protective of him when he mentioned his father. Viktor might have been great at giving orders, but he was so innocent towards people's intentions.

"I've been playing around with your name laced in mine for weeks now," he said, dropping little kisses on her face.

"Helena Poulton," she said with a smile and giddiness.

He let his smile touch hers before he parted her lips and kissed her, pushing her back against the wall. Eden's words were running through her mind, but didn't Eden have Viktor so wrong? Didn't she think he was some kind of rich playboy who played with hearts?

"Viktor," she said as she pulled away, nearly in panic.

He looked at her for a moment and then his eyes travelled down, his eyes stroking the skin where the robe left exposed.

"Right," he said, shaking his head and running a hand through his hair. "I'll be outside."

"No," she said, pulling at his hand to make him stay. "I—I wanted to ask for something else."

His eyes widened, probably understanding what she meant. She didn't let him think too much, however. Viktor, always the gentleman, would think this was too bold. She had to try, however. She grabbed the hand that she was holding and placed it upon her face as she stretched against his body to plant a kiss on his cheek.

"Make me completely yours, Viktor," she whispered, dropping hot, wet kisses on his neck. "Please."

He was breathing heavily, his hand going around to cup hers to maybe stop her, but when she untied his tie and let it slip over his neck, his mouth was against hers in frenzy. She was breathless as he pushed her against the wall again, her robe easily undone by his hand, falling open and making his mouth leave hers. She would have let him undress a million times if she knew the awe that would show on his face.

"God, I love you," he whispered roughly, gathering her into his arms. She could only moan in answer as she felt his lips on her shoulders as he carried her into his room.

. . .

Whatever Viktor had planned for her birthday, it was all out the window. They spent the last bits of the afternoon in his room. After the sex, she had lied down on his chest as he read to her until she fell asleep. He woke her up with kisses not long after, his body above hers and reminding her of an action that still brought a blush throughout her whole body.

Music was playing in the background. Classical, what she probably would have guessed he listened to if he hadn't told her once. He began kissing her neck and then started chuckling, his body moving in a way that made her arch her back.

"You still smell like smoke," he told her.

"It's the hair," she said. "I smell like you, too."

"I like that," he said, his fingers entwining with hers over her head as he began to kiss down her body. "You know, I would marry you tomorrow if I could."

She giggled, knowing it would be a blessing if they could do it. However, she still needed to tell her parents. Viktor wasn't planning on asking her father. It seemed moot now, anyway. She was of age; she could marry whomever she wanted. Maybe whatever accord Viktor had made with her father extended to this as well.

When there was a knock on the door to announce their dinner, Helena got off Viktor's back where she was lazily lounging against, tracing circles on his skin. She hoped it wasn't Eliza bringing in their food and she tightly wrapped the sheets around herself in preparation. However, it was a maid Helena had never really seen before. She set the trays on the coffee table near the front of the room where a living room was stylishly placed. She also handed a bag to Viktor, probably being Helena's dress that Eliza had promised her.

"They've brought your cake, too," Viktor said after the maid was gone and Helena was making her way towards him.

She was about to go for the tray when he grabbed her by the waist and pulled her to him. The kiss was sweet, tasting of her and their sweat, but when he pulled away, she shivered in his words.

"When you go back to school," he said, his eyes lowering to her lips, "remember you're now mine. Soon to be my wife."

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak since her stomach was quivering in anticipation. When he dropped a single kiss on her collarbone, her heart practically melted.

No matter how much fun she had with Viktor as they had dinner, she could never prepare herself for what waited her at home. She never once considered her parents thoughts about her marrying Viktor as she rubbed icing over his chin, laughing at his shocked expression. When she licked it off and he would bend down, smiling to kiss her.

Leaving him was like pulling her skin off. She clung to him when they arrived at the door of her house. Her arms wrapped tightly around his neck, her mouth seeking his. The dress that had been bought so she could make it out of the house was just another sparkly beauty.

"I love you," she said, her ring glittering in the darkness.

He stepped back to look tenderly at her, keeping a hand on her waist as the other stroked her cheek. She began to blush as his eyes held the memories of their actions for the last few hours. Her body was tingling all over again.

"I love you, too," he said, nearly mouthing the words. "Goodnight, Helena."

She smiled, gripping the lapels of his jacket to give him one last kiss before running to her door. She would never have the strength to leave him like that if she didn't run and get it over with.

. . .

As soon as she walked in the door, Helena skipped to the sound of the television. She jumped into the room, the dress Viktor had given her swinging about her in a flourish. Eden was sitting on the carpet, looking through a magazine, but Helena barely paid attention.

"Mom, Daddy," she announced, grabbing their attention and thrusting her hand forward. "I'm engaged."

"What?" Her mother stood up immediately, her eyebrows furrowing as she leaned down to see her ring. Eden froze with her legs in the air.

"Isn't it gorgeous, Mom?" Helena gushed, wiggling her fingers. "It's Tiffany's, too."

"Of course it is," Eden said with a roll of her eyes.

Helena was admiring her ring, which was why she only noticed her father's reaction when he was pushing her mother away. He grabbed her wrist forcefully, yanking the ring right off her finger and pushing her away.

Helena fell to the ground as her father pounded his way out the door, grabbing his car keys.

"Daddy, no!" she yelled as she rushed after him, slipping on one of the glossy pages of the magazine.

She could hear her mother trying to tell her not to shout, to keep her voice low like a lady. Helena didn't care about being a lady at the moment. She wanted her ring back. She feared what it meant if this made her father so upset.

"Dad!"

He was getting in the car and Helena could just see Viktor's car off in the distance. Her father never stopped, though. Not even when she reached him and banged on the car door. He would have run over her feet if her mother hadn't pulled her back.

"Stop this right now, Helena," her mother scolded.

"No," she said, wrenching herself away from her and running after her father's car.

Her father drove ahead and she feared what his anger might make him do. When she did reach them, running short on breath, her father's car was blocking Viktor's. They were both getting out of the car and if Helena hadn't known Viktor, she wouldn't cross him at that moment. The look on his face was completely deadly.

"Something to say?" he asked her father.

He only threw the ring on the ground, the diamond winking against the black road.

"She'll die before she marries you," her father spat.

"Dad!" she exclaimed, moving forward then. "This is my decision—"

"It can be anyone but him, Helena!" he shouted.

All around them lights were being turned on in the houses.

"Go back to the house, Helena," he ordered.

Helena looked at her father, at what was supposed to be the calm man she knew. What made him dislike the Poultons so much? Shouldn't he be happy for her?

She ignored him and ran to Viktor, relief washing over her when his arms went immediately around her.

"Viktor, please don't let him separate us," she whispered.

"He won't," he said, his voice laced with a fire that made her shiver. "This isn't over. I love you, now go back home."

She searched his eyes to see if he was hesitating at all.

"Helena!" She jumped at her father's tone and then she was being pulled away from Viktor.

"You get the hell away from her," he said. "You're not going to see her."

"We'll see about that, Richard," Viktor said.

Helena looked back as her father pushed her forward and into the car. Viktor picked her ring off the floor. There seemed to be something running between the two men that she couldn't place. She narrowed her eyes at her father as he got in the car and got out of Viktor's way. She didn't understand.

"Why are you doing this?" she asked.

"Do you know how much we've been humiliated at the hands of the Poultons?!"

"Viktor isn't like that!"

The car swerved as his fist connected to her jaw. "You're a stupid girl, Helena. You don't know who he is and I'll be damned before they get another thing of mine."

The hit had shocked her into silence. Helena could barely even manage to look at him, but she did and she didn't recognize the man before her.

. . .

Eden thought everything about it was funny. First it was a week, then it became two weeks. Helena hadn't seen any trace of Viktor since that night. The hit that had been given from her father had actually been transformed into Viktor's doing at school. Her friends were siding with Eden, turning their nose up at the bruise on her jaw. By the second week, she was no longer in the cheerleading squad. It had been the only thing about high school that she loved, that was something that was all hers.

At night, she found herself crying more and more. She didn't mind losing all her friends and even her sister. Viktor though had been yanked from her heart and now there was this hole inside and she wasn't sure how to heal it. Food was tasteless and her family were suddenly her enemies.

She tried skipping school one day to go to Viktor's house, but Eliza only informed her that he was out of town on business and wasn't sure when he was coming back. Of course he didn't want anything to do with her anymore. She had given herself to him and wasn't that what Eden had warned her about, anyway? She knew he was better than that, however. So it left her to ponder after him.

Helena had to stop looking for him as soon as she started. When she got home that day, Eden had told their parents about Helena not being in school. The shadow of herself barely had any energy to fight back with her father. When he asked, she told the truth. When he sent her to her room, she didn't leave it. She was dragging her days on, the only hope she had was that Viktor was coming back for her.

Winter was approaching and it didn't matter if she got to wear her cheerleading uniform or not. With everyone choosing jackets and jeans over the skirts, Helena could ignore that she was no longer in the squad. What she couldn't ignore was her heartache towards Viktor as another week passed. Her concentration at school was next to none, her grades suddenly turning into Cs and Ds. She couldn't find herself to care.

It was a Wednesday night when she was sitting in her room, trying to get her mind wrapped around her homework that she glanced at the calendar on her closet door. The last time she had marked the days that had gone by was on her birthday. She sighed, grabbing her red pen and walking over to the calendar. She marked out a week and then another. She was just scratching out that day when she looked up and realized something.

Fear gripped her for a moment and she let her pen drop. Her instinct was to run to Eden's room. She chose to sit down on her bed, her eyes quickly scanning her room. A rush of adrenaline hit her. Did she go down and finally face her parents about her love for Viktor? Did she sneak out and go to his house to see if he had arrived yet?

When her mother announced that dinner was ready, Helena hesitantly went down. Her parents were still ignoring her and as she filled her plate with food, she watched as they questioned Eden about her day. Her sister was turning vile and as they talked in their world, Helena lowered a shaky hand to her belly.

She was scared to a point that made her knees weak, but if this was how her family was going to be about someone she loved, she didn't want a part in it. She would be content to start her own, to have something of Viktor's. She smiled softly at the idea. He had promised her and she would wait.

. . .

It was as if he could feel her urgency. Every day for the past two weeks and a half, Eden's friends would pick her up with one of their cars. Helena would have to leave early, since she had begun walking. She actually enjoyed the time alone, where all the stifling air of her house left her. That day, she was even happier that she chose to walk. She felt like she had a little secret inside of her and a smile tugged at her lips involuntarily.

She didn't hold back the smile when she saw Viktor's black car parked in front of the high school. He was leaning lazily on the door, in his suit. Just thinking of how manly he looked in black and a tie had heat rushing to her face. When his bright eyes hit hers, he smiled warmly, like nothing had ever happened that night with her father. Maybe to Viktor Poulton, that wasn't much.

"Viktor," she nearly yelled as she ran towards him, letting their bodies collide.

He picked her up, an arm around her waist as his hand held her head. His kiss was hot and desperate. It bruised her lips as he put her down. They didn't even breathe until they pulled apart enough to.

"Helena, I'm sorry," he said. "My father needed help with something down in Florida. Someone accused him of fraud and we had to sort things out."

"Viktor," she said, tears staining her face. She hugged him tightly, her lips forming the same letters of his name over and over.

"Get in the car," he said.

She didn't waste any time. To have him around again felt like a luxury. She held his hand as he drove them to a road, away from the eyes of the school. As soon as he stopped the car she was climbing on his lap, her lips on his as she took in his scent. The fear that was clawing inside her stomach turned into butterflies, making her remember.

"Sweetheart, you don't look too well," Viktor said, pushing her hair away from her face. "Are you okay? Is it your family?"

"Oh, they're awful, Viktor," she said, hiding her face in his neck. "I really don't think they'll let me see you."

"It doesn't matter if they do or don't," he said easily, trailing a finger up her back. "It's not their choice and you're no longer theirs."

Helena sat back on his lap, biting her lip as Viktor reached inside his shirt and produced a chain, her engagement ring hanging delicately at the end of it. He carefully put the ring back on her finger, the chain hanging down like a long charm.

"You can be my fiancée in these stolen moments until we get married," he said. "It won't take long. Just tell me when and I'll get everything settled."

"I would marry you this minute if I could," she said. "I want to be your wife."

His smile was contagious as he pulled her closer.

"Viktor," she said, sitting up and cupping his face in her hands. "I think I might be pregnant."

She saw the light in his eyes, the disbelief. For a moment, all Helena could see was the lonely boy beneath the man. His content suddenly felt too big in the car.

"What?" he said, his voice coming out hoarse. "Are you sure?"

"I've been late for two weeks now," she said. "It could be stress, but… I just feel it, Viktor."

When his warm hand came in contact with her belly, Helena clutched at his clothes. She leaned in to kiss him, but he pulled back away sharply, running a hand through his hair.

"Helena, you need to go to the doctor immediately."

"What?"

"We need to make sure you are," he said. "And, sweetheart, you don't look good at all."

"But I have school and if Eden doesn't see me she will tell our parents—"

"Baby," Viktor said, silencing her with a quick kiss, "it hardly matters what your parents think if we're really having a baby. You're mine now."

Helena ran a finger down his straight nose, his brown eyes looking more hopeful than she had expected. She wasn't sure how he would take it, wasn't sure if it was something he wanted now even though he had expressed it many times that he did want a family in the near future.

So she agreed to go straight to the hospital with him. They waited in the doctor's office as the results got done. The doctor had already given her a folder with all kinds of papers in it about pregnancy and her diet. She hadn't taken it seriously until she saw the pictures of other women cradling their round bellies.

Viktor was extremely nervous next to her, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees as his eyes fixed on one spot. She regretted raising his hopes up—what if what she felt was just a need to escape her family? What if she had made it all up without knowing?

"Viktor, what if we aren't?" she asked.

He looked up at her, a sad smile gracing his sharp features. "Is it that important to you that you are?"

She shrugged. "I'm too young, I know that. But… I loved the idea of it. Especially it being yours."

His smile turned into a full grin as he leaned closer to stroke her cheek with his thumb. "All that matters to me is that you want one with me. I don't care if it's now or in five years."

Helena and Viktor took their lunch outside in the garden. It was like their second date, only this time Helena didn't feel like there was a wall in between people who were strangers. As she lay on the crook of his arm, Viktor kept tracing circles on her belly. The smile was still there since the doctor had told them. She didn't mind doing nothing at all with him. It was like s getting her share of happiness after missing him so much.

"Viktor, if I'm going to become a Poulton," she said, "tell me some family history."

"My family isn't at all interesting," he said absently, still staring at her belly as if he could watch it grow. "We're all very distant."

"Come on," she said, running a hand through his soft hair. "How come you have so much money? How did the business start? Where are your family? What's your heritage? Is my child likely to have my eyes or yours?"

"Slow down," he laughed. "My father's eyes are blue. My eyes are actually from my grandmother. She's Mexican."

"Mexican?" Helena said. "Really?"

"Yeah, we're old money. We've had many farms down in Mexico. My grandfather was actually the only one who took much interest to them," he said. "He went there when he was really young and met a girl. My father actually had a really good family growing up. He had two sisters and a brother."

"And what happened?"

"Well, my grandfather came here when they started getting older and needed a good education," he explained, making goose bump rise on her skin as he traced up and down lines on her skin. "So he bought this house and at the time Houston had just lost one of its major hotels so he decided to buy that, too. But he has always preferred Mexico and so has my grandmother. So after my father was old enough, he left the hotel at his care. I know my uncle is in Mexico with his own business now, which is somewhat popular down there. One of my aunts got married to a politician and the other moved to England. She died recently, but I never met her."

"And where's your father now?" she asked.

Viktor shook his head angrily. "Henry is screwing things up. His father taught him nearly everything he knew before he left the house and the hotel to him. But Henry, as soon as I was done with Harvard, just made sure I had all the responsibilities before going off. He's one for money, but he's awful in business."

She didn't ask him about their bankruptcy. Viktor had told her time and time again that he was bringing things back up. She didn't even hesitate in believing him. She could see the passion in his eyes for the house, for the history that it brought and for the hotel.

"So our baby has a chance of having brown eyes?" she asked with a smile.

"Most likely it'll have yours," he said. "I just hope it's a boy."

"And if it's a girl?"

"She'll be a princess," he chuckled.

"And if it's a boy?"

"Then he'll be my heir and when he's old enough, I'll teach him everything I know," he said. "Like my grandfather taught my father."

"And I'll teach him the importance of family so he'll never let you down," she said.

His hand went around her waist as he leaned down and kissed her. His kiss was so tender that an instant ache surrounded her at the thought of losing him. She held on to him tightly, her hands clutching at his hair and neck, like he was her anchor.

"And I'll be your queen," she said softly against him.

"You're more than what I could have ever hoped for, Helena," he said, his eyes roaming her face. "You're perfect."

It was the thought that she could do something for someone who seemed to have everything. Viktor wasn't vulnerable and he was more than capable of being on his own. In the end, however, he did need her and she knew he would need a family to come home to every night, to love and that loved him in return. And in a world where they both felt abandoned by their parents, wouldn't they make the best ones? The ones who knew what mistakes not to commit? She couldn't be excited enough.

. . .

Viktor dropped her off at the school minutes before the final bell rang. She could see it in his eyes that the last thing he wanted to do was let her return back home. They had agreed that she would try to tell her parents and if all failed, she was getting married to him on Saturday evening no matter what. Helena could only hope that her parents would accept it.

Viktor brushed his hand against her belly before she got out of the car. She watched him drive away before she began her walk home. Her hands kept going up to her shirt, where her engagement ring lay beneath on the chain. She was nervous going back home to face her parents, but the thought of being married on Saturday put her at rest.

She shouldn't have been surprised when she arrived at her street and saw her father's car parked in front. He was home too early from work. Her explanation came as soon as she opened her door and saw Eden sitting on the stairs.

"She's here!" she announced loudly.

Angry footsteps followed her words and seconds later her father emerged from the kitchen's door. Helena took a step back.

"Where were you today?" he asked, his voice thrumming with anger.

"I—I was—"

"Were you with him?"

Helena turned to look at Eden. How could her best friend, her sister, be so cruel to her over and over again? She couldn't hate anyone more.

"Yes," she said. "Daddy, I love him. We're getting married. Whatever he's done I'm sure he'll make it right with you. He's a good man—"

He had her cornered before he ever even hit her. Helena couldn't even escape her father's slashes as he kept raising his hand at her. Later she could only remember yelling for her mother, but out of the corner of her eyes she could see both of them standing there, watching.

"Dad, stop, please!" she was already on the floor, screams and sobs leaving her. She could only think of protecting her stomach, afraid that her father would strike her there. "Mom, make him stop!"

It wasn't until she yelled the words, her voice shaking—she had no idea if it would do more good than bad—that her father finally paused on hitting her.

"I'm pregnant, Dad, you're going to hurt him!"

Her mother gasped and finally rushed forward, blocking her view of her father.

"Get out of the way, Bethany," he said, his voice so loud that it shook the walls.

Her mother stared at him for a moment, but then she flinched and moved out of the way.

. . .

Viktor was sitting on the barstool, eating his dinner. Eliza's company was better than no company and after such a day, he just wanted to tell someone.

"Can you believe it, Eliza?" he asked. "In a few months, there will be tiny legs walking on these floors. Do you know anything about kids?"

"Well, I have an older sister," she said. "She's had two so far. I used to be really close to them before she moved back to Hawaii."

"You'll need to help Helena as much as you can, of course," he said. "Anything you can teach her, Eliza!"

Just then a guard Viktor had patrolling the gates burst in, looking very worried. Viktor's nostrils flared as he put down his fork gently. He hired these men so he wouldn't have to deal with anything requiring security.

"What do you think you're doing?" he asked.

"I'm sorry, sir," he said. "But the girl, um, your girlfriend perhaps? She's, well, she's outside, sir."

"Well, then open the gates," Viktor said, but he was up and was already following the guard out of the kitchen.

As soon as he stepped outside, Viktor understood why the guard had been so pale. Richard, Helena's father, was holding her by her hair as the gate opened. He could tell Helena was in a great deal of pain with the way she contorted her body to try lessening it. Her cries could be heard from where he stood.

The driveway had always seemed too long, but now it felt infinite as he tried to run towards the gates. By the time he got there, Richard was already through them. He threw Helena on the ground as soon as Viktor came to a halt. He could hear some of her hair ripping apart by the force of it.

"Viktor!" she sobbed, and it was then he noticed how bruised and bloody her face looked.

"Your whore," Richard simply said before turning around and walking back to his car. Viktor felt like he could kill him and he even got up to do so, but Helena slackened in his arms. He picked her up, cursing under his breath as he carried her inside.

"Eliza!" he yelled as he carried Helena to a sitting room and sat her down. When Eliza didn't appear right away, he screamed louder. "Eliza, goddamnit!"

"Viktor," Helena croaked.

"Helena, sweetheart," he said, kneeling down in front of her. "How's the baby?"

"What happened?" Eliza asked as she came in the room.

"Grab me the first-aid kit and get a bath ready for Helena up in my bathroom," he said quickly.

"The baby is fine," Helena said, grabbing his hands in such a vice grip that Viktor looked at her worriedly. "I think I just got kicked out of my house."

"This is your home now, Helena," he said. "Now we can get married however and whenever we want. It'll be fine. Everything will be fine. We're going back to the doctor tomorrow, okay? Just to check on the baby."

She nodded, her tears mixing with the blood and dirt on her face. "I'm sorry, Viktor, I didn't mean to be such a burden."

"Shh," he crooned, as he grabbed her into his arms again. "I would have fought for you."

She didn't reply and Viktor guessed she was too tired to. He was relieved that when he helped her change to get in the bathtub, she wasn't bruised anywhere else. The damage had been to her face mainly.

Later that night, they lay in his bed. After eating, Helena had calmed down somewhat. Viktor could only hope that she realized that in losing a family, she had found one in him. She was in one of his shirts and as he stroked her thigh, he watched her silently. It didn't pass him that this was their first night they would sleep together.

"Sleep, baby," he said. "You need it. Tomorrow, you'll wake up in a new life."

"I love you," she said, her voice catching as if it was painful. A tear escaped her eyes, but she brushed it off and rested her forehead on his chest.

"And, Viktor?"

"Yes?"

"Please don't do anything to my father. Let's just think about us now. I don't want to talk about them anymore. They're dead to me."

"If that's what you want."

"It is."

"Then that's how it'll be."

"Thank you," she whispered against his skin.

. . .

They got married four months later. In the end, Helena wanted to invite all of Viktor's family. She claimed she wanted them there, so she could be introduced to them. Viktor was only happy that she took the family thing serious. After her own had turned their backs on her, Viktor had watched a girl grow into a woman that was slowly becoming a wife and a mother. Her pregnancy couldn't be more celebrated between them.

Even Henry was ecstatic to be a grandfather, saying it was about time that Viktor got married. He claimed that he wouldn't be properly respected until he found himself a wife and settled down.

Between finishing her high school at home, preparing for a baby, Helena had also organized the whole wedding inside the mansion. Viktor only waited that long because he already had felt somewhat married to her, anyway. She had also needed the distraction.

He couldn't explain how nervous he got before it, though. Seeing all of his family together was a rare occurrence. It was also probably because Helena said she was only going to reveal the baby's sex to him after the wedding, when they were finally in their planned vacation in Hawaii.

His favorite part was dancing with her. It was like their first date again. Her lips on his neck were just a constant reminder.

"Are you happy?" she asked him quietly.

"I'm more than happy," he said, kissing her temple. Her serene smile was enough to let him know that he didn't need to ask her the same question.

She looked gorgeous then, her dark hair cascading her back, clipped back only the front of it. The empire waist dress added a more mature look to her. Whenever the camera aimed at them, Viktor was more than happy to let her steal the show.

. . .

He had a private airplane booked to take them to Hawaii. Even in the car on their way to their private resort, he was nervous. He kept squeezing her hand, glancing down at her protruding belly.

"Tell me already," he kept saying, making her only laugh.

"Patience, darling," she said.

"I better be picking the name if I'm going through this torment."

"I wouldn't mind that actually," she said, giving him a smile. "I would love for you to choose the name."

Viktor gritted his teeth, but gave her a kiss nevertheless, his palm laying flat against her belly, trying to feel a random kick.

Their private resort was filled with candles at his request. Viktor traditionally carried Helena in and as soon as he put her down, she was racing for the back doors that led to the beach.

"Oh, I can't believe it!" she said, dropping her shoes near the door and running towards the sand. "Viktor, this feels amazing!"

He laughed, placing his hands inside his pocket. When she had mentioned she had never gone to the beach, he knew exactly where he was going to take her. He watched as she felt the sand between her toes for a moment, but then he grabbed her hand and brought her to the blanket laid out for them. Candles also surrounded it.

"The sound is the best part," he said.

"This is so relaxing!" she said. "I can't wait for tomorrow when the sun is out. Thank you for this."

She hugged him, making him stagger a little and reminding him of when she used to hug him before dropping her at her house. Like a hug that made her want to mold her body with his before parting ways so she would have a bit of him.

"Can I have the answer now?" he asked.

"Oh!" She scrambled around the couple baskets laid out on top of the blanket. "It's supposed to be in here."

When she found it, it was a simple envelope. Viktor looked at her as he opened it and pulled out a card. He quickly flipped it open, and inside there was a thick, blue line running down the middle. He let out a breath.

"It's a boy?" he asked, his smile suddenly too big for his face. "We're having a boy?"

She nodded, climbing on top of his lap and pressing his hand to the bottom of her belly. "We're having a boy," she said.

"Helena," he started, but didn't know what to say. He chose the alternative, which was kissing her.

His lips grew tender with the enthusiastic kisses. She looked beautiful, like everything he had always imagined.

"You know," he said, "you're giving me the best gift anyone could ever give me."

"I know," she said. "I'm so proud of you and I know you're going to be an excellent father."

"I'll try my best," he said, kissing her clavicles.

"So any names?"

"Name," he corrected. "Leo."

"Leo," she repeated.


A/N: I'm not sure when I'll be ending this "novella". If you read A Painted Symphony, you know the ending that Viktor and Helena have. So I can't say if it'll three parts or more. I really wanted to keep this between the pages of 100-150. We'll see, though.

As for the story that keeps running through my mind about Landon and Dixie is something like this:

( the next part is best if you have read A Painted Symphony. It has nothing to do with Helena and Viktor, so you don't have to read it if you don't want to)


Landon woke up with the sound of retching. This only caused the nauseous feeling to fully awake in his stomach. He sat up, realizing he had fallen asleep on top of the blankets. He instantly felt better when he saw the glass on the bedside table, the amber liquid still glistening inside. He took a large gulp of the whiskey, wrinkling his nose at the watery taste of it. The ice had long melted, but it was drinkable.

He stumbled over to the bathroom door, smirking at the sheets on the couch. He did offer the bed last night, but she just wouldn't take it. Dixie was doubled over the toilet when he opened the double doors to his bathroom. She looked up at him in disdain as he took another sip of his drink.

"I might join you in a sec, darling," he said as he walked over to the sink, setting the empty glass down and looking at himself in the mirror. He was suddenly seventeen again with his hair falling into his red-rimmed eyes. He heard Dixie say something and turned to her again, his sober self was finding it extremely sad how she was holding her hair up.

"Speak up, babe," he told her, motioning at her with his empty glass in hand. He hadn't quite processed that it was empty.

"I said," she said, her tone hard as ice. Ice he would use for his drink, "that I want to leave."

Landon let his glass crash to the floor as he gripped the edge of the sink with both his hands. He wanted to say something, to reach out for her, but he was too far gone. They were too far gone.

Robyn walked in then, in her school uniform. Landon watched as she took in the broken glass and Dixie curled in front of the toilet.

"Dixie?" she said, her bottom lip trembling. "What's wrong? You promised you would take me to school."

Dixie remained still, something paralyzing her to the floor. Robyn walked towards her, a hand reaching out for Dixie's hair.

"Is it the baby?" she asked.

"It is," Dixie said, her voice cracking. "It makes me sick. But it's a good kind of sick."

"I wanna stay with you," Robyn said, getting teary.

"What about your friends?" Dixie asked. "They'll miss you."

"Maybe…"

Landon cleared his throat. "Ro, go get Eliza to take you."

The three-year-old stared at him, pleading with her eyes. Landon sighed, threatening to take her toys away if she didn't leave in the next two minutes. Once she was gone, he turned angrily towards Dixie. She had already made her way to the sink beside his and was starting to brush her teeth. They looked quite the pair in the mirror.

"You're not going anywhere," he said.

"I am if I feel like you can't handle this," she said, her eyes meeting his through the mirror. "And I feel like you can't handle this."

"I can't handle this?" he said. "You're the one walking around this house like you're a zombie, Dixie! You said you wanted to try and you knew the risks!"

"Yes, but I haven't lost this one yet, and you're already drinking your way out of it! You got here at four this morning. Where were you?"

"I was with the guys," he said and as if the answer didn't please her enough, she turned her back on him and walked back into his bedroom.

Landon went after her, nearly stepping on a broken glass. He had needed a break from her. With Dixie being distant from him because of the pregnancy, he had reached his limit. He was tired of waking up and not seeing her next to him on the bed. She would wander off during the night and when she woke up, she was like a corpse—pale and refusing to speak. Before she had tried again she had actually gone two days without speaking to anyone.

"Dixie, look at me."

"Landon, it's fine," she said. "I'm going to go see Evan for a few days. When I get back, we'll see what we can do."

"No, I'm done with 'we'll see'," he said, grabbing her arm when she made a move to go inside the closet. "We're going to talk now."

"Well, I wanted to talk last night!"

"Di, you made me choose between you and a baby!" he yelled. "I'm sorry if I need a little break from this sometimes! It's not easy for me either! And I just wanted whatever made you happy, but clearly I don't think you know what that is anymore. We still have Robyn, we don't need a kid now. We're not even a family, Di. It's just you and me, the way it's always been. Forgive me for being a little selfish on thinking we don't need a baby. I just need you here, alive."

She scoffed, yanking her arm out of his grasp with little force. They all felt like she was delicate lately. "You think I don't know how this works, Landon? You think that when you're thirty or older you won't want kids? And when I fail to have them, you'll just go for someone else."

"For God's sake!" he yelled. "I honestly don't care right now for kids, Dixie! I doubt that in the near future I will want them so desperately. And I'm not your husband to up and leave you because of something so stupid."

"Well, maybe that's what I'm missing on," she said.

When her blue eyes clashed with his, Landon realized how hurt he was by those words.

"Maybe," she continued, oblivious, "you were right all along. Maybe you were built for one-night stands with pretty girls and I'm more of a family kind of girl."

He tried to tell himself that this argument was a big step ahead compared to the relationship they had been having before. He shook his head, sitting down on the couch, on top of the sheets she had slept in. He missed the old Dixie terribly. He was afraid that if he had chosen her, she wouldn't have forgiven him. That had seemed like a better path compared to this on-going war. Did she realize that he was torn on seeing a baby survive a miscarriage and hoping that she did lose it so he wouldn't be in the agony of the baby putting her life at risk for nine months?

"Dixie, you're panicking," he tried to tell her. "It's not the end if you can't have kids. Let's stop this and maybe in a few years, if you're keen enough, we'll try again."

"You just told me you don't care for them," she said. "You got to be stupid if you think I'm ever trying it again with you."

She had started pacing and Landon frustratingly ran a hand over his face. "I can't do this, Dixie," he said, standing up. "I can't put your life at risk. You promised your family you wouldn't even try. I rather have you forever, alone, than raise my kid by myself. I won't keep doing this so you can prove it to yourself that this isn't some curse from God because of what you did to Evan."

She paused only for a beat. "That's not what this is."

"Prove it."

"I'm going to go see Evan," she said with a shake of her head as she finally made it to the closet. "Maybe you'll stop hating me once I'm gone."

"I'll stop hating you when you realize how stupid this all is," he said. "Don't make me choose again, Dixie, not when you're going to choose your fate by yourself."

Landon went back inside the bathroom, his hangover still causing him a great deal of pain. He took his time in the shower, knowing that when he got out, he knew that Dixie would be gone. She had been threatening to leave for days now and he was tired of fighting for her. Maybe a few days with Evan would make things better. He knew, though, that in a week's time or maybe even two, she would have another miscarriage and they would be back in square one.


A/N: Talk about not letting your characters go.