Authors: Kourtney King
You, on the other hand, seem to
resent them and in turn, you resent her or that part of her that wants to
nurture them. You don't seem willing or able to grasp that bond they share.
You've put her in quite the dilemma. Does a mother bear choose her cubs or her
mate? Nature indicates that she chooses the former. Are you able to see the
picture I'm drawing?"
Did this joke of a doctor just
compare his wife to an animal? Animals were driven by instinct. They had no
ability to reason. People could reason. He was about to point this out when the
next question was thrown at him.
“Why do you find it so hard to
accept her pregnancy? They are innocent after all. No one chooses their
"Riddle me this
doctor." Vladimir uncrossed his legs and leant forward with his elbows
resting on his thighs and his hands clasped together. "Are we a result of
nature of nurture? Regardless of their rightful sire, they are predestined to be
monsters just like their father, whoever that may be."
"You're jumping ahead of
yourself Vladimir. DNA carries the essential coding of what is passed on from
one generation to the next. If your father were say, an alcoholic, then you
would be predisposed to being an alcoholic yourself. You're equally likely to
control your drinking habits or let it control you.
However, if you are exposed to
the habit of an alcoholic in your home, it becomes a learned behaviour. So, in
essence, we are a result of what nurtures us. I wouldn't call rape and murder a
habit. Those acts point to deeper issues that differ case by case. Unless you
plan on teaching children how to rape and kill, I don't think you have anything
to worry about."
Dr Chevchenko stood up and
walked over to open the door. "I've given you a lot to think about. Next
time I hope you have answers for me so that we can begin our sessions."
Vladimir stood up and walked
out without a backwards glance. He had no idea why he was even going through
with these "sessions" when he had more questions than answers. If
Valerie left him, then he would be the last client that Chevchenko took on.
Chevchenko was a complete idiot
in Vladimir's opinion. The only reason he continued his one hour trip into
Moscow, followed by the one-hour session of self-reflection quizzes, only to be
followed up by another hour of driving back home, was because his wife still
refused to wear her ring. He had mastered reading people, and he knew that
Valerie had one foot keeping her in their marriage and another out of the door.
Three hours a day, twice a week, over two weeks, were twelve hours of his life
he'd wasted in "therapy".
That was half a day Vlad could
have spent with Valerie, convincing her not to give up on them. Her directives
were clear and he didn’t want to push her. She was able to walk again after a
few days and incorporated light stretches and exercise to strengthen her ankle
and stay in shape as her pregnancy progressed.
Vladimir had barred the doctor
from prying into the years of his earlier life – that didn’t mean Chevchenko
didn’t try weaselling answers out of him. As far as Vlad was concerned, what
happened in the past should remain there. His sole focus was in doing what was
necessary to keep Valerie from divorcing him, and that meant learning to accept
the children regardless of their paternity and letting go of the rage that
consumed him when he thought of her rape.
When he got back home from yet
another useless session, he went to the den only to find Val at his desk.
"Are you busy?”
“Uhm… No, I was just
researching. I’m done now.” Valerie closed the windows she had open on the PC
and got up. “How was it today?”
“Same as every other day,” Vlad
Valerie looked at him trying to
discern whether he was making progress or being too stubborn of an asshole to
give it a real shot. What was said between him and his therapist was
confidential and no matter how curious she was to know, she refused to pry. He
had never asked about the details of her sessions so she would extend him the
same courtesy. "Okay, dinner will be ready in half an hour."
“I’ll join you shortly.”
She walked out, and he watched
her leave, wondering what went through her mind these days whenever she looked
at him. They had agreed to stay in Moscow a little longer. He still needed to
see Taras and clear the air about the second shipment he'd issued treasonous
threats over. Not only had he put his freedom on the line a few months back,
but he'd also strained the friendly relationship with his most profitable
He took a seat behind the desk
and sat in the leather chair which was still warm from its last occupant. He
blew out a heavy sigh. Chevchenko had suggested that he try talking to his wife
about the pregnancy. She hadn't brought it up and, he was still too
uncomfortable with the situation to broach the topic himself. He opened the web
browser and clicked on the history link to see what she had been researching.
Maybe she was looking at studying from home. It would be a while before she
could go back to being a full-time student once she became a mother.
The windows that popped open
Valerie was reading pregnancy
related articles. He couldn't help going over them himself. The concept of
pregnancy was absurd. He understood it intellectually, but to learn about the
various stages with his wife in mind gave him a different perspective. There
were living, breathing little people growing inside of her; eating what she ate
and completely unaware of the world outside of their mother's womb. He quickly
filled out a form and closed the tabs on the screen to join her for dinner. He
had just found his entry point into the dreaded conversation.
Vladimir sat down next to his wife
and helped himself to a healthy serving of potato salad, steamed vegetables and
a large steak. His wife's hatred of the kitchen had miraculously turned into a
new hobby. She was learning new recipes from Yuri. Sometimes they were a hit
and other times - he wasn't quite sure what he was eating. But he never
complained. The last thing he needed was another strike against his name. After
taking in a few mouthfuls, he asked, "Have you thought of the type of
delivery you'll have?"
Valerie inhaled in surprise and
accidentally swallowed too quickly. She reached for her glass of water and took
a few sips to help wash down her food. Where had that come from? "No, I
don't know yet."
“What about a water birth?”
“Yeah, that’s a tricky one.
What if I’m in labour for a few hours? I would hate to be in the water for that
“Do you…” Vlad reconsidered the
question and thought better of it. "The food is lovely. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” She had
marinated the steaks with an array of herbs she’d mixed herself. She was trying
to overcome her aversion to the kitchen and with all the free time on her
hands, she’d found it to be a convenient distraction. However, a few of the
dishes she prepared was downright horrible. So for that reason, tonight she'd
chosen a simple meal and promised herself to leave the more sophisticated courses
in Yuri's hands.
Valerie replayed their
conversation and wanted to continue their discussion. There was so much
information online about what to expect, and it was a relief to talk to someone
about it. Her friends weren't in the same boat. None of them had children of
their own to speak of and her mother… Well, let's just say that her mother was
still on her case about the wedding. She'd have a hernia if she knew that
Valerie was already considering a divorce. Talking to her mom was out of the
question for now. “Do you what?”
“You were about to ask me
something before you changed your mind. It’s fine to ask me.” She smiled at him
“Do you want me there?” Vlad
concentrated on the food more than was necessary. He may not like the fact that
she was pregnant. However, he didn't want her to go through the delivery alone.
“When you give birth, do you want me in the room or should I wait outside?”
Valerie had to reach for her
water again. She didn't think he would have cared for such details considering how
he felt about the pregnancy and didn't want him to see her in stirrups with a
head popping out of her vagina. If Val did choose to have a C-section, the
sight of her cut open wasn't any better either. "Do you want to be there?
It will be kind of gross."
Vlad put his knife and fork
down and reached for her free hand. “If you need me there, I’ll be there.
There’s nothing gross about it.” He meant what he’d said. It would be a much
needed change of pace to see blood bring life into the world instead of blood
draining life away. As for what she’d considered gross; let's just say that he
had seen far more horrific sights, and he was still able his meal afterwards.
Valerie smiled at him.
"Thank you. I want you there." She would have asked her mother, and
if she weren't in the country, then Natasha would have been with her in the
delivery room. To know that Vlad wanted to be there gave her a ray of hope that
things were changing for the better. He may not know it, but therapy was
They went back to enjoying
their meal and afterwards curled up on the couch of the TV room for a movie.
Vlad nestled her between his thighs thinking of how happy his small effort in a
conversation he hated had made her. He had no idea what the movie was about
because he was too busy thinking about the day Valerie would give birth. Vlad
eased his hand down to her stomach and ran his fingers across her baby bump. He
wondered if they had started kicking. Valerie absently placed her hand over
his, her attention still glued to the screen. Okay, so touching her swollen
belly wasn't as terrible as he'd made it out to be. Maybe he could do this
When they went to bed that
night, she willingly curled up into his arms as opposed to Vlad moving over to
her side of the bed. At first, she'd only been able to sleep on her back which
is why he'd given her her space. However, when she started walking around, he
moved back to where he belonged - next to her. Vlad made a mental note to have
the bed replaced with a smaller one. There was no need for such a large
mattress when they ended up sharing one side.
“Do you want to sign up for a
“Mommy To Be.”
Valerie opened her eyes and
switched on her bedside light. “You went through my search history?”
“Yes, no secrets remember?”
She gave him the side eye
because she knew he harboured a cave-full. “Yes, I do. I was going to tell you.
I was just waiting for the right time.”
“How about we start the day
“That’s pretty soon. How will I
get there? I couldn’t find any in Pushkino, only Moscow.”
“I will take you. I booked us
both in for the class.”
“Are you pulling my leg?”
Vladimir sat up and placed a
gentle kiss on her lips. “No, I’m just trying my best here.”
She ran her hand through his
hair and deepened their kiss. "I love you."
"I love you more."
That day’s conversation had led
to how Vladimir found himself driving Valerie to her first Mommy To Be class.
When they arrived at Arbat, a district well renowned for the nouveau riche, he
walked hand in hand with Valerie. Vlad was the only man in that class, and Val
was the only black woman. He was still overprotective of his wife and took note
of all the strange looks that were directed at her. His angel, however, was
either blissfully unaware or chose to ignore them.
Russians were not known to be
accepting of non-Slavs and Valerie was as far from Slavic as one could get. His
face was set in a mask of cold impassivity, daring anyone to say anything. She
may be able to brush it off, but he wouldn't let the slight pass if they dared
to say a word against her.
Valerie was grateful that Vlad
had volunteered to join her in the class because the instructor was giving the
lessons in Russian. Living in a mansion in a small town, with an English
competent staff, had sheltered her from the fact that the general population
conducted most of their business in their native tongue. Today was a diaper
changing lesson. It may not seem like a big deal, but she wanted to be as
prepared as she could be for the twins. Raising two children simultaneously
would require her to be efficient in everything and the fact that Vladimir was
also getting involved in a more hands-on approach meant that she wouldn’t have
to do everything herself.
Vlad had been translating the
class back to English for Valerie and was impressed with how quickly she
learned how to put on the nappy on the dummy baby. It had taken him three tries
to get it right.
"Raven was known as The
Ghost when we were growing up. He could pick anyone's pocket undetected. I,
however, did not possess that skill, but I was fast,” said Vlad absentmindedly
as he secured the diaper strap on their dummy baby for the fourth time.
“Like a fast runner?” asked
Val. She was trying to keep the excitement of him sharing a piece of his past
“Yes, a very fast runner,” he
replied with a wink.
The class instructor came over
to check on their dummy babies. Her beady little eyes had wondered over to
their section one time too many. Valerie wasn’t sure whether she was looking at
her or her husband.
"Well done. It’s rare that
a man is so hands on with his mistress. You must not care much about what
people around here think, especially with the low tolerance for her kind,” she
said in Russian to Vladimir.
The smile that Vlad once wore
fell and was replaced with an angry scowl. "I suggest you keep any
your mouth. If you can't shut it, I will do it for you. Permanently," he
replied back in Russian, in a low, menacing tone.
The woman turned crimson. “I
didn’t see a ring on her finger so I assumed.
Ya proshu proshcheniya."
I’m sorry she
eplied and quickly walked away.
“What was that about?” asked
Valerie noticing the change in Vlad’s demeanour.
“She made the assumption that
you were my mistress, and I corrected it for her.”
Valerie looked at the woman who
happened to look back at the same time before moving on to the next table.
"Wow, talk about the lack of solidarity among women."
“It wouldn’t have happened if
you were wearing your ring.”
Valerie sighed at the reference
to her bare finger while Vlad still wore his. "I'll put it back on when
the time is right." Things had been going well over the past few days. She
didn't want to ruin it now. They had been enjoying themselves, and this
conversation had the potential to turn sour. She got on her toes and kissed his
chin a few times to get rid of the scowl he currently wore. "You're still
my husband," she said which managed to ease Vlad's tension. He tipped her
head back and gave her a loving kiss.
"Till death do us part
remember," he replied.