Chapter 8: Just Call Me Mr. Efficient

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"Dimiiitriiii!" I whined, "I'm hungryyyy!"

"Go to sleep Roza."

"What? No! We have to stay awake, remember? We'll sleep tomorrow."

"Uh, Rose?"

"What, Eddie?"

"It is tomorrow."

"What?"

Lissa's phone sailed past my outstretched hand and thunked Dimitri on the head. "Ow!" He rubbed it, grimacing.

I fished around in the blankets between us until I found it. "Huh, you're right. Guess we better go to sleep."

I let my eyes drift shut, and then I remembered and shot bolt upright. "Dimitri!"

"Uungh."

"Dimitri! I'm hungry!" I shook him. When that didn't work, I slid my hands gently up and down his ribs and then began to tickle him relentlessly.

Unfortunately, this didn't work quite as planned. Before I knew what was happening, I found myself pinned beneath an irate and sleepy Russian. MY irate and sleepy Russian, I thought happily. Then he leaned in a kissed me, and I forgot about being hungry.

I woke up from a marvelous dream – where I lived in a house entirely made of cheese pizza. I frowned. Somehow, it didn't sound quite so amazing anymore, now that I was awake. Huh.

Then I heard my door opening. I didn't think – I shot out of bed and into a defensive crouch, stake in hand. The intruder chuckled and held out a doughnut.

"Impressive response time, Roza. I think that deserves at least one chocolate doughnut, don't you?"

I shot him my patented man-eater smile. "Oh, comrade," I purred, "just one? I'd say I'm worth a bit more than that."

"Mmmm." He stepped into my embrace, holding the box carefully out of my reach. I pouted, but he just laughed again. "Now, now, Roza. These are for everyone."

I stuck my lip out further, and he caved. "Fine. Here's one more. But no more until everyone else has had at least one."

I grabbed my donuts and bounced away happily. "Thanks, comrade!"

He shook his head. "And to think – all I would have had to do to make you happy – and on time? - for early morning trainings was to wake you up with doughnuts."

"Keep that in mind for the future." I grinned. "Although, I'm afraid you're underrating the effect on my happiness of getting to spend my mornings with you. I was practically on time every day– which, by Rose Hathaway standards, was super early."

He just shook his head. Then he put a finger to his lips. I frowned at him, puzzled, but he tilted his head towards the sleeping figures on the floor. Oh. He shot me a sly grin, then tiptoed over to where Eddie was cocooned in one of my blankets. He slowly knelt down, leaned carefully over Eddie's head, and then shouted "WAKE UP!" He leapt out of the way before he finished shouting, which was good, because Eddie shot up, stake in hand, and would have collided with Dimitri's head if he'd still been leaning there. Huh. He's done this before.

Everyone else had woken up too, of course, and they all grumbled about it, but the box of donuts that appeared suddenly in their midst effectively shut them up.

I waited patiently until everyone else had a doughnut, and then politely asked for another. Ha. As if. I'd grabbed three more chocolate doughnut before anyone else had even gotten one. Dimitri shook his head at me reproachfully, but didn't seem particularly bothered. Of course, he'd also bought enough doughnuts for each of us to have about ten, so I didn't feel guilty.

"Hcmphg mng Dntgsm?" I asked around a mouthful of my third doughnut.

"What?" Everyone stared at me. Lissa looked a little green.

Dimitri shook his head. "Roza. Don't talk with your mouth full."

I opened my mouth to show off the doughnut I was in the process of cramming in whole.

"Eeeeew! Rooose! Grooooooossss!" Lissa squealed. She threw a shoe at me, which I dodged easily. Surely she didn't think that would hit me? Oh. Dimitri grabbed me from behind, wrapping his arms around me and pinning me to his chest. Hmph.

"Alright, he said, ignoring my struggles to free myself. We'll need to get on the road in about an hour, preferably sooner. The cars are ready. I need each of you to pack an overnight bag, since we'll be staying with Sergei – "

Lissa squealed so loudly I expected my windows to shatter. "Geez, Liss," I said, once she'd quieted, "don't deafen us before the concert!"

She clapped her hands over her mouth, eyes wide as saucers. I couldn't help it – I started laughing so hard I bent double, hanging helplessly over Dimitri's arms. Eddie and Mason leaned against one another, and Christian sprawled at Lissa's feet, giggling maniacally.

Dimitri sighed. I felt it, more than heard it – I hope Lissa didn't really hurt my hearing! "Right." His words rumbled pleasantly up my spine. "As I was saying. I need each of you to pack an overnight bag. Wear something comfortable – it's a five hour drive, then a day of shopping, then who knows how late we'll stay up after the concert. I've asked Alberta to pack snacks for everyone, so we won't be stopping unless we have to. And, yes, Roza," he added when I started to interrupt, "I also packed snacks. Don't worry – we've got plenty of food."

We all stared at him for a minute after he stopped speaking. He stared back blankly. "Well? Hop to it!" There was a sudden mad scramble as everyone fished through the mess on my floor to find their things. Then they filed out to head back to their rooms. I turned to dig out my backpack from its usual hiding place under the bed, and jumped slightly as arms wrapped around me from behind.

"Aren't you going to pack a bag?" I asked, puzzled.

He smiled against my neck. "Already did. It's in the car."

"Wow. How long have you been up?"

He chuckled, setting my nerves fizzing. "Not much longer than you. I'm just more efficient."

"Hmph. Well, then, Mr. Efficient, why don't you pack my bag, while I go take a shower?"

"I don't know... you might not like what I pack. You never know what I might think girls need for overnight trips..."

I turned in his arms so I could poke his chest. "Puh-lease. If your last name is Efficient, then your first name is Responsible. Or maybe Practical. It's a close call."

"Hmm. And what's my middle name?"

I grinned. "Wellll... I'm gonna have to go with Smokin'." Then I darted off to the showers, leaving Dimitri doubled over in laughter behind me.

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