Dmitri’s train of thoughts was suddenly interrupted when the baby’s first cry resounded in the whole operating room.
It felt like music to his ears, and left him ecstatic, both as a doctor and a parent.
After performing the successful operation as a competent doctor, he was ready to embrace the joys of parenthood now.
“Oh ! My baby !!" a delighted Dmitri cooed as Hazel placed the little bundle of joy in his arms with a beaming smile of her own as if she had just delivered her own baby.
"Oh, Dmitri ! Congratulations hun. You did a wonderful job ! Audrey and your precious angel are safe and healthy," Hazel extolled.
"Ahh ! I'm a dad now," he exclaimed with joy as his eyes welled up and his heart skipped a few beats.
He was immediately awestruck with the miracle of life, who had inherited most of her mother’s beautiful, sharp features including her mother's unique strawberry blonde hair colour and ocean blue eyes.
As Hazel said, she was an angel indeed.
“Here, let her favourite aunt hold her," Hazel gently coaxed as she made the transfer, making Dmitri chuckle.
“Favourite Aunt ?” he teased.
“Of course ! Who else ?” she rolled her eyes before smiling at the baby and making cute baby noises. “I am her favourite aunt, aren’t I ? Oh yes, isn’t she / Oh look she is trying to say yes ! Aww, Aunt Hazel loves you so much,” she played with his little precious.
“Alright, I need her back. Your time is up,” Dmitri declared.
“No fair !” Hazel pouted. “I just got her !! I wasn’t done !”
“Don’t care. She is mine. Deal,” he replied and Hazel snorted and grumbled about his sharing skills. Or rather their lack of.
However, she was back to getting emotional when she saw mini-Audrey suddenly grab Dmitri’s thumb as if to assure him that she was there now and he had nothing to fear.
Dmitri could never forget this precious moment, even though he was exhausted by the surgery, terrified and overwhelmed about the future but so very much in love at this very first sight.
A part of him couldn't believe that the little gem was actually in his arms, holding to him while the other part of him felt like he had known his daughter all his entire life.
That moment was blissful and precious, absolutely precious!
"At least the surgery went successful. You scared me for a moment there," Hazel sighed in relief.
"Yes," he murmured absentmindedly while smiling down at his princess.
He was immensely grateful that his adorable daughter was here and healthy And thankfully, Audrey was safe and healthy too.
“She's beautiful. Just like Audrey !” Hazel breathed out when she finally took her time to study the baby’s features. “Her daddy is going to have to beat those boys off of her. Good luck with that, dork," she teased as she peered over his shoulder.
Hazel was the only one who had the guts to call him “dork” instead of “doc” like others. She was his childhood friend from the time of the orphanage after all, and his best friend on top of that.
“I'm so glad she didn't take after this geek," Hazel added, pointing towards Dmitri, making him frown at her and nip the tip of her nose in admonishment, just like they used to do as kids.
Hazel, of course, didn’t mean it coz Dmitri was the most handsome man she had ever laid her eyes on, The rare gift of brilliant intelligence that he possessed just made her crush on him harder.
Suddenly, she sobered up to adult-serious reality when she heard Dmitri sniff.
"What a pity. At this memorable milestone of my life, I am torn between choosing the love of my life and the sunshine of my new, dark life without Audrey. I am going to miss her."
The anguish in his tone was unbearable to hear but it was a hard fact of life. He had to choose one of them. He had never known goodbyes could be so hard before now.
He looked down at Audrey’s unconscious figure before pressing his lips on her forehead.
"Being an orphan, I am no stranger to separation from loved ones. I thought I knew separation," Dmitri murmured. "It's an old, albeit ugly friend, whom I have to welcome once again in my life with a dull ache in my heart and a sad smile on my face," he added as he felt their journey together had finally come to an end.
“I know how you feel. I grew up with you, after all," Hazel said as she hugged him with a set of unshed tears of her own in her eyes. “I guess I should give you a moment to say your goodbye before her parents get wind of everything. Make it quick, hun,” she added. She pecked his cheek and left him alone in the room with his crying baby and the unaware mother of his child.
The realization that everything had ended, came crashing down and washed him with grief and sadness that the love from his world- the very thread of his existence had ended at this juncture.
However, as he looked at their adorable baby, he found a sad comfort even at the end of the relationship.
With Audrey beside him, he laughed harder… a little too earnestly, honestly. A sound that was sometimes even foreign to his own ears.
He had found himself getting nervous on their dates. Not the stifling fear that crippled him, but rather a tantalizing spark that settled in the pit of his stomach, and pickled whenever their hands brushed, or he caught a whiff of her perfume when she moved, or when the thought of kissing her made a fleeting dash across his addled brain.
They had shared that type of amazing love for years and now it was time to bid goodbye.
He broke down in tears and held Audrey's hands and kissed her head and apologized to her for not keeping his promise of building a life together with her.
"This isn't a goodbye, my darling. This is a thank you. A thank you for coming into my life and giving me joy. A thank you for loving me and receiving my love in return. A thank you for the memories that I will cherish forever. But most of all, a thank you for giving me a reason to live. I love you, Audrey," Dmitri whispered. "See you on the other side, never to be ever separated," he added, before forcing his legs towards the exit- away from Audrey and away from her tyrannical famous parents, the diamond magnate whose empire spanned as large as every businessman’s envy.
Who would have known that “the other side” meant “the other side of the planet” in that very life itself.
“I promise to look after our daughter," he solemnly swore as he turned back one last time to catch the last glimpse of the woman whom he had loved, day and night for two years.
He engraved that moment- her calm, delicate face turned slightly towards their daughter’s direction, an angelic smile on her lips as if she subconsciously knew her baby was alive.
“I promise our daughter’s safety for all eternity," he determinedly added before steeling his resolve and getting out of her life for once and for all as the door shut firmly behind him.
Leaving their daughter alone in this worldwide world left jitters in his heart. Dmitri realized how worthy and valuable his own life was now. He could only hope to do his best for their daughter’s future.
Literally, every emotion and thought- negative and positive, wrapped up into one in a matter of a couple of seconds before he resolved to be the best parent to his daughter.
“Don’t tell her," Dmitri said everything in one sentence to Hazel as he met her outside the operating room.
She nodded in affirmation with a watery smile on her face.
“It will be tough for me to be away from you. I'll miss you, my buddy,” Hazel said as she hugged Dmitri goodbye.
"Your comforting hug means a thousand words to my unhappy heart," were Dmitri’s parting words to his dear childhood friend before he disappeared from her life.