The rule of friendship means there should be mutual sympathy between them, each supplying what the other lacks and trying to benefit the other, always using friendly and sincere words.
~Marcus Tullius Cicero
Once more Blaine was in San Myshuno for a late night performance and wouldn’t be home for several more hours depending on traffic, once more here I was, still very pregnant, making coffee for a Vatore and myself, although this time it was the more palatable of the siblings, Caleb.
While he was looking at some new pictures we had hung, I covertly looked him over. An interesting man, handsome even, he had changed his hair a little, undoubtedly the recommendation of his new wife, he was certainly full of charm, enough to sweep most women off their feet and straight into his bedroom, at least before he met Cassandra.
A kind smile often turned the corners of his lips upwards, he was soft-spoken, eloquent, his words always well chosen, properly enunciated, showing great intelligence and a vast knowledge, accumulated over the hundreds of years his altered life-state spanned already, even though he was forever frozen in time as a young man, never to age a single day, at least not visually. I diverted my attention back to the coffee maker which had beeped, and started pouring the coffee into two mugs.
I was thinking that I had never seen Caleb angry at anyone, but something about him exuded strength and a sense of danger, daring anyone to cross him and deal with the consequences. Those who had and lived to talk about it attested he could be ruthless.
He now turned to me, smiled, winked and it felt like his eyes looked straight into my soul. He seemed to know I had been watching him, maybe even what I was thinking about.
“Coffee smells ready.” he smirked, stepping closer, his gaze briefly grazing the two coffee mugs on the counter before me, their contents steaming as if confirming his observation.
“Oh, yeah, right. Here or the living room?”
“How about we get comfy?” his look and smile told me he may now be married, but his old cat and mouse game with me wasn’t over.
“Sure.” I reached for the cups, he was quicker and took them from me to place them down on the coffee table, then gallantly assisted me onto the couch, a kind gesture to someone heavily pregnant like me, yet I still plopped down in a rather uncharming way.
“So, what brings you here tonight, Caleb?”
“Oh, I was in the neighborhood and wanted to see an old friend.” he smiled.
“Oh? Well, Blaine won’t be home for at least two or three more hours.”
“I am not here to see Blaine. I am here to see you, and was rather hoping I would catch you alone. You are not happy, my flower. This is very obvious to me.” he stated point blank.
“I am very happy! What are you talking about?”
“Yes. Where is this coming from? Do you have problems with Cassandra? Is it Lilith? I bet she is making Cass’ life hell when you are not looking.”
“I assure you she does not. You forget I can read minds and most are but open books to me. Cass tells me everything, whether she wants to or not. And Lilith only needed one time to be reminded of that and the fact that I make the rules, and her job is to not question my decisions. Besides, she has always been mostly bark, and very little bite, pun intended. So worry not, my petal, Cassandra is well shielded.”
“Wish you could shield me from your sister’s idiotic outbursts. If you knew half the bullshit she spews sometimes, you’d fall out of your slippers!”
“But I do know, yet, as I said, all bark, no substance. If you wish I will remind her again to be courteous and not aggravate you, though I was under the impression that you rather enjoy torturing her a little with your verbal sparring matches. Would certainly not be undeserved. Lilith has the temper and self-control of a toddler at times, as you well know, but I assure you, she is harmless, at least as far as you are concerned.”
“Me torturing her?! Have you met that sister of yours? Hard to believe you two are from the same stock. You are such a kind, nice and intelligent man, with wonderful manners and charm, while the genes containing all those qualities apparently ran down your mother’s butt when Lilith was conceived. Oh, sorry, that was crude! I … didn’t meant that.” I blushed deeply after realizing what I had said and how much I sounded like Blaine.
Caleb laughed heartily, I got first row seats to see those fangs again, and shuddered.
“Oh, you are so refreshing, always have been. Always composed and such a lady, until you aren’t. I very much enjoy such faux pas. Never ever change, sweet darling. But I will say that I am worried about you. Stress is terrible, especially during pregnancies. Blaine’s fans, the photographers, thinking about what may happen when you are not around, I know it tears you apart.”
“Well, I’ll admit you are not all wrong. I abhor those obnoxious women, undressing my husband and the father of my children with their eyes, hands all over him, right in front of me. They all know he is married and a father. And we cannot even have one nice meal in public without someone taking pictures of every bite, unless we stick to small towns. Since you never eat you may not realize that, but photos taking of someone chewing are never flattering.”
“Maybe you and Blaine’s paths no longer align.”
“I think you know what I mean. Maybe you have reached a crossroads in your life, time has come for you to take inventory, consider alternatives. However you decide, I want you to know that you can always count on me, now and forever, I will always be there to help, with anything, shelter, money, your children born and unborn, whenever Blaine can’t, while he chases his dreams for fortune and fame.”
“Are you NUTS?! You are Blaine’s best friend! I cannot believe you would back-stab him like this!”
“Am I backstabbing? I think not. You are both my friends, but you are the one who needs comfort, not Blaine. Tell me right now I am not correct. Blaine loves the attention, thrives on it, you know he is holding back for your sake. And you – supportive to a fault – suck it up and play along, even though you hate it all. My job as a friend is to look out for the one needing my help, which is you.”
“That’s stupid! I’m gonna pretend you never said any of that. Blaine loves me, and I love him. We belong, Blaine and I!”
“No argument there, but a wise man once said ‘if you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was’.”
“Blaine was gone before, presumed dead, and came back to me. Also, thanks for your lesson in poetry, Caleb!”
“Not poetry, prosa rather.”
“Thanks for that lesson as well!”
“I did not mean to upset, nor offend you. All I wanted for you was to know you have options and always me.”
“Yeah, cool idea Caleb. Let me grab my kid and my dog, move in with you, your WIFE and that sister of yours, who hates my guts, so we can all play house mormon-style, while I divorce Blaine so he can travel and be famous like he said he never wanted to do again. Remember how that once went for him? He barely survived!”
“Yes, that would be one option, although none of us is of the Mormon faith, but interesting that your first instinct were divorce and living we me in a marriage style manner. Maybe a Freudian slip, of sorts, showing I am not all wrong.”
“If not that, what are you suggesting? Me and my kids as roomies? Laughable?”
“Is it? Nothing we haven’t done before, for many months, sans kids then, but I do not see what difference they would make in the grand scheme of things.”
“Speaking of scheme, I do not know if that is a Vatore trait or what the hell, but let me make this clear: I am not leaving Blaine, not for any reason. You can pick a number, because your sister already has been by with that same horse and pony show some days ago, just a lot less honey than you are dripping, you backstreet Romeo! The attention he gets is annoying, but that shall pass. He is performing less and less, he produces at home, so eventually the fans and paparazzi will move on. The entertainment business is fast paced and short lived.”
“Of course, my petal.”
“Quit calling me that! It’s inappropriate.”
“My apologies. Once more I meant no offense.”
“Caleb, quit doing this!”
“You know what! The same thing you have always done. You are married, I am married, we are not meant to be. So knock off that flirting thing, will ya? It makes it hard to be friends with you if you cannot get past that.”
“Was I flirting though? I merely voiced my concern about a friend. Isn’t that what friends do? You were the one bringing up anything beyond that.”
“Oh, drink your coffee!”
I was fuming. Yeah, he got me, and I know to outsiders it would always look like I was a hypersensitive pregnant lady seeing flirtation where there wasn’t any, but I knew him better than that. Yet, he has never once admitted to it, not then, and certainly not now.
For a while silence fell, until suddenly Caleb spoke again, unexpected, so that even his soft voice caused me to wince.
“There is a term among vampires, something that we all share in common, a sensation of sorts specific to my kind, separating us from mortals as much as it sometimes draws us together. Soulmate.”
“Nope. Mortals have soulmates. I like to think Blaine and I are.”
“Maybe. It means something different for us vampires though. Something much more substantial. Something unchangeable, undeniable, something that cannot be reasoned away.”
“Cool. Thanks for that tidbit of vampire lore.”
“I have reason to believe that the Vatore and the Cameron families may be more intertwined than you may allow them to be. Honestly, I am just not as clear about how much say one gets, when fate – or love – wants what it wants.”
“Do what?! What in the world are you talking about, Caleb?!”
I would never get the answer to my question, as in that moment Anastasia cried like a stuck pig, followed by her calling for me and sobbing loudly. I jumped up – well, I somehow quickly got up as women in their third trimester do – and ran to her room.
My beautiful baby had a nightmare about purple monsters that frightened her. I managed to calm her fairly quickly, but when I got back to the living room, Caleb was gone, his coffee mug washed, signaling he had left.
I spent the rest of that night and many days after that dwelling of what he could have meant, yet never had a chance to ask him about it again.
Did he mean us?
Blaine and Lilith?
My child and his nephew, who was also a vampire?
However and whatever, it would be a resounding no to any and all the above from me!
I adored Caleb, honest I did. I may even call it love, as a friend. But Blaine or no Blaine, there would not be any parallel universe in which I would want to date him or any other vampire.
I was certain Blaine felt the same about Lilith and I would move mountains to not have our daughter one day date Riordan.
This was harder for me to say than you may believe, he was a lovely child, sweet as can be, if I didn’t know for sure I would never believe he sprung from the loins of Lilith, but he was what he was and one day would fully become: a vampire.
As much as I cared about Caleb and respected his kind, I would do anything in my power to prevent Ana getting tangled up in so much secrecy and darkness.
So, whichever of the three Caleb was referring to, it would not happen under my watch.