Things do not change; we change.
~Henry David Thoreau
Late one night I ended up eavesdropping from our bathroom, peeking out the window as I heard noises from Ana’s room, and got to watch her climb out of her room window into the cold night. In her Mickey Mouse pj’s.
Then I suddenly saw Riordan and relaxed. Caleb had an strong hold on his nephew. This would be okay. I continued to – ahem – keep an eye on the situation anyway.
“Hey! Haven’t see you in forever! I missed you!” Ana said as she ran into his arms, Riordan caught her and hugged her back.
“Yeah.” he said as he carefully sat her back down.
Just like his uncle, he was personified calmness and of few words. If I didn’t know any better, I would have pegged him as Caleb’s son, not Lilith’s, who had a bad temper and could talk your ear off.
“Where have you been all this time?” Ana inquired.
Riordan was homeschooled, since officially, he didn’t even exist and since his most active time was the night, he usually came by our home to visit on school nights, we mostly limited our visits at the Vatores’ to weekends. Lately he had been absent for almost two weeks straight, which was really unusual, considering these kids barely ever went two days without seeing each other since they bonded as toddlers.
“Training. Uncle dropped it on me by surprise one night and we left right away, so I couldn’t tell you. Just got back and came straight over. Just for a moment though, so you quit worrying. Mom and aunt Amelie said you drove them bonkers calling for me all the time. They didn’t know either.” he said.
“Training? For what?”
“Well, what do you think?”
“You have to train for that? I thought you just … are.”
“I am, but you still need to learn a lot of things. Rules, history, how to control urges and all that.”
My heart stopped when Riordan with the lightning speed of a vampire grabbed my daughter and bit her neck, but when she giggled and swatted at him I realized they were just kids playing, he was blowing raspberries on her neck until they both had to laugh too hard and Ana wrestled Riordan to the ground, or better, he let her do it, as vampires were incredibly strong, even the young ones. Now they sat next to each other, like they often had.
“You are such a nerd! But I really missed you a LOT.” Ana told him as she leaned up to him with such an innocent intimacy and he followed suit.
“Yeah, me too. Just wasn’t the same with you bitching at me all the time about random stuff.”
Few dared to speak to her like that, unless they had a solid death wish, but Riordan was one of a few select ones in her inner circle that got away with it.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever, chompy.” she giggled.
“Congrats, by the way. Heard about your dad. Another award for the shelves, huh?” Riordan said now.
“OMG, it was soooooo amazing! EVERYBODY recognized dad, I mean, seriously, like real actors that everyone knows and stuff, they came up to dad and were all fangirly! Del Sol Valley is amaze-balls! I cannot understand why we are hiding in this lame dump. It was soooo cool. I talked to so many celebrities, all of them knew my dad and none of them gave me the ‘oh, just a fangirl’ treatment, but total respect, like we knew each other and all. Wish my parents would move there and we could live like that all the time.”
“I would miss you.”
“You’d come visit of course! Like for weeks at a time, since you won’t even miss school. Duh! And next time dad’s getting an award you have to come with!”
“I do not think so.”
“Oh come on. I told Clay and he was all over it!”
“There is a big difference between Clay and me, remember?”
“Screw that stuff, nobody knows you are a vamp. You are both my best friends. So you HAVE to come.”
“How is school?” Yup, just like his uncle. Smooth topic change when it got uncomfortable. And it worked with our squirrel-brained daughter.
“Like high school always is. Oh, sorry, I forgot you wouldn’t know. Not missing out or anything. I mean, the girls are all bonded in cliques and bitchy, each clique has a theme of stuff they hate and other stuff they love, so I hang with the guys mostly and the girls are like jelly and think .. you know … stuff. So dumb.” Ana followed her evaluation with her signature eyeroll.
“Be careful with that. Tongues and words sometimes cut deeper than swords.”
Now would you listen to that 14 year old boy spewing all this wisdom? Ah, Riordan, why do you have to be a vampire? I could use you in school with Ana to be her voice of reason. He was more like a big brother to Anastasia, you know when you’ve known someone for so long and know them inside out? Yeah, that’s where those two were. When they were little and Riordan could still stand the sun, I had often taken them to parks and playgrounds and people always assumed they were twins and both mine. I probably had motherly feelings for him, and for Clay. Clay needed to be watched closely though. He was every bit as impulsive as Ana.
“Now you sound like my mom.” Anastasia now told him.
I took that as a compliment. And a good sign. So she was listening and things were getting through that thick skull. Good to know.
“I better go. You need sleep and it’s a school night. I’ll see you around.” Poof, a black cloud, and no more Riordan.
“Do you really have to go already, Ri? RIORDAN VATORE?!!? Oh, you did not just do THAT again! I don’t know if you can still hear me, but this sudden vanishing stuff SUCKS! I hate it! I hate YOU! Hello?! Seriously, again?!”
I grinned to myself as I heard her climb back inside and shut the window.
Some weeks after that night the cards got shuffled, things had been very even keel for a long while, so I guess we were due for another helping of drama.
Ana and Brendan sat on the couch in our living room, Blaine and I stood near the door, we had all just returned home, still looking dazed and confused.
Why? Because the kids and I had just picked up Blaine from the hospital, even though they weren’t really ready to release him yet. He had been on his motorcycle and on his way home from giving an interview at a local radio station when a sleuth of paparazzi started closing in on him. Blaine naturally had to think he was some stuntman and tried to outrun them which ended up with him laying down his heavy motorcycle at high speeds in a ditch. He must have a gold star level guardian angel to walk away with just a few bruises. I had taken him fresh clothing, because had the kids seen him in his shredded and blood-stained attire they’d’ve been damaged for life! He was visibly shaken up as well.
Now I pulled him straight into the bedroom with me and shut the door, ignoring his grin.
“All right! That’s the kinda ‘welcome home and glad you didn’t kick that bucket‘ that I am talking about!” he smirked and started reaching for me. I pulled away from him demonstratively crossing my arms.
“No Blaine! Enough is enough, this has to stop!”
“Are you breaking up with me or cutting me off from nookie?”
“Quit joking, this is not funny! You could have died because of those fucking paparazzi assholes! I knew they were bad news and something like this would happen eventually. Blaine we’ve been through this before, even I have a breaking point and I think I am fucking right there now.” I roared.
“Uh oh, she’s cursing, that means it’s serious.”
“Of course it’s fucking serious, Blaine! Did you not hear me?! You could be dead! Had this been one of those times where you didn’t wear your goddamn helmet again you would be DEAD! This time for real and for good!”
“Oh babygirl, but I am not. I am just a little tattered and torn, but alive, so please calm down. I did wear the damn helmet and it did what it was supposed to. The Beast and I started doing off-road cartwheels, not like there is anything worth protecting in that noggin of mine, but I had a feeling you prefer me with a head attached.”
“Yeah, you definitely look more coherent with one.”
“See. Now come here baby. As it stands I am still here and damn glad of it. But I could definitely use some love now.”
“No sex, Blaine, the doctors said no …. you may have a concu…” I was cut off in the usual Blaine fashion, by him kissing me ever so gently in a way that made my knees weak. Still, after all those years.
Once he let off he just held me, whispering near my ear.
“You are right. No more of this. Give me some time to figure out how to make money with my limited skillset while ducking out of the spotlight. Truth be told, it was a cool ride but my priorities have changed and now all it is, is annoying. Music was always my big thing, a release, now it’s become a chore and I am not liking that at all. Especially when it’s affecting my family.”
“Really?” I started crying for relief.
“Yeah, really. We may have to have you go back to work somehow too, maybe you can get back into some working from home thing now that the kids are more self-sufficient.”
“Self-sufficient? Our kids? Have you met them? You must be thinking of your secret family.”
“Nah, I can only handle one set, and that just barely. Maybe they are still needy lil bitches, but at least they figured out the restroom thing and don’t need diapers anymore. Now, let’s go tell them the news. I’ll be the bad guy again, after all, this face may make them feel sorry for me enough that even our volcanic teen takes pity and listens to reason for once.”
So it happened. Anastasia just about went through the roof after we told the kids about our decision, doing her whole roster from begging to yelling. She loved the idea of her dad being a celeb and now we were ‘taking that from her’. A compromise was signing her up for the theater group in school. Like she needed to learn drama.
We spent an enormous chunk of our savings on a lawsuit to prohibit press from approaching any of us or be subject to very steep fines and jail time. Since our kids were minors our attorney could get that sanctioned by a judge.
And then suddenly we were just a family like many others, trying to make ends meet while making sure our kids had the type of childhood they would look back on day and reminisce with a smile.