Nothing ever stays the same for long. Especially not for us Camerons. Fast forward some and you find a very different picture yet again.
In a surprising turn of events, the Vatores revealed that they actually had been sitting on a significant amount of wealth all this time, accumulated in hundreds of years of life by Caleb and Lilith, piled onto an already handsome family fortune, and carefully tucked away for a rainy day. Riordan decided to make use of his part of the family’s financial cushion to sweeten life for Ana, by realizing an old dream of hers, after Chase sent Collin and Claire off to some exquisite boarding school abroad, something Ana initially fought, which made Chase go for full custody in a low blow court hearing where the loss of Ana’s law firm and the quick pregnancy after her divorce were only the beginning of a mud fight that painted her in the worst light possible. Add one of Ana’s infamous and very unflattering meltdowns at the most inopportune time and Chase was granted what he sought.
Seeing her so distraught had been reason enough for Ri to declare it an emergency, demand his share of the family fortune from his uncle, buy the biggest available mansion in the hills of Del Sol Valley for them to live together, officially as husband and wife, raising their twins, who were now school aged. They moved so fast, it made all our heads spin.
If the hills of Del Sol Valley were your address, you shot to the top of the local upper crust, all of Del Sol Valley would know you, without actually ever knowing you and little desire to truly change that. Rumors and gossip was the local currency, but in turn nobody ever questioned the legality of Ana and Ri’s marriage here and nobody really cared.
Here, Riordan being different in some ways and his clear preference for the nighttime were attributed to the eccentricity of the wealthy, as were their different last names, combined only in their twins, the perceived quirkiness was something that made all four of them fit right in and fly under the radar better than they ever could have back home. Hiding in plain sight, Ana blossomed. Riordan did as well and the children were happy. Needless to mention that Ana always had a taste for the finer things of life in the fast lane.
The ones of us left back home would do frequent Skype calls with their family.
Whenever Blaine was nominated again for another award, we’d actually fly out there now to attend the ceremony, which meant the studios paid for flight and accommodation, and we’d visit Ana, Riordan, Finn and Fiona, as well as that park the city had dedicated to Blaine. What once used to feel like a chore now seemed like a welcome interruption of the daily rut to us.
While one of our children was now happy and content, the other one faced a new set of problems. Oh, no worries, nothing too dramatic, after all, this was Brendan we were talking about.
But Brendan and Natalie now had teen sons on their hands. Two of them. Oh yeah, both boys had meanwhile reached that interesting, illuminating but also often terrifying landmark in any life, us grandparents included.
Not surprisingly, Declan wasn’t too much to worry about. Sixteen now, he was still rather quiet, extremely shy, studious, a good kid without any real problems, still had the same two best friends he had since he was little, Chad and Dale.
His worries were usually related to which video game to buy next, how many small projects he had to do for the family, including us grandparents, to be able to afford it and how to level up in it. He and his friends would often sit up until an adult forced them to go to bed on the weekends, when the two other boys stayed over at Declan’s home or he at one of theirs.
All three of them were indoor kids for sure, either at his home or at one of his friends’ houses. The only times Declan got any significant outdoor time was when Blaine and I took them camping and fishing, which, surprisingly, he would do without even a little hesitance or complaints.
While having to repeatedly pry him away from the monitors and screens may get redundant, it was as far as what you may consider any problems with Declan went, he never argued and always obliged. At least until he considered the timer reset on his alotted screen time.
Everett on the other hand, was a very different story. Almost two years younger than Declan, he was a force unleashed. Hulking in sheer size – undoubtedly a genetic feature inherited from the other side of his family as Blaine had always been tall but lanky, I was tall for a woman but nothing extreme, Brendan was an exact mix of us both and Natalie was a delicate little thing – he seemed closer to 24 than 14, unless of course you listened closely to his often immature spewing. He was an outgoing and popular kid, had so many friends, new ones being added constantly, to the point that nobody could keep up anymore.
Tall, strong, looking older than he was, a firecracker if left unsupervised … I probably do not have to list the problems all that summoned. Whenever Everett got into something he shouldn’t have, we was never sneaky about it and never really tried to lie either. Loud, out there, trouble would follow him without much effort on his part. He’d already gotten into fights in school, slapped by countless girls, TP’ed the principal’s office, had to be picked up from 18+ dance clubs, … and much more. He was always out and about with his friends and usually barely made it home for dinner.
Never a dull moment with that kid. But he had a good heart.
Windenburg Cameron Beach House
Declan was in his room brooding over homework, after a rough day in school, where some football players had selected him to be their target for the day, ridiculing him, but worst of all, they took the money he had saved up for a new video game that was going to be released that day. Declan and his friends had counted down the days, all three were going to buy it and christen it as soon as they would get home, each of them on their own console connected via online multiplayer feature.
Instead now Declan had not only been humiliated publicly in front of most of the school, but also relieved of the hard earned cash, negating the plans for that afternoon. Still, he would have swallowed his own tongue before worrying his parents with his inability to stand up for himself.
His mood was low.
Everett and his friends had wandered into the tail end of the confrontation, Everett instantly blew a gasket at the much older kids and interfered, supported by a horde of his also quite brawl-happy friends, but it wasn’t until the football jocks had run off already that Declan told Rett about the missing money for the video game.
He winced when suddenly Everett just burst into his room.
“Ever heard of knocking?! Why are you in my room again?! Not like you don’t have your own! And I already had that type of day, I REALLY do not need you to ride my ass now too! Give me a break!” Declan instantly grumbled.
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t get your diaper in a bunch, I am only passing through. Here’s your break, dude, so chill already. And – you’re welcome. Oh, and what’s-his-balls is really sorry, he said, and that it won’t happen again. At least I think that’s what he said, he was pretty hard to understand as he was crawling across the floor, bleeding.”
Everett told his older brother unimpressed as he now seemingly casually and carelessly dropped the money stolen from his older brother earlier that day onto his homework, then instantly turned to leave without another word.
“What!? How did you do that?!” Declan stuttered, his eyes wide.
In sheer disbelief he glanced down at the money bills spread across his notebook, as he picked it up he realized some of the paper was lightly stained with some blood that was neither his nor his brother’s, but presumably that of one of the boys who had taken it from him and incurred after Everett had his moment with them to demand the cash back.
“Got my ways. You owe me, big bro. Just remember this if I ever need ya …” Rett called back over his shoulder.
“Yeah, sure! Absolutely! Thanks, Rett! But … how in the world … and why … but … wow …” Declan said, still in awe, but Everett was long gone.
At the same time downstairs their father Brendan walked into the kitchen where Natalie was preparing dinner.
“Hey baby. Finally done with that boring work conference call. So unproductive, my mind was everywhere but there. Got me thinking. You know, I worry about our son.” he told her.
“Oh Rett’s just a bit rambunctious. The hormones … once that calms down, he’ll be fine. He’s a sweetheart at the core.” Natalie told her husband, smiling.
“Not Rett. Declan. That kid is constantly glued to the TV playing video games. When not in front of the TV, he’s at the computer playing games – or on his phone. And when you make him go outside, he just goes straight over to either Chad or Dale’s house and – you guessed it – they sit on their butts and play video games together.”
“Oh Brenny, I am sure it’s just a phase. You like games.”
“I do, but not 24/7. I swear that kid will start talking in binary code soon.”
“You worry too much, Brenny. As soon as he discovers girls, he won’t recall how to even turn on a computer. At least not for a while.”
“How would he even see any girls, unless they are pixelated and in one of his games?! No matter what we do, even if you make him sit outside with you, he’s always got that phone in his hands to play, you guessed it, more games. ARGH! Makes me consider taking him to a remote island off-the-grid for a month or two.”
“Oh, Brenny. Declan’s just a little slower with all that interpersonal teen stuff. Everett on the other hand … oh man.”
“Everett on the other hand – what?! Did I miss something juicy?” Brendan wondered, his interest peaked.
“Well, I’d say. Our little boy had his first kiss. But shhhhh, you didn’t hear that from me.” Natalie grinned, her index finger at her lips.
“WHAT!? At 14?! And why do you know about that and I don’t?”
“Because I am his mother and I have my ways. Well, truth be told, he is quite proud of himself and I was just in the right place at the right time when he was bubbling over with the news. The kiss was unsolicited by him, albeit not unwelcome from what I understand, she’s a senior at his high school but not 18 yet, apparently ‘totally hawt’, it was a dare of some sort, not dating, but a kiss nonetheless. And that is all I will tell you about that and you will not even think about what I just told you around Rett! I was sworn to secrecy.” Natty giggled.
“Okay, okay, I’ll keep the secret. Ugh. He really is my dad reincarnate! 14! If that kid’s already sucking lips now, do you think it’s time for that talk … you know about the ‘Cameron curse’ and where I get to do what my dad did to me and hand him an industrial size box of condoms with a big grinning and winking Emoji drawn on it in black marker? I hope it is, I have been looking forward to that day since we found out we were having a boy, but no way I could ever do that to Declan. He’d have a coronary at 16. Luckily we had another one, who’s the perfect target for that type of shenanigans.”
Both laughed hard when Everett walked in.
“Dinner almost ready? I am starving! What’s so funny?”
“Nothing, kiddo. Just making a mental shopping list.” Natalie got out before entering another laughing fit with Brendan.
Declan joined them in the kitchen, where their parents were in stitches with tears rolling down their cheeks now.
“What’s with them?” he asked his younger brother.
“I don’t know, I walked in on them already like that, when they still could talk mom said something about a shopping list. I don’t see how that’s funny so maybe they got into the funny juice from the bar early which doesn’t sound like our parents, or maybe some sort of brain eating virus or early onset Alzheimers. Or that thing where old people start acting like little kids again.” Rett said.
“Oh, great. All I am saying is that I am not wiping their butts. If that happens, I’ll drop them off at grandma and grandpas and move in with Chad.” Declan claimed.
“Why not, you will one day anyway, both of you with rings on your fingers, Mr. and Mr. Cameron.” Everett teased, making kissing sounds, which Declan answered with shoving and attempted slapping, which Everett deflected with ease, making him laugh harder.
“Hey, hey, hey! Gentlemen! None of that please!” Brendan interfered, trying to keep a straight face.
“He started it!” Declan snarled.
“You sound like a toddler! Need a binkie? Want mommy to hold you reeeeal tight and sit on her lap?!” Everett retorted.
“Everett, my sweet, why don’t you lay off your brother and come here and help me please?” Natalie ordered, her tone sweet, but decided.
“Why me?! Just because I am younger?” Everett complained as he walked towards her.
“No, because I wanted to hear you complain. It sounds so pretty when you’re so whiney. Now come on, get cracking before it all gets cold. And Declan, please set the table.” Natalie insisted unimpressed.
“Ok, mom.” Declan obliged right away, but not without shooting eye daggers at his brother who was grimacing at him from behind their mother’s back.
“Why does he get the simple job and I have to haul pots and pans and dishes?! All the ninny has to do is lay out silverware?! That’s not fair!” Everett complained.
“Because you are the lil monkey that we use for the manual labor, Rett. Quit the facial derailments or I will take a picture and replace all your social media profile pics with it! And now quit yer bitchin’ and do as your mother asked.” Brendan grinned at his youngest son.
“You stole that from grandpa!” Everett protested
“Yeah, totally did.” Declan confirmed from the background.
“Both of you, silent now and get the food to the table, chop, chop. Finish setting the table, and you haul food – NOW, lil monkey! Your mother and I didn’t have kids as decoration, but so they can do all the chores we hate. So get to it, you two! Earn your keep.” Brendan warned, trying hard to keep a straight face.
Mumbling things about child labor both boys obliged, while Natalie and Brendan winked at each other.