“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”Maya Angelou
Vatore Manor A little over a week after the last chapter
Inhaling and exhaling as deeply as he could, Blaine mumbled to himself “All right, let’s do this!” as he lifted his hand, halted for a moment, then knocked, hard.
Listening to the echo of his knocks, while rubbing his now reddened and aching knuckles, he complained under his breath about the need to install a real doorbell, when the door was swung open, and Caleb Vatore appeared before him.
Instantly Blaine felt a lump in his stomach, his fight or flight instinct rang on high alert.
“Young Blaine! What a surprise. I hardly dare trust my very own eyes. It has been such a long time since I last had the pleasure of a friendly visit by a Blaine Cameron!”
“Yah, evening, Mr. Vatore, Sir …” Blaine offered.
Caleb stepped aside as he gently guided the teen boy inside by placing his hand on his back, a kind and welcoming gesture which only made Blaine very uncomfortable. He jerked hard as the two doors that made up the front door shut behind him, which sent eerie echoes through the large hall.
“Well, young man, what an auspicious event to see you drop in for a visit at my humble home. Pray, what can I do for you?” Caleb confused Blaine with his often too elaborate and floral ways to talk. But then again, he was old. Veeeery old. That’s probably how they all talked when he was young.
“I … was hanging with Riordan at his home …. you know, next door and then .. I went out … and I … ahem … you know …. came over to … well …. I thought maybe … you know …. ahem … Scarlett. Is she here, by any chance?” Blaine stuttered, turning to Caleb.
“Scarlett? Ah, I see. You are not here to pay me a friendly visit at all then. How curious indeed. What do you want from my daughter, if you do not mind me asking?” Caleb’s voice was pleasant, controlled, but his eyes read cautious curiosity.
“I … ah… uh …” Blaine mumbled, as his brain seemed devoid of any words.
“Daddy! Seriously?! Hi Blaine. What are you doing here?” Scarlett appeared seemingly out of nowhere, most likely had noticed the visitor arriving, then eavesdropped from around a corner, but seeing her now, smiling at him, increased the racing of Blaine’s heart even more.
“I am … ahem … well … I …” he tried, cursing himself. Before the Karlie-incident he had been confident enough for three grown men. Now, here he stood, incapable of forming even one coherent sentence. If this was going to be his new normal, life as an adult would be just absolutely splendid, he thought sarcastically.
“Daddy, you mind?!” Scarlett addressed her father, in an attempt to dismiss him.
“Indeed, I DO mind, my petal. A young man calling on you does make me want a little more context.” Caleb held back with the same kind of entitlement as his daughter had bestowed upon him.
“Well, you aren’t getting any. Come on Blaine, upstairs.” Scarlett clearly was no stranger to getting her way.
“Wait just one hot second, young lady! Where do you think you are going with him?” Caleb wondered, now all father of a stubborn teen girl and not at all vampire-like.
“My room, duh.”
“Oh, absolutely not – duh! You and your visitor can sit in the parlor. Or the kitchen. Anywhere downstairs. Most definitely not your room! Isn’t that right, Blaine, you wouldn’t want that, being the decent young man I assume you are?!” Caleb countered.
“Daddy … stop it!” Scarlett’s raised voice, the tone implying her father had to have lost his mind, her high pitched angry tone echoed off the walls.
“Caleb darling, what is going on here? Oh, hello Blaine.” Breana Vatore appeared, likely summoned by the raised voices in the lobby echoing through the home, yet was smiling calmly as ever at Blaine.
“Our daughter has a boy over and wants to take him to her room, my love! We had just arrived at how that is not going to happen.” Caleb told her, and if the situation hadn’t be so intimidating to him, Blaine would have wanted to laugh. Now, instead, he cursed himself for coming here in the first place and wished he could sink into a hole in the ground.
“Daddy! I am 15, not 5! I am almost an adult!”
“Operative term being ‘almost’ here!” Caleb grumbled at his rambunctious teen daughter.
“Caleb, my sweet darling, please calm down. You are making our young guest uncomfortable. Poor Blaine! He should not be made to bear witness to our family quarrels!”
“Well, your daughter’s behavior is making ME uncomfortable! How could a father not wish to quarrel?!”
“You’re uncomfortable because you think it’s 1500-something! It’s the 21st century, daddy! Time for you to arrive here! Young people can be alone without chaperones now! Especially me! You know me better than THAT, or at least I thought you trusted me!” Scarlett challenged unimpressed.
“Oh dear! Please guys, enough of this nonsense! Scarlett, your father is right. Taking this young man, whom you barely know, to your room does seem rather inappropriate, wouldn’t you say? Such ideas should be reserved for much closer relationships, which you two clearly do not have, at the very least, not at this point, won’t you agree Blaine?” Breana mediated.
“Ah uh … ” Blaine tried again for words. None came, just as before. He just lowered his head and frowned.
“Jeeze. Fine, let’s hang out down here then. Want something to drink, Blaine, soda or coffee?”
All Blaine was capable of was some non-committal sounds and a headshake. After an eyeroll, Scarlett grabbed Blaine’s wrist and dragged him down some hallways, their footsteps echoing, until they were muffled by thick carpet as they entered a living room like setting. Probably what Caleb would call ‘the parlor’.
They sat down on the couch next to each other, and Blaine was surprised none of the adults had followed them.
“So, whatcha doing here?” Scarlett wondered.
While trying to collect every bit of courage he could muster, she watched him, smiling encouraging. Her smile seemed inviting and warm, kind, like Riordan’s and just like him, he had noticed all the other vamps had perfected the way of smiling without exposing their fangs.
Fangs! He thought, swallowed hard, then reprimanded himself not to think about that fact. What the hell was he doing here, among all those vampires?!
“I … uh … don’t know if you have plans, or if your school maybe has one the same day, but if you are not busy, I was wondering if you … I mean, just in case you don’t … ahem …” Nope, those weren’t the words he wanted, but it was all he had. Yikes.
“Just land the plane already, Blaine!”
“Do you want to go to prom with me.” he nearly spat the question out, afraid if he didn’t, he’d be at a loss for words again, which seemed to upset her.
“Prom?” she parroted surprised.
“Yeah, it’s like a dance for students of …”
“I KNOW what prom is! I am a vampire, not an idiot! I was just surprised you would ask me. Why me?”
“Well, to be honest, you are the only girl I know who wouldn’t just agree because of my famous parents. If you agree, I mean. I know it’s last minute and you are probably already have plans.”
“How am I supposed to know if I am busy when you still haven’t even told me the date yet.”
“Oh, sorry.” Blaine listed the date and time.
“That is THIS weekend! Like in three days! Not much of a planner, are we?! Also, your promposal is just as lame as your apology was. But lucky for you I got nothing going on, so might as well. Always wanted to see what such a prom is like, you mortals always make such a big deal about it in the movies. So yeah, I will go to your prom with you.”
“Really?! AWESOME! I mean .. great … that way you get to see what it’s like. And me too, I have never been to one either. What time do you want me to pick you up?”
“How am I supposed to know how long it takes a mortal to get from Windenburg to here and back in a car. Do you see any cars around here? The only car in all of Forgotten Hollow belongs to the one mortal living here, your great-aunt Anastasia. But I do have to wonder about how it’s supposed to work. You are 15, like me, right? Can you even drive yet?”
“Oh. Umm … shit, I totally forgot about that. I’ll figure something out, Scarlett, I promise. I’m sure someone in my family can take us. Unless you don’t want to go that far from home for someone who cannot drive and I … I mean I could probably … I’d have to check schedules and … what?”
“I have no idea but whatever you are trying to say is probably dumb anyway. Look Blaine, it’s fine. I can have Ri take me. He wouldn’t mind, plus he wouldn’t need a car. And if he were to say no, which he won’t, I know I can get aunt Ana to change his mind. So, what time and where?”
“7 PM work for you? Maybe meet at my house? I know that’s not how it’s supposed to work, but I am definitely banned from driving until I am at least 16, if not later. Long story. I can give you the address and … you could meet my family.”
“I already know your family, well at least sort of. And Riordan definitely knows where your folks live. He is close friends with your grandfather, his brother-in-law. Remember?”
“Yeah, right. Let me give you my cell phone number, so that you can text a picture of your dress to me so I can match my outfit and get you the right corsage. Hopefully it’s not to late for all that. I wasn’t going to go at all but …”
“Do what now? Match our outfits? Is that a joke?! Why do we have to go as twins, matchy-matchy and stuff? Seems weird. I don’t think so.”
“Not like that, just … never mind. You just wear whatever you like and I’ll just wear my good suit. And a corsage is a flower thing boys give to girls to wear on their dress or wrist.”
“OK, Blaine, couple things. I won’t wear greenery anywhere on my body, period. And we are not gonna go matchy-matchy. I am going to have to borrow a dress, no worries, I’ll make sure not to embarrass you. But I am definitely not wearing flowers in my hair or on my wrist. Among my kind, that is not a good thing and reserved for sacrificial celebrations and weddings. No offense, but that’s not gonna happen.”
“No, of course not! Corsages are dumb anyway. Totally not a problem.”
“That’s what I thought. Still want me to go with you or did I scare you off yet?”
“Yes. I mean no. Yes, I still want to go with you and no, you did not scare me off. But man, you sure are complicated.”
“Maybe, but you are desperate!” she smiled and winked at him, sending hot jolts through his entire body.
Blaine smiled, realizing she was teasing him.