“My childhood home, filled with joy and sorrow, loss of innocence, hope for tomorrow — when I’m feeling cold and alone, I close my eyes, in my mind, return home.”
Del Sol Valley Cameron Mansion
Smirking, Blaine did as requested, went to sit down at the dining room table, followed by Vivien and Scarlett, while Maeve and Everett took a seat across the table from them. Blake was with his mother in Willow Creek for another week at this point.
“What’s up, dad? Am I in trouble? You gonna ground me now?” he jested with his father.
“Wouldn’t be the first time, smartass.” Rett smirked at his son.
“Rett, please watch your language around Viv.” Maeve said, nudging her husband next to her.
“No worries, grandma. I already know all the curse words and when not to use them.” Vivien said, sounding annoyed.
“Which is EVER, right Viv?” Scarlett instantly added.
“Yah, sure mom.”
“Well, I am not one for big speeches …” Everett started again, but was instantly interrupted by a giggling Maeve.
“Since when?” she snickered.
“Since I always get interrupted by my darling wife anyway! As I was saying, Blaine, your mother and I have news. We are moving.”
“HUH?” was all Blaine could manage, looking back and forth between his parents, trying to gage if this could be some elaborate joke.
“Which part of ‘we are moving’ do you have a rough time with, son? I cannot simplify it any further than that.” Everett wondered.
“ALL OF IT! What do you mean? Moving where? You’re selling the house? Where is all this coming from so sudden?! I can’t just up and leave, neither can the kids, they have school.” Blaine said nervously upon realizing they were both serious.
“Well, you all weren’t invited anyway. Cameron Mansion is under new ownership, yes, but we didn’t sell it. We are handing it over to you and your family. Congrats, got part of your inheritance without having to wait for us to croak, you are WELCOME! I am leaving my car collection here for now, do me a favor son and try not to crash them until I can figure out what to do with them. Other than that, your mom and I are hightailing it on out of here, without all of you. We love you guys, but your happy, needy asses are staying put. We did the farewell tour, dropped the last album, we’ll attend the Starlight Accolade awards show if we get nominated – or you – and then we’re gonna be retired from showbiz. They all can kiss my rosy red ass with all the ado, fuss and muss. We are downsizing and stepping down, gonna live the quiet life now, without all the pressure.” Rett said.
“Retiring?! You are both too young to retire! You both love music! How am I supposed to live without you?” Blaine blurted out, this time his mother replied.
“Oh come on, Blaine. You are well past 30 years old, you do not need mommy and daddy with you all the time. We still love music, we canonized this family through it, it got us all this and nobody at this table will ever have to worry about money because of it, but now it will be a hobby, without the pressure. And young is relative, especially in our business we’re at a fairly reasonable age for retirement, and it will be a lot more obvious once we don’t spend all the time, money and effort trying to look younger anymore. It’s exhausting, I deserve to age, gracefully and in peace, but here I will never be able to. Spending time with Declan and Rory recently at their Lake House was an eye opener to your father and me. We are both ready for the slow life now. Had a good run, gave it all we had, now we are done. Now we reap the benefits and enjoy life. Quietly and low-key.” Maeve told her son.
“Okay, so what about me, gramma? Now I am gonna have two sets of grandparents that live far away? That really super-sucks.” Vivien whined.
“Viv, you’ll be fine. You have your parents and your brother right here. It’s not like we’re moving to the moon. We’ll visit here, you’ll come visit us, just like we visit your grandparents Vatore. Not the end of the world, kiddo.”
“Still blows! I am NOT in favor, if anybody cares. Which you won’t, because you are adults and I am ONLY a child and blah blah blah …” she argued, pouting, generating a snort by Rett.
“Yeah, blah blah blah indeed, you little drama queen. You forgot how to Skype? Cos your grandmother and I haven’t! And you can visit, if need be, your mom can get you there quicker than any plane, train and automobile. So quit the whining, Viv. We already know your brother is going to take this hard, he’s still young, which is why we told you first. I can only handle one grandkid falling apart at a time.”
“I am not falling apart, just very unhappy and I don’t like this at all! And Blake is only my half-brother, so we are only half-alike. Which brings me to the whole new question: what if my parents do have another child? Who’s gonna help and watch it and all with you and grandma gone? I know nothing about babies! And I definitely won’t change diapers – eew!” she paused, grimacing about the horrors of a dirty diaper, giving Maeve time to respond in Rett’s stead.
“Viv, your grandpa and I are not live-in nannies anyway! We are grandparents, not free labor for unloved tasks! We help out where we can, and don’t mind, but that isn’t an invite to have babies, then drop them on us to raise, which I am quite sure your parents are aware of, so get that odd idea out of your mind, Missy!” Maeve grumbled at her granddaughter.
“I didn’t mean it like that, gramma! I thought you loved hanging with Blakey and me, so one more is more fun added, right?!”
This time Scarlett responded, clearly annoyed by her daughter’s warped ideas.
“Vivien, knock it off already! Who said we were gonna have another child anyway? All we told you is that it is not 100% off the table, but that didn’t mean we are going into production right away – or ever. It only meant it wasn’t a definite and final no. Please quit jumping to silly conclusions, will you?! You are too old for that, and your brother is too young to grasp the difference between your meaningless ramblings and reality! If Blake hears you talking about babies, he thinks it’s a done deal and it is NOT! All your silly banter does is lead to confusion, and before we know it we are knee-deep in rumors and misunderstandings!”
“Okay, okay, sorry, by you have to admit, it would make sense, mom. Let me remind you of how you nearly did backflips when Riordan and Layla told you they are expecting. So, you totally like babies. We have the room, the money, you two FINALLY made it, you’re together, you live together, you’re married, I am as good as gone off to college, Blake is a fairly intelligent human being now … perfect time to add on.” Vivien argued, when her mother cut her off.
“Whoa whoa whoa …. wait a minute. You are 13 years old, Missy! That’s at LEAST 5 more years, because I hate to break it to you, but you are on the opposite spectrum of one of those kid geniuses that graduate college at 15 or something, in part because you are scatterbrained and lazy! Every year it’s a cramp to get you to barely make the next grade. Your dad and I love the idea that you want to go to college one day, but getting you there is gonna be iffy already, unless you put a little more effort to it. Either way, you are furthest from what I call out the door. You’re stuck with us for a lot longer, you brat. Besides, you get so annoyed with poor Blake all the time, what do you want with another sibling, a baby at that?!” Scarlett set her straight with the force it needed to get through to her stubborn daughter.
Vivien didn’t answer, just rolled her eyes and let our an exasperated sigh.
“Well, whatever, so what’s the plan here guys? Sulani with Finn and Kai?” Blaine directed his question at his father.
“Close but no cigar, kid. We’re moving to an island, all right. Windenburg. The house your uncle Declan and I grew up in. The tenants he had in there moved out, so he gave me the keys, said the house is mine since we helped him and his kids so much financially and told me to retire. My brother is a very smart man, your mother and I decided to listen. Going back to our roots. The home is a little outdated, but when we looked at it, it was a serious walk down memory lane for me and your mother. Since it’s on the island, tucked away and only accessible by ferry, not many fans or paparazzi will find us there. And it’s near family.”
“Okay … when?” Blaine was near speechless.
“Soon, very soon actually. We decided to be spontaneous. In other words, we’ll start packing tomorrow, moving truck will be here end of next week. Won’t take us long, we’re only taking a few things, mostly our personal stuff, we’re even leaving all the awards here, obviously can’t take any of my cars, which is why I am leaving my babies in your care for now, we’re not taking any furniture, the shed is furnished and we’ll remodel as we go once we figured out what our retired downsizer style is gonna be like.”
Windenburg Isle Cameron Island Home About two weeks later
Packing had been okay, but once all was loaded into the moving truck, as they all stood and watched it drive off with all Rett and Maeve were going to take, Blake was inconsolable, knowing in a few days his grandparents would fly out to their new home – and not come back home after a while like they would after performances. Even now, over a week later, he still wasn’t okay with any of it, so Blaine and Scarlett had nixed the original idea of travelling with Everett and Maeve to help get them settled at the new home and stayed in Del Sol Valley with Blake, hoping the familiar surroundings would help him cope.
Vivien did go, mostly because she had thrown a fit about wanting to see her other grandparents and uncle.
The welcome by the Windenburg family was warm, all of them came to help, Declan was visibly happy to have his brother so close again.
Once all the boxes had been carried inside, Vivien relentlessly begged to go see her family in Forgotten Hollow until an unnerved Everett called Caleb to come and pick her up, which he mercifully did.
Forgotten Hollow Vatore Castle
After some hours with Caleb and Breana, Vivien slipped away and went looking for her uncle Caelan, first in his room, then she searched the rest of the castle, only to finally find him sitting in the darkness outside.
“Not feeling like company! Go back inside.” he barked as she approached.
“Wow, rude much?!” was her greeting, unimpressed, as she sat down next to him, undeterred.
“No, you are the rude one! If I wanted to see you, I would have been inside! I want to be alone, so go away!” he growled back.
“What crawled up your butt?! Not even a hug? Dafuq?!” Vivien protested.
“You’re not supposed to curse, you know that.”
“Oh, that’s rich! Instead of being either super-rude or trying to be my surrogate dad, wanna tell me instead why you are moping out here in the dark? Cause I am already good on rude people and all adults trying to parent me, but thought I had a friend here!”
“Darkness is where we live, Vivien. Being just a mortal, of course you wouldn’t understand. And I am your uncle, not your friend! So get lost already!” was his unfriendly comeback.
“Why are you so mean to me?! You don’t even know what all I went through to come see you, hard manual labor, endless boring walks down memory lane with my grandpa and great-uncle Declan, then the same with grandma and grandpa Vatore for the past two hours, and now you are being like this?! You are such a douche! Fine, then sit here then in the dark fog and be an ass all alone!” her tone foretold the tears of disappointment she was trying to suppress as she started to get up to run off.
Or tried to. In milliseconds Caelan had her in his arms, pressing her against himself.
“I am sorry, Viv. Really sorry. Don’t cry! Please stay. You’re absolutely right, I was a douche, we’re friends and I am very happy to see you.”
“Is it that one girl who made you this way?” Vivien mumbled into his chest, so he loosened his grip.
“The blond one.”
“Viv, you know me, I have so many different women all the time, most of them are blond, it’s my type. I have no idea who you even mean. They are all disposable to me, have them once, and move on to the next.” he sat back down, she followed suit. This wasn’t the proper topic for young teens, but Vivien wasn’t your average teen and had always known about Caelan and his rakish behavior. Plus, she seemed to be excellent at reading him, which she proved again now.
“You are lying to me!” Vivien stated.
“What are you talking about now!?”
“I know there is that one girl you like! And I know you have seen her more! And don’t you lie! I have pictures of you, together, on different days! She’s not one of your disposables and I am not a clueless idiot!”
“What?! How did you …?”
“You are not the only one with secrets, nor the only one present who is good at being sneaky. I may not be a vampire, but I have my ways. I saw you, several times, downtown San Myshuno, hugging, kissing … always her. The same one. You look cute together. So, did she break your heart? Cos if she did, I will break her! Like end her.”
Caelan couldn’t help but chuckle.
“You are priceless, Viv.”
“Tell me what happened. Maybe I can help. Give you advice.” she said with utmost sincerity.
“Relationship advice? From a 13 year old? Oh, Viv. Besides, I am well beyond help. There is also nothing to help. You’re right, the one thing I never thought could happen to me, happened. I like someone. Really like her. Unfortunately it’s not meant to be. It just can’t work. It was fun while it lasted and will be a nice memory, once it quits hurting. Oh, and I am sure I do not need to say this, but, this stays between us, right?”
“Of course! You know I am not a rat! So, why can’t it work? I mean, my parents finally figured their mess out, if they can, ANYONE can. What’s the hold up? Want me to talk to her? Cos I totally would!”
“Oh god no! Thanks, but I’ll pass on that. It’s a long story why we can’t work out, also she has two children. Single mom kinda deal.”
“So? My mom was a single mom, you hater! What kind of problem do you have with that?!”
“Hey, pump the aggro-brakes, little one! I didn’t mean it like that. What I meant was that the father is still not quite out of the picture and it seems she can’t make up her mind whom she likes more, which is the reason for my mood. I went to see her, earlier, and he was roosting at her house. I think she still has feelings for him, and I really do not enjoy playing second fiddle, Viv.”
“Oh! Yikes. I wouldn’t either. Only one way to find out for sure: ask her straight on! Him or you. Make her pick.”
“If it only were so simple. Even if I did that, not saying I would, but even if she were to choose me over him, it would be under false pretenses in a way. She doesn’t even have the first clue who and what I really am. Totally oblivious to everything, she is too sweet, naïve and innocent, which was probably what made her stand out to me in the first place. I doubt she’d want me if she did know what a monster I am. Nobody in their right mind would. On that note, if you ever meet a guy like me, vampire or not, run, Viv. Never get tangled up with someone like me. If you did, I might just have to get rid of him, permanently.”
“Really, uncle CaeCae? I am pretty sure by now you kissed, you really think she didn’t notice your fangs? Puh-lease! Dude, I can feel them when you snuggle me sometimes. Not really the best kept secret. You don’t have to tell her the rest, you know the executioner bit, and about all those many women you … well … let’s call it talk to, at least not yet. Dazzle her with your awesome self for a few weeks and when she is so much into you that she doesn’t care, you’re golden. I mean, you are a vampire, all vampires always keep secrets, so this won’t be new to you, right? And for the record, if there ever is a guy, I can handle him myself, whatever he may be like. I don’t need my uncle for that. Mom raised me strong. Also, if I ever meet someone I want to date, I’ll date them, no matter what anybody says. And I would totally date you, if we weren’t related. You are sooo cool, not like the boring little boys at my school. I really can’t EVER see myself dating one of those. I’d fall asleep walking next to them. Plus, they couldn’t handle me anyway.”
“Now, that’s the truth. You are definitely one of a kind and not for the faint of heart. And you are pretty dang cool yourself, especially for someone so young. Despite that idiot father of yours.”
“Hey! Don’t you badmouth my daddy or I will go vampire slayer on your butt!”
“Oh, I believe you would. You are very brave and very special, little one. If you were at least a decade older and weren’t my niece, I’d probably date you too. I think I would definitely get a run for my money with you, and one thing is sure, I would never be bored. Ever! Must be that vampire blood flowing through your veins.”
The irony of this little, skinny 13 year old mortal threatening a vampire so immensely powerful, he was feared by all, even Elders, his job as the man who stoically and emotionlessly carried out the sentences spoken by his father over all the vampires in the entire region even if they involved torture or even destruction, wasn’t lost on Caelan, neither was the fact that both of them knew he would perish himself before he would ever harm her. The first moment he had laid eyes on her, right after Scarlett brought her home from the hospital, there had been this strange bond between then, as unbreakable as it was inexplicable. Caelan could be cold to the core, really couldn’t care less about anyone but his immediate vampiric kin, largely viewed mortals as ‘cows’ to be harvested for blood and pleasure, dismissed or slaughtered when he was finished with them. But never her. Never Vivien. He’d do anything for her, and knew the feeling was mutual.
“Uncle CaeCae?” she said softly.
“I think you should go to her. Tell her everything and see how she reacts. Use your powers, read her mind, so you know she’s not lying to you, and if she reacts badly, you know, freaks out, just wipe her memory. If you don’t know how, grampa can teach you.”
“Thank you, angel, I know how to be a vampire, thank you very much. But you know what? That isn’t the worst idea you ever had.”
“Stop it! Quit downplaying, it’s a great idea and you know it!”
“You’re right, it’s a great idea. One thing is for certain, we definitely won’t have to worry about you not being confident enough.”
“Nope, mom always made sure I know my worth. Hey, we’ll do it now, and I’ll go with you! We’ll know for sure where we stand, because the suspense is killing me and I can only imagine how you must feel. So, either you’ll find out the ugly truth and it wasn’t meant to be and I’ll be here to help you through it or maybe, just maybe I could help you plan another wedding! I helped mom and it was hella fun!”
“Vivien, good grief, please stop! No weddings, not for me, not ever! THAT I guarantee you. And we are not going anywhere tonight. And that is final.”
“All right, but let’s get a real plan of attack! I am excellent at figuring out how to bend the odds in your favor, you know, reverse psychology is what great-uncle Decs called it, so if we stick our heads together, we’ll come up with a foolproof plan on how to get your bae to go ‘baby daddy who?!’. Bounce off me what you are gonna tell her and I’ll tell you if it’s any good. What’s her name, anyway?”
“Vivien … come on …”
“Caelan! Don’t make me angry! Her name!”
“Fine, chill you lit fuse, it’s Allie … her name is Allie.”
“Okay, so here is how you sweep a mortal girl off her feet. Trust me, I watched my grandpa and my dad do it often enough, I know ALL the tricks in the book. And I am a girl too.”
Smiling, Caelan patiently listened to Vivien rambling on, getting more and more animated, as she enthusiastically planned something that sounded like something between best-selling teen novel and blockbuster movie plot-line, farther and farther away from anything remotely plausible in reality, and nothing Caelan would ever even dream of attempting in real life.
But the way this little girl cared about him, genuinely and deeply, even if she wasn’t obligated to, even though he had been mean to her, moved him deeply. Maybe mortals really weren’t so hopelessly inferior. Vivien definitely had always been the exception to his rule in his book.